Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

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Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:39 pm UTC

The purpose of money is to be exchanged for goods and services. Rich people have a lot of money that is not being invested. As far as the economy is concerned, that money may as well not exist. As a rich person stockpiles more money, they are in effect removing it from circulation. Removing money from circulation is bad for the economy, except when done by highly precise and controlled agencies. Rich people benefit from a good economy. By being rich, a rich person is hurting themselves via the economy. A person's rational self interest would not permit them to harm themselves without justified cause. Therefore, it is irrational or against one's own self interest to be rich.

I think a loophole in this thinking is that rich people store their money in banks, who then put it back into the economy by lending it. However, in this situation the bank is only acting as a middle man. Rationally, such a indirect transaction should be avoided if a direct transaction can be done instead. Storing money in banks may be better than keeping it in a vault, but the best use, and therefor the use a moral egotist must support, is directly lending it to others.

What are the flaws with these two arguments?
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:50 pm UTC

I think you would be hard pressed to find a single person that is "rich" (i.e top 1% or top 0.1%) that doesn't have the bulk of their wealth invested... not sitting a bank account, but invested in things like property, company stocks, mutual funds, treasury bonds, etc. In fact, the richer someone is, the greater proportion of their wealth is likely to be invested in things. Income as such basically just doesn't accumulate wealth fast enough for someone to become super-rich as compared to the compounding effects of interest.

Actually, looking it up, a typical bank account can only hold $250,000 in raw cash so it's unlikely that even the wealthiest people have significantly more than that that would be available instantaneously.

[edit]I mean, for sure there are a lot of problems with wealth concentration in the upper 1%, 0.1%, 0.001%, etc. Taking money out of circulation is not one of those things. You may want to look up Thomas Piketty's Capital for a nice primer on this subject.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby sardia » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:01 pm UTC

Do you have any proof the Uber rich invest in capital goods? For example, the Panama papers reveal a lot of shell companies that do nothing but evade taxes. Alternately, there's a ton of luxury condos that are bought, and sit empty for years. The rare art market is just another tax evasion scam. All the examples I listed are ways rich people avoid taxes.

Alternately, stock in a company doesn't help anyone by itself. It only free up money if you sell some to something else in order to free up money to invest. It does nothing if the proceeds from selling stocks doesn't get invested in capital goods.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Zohar » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:05 pm UTC

Uh yeah, this is a really stupid argument. For one thing, the simple existence of massive amounts of money already gives you enormous influence without spending a dime. Also, rich people don't benefit from a good economy, they benefit from being rich. It is not in their interest to have a balanced, well functioning economy. It is in their interest the hold enormous power and wealth and have everyone around them be poor.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby elasto » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:50 pm UTC

Exactly. The more dysfunctional and corrupt an economy, the more the already rich can exploit and entrench themselves within it.

And the bigger the disparity between rich and poor, the more desperate the poor will become, undercutting and tearing at one another like dogs snatching at the scraps falling from the King's table...

No, it is definitely in one's rational self-interest to be rich if opportunity permits. The rich can do anything the poor can do after all (including becoming poor by giving away all their money should that be their proclivity) and then some...

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 20, 2019 11:38 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Actually, looking it up, a typical bank account can only hold $250,000 in raw cash so it's unlikely that even the wealthiest people have significantly more than that that would be available instantaneously.



Uh, that's $250,000 that's FDIC insured, not capped at $250,000. What this means is that if the bank goes under, the first $250,000 is guaranteed by the US government.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby SDK » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:52 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:What are the flaws with these two arguments?


First one is easy...
jewish_scientist wrote:As a rich person stockpiles more money, they are in effect removing it from circulation.
Rich people don't stockpile money, so this is not a concern. Even if they did stockpile money, and even if that did hurt the economy, it's still better to be rich from a purely selfish perspective.

jewish_scientist wrote:...in this situation the bank is only acting as a middle man. Rationally, such a indirect transaction should be avoided if a direct transaction can be done instead. Storing money in banks may be better than keeping it in a vault, but the best use, and therefor the use a moral egotist must support, is directly lending it to others.

There's nothing wrong with a middle man, so long as they are providing a service. Anyone choosing to pay banks/mutual funds/accountants to manage their money for them is not doing this because they're wasteful, they're doing it because it takes a lot of work to be good at investing! If you have enough money (ie: if you are rich, or even middle class), paying someone to do this stuff for you will make you more money than you could make on your own, because that person is simply better at it. Better enough that they can get an increase in returns that more than pays for their own salary.

Calling it wasteful from a societal perspective barely makes sense anyway since any money you pay to that banker/investor/accountant is by definition moving through the economy. The economy is not getting hurt when I pay someone to provide a service. That's literally exactly what the economy is.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:27 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Do you have any proof the Uber rich invest in capital goods?
I apologize if poe's law applies here, but I'l assume you're being serous. Look at the S&P 500 pick a couple at random and ask if they produce an actual good or service. The S&P is 80% of the US stock market, and a decent chunk of all the wealth in the world.
For example, the Panama papers reveal a lot of shell companies that do nothing but evade taxes.
Taxes on what? They are evading taxes on profits. One can't actually make money just my evading taxes, only keep more of the money you make.
Alternately, stock in a company doesn't help anyone by itself. It only free up money if you sell some to something else in order to free up money to invest. It does nothing if the proceeds from selling stocks doesn't get invested in capital goods.
That is exactly what a stock is, an investment in capital. When a stock is created the company gives the investor the stock, the investor gives the company money, and the company spends the money on capital.

If you're referring to the fact that most stock trades don't correspond to corporate expansions, that's true but investors who focus on stock offering tend to direct almost of of their sales money back into more offerings and a extremely dependent on secondary purchasers for that income.
jewish_scientist wrote:What are the flaws with these two arguments?
Mainly that it's not controversial: It's already common sense that keeping wealth in hard cash (or even a regular bank account) is imprudent. If my father (a financial analyst) found out I had $10,000 in a bank account he' sit me down for a serious talk, the same way as if I had a gambling problem.

I use "wealth" here rather than "money" because a certain amount of liquid assets is still prudent, and most people don't have the "problem" of too much liquid assets.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Zamfir » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:45 pm UTC

Just to put a number on it, here is an article that says that rich people (with over 30 million dollar in assets) hold around 35% percent of that in cash. It's apparently higher than before the crash.(the report says that 35% is too much, but of course a wealth management firm would say that)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/super-rich ... 1499431864

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Meticulac » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:54 pm UTC

Given that most money now gets produced via a fractional reserve banking system in the form of credits and debits on digital ledgers, it seems odd to build an argument on the idea of their being a fixed supply of money in circulation that needs to be conserved.

Aside from that, I agree both with the argument that rich people are already mostly investing to the best of their ability, and that the negative effects of not investing could be gradual and spread across the economy such that optimum levels of investment for personal gain are significantly lower than that which would be optimal for gains in the economy as a whole. This is especially true if the investor is mostly concerned with relatively short-term interests.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:45 pm UTC

Meticulac wrote:Given that most money now gets produced via a fractional reserve banking system in the form of credits and debits on digital ledgers




...and I've read enough.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:54 pm UTC

A better argument against being rich would probably be based on the various studies that have shown beyond a certain point, being more wealthy does not make you more happy, and the very rich can actually be less happy than people who are merely 'well-off'.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby ucim » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:32 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:and the very rich can actually be less happy than people who are merely 'well-off'.
Causation...correlation. It would be interesting to see what the contributing factor is for "people who are unhappy tend to become rich as a way to offset this". There is also the issue of why or how somebody became rich. Doing so as a side effect of doing something else (like inventing something) is different from doing so as a direct result of pursuing riches, which I suspect is much less satisfying.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby elasto » Sat Mar 30, 2019 7:23 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Causation...correlation. It would be interesting to see what the contributing factor is for "people who are unhappy tend to become rich as a way to offset this". There is also the issue of why or how somebody became rich. Doing so as a side effect of doing something else (like inventing something) is different from doing so as a direct result of pursuing riches, which I suspect is much less satisfying.


Take Warren Buffett as an example. Despite his vast wealth, he seems really very grounded and seems to derive happiness and satisfaction in all the same things someone with 100,000th of his money would do. In fact I can't imagine him any different as a person had he happened to have become a trillionaire. And that's because, for him, I don't think acquiring money was the direct goal; It just happened to be the 'scoring system' of the 'sport' he made himself king of (investment).

That's quite different to someone who chooses a career primarily because it pays well, say, because they think excessive consumption and status symbols will make them happy; I think that buys a very hollow and fleeting form of happiness only.

And he seems to have a profound understanding about the link between money and happiness as applied to one's children - once commenting: "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing."

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby jewish_scientist » Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:17 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:A better argument against being rich would probably be based on the various studies that have shown beyond a certain point, being more wealthy does not make you more happy, and the very rich can actually be less happy than people who are merely 'well-off'.

A counter-argument is that this trend only exists because of what anthropologist Prof. David Graeber called, "bullshit jobs". These are basically jobs where people are paid money to not actually do any work, which causes the top half of Maslow's heirarchy of needs to be unfulfilled even though the bottom half is fulfilled with surplus. Someone could argue that rich people who do not have these types of jobs are happier than poor people who do not have these jobs, but because it is hard to identify these types of jobs and remove them from the data as outliers, statistical analysis gives the results that it does.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby ucim » Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:13 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:A counter-argument is that this trend only exists because of what anthropologist Prof. David Graeber called, "bullshit jobs". These are basically jobs where people are paid money to not actually do any work.
I don't think that Graeber is correct. There are jobs that help make other jobs easier. Those aren't bullshit jobs; they are perfectly valid. They add value, even if only by preventing others from taking value away. Case in point (and I hate to defend lawyers, but here goes):
Prof. David Graeber wrote:Now he's a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.
While I have no love of corporate lawyers, they clearly provide a service; that of defending corporations against legal attacks, and of attacking others who dare to infringe on the corporation's territory. While I wish lawyers didn't have to exist, they are needed so long as people disagree on where their freedoms begin or end.

I think he's using "bullshit" in the sense of "I don't like what I'm doing", whether "like" means "enjoy" or "agree with". Telemarketing is a job that should not ever be permitted to exist even in the imagination. But unpleasant as it is to do and to be on the receiving end of, it helps (disreputable) companies sell stuff, and it works. These jobs exist not to provide meaningless employment, but to advance the interests of the company.

That's what jobs are.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:58 am UTC

I feel like he would reply that although corporate lawyers, the profession, need to exist, the corporate lawyers, the individuals, he talk to felt like they did not and that this situation could be created by hiring 50 people to do the job 5 could do without overworking. I do not completely understand his argument for why corporations would do this though.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby ucim » Mon Apr 01, 2019 2:36 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:I do not completely understand his argument for why corporations would do this though.
The most likely reason is that he's wrong. Just because somebody thinks {something} doesn't mean that {something} is true. Even if they get quoted in a book.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Zamfir » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:01 pm UTC

I am never quite sure how serious Graeber is - he likes to be provocative and overstate things. I suspect that he could pinpoint the flaws in his own arguments.

On his orginal list, there is a clear pattern:
private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants

These mostly have zero-sum aspect to them - the job is to play a trick on others, or prevent others from playing tricks on you. The benefits you get, are just someone else's cost, and the world as a whole might not be better off. Again, Graeber might be overstating, but there is some truth there. Douglass North's book on transaction costs makes a similar point, just more polite.

In a later version, graeber expands:
flunkies, who serve to make their superiors feel important, e.g., receptionists, administrative assistants, door attendants

goons, who act aggressively on behalf of their employers, e.g., lobbyists, corporate lawyers, telemarketers, public relations specialists

duct tapers, who ameliorate preventable problems, e.g., programmers repairing shoddy code, airline desk staff who calm passengers whose bags don't arrive

box tickers, who use paperwork or gestures as a proxy for action, e.g., performance managers, in-house magazine journalists, leisure coordinators

taskmasters, who manage—or create extra work for—those who don't need it, e.g., middle management, leadership professionals

The original lists fits mostly in "goons"


On the general question why companies would do this: I think Graeber has a point there. There is a 10,000ft-high polished story about how efficient companies are. But if you ask people personally about their own environment, everyone can dish out lists of pointless and shoddy practices around them, or even of their own work.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Zohar » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:02 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:I feel like he would reply that although corporate lawyers, the profession, need to exist, the corporate lawyers, the individuals, he talk to felt like they did not and that this situation could be created by hiring 50 people to do the job 5 could do without overworking. I do not completely understand his argument for why corporations would do this though.

When my dad was working full-time his job was, essentially, a project producer. He always says that if everyone just did their job, he'd be out of a job - if everyone stuck to their timelines, described requirements properly, and followed requirements properly, no one would need him to do that. But people are human, and while everyone did a generally good job, he still needed to talk with his clients to understand what they wanted, he still needed to talk with graphic designers and see they executed their vision, he needed to go to the printing house to make sure all the colors turned out as they should, he had to go to the mailing center and make sure everything was packaged correctly, etc. He never considered his job bullshit just because if others were more efficient he wouldn't be needed. Frankly this outlook is a bit insulting and condescending.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:15 pm UTC

Having said that, in many modern corporations, middle-management has a target and a personal financial incentive to reduce departmental budgets year-on-year, but I could easily imagine that many do not.

Where there is no pressure from above to reduce budgets basically come-what-may, I can easily imagine the reverse incentive applying: The bigger your budget, the more 'important' you must be as a middle-manager, and so the higher salary you 'deserve'.*

And sometimes there is a legitimate case for employing more people than you need right now, in case of some kind of crisis. For corporate law, what if some kind of law gets passed, or some kind of judicial precedence is set, demanding that your lawyers immediately go into overdrive? You may be able to bring in a third-party firm to fire-fight, but people already up-to-speed in-house are arguably always in a better position.

Zohar wrote:When my dad was working full-time his job was, essentially, a project producer. He always says that if everyone just did their job, he'd be out of a job

You could say this about many jobs: If noone committed any crimes, you wouldn't need a police force; if everyone eat and exercised perfectly, you wouldn't need many to most in the healthcare industry and so on. That doesn't make such jobs meaningless though, because humans are not perfect efficiency machines, and it wouldn't necessarily be a better world if we were...



* Many people claim this is one of the biggest issues with public sector bureaucracies, but this fear can be overstated; Public bodies can often be pretty lean, and often benefit from people putting in additional hours for free purely because of the vocational nature of the job - eg. teachers.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:26 pm UTC

I think the issue with bullshit jobs is that there's two dimensions of distinctions:

One, the employee's state of mind:
  1. Employee feels and believes their job isn't BS
  2. Employee feels their job is BS, but consciously believe it has value.
  3. Employees feel and believe their job is BS

Two, objective fact
  1. Job represents a genuine organizational mistake and should be eliminated.
  2. Job is not currently productive, but due to transition costs or expectation of needs, preserving the position is justified.
  3. Job enables pure rent seeking.
  4. Job enables rent seeking legitimately tied to profit seeking.
  5. Job directly creates value.

The employee's state of mind is obviously whats relevant to their job satisfaction. I draw a distinction between 1b and 1c because abstractly believing their job has purpose is very different from creating an emotional connection to most specific tasks. I would further guess that most of the ennui in the modern word is from people in the 1b category.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Zohar » Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:38 pm UTC

elasto wrote:You could say this about many jobs: If noone committed any crimes, you wouldn't need a police force; if everyone eat and exercised perfectly, you wouldn't need many to most in the healthcare industry and so on. That doesn't make such jobs meaningless though, because humans are not perfect efficiency machines, and it wouldn't necessarily be a better world if we were...

Hence why it's not a unique situation to just my dad. Though your examples are different than mine in that it isn't people's job to not commit crimes, or to eat or exercise, while it is the graphic designer's job to translate the client's request into a design, etc.

In any case, the supposed studies that correlate happiness and income say it peaks around $75K, and there are plenty of people both above and below that number, that have all sorts of jobs that fit in and out of these types of jobs. So really I don't think the argument that unhappiness comes from being in these jobs has much merit, or at least is relevant to the discussion.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Zamfir » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:29 pm UTC

At a guess, one factor is that people start preying on your job, that there are people in the wings waiting to take over if you stumble.

There is a u-shape to that. Many low-paid jobs are commodified. No one is looking to take over your job in particular, but if you get kicked it's easy to bring someone else in. Marx's reserve army of labour.

Nicer jobs tend to have more friction, they are harder to commodify. If the current holder of the job is even halfway competent, it will take time, effort and risk to replace them. That creates calm. You can do things your own way, even if it doesn't keep everyone happy all the time.

But higher up the status ladder, positions become sparser and sparser, and there is always a layer below you of people who could probably do your job. That puts at least some of the reserve-army pressure back in.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby SuicideJunkie » Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:57 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:he still needed to talk with his clients to understand what they wanted, he still needed to talk with graphic designers and see they executed their vision, he needed to go to the printing house to make sure all the colors turned out as they should, he had to go to the mailing center and make sure everything was packaged correctly, etc.
That sounds more like a translator doing legitimately useful things, except for the mailing center part.
Translating from customer to producer is a serious job, and not making the designer do it unbuffered is good sense to me.
Checking the colors is iffier, but colors are quite subjective and you'd need someone to do it, even if you had a fancy scanner to automate some of it.
Mailing things should in theory be quite binary; it either gets to the right person or not. But I can imagine if your packaging is fancy and personalized enough, that it could need verification.

Those are things that need a human to check, but have been grouped up into one job due to the scale of it.
It could perhaps have been split up as a side job for someone in each of the other groups, but it is more efficient and reliable to have one person to grease all the wheels in a coherent way.

elasto wrote:Take Warren Buffett as an example.
...
And he seems to have a profound understanding about the link between money and happiness as applied to one's children - once commenting: "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing."
That sounds like a great quote in support of UBI.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:45 am UTC

Jobs don’t appear out of thin air. If an executive has a receptionist, it’s because she needs the buffer to be able to get anything done without having to stop and talk to every person who thinks they need personal attention because the bathroom ran out of toilet paper. There are all sorts of issues with getting a package in the mail that need oversight, from making sure the labels are affixed properly to seeing that the boxes are correctly taped and put in the right bin for sorting.
If you make a product to sell, PR is how you get people to buy it. If you can’t get people to buy your product, how will producing it do you any good?
I have friends in project management. The people they work with are doing big, complicated projects with many moving and intersecting parts. Having one person coordinating that situation allows for a smoother operation all around.
It takes seven people in support to keep one scientist in the field working in Antarctica. Not making the scientists do their own cooking, cleaning etc. lets more science get done. Not to mention better tasting food and cleaner spaces.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby elasto » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:05 pm UTC

Yeah. Receptionists and admin assistants don't belong on that list; Just like specialisation plus trade produces huge net positives economically, so too with the everyday tasks keeping an organisation ticking over.

'People opening doors' is more dubious, but if they double up as security, helping people carry stuff in and out etc. then they also don't really belong on that list.

The only group I really see as a waste of time there are 'people who use gestures as a proxy for action'; That's essentially just PR but of the most frustrating and meaningless kind.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby SuicideJunkie » Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:27 pm UTC

Whomever is writing software designed with frameworks to bring a modern desktop to its knees while providing a GUI worse in every way compared to 20 year old applications that do the same thing. And all the people in their companies by association. They're worse than useless but probably all think they're helping.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby elasto » Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:51 pm UTC

Providing a new product that's worse than the old product isn't an example of a pointless job, merely a job executed poorly.

Any job on or off this list can be executed poorly; That isn't the criteria for being on the list.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby EdgarJPublius » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:21 am UTC

elasto wrote:Providing a new product that's worse than the old product isn't an example of a pointless job, merely a job executed poorly.

Any job on or off this list can be executed poorly; That isn't the criteria for being on the list.


What if providing a worse product is part of a deliberate business strategy?

I doubt there are many types or categories of jobs that are entirely 'pointless'.
'receptionists', 'corporate lawyers' and the like are pretty broad categories with lots of room for varying degrees of usefulness.

On the other hand, I think there is plenty of room for specific positions to be 'pointless' or underutilized. And my (albeit limited) experiences with 'conventional' office environments leaves me no illusions that even very useful and valuable jobs can be made to seem pointless and valueless.

On the gripping hand, I have to agree with Zohar's assessment that these situations can arise at just about every income level and I don't think there's any particular tendency for higher-paid positions to be especially vulnerable to seeming pointless. So this probably isn't the answer as to why more money != more happiness.

I believe the generally accepted explanation for why happiness seems to plateau at about $75k is simply diminishing returns. once you're physical needs are comfortably met, your emergency fund full and your retirement plan well funded, there's not a whole lot more money can do for you to cause significant increases in happiness. For the most part, people aren't really wired to gain significant benefits from an abundance of leisure time, and buying nicer stuff to meet your basic needs or having a larger rainy day fund and retirement plan are really only marginal improvements once those needs are fulfilled.

And for the very-rich, there are problems specific to those with an overabundance of wealth, both the esoteric accounting issues associated with large sums of money, and the socio-psychological issues of being concerned that your friends and family members only really like you for your money, that new people are trying to take advantage of you for your money, or that you and your family may be targeted for kidnapping and ransom, among others.

Of course, it's also plausible that the sorts of people who are very successful tend to be driven by or compensating for anxieties and other issues, there are plenty of theories about how the modern economic systems rewards people for essentially pathological behaviors. So maybe it's not that wealth makes you unhappy so much as people who are already unhappy tend to become wealthy at a higher rate than happy people. Or some combination of both of these.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby elasto » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:48 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:
elasto wrote:Providing a new product that's worse than the old product isn't an example of a pointless job, merely a job executed poorly.

What if providing a worse product is part of a deliberate business strategy?

Typically a product won't be both strictly worse than the product it replaces and more expensive. So it's better in at least one way right off the bat. And to take the example of a 20yo application, that might have security vulnerabilities that can't be patched, or it might be very expensive to commission a change to it due to noone being left who knows how it works etc.)

(If a product is worse in absolutely every way, the job was still executed poorly, just apparently deliberately so. That still doesn't make the job pointless though, it just represents a failure of the market.)

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby ucim » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:46 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:I believe the generally accepted explanation for why happiness seems to plateau at about $75k is simply diminishing returns. once you're physical needs are comfortably met, your emergency fund full and your retirement plan well funded, there's not a whole lot more money can do for you to cause significant increases in happiness.
Well, probably in general, but not always in specific. There are things you can do that can only be done with lots and lots of money. Building a rocket ship to Mars is one, running a baseball empire is another. Most people aren't really all that interested in doing those things, and would be just as happy to sit margaritas by the pool. But for some, that's just not satisfying, and they really want to sail around the world in their own submarine. Those people will be happier with more money. (Unless they discover halfway through that the submarine life isn't for them. :)

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby EdgarJPublius » Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:28 am UTC

elasto wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:
elasto wrote:Providing a new product that's worse than the old product isn't an example of a pointless job, merely a job executed poorly.

What if providing a worse product is part of a deliberate business strategy?

Typically a product won't be both strictly worse than the product it replaces and more expensive.


I actually can't think of a single case of a new version of a product that is worse but cheaper. This is especially true in the specific case I was thinking of, which is software that moves to a subscription model.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby elasto » Wed Apr 03, 2019 7:30 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:I actually can't think of a single case of a new version of a product that is worse but cheaper. This is especially true in the specific case I was thinking of, which is software that moves to a subscription model.

I agree. I can list quite a few examples of software I have now only because it moved to a subscription model (or free) whereas it was out of my price range before. For example Unity which went from costing many thousands for mobile to being free for all platforms for hobbyists. And Unity, for all its faults, is also way better now than it was five+ years ago.

Thankfully companies have woken up to the fact that people just pirated software with a huge price tag, whereas many are happy to pay a small amount month by month for continuous improvement of a product.

And I struggle to think of any software I use on a daily basis that isn't better in at least some respects than it was a few years ago. So everything is either cheaper, better, or both!

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:18 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:I actually can't think of a single case of a new version of a product that is worse but cheaper.

Cars. There are examples of cars where they released the model at X price point, and the next year adjusted some components (changed suspension, changed engine, etc) so that it's at .75X-.9X price point. The selling price for the original model stays higher longer because you cannot get the "original" without buying it OR using expensive after-market adjustments and conversions, making the price 1.25X-1.5X.

Tools and Firearms are also on the list, both for similar reasons - replacing metal parts that will most likely never wear out in the owner's lifetime with plastic parts that break in a decade or so.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:32 pm UTC

An industrial grade tool will out preform its consumer grade counterpart in (almost) all catagories, except for price.

A related point is that the Germany tanks were better than the Russian tanks across the board, but Russia stockpiled a lot more of them and could make them faster.
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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby Eomund » Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:37 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:A related point is that the Germany tanks were better than the Russian tanks across the board, but Russia stockpiled a lot more of them and could make them faster.


I don't want to derail the thread, but this is downright false. Both sides had good and bad tanks but the German ones were often over engineered and had a tendency to breakdown frequently. On the other hand, the Soviet T-34 was an excellent tank and by some considered the best on any side in WWII. The myth of the superior German tanks partly comes from how they counted tank losses. For example, sometimes the Soviets would record a tank as being "destroyed" when it was only stuck in the mud or undergoing minor repairs, while the Germans had much higher standards, sometimes not counting a tank as lost even if it had to basically be rebuilt to be useful again.

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Re: Being Rich is Against Anyone's Rational Self Interest

Postby SuicideJunkie » Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:17 pm UTC

Eomund wrote:For example, sometimes the Soviets would record a tank as being "destroyed" when it was only stuck in the mud or undergoing minor repairs
This sounds like a nifty reverse psychology propaganda thing to vastly inflate the military numbers.

"Ten thousand new tanks were rolled out this morning! (fully replacing the five thousand "disabled by engine failure" when the ignition was switched off, and the other five thousand which were "lost" last night when the drivers closed their eyes to sleep.)"


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