Wealth, Money, and Happiness

So if you’ve been reading all the comments on the blog on importance of inequality you’ve noticed a lot of brouhaha.

My argument was that there is no correlation between distribution of wealth and standard of living. There is a correlation between GDP and economic freedom and standard of living.

Most of the argument didn’t focus around this. First they complained about my use of UN data for standard of living numbers even though I despise the UN and make no attempt to hide it. I found this odd; I admitted I was playing in the opposition’s ball park. I know that if I use data from more conservative sources of course it will show the same thing, but my point wasn’t to show that numbers from the sources I trust justify my beliefs (that’s a given), it was to show that numbers from liberal sources don’t even come close to justifying liberal beliefs.

But I made this other statement about if you had a way to measure happiness in an accurate way you would not necessarily see the diminishing returns you see in the set of data I was using.

Now diminishing returns is an idea that the same incremental gain has a lower return with each new increment. One steak dinner is great. Two in a row we’re eating like kings…three okay, can we cook it another way…four, did we just slaughter a cow and need to clear out some freezer space…five in a row, can I have some chicken please…a week of steak, is this some kind of psych experiment. The first hundred year old book I bought was the coolest thing in the world at the time, and while I love my growing collection and like any English teacher find old book smell practically an aphrodisiac, each new addition never quite reaches the high of the last. Economics states the same thing; every new $100 dollars is less fulfilling than the last. And new economics stated this, as a fact…but something didn’t make sense about this. To me I see more money as creating more opportunities and not having a lessening effect with the more you get. And just last night it hit me as to why.

I was talking about money and my opponents (and most economists) were talking about wealth. What’s the difference you ask? Wealth is the acquired material things. Money can actually be a part of wealth if you acquired it just to acquire and save it. And this is where the diminishing returns come in. The first house you own is a spectacular thing. But if you buy a second it’s still cool, but not the thrill of the first. By the time you own four or five houses they’re just things without much personal or emotional value to you. This applies to all material things from a cup of yogurt to an entire company. You have a clear demonstration of diminishing returns. Why because things don’t buy happiness. A minimum level of stuff is required, but after you have comfortable shelter, sturdy clothes, and enough cash to insure medical care and a safety net through old age anything after that has a diminishing return effect.

However, while math and economics were quite clear, from both my knowledge of psychology and personal experience I knew that this wasn’t the full case when it comes to money. From the psychological viewpoint I would look to Maslow as a guide to happiness. Maslow’s hierarchy is basically a clear path of needs that once met will take you to the next level of the hierarchy. At the top is something he calls self-realization, which Aristotle and the ancient philosophers called eudaimonia, and which is usually rendered as Happiness (the capital H is intentional). If diminishing returns on wealth were a complete story about how to get to the highest level of standard of living then you would think you would need an increasing amount of money to get to each next level. But you don’t. It’s quite the opposite. To meet all your first level needs you probably need about $25,000 a year. To meet your second level needs of security you probably only need about $20,000 more. Hell you probably only see a minimal increase in the next level (I’m figuring if you get married, which is part of that level, either you’ll need about $15,000 increase to pay for two people at the same lifestyle you were at in level one). Is money really even needed for the next two levels, not really (although if you make it to those levels you’re probably good at what you do and make more, but you don’t need it).

And then there is personal experience. If you have diminishing returns with all money then the biggest high you should get is when you make your first payment on a loan, and get less and less excited with each new payment. Yet we all know it works in the reverse. As we get closer and closer to paying off a debt each check actually becomes more fulfilling. The check that pays off the car, the house, the college loan, that’s the one that you’re jumping for joy on. And when I think about my own life in general it holds…think about this for yourself. If I got a $10,000 raise, I’d be ecstatic because I’d have all my debts paid off in 10 years instead of 30. If I got a $20,000 raise I’d be even happier because now I would be even closer to the end and could really start planning about life without debt. A $30,000 raise I could start investing which is always far more fun. $40,000, hell I could start looking for a house. This keeps going with every increment up I could do more and get further out of debt sooner, take more control of my life and have less concern. So it has to get up there before I really see a diminishing return on a $10,000 increase in my yearly income.

Why? Because I’m not looking to acquire wealth. I’m not looking at money as a thing to hoard or transfer for other stuff, which it can easily be. I’m looking at it as a tool. And tools don’t have diminishing returns. The chisel and hammer don’t become less effective the longer a sculptor uses them, they become more effective with time and practice and skill. Tools are not subject to diminishing returns. And tools are designed to be used to achieve a goal. For me it goes (A) Get out of debt (B) build writing career (C) establish financial stability (D) become philanthropist.  (Your goals maybe different or even better than mine…but I had to give an example.)

Most people don’t have goals. They just buy stuff. Most people when they get a raise they go out and increase their lifestyle to match their new income. They keep up with the Jones’s. They treat money as wealth. They do not have a goal; they just are concerned with things. (In case you’re wondering I may be a die-hard capitalist, but I also believe in the virtue of personal frugality). If you have goals that require some kind of financial backing (most goals do), each incremental increase brings you closer to the goal and thus heightens your happiness, your anticipation, your joy and lowers your doubts and worries. If you treat money as a tool for reaching goals and stay focused on those goals the diminishing returns don’t come into play because it’s not just something you already had and now you’re just getting more of it. When are you happiest and most energetic in a race, at the end of course when you can see the finish…same with money when treated as a tool and not just as wealth, it helps you get to your goal and thus each new amount actually brings more happiness than the last increase of the same amount.

I do not know how many times  I can repeat the phrase goal oriented, but just so we’re clear if you have a goal and are working towards it then money does not have a diminishing return because it always brings you closer to your goal which make you happier.  If you don’t have a goal…well what’s the point in life?
My mistake was making a logical fallacy that I often complain about others making, the “I am the world fallacy.” I was thinking about increases of money with someone goal oriented. I hate this fallacy and yet I fell victim to it, hey, I’m only human, I admit it. I forget not everyone lives the rather Spartan lifestyle I do, and not everyone is always long-term goal oriented, and that most people don’t by habit think everything through 10 years ahead. Yes I am an incredibly boring person. And I’m okay with that. And because of this I wasn’t realizing that everyone else was talking about money as wealth, which comes with absolute limitation of diminishing returns. This was my mistake for not realizing how I was putting everything on a different playing field.

Now to reference back to my above goals. Odds are I’ll never fully reach D (but I’m not one to play by the odds), but this is another reason why I don’t see more money as having diminishing returns. There are few joys as great as charity. To be able to raise it to the level of philanthropy I imagine to be just short of ecstasy (the state of being, not the drug). If it’s done right. Philanthropy like charity needs to be done at a personal level…so I guess yes once you hit this point you will find a diminishing return on money as a tool, but only because you’ve kind of lost any long term goal. The minute you have so much money that you can’t personally oversee giving it away it loses a lot of the happiness factor…it’s still fun but not as fun as doing it yourself.

So if you’re talking about money as wealth, yeah it has a diminishing return. Because money as wealth is its own goal, kind of a silly goal if you ask me, but this does seem to be the prevalent idea in the world. However if you are goal oriented then money doesn’t have to have a diminishing return (at least until you reach the super rich level)—as long as it is a tool to achieve your goals then it holds and increases value with every addition because each time you’re closer to your goal which always feels good.

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59 Comments

Filed under Capitalism, Charity, Debt, Education, Free Will, Happiness, Individualism, Law of Intention, Long Term Thinking, Purpose of Life

59 responses to “Wealth, Money, and Happiness

  1. supposing we have two cris pace with the same preferences and desires, and supposing that goal A costs 10,000$ and goal B costs an additional 10,000$, which world would better
    1) a world where both reach their A goals and are out of debt
    2) a world where one cris reaches both goals and the other none

    put yourself in their shoes (easy!), which one would be a better world?

    • How about option C where we have capitalism and thus money and wealth are not limited supplies and there is opportunity for everyone to create their own wealth and money and achieve everything they want.

      Your question presupposes that there is only so much money to go around, a typical socialist fallacy. Under capitalism wealth is constantly created thus your 2 options create a false dilemma as under a free market both people have the opportunity to get all their goals.

      • how about learning how science works mr pace? it’s called controlled variables.

        You were questioning the impact of distribution on happiness. As you said happiness is also a function of global gdp per capita. More gdp more happiness. But that’s not the question about distribution. So happiness H is function of distribution inequality D and gdp G. H = F(D, G).

        You are saying that dF / dG is positive. Good I agree. I wanted to know what is dF / dD. You changed subject and accused me of socialist fallacies. keep them for your stupid liberal bloggers.

        • You did get the fact that the inequality blog was about how there was absolutely no relationship between distribution and any of the other variables (Standard of living, GDP, economic freedom)? It has no relevance. None whatsoever. Looking at distribution of wealth in terms of the health of an economy or the well being of an economy is like asking what the effect of a mime on the street outside a hospital has on heart surgery. They have nothing to do with one another. The blog was about the fact that the whines from “the other 99%” about distribution of wealth have nothing to do with the price of tea in China. And if you go back I said that it is economic freedom that creates a high GDP and a high standard of living, that is the cause of the two, which causes a correlation between the two but GDP is not the cause of higher standard of living (hence why the last two paragraphs and the video at the end were all about economic freedom…for example Chile and Venezuela have comparable GDP’s but since Chile has a higher economic freedom it has a higher standard of living ).

          Thus since it has nothing to do with anything, your two options are giving me a choice that does not exist in reality. In reality, if there is a free economy everyone has the opportunity to succeed through drive, education (personal and formal), and talent. If you have even one of these you can have a good life, in a free economy. Your two options suggested that there is only so much money to go around (a socialist idea and not the case in a free economy) and that someone else has the right to choose who gets what money (another socialist idea…even if there was a limited supply of money no one would have the right to choose who gets the money other than individual work and achievement). My calling it socialist was justified by the assumptions the question was based on.

  2. mr pace you’re too smart to not understand my point, and I’m too smart not to see that you are avoiding the question. I think we would both would agree that a world in which the two cris both satisfy their primary needs is better than a world in which one satisfies his higher needs and the other is left without anything. And we both understand that this implies diminishing returns. If you didn’t think so you would have said so. If you want to turn any discussion into a mess of socialism vs venezuela vs mimes on the street, then do so, but if you want to be clear, then you have to separate the variables. So, which world is better?

    • ” I think we would both would agree that a world in which the two cris both satisfy their primary needs is better than a world in which one satisfies his higher needs and the other is left without anything.”
      I would not agree with that.

      A better world exists where all people earn the wealth for their needs and goals. Money that is given through the dole, through redistribution of wealth, through welfare does not make a person happier or have a higher standard of living. Robbing Peter to pay Paul’s needs psychologically ruins both. (See how that makes so much more sense two Cris’s, different names lead to less confusion).

      It goes without saying that people on welfare are generally unhappy, but it’s not because they’re poor, it’s because they live off of someone else, because they do not have control over their own life (and before we get too far off the point of this article because they more often than not don’t have goals and if they do don’t work towards those goals–which is a why minority of people on welfare choose of their own accord to seek out education, a key requirement of almost every goal in life, and why forcing welfare recipients to seek job training or formal education has always been a successful in getting people off welfare).

      It will not better a person to just give them money. So as you’re suggesting taking $10,000 from one person to meet the requirement of another will only leave one person feeling powerless as they have a huge chunk of money stolen from them and other feeling helpless because they have not done anything to earn their living.

      Further you’re ignoring that when people meet their higher need they tend to create opportunities for others to take advantage of. If Peter is allowed to have his $20,000 dollars and invest it in a small business that will make even more money than the initial investment and he will have to hire someone, like Paul, as his business expands.

      The world where redistribution does not occur is a better one (as evidenced by the fact that countries with more economic freedom have a higher standard of living). However just because Peter gets to keep his $20,000 that he made, does not mean that Paul will be denied wealth, it just means he has to earn it himself. Everyone, once they become an adult, is responsible for their own life and meeting their own needs on their own. Now if I choose to be charitable and give my money to someone I deem worthy, that is my choice, and money given through charity has completely different psychological effects than money handed out through the dole. But money redistributed does not help anyone in the long run.

      Now I will admit that local governments should provide programs that offer bare subsistence living in exchange for requirements of seeking job training and education because I am willing to admit some people need time to mature and learn to take responsibility for their own lives. But locally run programs that provide only bare minimum requirements for life would cost a fraction of a fraction of what the US government spends on current welfare programs, and thus steal radically less from people who earn money. Further there would be no incentive to stay on such programs as there is now in comfortable living provided by current programs.

      And I’m sorry if my use of relevant metaphors and examples offends you.

  3. I would agree with pretty much everything you said, but you have still evaded the question. I didn’t say anything about how cris1 and cris2 got there, if they earned their money, if they were giving by the government or by mimes on the street or hugo chavez, if they have business opportunities, etc.

    I am not suggesting to take money from one person to give it to another, so take your socialist accusation “you’re suggesting taking $10,000 from one person to meet the requirement of another” against someone else, i’m not your liberal punch bag.

    You introduced, again, lots of variables. I just asked to make a value judgement about two situations, to see which one is most desirable. From my answer I derive diminishing returns. I made my point clear.

    So, mr Pace, why do you keep evading the question and adding confusing crap boundary conditions which were not in the question?

    • It’s not a valid question. It is suggesting that I can either have A. Person 1 gets $20K Person 2 gets nothing or B. Person 1 and 2 both get 10K. There is no situation in real economics that makes this a valid question.

      And I’m sorry if you haven’t seen that I’ve tried pointing this out to you. Further I think I said I don’t agree with you that option 2 is clearly preferential. If person 1 earned 20K and person 2 earned nothing that is the best situation. If person 1 earned only 10K and person 2 earned only 10K that is best situation. Just asking about ends in as if ends are the only thing that matters is logically ridiculous as your question is ridiculous as it mirrors not a single real life situation.

  4. well, I take that you don’t want to answer, or that you are incapable of evaluating two simple scenarios.

    In your post you made lots of “imagine” that I get $10,000 more, or $20,000 more, etc, asking to evaluate hypothetical scenarios. Should I ask where you get the extra money from, did you really deserve it, maybe they were better used somewhere else? no, those are irrelevant questions in your scenarios. And you were asking questions about ends, so your questions were equally ridiculous from your point of view.

    When pointed to a simple example you become incapable of reasoning without starting a tirade about socialism. So, cris1 and cris2 both found find themselves in the situations proposed, earning those money themselves by legal means. Which situation is the best? come on cris, keep running away.

    • They’re not simple scenarios. Why? Because all of the scenarios I proposed had to do with end AND means (both which are relevant in any question).

      But since you really can’t understand that you situations, which only looks at ends, I’ll give your an answer. (Even though if they’re both earning money by legal means there is no reason they can’t both earn $20K in a free economy). I’m going to go with option A, one person just earning $20K. Since the situation is so bizarre it must be under a system where there is not a free economy, and I can easily see a parent or close friend sacrificing what they have to make sure their child or friend has enough to get out of that country (the full $20K) and into an economically free nation.

      “Should I ask where you get the extra money from, did you really deserve it, maybe they were better used somewhere else?”
      Every clause in that sentence makes a socialist assumption. Where did we get the extra money? Earned it. Did someone deserve it? Yes if they worked to earn it. Maybe it was better used somewhere else? The millions of free choices in a capitalist system always determine the best use of money (as shown in the works and research of Friedman and Hayek), the idea that I could choose a better use of someone’s money that they earned better than they could suggests the very core of socialism that I am opposed to. It’s not a tirade to point out where your coming from philosophically.

      However, let me ask you a question as ridiculous as the one you proposed, that will only deal with ends and look not all at means.

      Is it (A) better for one person to go to jail for 10 years and another person to not go to jail or (B) better for two people to go to jail for 5 years.

      Now since you seemed to think my questions about whether they earned the wealth or not and why it’s preposterous to assume that there is limited amount of money, you can’t ask whether either of them is innocent or guilty, because if how asking relevant questions about means and earning means that I am “ncapable of evaluating two simple scenarios” then questions of innocence and guilt should be equally pointless in this “simple scenario”.

      • that’s easy. Assuming similar boundary conditions and diminishing returns and since going to jail is a negative thing the answer is option (A).

        I applaud you for choosing (B), it’s a terrible choice, but it’s yours.

        Your faith in the “free economy” is very naive: “if there is a free economy everyone has the opportunity to succeed through drive, education (personal and formal), and talent.”

        so if “drive, education and talent” => “you succeed”, I derive that

        “not succeed” => “no drive or education or talent”.

        I understand you’re 30-something, and have some important debt to pay off. I wish you all the possible health, but what happens if tomorrow you discover you have a cancer and are not able to work anymore and pay off your debt and pay for medicines? would that be a sign of lack of drive, education or talent?

        if you were older you would know that life is very unfair even with good people. It is absurd to think that we are playing with fair rules.

        • So you think it’s fine to just send someone to jail, you don’t even want to ask if they’re innocent or not, just looking at ends is all you need to go on. Frightening to think what you must have as a basis of ethics.

          Why is it a terrible choice. The example I gave was for a friend or family member sacrificing so someone they loved could have a better life. Why is that bad?

          I don’t know if your hatred of the free market is naive but it’s certainly wrong.

          I would go back to one of my previous blog where I quoted a former member of the Clinton White House, Willam Galston,
          “You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty – finish high school, marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor.” And this only really covers education and two common sense choices. If you add talent and drive into the equation I think you’ll find that figures are even more in favor of the free market. (https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2009/11/08/why-modern-liberalism-is-evil/)

          But please show me the person with talent, drive and education who hasn’t succeeded. I’m sure there is an example out there but it will likely be an exception that proves the rule in some way.

          If I got a diagnosis of cancer tomorrow I would make the most of the time left that I had. Further I love how liberals always go to the if you got sick tomorrow. Sickness is not the norm. Most people do not get sick. Yes cancer is the third highest killer in the world (around 12% of all deaths) but it is also a disease that is highly correlated by age. The odds that I will get anything before the age of 50 is relatively low…and worrying about unlikely negatives is not a healthy psychological outlook. What if I got run over by a car when I bike to work today? What if I get struck by lightning? What if I contract the plague? These are unlikely situations so I don’t see the need in worrying about them. But let’s play in your ballpark for a second. As a New Ager I would feel that if I got diagnosed with cancer tomorrow that this means there is something karmically that I need to learn and that this is the universes wake up call to me that I need to learn it, I know that’s not everyone’s outlook, but that is how I take all negatives in my life, an opportunity to learn. I would have the cancer surgically removed (if possible, which is relatively cheap) and take the generic drugs (which for the most part work as well as anything and again are relatively cheap) and not waste money on chemo (which is actually only effective about 2-4% of the time, so it’s only slightly more effective than snake oil) and other trials which cost a fortune, don’t have a high success rate, and will lower my quality of life by the pain and suffering they cause me. I would rather live one year to it’s fullest than live another 5 being hunched over a toilet vomiting. But I choose to care about the quality of my life, not it’s quantity (which is a typical New Age, Conservative, and free market choice…you seem to look at the world the other way around). As you suggest that if I got sick I wouldn’t be able to work anymore…actually, since I got an education I was able to get a job that’s not exactly physically intensive, I could probably do my job right up death so long as my hand and brain still work…but again that would be a benefit to seeking an education…something you seem to dismiss as being relevant. And if I did the foolish thing and wasted all my money on experimental drugs and chemo that would be a lack of drive, since I would be choosing number of days over living my life, and a lack of education as research does not show these things to work. (Also by the way, the reason experimental treatments and drugs are so costly is because we have so much government regulation, https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/life-is-not-fair-deal-with-it/)

          Life is unfair to a lot of people. That still does not mean that they can’t make better use of what they have. Yeah the rules are unfair (mostly because we don’t live in a free market) but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy even when life is unfair. In a country like America, even in the worst situations there is always opportunity to improve one’s life and outlook….I’m sorry you don’t see that.

  5. I agree with Cris! It boils down to this – do you believe in the individual or society/the collective? I will choose the individual everytime and although there has never been a society that has completely followed this premise, America came closest. But we do know from history that following the best for society/the collective never works in the long term!
    Cathy

  6. luckily individuals like you are the minority in advanced societies. people actually chose to care about others and in democracies they vote for laws the protect the weak against the unfairness of life. You are dreaming of a place where not many people would like to live, I wish you good luck in finding it and moving there, and I hope life will never teach you the lessons the hard way. your utopia is no better than the socialist one. it is just a jungle where the strong exploits the weak whenever he can profit from it.

    • Actually, you clearly know nothing of human nature. People are actually more caring and charitable when they aren’t having money stolen from them by the government. Individual charity, which I have discussed repeatedly (you just seem unable to actually read what I’m saying) is far more effective in helping people. Further, America is one of the most charitable nations on Earth and is even more charitable when taxes and regulation are down. For an obscenely long discussion of statistics to prove this I would direct you to Arthur C. Brooks’ book “Who Really Cares.” But to sum up, conservatives are more charitable than liberals, spiritual/religious people are more charitable than agnostics and atheists, and the middle class and rich are very very charitable when their money isn’t being stolen. (http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/219338/who-really-cares/thomas-sowell). We don’t need a government to protect the “weak against the unfairness of life” we have the good of humanity for that. We need government only to protect us from those who give into their worst inclinations (which is a small minority when people are allowed to be free).

      The difference here is that you clearly are a pessimist about life and human nature. You think given a chance people will always give into their worst inclinations. I however am an optimist and think that 9 times out of 10 people will do what’ s right when they’re allowed to (we have government around only to keep that 1 in 10 in check when their bad call is one that will actively harm another). Obviously we will never agree because we have two radically different views on the nature of the universe…although since you brought up cancer in your last post I would like to warn you that pessimists have much weaker immune systems and are far more likely to get major illnesses like cancer. For your own sake I suggest you reevaluate your outlook.

      • you’re a paradox. what if people democratically and freely vote for a government that passes laws to protect the weak and the poor? from what absurd pulpit are you pontificating against their free choice? You just want to impose to savage rule of the jungle. life is complex and difficult mr pace, and your beliefs very naive.

        • No government has the right take other people’s money beyond providing basic protections against the use of force, even if the majority wants such a law. Just because the tyranny of the mob says they want something does not mean the government has any right to do that. That is why we have a Constitution, that limits what the mob can do. I would be pontificating from the pulpit of Classical Liberalism which says that you need limited, republican (as in representative), non all powerful government to keep the tyranny of the mob in check. You should look into it as the concepts of limited government have only been the major political thrust of the last few hundred years. Yes my beliefs are naive, but at least I’m in the good company of Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Burke, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Washington, Montesquieu, Franklin and quite a few others…we are just so ignorant and stupid to believe that government must have limits placed upon it and that just because an idea is popular it may not be right.

      • so here you go: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7052318.stm
        It’s better to be happy than sad, but that has no effect on cancer.

        now let’s see “my sources are better than your sources”. Life is complex mr pace, and you’re very naive.

        and you’re fundamentalist of the worst kind since you judge facts from how they fit with you theory, not how with your theory fits with the facts.

        So you don’t judge an economic theory from the outcome, but you judge the outcome depending on the economic theory. You cannot compare two simple scenarios but you must refer back to “free market”. If it’s free market then everything is ok. Old people dying on the street? you have no opinion, but if it’s free market then it’s the best possible outcome. You seem to have no independent standard to judge which of two outcomes is preferable, without going back to “free market”, which you use as a crutch when your intellect fails you.

        Since you like to drop names to make you feel bigger I’ll give you nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz. So let’s see the puerile “my nobel prize is bigger than yours” now …

        • That’s an interestingly flawed. The general consensus is that a positive attitude (which by definition is one that does not have continual negative stress) creates a more health and fully functioning immune system (an immune system that can attack the mutations in cells before they become a full blown cancer) (http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/beaton.html, http://www.livescience.com/8158-optimism-boosts-immune-system.html) the study you cited starts out with people who already have cancer. As there seems to be no indication of what their attitude throughout the previous 20 years of their life was before.

          I also like how you say “now let’s see “my sources are better than your sources”” Which suggests that I am petty if I look at any other information than yours. Very mature of you.

          Do you have proof of where I fit fact to match my theory? Or did you just feel like making a personal attack without backing?

          As I said before you have to look at END AND MEANS (how many times do I have to say this). You have to find the best outcome through the most ethical means. Socialism doesn’t work and it’s unethical. Free markets do work and they are ethical.

          Your supposedly two simple sentences looked only at outcomes. They cannot be judged without the means to which those outcomes are achieved. I can think of a dozen situations where one outcome is better and a dozen where the other is better. For instance are you saying that a person who demand to do nothing, like child believing they are entitled to everything and person who works hard for their income are entitled to equal shares of wealth?

          I stated early that your either/or did not mirror anything in real life. The appropriate response would have been to give me such a situation where such a choice is accurate…you could not even provide that out of the billions of possible situations in human existence. But this also shown by how you responded to my question about sending people to jail. You failed to recognize that I was pointing out how flawed your question is. You can’t send people to jail unless you know that they have committed a crime…but you actually made a choice not caring about whether one or either of the hypothetical people were guilty or innocent. It was an answer that lacked any consideration of ethics or justice (but to understand either you have to consider ends, means, situations…and you only consider ends). (By the way I would refer you back to the blog where I show such an attitude is preposterous https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/idiots-ethics-and-god/)

          I don’t even no where your statement about Old People comes from…but if you’re suggesting that in free market we would just leave the old to die on their own, then once again you clearly did not read what any of us had to say, because as I pointed out Americans are extremely charitable when they have money to be charitable with (i.e. the government is not stealing it).

          I don’t march lock step to the free market, as you seem to to a socialist utilitarian view. Facts show that free markets create more wealth, create higher standards of living, create more charitable giving and create better unity in society. Please provide proof that I am wrong about that. I have provided evidence from multiple sources (https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/lets-make-our-economy-like-the-swedes…more-capitalistic/ , https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/economic-inequality-hurts-people-or-does-it/ , https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/the-poor-are-getting-richer/ , https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/why-raising-taxes-cannot-solver-our-problem/ , https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/in-which-i-refute-the-idea-that-capitalism-can-only-be-defended-on-new-age-grounds/ , there’s more but I had to stop somewhere)

          Just because you claim I am not acting on reason, it doesn’t make it so. Do you actually have an example?

          And as to the name dropping you stated, “from what absurd pulpit are you pontificating against their free choice” a statement that suggest that I have no backing for this, no reason to believe in it and that I am alone in this belief, that no sane person could possibly believe in it. Again I am sorry if you are offended that I have proof against such a suggestion (I know you you’re not a fan of proof, all you’ve given is one link to a poorly constructed study that was not even dealing with what I was claiming, but again you would have had to read to know that, and a bunch of name calling saying that I am weak minded and incapable of answer a poorly worded question). I didn’t do it to make myself feel bigger (although your poor attempt at bullying here suggests that you may be projecting your own problems) I did it to refute a point you made.

          And by the way, you do know the two Nobel economists didn’t actually win for anything to do with macroeconomics. Sen looked at effects on local communities and Stiglitz got his for looking at dealing between individual parties. Neither was won for macroeconomic thinking. In fact only free marker economist have won the Nobel for macroeconomic contributions. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2011/08/11/tea-party-understands-economics-better-than-obama-or-bill-maher/).

          I’ve yet to see you provide any proof that free markets don’t work from you. Do you have any? Or is it just because you feel it’s right?

      • Let me be patient with you mr pace. I’ll go back to original post and spell out the details.

        It’s your favorite free market economy world. Pick whatever version you like. Adam Smith is the president. You are about to buy some goods. Two individuals (which have obtained the goods in legal and proper ways etc etc) offer you such goods (of identical quality etc etc) for the same price of $100. You happen to know that buying from A you will help him achieve some basic goals (e.g. having enough food to eat), while B is already better off and would use the money to satisfy some “higher” (in maslow’s sense) needs (e.g. buying a car). You can make the choice freely and are faced with two alternative scenarios. Which one do you chose and why?

        As you can see you have to make some value judgement. It has nothing to do with socialism. You are redistributing wealth with your free choice. Nobody is stealing anything from anybody. Obviously such example was too complex for you.

        I’ll skip the other remarks because they have nothing to do with the main issue. You clearly love to drag everything into a “free market vs everybody else” pathetic mud.

        • So you don’t have any proof?

          I’m not sure how realistic this example is, but I’ll play…

          And your example is a little bizarre as it would require me know about the personal lives of two different individuals. But honestly if person A needs a $100 just to have enough to eat, he sounds like a terrible business man, he probably has a run down store that would make me doubt the quality of his goods, and he should probably quit and find a job he is better suited to (I mean if he really needs the money that bad basic intelligence would dictate he under cut his competition’s price by at least a dollar). As I seem to know the personal lives of both, it would suggest both are friends to some degree, so it would probably come down to who I am closer to as a friend, but I don’t think you meant to suggest any personal relationship here, so again since I am forced to doubt the quality of person A’s good, I’m going to have to buy from person B.

          Although since you suggest that both are standing right in front of me offering the same good for $100, I’ll probably get them into a bidding war to see who can offer me the best price.

          And is this something I actually need or just something I want? Because you’re quite uncapitalistically suggesting I have to buy it what they’re selling. What if I don’t want to buy what either person is hawking?

          Not that complex at all…just not very realistic.

          However, your original question wasn’t either give it to one person or the other. It was originally give to one person or do a 50/50 split for both. Now if for some reason both were equally good friends, and it was not a single item, but a collection of goods they were offering (and that I needed) then I might to do the 50/50 split. There are still al lot of unanswered variables here.

          A variation on what you’re trying to argue is the argument in favor of local stores versus big box stores, which I’ve already dealt with, https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/why-buy-local-is-a-silly-idea-in-practice/

      • for a moment I thought you were actually going to help out the person in need, but I see that you exchanged A and B.

        You have of course added a lot of irrelevant assumptions. It doesn’t really matter. I’m happy to see that you dropped that socialist conspiracies and actually tried to answer the situation. you see, nobody is stealing anything to anybody, you should at least take back all that nonsense you brought up.

        I also noticed that the you looked exclusively at your own self interest. It made no difference that you could have really helped one person to survive. since I gave you indications that the goods were identical, you had to go and look to something that made a difference for you (friendship etc). Can you confirm that’s the only thing that matters to you?

        • Of course I’m motivated by selfishness. What else would I be motivated by? Rational self interest is what creates a better life for everyone. Economics 101 is Adam Smith’s observation: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

          What would you propose I replace rational self interest with? I choose to love myself as much as I love my neighbors (can’t remember right now who told me that, that I should put self love on equal footing with compassion for others).

          I love how assumptions necessary to make a choice are irrelevant.

          When I’m buying things for myself I think about myself. When I’m engaged in acts of charity, I think about how to best help others. (https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2009/12/25/the-virtue-of-charity/) They are different fields of action and confuse them only leads to me not getting the best products, the economy not receiving accurate information about the best services, and charity not being effective in helping people. (https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/a-series-of-unfortunate-blogs-part-x—charity-and-human-potential-in-captialism/).

          And as to my “socialist conspiracies” you do get that when government take money to do income economic redistribution is tantamount to theft. To hell that it doesn’t work. It’s theft. And when talking about economies and economic system, brining that up actually is relevant to the situation.

      • mr pace the problem is not that you are motivated by selfishness, but that you are motivated by selfishness exclusively. You cannot even imagine what else could motivate your choices.

        You cannot evaluate which scenario is better without any hint to your different self interest (which you desperately try to build into the situation), because the two situations are identical to you, since you don’t care about others.

        Such lack of empathy is a defining characteristic of psychopaths, and you are dreaming of a society of psychopaths.

        The socialist obsession is evident because in my question there was no mention of the state deciding for you, but you injected all the assumptions of limited amount of money, forced redistribution, etc etc, and evident knee jerk reaction.

        Question for you: is an economic theory good because it produces good consequences, or are the consequences good because they are produced by a given economic theory? for consequences I don’t mean only the ends but also the means… if these “consequences” are part of the definition of the theory itself you are just playing a self referential game.

        • Let’s see I discuss how friendship effects my choices, but I have no empathy. I discuss how charity needs to be treated as a separate field of action to get best results of charity, but I have no empathy. I get have a whole section in the original article on the joys of philanthropy, but i have no empathy. I have links to where i discuss the need for charity, but I have no empathy. So either I’m a psychopath (and that wasn’t a cheap personal attack) or is it you have no ability to read and comprehend words?

          Yes anything that involves me purchasing something involves selfishness. You gave an example of my purchasing something, how can I not factor selfishness into it.

          If you have given me an example of I have a $100 to give to someone who needs food to survive or $100 to give to someone who needs it to get a better education, you might have given me a situation that removed my personal well being from the equation. Now I still wouldn’t give you the answer you want it that situation because I feel the education will have further positive ripple effects for not only the person to whom I am giving but also further down the line (give a man a fish/teach a man to fish, and all that) and that a person with an education will help strengthen not just himself but those around him, but at least that scenario doesn’t involve my personal well being in it directly. Too bad you couldn’t come up with an example that didn’t involve my buying something.

          And you made a mention of socialist conspiracies in your last post, my responding to it is not an obsession, it’s responding to something you said.

          And economic theories are good when they (A) produce results by (B) ethical means. I have said this probably a dozen times. I’m sorry you have limited skills in reading comprehension, but I have made this clear. Capitalism has historically been shown to be effective (you still have yet to provide evidence to the contrary), Socialism has not (you still have yet to provide evidence to the contrary). Capitalism is ethical. Socialism is not. Ergo Capitalism meet my requirements of ethical and effective. Do you have even an example of where I am ignoring evidence to so that I can justify my belief system? Again you seem to be projecting your own irrationality about fitting facts to meet a theory rather than following facts.

          • I’ll skip the blah blah: “(A) produce results by (B) ethical means.”

            did you mean “produce good results”?

            so you have some ways to evaluate good results and good means. I suppose they are different, otherwise you would not need both points A and B. What would they be? Of course they have not be part of the definition of the economic theory itself if you want to avoid circular reasoning.

            • I’m speechless…

              Yes the “good” was implied. It’s a basic convention of English. Much like capitalizing proper nouns.

              Yes. We do have a way to evaluate ends and means. It’s called ethics. I’m sorry you haven’t heard of this radically new field of philosophy, it’s only been around for a few years so I can understand how missed it. You may want to brush up on it. I would start with Plato’s “Gorgais”, Aristtole’s “Nichomachean Ethics” and Adler’s “Aristotle for Everybody.”

              • you didn’t answer. What are the methods you use to evaluate ends and what are the methods you use to evaluate means?

                • Are you kidding me? You actually consider that to be a question.

                  Reason. Experience. Common Sense. Things I’m sure you’ve never heard of.

                  Also it’s it the height of hypocrisy when I have asked you repeatedly to justify any of your and you haven’t. And I would also add that you have not responded to anyone else who has commented on this blog, even thought they have laid questions and comments directly at your feet.

                • Do you think something like ethics, that has to take into account circumstances, history, psychology, virtues, ends, means, and internal sense of right and wrong, intent and a hundred other things (some relevant to some situations but not to others) and capable of only being processed by the human mind/soul as a gestalt whole can be explained in a comment box. Even the best minds can’t capture it into a simple equation. Although I guess, I can go back to my original point of this article. What will make lead me to Happiness? But again it’s far more complex than that question suggests.

                  This is why Aristotle suggested that you try to model the virtues you admire and not worry about the details because no single equation or rule can capture the complexity of life.

              • reasoned choice implies evaluation of the alternative scenarios, so you should be able to come up with ways to evaluate the alternative scenarios.

                You clearly put two points there, evaluation of ends and evaluation of means, but still have not given details. Are you able to evaluate if some ends are better than others? Are you able to evaluate if some means are better than others?

                • Yeah. Anyone with a brain can. But as there are billion possible ends and a billion possible means and billion billion combinations, as I said it there isn’t as simple equation. You would know this if you had a conception of right and wrong, but given your answer to the jail problem this clearly lacking in your psyche (and yet you have the audacity to claim I demonstrate the behavior of a psychopath).

                • ok, it isn’t a simple equation, but you are able to tell if one end is better than another?

                  • Hence my statement about a gestalt whole…psych 101 we often can internalize massive amounts of information and and sift through it without being able to express it in a simple rule (for example a computer may be able to beat people at chess which as very limited options in moves, but even the best computers can’t progress beyond a high novice level of the game GO with it’s remarkably more complex structure, but a human mind can see the forrest from the tress, beyond simple equations and rule and see and understand a complete whole).

                    Again, as Aristotle pointed out, since there are too many variables to worry about and compute in a formulaic way, it is better to habituate the virtues we most admire into ourselves (for most Aristotelians those are temperance, prudence, justice, fortitude, wit, righteous indignation, liberality, magnificence, magnanimity, proper ambition, truthfulness, friendliness, good temper, pride, and a whole host of variations on wisdom, Thomists of course add to this faith, hope, and love…and this is by no means a complete list). Which ones are called for and how exactly they manifest depends on the circumstances of the situation. If you actually want to learn, again I would direct you to the book of Aristotle and Adler, they go into much more detail and their prose is far superior to mine.

                  • since you split the problem in two (ends and means) and are able somehow to evaluate both with separate criteria, why the hell did you go into that tirade about not being able to evaluate ends without knowing the means? and if they are not independent, and evaluation of ends depends on the means, and evaluation of means depend on the ends, how the hell can you evaluate anything without going into circular reasoning? and if one is more basic than the other (e.d. means) why did you say that it has to have both good ends and good means?

                    • Understand I’m not arguing with you. You’re clearly beyond any possible hope of ever understanding because frankly you seem to know nothing about human nature or ethics and have desire to learn, you only are trying to build up your ego with preposterous comments, indicated by the fact that you have offered only one flawed piece of evidence that wasn’t even on topic…and you seem to claim that ethics can be boiled down to a simple equation but have yet to provide it. I am merely responding so that people who may be reading this do not think you have a valid argument and get sucked into the logical cesspool you seem to be proposing (and of course building up readership on my blog).

                      Let me try an example. (I know you seem to hate these, but most people like these). The virtue of Justice. Back to the prison example which in which you showed yourself to be immoral. I originally gave you an option of sending one person to jail for 10 years and one goes free or two people to jail for 5 years. This is a trick question, as anyone with an internal moral compass would realize, because you can’t determine if how long people should be sent to jail until you established guilt or innocence. But let’s make this more simple. Let’s say you have someone who robbed a bank at gun point (but did not kill or assault anyone). You have him on HD camera so guilt is established. Now there are several means to consider. You can let him go. You can imprison him. You can get more draconian and cut off his hand, torture him, or even kill him. Now if your end was simply to stop crime, actually a more draconian model might work (statistically the death penalty does reduce the crime rate, I don’t support the death penalty on religious grounds but that doesn’t mean I deny statistics) however in this case the means of death or torture is not just, even though end would be. On the flip side if your ends is just to punish and get revenge, even sentencing him to prison is wrong because the ends were unjust. The correct ends (to seek to protect the public, and if at all possible rehabilitate the criminal, although this is secondary to the primary goal) must be just and the means (through imprisonment) must be be just for an act to be just.

                      You have repeatedly wanted me to pick saying 2 people with $10,000 is inherently better than only one person with $20,000. It’s not that simple. If both people earned $10,000 and got it that’s just, if they both earned $10,000 and one got the $20,000 that’s unjust. If one earned $20,000 and the other earned nothing, then one with $20,000 is just. If the person who earned it got nothing and the person who didn’t earn it got everything, that’s extremely unjust. How they come about their money, their means, cannot be separated from the ends. And each virtue is a complex balance of ends and means, which through reason, experience and self reflection we have all come to internally understand. In every example I have given, i have given context to understand the means and motivations behind the act, which is inextricable from the whole of understanding of what virtue.

                      I do not see how you can claim this is circular reasoning. How you got to an end and the end itself are obviously different issues. But a value judgement of ethics cannot be made absolutely of one without the other. Some ends are perfectly correct when matched with certain means, but evil when matched with other means. Some means are abhorrent with certain ends, but the very definition of ethical when coupled with other ends. You’re not judging each in a vacuum, you’re judging the whole. You seem to think that I”m implying that you must judge the right or wrongness of means, and then judge the ends by them. No that is not the case and has never been the case in philosophy. You have to look at the whole and see if the whole of the ends and the means together create a virtuous situation.

                      Now our habits can differ from our understanding of what is virtue, but we have the ability to change our habits through deliberate choice.

                  • Interesting. So you are really convinced you cannot say if a goal is good or bad without knowing by what means it can be reached. and same thing for the means: you cannot say if some means are good or bad because it depends on the goals. So it is an “inextricable whole”. Correct?

                  • Ok then.

                    Let’s say you want to know if reaching goal X with means Y is good, as a whole. How do you go about it? You look at X, but you cannot say if it’s good, because that depends whether Y is good or evil. So you try to find out if Y is good or evil, but you can’t since that depends on whether X is good or evil.

                    It’s like saying that the good men are those that do good actions, and then saying that good actions are those done by good men. You haven’t said anything really. It’s all circular reasoning.

                    • No you’re either misunderstanding or intentionally perverting what I’m saying.

                      First as I pointed out we have an innate sense of right and wrong because we have soul (if you don’t believe in the human soul just leave this conversation there is no point in talking with you because you won’t acknowledge the truth that human have an innate sense of right and wrong), which leads us to admire and look to good people. Now the soul does have an ultimate goal, an end in itself, and that is Happiness, in the sense of the Greek word eudaimonia, and in the sense of Maslow’s self-actualization (which I stated in the original post, but you apparently wanted to shoot off a knee jerk response rather than actually reading what I said) for a single life and Enlightenment for a series of lives, (but do not mistake that as a goal that is separate from means, Happiness is a sum of all the ends and means that preceded it). We can naturally see that good people are inherently happier, even under the worst circumstances, so we have a reason to judge them as good by something other than the circular logical fallacy you presented. (Can we make errors in this judgement, yes, we’re human, that does not invalidate that we have soul which knows good from evil, it just means we don’t always listen fully). The actions, or more accurately the virtues these people present to us are what we try to emulate. And in emulating them our actions are good.

                      Happiness is the direction we are all headed in and the reason it is not circular reasoning. Happiness is not an end in the sense of the result of a single action with a single end and a single means, it is a sum total of the actions (ends and means) of an entire life. (https://conservativenewager.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/the-purpose-of-life/)…which is why I also said a few comments back the simple question to ask is “What will lead to happiness?”

                      Happiness is what good men achieve. Good men perform good actions. No circular reasoning there.

                  • so you moved from a decent statement about a good economic theory which is composed by good ends of good means to a desperately fuzzy “innate sense of right and wrong”, a clear step forward! Why bother with anything else, we should all just look at what innate sense tells us, it can’t be wrong! And those that disagree must be evil people or socialists. A fantastic way to resolve economic disputes. Very easy to apply when deciding if the budget should to to national defense or education or energy exploration. So a good economic system is one that promotes Happiness, capital H, all problems solved folks.

                  • So, you’ve given up already? all that I see is that a good systems depends on having good ends and good means, but you cannot identify good ends and good means because they depend on each other, or, even better, on some higher entity: Happiness. Which i suppose is coincident with “good”, so that Happiness is good and everything that is good is so because it aims to Happiness. So good ends and good means are those that are good. Great. Instead of going to the actual metrics that would make the theory concrete and make discussion possible you had to retreat to the highest level of abstraction possible, where no disagreement makes sense. Of course you couldn’t make the theory concrete, because then I could ask you to evaluate different scenarios,something you must refuse to do…

                    • Not needing to respond to meaningless gibberish isn’t giving up, it’s not responding to meaningless gibberish. I can’t respond when you clearly have no ability to read and/or think. You seem to suggest that human life can be broken down into some kind of mathmatical metric. And yet you call me naive. Russel Kirk in his book the conservative mind defined one of the 6 defining aspects of conservatism as “[Conservatives have an] affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence[.]” If you deny that mystery and suggest human life can be boiled down to a simple metric you not only deny reason and common sense, you deny the value of human life, and thus no conversation is possible. You don’t get that Happiness is a sum of end and means You don’t get that a soul does give you an internal compass (given what I’ve read you probably deny it’s existence). Again you seem to deny the very nature of human life in absolute defiance of common sense and reason. Thus no conversation is possible with you. Yeah it’s odd how you denying that Happiness is the point of life take the argument “where no disagreement makes sense”, self-evident truth has a funny way of making any opposition seem foolish.

                      No metrics are possible because human life is infinitely complex. I can discuss my understanding of the whole applies to specific situations, but you can’t describe how Gestalt conception it’s in sum is greater than the whole of it’s parts in simple rules and metrics. There are a few guidelines, we’re moving toward happiness (which can only be accomplished by virtue in private life, and Classically Liberal and capitalistic governments for society), free will is fact (again mirrored in virtue and responsibility, capitalism and Classical LIberalism), that life has inherent value and thus I must be concerned with the value of my life and not needlessly sacrifice it on some altar of society, that reason, when properly used will more often than not lead to the correct course of action.

                      This has come to a point where you are simply denying reason and common sense. My readers cannot even conceivably gain anything more from as this will just go in circles of me affirming the truth and you saying that by doing so doesn’t provide metrics. You have nothing more to contribute. Please leave.

                      (But I know you won’t and I would like to point out to everyone his statement will have something to do with me giving up and not dealing in reason…at which point I suggest you go back and look at how he has repeatedly shown that he has not read anything, not thought about anything, denies reason and the value of human life. If he really wanted an argument he would have at some point provided evidence, or given what he though was the appropriate metric. He didn’t. Just as well, as I would have torn his flimsy idea with such vigor he probably would have wound up in a fetal position rocking back and forth. I will be making no further response to this idiot. But feel feel to insult him if you wish.)

                  • You can keep dreaming of your world of Happiness and Gestalt with their infinite complexity and wisdom. We humans have to deal with real life and make decisions with limited resources, conflicting interests and unfair situations. People want paychecks and we need metrics to run a country.

                    Funny that you advocate free market but then are against metrics to decide what economic policies to apply. You use metrics and statistics only when you think they go to your advantage, and then deny them any value when you are put in a corner. Show me how you resolve conflicts with your Happiness and Gestalt: should we all sit and listen to our innate sense of right and wrong until we all agree? We need metrics and objective facts.

                    You are too intelligent not to see that you’ve failed miserably, and that’s why your retreat is not honorable.

                  • actually, I give you credit that you post my comments …

                    it’s really amazing that you accuse me to break down human life into a mathematical metric. That is exactly one of biggest strengths of a free market, where all the infinite complexity of the desires and needs of the people who participate in it are compressed into demand and supply and one metric: money.

                    The fact that the market is so efficient in breaking down all this data into one metric is exactly why capitalism has a great advantage over central planning, and can in most cases self-regulate so efficiently.

                    I am defending free market mr pace, exactly because it gives me metrics, unlike your deluded dreams of upper case Happiness and upper case Gestalt which give us nothing.

                    • Darian

                      Cris, how do you attract these fucking losers?

                      Kister what the fuck would you know about honor? Honoable would be reading the guy you’re arguing with. Which you clearly don’t. Honorable would be making ethical statements. Which you haven’t. So again, dipshit, I ask what the fuck do you know about honorable? I doubt it will be a lot because I’m sure Cris would say it’s a virture and has to with ends and means. Honorable was disengaging from your insanity after demonstrating the patience of a fucking saint in tollerating your stupid ass for so long.

                      But thank you for reminding me why I only read blogs once a week. Anymore and I’d be wasting all my time with dipshits like you who remind me of that facebook post:
                      “Reblog this if you know someone, or have been affected by someone, who needs a punch in the fucking face. People who need a punch in the fucking face affect the lives of many. There is still no known cure for people who need a punch in the fucking face, except a punch in the fucking face. 93% of people won’t reblog this.. Why? Because.. they probably need a punch in the fucking face.” ’cause you’re clearing not open to reason.” And before you accuse me encouraging violence, it’s a fucking joke used to make a point.

                      Statistics and metrics, moron, are great for determining if you have met a goal. Fucking uselsss to determining if it’s right. But great for measuring if you meet a goal.

                      Cris in his first post that you commented on, proved that only free markets meet the end of creating wealth and raising the standard of living. He then pointed out repeatedly with you that it is also the only system that pairs that end with a just means. If a dictatorship could produce wealth faster and better than a free market it wouldn’t be better even though the metrics said it made more. Measuring whether you can reach a goal is all nice and good but it can’t find the whole answer. If you just want more wealth, go to China or Nazi Germany as slave labor is a great way to produce wealth quickly. Since you don’t care about means, you shouldn’t have any ethical problem with that last statement. Do you understand how evil what you’re saying is?

                      Your comment on the advantage of the free market breaking life down into metrics fits your sociopathic willingness to send people to jail based on mathmatical formula and no concern for justice. It’s sick. Seek professional help. And your view that money is an ultimate metric is also sick. As Cris said money is a tool, you’re treating it as the end all be all. I’m a die hard laizzes faire capitalist, but your reverence of money as something other than a tool of exchange and measure of work and wealth I find perverted. Money is needed, yeah, and no one has the right to take what you have earned, but it’s not the whole answer, it never can be. Cris is right you don’t have any fucking clue as to what a soul is do you?

                      “it gives me metrics, unlike your deluded dreams of upper case Happiness”

                      You’re defending money over Happiness?Are you insane? No conservative. No captialist. No rational person would make such a statement. …if you’re serious then you are exactly what conservatives don’t need, a true fucking sociopath who is every bit the insane caricature that liberals complain about. Cris was right, go the fuck away, you aren’t helping anyone with drivel like that.

                    • Hey Darian piece of shit, where do you come from? I thought cris said no insults but of course the rule doesn’t work for you. Do you always come in after cris gives up for lack of arguments? are you his bodyguard or something? are you just cris logged in with a different name? what pathetic fuck you are.

                    • I said no attacking me or my friends…I said nothing about my opponents so I let him vent…and I think he did say he only reads this stuff once a week, can’t really blame him for not responding earlier. (yeah it was a bit much on the swearing, but I understand where he’s coming from, i.e. Darian tone it down next time, even if you feel it’s justified).

                      And if I was going to make up names, don’t think I’d have done it long before this? (And I let you get away with the swearing because you didn’t start it this time, don’t take it as permission to start). (Oh, and given you have the same IP address as the guy with the random symbols for a name, it looks like you’re projecting again)

                    • Darian is a bit offensive at times but his logic is accurate. We all believe in a free market system but realize that you do need some regulation – not to curtail the free market but insure that it continues to follow morals/ethics. Left unchecked even a free market system can be oppressive (a true monopoly). I think that is what Cris has been stating that you must combine all the issues to achieve the true goal which is not an accumulation of money but true happiness. No one was ever truly happy by accumulating wealth and not doing anything productive with it (either for personal pleasure, the good of others by choice or an increase in productive business). I think you will find that the reason so many of the wealthy are liberals is that they have no moral compass and feel guilty about the money they earned and do not feel that they actually earned it. Back to your discussion about diminishing returns – you can only get joy from so much materialism – particularly if it wasn’t purchased for joy but for just materialism sake.
                      Basically I agree with Cris the whole human system/life is integrated and can not be separated with metrics to individual concepts. I think that is where your basic difference is. I again agree with Cris.
                      Cathy

            • Markkister, you are not reading Cris’ blogs or answers completely as he has mentioned ethics previously. Ethics are the morals and principals that one lives by and conducts all decisions and actions by. Do you not have any? Since you were willing to accept the scenario of putting someone in jail without further information, I question whether you have ever contemplated your own moral compass. Most people have put together their own values and principals to guide their life by the time they are an adult (I will concede that sometimes that is in the late twenty’s but certainly by then). These principals and values (ethics) are what guide all decisions and actions. I do not believe that you will be able to comprehend Cris’s comments as your principals/morals are not equal to Cris’ (assuming you have some other then sacrificing yourself to anyone else’s needs). To have true morals and principals you must first value yourself, what you are and what you believe. This is the problem with liberals as they do not appear to have principled actions and go with anything that they say makes them feel good or sounds like it should make them feel good (as I stated previously in former response). You replied that I was a minority in advanced societies. I am unclear as to what an “advanced society” is exactly. I know for a fact that I am in approximately a 50% bracket in the US. I would based on that believe that I was also in a 50% bracket in the world. I would say that any society that feels it has a right to something that is not theirs (such as earnings) and feels it has the right to take (read: steal) from someone to pass along to others is being immoral and acts without principal. This debate is occurring in this country at this time. Our Constitution reflects my way (and I think Cris’ way) of thinking. Since our Constitution is considered by most advanced peoples and not so advanced peoples (since it has allowed us to be the savior for the world several times and the goal for so many in the world to come here for so long) to be an extremely unique and superior document to any produced so far I tend to think that I would have to be in at least the 50% bracket of thought. Since your thought process has never been successful in any civilization for any great period of time I think you might (if you used reason and logical thought processes) determine that you were working under flawed concepts. You keep coming up with irrational scenarios but you should take your thought process and try and apply it to the real world and give real world scenarios and then see how fair and or flawed your thinking is. That is the test – not concepts but concrete actions. One can play at philosophy when one is young and drinking with friends but at some point you need to apply all beliefs to real world conduct and actions.
              I can assure you that if NEED of others is your only factor in determining what is right and correct then you are a flawed human with low self worth.
              Cathy

            • joshm1234

              “blah blah” Translation: I have no proof whatsoever so I’m going to try and insult you to hide what a fucking idiot I am.

    • Not a random jump in your argument, no not at all.

      (1) I’m not entirely sure this isn’t a joke…(2) either it will work and create new industries and economic opportunities in every nation on Earth (a good thing) or it doesn’t work at we’re still at more economic freedom is better for every country (also a good thing). How exactly is there a downside?

      • it’s not a joke. it’s your paradise. go there. no minimum wage, no welfare. a paradise for optimists like you who will never get cancer thanks to their immune system.

        • And I didn’t say I won’t get cancer, just my odds are much lower than yours. I have to die of something eventually, but statistically, being an optimist places that at a much later age with a much more fulfilling life behind it.

      • To MarkKister: I am unsure what country you live in but I do not believe it is the US. All stats in this country prove that the poor are always in a better position under less regulation and with less limited help and always increase and become worse off when government intervenes. I realize that it is difficult for liberals (whatever level they are at) to comprehend this fact. If it does not feel good then it must not be good is the only thought process you seem to have without looking at all the long term consequences of all your actions along with all the variables you can possibly discern in a situation. Most people will help those truly in need but not all poor are deserving and all poor are not there due to bad things which they had no control over. When individuals are making these decisions then more of the deserving people are helped and less of those not deserving. In our country we used to have these people (mostly men) that were called hobos and they wandered the country and jumped trains. I remember reading about a study once that found that the majority of them actually choose that lifestyle and it was the minority (although as I recall it was not a small minority) had circumstance occur that caused them to follow that life style. So when people assist people they can choose whom they wish to help and whom they do not wish to help. When individuals do the helping there is also a benefit derived from the individual assisting those in need. When governments intervene they waste money/resources and there is no benefit to the giver or the receiver.
        Again I choose the individual! And for you if you do not know America is a Democratic Republic not a democracy. Actual difference there.
        Cathy

      • Cris, I’m sorry, but this may be a bit rude to this commenter. Just a warning.

        Markkister: what the hell is wrong with you? Are you even reading the posts that Cris makes, or are you just making up what you think his reply would be?
        He never said he wouldn’t get cancer because of his immune system, he laid out (in very plain terms) why it is highly unlikely that he would contract cancer, at least not for many many years.

        Second of all, you completely neglected to deal with his post about human charity, to which he gave you proof. Is it just too hard for you to deal with proof from the opposition? Besides that yahoo article I have only seen you post your opinion on these topics, no proof whatsoever. Cris has offered proof numerous times in posts on his blog, proof that comes from sources you would normally claim as good, and in these comments. You don’t like proof much when it contradicts your ideas do you?

        Also, amount of time lived does not = amount of wisdom or intelligence a person can gain. So that whole “when your older you’ll understand” bullshit doesn’t really work very well. I’ve known 70 year old who were as naive and ignorant as a child and 30 year old (Cris included) who were vastly more well read and educated than professors with PH.D.s. Age does not educate you on the realities of the world or the knowledge to succeed. You have to find those things out on your own, some people figure it out a lot faster than others, some a lot slower. You are clearly one of the latter.

        Cris: Like I said, sorry for the rudeness, but this commenter just….urgh! I trust you can understand my frustration.

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