One of my wife's friends works at an afterschool program in our area. Talking with her briefly about what she does, it came up that their staff spends an extremely large fraction of their energies and time taking care of a very small fraction of their students---in this case, the 'special needs' kids. So perhaps 2/3 of the resources here are being used on perhaps 5% of the kids. It struck me just how precious little actual debate there is over this---the 5% in this case has its resource allocation absolutely mandated by statute, and the 95% has to be content with whatever is left over. In the present climate for governmental swag at the state and lower levels, most groups face declining budgets---read, a lower share of the smaller amount of spoils collected from the taxpayers. So why is this, and do we actually want this?
It seems to me that there are lots of different schemes that could be used to allocate said loot, with lots of purported justifications and advocate groups. It also seems to me that none of these schemes has any particular mandate from Heaven. Accordingly, they all ought to be fought in a slugfest of self-interest, but instead, because of the scourge of universalism, we must endure the sophistry of sanctimonious scolds.
For your consideration, here is a reasonable subset of those schemes
We should allocate the loot in roughly equal proportion to all of the customers (i.e., the kids)---an attempt at an appeal to fairness in the equality of opportunity sense
We should allocate the loot in rough proportion to what is paid in by the guardians of said wards---hardly anyone makes this argument because of the scourge of universalism, but it's really a simple argument of giving each group what is due it in a contractual/corporate sense
We should allocate the loot according to the ratios most likely to give us prosperity in the future---essentially a utilitarian idea in the oldest sense, you rarely see this sort of argument anymore but it wasn't uncommon before the 80s, typically advanced for spending more on the most talented or advantaged students
We should allocate the loot so as to close the gaps between the most talented and the least (i.e. the opposite of the previous scheme---typically a semi-Rawlsian sentiment)
We should allocate the loot so as to favor my group or to hurt the groups that my group competes against most for status (IMO, by far the most common scheme when you pierce the veil surrounding it)
As I've mentioned, God doesn't give a damn which of these schemes one adopts. Pretty much everyone in a modern Western society is rich beyond the dreams of anyone in Jesus' day, so whatever scheme we adopt is just the squabbles of the insanely wealthy. So let's leave the moral language out---it doesn't belong and using such language for inappropriate purposes greatly diminishes its efficacy when you actually need it.
So how SHOULD we divvy up the spoils? In my opinion, it should be a straightforward slugfest of group and self interest, with no group immune to the scheming, alliance-trading, and tawdry quid pro quo.
Are people really getting smarter?
10 hours ago
1) People seem to get some value from seeing those around them do well, not just get everything for themselves. A person might get more joy from knowing that the parent of an autistic kid can get some help rather then buying a slightly bigger SUV.
In fact they did a few experiments, I think in freakonomics, that showed that when you allowed parents to pay $$$ to assauge their guilt they actually behaved worse. The guilt was worth more then the money.
2) Humans have a fairness concept that goes beyond game theory maximization. We've all seen the experiment where someone offered X% of spliting $100 would rather tell the other person to go to hell even if it makes them poorer.
Indeed it's closer to the truth to say human beings attempt to optimize status rather than finances.
Maybe its just the religous in me, but I really do think there is a genuine altruistic impulse in people rather then just status posturing. This should not be taken to mean I think most people's altruism isn't status posturing.
I do think that there is a genuine altrustic impulse in many people, but it applies only to the particular, not the universal (i.e. only towards those 150 or less people that are 'real' to their mind). That's why I'm a significant detractor of 'telescopic charity'---because its almost always just status posturing and rarely contains any genuine charity in the Christian sense.
For some people I think it applies to the universal. There are people genuinly concerned with the world and not just their immediate neighbors.
I feel I have this impulse very strongly, having come from a long line of people concerned with the general welfare. Great grandfather was a resistance leader trying to gain his country independence. Grandfather was a union organizer back when unions were new. The "correct" play for both men would have been to put their efforts into advancing themselves and their families, not getting shot at by British secret police or getting clubbed by union busters. I just don't see how you explain such an action so obviously dangerous and negative for the person and their immediate loved ones in any way other then a need to satisfy a more general alturism. I felt the same way when I quit my IB job, that it was wrong to steal from lots of peoples pension funds to make myself and my family rich.
What you describe with your great grandfather isn't universalist, but particularist---in this case, it's an ethnic nationalism, the desire to be ruled over by one's own. Considering that ethnicities are essentially massively extended significantly inbred families, it's not too far removed from a natural feeling.
The same urge to altruism would be at work in both the general and particular cases. The particular case is the only one in which it would be tempered by the need to get it right. In the universal case, the same altruism/posturing metastasizes.
People want to be ruled by their own because they believe they will be ruled over fairly. The foriegn group ruling over them exploited them, and they wanted to end that exploitation.
Getting shot at so that other people won't be exploited seems pretty altruistic to me. Perhaps it was restricted to an ethnic group, but an ethnic group is a whole hell of a lot greater then 150 people.
People want to be ruled over by their own regardless of whether they think it'll be more fair. It's just the way they are. Lots of countries are much worse places to live after they eject the British from power. Other places are better. But both wanted the British out so they could have a nation of their own.
Black people who got rid of the British at least BELIEVED that they would get a better deal. After all, the white people had all the stuff, and they didn't, so it must be that they are stealing it all or something.
The fact that this belief was incorrect doesn't change anything.
Lots of folks in former colonies will agree that 'things were better under so and so'. But they rarely take that and go the next step of wishing for them back. From that we can conclude that most groups value self-determination moreso than competent, fair leadership.
That's what Exit is for. Exit >> Voice. Bail on the school system, and it's easy. I'm opposed to systems in which you have to jockey for your own money...and I'm opposed to the NCLB law of Bush's that institutionalized and expanded the legal requirement to give all the money to special ed.
I've already exited, but it still supplies a nice object lesson to illustrate a larger point. You could also apply it to the medical arena if you like.
I agree with the object lesson. But I think it's the wrong lesson. The right lesson is that given such a situation, you should exit if possible. The libertarian (and smart universalist) line is that you should build a society to avoid those situations.
If I could convince people to demolish the governmental public education system and hold Nuremberg-style kangaroo court trials for its ringleaders, I would. But that's not in the cards until at least a few more doublings of homeschooling happen. Diplomacy is the art of saying nice doggie while you find a rock big enough to do the deed.
I think some people beleive that, but if that believe was widespread and deep enough they really would bring back the old regime.
The case I'm recalling was regarding Ian Smith. I've heard similar sentiments from some of my older Indian friends who have a very conflicted view of British rule over their home country. But the question is really moot, as the old regime can't be brought back because it isn't willing to do so now.
I understand that Egypt under British colonial rule was a really nice place also.
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