Serapis Bey

Six Things Greg Needs To Stop Saying

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The article is bullshit and you seem smart enough to know it.

Greg has his moments, but referring to him personally in connection with this sort of thing is a little much.

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Putting aside for a moment Greg's, um, "unique" tendencies, I do think Objectivists would do well to shed some of their rich-worship.

Since moving to DC, I've become acquainted with some superwealthy families, and it's exposed me to certain unflattering truths about the world of the "1 percent" - or since these are multi-millionaires and near-billionaires I'm discussing - more like the "0.1 or 0.01 percent." It's not exactly Downtown Abbey in these households.

The superwealthy tend to treat their servants and workers like filth, and as a result, there is a constant turnover of servants, cooks, assistants, and even chiefs of staff. Although I don't base my entire opinion on the following anecdote, I do feel it's representative: my wife worked as a pseudo-chief of staff for a $500-million net worth family in 2010. That year, they eliminated Christmas bonuses for their workers - who were often working 20+ hours/week of unpaid overtime - because of the "economy." Instead they gave everyone a tin of biscotti as a bonus. They would constantly express frustration with their workers - even when a problem resulted from their own obliviousness or conflicting instructions - and lament not being able to find good people or "having to do everything themselves." Everyone was given a blackberry and expected to be on call at all hours of the day and night - warning: not being available at 9pm Saturday night to chauffeur can result in a thermonuclear meltdown. They are also highly skilled at using dummy corporations to shield their wealth and skirt taxes - lots of "companies" out there that don't actually do or produce anything.

These families also tend to royally screw up their children by spending next to no time with them and parenting by proxy through staff and instructors. I've also met some of these types through work, and I've given chess lessons to their children as a side job. They are very superficially nice and will often offer to "help" you - usually by putting you into contact with one of their associates - but they will never do anything to actually improve your position or that requires any time, effort, or money from them. It's all about "look how connected I am, and these nice things I do for people." When money is no object, the competition becomes exclusively over social status and who is more connected than whom.

In other words, whatever they may or may not have accomplished in business (some inherit or marry into it), not all the rich are good competent people, and they can have some very socially destructive tendencies.

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Sadly, Robert, that is accurate of too many of the .01 percent.

I do not think it is as widespread as you may imply, however, that is wishful fhinking on my part.

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The article is bullshit and you seem smart enough to know it.

Greg has his moments, but referring to him personally in connection with this sort of thing is a little much.

You're absolutely right. I would say about 53.7% of my tongue was planted in my cheek here.

I would like to hear what you consider "bullshit" about the article. (But if it's a minor point disregarding the larger context, don't bother. )

Seems to me the author presented a more nuanced view of class warfare and wealth inequality than the oversimplified morality tales presented in Rand's novels.

I think Greg has a keen understanding of these issues and has constructed a metaphysical morality that strives to plug some of the holes in egoistic philosophies. It's a welcome and needed effort and I wish him the best. At the moment I side with Nietzsche who claimed the "Truth" of an idea was less important than whether the idea is "life-promoting." I think most of us here would agree that a philosophy of rational selfishness ought to preclude the possibility of sociopathic opportunism. I think there is a germ of something important in what Greg has to say, but that's because I'm currently on this biocentrism/ontology kick.

Also, I sense another fault line in the Objectivist movement: between those who see Oism as a philosophy of personal empowerment, and those who see it as a political philosophy. Perhaps it is the case that mixing the two results in muddled thinking?

Along these lines, I speculate that those who are most drawn to the "personal empowerment" aspect of Objectivism will be those in the middle to upper-middle classes -- those who might be entrepeneurs and small-business ownwers. Outside of that socioeconomic strata, other forces apply. (Those who are drawn to the classical liberal tradtion of Oism are probably older folks with sentimental attachments to the America they once knew)

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It's all about "look how connected I am, and these nice things I do for people." When money is no object, the competition becomes exclusively over social status and who is more connected than whom.

This is an excellent point, and underscores another of Objectivism's blind spots.

(BTW, this reminds me of something I forgot to say to Greg in the other thread: Wealth may or may not be a zero-sum game -- I'm undecided at the moment -- but status absolutely is.)

I think the reason this is a blind-spot is because of Rand's semi-autistic psychology. It also explains why Objectivism seems to attract many of those "on the spectrum."

The lack of understanding about man's desire for status and it's importance leads to some spurious analyses of how power and influence work at the upper levels of society. I recall reading a report (can't find it now) showing how most of the "1%ers" voted for Obama and donated the most to him. How can this be??? Why would those noble producers vote for a tax and spend liberal, depriving them of their hard earned wealth? Because they can afford to take the monetary hit, and it is more important to them to have the "right" political beliefs in order to distinguish themselves from the money-grubbing lower classes, and fit in with the rest of their "clan."

They want higher taxes? I say give it to 'em good and hard.

An objectivist would probably look at this apparent contradiction and speculate about how "altruism" has infected the thinking of these people, and why we need better philosophy, etc. This strikes me as the Objectivist version of the progressive's "false consciousness."

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The lack of understanding about man's desire for status and it's importance leads to some spurious analyses of how power and influence work at the upper levels of society. I recall reading a report (can't find it now) showing how most of the "1%ers" voted for Obama and donated the most to him. How can this be??? Why would those noble producers vote for a tax and spend liberal, depriving them of their hard earned wealth? Because they can afford to take the monetary hit, and it is more important to them to have the "right" political beliefs in order to distinguish themselves from the money-grubbing lower classes, and fit in with the rest of their "clan."

They want higher taxes? I say give it to 'em good and hard.

An objectivist would probably look at this apparent contradiction and speculate about how "altruism" has infected the thinking of these people, and why we need better philosophy, etc. This strikes me as the Objectivist version of the progressive's "false consciousness."

False displays of concern for the lower classes are one aspect of the Superwealthy's support for Obama, but there's also a more mundane strategy at play. Their hosted fundraisers and donations are literally buying influence within the political class. Many of them will receive political appointments or softer favors in return for their homage. Of course it all boils down to status and power in the end - awkwardly staged photos of them with the Obamas, the Clintons, the Reids, etc. litter the shelves of their fabulous homes.

I recall from one of my economics textbooks the Bizarro concept of "luxury goods" where normal price laws of neoclassical economics no longer apply. In the cases of status symbols like Rolex watches or Porsches, or even a collector's item like Beanie Babies, raising a product's price can increase demand by enhancing it's value as an ostentatious display of wealth to impress peers and rivals.

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The lack of understanding about man's desire for status and it's importance leads to some spurious analyses of how power and influence work at the upper levels of society. I recall reading a report (can't find it now) showing how most of the "1%ers" voted for Obama and donated the most to him. How can this be??? Why would those noble producers vote for a tax and spend liberal, depriving them of their hard earned wealth? Because they can afford to take the monetary hit, and it is more important to them to have the "right" political beliefs in order to distinguish themselves from the money-grubbing lower classes, and fit in with the rest of their "clan."

They want higher taxes? I say give it to 'em good and hard.

An objectivist would probably look at this apparent contradiction and speculate about how "altruism" has infected the thinking of these people, and why we need better philosophy, etc. This strikes me as the Objectivist version of the progressive's "false consciousness."

But your speculation is spot on, right?

Tell us... how is it that you have the inside scoop on the motivation for why rich Obama supporters voted as they did? I mean, you wouldn't just assume a motivation and pass it off as ostensible fact, right? Because that would be presumptive and dishonest, and you would not be presumptive and dishonest, right?

Is it possible that rich people voted their conscience just like everyone who went to the polls? Is it possible that, just like everyone else who voted that day, those rich Obama supporters simply voted for the candidate they thought was a better bet than the alternative? I realize that wouldn't play into the narrative you're paining here, but isn't that just a teensy weensy possibility?

Arguments that Obama wasn't the best candidate are fine. Arguments that rich Obama supporters got it wrong are fine. But stating that they were voting for reasons other than the reasons anyone else voted as though it were established fact... that betrays your intent to paint an unsupported narrative, which in turn betrays your intent to have a less-than-honest dialogue.

I see this so frequently... people assuming the motives of others and then stating it as an article of established fact. I see that a lot 'round these here parts, and I almost never see anyone questioning it.

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Is it possible that rich people voted their conscience just like everyone who went to the polls? Is it possible that, just like everyone else who voted that day, those rich Obama supporters simply voted for the candidate they thought was a better bet than the alternative?

Kacy,

This is the epistemological error I see committed constantly in the culture (and by the argument you are contesting). There are always social climbers and status seekers wherever power is to be had, but to look at those who do that stuff, then conclude that all who are not on the side you believe in are solely motivated by such base motives, is just plain wrong.

Some folks learn from neuroscience that there is a part of the human brain that monitors social status, so they conclude that this is all the brain does (or mostly all). The idea that morality--chosen values--is what humans use to discipline these underlying parts of the brain seems to be lost on them.

There is real power to blind in inner narratives, the stories we tell ourselves, especially the ones that deal with worldview. It's so easy to peg good people as contemptible if all you see is the story in your head and don't corroborate it with looking at reality. It's so easy to foster hatred for a whole group of people in your own soul that way.

I realize you come from a more liberal end than I do, but I will give an example of this from my end. The fanatical demonization of Sarah Palin by the left. The caricature of her that the left despises and constantly promotes has nothing to do with the reality of her, nor the people who she represents by being the archetype of them. In former times, I honestly believe the lefties would have burned her to the stake as a witch if they were in power. And then humiliated her grave in some manner. I mean that literally.

The recent episode of Bashir saying on national TV that he wanted someone to defecate in her mouth and urinate in her eyes shows this clearly. (The fact that he saw such sheer raw hatred in his soul and was horrified enough to apologize without reservation speaks to the good within him. It's almost like he had a James Taggart moment where James had a mental breakdown at the end of Atlas Shrugged because he finally saw what was in his soul.)

Likewise to your point. Of course a lot of rich people voted for Obama because they voted with their conscience. Some are the social climbers and little else, but I think most are good people trying to do the best with their lives as they understand the world. Sometimes I get the feeling that certain people on the conservative side would strip them of their wealth and hang them in public if they ever got the real power to do so.

I really despise the collectivist way of lumping people together and attributing base motives to them, denying they have their own morality (their own chosen values they live by because they want to be good), so they can be hated as a group and their representatives humiliated and executed in public.

Thankfully we live in a country where such execution is in effigy and mostly metaphorical, but the recent (and not so recent) activities of both religious and collectivist dictatorships out in the world show that it's a small step to turn this into reality.

Michael

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Kacy and Michael,

It is a fact that the superwealthy family I describe in my anecdote uses dummy corporations to decrease their tax burden. It is a fact that they live in an opulent mansion and drive SUVs with a mammoth-sized carbon footprint. It is a fact that they treat their lower-class workers like human refuse.

So the assumption that they voted for Obama because they share his progressive values strains all credibility, or at least makes them hypocrites to the extreme. By far the most likely explanation is the one SB and I offered.

The wife was also appointed Art Director of a Federal Department shortly after Obama won the election. I didn't mention that part.

Now you can say, "that's just one family," and you're right - which is why I spoke in generalizations and not absolute statements. But they aren't the only such family I've met, and the experience has been pretty consistent. So at what point can we start speaking meaningfully about observed trends?

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"I see this so frequently... people assuming the motives of others and then stating it as an article of established fact. I see that a lot 'round these here parts, and I almost never see anyone questioning it." [KacyRay]

Fair comment. Though less their "motives" I would say, and more their 'premises' - naturally the two link up.

It's a mental impossibility to read someone regularly and to not understand something of his premises. And why should one pretend otherwise?

After all, honesty is prized here, what you see is mostly what you get, and it's a small pool of regulars.

When disingenuousness is suspected or detected (fairly or unfairly) that's when the biggest bust-ups occur, I think.

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MSK – Appreciate the insightful comment, and you’ve articulated the point I was trying to make much better than I did.

A couple comments on some of the other stuff you mentioned:

“The fanatical demonization of Sarah Palin by the left. The caricature of her that the left despises and constantly promotes has nothing to do with the reality of her, nor the people who she represents by being the archetype of them.”

I view what is going on with Palin much differently than you.

I don’t think there are as many folks who hate Palin as you think there are. Naturally there are people with hate in their hearts, and they will find someone to hate, and that says more about them than it does about the target of their hatred. Those people exist on both sides, but I think the amount of hatred being slung at Palin pales in comparison to what Obama is facing. There are prominent bloggers and pundits calling for his assassination. I don’t think Palin faces that sort of hatred.

But it isn’t those “haters” that constitute the majority of the anti-Palin faction (speaking of her an archetype as well as a person). I think the majority of the anti-Palin contingent consists of people like me who do not hate her at all, but rather find ourselves astounded that she is even taken seriously as a politician or a pundit.

A great example by way of illustration is the case of Tim Tebow. He has become a pariah in the NFL – no team will touch him. No team wants him even warming their bench. He won the Heisman trophy as a college sophomore, and was super-hyped coming into the NFL, and three years later he can’t find a position as a waterboy. He has been mocked and ridiculed mercilessly by all football fans, myself included, and not just for his “Jesus posture” but for his inability to deliver the goods when needed. He simply isn’t NFL caliber and he never was.

But I’ll tell you this, he’s probably a better QB than anyone I’ve ever personally met, anyone you’ve personally met, and anyone that the tens of thousands of anti-Tebow folks have ever met. Well, if he’s so good, why do people keep talking about how horrible he is? Do they HATE TEBOW?

No, of course not. They just hated that he was playing in a league he had no business playing in, against guys who outclassed him even on their worst day. They hated that such a lousy quarterback was so overhyped. They hated that he played on the same field as genuinely great football players. And they hated how presumptuous he looked, apparently thinking he had god on speed-dial.

I think Palin is in a similar position. She’s not a bad lady. In fact, she is exactly normal. She is exactly average. She is exactly as qualified to speak on political issues as the wife of the barber down the street, and almost as knowledgable. I think I would LOVE her if she was running the delicatessen near my house. She and I would get along splendidly. In fact, I am very good friends with many folks who are not only exactly like Palin, but look up to and idolize her.

So if that’s the case, what’s my problem with Palin?

My problem with her is that she’s being taken seriously by the right-wing politisphere. That’s unacceptable in my mind. And it isn’t because she has original ideas to contribute, it’s because she’s parroting crap she hears in church. She has nothing of value to contribute.

No, I don’t hate her. No I do not wish her harm or bear her ill-will. And I suspect that most of the folks to my left feel much the same about her as I do – they do not hate her personally, they hate that she is playing on the same field as others who actually contribute.

“I honestly believe the lefties would have burned her to the stake as a witch if they were in power. And then humiliated her grave in some manner. I mean that literally.”

Again, look at where the death wishes are coming from. It isn’t from the left.

Erik Rush, calling for the violent overthrow of the administration and an armed revolution. ....

Calling Obama a dangerous psychopath and saying that he and all those who support him should be imprisoned and found guilty of treason. ...

Him and Jim Garrow explicitly calling for Obama's execution.

Again, I know there are unhinged lunatics on all sides of the political spectrum, but this is the sort of madness that I see coming mostly from the right. I've not heard a single person, from any political faction, express this sort of derangement regarding Sarah Palin. I honestly believe that most of those who oppose all-things-Palin are people who, like myself, see her as nothing more than a reality show character - a wannabe diva that merits no place in the national conversation.

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Palin isn't "normal," average or the equivalent of a shopkeeper's wife. She's national political caliber, however, so the significant media have marginarized her, whatever the motivation. The left plays hardball with any perceived threat to its dominance, but lets a twit like Obama--champions him--be President. As for the likes of Bashir? A suicide bomber that hit its target. Palin was badly damaged by the imagery. The left lost next to nothing losing Bashir. Palin remains a lightning rod for the right providing some protection from this type of crap and nonsense. Unfortunately, most elected Republicans are self-serving cowards confirmed in their cowardice.

--Brant

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Again, look at where the death wishes are coming from. It isn’t from the left.

Kacy,

Just a quick Google search turned up this, and I'm sure there's tons more out there.

First, the Progressive denial that death threats for Palin even existed (from 2011), calling it hearsay, blah blah blah:

On Sarah Palin's Death Threat Claims

The author mocks the death threats and calls this the "Sarah Palin death threat meme."

A few month later this comes out:

Sarah Palin emails: Enemies sent a series of death threats

The release of 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin's emails shows that she received a barrage of abusive emails including death threats in the run up to the 2008 presidential race.

Hell, her daughter Bristol Palin can't even participate on Dancing with the Stars without receiving a lot of death threats, white powder in the mail and so on.

I'll try to find some left-wing pundits doing this crap for you. They're out there. I recall reading the stuff. It's just a matter of looking.

My point is nobody should be doing this, especially not my side. You're denying the problem on your end, painting it as if it is only the right (and, believe me, I don't condone those who make death threats, right or left).

But this is the way the left-wing narrative works, even after her emails show the threats. Blank Out and MoveOn. :smile:

btw - I am one of those who takes Sarah Palin seriously. I think she would make one hell of a great president and I will work to help get her elected should she run.

I guess that's "unacceptable to your mind."

I certainly hope so.

:smile:

Michael

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But your speculation is spot on, right?

Spot on? I'm not sure...what do YOU think about what I had to say?

(You do realize a "speculation" is distinguished precisely by its difference from "fact", right?)

"Tell us... how is it that you have the inside scoop on the motivation for why rich Obama supporters voted as they did? I mean, you wouldn't just assume a motivation and pass it off as ostensible fact, right? Because that would be presumptive and dishonest, and you would not be presumptive and dishonest, right?"

Why the interrogation? You can choose to criticize my idea or buttress it. This nitpicking over over "my sources" is kind of funny in a sociological discussion. In your own post below you speculate that the reasons Tebow gets hated on is NOT because he proudly wears his Christianity on his sleeve, but because he is "out of his league". How do you know this? Have you interviewed his haters? Performed an fMRI scan on their brains. Do we really want to go down this silly road?

"Is it possible that rich people voted their conscience just like everyone who went to the polls? Is it possible that, just like everyone else who voted that day, those rich Obama supporters simply voted for the candidate they thought was a better bet than the alternative?"

It certainly IS possible. The general usage of "blind spot" (the word I used) usually implies a larger scope of awareness -- hence, the blind part is just a "spot", hence, the reason even geniuses can be naive on certain matters. My pointing out ONE factor which Objectivists may have missed does not mean other factors don't exist. Otherwise I would be stating my theory of Everything and would be calling Objectivists "blind", sans the "spot"

Look, I made a point. Dan chimed in after me with his own observation - the more mundane reality of buying influence. He is right, and my momentary tunnel-vision was enlarged by his contribution. My context was expanded, the Oists might say. This is called "having a discussion", and I find value in that. Mike calls this "preaching". You consider it "lying" and "being dishonest." Lord save us...

It seems to me the same impossible-to-reach standard-of-purity which keeps you from endorsing fine libertarian candidates like Ron Paul is the same demand for an idealized purity of thought you are demonstrating here. Both are counterproductive.

"Arguments that Obama wasn't the best candidate are fine. Arguments that rich Obama supporters got it wrong are fine. But stating that they were voting for reasons other than the reasons anyone else voted as though it were established fact... that betrays your intent to paint an unsupported narrative, which in turn betrays your intent[...]"

Since I wasn't presenting my opinions as "established fact", this can be disregarded.

However, your reponse seems to betray your feeling threatened by strong opinions.

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btw - I am one of those who takes Sarah Palin seriously. I think she would make one hell of a great president and I will work to help get her elected should she run.

I guess that's "unacceptable to your mind."

I certainly hope so.

:smile:

Michael

Agh... yes, it's a bit hard to swallow that someone of your intellectual caliber would take her seriously. But hey, I can accept it.

And, like you, I condemn any and all death threats from deranged lunatics who feel the need to kill those with whom they disagree. I would argue that death threats against Palin and her family require a special sort of derangement, seeing as how she never really had much chance of affecting the political landscape to begin with, and now has none at all.

SB - I was going to reply to your comment until I read that last sentence.

"However, your reponse seems to betray your feeling threatened by strong opinions."

I see that, true to form, you can't complete a thought without the need to inform me about my emotional state. I don't reply to polemic demagoguery. I don't engage people who need to resort to unfalsifiable assertions about how I feel regarding a particular issue. If it entertains you to imagine me sitting behind a computer monitor drooling and shivering in a cold sweat as I read the painful words of truth that serve as a harbinger to the catastrophic collapse of my collectivist, socialist, liberal worldview, knock yourself out. Don't expect me to take you seriously when you do that.

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If it entertains you to imagine me sitting behind a computer monitor drooling and shivering in a cold sweat as I read the painful words of truth that serve as a harbinger to the catastrophic collapse of my . . . liberal worldview, knock yourself out. Don't expect me to take you seriously when you do that.

Hey, that's me! How did he know?

--Brant

(classical liberal)

uncanny

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Here we go.

Here's one way the left does it.

I hate it when I wake up and Sarah Palin is still alive

That's a Facebook page with over 3,000 likes. Here's the picture on the page:

31127_129930017020958_2699346_n.jpg?lvh=

Now here's the sleaze.

The site says: "This is a page about venting dislike over Sarah Palin. This is no way advocates an assassination of Sarah Palin in any way, shape or form."

Heh.

These lefties think everyone but them are stupid and they are the clever ones.

If people don't see that's a sleazy way of trying to abuse a technicality, they deserve what they get. In Brazil they say the real problem isn't getting raped from behind. It's the heavy panting on the nape of the neck that's hard to bear...

If I were Sarah's bodyguards and security, I would take that site and those who post there dead seriously.

Michael

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Here we go.

Here's one way the left does it.

MSK,

That site is reprehensible and I'd recommend her security team take it seriously as well.

There is no excuse, no defense, no justification for something like that.

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Kacy,

You know I was almost sure you would say something like that.

You're one of the good guys.

:smile:

Michael

Now you tell us, just before we burn him at the stake.

--Brant

what to do with all this wood?

tickets will not be refunded

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The artist illustrates he doesn't know guns. If he did the hammer would be back.

--Brant

I think the artist knows less about guns than you think. I looks to me as if he was drawing the weapon based on a striker style handgun, but didn't understand what he was looking at, and therefore took some accidental artistic license with the rear sight. The part that you're seeing as a hammer doesn't actually look like a hammer, but a misunderstanding of a bad photo of a Glock's backside.

J

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