Author Topic: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$  (Read 17009 times)

grantmeaname

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #50 on: May 22, 2012, 12:27:42 PM »
If everyone in modern society (let's say the U.S.) did the bare minimum to get by with a hunter/gatherer style, it wouldn't be sustainable.  You can't have everyone make under 20k to be on IBR, pay 0 in school loans and pay 0 or very little in income taxes
I think you're confusing hunting and gathering food with what 2handband currently does to pay his way through the world. Hunters and gatherers hunt and gather the majority of their food, not play jazz guitar and garden. Nobody was suggesting that everyone should use IBR while keeping their income low, and doing so has nothing to do with foraging. We were discussing the merits of an economic system based on industrial agriculture as opposed to foraging.

I like antibacterial soap, toilet paper, and women's lib. I also like living to 80 rather than 40.
Antibacterial soap gives kids allergies and weakens immune systems in addition to preventing deaths from gangrene. Women could only be liberated relative to what they were before, which was existing without rights, since the invention of rights as a legal and social construct a thousand years ago with the Magna Carta. Hunter-gatherer societies weren't all the same but tended towards egalitarianism between the genders. The notion that women used to be less free and have become more free over time is only really accurate over recent history, since we've been living in stratified societies with defined rights and social ranks. As for living to 80, the average life expectancy in the world is really more accurate than the average life expectancy in the US. It's not that we live in a world without mercury, it's that we put all the mercury on someone else. And as for living to 40, much of the age discrepancy is due to early childhood mortality.

Bakari

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #51 on: May 22, 2012, 01:07:57 PM »
If everyone in modern society (let's say the U.S.) did the bare minimum to get by with a hunter/gatherer style, it wouldn't be sustainable.  You can't have everyone make under 20k to be on IBR, pay 0 in school loans and pay 0 or very little in income taxes.  That would just be too many drains for any society to handle.  Thus, in the long term, it would collapse and everyone would be on their own.  I think the benefits that you would lose from modern society would FAR outweigh the benefits from going back to the Stone Age to save a few bucks on a societal scale.  But, to each their own.  I personally get enjoyment from paying my taxes and loans that I have taken out as well as enjoying the benefits of modern innovation/society.
True, but that is a very extreme example.

For several decades now in the US, increases in national productivity have not translated to increases in median standard of living.
Which means that our increases in consumption, while benefiting "the economy", has benefited society.  It only works as long as your willing to define "the economy" as those individuals who control most of it.  I'm not talking the top 1%.  I'm talking the top 0.01%
Since our standard of living is no higher - after accounting for technology, and adjusting for inflation - than it was in the 1960s, we could reduce out collective consumption at least to the level it was then, and see no loss in social services or collective goods.  All that would change is that there would be a lot less excess floating around for the elite to skim off the top of.

AJ

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #52 on: May 22, 2012, 01:22:48 PM »
Antibacterial soap gives kids allergies and weakens immune systems in addition to preventing deaths from gangrene.

I don't know about you, but I will take allergies over gangrene (and I have pretty bad allergies). I know that excessive use of antibiotics causes its own problems, but can you honestly say you would rather they had never been invented?

As for living to 80, the average life expectancy in the world is really more accurate than the average life expectancy in the US. It's not that we live in a world without mercury, it's that we put all the mercury on someone else.

Fair enough. I revise my statement to "I also like living to 70 rather than 30". (FWIW, wikipedia said the worldwide life expectancy at birth for a female is 69.5, and the only source I could find on life expectancy at birth for hunter-gatherers said it ranged from 28-33. I'm not an anthropologist, so if there is a better source, I'm open.)

And as for living to 40, much of the age discrepancy is due to early childhood mortality.

Yes, and why is infant mortality lower nowadays? Is it not advances in medicine and technology?

But as far as being tribe-based, I don't see how that can be imposed.  Maybe ignorance was bliss back in the days when tribal societies were more prevalent with regard to individuality.  But now, I just don't see how you can force transportation patterns (foot or bike only) on a large scale.  But the great thing about the modern individuality is that you can choose to place yourself in a living situation that meets your own definition of Utopia.  You can choose to live where you can bike/walk to work or for groceries and schools etc.  Just don't be mad if others do not share the exact same values.  To each their own.

Oh, no you can't enforce it. It was more pie-in-the-sky than anything. But it also isn't just a matter of forcing subjective values. Humans aren't meant to be alone. In a way yes, you can "choose your own Utopia", but part of the good thing about tribes was that they were (presumably) forced. We think of choice as an invariably good thing, but sometimes the best thing for you is to love the ones you're with. Plus, some folks can't "choose their Utopia". Many elderly would love nothing more than to be surrounded by their kin in their last years, but they don't have that option. Instead, they live alone. That is the darkside to our individualistic culture. We think that what we really want is absolute freedom, but I would suggest that some filial duty might do us some good. I'm not saying I want to go back in time, and my family is every bit as dysfunctional as the next guy's, but I think there is something to be said for physical co-locality.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #53 on: May 22, 2012, 01:30:15 PM »
I, for one, derive much greater pleasure from accomplishing something than "fucking off."  I think studies have shown that not doing anything can lead to depression and other mental ailments.  I like the idea of working hard at something.  Some things make you an income and some do not, but I still like "working on stuff."

As for public school, I actually really enjoyed sitting in a classroom with my peers and learning stuff, even at 8 years old.  I was not as comfortable out playing with them because I wasn't as good at soccer or what have you.  I was good at school and liked being in a class with kids who were also smart.  I miss the sense of community that going to school brings. 

grantmeaname

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #54 on: May 22, 2012, 01:37:21 PM »
...
The point was not that hunter-gatherers live a magically better life than we do, the point was that you were only considering one side of the changes and not the other side, the things that have gotten worse. There's the loss of egalitarianism, which has only returned some of the way, for some, in some parts of the world. There's the poorer nutrition now, the more dysfunctional social organization...
I wasn't trying to paint foraging societies as Utopian, I was just trying to point out that the changes have come with a cost.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #55 on: May 22, 2012, 01:38:15 PM »
I think the benefits that you would lose from modern society would FAR outweigh the benefits from going back to the Stone Age to save a few bucks on a societal scale.

This. However, I do think there are things from previous eras that we can/should emulate, even while retaining the benefits of our technological advancements. Namely, our current social structure is very isolating for many people, and loneliness can kill. I wish we were somehow more tribe-based and less individualistic. I think if could somehow reserve the use mechanical transportation for only food/supply distribution and emergency services, and our day-to-day transportation was via foot or bike that would be a step forward toward. That being said, I like antibacterial soap, toilet paper, and women's lib. I also like living to 80 rather than 40. Sorry, I know that was off topic...

In order for mechanical transportation to become as advanced as it has for emergency and food/supply distribution purposes, we needed the consumer demand for recreational vehicles as well.  Consumer demand can help spur development in new technologies that are later used for the greater good.

SpendyMcSpend

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #56 on: May 22, 2012, 01:42:35 PM »
If everyone in modern society (let's say the U.S.) did the bare minimum to get by with a hunter/gatherer style, it wouldn't be sustainable.  You can't have everyone make under 20k to be on IBR, pay 0 in school loans and pay 0 or very little in income taxes.  That would just be too many drains for any society to handle.  Thus, in the long term, it would collapse and everyone would be on their own.  I think the benefits that you would lose from modern society would FAR outweigh the benefits from going back to the Stone Age to save a few bucks on a societal scale.  But, to each their own.  I personally get enjoyment from paying my taxes and loans that I have taken out as well as enjoying the benefits of modern innovation/society.
True, but that is a very extreme example.

For several decades now in the US, increases in national productivity have not translated to increases in median standard of living.
Which means that our increases in consumption, while benefiting "the economy", has benefited society.  It only works as long as your willing to define "the economy" as those individuals who control most of it.  I'm not talking the top 1%.  I'm talking the top 0.01%
Since our standard of living is no higher - after accounting for technology, and adjusting for inflation - than it was in the 1960s, we could reduce out collective consumption at least to the level it was then, and see no loss in social services or collective goods. All that would change is that there would be a lot less excess floating around for the elite to skim off the top of.

Could you explain the bolded further?

simonsez

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #57 on: May 22, 2012, 01:47:45 PM »
@grantmeaname  I was referring to 2handband's own hunter/gatherer principle of "do the bare minimum work necessary to sustain your existence, and spend the rest of your time fucking off. If everybody did this, it would be a happier world and we'd get to watch the horror that is industrial civilization collapse overnight." 2handband would not be able to enjoy his current lifestyle were it not for some aspects of modern society.  So, I was referring to IBR as one example.  Some, 2handband et al., may choose a lifestyle in which they do the bare minimum work (in the current system) and if they want to call it a hunter/gatherer principle, so be it.  Good for them, we all live how we want, like I said I'm willing and happy to pay my share of taxes.  My point was, if everyone did this, that bare minimum amount of work to sustain existence might go up in terms of real effort (as disability insurance, unemployment insurance, roads, IBR systems, loans for education etc. would go away or crumble).  I wasn't trying to be anthropologically correct, just going off of 2handband's principle.  Little bit of moral hazard involved but I digress.

@Bakari
I don't disagree with anything you are saying.  I just want throw out there that standard of living is a fickle phrase and could mean a lot of different things to different people.  I, for instance, with a bit of background in demography, would automatically associate standard of living as life expectancies from certain ages at different points in time (both total LE and healthy LE) or look at age-adjusted mortality rates but I see your point.  I'm admittedly biased to try to not define standard of living in $.  I think it's depressing in a way.  I may be in the minority on that, that's fine.  All that being said, I'm glad I was born in the 80's rather than prior to that.

As for reducing consumption back to levels in the 60's when standard of living (via $) was relatively the same, that's great in theory but.........the cost of many things has dropped in real terms.  Aren't food, clothing, and virtually all technology products (after their inception) cheaper now? It's cool to think about but the problem with ceteris paribus is that the ceteris is never paribus.

grantmeaname

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #58 on: May 22, 2012, 01:58:39 PM »
Oh, I totally missed your intent there.
Yes, the tax code would have to be completely redone and the government would have to close welfare programs and find new ways to tax people that were more enforceable (like sales tax). I think 2handband recognizes that not everyone could live the way he does, and I think that he's okay with or proud of that fact... he mentioned that making the financial industries suffer by not repaying his loans was the reason he's doing it, for example.

AlexK

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #59 on: May 22, 2012, 03:57:39 PM »
My mobile home and land is paid for but the HOA, property tax, and fixed county utilities adds up to $277/mo. You are getting off pretty cheaply at $250/mo and I would say you have minimized it.

The good news is you can easily earn that much money in a few hours of work. There are an infinite number of ways to do it but one way is to buy and sell things on craigslist. Since you know guitars, start there. My friend makes quite a bit of money doing that he can't even play a tune.

A way to live cheaper and avoid extra work would be to make a squatter's shelter out in the woods. To me the small amount of work is worth the extra comfort but that is my personal preference.

BTW you should read the book "The Last American Man" by Elizabeth Gilbert.  It is a biography of Eustace Conway, a man who lives the lifestyle you aspire to.

Bakari

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #60 on: May 22, 2012, 04:00:23 PM »
Fair enough. I revise my statement to "I also like living to 70 rather than 30". (FWIW, wikipedia said the worldwide life expectancy at birth for a female is 69.5, and the only source I could find on life expectancy at birth for hunter-gatherers said it ranged from 28-33. I'm not an anthropologist, so if there is a better source, I'm open.)

And as for living to 40, much of the age discrepancy is due to early childhood mortality.

Yes, and why is infant mortality lower nowadays? Is it not advances in medicine and technology?

I think you may have misunderstood what Grant is pointing out.  People in hunter-gather times lived just as long as we do today.  Life expectancy at birth does not tell you how young people die, it just gives you an average.  Kind of like the difference between median income and mean income.  Median income is a lot less than GDP divided by population, because a few ultra wealthy skew the numbers up.  All the infants who die in their first year brings the average down. So when an anthropologist says life expectancy of xyz culture was 30 years, it doesn't mean that in that society people would consider 30 to be a ripe old age.  Old age meant 60-80, just like it does today. 
Life expectancy as of adulthood actually dropped with the invention of agriculture, and dropped further with the industrial revolution, and it is only recently beginning to get back to where it started with modern medicine.
I'm not saying whether in of this is good or bad either way, just wanted to point it out.


But as far as being tribe-based, I don't see how that can be imposed.  Maybe ignorance was bliss back in the days when tribal societies were more prevalent with regard to individuality.  But now, I just don't see how you can force transportation patterns (foot or bike only) on a large scale. 
Easy.  $20/gallon gasoline tax, with a gasoline tax credit for trucking companies and emergency services.


Quote
Oh, no you can't enforce it. It was more pie-in-the-sky than anything. But it also isn't just a matter of forcing subjective values. Humans aren't meant to be alone. In a way yes, you can "choose your own Utopia", but part of the good thing about tribes was that they were (presumably) forced. We think of choice as an invariably good thing, but sometimes the best thing for you is to love the ones you're with. Plus, some folks can't "choose their Utopia". Many elderly would love nothing more than to be surrounded by their kin in their last years, but they don't have that option. Instead, they live alone. That is the darkside to our individualistic culture. We think that what we really want is absolute freedom, but I would suggest that some filial duty might do us some good. I'm not saying I want to go back in time, and my family is every bit as dysfunctional as the next guy's, but I think there is something to be said for physical co-locality.

I think you are on to something here.  I think freedom for freedom's sake is way too overemphasized in our culture, even when it harms both society as a whole and even the individual... but good lord is this becoming one hell of a thread hijack!
I mentioned long ago in the forum suggestions that there should be a dedicated philosophy category, but it got lost in the hundreds of other (also good) suggestions

Bakari

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #61 on: May 22, 2012, 09:25:56 PM »
  Aren't food, clothing, and virtually all technology products (after their inception) cheaper now?

That is because of increases in technology, not because of consumption and the middle class working long hours.

And if money doesn't define SoL, that's even more argument against the idea that people shouldn't work the minimum they can to survive and be happy.

simonsez

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #62 on: May 23, 2012, 06:47:24 AM »
Sorry, I know all of my posts have nothing to do with the original idea of this thread.

$20/gallon taxes may be easy to think about (assuming for a second it is a solution) but let's be serious, that is the opposite of easy as far as feasibility in implementation.  What is the overall point?  Conserve fossil fuels?  Slow the pace of greenhouse gas emissions?  Okay, fine wouldn't that be lovely.  Unfortunately, too many Americans are mobile (for career or leisure) and these values of freedom, for good and bad, are ingrained to a point where you will not convince a majority at a national level that a gasoline tax is a viable solution at this present time.  Thus, freedom of mobility currently outweighs a $20/gallon gasoline tax used to counteract whatever negative effects current transportation patterns are having.  Anything is possible at smaller locales and values do change over time.  Would non-foot/bike methods be acceptable if alternative fuels were being used?

There is always the DWL component of an additional tax on the already taxed gasoline but that's too far of a tangent.

If there is an argument to work the minimum and that is what maximizes the utility for that individual, go for it.  I'm quite happy working for various reasons not related to money (not excluding it altogether, of course).  We as humans are usually rational actors, so, to each their own.




Ipodius

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #63 on: May 23, 2012, 07:39:01 AM »
I'd suggest to you that if industrial civilization went away tomorrow, the vast majority of the world's population would be better off. the moment the people in the third world had access to the land that has been taken from them to mine raw materials for export to the first world or worse, to produce luxury crops for export to the first world, their lives would immediately improve. Only in the first world, a relatively small percentage of the human population, would things get worse, and even there only for awhile. I won't even go into how industrialization requires humans to be stuck in hundreds of millions of jobs that nobody would do if they had a choice, or how it's killing the planet.


Mmmm - I'd strongly disagree with you there. Living in a third world country (South Africa), and having travelled extensively in other third world countries, if "Industrial Civilization" went away tomorrow we would be in huge trouble. Even in poor countries, most people don't live off the land. And those who do live off the land? Their lives are generally a lot worse than people in the cities.