Greedy Goblin

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Avast Ye, Admiral!

The socialists have an unfalsifiable argument: "there are poor people who are not responsible for being poor, but made poor by factors out of their control therefore they deserve help from us, lucky people".

The statement cannot be falsified as no matter how many poors we examine and find them lazy, alcoholist or plain stupid, the mythical "unlucky poor" can still exist, just like the monsters of the sea "just beyond the edge of the map".

Some socialists claim they saw them in our countries, but never gave enough information to verify their statement "for the protection of their identity". Guys, I've seen a talking pink elephant hiding in New York, but I won't tell you where since I protect his privacy. :-)

No matter how many counter-examples I cite like the settlers who made the USA, the survivors of tragedies or even the very first ape who tamed the fire thereby creating the mankind itself, the statement is not damaged. After all the fact that they succeeded proves that they had a chance, but what about those who did not have? - the socialists ask.

Most socialists strongly agree that the mythical "unlucky poors" are common in Africa, because of three reasons:
  • Africa is full of poor people, that's without doubt
  • Africa is far away enough that I won't travel there to disprove the socialists, and even if I would, I couldn't speak the language or understand the culture to do anything useful there
  • Africa is full of dictators, warlords, AIDS and such who play the role of "reason of poverty beyond the control of the victims"
In the TV-news a couple days ago there were old pictures of standard African landscape. Kids with big stomach, dust and flies everywhere, skin and bone goats, homes built from clay and scrap metal, just the usual "terrible Africa, please donate now" pictures.

The same spot today looks like an European/American city with streets, cars, normal houses. People obviously rich there compared to the past or the African standards. Unlike their leaders who are rich to European/American standards. The businessmen there have Ferraris, air-conditioned multi-room homes and several wives (max 4) chosen from girls who go to beauty contests just to have the privilage of being chosen by these guys.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me provide you the ultimate evidence that the "unlucky poor" does not exists (at least not in Africa): the Pirates of Somalia.

These guys were fishermen in poverty beyond imagination, until one of them came to the idea that raid loot has higher ilvl than farmed materials. In a couple of years these "hopeless poors who can't do anything" formed a force that successfully defy the combined naval forces of USA, Russia, Europe, Japan and several other countries, taxing the same multinational corporations who are "responsible" for the poverty of the third world and "control the world" through globalization.

What? Piracy is not a work? Why? Trading with poisoned CDS-s is? Finding loopholes in the law to help rich not pay tax is? Making porn movies is? Living from my tax is?


I think I understand the socialists now. The statement "there are unlucky people who have no options that a high society man would find noble and moral" is true. You can born into a position where the jobs available to you are considered "indecent" by rich middle class people (even if they are the consumers of the very same jobs, like prostitution).

If you are reading a blog on your computer, you are a middle class person. You find several jobs lowly, indecent, filthy. You don't want to do them, nor you want your family or friends do them. So you claim they are "not an option". If you discard these options as "non-existent", you came to the conclusion "there are unlucky people who have no options".

Yes they have. Maybe it's selling drugs to idiots. Maybe it's joining the army and killing people just because a politician says so. Maybe it's becoming topless model. Maybe it's cleaning public toilets. Maybe it's plundering transport ships. Maybe it's joining the bodyguards of the local warlord/mafia leader. Maybe it's spying on the local warlord for his competitor / for the FBI.

You don't want to do these jobs. Me neither. We are lucky that we had better ones. But they are options. I don't think that the survivors of the Andes flight disaster were planning on becoming cannibals. But up there that was the option besides death.

Australia was formed by inmates. The American Wild West was called wild for a reason. Bad situations have bad options but they always have options. There are always ways for a better life. Maybe not ways that you will proudly tell to your grandchildren. But there are ways.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are right, sick people that can't work (one of those is my mother-in-law) are poor (on welfare) because they are m&s and should prostitute themselves instead, because hey, it's an option. She is not so young tho, she should probably sell drugs instead.

I usually find your Philosophy-tagged article interesting, but i'm starting to think that you are going a little too far.

Lupius said...

People remain poor for two different reasons. In developed countries, they depend on support from rich socials and see no reason to work the unworthy jobs. For people in third world countries, property rights that we take for granted simply cannot be guaranteed (dictators, warlords, etc), so without political or military power, any attempt to accumulate wealth is futile. Keep in mind that the basic human/property rights that allow you and I to become rich came with a price that our forefathers paid with blood. Indeed, African people themselves are responsible for being poor, but in a primitive society where power is needed to protect your wealth, they're only making the logical choice to survive in poverty rather than to risk their lives to force changes.
Just how many pirates of Somalia died so that their fellow pirates may succeed?

Anonymous said...

Nobody is accusing Gevlon of being un humanitarian (Is this a word?).

Simply stating the world as it is. I tend to agree with Gevlon and his philosophies. If I were poor and chose not to prostitute myself then I am only handicapping myself.

If I choose not to do so, then I accept my role in life.

Anonymous said...

Where to begin?

"The socialists have an unfalsifiable argument." First off that statement is derogatory. If I believe I should help poor people then I must be a socialist (Burn the Communist!). So capitalists can't help others also? Sigh.

Here is a scenario:
You are a 9 yr. old child in Africa
Your country is in the midst of a civil war.
Your father is dead.
You have HIV and must help feed your family.
There is a famine going around.

Now this child is supposed to overcome this "unluckiness" and using the Goblin ways ascend himself into riches. I don't think so. Even if he performs menial tasks (that no one else wants to do), starts his own business and by a miracle manages to live to be 18, guess what, a cholera epidemic rears his head.
But yet, these "unlucky poor" supposedly do not exist and we owe them nothing. The goblin species has been gifted with supreme economic talent, but is lacking in ethics and morals.
Put down Ayn Rand and pick up some Malcolm Gladwell.

Lupius said...

On a separate note, I think your allusion to "poisoned CSD" is lost on most readers. I couldn't find anything about it on the Internet.

Also, in your post last week you said that you will explain why Nils's comment was dangerously wrong in a later post. I've been waiting to read it but it seems you got sidetracked. Any plans to continue that discussion?

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with joining the army, pays well and you rarely spend anything. Yeah you can be shot at but you can get hit by a car today on your way to your boring IT job.

Stropp said...

So the solution to escape poverty (re Somali Pirates) is to redistribute the wealth (to yourself) by force and the threat of murder?

I imagine that you might feel differently if a homeless person attempted to redistribute your wealth at the point of a gun. Unless of course they are doing so to get themselves out of an untenable solution. Perhaps they aren't pretty enough for porn. ;)

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: 9 years old! You are eligible for ANY African army. They pay well and have AIDS-delaying medicine.

@Lupius: CSD is typo, thanx, corrected.

@Stropp: what would I do and feel if a homeless would try to rob me? I'd give him a scared look, tell him that I'm giving him my wallet, it's in my back pocket, but oops, there is no wallet there, just a gun. And I'd feel really good.

Yaggle said...

I like the Azeroth model. There is basically a tax on using the auction house to sell things, and if you want to fly instead of walk. Staying at inns is free and health care is cheap (only have to pay a repair bill if you die). Other than that, you're on your own. In the real world, there would have to be more taxes to pay for city upkeep and to pay the guards. In my opinion, that would have to be a progressive income tax that would not be applied to the poorest adventurers. I would hope that no tax money would be given to the poor citizens of Desolace, where there are not many natural resources, and we should not encourage people to live there and have children. There would probably be bandits there who would steal from foolish adventurers who go there unarmed.

Anonymous said...

One of the "options" I have availed myself to, my zero-cost higher education (through Ph.D), and the high monetary and social status I have achieved because of it would simply not have been available to me were I not born into the middle class.

How can I frown on those who have not achieved my societal value as M&S, when I myself would not have achieved it without the luck-of-the-draw of my birthplace?

Catalin said...

While some ideas in this post may be true, I find it funny how logic and picking what to say (instead of presenting a more complete picture) can support almost any point of view.

Just two examples: you pick two commercials to justify the argument that there's no poverty in Africa, or there's equal opportunity. Commercials? One of the most rational goblins picks commercials to back his arguments?

Most commercials show just enough factual data to keep the regulating agencies off their back ("this is not an actual doctor, even though we show it in a dental facility and he's wearing a white coat"). I'm actually surprised that Gevlon, an otherwise rational goblin that values facts beyond anything else chose the factual data about Africa from *commercials* to back his assumptions.

Second example: "Africa is far away enough that I won't travel there to disprove the socialists, and even if I would, I couldn't speak the language or understand the culture to do anything useful there."

Ego, I Gevlon am right to claim that "there are always ways for a better life" by the sole reason I say so, and am basing my judgment on TV commercials and my experience.

The second half of the article is even funnier, where the goblin not only discards morale (as he always does) but strongly advocates breaking the law.

Yes, "selling drugs to idiots", supporting the "local warlord/mafia leader" and stealing from others ("pirating ships") is in effect breaking the law. Illegal. No ifs, no buts. And so is prostitution in some countries.

Yet a perfectly rational Goblin that otherwise shuns gold purchase in Wow because it breaks the TOS (law) chose to change his past beliefs when it supports his current mission: to prove that *all* people that are poor are so due to their own fault, and they have means to get a better life.

Yes, everyone might have options. Just as everyone has the option to break apartments, banks and kidnap people for ransom to get a better life. Right?

This is not advocating doing something for survival even though you might not be proud to tell about it to your grandchildren, it's about plainly breaking the law.

This time you've went a bit over the line trying to prove your point, don't you think?

Gevlon said...

@Catalin: the commercial just SHOWN me the pirates, I made background research on them from more reliable sites (one is linked). They DO exist.

Secondly. I don't buy WoW gold because it would make my game pointless. NOT because some guys at Blizzard say so. I don't cheat in any games because cheating takes away the challenge, the point of the game.

About law: I'll write a post about it on Monday.

Andris said...

I completely agree with your statements about poor. With only 1 exception - Force Majeure. There are situations when young smart businessmen can go poor and are stuck at this situation for quite some time if they do not receive financial boost. Especially, if they have family. Tsunami in Taiwan comes to mind.
An I have question for you. What about artists who are masters in their field and love their work, but work in the style that has low demand? Are they stupid too? IMO its very complex, cause they could do business and make their art making to a hobby, but in the same time then they would have time only for work and art, which excludes family. Cause if person is and artist, he/she must practice very regularly or they will loose their skills.

Anonymous said...

@Stropp: what would I do and feel if a homeless would try to rob me? I'd give him a scared look, tell him that I'm giving him my wallet, it's in my back pocket, but oops, there is no wallet there, just a gun. And I'd feel really good.Dear god.....

So to get out of poverty he has to rob people, only he’s not allowed to rob you?

Sven said...

9 years old! You are eligible for ANY African army. They pay well and have AIDS-delaying medicine."That's a flat lie and you know it. Either that, or you are so profoundly ignorant of Africa that your views are discredited.

Since you were complaining about people making non falsifiable statements, here's your evidence:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2024.html

Gevlon, stop making stuff up. It just makes you look silly.

Catalin said...

@Gevlon:

Looking forward to it. One too many times your posts have provided lots of opportunity for thinking about subjects I might not otherwise thought about. And improved my analytical skills. And answered the "whys" in my own ways, in line with my beliefs and morale.

And the ways to make gold in Wow, as a by-product.

More often than not I don't agree with your views on anything else but making gold in Wow, yet Greedy goblin is the first blog I read in the morning -- the food for thought it provides is invaluable, and unmatched so far by others.

And for this I thank you, and hope you'll keep on posting...

Craig R said...

It's like Sartre's Bad Faith, applied to being poor. There's always a choice to be made, even if the choice is not a pleasant one.

Astmathic said...

@sven: I really don't believe that Gevlon ment the government armies of the countries, to say such stuff is just being stupid to try to prove a point.

I agree with Gevlon fully. There is always opportunities and no matter how many things happens to you, you can still get a better life.

Look at what happened after the tsunami, some people managed to build stuff up and become really successful straight afterwards, some didn't. Who do you think fought the hardest?

In the wealthy countries of the world today, especially in Europe which is mostly socialistgovernments, it is very popular to feel bad for poor or people who, according you them, didn't stand a chance.

You have always a chance, you can always improve your life to the better. And this will never ever just drop down in your head, you have to take every opportunity you have.

Now becoming a pirate might not be a longterm solution, but at least it will give them more wealth for now. They saw an opportunity and took it.

This leads back to Gevlons other posts about giving money to the poor is right out retarded. If you would just give money to someone for not doing anything, why would he start doing something? It is better to invest it in those poor countries. If I invest $50 million in a random african country to build a factory which produces a product I will not only give jobs to the people building the factory, I will have to employ people to work in the factory. The factory will need resources and therefor we will create a market for those resources and also jobs for that.

Then the employees of the factory will suddenly have a lot more money than before and will start spending it. Suddenly we have a small economic going.

This is of course very simplified and there is a lot more to consider, such as corruption, bad governments etc.

Great post, too bad not everyone understand that you really can't afford having the same values all the time.

Tilman said...

Every african child born into poverty has the chance to get real rich.

Every middle class kid in western society has the chance to get real rich.

That's not the point. No "socialist" would ever argue that. The point is that these chances are vastly different.

The middle class kid has a wide array of educational options (paid for by his parents) and has the advantage of a market, that values even "useless" stuff like art or music. So he can choose to become whatever he wants, or whatever is valued highly by the market.

The poor kid has to work with fewer options and assuming there are a lot of poor kids in his country, there's a good chance the market for pirates is already saturated.

Now for the sake of argument let's assume the poor and the middle class kid both become farmers. Both kids are really clever and analyzed their country's economy, coming to the conclusion the market needs farmers.

Middleclasskid grows sugar beets - a really poor decision as it's highly inefficient compared to sugar cane.

Poorkid invests in poultry. Selling tasty chicken on the local market.

Middleclasskid's government imposes a steep import duty on sugar made out of sugarcane. His business is safe.

Industrial poultry farmers from Middleclasskid's country sell the chicken parts nobody in this country would eat to poorkid's country. This export is even supported financially by the government. Tons of deepfrozen chicken-asses flood the market and poorkid is out of business.

Poorkid made a sound decision considering his market and he was punished

Middleclasskid made a poor decision and he was rewarded.

Anonymous said...

Oh.my.god!
You actually called cannibalism an option for a better life!

How on earth is someone who's only options to survive are cannibalism or forced prostitution or mindless killings a person who is not unlucky and a person who doesn't need help?

I think you are angry at people who would say it's better to die than use these options, but to say it would be pointless to help such people is just.. false? If it's not false, then when does anyone need any help? By such a standard even babies are self-sufficient.

Sven said...

@Astmathic

I can only go by what Gevlon actually says, not some creative twisting of it to make it look less idiotic. He clearly stated that he was talking about "ANY African Army" and that they "They pay well and have AIDS-delaying medicine".

It is clearly not the case that "ANY African Army" accepts 9 year old recruits. Even the most cursory research would have shown him that it was false.

If he meant "some African rebel groups (such as the LRA) exploit child soldiers", then he should have said that. However, those that do are extremely unlikely to either pay well or supply antiretrovirals for AIDS treatment.

Whichever way you cut it, it either shows deliberate dishonesty or profound ignorance. It's this kind of absurd generalisation (e.g. "some people are poor because they are M&S, therefore this is the cause in all cases") that undermines his arguments. There are perfectly sensible discussions to be had about some kinds of aid being counterproductive, but this kind of thing isn't a useful contribution.

Maria said...

@Gavlon: So everyone should be the best they can with the options they see? Disregard any morals? So I should kill, rape, rob and otherwise abuse my fellow man until he stops me? Shouldn't we be moving in a different direction by now?

Nech said...

Your so called 'socialists' are merely the victim of a 'strong altruistic gene', altruism is an ethical doctrine that holds that individuals have a moral obligation to help, serve, or benefit others, if necessary at the sacrifice of self interest.

Altruism developed itself when humans lived together in small groups and the humans that developed this gene had more chance to survive. In these 'small groups' everyone knew each other and if an individual did something selflessly for someone of the group, that individual could later get help from the one he helped.

The gene persisted due to the 'survival of the fittest' principal, thus, now, widely spread. Some people do not have a strong developed 'altruistic gene' and therefore do not care, or care to a lesser extent for other people. The gene also didn't develop in every region in the world and that's another reason for 'weak altruistic genes'.

Now millions years later the gene is still here, but it is applied into a completely different society. And it is this gene that lets people return lost wallets, donate money to victims of a tsunami, save a stranger's life while risking his own, or give that bit of spare coin to a beggar.

Socialists are people with a 'strong altruistic gene' and simply can't help it.

Well, I could write a lot more but this is somewhat the short, simplified version. Of course it's not only the 'altruistic gene' but a combination of other influencing genes and external factors.

*vlad* said...

Ok, the 9 year old boy goes to fight in an Army in a civil war somewhere in Africa.
Presumably the pay is so good that he will soon leave that 'job' and be able to set up Goblin Mansions in the nearest capital city, and drive around in a Ferrari.
That is what you are saying, and how can anyone take such a comment seriously?

The argument you are deliberately ignoring is this: People DO work very hard in a lot of poor countries, and they only earn enough money to keep a roof over their heads and feed themselves.
No massive salary and the chance to become a millionaire. Subsistence wages.

This is completely different to 'poor' people in rich countries sitting on their arses because their Welfare payments supply their every need. That is a totally different argument.

'These guys were fisherman in poverty beyond imagination..' clearly not in your imagination;
surely they were just lazy stupid people?

Gevlon said...

@everyone with the 9 years old:
The original poster of the boy came up with a 9 years old orphan in the middle of a war who has uncurable illness. I just made fun of his trolling. I could write "he shall just conjure food from the faeries".

Granted, I shouldn't duel trolls in a serious discussion, that's my fault, so boy-comments up to this stays as an evidence of it. But from now on, deleted.

AHAntics said...

"until one of them came to the idea that raid loot has higher ilvl than farmed materials. "

That is pure genius. Nice turn of phrase, good insight, clever analogy. Love the blog, keep on keepin' on.

Sydera said...

@Gevlon:

I'm not pleased with this article.

What does it have to do with WoW and the WoW economy?

The generalizations about Africa and African life and opportunities found in this article show that research was cursory at best. It's an example of bending your findings to fit an existing world-view. Everything you say is an over-simplification. Africa is a collection of many different political units, each with its own varying social conditions. Talking about it as one big place--full of pirates, at that--is misleading.

Please stick to WoW! That's something you actually research fairly well.

Anonymous said...

@Stropp: what would I do and feel if a homeless would try to rob me? I'd give him a scared look, tell him that I'm giving him my wallet, it's in my back pocket, but oops, there is no wallet there, just a gun. And I'd feel really good.Dear god.....

So to get out of poverty he has to rob people, only he’s not allowed to rob you?
No - he just has to be a bit smarter than 'show someone a knife, and ask for money'. One potential approach would be to stab first, and take his wallet from his bleeding corpse. Another approach would be to team up with someone, so when Gev pulls his gun you can kill him while he's shooting your partner.

outdps.com said...

"there are ways". Yes there are, and as someone who understands the laws of supply and demand, you'll understand that as more people use "ways" to escape from poverty, less of these ways are available for others. It's not a finite supply, but the relationship between "ways to escape poverty" and the number of people in an economy are kind of what defines how much that economy needs help.

If every poor person who could fire a gun, ride shot-gun in a dinghy, and yell ransom demands into a radio in broken english became a pirate, soon ships would start avoiding that side of africa, and the increased levels of piracy would prompt more action from the first world nations. Thus the laws of supply and demand apply even to your pirate example- eventually there would be an equilibrium, and there would still be poor people who don't have a way out of poverty through piracy.

All "ways out" are subject to supply and demand.

Cainam said...

I enjoy reading this blog for reasons cited above, it does make me think.

My problem with goblin philosophy taken to the extreme like this is that you down talk the social society that enables you to survive.

In WoW you have ammassed a large sum of gold. Well to be honest, the easiest way for another person to make that gold would not be to raid for loot or even work the Auction house. It would be to take it from you. You have more gold than any Raid out there. So I want to Raid your treasure troves and make my gold that way.

Ah, but I can't now can I? The game doesn't allow me to go to the Auction House to kill and loot all the players there. This is a social rule. It's in place to make the game work. How much fun wuld the game be if at any time you could be jumped by a pack of rampaging looters who took all your gold and gear? So you benefit from this social rule.

The same goes for your pirates. You're fine with thier piracy, becasue you are protected from it. But what if those pirates are now at your door? Taking your money? All of a sudden the rules of society don't seem so bad.

Like them or not you benefit heavily from the social rules and norms of society.

Anonymous said...

How about minority of people whose social status doesn't allow them to accumulate any wealth? People born into old school Islam countries as a girl? People born into slavery? etc...

Well you could say they have "option" to try escaping = 99.9% chance of getting killed in progress. So realisticly they have option to die or option to stay in poverty.

Matt said...

These guys were fishermen in poverty beyond imagination, until one of them came to the idea that raid loot has higher ilvl than farmed materials. In a couple of years these "hopeless poors who can't do anything" formed a force that successfully defy the combined naval forces of USA, Russia, Europe, Japan and several other countries, taxing the same multinational corporations who are "responsible" for the poverty of the third world and "control the world" through globalization.

What? Piracy is not a work? Why? Trading with poisoned CDS-s is? Finding loopholes in the law to help rich not pay tax is? Making porn movies is? Living from my tax is?

Gevlion, Piracy is a crime, a crime, its as legal as robbing a bank back in the US. Are you actually advocating that people commit criminal activity? Are you saying that it is ok because people should commit acts that are illegal because they are poor and have no other options? I can't believe that you are saying that. Crime is wrong and people who commit crimes, no matter what the justification are criminals. Gevlion, in the future, when you talk about what poor people can do to lift themselves out of poverty, please, please limit the discussion to activities that are legal in the US, international law, and their home country. Advocating that people commit crimes or that committing criminal actions is a valid way to lift themselves out of poverty is wrong.

Mogresh of Moon Guard said...

@anonymous Oh.my.god!
You actually called cannibalism an option for a better life!

Wow. Way to spin this one champ. Do you work for Fox News? In the situation he stated, the andes flight, he called cannibalism an option for a better life.

Thats 100% accurate. In that situation you have two options. Death or the cannibal route. All morality aside, the fact is if you don't go the cannibal route you die. If you do you might live a little longer. If you die you aren't having a better life now are you?

Matt said...

Oh, and a couple more things. Armies employing child soldiers are committing crimes. So any 9 year old serving in any armed forces is the result of those armed forces committing crimes against international law. I think you crossed a line here by saying that activities that are considered crimes are acceptable ways of making money. I would ask that you only propose that people engage in legal actions as a means of escaping poverty.
I would like to see what you do have to say about kids in Africa escaping poverty, but only engaging in actions that are legal according to US, international, and their local laws.

Trading in poisoned CDS's is legal, Prostitution, use of child soldiers, and piracy are illegal.

Anonymous said...

I think Gevlon just gave all the Chinese gold farmers permission to hack his account, and steal his gold, as it is clearly the best "wow choice" for them to acquire gold quickly.

The fact that Gevlon rationalizes the poor turning to a life of crime is deeply disturbing. In his eyes, it's a valid and respectable choice for the poor. But he wants to be able to shoot them too..

Of course, you all realize he's posting in broad generalizations to get a rise out of us that actually have morals and common sense..

Anonymous said...

^ Yes, all "ways out" are subject to supply and demand. The person that understands this the best succeeds. Not everyone succeeds - but they all get to play by the same rules: outsmart, outpower, outwork the guy next to you and achieve. If your first plan of attack doesn't work, you adapt. If the thousandth plan of attack doesn't work, you adapt. You don't sit back and wait for the "good" to come to your rescue because they are only coming to destroy any chance of you enjoying achievement. The "good" are afraid of that 9-year old African boy overcoming all the odds and becoming successful because it invalidates their belief system - that people need their generosity, that their value to the world is to "help" those that can't help themselves. If people do for themselves, those "good" people have to find some other way or providing value to society. That new way is invariably more difficult than writing a check or attending a charity dinner or discussing "those poor African kids" with your peers. The poster who discusses his higher-level education as being impossible without being born to the middle class is a perfect example. He has so little faith in his abilities that he thinks he would have failed if he didn't start with an advantage - that he would never be able to supply value without writing checks to "help".

Anonymous said...

Too many days in a row of Philosphy categorized posts (and one Essential post that might well as have been a Philosophy category).

Too many troll vs troll posts that turn into a troll blog entry for the next day.

Trying to compare and strectch the harsh realities of life to the WOW economy doesn't really work too well.

Until I can be a cannabilistic pirate whore in game with the option to make a ton of gold from it, I really don't care whether anyone thinks this is a real life way to get out of poverty.

But i don't play on a RP server, so I don't know if it is a valid option or not.

Less RL QQ, more in-game AH pew pew.

Sven said...

"The "good" are afraid of that 9-year old African boy overcoming all the odds and becoming successful because it invalidates their belief system - that people need their generosity, that their value to the world is to "help" those that can't help themselves."
That's imputing an absurd motive to people. Those who believe in helping that kid aren't afraid of him becoming successful, they seek it. They just don't think it's very likely if you just leave him to rot, hence the idea of helping.

The disagreement is over means, not ends.

Willowbear said...

@Gevlon: Is there an issue with your blog losing comments? I posted one yesterday. It appeared to accept it. But it doesn't seem to be there now.

Anonymous said...

@Sven: It's only an absurd motive if you think people believe in helping the kid. I would argue, that in the majority of case, the ends are not promoting the kid; the ends are "doing what's right/moral/generous" or "giving because it makes me feel good" or "I can tell my friends how good a person I am". If the kid was the end, people wouldn't stop at just writing a check or supporting a government program. It is absolutely a disagreement over the ends - if you truly sought the child's success you would stop getting in the way of his achievement.
If we would stop boosting M&S in raids, we would have better raids because if a person really wanted to raid (be successful) the person would do the necessary work. It is hard to watch people you know or care about suffer/not get good gear from raids and much easier to ease your conscience by boosting them. As in most cases, the easiest is not necessarily the most effective.

csdx said...

So instead of asking for handouts out of the kindness of 'social' people, the poor should ask for handouts at from people at the end of a gun?

If robbing someone is legitimate, why aren't taxes then? Robbing produces no benefits and is simply wealth redistribution exactly the same way government taxes and charities are (though likely with more violence).

Strictly economically speaking there's a case for the drug trade and prostitution since in both cases they actually are supplying something.

Also you seem really confident in your own ability to defend yourself, but I'd wager that you probably couldn't. After all, like in WoW, the best way to attack someone isn't by nicely declaring a duel and waiting for them, but to gank them while they're otherwise occupied, with superior numbers. I don't know of anyone that gets challenged to a duel when someone wants to take their node, usually they just get shot without warning.

Faze said...

@Willowbear: He deletes them :P

Sven said...

"It is absolutely a disagreement over the ends - if you truly sought the child's success you would stop getting in the way of his achievement."

Ah, but who is the one "getting in the way of his achievement"? The ones who help him or the ones who refuse to?

Your unquestioned assumption that not helping is better than helping is the problem here. Obviously, if you assume that that is true and that everyone agrees that this is the case, then yes, only someone of malicious intent would disagree with you. The trouble is, you're assuming what you're trying to prove, i.e.

Not helping is the correct way forward, therefore those who disagree with it must wish the child to fail, therefore they are wrong, therefore aid is bad.

That's just circular logic. It could just as easily be that someone simply disagrees with your initial assumption.

csdx said...

@Anonymous I think that if that's actually what they want then they should go do that. Really if that were someone's actual attitute and they were honest about it, hey go for it. Compare "I want to give my money to sick nuns because it makes me happy", " I burn my money because it makes me feel good", and "I pay hobos to kill each other because it makes me smile". Under a truly self-serving way it all three should be equal. It's my money I can do whatever I feel like with it, and I don't care that it might 'hurt' others or even myself.
It's only if I genuinely care about helping others that any of that matters. This is what lead tot he argument of how can we help someone else the best, by social or goblinish means? So while goblin ways might seem superficially callous they're still trying to accomplish helping the rest of society above one's self. Which is a strangely socialistic way of thinking, but of course the goal is to do it in the 'right' way.

So really the ideas are two sides of the same coin, a goblin's wants are the same as a social's wants, but they just believe there's a different way of getting there. See Rebulican vs. Democrats for the same concept.

Viscount said...

This reminds me of a question I used to ask people when I was younger. "Would you ever eat a rat?" With the people who said "yes", I would nod. With the people who said "no" I replied, "If you were starving, you would eat anything, even a rat."

phoenixboy said...

Lets see an example: The cuban population in Florida. They are a minority, but they are a powerful minority, so much that they influence the political decisions in that area.

Why they are that powerful? Because these are the people that wanted to get away from Cuba to a better life. They did all sort of things but they, like everybody had their options.

And they taked advantage of their options. Granted, those where sucky/illegal/"evil" options but, they taked it. Just as the old saying: "A man has to do what a man has to do"

viscount said...

I have to wonder. If all of you think Gevlon is wrong, and has no opinion of worth. Why the heck do you still read his blog?
Dont remember how the quote goes exactly "Oh my god, I have to go... Someone is wrong on the internet!"

@Cainam
Ah, but I can't now can I? The game doesn't allow me to go to the Auction House to kill and loot all the players there.
Sure you can, what do you call ninja'ing a guild bank. Or when a player offers a trade but then steals the item. Or when people get hacked.

@ all that are critical of the crime example.
Come on, your so niave? Gevlon said himself that these examples are considered not normally accetpable because you have different options. Lets play a little devils advocate. There are a bunch of people who dont like the government, they feel they are being opressed and they want to seize power. So they go a rampage, they conduct vandalism, kill lawful legal bodies, encite riots, steal, pillage, and cause massive distruction willfully. Man these people are awful and dispicable... OOPS guess what, I am talking about the founding fathers of America.

Sven said...

"If all of you think Gevlon is wrong, and has no opinion of worth. Why the heck do you still read his blog?"

a) You can think someone is wrong on some things, without believing that they have no opinion of worth. they may well be very knowledgeable in other areas.

b) It's good to read things you disagree with, to challenge your thinking and perhaps tell you things you don't know.

Noak said...

Gevlon-

When you say that the poor anywhere always have other options (getting money through prostitution, stealing, etc) you forget to take into account the overall wealth of everyone living in that area. If there is no money circulation, you still cannot get money easily through illegal means because the people who you are stealing from have no money to take and no one will be able to afford a prostitute because they are barely making enough money to survive as it is.

You talk about Somalian pirates. How do you think those pirates got the money/materials to buy their guns, boats, food, etc? because either they lived in an area where it was possible to obtain those through either illegal or legal means, or they started with the money to buy guns, boats, etc.

If you live in a truly poor area, where NO ONE has money, I see no way that you can still find a way to get it.

Anonymous said...

@Sven: You say that I have that assumption and that therefore my logic is circular. You separate "help" from the context of the argument. I do not assume that helping someone is bad - my argument was that the "ends" are not the same when someone truly wants a child to succeed vs wanting to feel the approval of society. My argument is that your perception of what helps that child best may change drastically if you remove the societal "good" that many cling to to validate their value. I want to help as many poor children as I can; I just don't happen to agree that making them dependent on others' generosity is an efficient way to do it. Opportunities given will never equal opportunities earned in their benefit to the greatest number. Would you rather wager the future of the world on lottery winners or successful business owners?

Viruzzz said...

Most of the time I see the point on your arguments, but I think you're wrong on this one. The problem with becoming rich in a social environment like Africa is that the people who are already wealthy (dictator, warlord, whatever) will just take your money (or whatever your wealth consists of) away again. that is how they got wealthy in the first place, and they keep doing it to prevent anybody else from becoming a threat by making sure they don't have any resources other than the bare minimum for surviving.

If you become "rich enough" I think they'll just steal your money again, even if you happen to work for them as a soldier or something along those lines.

What I can't seem to find is how you would stay rich or how you would go about going from rich to "very rich"

Anonymous said...

@viruzzz: A dictator is a dictator because he rules with a minority through fear/military power. If someone born under a dictatorship wanted to acquire/maintain wealth and prevent that dictator from stealing it, that person would need to do something to remove that ability from the dictator. Whether that be by rallying the majority to defeat the government or by working to prevent appearing on that dictator's radar. Both seem like a lot of work, but work is the cost of success. If it wasn't possible then no dictator would have been overthrown and there would be no success stories out of the people subjugated to dictatorships.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder. If all of you think Gevlon is wrong, and has no opinion of worth. Why the heck do you still read his blog?I think you're making the same mistake Gevlon is making. That is making the assumption that because one thing (person, idea, etc) is wrong or bad or M&S, that everything in that category is wrong or bad or M&S.

The problem is he takes his argument to the extreme. Paraphrased: "Every single person who is poor or needy is a failure as a person and gets what they deserve." The people who argue against him sometimes argue the opposite and to an equal extreme "Every single poor person is poor due to outside circumstances beyond their control."

People who make these arguments need to realize the burden of proof is on you. Saying that "Every single poor person is X" and then saying you're right because no one has been able to disprove it to your satisfaction is foolish. The burden of proof is on you; the person making the argument.

If you're foolish enough to say that every single poor person is X, then you need to back it up by showing that EVERY SINGLE poor person is X. Or better yet, make a better argument. Give up the appeals to ignorance.

As an example, throwing out the example of the frontier pioneer summons heroic images of settlers crossing the dangerous wilderness and look somewhat like Michael Landon. But of course at the time when the homesteading act came into being, a large number of people could not take part in that opportunity as they were being held as slave laborers working under threat of torture and death. But of course they were M&S and got what they deserved.


A better argument would be that every single poor person has the ability to improve their circumstances if even by a little and that they should be encouraged to do so.

Gibbiex said...

Interesting post but perhaps off topic. Anyway you are missing the point regarding Africa. Many factors have conspired so that Africa lacks many natural resources, and is not developed like western countries. Education of the population is probably #2 reason. Think about it. If the people were educated, the AIDS epidemic would have never gotten off the ground (because its spread willingly through sex). They would have 10 or 20 kids and have half of them make it. They would be knowledgable about what the produce and how to sell it. They could build infrastructure and buildings (which are easily assembled using common materials found all over). With an actual infrastructure they could have capitalism, and a decent government. If capitalism was allowed to thrive, the countries GDP would skyrocket.

Anyway i think i am lucky too because i was born in a place where i could go to college then grad school and emerge debt free with many possibilities of employment. Yes i worked my ass off, but the potential was there.

Viscount said...

I have to wonder. If all of you think Gevlon is wrong, and has no opinion of worth. Why the heck do you still read his blog?I think you're making the same mistake Gevlon is making. That is making the assumption that because one thing (person, idea, etc) is wrong or bad or M&S, that everything in that category is wrong or bad or M&S.

It was tongue in cheek, which I thought I indicated that by the second sentance in what I said. My bad, I thought I made it clear enough.

But of course at the time when the homesteading act came into being, a large number of people could not take part in that opportunity as they were being held as slave laborers working under threat of torture and death. But of course they were M&S and got what they deserved.

Slaves durring that time had the option of running to the north. Yes it was a horible option because it could result in recapture, punishment and death. Gevlon is not trying to point out that these are "GOOD" solutions or alternitives, just that they are alternitives and solutions. In every aspect of life we have a choice, there is never such a thing as having no possible choice. The choices may not be good ones, but there is a choice.

There is No example anyone could give that there is not a choice.
Because doing nothing is still a choice.

Anonymous said...

"Many factors have conspired so that Africa lacks many natural resources, and is not developed like western countries. Education of the population is probably #2 reason. Think about it. If the people were educated, the AIDS epidemic would have never gotten off the ground (because its spread willingly through sex)"

Dont go there, and dont say probably. The man that taught me for my Masters has been going to Africa for Aids research and education for the last 20 years. It is simple to say "Oh they just dont know the right way" like you can go in and tell them, they would then slap the sides of their head and say "I had no idea!"

The people in these areas are spreading information, but it is often misconceptions that they believe to be fact, and just telling them they are wrong usualy does nothing.
In fact one of the most horible common beliefs about Aids in many areas of Africa is that if you have sex with a virgin you will be cured. Of course this also means that they dont always wait for willing virgins.

Joe Nothin' said...

While i do agree with you that there are allways better options, you make a really good point for socialism:

We dont want people to be pirates. We dont want people to sell drugs. So, we need to creat better options for those unlucky enough to have none. If that means giving a lazy father's child free education, it might be worth it.

I've never really thought about it like that: If we want to make sure there are no pirates in somalia, we need to give them options for a better life, and paying taxes that go into welfare that eventually creat those better options isn't a loss i'm incurring, its merely a form of investing. I know you set out to prove the other, but you really got me thinking in this direction.

csdx said...

@Viscount
so you can live poor, or die poor seem to be the options.

It's as disengenious to say that such a slim possibility refutes the claim. I may not be asking you to build a perpetual motion machine, but if I ask you to write a 50 page essay in 5 minutes, you'd likely say that would be impossible. You're counter argument is like me say, well you could just bash on the keyboard and you might produce a quality work, therefore the task is indeed possible, you just lack the effort/ability to do it.

As for an actual example where someone couldn't possibly succeed in society, how about the entire caste of untouchables in India?

Anonymous said...

How many actually read his post instead of just hitting the comment button? So many are saying these are choices he advocates yet he clearly stated: You don't want to do these jobs. Me neither. We are lucky that we had better ones. But they are options. Which is true because they ARE options, just not legal/morally advisable ones.

---

Admittedly he could have expanded on why he considered the jobs better, is it because they are legal/generally morally agreeable or because they pay more?

Sven said...

"I want to help as many poor children as I can; I just don't happen to agree that making them dependent on others' generosity is an efficient way to do it. "

Exactamundo, Raymond!

Both sides want to help the child, they just disagree about the best way to do it. A difference about means, not ends.

Chris said...

@ Everyone here arguing against Gevlon's very sound economic theory. Take a second to remember something Gevlon said way back, and is blindingly obvious here. If you cant spot the M&S in a situation, its you. If you are the person handing money to the poor with no expectation of improvement or getting anything of value in return you ARE M&S, along with the person who has nothing. If you look at any situation and see NO opportunity, then you have a problem, not that person.

Lots of people in 3rd world countries pull themselves out of it by doing anything they can to get a little, investing that little smartly and seeing a return, rinsing and repeating until they have an income or wealth. Yes, it may be tougher, and the odds might be stacked against them BUT IT IS POSSIBLE. If you cannot see a possibility there, then you better hope you never have nothing because you will be finished.

Gevlon did not say that these people are bad people, or that they had the same opportunity he did, only that they have SOME opportunity and can, if they make the correct choices, make something happen.

Remember, frequently those warlords were 9 year old soldiers to start, just the best 9 year old soldiers...

Thunderhorns said...

Lucky to be born into the middle class? No. What really happened is one your ancestors decided to learn to survive at a higher level and taught you to do the same.

Why is it we don't believe that a poor person can achieve success generationally rather than individually?

Everyone starts somewhere. Just because don't start middle class and above doesn't mean can't work to make each generation better by improving step by step.

Modern people are too short sighted to realize that Americans with wealth are those that made the effort to accumulate it and pass it on. They should not feel bad at all because other people chose not to, thus dooming themselves and their future generations to poverty.

And to give them welfare is to continue to enable and embolden poverty. It's a cycle of ignorance by the guilty middle class, guilt taught by some person who feels bad for doing well.

Worst thing America ever taught its people was to feel bad for doing well. People earn the world they want. I don't believe for a second that Americans are born to perpetual, unrelenting poverty. They can earn enough money to do well by following the same principles anyone else that has earned wealth follow. Poor people in America are poor because they are lazy and undisciplined. Seen it with my own eyes.

Don't confuse this as a 100% figure. But do be sure I mean in 95% of Americans that are poor are poor becuase of their own decision making process. That I do believe very much.

They have too many kids. Buy too much they can't afford. Mismanage their money. Too many vices. And when it all amounts to poverty, they complain to the government while continue to pay a cable bill with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth.

Zanathos said...

"I have to wonder. If all of you think Gevlon is wrong, and has no opinion of worth. Why the heck do you still read his blog?"

@ viscount

He's clearly excellent at making gold in WoW. While his philosophy posts are usually interesting to read, there's a lot more room for difference of opinion when you leave the cut and dry world of an mmo.

Sven said...

@Chris

"Yes, it may be tougher, and the odds might be stacked against them BUT IT IS POSSIBLE."

Sure, it is possible to make good less-bad choices in these situations. The child soldier can choose to fight for the warlord rather than be beaten to death, but that's not much of a choice. Both options lead to horrific consequences.

In some cases, the odds are just so heavily stacked against someone that intervening to even them up a little (e.g. by funding rehabilitation programmes for former child-soldiers) is a rational response.

Just handing people bags of money to do nothing may not be a good choice in many cases, but there are other forms of aid, such as funding a rehabilitation programme or providing artificial limbs to those who have lost them in conflicts which enable the victims to progress, rather than encouraging dependency.

The existence of ill-considered aid and welfare packages doesn't invalidate the whole concept of aid, it just suggests you need to be smart about it.

Sven said...

"Lucky to be born into the middle class? No. What really happened is one your ancestors decided to learn to survive at a higher level and taught you to do the same."

But that is luck. You don't get to choose who your ancestors are.

Being born smart, strong, quick or to good parents are all things that happen before you have any ability to change anything about your life. A foetus can hardly choose to climb out of one womb into that of a more suitable mother or alter its DNA. You get what you're given, and some people get better than others, purely by chance. Does it make it impossible to progress? No. But it does change the odds.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading this blog. GG, it's a joy watching you struggle with some of the most complex moral issues we have. Please, keep at it.

Lets talk about poverty for a moment. One statement from an earlier post advocated burning money instead of donating it, citing the overall good of removing it from the supply rather than seeing it go to waste. Suggesting that, if you want to aid the poor, giving them material goods to directly benefit them rather than cash that can easily be misused. I admire this... to meet their need means far more actual effort than just writing a check.

However, let me suggest an exception. Giving cash is generally ineffective, true... but lending capital, even at poorly performing interest rates, has been shown to be very effective. Micro loans to small businessmen in poor areas, with carefully defined terms and real repayments have frequently shown a high rate of success at reducing poverty. To work, you need to have both the lender and the small businessman treat it with real seriousness (having a business plan, a repayment policy, an interest rate) but it's been very successful at giving an initial leg up to people who then can transition from being net consumers to net producers on the local level, often making businesses that can then have a solid local impact.

Providing cash? Limited, temporary impact. Providing capital? Different story entirely.

Artorin said...

I'm surprised that you show support in a sense of pirating. These people you were talking about felt no other option then to resort to piracy. So they robbed cargo ships of large corporations which causes the companies to take a loss. So the company files an insurance claim (unless it was uninsured) which causes the insurance company to raise rates not only to that company but also to everyone they cover. (I'm exaggerating slightly but for a point)

Now lets say that corporation had started up a factory in the country and employed the pirates in a nonexploitation way. This socialist method would provide the pirates with an easier and better way of life therefore preventing them from stealing cargo ships.

Without morals people who become destitude would all resort to crime therefore creating anarchy. And as much as you would like to think you are safe with your gun do you really want to be on the other end of the door when several armed men come in? Especially when they have no moral objectivity of shooting you on the spot before you can reach or reason with them.

An ounce of prevention is better then a pound of cure. Socialist are really protecting themselves from the down turn of society. There are allways things people can do to survive but many, many are worst for society then giving them support.

Where this all stops though is when you log on to WoW. In a game as basic and simple as WoW is there is no place or need for socialism. Especially since I can turn off trade chat and ignore the plea of beggers. The worst people can do as far as crime is break the EUA by buying gold. This could get them banned or account stolen which is on them for being too lazy to grind elemenatls for 20 hours.

Anonymous said...

Every ounce of credibility you gained thus far was destroyed with this post.

"If I were poor and chose not to prostitute myself then I am only handicapping myself."

That philosophy may be applicable in America where success and failure is obtainable to a very high majority, but not in the environment Gevlon describes.

The children, even many of the adults, have NO idea that there is a better life out there. In remote areas they are accustomed to killing, greed, and tyranny. Without and greener field to even image, how can you say they are "handicapping themselves"?

The choice is military or poverty. Join the same military that's caused the rape, famine, and murder across Africa or wallow away. Unfortunately, this is not a self healing wound - it must either collapse entirely or receive outside help. I wonder how many of them are reading your blog...

How can you even attempt to blame these people?

You're reaching to far with this post, stick to WoW.

Thunderhorns said...

Sven,

You're thinking wrong.

It's not "You don't get to choose who your ancestors are", it's "You get to choose who you are and who your descendants will be".

That is the way it really is. Too many people have started poor and become rich through their own hard work and ability. There is no reason to believe every one cannot at the very least rise to a middle class or better life by being smart about how they live.

And if they choose not to, there is no reason why working citizens should pay for a person to be lazy, incompetent, and irresponsible. No reason whatsoever.

My way of thinking is to realize that my ancestors did not provide for me well and to change myself and thus the fortune of my descendants. That is empowered
thinking. That is the way all Americans should think.

Redem said...

The statement you refer to as unfalsifiable is in fact falsifiable. There is a limit to the number of poor people that can be looked at to see if their poverty is due to factors beyond their control or not, and that limit is within the bounds of practicality. The unfalsifiable part is the second half of the statement, "and this deserve our help". This is an ideological statement, not a factual claim that needs to be falsifiable or not.

Your response is in itself unfalsifiable, and is mostly tautological, and is itself an ideological response. You define their poverty as due to their own choices, in order to conclude the very same.

Most of your response is also missing the point. You do not successfully argue that no one is poor due to factors beyond their control, you spend most of the post arguing that there are always choices to be made, even if they're "bad" ones. That's not something I think anyone you dismiss as a "socialist" would disagree with, and does nothing to refute their claim that there are those who are simply unlucky rather than stupid.

thcgirl77 said...

I`d hate to live in a world where poor people close to starvation would magically get to read and understand your blog because then we`d live in a world half full of pirates, prostitutes, thieves, cannibals, etc.
Question: What do you think an appropriate punishment would be for a very poor person that does the above mentioned things because he doesn`t have any choice?

Anonymous said...

ROFL you made a link to "falsifiability" as if that's some hard to understand concept worthy of a link explaining it.

You're just another dumb person who thinks the answer to everything is oversimplification (need a link? lolol).