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Author Topic: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value  (Read 5343 times)

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Offline colonyan

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Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« on: July 24, 2012, 11:37:45 AM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ezofj2ydzz4

Honesty, to the point and concise speech questions the true value and life style.
Can we go on through 21st century with 20th century mindset?
Do we have to experience catastrophic consequence to learn from it?
Please share to any place and anyone if something have crossed your mind...

Offline cheesehead

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2012, 01:29:34 PM »
Can we go on through 21st century with 20th century mindset?

Well, thinkers in the 17th century wondered if the human race would survive with a 16th century mindset. And thinkers in the 1st century wondered if anyone would survive after the endless Roman civil wars.

So yes. People adapt to their circumstances. No matter how much we think they don't.

Offline colonyan

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2012, 05:06:04 PM »
So yes. People adapt to their circumstances. No matter how much we think they don't.
And better adapt fast! With size of humanity on Earth largest ever been, impact of current behavior will last longtime.
Reality is reflection of everyone's action and thought.
We can not change right away but we can start changing mind set.
Being aware of whole situation and ignoring or not knowing makes large difference.

Offline ӔO

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2012, 05:36:47 PM »
I think we do have to experience a disastrous event to change our ways. I use "our" in a loose term.

We would have to change our entire mindset, completely, if we are to keep our current level of technology. If we keep up our current trends, our technology and knowledge would revert back to, around 1750~1850. Most of us still act like there is an infinite amount of energy, fertile land and drinkable water available, when there is not.

One of our biggest problems is how we subsidize energy costs. We squander too much money and resources on poor investments, because they are 'cheap'. Instead of improving efficiency or investing in renewable or clean energy, what we have done is expend most of it on improving our luxury. Living in luxury is not exactly a crime, everyone would prefer to have it, but what we failed to realize is that if everyone were to live in luxury, as it stands now, there would not be enough resources to sustain the lifestyle.

Currently, we are at a point in civilization where we must choose.
Do we work together to work out our problems? and yes, I believe most can all be solved with current technology if we put our collective effort into it. I have my doubts as to global population sustainability.
-or-
Do we work alone and square off against one another to try and secure our future by grabbing territory? This also works in a sick sense. There is no doubt that humans will survive, but it's also very likely that within a few decades, we will be back to 1700~1800 technology.
-or-
Other solutions to our problems.


It doesn't really matter which solution we choose, if all we are interested in is human survival, but if we want to keep our current level of technology, then there is no doubt that we are better off by working together.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2012, 05:46:45 PM by ӔO »

Offline colonyan

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2012, 05:47:21 PM »
One of our biggest problems is how we subsidize energy costs. We squander too much money and resources on poor investments, because they are 'cheap'. Instead of improving efficiency or investing in renewable or clean energy, what we have done is expend most of it on improving our luxury. Living in luxury is not exactly a crime, everyone would prefer to have it, but what we failed to realize is that if everyone were to live in luxury, as it stands now, there would not be enough resources to sustain the lifestyle.

Exactly. We should not stop to "progress" but we also should know what is sufficient. Spot is to where to draw the line. Also there's also this fear that what if other's get more rich if I stop getting greedy? What if other's got too powerful to take control over us type of fear. Entity hear can be any nation, corporation and various groups of people.

We do not need to blame existing power, economic structure. We have to be more aware of whole situation. Correct action will be easy and will come naturally as long as we stay sincere to basics.

Offline colonyan

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 06:05:00 PM »
Do we work alone and square off against one another to try and secure our future by grabbing territory? This also works in a sick sense. There is no doubt that humans will survive, but it's also very likely that within a few decades, we will be back to 1700~1800 technology.
This will create so much misfortune for already living humans and degrades human as whole. It will engrave even darker point of history forever.

People holding already great amount of power will refuses system to change.
If they are so stubborn, then we have to change. Stop being part of them and say no.

Some simple example: is it sane to burn forest in some far away coutry to make cheap meat?
Is it sane to waste so much food.
The list goes on.

Offline isidoro

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 10:09:14 PM »
We live now in western countries like few noblemen used to live in past centuries.  We have carriages, palaces with running water, tables full of delicacies, machine servants to wash our clothes...  It is apparently clear that there are not enough resources to do this for all people in the world...

But the real problem is that all economy models are always based on development, competition, growth, etc.  Nobody looks for a stationary solution.  What I want and what should I give to society to get it...

The same happens with work and computers.  With the aid of modern computers, work is done in much less time.  Does it mean that we have more free time?  Not at all.  They ask us to do much, much more work now!  We are certainly worst than before!

But there is another problem.  Competition.  You cannot be a sheep if you are surrounded by wolves.  If you don't do it, someone else will.  I have to do it too, but at least, I don't buy the prevalent ideas about all these stuff of earning more, winning more and more, being the best, and the like.

Offline prissi

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 10:46:20 PM »
Incidentially, most systems are inherently unstable. Means a stable state is unlikely to remain stable, and rather a swinging economy should be the norm. It would be the task of politicians to set rules to stabilize markets and such; but in times with "too big to fail" politic is apparently not up to the task.

Offline cheesehead

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 03:22:11 AM »
We live now in western countries like few noblemen used to live in past centuries.  We have carriages, palaces with running water, tables full of delicacies, machine servants to wash our clothes...  It is apparently clear that there are not enough resources to do this for all people in the world...

Well, that's just not true. For example, manufacturing two or three billion more washing machines is quite feasible. Basic food safety, refrigeration, food transport, and potable water are also quite feasible for everyone. Perhaps I don't see why you consider food and water luxuries? Improvement of the food and water supply is a basic public health requirement...otherwise we all go back to cholera epidemics, malnutrition, and other easily preventable deaths. Goodness, my great-grandparents had friends in school with rickets, a terrible and painful and easily preventable disease caused by a poor nutrition.

I think safe food and water is feasible for everyone. Will it look the way it does in the west? Of course not - most western solutions are 50 to 100 years old.


But the real problem is that all economy models are always based on development, competition, growth, etc.  Nobody looks for a stationary solution.  What I want and what should I give to society to get it...

That's your social structure and politics much more than economy. Does a 'stationary' solution involve asking five billion people to remain in poverty and give up their dreams? That seems unlikely. Or is a stationary system about redistribution (in which case it's redistributive, not stationary). Or are you talking about stationary at the individual level instead of societal? That's just as unlikely...people in your neighborhood have dreams, and you cannot stop them striving to achieve those dreams.

I fully understand if you think that striving involves wasteful consumption...but they might think your hobbies and dreams are wasteful too. How can anyone effectively pass judgement on what people want?

...work is done in much less time.  Does it mean that we have more free time?  Not at all.  They ask us to do much, much more work now!  We are certainly worst than before!

Not true. If you are young, there are indeed exploitative companies trying to wring value from your enthusiasm. Lots of them. But you don't need to work for them; stay away from them (I did). It's a choice you make. Not them. You.

But there is another problem.  Competition.  You cannot be a sheep if you are surrounded by wolves.  If you don't do it, someone else will.  I have to do it too, but at least, I don't buy the prevalent ideas about all these stuff of earning more, winning more and more, being the best, and the like.

This is simply fearmongering. Competition is a normal economic force that has important effects (improving outputs, reducing prices), it's not all scary wolves. In my business, I like competition because most other shops in my city charge (much) higher prices, do shoddier work, and treat their customers poorly...I should be more wolflike, and the city's customers would benefit. But I'm not - my shop is fine where it is.

Or are you talking about competition between people for limited resources (like jobs)? That's wholly different from competition among firms. It's hard to tell which you meant.

Offline prissi

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 08:42:10 AM »
Quote
Basic food safety, refrigeration, food transport, and potable water are also quite feasible for everyone.

Actually, this is not possible at the moment. US and Europe produce food spending about 3-9 times more fossile fuel calories per final editable calorie. (A good part of it is actually spent in home refrigerator and transport to the home). Thus to supply the other two thirds of the world with plenty of sustainable food, one will have to reduce meat (and fish!) and eat more raw vegetables and less ready made food. This is quite a change of lifestyle for many western societies. Just image the US with a single piece of meat a week compared to now. (Btw. cheese and butter are also very energy expensive to produce.)

Yes, plenty of food for everybody is possible. But it will not entirely be the food you want.

Same for preparing the food. Large parts of rural countries slow become deserts just from people cutting the last woods for cooking. And electricity will not entirely solve this, as grids strong enough to support cooking are available to city parts of asia, near east. Even a typical japanese houshold has not strong enough grid connections for an electric stove and cooks with gas. Only russia, europe and the US are fully covered. A huge effort would be needed to get electricity to everybody. It will also considerable cut into the avaialable copper, and not to mention to generate the power.

Again, in an "ideal" altruistic world this stuff is possible. The price would be a central control, and giving up freedom. THis, in the long run never worked out. People tend to stand up against too much control sooner or maybe ever centuries later.

In the real world, this can be only achieved stepwise at economics barrel point. Take africa, in the 60ies it was richer than all Asia, had more natural resources. But no freedom. With it came bad leader which just drove it into poverty. As an example what consequent leadership could achieve starting on a low level, one can look at Rwanda. (Or look back to china 30 year ago.) Still corruption and freedom become more severe problems as soon as pure survival is no challenge any more.

Offline cheesehead

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2012, 12:04:03 PM »
A lot of this thread has been confusing all kinds of political, economic, and social change. They all impact each other, of course, very much. They even, at times, cause feedback loops. But they are not interchangeable. And the confusion leads to hyperbole.

In this forum, I expect a heavy weight toward economics - Simutrans is an awesome game showing elements of how an industrial economy works, after all, with no social or political element. (I'm not saying it should include those; I like to play Simutrans the way it is.)

What the original speech talked about was how globalization (economy) affected local people (social) sometimes adversely, and that local institutions (politics) needed to think about policy and the future directions of how to handle wealth, needed to think about smart regulation to prevent exploitation, and that people needed to think about their own expectations (social) . There's not really much new there, and it was well said. It certainly was not a dire warning about a pending collapse - that's something people here have read into those words.

Is that a simplification? Yes. An oversimplification? I don't think so.

People have been predicting catastrophic collapses of one sort or another for thousands of years, and missing real catastrophes at the same time. I remember predictions of Peak Oil in 1984. Predictions that the AIDS Pandemic will kill billions in 1983. I read about predictions that Communism would conquer the Earth from 1950. Predictions of Peak Copper from 1920. Predictions that the war of 1914 would be short and fast.

Do we face environmental challenges? Of course we do, some seem quite dire. But we have changed policy before, and we can again (example of real reductions in air pollution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution_in_the_United_States#Clean_Air_Acts). It's primarily a political decision.

Thus to supply the other two thirds of the world with plenty of sustainable food, one will have to reduce meat (and fish!) and eat more raw vegetables and less ready made food. This is quite a change of lifestyle for many western societies. Just image the US with a single piece of meat a week compared to now.
Perhaps. That's what I meant by "Will it look the way it does in the west? Of course not." Every local solution will be differerent. Meat in the US is currently very cheap for several reasons, and that may (or may not) be a historical abberation - 150 years ago it expensive. People adapt. Classical economics.


Even a typical japanese houshold has not strong enough grid connections for an electric stove and cooks with gas.
That was an entirely political decision by the Japanese government. Other countries chose to develop utilities differently. I don't think it says much about economy, social structure, or resources...beyond the obvious that sometimes good politics leads to (in hindsight) poor decisions.

In the real world, this can be only achieved stepwise at economics barrel point. Take africa, in the 60ies it was richer than all Asia, had more natural resources. But no freedom. With it came bad leader which just drove it into poverty. As an example what consequent leadership could achieve starting on a low level, one can look at Rwanda. (Or look back to china 30 year ago.) Still corruption and freedom become more severe problems as soon as pure survival is no challenge any more.

There are well governed, free countries in Africa with mineral wealth. So I disagree that the driving force is economic. My argument is that social and political institutions direct the economic changes caused by increased wealth. Social and political institutions based on exploitation breed corruption and dictators.

For example, South Korea has since 1953 fully rebuilt from devastation (low level, survival), industrialized (economy), and democratized (politics). There are still many social changes going on...that's a lot of change to adapt to in a mere 60 years. But this wasn't a series of closely spaced economics barrel points. A long shared cultural history created social and political institutions; some of those cultural institutions survived ghastly wars and occupation...because they adapted and became more effective. Those social and political systems were the key to fast economic growth, not the reverse.

Another example, the collapse of Somalia makes no sense economically. It's a country with a lot of resources, and historically has been relatively wealthy. But the social history and political history explain the economic effects quite well.

Offline isidoro

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2012, 11:21:27 PM »
[...]
People have been predicting catastrophic collapses of one sort or another for thousands of years, and missing real catastrophes at the same time. I remember [...] I read about predictions that Communism would conquer the Earth from 1950.
[...]

I would not call that a catastrophic collapse. ;) We are now to see what will come out of the neocon politics of the 80's...

[...]
For example, South Korea has since 1953 fully rebuilt from devastation (low level, survival), industrialized (economy), and democratized (politics). There are still many social changes going on...that's a lot of change to adapt to in a mere 60 years.
[...]

Tell me about it...  What are, for example, the suicide rates in South Korea, specially among teenagers?

Well, that's just not true. For example, manufacturing two or three billion more washing machines is quite feasible. Basic food safety, refrigeration, food transport, and potable water are also quite feasible for everyone. Perhaps I don't see why you consider food and water luxuries? Improvement of the food and water supply is a basic public health requirement...

Even if you are right and prissi's numbers are wrong, which I doubt, that would be now.  And what about next year, next decade...  Will the solution ever be growth and more growth to say that an economy is going well.  Something is defective in this kind of argument.  That is what I mean by stationary.  It is like a balance.  You earn x, you spend x.  Everything is fine.  But I earn x, tomorrow 2x, and so on... that's wrong from my point of view.

Or are you talking about stationary at the individual level instead of societal? That's just as unlikely...people in your neighborhood have dreams, and you cannot stop them striving to achieve those dreams.
[...]

Why not?  Law was invented for that: to prevent people from doing harmful things.  If that is seen to be harmful, why not?  In fact, it is continuously done:  I have a dream to have a house on that beautiful cliff, I have the money, but local law forbids it. (In fact, that is a bad example.  All I have to do is to bribe the local authorities of, if that is impossible and have enough money, to move to more permissive places/countries).

Not true. If you are young, there are indeed exploitative companies trying to wring value from your enthusiasm. Lots of them. But you don't need to work for them; stay away from them (I did). It's a choice you make. Not them. You.
[...]

Sometimes it is not a choice that you can make as easily.  At least, not everywhere.  Sometimes it is even a choice you think you can make, but in fact you never will.  Thus, in fact, you can't.  My point here is that progress sometimes is not advance in labor conditions, because you are asked to do more because now it is possible to do it.

This is simply fearmongering. Competition is a normal economic force that has important effects (improving outputs, reducing prices), it's not all scary wolves. In my business, I like competition because most other shops in my city charge (much) higher prices, do shoddier work, and treat their customers poorly...I should be more wolflike, and the city's customers would benefit. But I'm not - my shop is fine where it is.

I don't agree.  That's a philosophy of life.  We are educated to compete against each other: to be the fastest, the strongest, the richest...  It's supposed that from that competition the society will benefit as a whole.  But the price is high...  Take, for instance, that very competitive society of South Korea and the suicide rate... That's not for free.

I laugh at the sentence: you are a loser.  So what?  Winners and losers will all go to the same place: the public cemetery.

And that model comes from a male chauvinist conception of success.  We should learn more from women.  Alpha-male behavior was good when we had to hunt in the savanna, but time has passed, hasn't it?

In fact, even economic competition is not the panacea at all.  It all depends on what the conditions are.  Imagine that competition in your area is fierce and to get your share you have to be the kindest person, have the cheapest prices, but also eat a bowl of rice a day and open 24/7.  Is that life?

And also: if this is a race, why some people have to run much more to achieve the same just depending on the place you had the luck to be born?  Is that fair?


Offline prissi

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2012, 08:39:29 PM »
From an atheist standpoint, the different starting conditions are not fate but fact. Fact which could be mended. However, it does not mean that we can get everybody to our current level. It also does not mean we have to have stone age again.

So benefits of progress have reached africa. Even the most rural place have some mobile phone network. A really very significant progress, only comparable to the dawn of radio. Thus peer to peer communication has already become possible for almost anybody.

On the other hand we are already loosing some of the luxury. Several species are extinct and thus cannot served any more. Our diets are composed of less than 10 major crops. People tend to stay at home more, needing less public space. (And at the same time a green movement goes on.) Gasoline is much more expensive in relation to income than 10 years before.

World changes right now, and change means chances as well as risks. On the same note: competition is a natural thing. But it is neither evil nor good. Its morality depends on the target that we set. Just imagine a society where everybody strives to be as much altruistic as possible ...

Offline isidoro

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Re: Human Happiness and Material: Questionnig True Value
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2012, 10:04:49 PM »
That's just the point...  For me, it is a matter of taste.  For nearly everyone, things are just like that.  And I think that a perfect solution is maybe a balance of the two: the yin and yang of oriental culture...