Hello Cruel World
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Another Ever-popular Favourite returns, still pertinent
Further comments are below, but here is something I wrote a while back giving an example of how a "booming economy" and "growth" isn't the mythical "rising tide that lifts all boats", apart from probably being unsustainable, followed by the Twisted Logic of current uses of "aspiration" and "envy".
Arguments on The Fallacy of Averages
A Child’s Guide to the Wonder of Statistics
Take a happy group of 10 survivors on the bead economy.
One lucky beado gets 90 beads; one poor beader only 10; eight get 50 beads each.
Total 500, average 50.
Big Boy Beado gets tax cuts & subsidies, funded by cutting ‘middle class welfare’ & general public physical & social infrastructure, does beadstock option speculation — partially funded through cutting the workforce, the wages & conditions, &c. of average working beaders (thus moving beads from them to him).
‘Disadvantaged’ Beadie gets social equity boost from the government to 15.
One lucky or cunning BeadHolder more than doubles his to 110 (maybe in Microsphere shares or real estate).
Now: Big Boy Beado has 225 beads instead of 90, ‘Disadvantaged’ Beadie gets 15 instead of 10, BeadHolder has 110 instead of 50, and seven average little beaders only have 25 where they had 50.
Total 525, average 52.5 each.
"We’re ahead!", cries the Tribal Council.
"Average beads are up!" (52.5 v 50) and
"The poor are better off!" (15 v 10) and
"The pie is bigger!" (525 v 500) they crow.
But 7 of 10 are worse off beadwise, & underlying support for all is less, so that most need to spend more time earning to have the same _material_ standard of living they had before. This usually means their _overall_ standard of living, which most humans calculate as including family or community time & bonds, and leisure time.
Even the poorest is worse off compared to the highest (earlier 10/90 (=1/9th) is greater than current 15/225 (=1/15th)).
Do you think before or after is a happier & more cohesive group;?
'Business leaders' call for "certainty" while talking up the virtue of "flexibility" for those who do the actual work. Strangely, their versions of both make it easier for them & harder for anyone else trying to, say, bring up a family, have a secure home life, take care of elderly parents or support their local community.
'Business leaders' explain that, personally, "the money isn't that important" --- yet very few put their earnings above a certain amount towards charity, or back into their company to reward wage-slaves -- but also that "you pay peanuts, you get monkeys", but, further that somehow neither of these apparently apply to human beings below a particular level. Such creatures must rely on the 'trickle down' (disgusting image, see early chapters of Frank Herbert's "Dune" for a literal example) to improve their life, unless they too join in the ruthless exploitation of the world or fellow humans.
The Australian idea used to be that everyone is entitled to have a reasonable, good education, everyone, having benefited from all the previous generations, contributes to the education of the current crop of children and will benefit from that in the future.
The same with medical treatment -- if Kerry Packer pays his taxes he is as entitled to use the general ambulance service if he has a sudden heart attack as anyone else is. He doesn't have to pay for a private one to be there just for him just in case. And we all benefit because there's a well-supported service.
Again, the same applies to a good public transport system instead of continual cutbacks, with tax support for private cars & roadbuilding.
This is what Australians would "aspire" to; a better society for everyone.
The present ideology puts general public good at the very bottom -- along with the world (or 'environment' that supports life) ...
If you rip the guts out of general public services - transport, health, education, social support for those in difficulty - grind down those who are trying to work in them, treat the passengers, patients, pupils, people who use them without respect, as 'no count trash', naturally those who are able to will probably move away.
And those who can't? It's axiomatic if you treat people like garbage, they won't love you or treat you well either. Getting respect means giving respect. (Respect: not "Let them hate me so long as they fear me".) So you end up in a vicious circle of increasing 'public squalor', driving more away.
When you criticise this or similar, it is labelled: "The Politics of Envy".
When you say a policy or set of behaviours is greedy, selfish, short-sighted & very destructive, this is called 'envy'. But 'envy' means you want what the other person has. What you are doing is 'aspiring' to a _better_way_ of doing things, perhaps benefiting yourself too, but society & the world most importantly. You don't want lots of expensive cars, but a better public transport system.
If you want to imitate the people doing destructive, selfish & short-sighted things, this is called 'aspiring'. Surely _this_ is 'envy'. You may 'aspire' for yourself & your family (like the Suharto family did) without caring what the consequences are for anyone or anything else - the well-known phrase is "bugger you Jack, I'm alright".
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