We Are All Bad People

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Vaniver
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Vaniver » Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:04 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:http://www.slate.com/id/1918

For the most part almost every developed country got to be developed by going through a phase where it relied on sweatshop workers.
A public, sane, responsible piece from Krugman? I'm shocked!

But yeah, it's totally true that sweatshop labor is so much better than the alternative, and that it's the first rung on the ladder to economic development from the crushing stagnancy of agriculture.
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Dark567 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 3:17 pm UTC

Spoilered for being off topic.
Spoiler:
Vaniver wrote:
Dark567 wrote:http://www.slate.com/id/1918

For the most part almost every developed country got to be developed by going through a phase where it relied on sweatshop workers.
A public, sane, responsible piece from Krugman? I'm shocked!

But yeah, it's totally true that sweatshop labor is so much better than the alternative, and that it's the first rung on the ladder to economic development from the crushing stagnancy of agriculture.


See also:
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Living+Wa ... a021103427

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby WaywardAngel » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:54 pm UTC

Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote: This. Completely. If you want to help, invest. Purchase. Offer microloans. Giving can be counterproductive if not done right. Stability is a not-often-used word which describes a condition absolutely needed to hold back the vultures that pick good people clean. If you were told your gift was instead going to support a warlord who sought to slaughter his enemies and rape their women to prove his power and enlist their sons in his wars, why would anybody in a right frame of mind want to contribute to that?


While I agree with what you've said, it's worth emphasising that giving money to charities can be highly effective (assuming it's done well) - if the majority of a population are suffering from highly debilitating and easily preventable diseases, then preventing those diseases will make future micro-loans etc a lot more effective.

For a refreshingly unbiased look at the relative effectiveness of various forms of aid, I'd recommend this site: http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/resource ... rities.php

The idea behind the 'Giving What We Can' project ties in neatly with this thread; it notes that we can do a lot of good in the world by donating a fraction of our income to the most effective charities/non-profits that we can find. They suggest that 10% of your lifetime income can do a huge amount of good (as measured in QALYs) without drastically reducing your standard of living (though the percentage will obviously vary depending on how well-off you are - nevertheless, if you're in a developed country chances are you're in the top 1% of the world in terms of purchasing power).

So far they've had $15,000,000 pledged, mostly by development economists, philosophers etc.

http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/index.php

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Arrian » Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:30 am UTC

Marywoeste wrote:Are you serious? Buying stuff in sweatshops is actually helpful? I'm not asking that sarcastically, I'm actually surprised and curious. I was always under the impression that buying stuff made in sweatshops was supporting the unfair wages and working conditions. Can you please explain to me more specifically how I'm wrong?


People who have moral issues with sweatshops in poor countries are usually comparing conditions in them to conditions in first world factories. That's a false comparison, though. The alternative to working in a non-air conditioned sweatshop in Madagascar for 14 hours a day 6-7 days a week at 20 cents an hour isn't working at a Honda plant in Ohio for 40 hours a week at 30 dollars an hour. It's working on a subsistence farm plowing with an ox, planting and harvesting by hand for 16 hours a day hoping you'll get enough to feed your family and maybe have some left over to sell for a couple of bucks a week. Or worse, prostitution is a pretty common alternative. Those are also usually the same options for child laborers. They aren't typically working at a factory instead of going to school, they're working at a factory instead of working at home or on their backs.

Whenever you see an expose on exploited workers, always ask yourself "Did these people choose to work here of their own free will? If so, why?" Often times, while the situation may truly be horrible for the workers that you see, the alternative is even worse. Women from Rural China, for example, are flocking to cities to work in terrible conditions. But they're getting paid a cash salary that they can save and make a better life for themselves later. If they're coerced or forced into that condition it's different and deserves very close scrutiny.

It takes a lot of hubris to tell someone that they're making the wrong decisions about how to live their lives from an air conditioned house halfway around the world. Also remember that things like safety standards and better work conditions cost money, so they come at a tradeoff in lower pay. Don't assume that other people are wrong because they don't make the same tradeoffs you think you would choose.

Sweatshops aren't enough to bring a country out of poverty, but they're a start. The government of the poor country has to follow up and improve infrastructure and legal institutions that encourage more foreign investment, the people need to follow up and educate themselves so they can work in more modern, productive settings. Foreign governments need to follow up and not destroy other countries chances through export, import and diplomatic policies that prevent their own firms from investing in the poor nations. Places can easily stagnate at the sweatshop stage, and that's a bad thing. But they need to have the sweatshop phase to move on to the factory and call center phases of development.

Back on topic, I was pretty harsh initially on the concept of donating money to fix the world's ills. I want to clarify that my point is that fighting poverty is not a trivial task that simply requires enough money. As bystanders, the best thing individuals like you and I can do is donate money to causes we choose to support. That does provide help, but don't get full of yourself or over angsty by thinking that everything could be fixed if we just gave up that extra latte every week and sent the cash to Ghana.

Money is a tool, a very useful tool, but like any tool it needs to be carefully and thoughtfully applied to produce anything meaningful. And by itself it won't solve anything.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Jun 02, 2010 2:51 am UTC

Sweatshops aren't enough to bring a country out of poverty, but they're a start. The government of the poor country has to follow up and improve infrastructure and legal institutions that encourage more foreign investment, the people need to follow up and educate themselves so they can work in more modern, productive settings. Foreign governments need to follow up and not destroy other countries chances through export, import and diplomatic policies that prevent their own firms from investing in the poor nations. Places can easily stagnate at the sweatshop stage, and that's a bad thing. But they need to have the sweatshop phase to move on to the factory and call center phases of development.


I would also note that sweatshops lead to better working conditions because it makes the countries economy dependant on labor, which creates an opportunity for unions to form. If the oppressed are integral to a country functioning they have more power then if they are a bunch of farmers who are working to produce their own food.
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby ianf » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:49 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:I would also note that sweatshops lead to better working conditions because it makes the countries economy dependant on labor, which creates an opportunity for unions to form. If the oppressed are integral to a country functioning they have more power then if they are a bunch of farmers who are working to produce their own food.


Unless there is a policy of assassinating union leaders to limit the power of the unions (e.g. google sinaltrainal to see such allegations).

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:33 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:I would also note that sweatshops lead to better working conditions because it makes the countries economy dependant on labor, which creates an opportunity for unions to form. If the oppressed are integral to a country functioning they have more power then if they are a bunch of farmers who are working to produce their own food.


Unless the companies are international, in which case if the standard of labor ever increases the industry can bail for another poor country.

For this reason and others (such as autonomy, noncompetitive measures, corporate control of government), investment isn't a good approach to developing poor countries, either, because the development they need is domestic, not foreign. Foreign investment is just as potentially dangerous as scam charity is.

Charity's probably the best chance for helping poor countries, but existing charity could be done far better, simply by doing different things. Say you started a business in a poor country, made enough money to pay off your initial investment, then gave it to the locals running the place. That's something that could help in the long-term, and it's sure as hell charity, not business.
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Spambot5546 » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:48 pm UTC

Indon wrote:Charity's probably the best chance for helping poor countries, but existing charity could be done far better, simply by doing different things. Say you started a business in a poor country, made enough money to pay off your initial investment, then gave it to the locals running the place. That's something that could help in the long-term, and it's sure as hell charity, not business.

I shall take this opportunity, as i do every opportunity, to plug Kiva. Instead of starting a business and giving it away, you can loan money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Because it is a loan rather than a gift, you can use a small amount of money to help a lot of third-world business owners! Yay, Kiva! Helping bring capitalism to the people who need it!
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:08 pm UTC

Indon wrote:Charity's probably the best chance for helping poor countries, but existing charity could be done far better, simply by doing different things. Say you started a business in a poor country, made enough money to pay off your initial investment, then gave it to the locals running the place. That's something that could help in the long-term, and it's sure as hell charity, not business.

Which is what Heifer International does. It gives one group of people some livestock, along with the training necessary to take care of them, and those people have to give the offspring to another member of their community. (all of the initial animals are pregnant females).
They deal with cows, pigs, sheep, water buffalo, goats, llamas, bunnies, poultry and bees. And they're involved with urban aquaculture programs as well.
Pretty much one of the most effective charities around.
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby black_hat_guy » Sat Sep 04, 2010 5:32 am UTC

It is true that giving everyone a given (no pun intended) amount of money would have no net effect on the economy. However, giving everyone a certain amount of money in products (Through greater production) would. And the faster economies move, the more we can produce, the less we have to give up to help the more, and the more we can help the poor. Stimulating subsidies, rather than aid, will create economic growth and greater production of many things, including food. Plus, with science and technology, we don't have to worry about hitting a natural resource or work limit. (We have plenty of energy in renewable sources, and we can increase machine labor and employ currently unemployed people.) As for other natural resources (metals, trees, etc.), with enough advancement and enough energy, we can do a lot.
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby RMgX » Sat Sep 04, 2010 11:09 am UTC

If we accept the idea that helping poor people or saving their lives is the moral thing to do and that the value of each year of these poor people that you do not know are roughly equal and constant over time, then what is moral to do depends to a large extent on what kind of return on your investments you are able to get.
If you are able to get a 7% return/year (after inflation), it takes a little more than 10 years to double your investment. Let us also assume an average life expectancy of 50 years for the people actually requiring aid. An other assumption is that no immoral taxes (taxes that are invested in such a way that they yield a lower return on investment than your investments OR taxes that do not benefit these poor people in question) are deducted from your savings and that the poor people are completely incapable of getting any return on investment at all should they invest the money (you could of course redo the calculations with different numbers on what kind of returns they would be able to get).
We can then see that if you are able to obtain a return of roughly 3% or more (doubling your investment in roughly 25 years) it is immoral to spend your money on aid, the returns from your money should instead be reinvested and the money should be spent first after your death or when you become too senile to make good investment choices.
Actually an even more moral choice would be to give the money to an other person (usually a rich person) capable of generating an even larger return on investment and that intended to spend the money a suitable charity when they grew old.
Well known examples would be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Using the assumptions above people like these two are paragons of morality with respect to helping the poor.
Of course the issue is more complex than this in that I basically assume a very large amount of poor people compared to the amount of money given to them, that the problems are consistent over time (diseases and such can be eradicated) and the beneficial effects of for instance vaccination programs are not linear with respect to the number of doses, nor are the investment costs in for instance clean water programs necessarily linear with respect to benefits. Some of these issues favour investments today rather than in the future (basically they give a positive return on investment with respect to human life that may persist over a long time once initial investments are made). What determines how these factors effect our strategy are dependent on the causes of poverty.
An issue favouring reinvesting your money and giving it in the future is technological development. $10 in ten years might be able to do much more good at that point in time than today.
Another thing to consider is where the costs are spent. Choosing between investing in an iron mine in Canada and in Africa that both give the same return on investment (naturally you should somehow adjust for the increased political and other risks in Africa) it might be more moral to invest in Africa since the labour costs etc will benefit the very people one is trying to help, this ties into buying things from sweatshops in poor countries rather than where labour costs are higher.
In the same way it might be more moral to invest in a pharma or agriculture company than a company producing expensive mp3-players.
My point is however that sending whatever amount of money each month in aid may very well be a less moral choice than investing your money well, getting rich and spending it on poor people in the future if you believe we have a moral obligation in helping poor people.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:49 am UTC

Sure, you send $10 for vaccinations and save an African kid's life. But then that kid still needs food in an area of the world that is probably starving. So either that kid starves to death, or the kid eats some of the limited food supply and some other kid starves to death.

In the end, not only has one child died, as much as I hate to delve into the horror that is Social Darwinism, you may have made the country 'worse' (i.e., you save the child with the 'weak' immune system at the cost of the kid with the 'healthy' immune system, meaning the population is slightly 'weaker'). Unless the foreign aid is something on the lines of "new tractors" or "irrigation", I don't see how you end up helping. Even then, better farming methods over there wll only end with even more people that can starve. The only advantage to more people is that there is a greater chance of finding someone capable of science.

That's part of my own theory of how Europe/US developed; prior to 1750-1800, better technology just meant more people and you were soon back to where you started, just with more people. Eventually, you had enough people, specifically enough scientists, to the point where science (and food production) advanced faster than the human population could keep up, leading to the economic boom (on average) of the past few centuries. The enlightenment and emphasis on research/science, which meant a larger proportion of people became scientists, didn't hurt either.

In addition, I have to wonder if charity does anything other than to train people how to become more efficient beggars. It's one thing if you know someone who needs help to hold them over until they can find another job, but when you see someone who is perpetually begging, well, let me give an example. The chronic beggars I've met all say that society has failed them, and so on. I think to myself, what would happen if these people woke up, and society was gone? Nothing but wilderness. No farms, no roads, no stores, nothing. Would the they grow/catch their own food? Would they make their own clothing? They might be destitute, but would they be better off without society to beg from? Only if the answer to the previous question is 'yes' could I see that society had indeed failed them.

Just so you know, I was born with my own defect, and without surgery I would have died before my first birthday. Don't try to call it a 'condition' or 'specialty' or whatever term bleeding-hearts use these days, I had a defect. So I admit it may seem hypocritical of me to say we should not interfere. The only difference I see, other than that my family could afford it, is that over here we such a surplus of food we have to pay farmers not to produce (wish I could find the link for you), so the extra food in my mouth is not really food out of someone else's mouth.

The obvious question of why we don't send our surplus to where people are starving, that will only work until the population there grows and even more people need food. To say nothing of soil depletion, environmental damage from even more fertlizer production/use,and so on.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Calorus » Sun Sep 12, 2010 8:38 am UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:
Indon wrote:Charity's probably the best chance for helping poor countries, but existing charity could be done far better, simply by doing different things. Say you started a business in a poor country, made enough money to pay off your initial investment, then gave it to the locals running the place. That's something that could help in the long-term, and it's sure as hell charity, not business.

I shall take this opportunity, as i do every opportunity, to plug Kiva. Instead of starting a business and giving it away, you can loan money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Because it is a loan rather than a gift, you can use a small amount of money to help a lot of third-world business owners! Yay, Kiva! Helping bring capitalism to the people who need it!


I wouldn't word it quite like that, but if that what needs to be done for Yanks to get on board, fine!

Awesome project.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:16 pm UTC

Calorus wrote:I wouldn't word it quite like that, but if that what needs to be done for Yanks to get on board, fine!


As was stated in someone else's previous post, the US donates over 300 billion a year (worldwide, not just Africa). Africa has recieved over $1 trillion in aid since expelling those evil westerners.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Calorus » Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:54 pm UTC

Carry on like that and we might one day pay for all of the Gold, Silver, Iron, Diamonds, People, Land, Histories we've stolen.

And, just as an aside, the US's annual donations as a proportion of GDP Ranks somewhere around 21st out of 28 OECD countries, so think a few times before declaring it a prodigiously philanthropic state...

++ And, as an aside to that aside, let's not forget that the biggest single outgoing for these nations are the crippling debt on loans written out to dictators by the oh-so-benevolent American backed IMF & World Bank. After using that money to buy arms, thugs and put themselves beyond the law. Whilst I think most would accept it as a valid safeguard that banks should be responsible for the risks they take with their money, instead of allowing the countries which suffered WB/IMF funded pillage are forced to indulge the WB/IMF's "Structural Adjustment Programmes", i.e. making cuts in the education budgets that might allow these countries to dig themselves out of the poverty, and the health which is instead provided with global Aid Money. -- Seems almost like a money laundering scheme to give US & Global Taxpayer money to the US & Global banks which cartelise IMF and World Bank...
Last edited by Calorus on Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:41 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Zamfir » Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:13 pm UTC

Calorus wrote:
Spambot5546 wrote:
Indon wrote:Charity's probably the best chance for helping poor countries, but existing charity could be done far better, simply by doing different things. Say you started a business in a poor country, made enough money to pay off your initial investment, then gave it to the locals running the place. That's something that could help in the long-term, and it's sure as hell charity, not business.

I shall take this opportunity, as i do every opportunity, to plug Kiva. Instead of starting a business and giving it away, you can loan money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Because it is a loan rather than a gift, you can use a small amount of money to help a lot of third-world business owners! Yay, Kiva! Helping bring capitalism to the people who need it!


I wouldn't word it quite like that, but if that what needs to be done for Yanks to get on board, fine!

Awesome project.

Perhaps you can help me with something I never understood about Kiva and its kin. Why don't they lend money from normal sources, instead of asking zero-percent loans from individuals?

I mena, Kiva lends that money on, at zero interest again, to local microloan organizations. Those organizations lend it on in small amounts, and have to charge 50% or 100% interest to cover administration costs. Which is apparently still a useful thing to do, and those microloan organizations seem stable and in general do not go bankrupt.

But then, why can't they (Kiva, or the microloan organizations) just loan money from rich countries' banks and pensionfunds? If they pay 10% a year without going bankrupt, people at those banks will cry from joy. It would raise their interest rates at home to from maybe 70% to 80%, but that wouldn't much of a difference.

In return, the system would have access to much larger amounts of money than Kiva could ever raise. And such a system based on mutual benefits for everyone would be much more stable. In 10 or 20 years time, Kiva will no longer be a fashionable charity, but my pension fund will still happily loan to people paying 10% a year.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby roflwaffle » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:43 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Zamfir wrote:Just a quick reality check: $10 doesn't save a life.
$10 can easily delay one death. The central confusion, I think, is equating delaying death with saving life.
I'm not sure if $10 is even enough. A lot, possibly the majority of preventable death (starvation and so on) comes from war and corruption, and those two aren't something we can throw a vaccine or food at for an easy fix.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby TheNorm05 » Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:35 am UTC

In response to the original poster, I'd say that donating 10 dollars to kids in a poor country is a lot like using a band-aid to fix a totaled car owned by someone you don't know. On one hand, the band-aid is pretty cheap, but it's also not really doing anything, and you don't really see the effect to begin with. The bottom line being that most people don't care how messed up their car is because we don't see them, and none of the problems can be properly addressed until their junker is running again. To put it better, it's like a sinking ship with a hole in it. Before you commit lots of energy into bucketing out the water, you generally want to plug the hole otherwise you're just spinning your wheels and getting no where. When you look at the total cost of stabilizing a country to the point that they could take care of themselves.... people start getting turned off by the whole thing.

At the end of the day, we all know there are starving kids in Africa. But there are starving kids in Mexico and in different places a lot closer to home. When someone comes up with a comprehensive plan to save the world and make money doing it, call me and I'm sure most of the world's industrialized nations will be all over it.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby fr00t » Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:02 pm UTC

TheNorm05 wrote:In response to the original poster, I'd say that donating 10 dollars to kids in a poor country is a lot like using a band-aid to fix a totaled car owned by someone you don't know. On one hand, the band-aid is pretty cheap, but it's also not really doing anything,


Except that you are saving a life with that bandaid. That can't really be debated, although the actual cost can.

However, if you look at it more closely, the unfortunate reality emerges. People are organisms - and any environment has a carrying capacity for a given of organism. If we ship food or medicine to a third world nation, we improve living conditions for a while - but also increase the carrying capacity; more unwanted children will be born and likely an almost identical amount of total suffering will be endured. Sort of like the iron law of wages, but more savage. The only intelligent humanitarian action is to use aid as a stop-gap while emphasis is placed not on individual lives but instead on creating infrastructure, so that hopefully, eventually, they can establish their own standards for population, quality of life, and sustainability. But the right to basic necessities and the right to produce offspring are ultimately in contention.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Levelheaded » Wed Sep 22, 2010 7:50 pm UTC

ianf wrote:
mmmcannibalism wrote:I would also note that sweatshops lead to better working conditions because it makes the countries economy dependant on labor, which creates an opportunity for unions to form. If the oppressed are integral to a country functioning they have more power then if they are a bunch of farmers who are working to produce their own food.


Unless there is a policy of assassinating union leaders to limit the power of the unions (e.g. google sinaltrainal to see such allegations).


Those types of polices are pretty ubiquitous when it comes to unionization. Read up a bit on the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Sweatshops aren't good, but they are usually better than the alternative.

These are all complex issues without easy remedies. The problem isn't really money, and it's a different problem everywhere you go. Often, the blowback is worse than the original problem and helping in one place results in an increase in general suffering.

The best 'low hanging fruit' I see isn't food or medicine. It's improved distribution of condoms and education on the proper use. It's not an immediate solution, but it kills two birds with one stone - lower birthrates and less HIV. Personally, I think the Catholic Church's opposition to condoms has caused more suffering than any other single thing.

Giving food or medicine without addressing the underlying population problem in most of the poorest areas of the world is doomed to fail.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby elasto » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:33 am UTC

Levelheaded wrote:The best 'low hanging fruit' I see isn't food or medicine. It's improved distribution of condoms and education on the proper use. It's not an immediate solution, but it kills two birds with one stone - lower birthrates and less HIV. Personally, I think the Catholic Church's opposition to condoms has caused more suffering than any other single thing.

Giving food or medicine without addressing the underlying population problem in most of the poorest areas of the world is doomed to fail.

Condoms aren't much use without women both being educated and empowered within a society. So long as men hold all the cards, a woman wanting to use a condom is simply going to get overruled by the man that doesn't.

Not saying you're not right - condoms are a huge low hanging fruit (so to speak!), but it's a difficult business even without religion sticking its oar in.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby GoC » Sat Sep 25, 2010 1:45 pm UTC

One of my hobbies is convincing people that they are selfish using exactly the reasoning used in the OP. It's fun and introduces them to the wonders of having an in-group and an out-group.
Though... there is one minor problem with accepting in-group/out-group as a good reason to discriminate... there happens to be some nice static criteria we can use to create our groups that results in little movement from in to out and vice versa: It's called skin color. :mrgreen:
Yeah, I generally just leave people feeling rather despondent.

Vaniver wrote:Those people are not your responsibility. That dog is.

So basically: Because our social norms tell us we don't have to and aren't bad people for not doing so.

Zamfir wrote:Just a quick reality check: $10 doesn't save a life. Even poorest countries in this world can afford $10 to save their children. Spending on healthcare of poor children is already multiple billions each year, and that is obviously not saving 100's of millions of lives each year.

Perhaps $1000 really has a good chance of saving someone's life, if you know where to spend it and to get it there. Perhaps we should indeed do that more. But asking students to spend a thousand dollar clearly lacks the appeal of the $10 story.

LaserGuy wrote:I'm assuming you're referring to the well-documented studies that show that food aid can destroy the local agricultural economies of developing nations and in result in increased famine (and reliance on food aid!) in the long term, primarily benefits the donor and not the receipient, and is often used to for political or commerical gain? Or perhaps you refer to criticisms that the IMF and the World Bank (and by extension, the developed countries that finance these institutions) promote policies that lower the standards of living in countries they lend to and, encourage corruption and subvert democracy? That countries outsourcing their healthcare or education to foreign corporations sacrifice their sovereignty? Or that drug companies offering free/cheap drugs to developing countries may in fact be using the people there for illegal human testing of medications?

Mary's Meals.

tastelikecoke wrote:Charity in my humble jumble opinion doesn't help them feed themselves and the problem is in the root of the root of evil.

There is more than one way of giving and helping.

Griffin wrote:I feel no more obligation to poor people than I do to anything else. Its pretty simple.

I'm most able to make an impact, succesfully, reliably, on those I interact with on a regular basis - aka, my friends and family. I support people, through the economy, that make things I enjoy. I try to be productive enough that I can somehow improve the lives of others while doing things that I personally enjoy, because ultimately the person is most effective at increasing a person's happiness is themselves - If we spent all of our time and money, each one of us, worrying about other people, the world would be miserable.

All or nothing? Really? :|

Indon wrote:Charity's probably the best chance for helping poor countries, but existing charity could be done far better, simply by doing different things. Say you started a business in a poor country, made enough money to pay off your initial investment, then gave it to the locals running the place. That's something that could help in the long-term, and it's sure as hell charity, not business.

My father (let's call him an aid worker even if that wasn't quite his job) was involved in that for a while but discovered that in many cases they just run it into the ground (various reasons)... His experience seems fairly typical.
People are generally shortsighted unless trained (formally or via culture) to follow certain patterns that happen to lead to long term benefits.

CorruptUser & fr00t: In this very thread is a link that addresses you: http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/resources/myths-about-aid.php
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Waylah » Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:00 pm UTC

I think part of it is fear, fear that if you concede that yes, doing this little bit of help here, say, donating x amount to restore sight to someone in a third world county is one thing that you know you can do, and that you know would help someone, and might be a good idea to do, the moment you admit that reality to yourself, then all of a sudden, you will realise that there is so much more you could also be doing to help other people. It's a sort of fear that if you do any thing at all, you will have to do everything, so you'd better just rationalise it away (lie to yourself) and do nothing at all.
Helping people is more than dispensing money; as many people have pointed out, money is just the tool. Use it badly, you can botch it up and make things worse, but if you don't use it at all, then you can't do much good either. There seems to be two parts to it, the thinking and the planing and the figuring out how to actually help (say, working out how to actually do surgery x to put the face back on a child with noma, planing where and how to find the children who need it, etc ; or the difficult task of figuring out how to increase the education prospects of children in an entire community in a way that is positive for the community and works for that culture, etc) so thats the brain power and man hours of getting information and planing things out and all that time and effort, and then there is the other part of it, getting the actual physical things you need. That's the part where the money comes in. You need both.
anywho i have to go.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Vaniver » Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:16 pm UTC

GoC wrote:So basically: Because our social norms tell us we don't have to and aren't bad people for not doing so.
My norms allow me to live a happy and productive life. You enjoy that your norms leave people despondent. Is it any wonder that, since both are arbitrary and social, I choose the ones that promote good instead of spreading evil?
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby GoC » Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:31 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
GoC wrote:So basically: Because our social norms tell us we don't have to and aren't bad people for not doing so.
My norms allow me to live a happy and productive life. You enjoy that your norms leave people despondent. Is it any wonder that, since both are arbitrary and social, I choose the ones that promote good instead of spreading evil?

I'll take that as a yes. :P
You could pick other norms that could promote more good if you so choose but with a "happy and productive life" why change?
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Re: We Are All Bad People

Postby Vaniver » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:52 pm UTC

GoC wrote:You could pick other norms that could promote more good if you so choose but with a "happy and productive life" why change?
Could I? I'm not sure those options are available, and if they are, I strongly suspect they are undiscovered.

(To be specific: I am talking about not feeling guilty because fulfilling your private responsibilities means you do not have the resources to lower external suffering. I am not talking about how one chooses to apply excess funds, time, and energy.)
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