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deepthoughtlife comments on Traditional Capitalist Values - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 October 2008 01:07AM

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Comment author: deepthoughtlife 02 February 2011 06:57:20AM 4 points [-]

I am well aware that this is an old article now, but I was reading it and found that the positions mentioned in this article are close to my own. Not exact, but close. I personally cannot conceive of a more virtuous way to distribute the goods produced by society, than by the personal vote of each individual member deciding upon the value of each other in material goods, weighted in infinite recursion by society's determination of those people making the decision in the exact same way.

Nothing about this is greedy, or heartless. It merely relies on people making decisions on what they are closest to being experts on -themselves, and those closest to them. It leads to inequality of outcome, but that is hardly a problem when it causes the poor to be vastly wealthier than they have been at any other time in history. Poverty is the natural state of man, and capitalism is the best way to make something else.

That said, what we have is hardly capitalism in its pure form. Political meddling doesn't help. Redistribution of wealth gets votes, but doesn't make society wealthier. Overzealous regulation prevents innovation.

People act like it is a tragedy when a man is replaced by a machine. It is not, though I can understand why it seems that way to the person losing the job. The machine was chosen because it works better than the man, making all of society fractionally richer. If it stopped there, I could understand the issue -he still doesn't have a job. Luckily, it doesn't stop. A richer society can afford to higher more than one man extra, and will indeed need to to get the excess extra efficiency can allow. Men find it hard to reason about very indirect benefits, but that doesn't make them any less real.

Additionally, people have problem realizing that the economic system isn't all numbers, and prices, and jobs, but people. A man gives his daughter a car for her birthday -this is not an economic transaction; this is a man who wants his daughter to be happy, and have the freedom to drive;capitalism actually is deeply in tune with this. A century ago, it would have been ludicrous that an ordinary man buy his daughter a machine that goes more than sixty and takes her anywhere the roads could take her; this is what we call progress, not extra zeroes in the bank.

I find it funny that so many of the comments are about terrorists. I read the previous article too, and most of these comments would seem to apply to that, so I suppose they apply to this one too, seeing how there is an obvious connection, but it's still funny.

I think many do not truly understand what capitalism is. Every economic wrong doing is for some reason attributed to capitalism, but we are not fully a capitalist country. I believe the general term for what we are is a 'modified free enterprise system'. Captialism is something different, better, but I unfortunately do not have the free hours to propound on it, especially when it is unlikely to be read, but he is very right that proponents of the system consider it more moral than other systems, not just more profitable.