Author Topic: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE  (Read 3393 times)

smoghat

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An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« on: March 16, 2019, 10:00:27 AM »
I used to be an academic, but academia is all but ruined now, destroyed by identity politics and fake left wingers. On the other hand, it's supposed alternative, "the Dark Intellectual Web," is a bunch of edge lords and incels, total losers. I wonder if a new theory might develop out of the FIRE movement. We have the time to think it through and we don't have any investment in either of those games. We are living in a contradiction where obviously we are living off the labor of others, but then so is everybody else in the developed world, so our contradiction is more apparent. But we also avoid certain things—notably the complexity of bureaucracy endemic to our society(see Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Civilizations for why that is bad)—and are pioneers of a universal basic income/post-singularity society good and bad.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2019, 09:58:53 PM »
Was that a question or a statement ?!?

smoghat

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2019, 05:35:15 AM »
Both, I suppose.

So what might a theory of FIRE be? I imagine it would start with the principles of stoicism and self-reliance, but beyond that?

2Birds1Stone

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2019, 07:02:40 AM »
-_-

Boofinator

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2019, 09:42:41 AM »
I'll just comment on this part for now:

But we ... are pioneers of a universal basic income....

I think, if anything, Mustachianism refutes the idea of a universal basic income. We have shown the world (as others have before us) that one needs relatively little money to live a good life, but meanwhile all of us have earned our degree of FIRE by providing value to others, and learning how not to waste our accumulated capital by investing it in non-value-adding activities.

Take a look at social security. It acts as a universal basic income for elderly people who have worked their entire lives and spent every penny they earned; I posit this as being acceptable, because there is little of value that they are still capable of adding to society*. Now imagine extending that privilege to those who have never earned a cent in their lives; will this remove too much incentive to create value, especially for those who are beginning to learn the concept of providing value to others at a very young age?

Keep in mind a universal basic income would not prevent people from going into debt until they owe interest equal to every penny they get from a universal basic income and more. Then, that universal basic income wouldn't be enough to live off any more (and for many it would never be enough). This would likely lead to the demand for a higher income, and many congressional representatives will get elected by whoever promises to increase the income to meet the "needs" of the people (similar to the social security and medicare debacles).

So, I would say no, we are not pioneers of a universal basic income. I'm not sure what sound bite I would use to try to describe us. Perhaps, we are a grassroots movement that uses the economic model of capitalism to maximize sustainability rather than consumption.

*ETA: This part came out wrong. I should have been more explicit that those most in need of some income will have the hardest time trading their labor for money, because as a senior your body is beginning to break down. So from an economic viewpoint, seniors in need of money will find very few avenues to provide value (not that they don't provide value in other ways).
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 07:32:59 AM by Boofinator »

Seadog

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2019, 10:43:03 AM »
I used to be an academic, but academia is all but ruined now, destroyed by identity politics and fake left wingers. On the other hand, it's supposed alternative, "the Dark Intellectual Web," is a bunch of edge lords and incels, total losers. I wonder if a new theory might develop out of the FIRE movement. We have the time to think it through and we don't have any investment in either of those games. We are living in a contradiction where obviously we are living off the labor of others, but then so is everybody else in the developed world, so our contradiction is more apparent. But we also avoid certain things—notably the complexity of bureaucracy endemic to our society(see Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Civilizations for why that is bad)—and are pioneers of a universal basic income/post-singularity society good and bad.

I've noticed this too. Not to side track, but this then begs the question, where is the place for the learned and curious to congregate and exchange knowledge for knowledge's sake?

One of the greatest historical ironies I find is that hundreds of years higher learning was done in secret, for fear of discussing and promoting the "wrong" ideas like the earth going around the sun, could literally get you killed by the all powerful church. Galileo, one of the top 10 STEM guys in history came within a hair's breadth of a toasty date with a stake because he dared to ask "the wrong questions".

Flash forward 400 years, and the church has almost been replaced by the universities. It's very difficult to make something of yourself with out their blessing (degree), but whilst there, don't dare ask "the wrong questions", or even worse present evidence backing your point, lest you be figuratively burnt at the stake and excommunicated in the public sphere. You don't get burnt at the stake any more. They just make it so you have fewer career prospects than criminals.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2019, 09:17:53 PM »
I used to be an academic, but academia is all but ruined now, destroyed by identity politics and fake left wingers. On the other hand, it's supposed alternative, "the Dark Intellectual Web," is a bunch of edge lords and incels, total losers. I wonder if a new theory might develop out of the FIRE movement. We have the time to think it through and we don't have any investment in either of those games. We are living in a contradiction where obviously we are living off the labor of others, but then so is everybody else in the developed world, so our contradiction is more apparent. But we also avoid certain things—notably the complexity of bureaucracy endemic to our society(see Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Civilizations for why that is bad)—and are pioneers of a universal basic income/post-singularity society good and bad.
Dude, go take a walk in the sunshine.

jim555

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2019, 05:56:13 AM »
I can feel a Manifesto incoming.

Mr. Green

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2019, 10:42:33 AM »
The OP is nonsensical. And intellectual theory on what?

Tass

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2019, 11:15:17 AM »
Guess I'll quit working on my thesis about a transcription factor involved in leukemia. Since academia is ruined. /s

smoghat

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2019, 09:35:51 PM »
Geez, some people really need to stop reading the Internet and learn to do something productive with their time.

Tass

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2019, 09:47:56 PM »
So... I'll go back to working on the leukemia factor?

tipster350

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2019, 08:38:01 AM »
I feel the need to go on an acid trip in order to formulate my totally intellectual reply.

Malcat

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2019, 08:42:02 AM »
So... I'll go back to working on the leukemia factor?

If you're a "fake left winger" then I guess so...

BicycleB

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2019, 11:32:34 AM »
I read the original post and mentally pondered what screed to type in response. Then I read the pithy gems above. All the brilliance of an intellectual, but quicker!

I guess the salon has convened.

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@smoghat, my personal view is that in every generation, there are people who discuss, study, learn, and so on whenever the opportunity arises. The academy provided some of these opportunities and in some cases still does. So does FIRE.

Since you're a theory person, I'll respond on the theory level. Rather than positing that The Academy Is Ruined, I suggest two other theories - one that I suspect is accurate and one that I suspect is worth testing.

Accurate Theory - Some parts of academia have different paradigms in a dominant position than before, which you find constraining because you disagree with these theories. If the pressure of this dominance made you or your friends lie in order to work, I feel empathetic sadness. That sounds horrible.

Theory Worth Testing in FIRE - There is so much knowledge, communication and opportunity available now that any person in FIRE can accomplish almost any particular thing they choose. They just can't accomplish everything they wish in a specified time.

My suggestion for exploring the theory above is choose what you want to accomplish and verify the theory by making it happen. If what you want most is intellectual discussion, you've started already.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 11:34:36 AM by BicycleB »

Tyson

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2019, 12:03:34 PM »
I used to be an academic, but academia is all but ruined now, destroyed by identity politics and fake left wingers. On the other hand, it's supposed alternative, "the Dark Intellectual Web," is a bunch of edge lords and incels, total losers. I wonder if a new theory might develop out of the FIRE movement. We have the time to think it through and we don't have any investment in either of those games. We are living in a contradiction where obviously we are living off the labor of others, but then so is everybody else in the developed world, so our contradiction is more apparent. But we also avoid certain things—notably the complexity of bureaucracy endemic to our society(see Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Civilizations for why that is bad)—and are pioneers of a universal basic income/post-singularity society good and bad.

If you're thinking about it in terms of economic theory, the fascinating thing about FIRE is that it's a very efficient path for moving fairly large #s of people from "the working class" to "the idle class".  And if you look at history, it's happening at an unprecedented rate.  So, what happens when a greater and greater percentage of your population joins the idle class?  It'll be interesting to find out. 

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2019, 04:28:48 PM »
If you're thinking about it in terms of economic theory, the fascinating thing about FIRE is that it's a very efficient path for moving fairly large #s of people from "the working class" to "the idle class".  And if you look at history, it's happening at an unprecedented rate.  So, what happens when a greater and greater percentage of your population joins the idle class?  It'll be interesting to find out.
Index fund investing collapses when everyone indexes. The FIRE movement will collapse if everyone is FIRE'd. The question is, at what levels will these respective movements show signs of strain? I do not know.

I suspect indexing is already showing signs of strain and problems, but those have not yet been  properly identified and quantified. I suspect the FIRE movement, if it takes off, will show signs of problems long before (relatively speaking) indexing will.

Then again, what do I know? I thought Apple was a dead stock in the late nineties. For the record, I index most of my stock investments.

BicycleB

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2019, 10:37:56 AM »

Index fund investing collapses when everyone indexes. The FIRE movement will collapse if everyone is FIRE'd. The question is, at what levels will these respective movements show signs of strain? I do not know.

Not everyone will index. A minority of active investors is enough for indexing to work fine. Index fund investing will not collapse. Not saying a general stock market drop is impossible, just saying that indexing will continue to be a valid technique for stock purchases.

Likewise, not everyone will FIRE. There will always be new workers, people who want to expand their stash, and so on. The FIRE movement may collapse, but it won't be because everyone is FIREd.

My humble opinion: If gravity stopped, we would all be at risk of floating off the earth during the rapid expansion of the atmosphere.

:)

bacchi

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2019, 01:05:22 PM »
I'm skeptical that index funds will collapse if everyone indexes. It might be a form of socialism achieved through capitalism. We all benefit from what we all purchase. We all benefit from increased efficiency.

I'm also skeptical that FIRE collapses if everyone FIREs. If everyone magically FIREs within 5 years, sure, but FIRE is being pursued by people of all ages and it's staggered. As more people FIRE, society changes. Neighborhoods and cities become less reliant on cars, achieving savings on roads and pollution and other infrastructure. Dwellings become smaller because people trade square feet for fewer years of work, which also helps with infrastructure costs.

There will also be positive changes in the workplace as people leave their shitty jobs. You lost your 5th IT person this year to FIRE? Change your corporate structure, add part-time, get rid of the pointless meetings.

Those changes will also harm some businesses: fewer road contractors, fewer home builders, fewer Doritos. This happens with all changes, though, and FIRE is a slow process. Think of how quickly the internet swept away bill boards, check printers, and fax machines. FIRE is happening a lot slower than that.

maizefolk

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2019, 04:19:31 PM »
About both index funds and FIRE: if you magically snapped your fingers and drove either of these to 100.00% adoption, yes some serious problems would result. But the great thing about both of these is that they are self correcting.

Index funds: The super long term compound annual growth rate of the stock market, with dividends reinvested and after correcting for inflation is about 6.9%. Historically markets have been efficient and it wasn't really possible to beat that number through active trading. If passive investing ever starts to grow the the point where markets are no longer efficient, it will do so gradually. Imagine a world where passive investments has an expected annual return of 6.8% and active trading an expected annual return of 7.0%. What would happen? Huge amounts of new money and new hiring would flow into active trading desks. Investment banks would leverage up and turn that two tenths of one percent difference into millions and billions of new profits. ... and in the course of doing so, the markets would move back towards being more efficient. Meanwhile, folks living off of passively invested stashes would experience slightly lower returns but not noticeably so. (In my scenario it'd work out to a brief decline of 1.5% in their total annual dividends/capital gains.)

FIRE: Same self correcting principle. Imagine a world where enough people were FIREing that it actually started to have a noticable effect on the labor supply. This isn't a 100% of people are FIREd world, mind you. But perhaps a 5, 10, or 20% FIREd world. Suddenly employers aren't able to fill positions. Work that needs to be done to keep the lights on isn't being done. What happens? Employers competing for the folks remaining in the workforce raise the salaries they are offering and/or focus on making working for them more enjoyable than working for their competitors (more time off, flexible hours, catered meals, firing the one boss who keeps driving employees to quit out of frustration, whatever works). The more people FIRE, the more salaries rise and working conditions improve, FIRE becomes less attractive to the people still in the workforce and returning to work becomes more tempting for people who have already FIREd until you hit an equilibrium.

So in both cases there are increasingly strong equilibrium restoring forces that kick in as you move closer and closer to 100% that ensure it isn't actually possible to reach 100% in either case.

maizefolk

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2019, 04:56:47 PM »
@smoghat, my personal view is that in every generation, there are people who discuss, study, learn, and so on whenever the opportunity arises. The academy provided some of these opportunities and in some cases still does. So does FIRE.

Since you're a theory person, I'll respond on the theory level. Rather than positing that The Academy Is Ruined, I suggest two other theories - one that I suspect is accurate and one that I suspect is worth testing.

Accurate Theory - Some parts of academia have different paradigms in a dominant position than before, which you find constraining because you disagree with these theories. If the pressure of this dominance made you or your friends lie in order to work, I feel empathetic sadness. That sounds horrible.

Academia goes through swings. Right now we do seem to be in an era where it is professionally dangerous to have (or be perceived to have) views on a number of social subjects which are well within the range of views that are accepted within society as a whole. <-- so to be clear we're not talking about white supremacists and all that craziness.

To give one example: when do you conclude that the organizers of a conference are biased against women or underrepresented minorities? When the representation of people belonging to those groups is lower among the invited speakers than among the pool of people who applied to speak? Or when the representation of people belonging to those groups is lower than in the population as a whole? To me this seems like a reasonable difference of perspective that civilized people could discuss. But from experience (fortunately as an observer rather than a participant), I've learned of you want to avoid being branded as a bigot and a chauvinist for years to come you really REALLY don't want to mention the first of those two positions in my little corner of academia.

So I keep my head down at work, and focus on my research and teaching (fortunately neither of these touch on any current hot button issues), and hope the pendulum swings back someday. Not towards more conservative ideas. I happen to like most of the directions our society is evolving. But I do hope we move back towards people in universities being able to admit to having differing perspectives on important topics and questions without being branded as bad and evil. Especially when the people with those perspective are genuinely driven by the same underlying values and beliefs.

BicycleB

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Re: An Intellectual Theory out of FIRE
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2019, 06:40:01 PM »
^Sobering.