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James_Bach comments on Torture vs. Dust Specks - Less Wrong

41 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 October 2007 02:50AM

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Comment author: James_Bach 30 October 2007 07:54:48AM 0 points [-]

Regarding your example of income disparity: I might rather be born into a system with very unequal incomes, if, as in America (in my personal and biased opinion), there is a reasonable chance of upping my income through persistence and pluck. I mean hey, that guy with all that money has to spend it somewhere-- perhaps he'll shop at my superstore!

But wait, what does wealth mean? In the case where everyone has the same income, where are they spending their money? Are they all buying the same things? Is this a totalitarian state? An economy without disparity is pretty disturbing to contemplate, because it means no one is making an effort to do better than other people, or else no one *can* do better. Money is not being concentrated or funnelled anywhere. Sounds like a pretty moribund economy.

If it's a situation where everyone always gets what they want and need, then wealth will have lost its conventional meaning, and no one will care whether one person is rich and another one isn't. What they will care about is the success of their God, their sports teams, and their children.

I guess what I'm saying is that there may be no interesting way to simplify interesting moral dilemmas without destroying the dilemma or rendering it irrelevant to natural dilemmas.