Systems, Equilibrium and Wealth

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Offline namaan

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« on: 24/03/2007 22:57:01 »
Systems, Equilibrium and Wealth

Hi all,

I suppose the following is what would be called a rant:

All systems tend towards equilibrium. The monetary system is, well…a system. The flow of water can be thought of as a system. The system describing the flow of water will tend towards equilibrium and thus naturally tends towards the lowest energy state available to it as defined generally by its distance from the ground.

Now, in order to get water on one side of a wall to be a lot higher than the other, one would have to put energy INTO the system. Thus, one has to CAUSE an unequal distribution of water on opposite sides of a wall; it does not come to exist of its own accord. And so, you have a dam.

Using similar logic, the system describing the flow of wealth or money will tend towards equilibrium and thus naturally tends towards the lowest societal level available to it as defined generally by the relative difference in wealth between the wealthiest and poorest human beings on this planet.

So, in order to get “40% of world's wealth [to be] owned by 1% of [the] population” (http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2006/12/05/globalwealth.html), one would have to put energy INTO the system. Thus, one has to CAUSE an unequal distribution of wealth among the individuals that make up the population at large; it does not come to exist of its own accord.

Even so, clearly, the system describing the flow of water is in no way similar to the system describing the flow of wealth. This is because for one to be similar to the other, 40% of the entire world’s water (not just fresh water, but the other 99% too) would have to be put behind dams and be in control by a few.

The level of inequality in the distribution of wealth that human beings have decided to inflict on fellow human beings and the extent to which our species runs full sail in opposition to the forces of all equilibriums is very likely to be unmatched in finding an equivalent situation anywhere in the universe; a testament to the effects of implementing man-made systems in place of the single and natural system.

What is this single and natural system? Well, for those that have agreed with anything I have said so far, hopefully you can consider what I am about to say in conjunction with what I have already said. Furthermore, it is regrettable that what ever credibility I may have built through logic will be destroyed for some who find nothing credible in those who mention anything approaching what can be considered to be a ‘religious understanding’.

Simply, everything I have stated above is firmly grounded in Quranic teachings. I am a Muslim. What kind of strange Muslim am I you may wonder? Well, the answer to that can be found at http://www.ourbeacon.com/phbb2, or even the base site which contains links to some interesting books.

Thank you for your time
« Last Edit: 24/03/2007 23:47:20 by neilep »
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #1 on: 24/03/2007 23:11:59 »
Welcome back Hd and Good luck with your search. Long time no see. If you need some help don't hesitate to ask. Looks like you are doing fine though! Enjoy the new forum..

You are a complex person with some rather complex questions which always leave me really in a contempletive pondering mode . I have to really think about your questions and thoughts before answering them. I will think on it though and really try to understand your thinking thus far.
« Last Edit: 24/03/2007 23:18:35 by Karen W. »

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Offline neilep

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« Reply #2 on: 24/03/2007 23:13:41 »
Is this really a ' General Science ' topic ?
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #3 on: 24/03/2007 23:15:34 »
Thanks Karen, much appreciated. And so far as the topic is concerned, feel free to move it, I got fed up with trying figure out where this should go.
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Offline neilep

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« Reply #4 on: 24/03/2007 23:19:03 »
Thanks Karen, much appreciated. And so far as the topic is concerned, feel free to move it, I got fed up with trying figure out where this should go.

Good on ya...what a great person ewe are...YAYYYYYYYYYYY !! (meant sincerely)
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #5 on: 24/03/2007 23:24:16 »
WHat you think Neily Theory or what?

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Offline neilep

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« Reply #6 on: 24/03/2007 23:25:08 »
WHat you think Neily Theory or what?

I haven't a clue !!..I was just merely thinking out loud really !!
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Offline Karen W.

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« Reply #7 on: 24/03/2007 23:41:12 »
It kind of boarders on a philosophy I think so where would we put it, Physiology or Theories! I am not sure yet either as I need to read it several times before I can decide.. If you can move it with better knowledge that would be cool.
« Last Edit: 24/03/2007 23:56:41 by Karen W. »

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Offline neilep

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« Reply #8 on: 24/03/2007 23:46:36 »
Well we don't want to turn this thread into a debate  about where this thread should be so I'll move it to new theories and see what happens.
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #9 on: 25/03/2007 00:12:55 »
Well we don't want to turn this thread into a debate  about where this thread should be so I'll move it to new theories and see what happens.

LOL, too funny...now you see why I had a hard time decided where it should go. Although, I'd rather not have it moved once again, I think that a disclaimer is necessary:

THIS IS NOT A THEORY! (please don't be offended by the screaming font neilep [;D])

This is simply an application of already well known ideas (namely thermodyanamics) to something not so well known (application of thermodynamic priniciples to stately affairs) from whereof I go on to make a conclusion that you can choose to [insert what ever you choose to do here].
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« Reply #10 on: 25/03/2007 05:25:35 »
A system that is in equilibrium is without the capacity to change, and such a system is for all practical purposes, a dead system.

Yes, we could consider a hypothetical economic system that was in its lowest energy state, but such a system would have no dynamic, and thus be useless as an economic system.

In order for a system to perform work, it must have a dynamic, and thus must not be in a state of minimum energy where no more useful work can be done by the system.

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #11 on: 25/03/2007 11:27:37 »
Any systems that involve people must take into account human nature. Admittedly, human nature is a false label - it should really be human nurture. We normally grow up with the values & morals dictated by our environment. As such, if these societal norms were static then that aspect of society would be in equilibrium. In practice, that isn't far from the actual state of things.

It takes a lot of effort to change the general opinions of society at large. There was a social revolution in the west during the 1960s when the younger generation became a lot more liberal than its forebears. But, in general, the opinions of society at large change very slowly.

This societal equilibrium holds true for most cultures I can think of. At various points in history certain societies have been subjected to massive outside influence - more often than not with disastrous consequences (I'm thinking of Africa and North & South America in particular).

Anyway, I digress slightly. Societal equilibrium in the western world dictates that the economy should work in a certain way. To put not-too-fine a point on it, it is based on greed (ambition is only greed with a different head on) & survival of the economically fittest. Money = power etc. It is outside of our social equilibrium to help others to the extent where we ourselves suffer. Yes, we give billions to charities each year - but each individual, in general, only gives a small percentage of what they have. Not many people with, say, only £100 to their name would give 9 people with nothing £10 each to equal things out a bit.

Even left-wing politicians who are forever expounding the virtues of equality still draw salaries from the state that are far higher than the average income. I certainly can't remember a member of parliament saying "No, I don't want £60,277 pa, a staffing allowance of £86,276 so I can pay my wife an exorbitant amount for making my tea, office costs of £53,446, incidental expenses of £20,440, plus travel, food & entertainment expenses . Just give me £12,500". (Incidentally, Stephen Timmins - the minister responsible for deciding how much unemployed people get in benefits - has a salary of £136,677pa plus all the extras listed above)

It is for this reason that your theory of worldwide economic equilibrium could not work without many decades of social engineering - and that, in itself, is contrary to your theory that it is a natural state. Communism was supposed to achieve it but failed miserably because it didn't take human nurture into account.

P.S. Sorry about my rant against politicians' salaries in the middle  [:I]
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 11:49:34 by DoctorBeaver »
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #12 on: 25/03/2007 13:20:06 »
Hi another_someone,

Quote
A system that is in equilibrium is without the capacity to change, and such a system is for all practical purposes, a dead system.

This is a meaningless statement as far as context is concerned. This "dead" system would entail equality for all human beings.

Quote
Yes, we could consider a hypothetical economic system that was in its lowest energy state, but such a system would have no dynamic, and thus be useless as an economic system.

Consider my original post again and notice how I specifically did not repeat the part about "lowest energy state" as part of the analogy; the reason being that energy is not as relevant to the context of a state as is societal levels. And considering societal levels instead of energy makes the critical difference.

Quote
In order for a system to perform work, it must have a dynamic, and thus must not be in a state of minimum energy where no more useful work can be done by the system.

Again, I specifically did not mention an economic system being in a state of minimum energy, let alone an economic system as they have nothing to do with the argument. Can you even qualitatively describe to yourself what it means to have high or low energy states in an economic system? Anyway, I was talking about the monetary system, not economic systems which use the monetary system as a medium through which wealth is transferred. As such, this is not so much a critique of capitalism as it is a critique of man-made systems (but I suppose that delves into a topic of its own).

I made no comment with regards to gathering resources that act as the raw material for economy. Of course new raw material will always enter the economy, this much is assumed. However, the manner of distribution of the user-end products developed from this raw material is subject to the functioning of the monetary system. And it is this equilibrium that I specifically mentioned; not an economic equilibrium, but rather a monetary equilibrium. And my basic argument is that the forces naturally generated via this monetary equilibrium cause wealth generated from the economic system to be equally distributed across all individuals; however, we humans have the unfortunate history of running all our efforts counter to the effects of this equilibrium.

(phew)

Now on to Dr. Beaver’s reply,

Much of what I said so far applies to your post as well. However, I believe that you misunderstood what I meant when I said “natural state”. I was not referring to the “state of things”, but rather to an actual nation state. I assume from this misunderstanding you came to understand that I believe that such equilibrium is the natural state of things. Although I did not make this argument, I would argue that all species except humans would support such an equilibrium “naturally”. Ultimately, from the reference of the Quran I gave as well as from what history has to tell, I only meant that the nation state as described in the Quran is the natural state with respect to implementing a socio-economic system that maintains the equilibrating effects of the monetary system on wealth. Thus, when you said:

Quote
It is for this reason that your theory of worldwide economic equilibrium could not work without many decades of social engineering - and that, in itself, is contrary to your theory that it is a natural state.

Well…obviously I do not mean to say that an entire nation state can be built over night. In fact I made no claim to any length of time or how long it would take for the establishment of such a state to affect the monetary equilibrium.  Thus my “theory” (rather critique) is not falsified for this reason.

Thanks to both of you for taking the time to reply


P.S. If you’re current thought process reflects something along the following lines:

"This guy can’t actually be arguing that Islam, that strange religion that oppresses women and generally promotes violence to all non-Muslims could actually have anything productive to give to humanity at large, could he?"

Well, indeed I am not arguing this, since that Islam is not the Islam that I follow. In fact we (at the ourbeacon website) refer to that Islam as N2I or Number 2 Islam (similar to counter-fit medicines in south Asia). Yes, I did just say that the vast majority of those who consider themselves Muslims in the world are following a strange religion that has hijacked the title of Islam.
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Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #13 on: 25/03/2007 13:26:08 »
I think there's a problem with the assertion "Using similar logic, the system describing the flow of wealth or money will tend towards equilibrium and thus naturally tends towards the lowest societal level available to it as defined generally by the relative difference in wealth between the wealthiest and poorest human beings on this planet.
".
I offer (without proof, but with some anecdotal evidence) the counter-theory that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
That means that, without some external influenece all the money ends up in one place and that is what causes the problems of inequality.

BTW, As Prime minister M Thatcher famously didn't take all of the sallary she was entitled to. IIRC she only drew the sallary of an MP rather than a cabinet minister. Of course, it's a whole lot easier to make that choice if your husband is a millionaire.
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #14 on: 25/03/2007 14:03:24 »

Now on to Dr. Beaver’s reply,

Much of what I said so far applies to your post as well. However, I believe that you misunderstood what I meant when I said “natural state”. I was not referring to the “state of things”, but rather to an actual nation state. I assume from this misunderstanding you came to understand that I believe that such equilibrium is the natural state of things. Although I did not make this argument, I would argue that all species except humans would support such an equilibrium “naturally”. Ultimately, from the reference of the Quran I gave as well as from what history has to tell, I only meant that the nation state as described in the Quran is the natural state with respect to implementing a socio-economic system that maintains the equilibrating effects of the monetary system on wealth. Thus, when you said:

Quote
It is for this reason that your theory of worldwide economic equilibrium could not work without many decades of social engineering - and that, in itself, is contrary to your theory that it is a natural state.

Well…obviously I do not mean to say that an entire nation state can be built over night. In fact I made no claim to any length of time or how long it would take for the establishment of such a state to affect the monetary equilibrium.  Thus my “theory” (rather critique) is not falsified for this reason.


I know you didn't specify a timescale, but that isn't what I was arguing against. My point was that if something is built it cannot be natural. Therefore if you engineer a particular state in cannot be a natural 1. To move from 1 social condition (I'll use that word instead of "state" to avoid confusion) to another takes a lot of effort and would not be a natural process.

If you were to bring down the entire economic edifice and leave things to themselves I don't think even that would produce equality. There would still be some who wanted more and would get it at the expense of others.

If everyone had exactly the same as everyone else the whole system would stagnate. There would be no incentive to "better oneself". Ambition would disappear and you would end up with a world full of apathy. Wealth does not naturally trickle down and I believe it is wrong to think that it does.
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 14:13:39 by DoctorBeaver »
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #15 on: 25/03/2007 14:04:07 »
Quote
without some external influenece all the money ends up in one place and that is what causes the problems of inequality.

Water and wealth can't think. I only meant that the laws of nature dictate that things in the high would seek things in the low; just as pockets of gas in high concentrations would equilibrate with the lower concentrations around it. These phenomenons don't think about what they should do, they "do" exactly what should occur "naturally". As such, the natural laws dictate that the flow of wealth, as in the flow of water, would equilibrate from high to low.

If this seems like a difficult concept to grasp, than consider this: wealth or money is a representation, ultimately, of the raw material originally obtained through economy from the Earth. If we humans did not exists, than this raw material would have been equilibrated with all members of all species; the very reason that life at such a grand scale can even exist so naturally. In this "grand" view of things, it is the efforts of humans that run counter to this monetary equilibrium that all other species follow unconsciously (edit: I should not have said "willingly or unwillingly").

As such, what you are arguing is not the affects of the monetary equilibrium, but rather the affects of human nature (or nurture as Dr. Beaver advises). I have only argued that humans run their efforts counter to this natural equilibrium, whether this counter-intuitive behavior also occurs “naturally” and on a grand scale or not are not a subject of this argument.
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 15:14:42 by namaan »
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #16 on: 25/03/2007 14:21:16 »
But there are plenty of examples of inequality in nature.

Animals will fiercely guard their territory, their hunting ground. They don't care if the animal next door starves to death. Their only concern is themselves and their immediate contacts (family, pack, troop etc). Therefore if 1 group has rich hunting and good diet then it will become stronger than its neighbour whose hunting grounds are sparse. The stronger an animal is, the better able it is to protect what it considers to be its own, and the better able it is to reproduce. Animals from poor hunting grounds will be weak and less able to reproduce. They become easy prey to the stronger, fitter predators. Therefore even in nature "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"

I can't remember who it was (it may have been Richard Dawkins in his book "The Selfish Gene") who said that a person's priorities are - in descending order of importance - family, friends, neighbourhood, village/town/borough and that very few are truly concerned about others on a national, let alone a global, scale.
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 14:39:00 by DoctorBeaver »
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #17 on: 25/03/2007 14:28:22 »
Coming back to your analogy with equilibrium of fluids for a moment.

I don't think it's right to say that because water flows downhill wealth will trickle down from the rich to the poor. There is a false premise in your assertion. A lake with surface area x could be fed by water from an area thousands of times greater. So in that respect the water is not equalling itself out; it is concentrating in a smaller area. Surely, that is exactly what happens with wealth? A business owner's wealth is fed by all those who work for him. He is the lake, his workers are the surrounding terrain - the money (water) flows naturally from them to him.

P.S. I like this kind of debate. Thank you for raising it.
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #18 on: 25/03/2007 14:34:41 »
Incidentally, I know what you mean about N2I. Unfortunately it is the extremists who grab the headlines and thus fuel the misconceptions. I have known many Moslems over the years (most of my friends when I lived in East Africa were Moslem) and some of them I consider among my closest friends. They have invariably been amicable and hospitable in the extreme.

Salaam rafiki
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #19 on: 25/03/2007 14:46:40 »
Quote
If everyone had exactly the same as everyone else the whole system would stagnate. There would be no incentive to "better oneself". Ambition would disappear and you would end up with a world full of apathy. Wealth does not naturally trickle down and I believe it is wrong to think that it does.

There is a big difference between being able to work for extra wealth and 1% of the world's population owning 40% of economic wealth don't you think? I am not a supporter of socialist principles where everyone should be forced to have exactly equal wealth. In Islam, there is room for ownership, running a business and generating profit and all that good stuff, the only difference being that Muslims are commanded to give back to the community "all that is in excess" via the central government.

Quote
But there are plenty of examples of inequlity in nature.

I am having some difficulty separating the idea of the tendency of wealth in the high to seek the low and from how animals actually behave. Regardless of what humans want, even if we put up a damn, the water still “wants” to seek lower ground. Regardless of how humans behave, I argue that wealth still “wants” to seek the lower societal levels. When I said:

Quote
If we humans did not exists, than this raw material would have been equilibrated with all members of all species; the very reason that life at such a grand scale can even exist so naturally. In this "grand" view of things, it is the efforts of humans that run counter to this monetary equilibrium that all other species follow willingly or unwillingly.

I was not referring to the action of any species. The animals can’t exactly think about how to best distribute the available resources to each other. I only meant that the natural processes of earth dictate that the manner in which resources are made available to members of any given species is equal for all the species. Thus, regardless of what any animals (including humans) want, water and food will in general be made available to all members of all species.

Again, I’m talking about the tendency of events to occur (such as the equilibration of wealth) with respect to the laws of nature, not the nature or nurture of humans or other animals.
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #20 on: 25/03/2007 14:59:25 »
Ultimately, the reason I bring all this up is mostly because I am tired of hearing the idea that the inequality across the world is a natural phenomenon and that achieving equality among all humans (in term of have the basic needs of life met; not the socialist ideals of forced equality of wealth) is idealistic thinking of the worst kind and completely unpractical.

Following from the argument I have made thus far, I would argue that it is the current model of extreme accruement of wealth among a small group of individuals that is idealistic and unpractical as it runs counter to natural effects of all equilibriums.

I appreciate all the feedback that I have received.  [O8)]
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 15:02:42 by namaan »
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #21 on: 25/03/2007 15:54:06 »
I still cannot agree that equality of wealth is a natural state. With your example of a dam – yes, the water will still try to follow natural laws and seek the lowest point but the physical end result of the dam being there will be different. The ecology above the dam will change. The watercourse could be altered further upstream. This means that even were the dam removed the original state of affairs may not be re-instituted. And the dam may not necessarily be a man-made structure. An avalanche can have a similar effect to thousands of tons of concrete.

Also, the behaviour of water can be fairly simply explained and predicted – there are only a few rules involved. To try that with a society is impossible. We can say that a particular cause is likely to have a particular effect, but it cannot be guaranteed as human behaviour is so complex. Many governments have discovered that.

If you look back through all of recorded history you will see numerous examples of societies – or groups, tribes etc - wishing to impose their will on others. Animals behave in the same way. It could therefore be argued that this is the natural way of things where sentient, and not-so-sentient, beings are concerned.

Also, you say that the Quran states that you should give away that which is excess. So why do some Moslems have huge houses and drive expensive cars while others have next to nothing? I think that demonstrates the true nature of humans. We are naturally greedy and want more than our neighbours. Yes, it could be argued that this is a result of a man-made hype about status symbols etc but I believe it goes deeper than that.

Humans are competitive by nature. That is how we had to be in pre-historic times to survive and the natural instinct is still there. Society has evolved as a result of human instincts and man-made laws (although some would argue that God – or Allah, or Manitou, or Zeus or whoever – played a hand in it). Instinct and societal mores have shaped each other over the centuries to the extent that it is difficult now to work out which has had the larger effect.

To expect that, left to its own devices, wealth would distribute itself more-or-less equally is, in my opinion, wrong. Some kind of social engineering would need to be involved and that would mean that it would not be a natural state of affairs.
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #22 on: 25/03/2007 16:23:17 »
I guess I failed to make the argument clearly; I lost a handle on it and so I can barely recognize your post as a reply to my post. I do not believe that the analogy I gave can be extrapolated beyond what I specifically mentioned and still remain accurate. In other words, I think you're looking too deep into the analogy. I only used it to link the idea of natural laws governing a familiar concept (flow of water) to a not so familiar concept (flow of wealth).

I believe that you have yet to recognize the distinction I made between the tendency for certain events to occur via natural laws and what actually happens as a result of the behavior of animals. In effect, I am saying “wealth tends to equilibrate among individuals”, not “wealth is actually equilibrating among individuals”. It’s like saying that the sun tends to send light to the earth, one may choose to go inside a bunker with no windows and thus receive no sunlight, however, this does not change the fact that the sunlight tends to reach the earth.

I guess part of the reason why recognizing this distinction is difficult is because it appears to leave a rather pointless argument. You may think, “So what? What does wealth tending to equilibrate matter when it’s not actually equilibrating?” Well the reason I am making a seemingly pointless argument is to provide a different lens for viewing the unequal distribution of wealth; to possibly change the form of discourse regarding this issue. So to me, it is the unequal distribution of wealth that is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic thinking that will eventually fail since it will leave the vast majority of world in perpetual poverty.

Also, let me just comment that Muslims do not define Islam; even if 99% of the 1.4 billion "Muslims" in the world were terrorists and killed all non-Muslims, this still would not define Islam. The meaning of what it means to be a Muslim is defined in the Quran. Regardless of what any Muslim does around the world, this is in no way to be a judgment of Islam if their actions run counter to Quranic teachings. So in response to your question:

Quote
why do some Moslems have huge houses and drive expensive cars while others have next to nothing?

The simple answer is that they are not Muslims. When the KKK went out in the name of Christianity and brutally lynched and terrorized the black population in the US, should I use that as a judgment of Christianity even though I am sure that their actions are spoken against in the Bible? So when a suicide bomber, the infamous “jihadist", goes out and blows himself up to kill innocent civilians in “the name of Allah” (disgusting), what right does anyone have of judging Islam based on the actions of these people?

Incidentally, the word “jihad” is seldom used in the Quran, and probably only once or twice for military reasons. Every use of the word refers to struggle in the cause of Islam which almost always means to help your fellow human being.

Muslims aren’t an alien species; they are merely human beings who have accepted the Quran as Guidance from a Supreme Being. The fact that the Islamic State is not firmly implemented on earth is not a failing on its part, but rather a failing of humans. Are you willing to spend of your wealth, life and security for your fellow humans? It is not an easy undertaking, but for anyone who has read any shred of accurate history between the Greco-Roman Era and the Era around the 1300's (which is mysteriously missing from Western history textbooks), you will find that not only was such a system implemented, but it worked phenomenally well.

P.S. Please don't ask "if this system is so great then why did it fail" because although I can provide an answer to this question, it would take too long for my liking and would go off topic. You can either trust me that there was a good reason or find out for your self at www.ourbeacon.com.
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 17:15:48 by namaan »
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Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #23 on: 25/03/2007 17:05:09 »
I still don't think that the idea that wealth should spread itself evenly is valid.
Things don't do that, they go to the place where the engery is lowest. If I knock over a bowl of sugar it falls to the floor, it doesn't distribute itself evenly through the whole volume of the room. I suspect that wealth too tends to congregate in a limited number of places. That is why many religions and many governmental systems support the idea of redistribution of wealth. Christianity did it by tything, Islam too says that you should contribute to the community and most governments have some form of welfare state. If wealth naturally spread out, none of these would be needed.
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 17:09:36 by Bored chemist »
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #24 on: 25/03/2007 17:14:39 »
Hi Bored chemist,

Quote
Things don't do that, they go to the place where the energy is lowest.

Replace "place where the energy is lowest" with "the lowest societal level" and you will notice that this is exactly what I am arguing.

Quote
I suspect that wealth too tends to congregate in a limited number of places. That is why many religions and many governmental systems support the idea of redistribution of wealth. Christianity did it by tything, Islam too says that you should contribute to the community and most governments have some form of welfare state. If wealth naturally spread out, none of these would be needed.

I agree, but I never said that wealth is going to equlibrate to infinity. I just said that it tends to equilibrate (presumably as opposed to some non-equilibrated state).

The point of all this is to be able to say that the unequal distribution of wealth around the world is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic. And further more any system that supports the natural tendency for wealth to equilibrate (such as the Islamic commandment to return all excess profits to the central government for redistribution to the poor), will be sustainable in the long term.
« Last Edit: 25/03/2007 17:19:32 by namaan »
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Offline Bored chemist

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« Reply #25 on: 25/03/2007 22:21:36 »
We seem to disagree about what the natural equilibrium state for wealth is. So far as I can see you think that the natural (low energy if you like) state is an even distribution. I certainly don't see mmuch money ending up with the poor.. What exactly do you mena by "the lowest societal level"?
I think that a lumpy distribution where the money is with a few plutocrats is, unfortunately, the low energy state. I'm happy to see that Islam, along with many other systems, sees this as a problem and seeks to address it.
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« Reply #26 on: 26/03/2007 02:36:27 »
Hi Bored chemist,

I have already explained everything in your post in previous posts and would rather not have to type it again. Please consider some of my previous posts for a response.

Also, by "the lowest societal level", you can think of homelessness, poverty, working more than full time and still not being able to earn a living wage.

As an aside, I found your post to be somewhat confusing, partly because you are claiming I said things that I never actually said. For instance, I never made any claim on some standard "natural equilibrium state" for wealth. I general, and I have said this over and over again, I am only referring to the tendency of wealth to equilibrate among the various societal levels and make no claim on it actually equilibrating. As pointless of an argument as this might seem, the reason that I make it is to be able to say that it is the unequal distribution of wealth as we see today that is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic in nature rather than vice versa.

I guess I ended up rewriting much of what I already said after all... [:D]
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« Reply #27 on: 26/03/2007 04:20:21 »
Hi another_someone,

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A system that is in equilibrium is without the capacity to change, and such a system is for all practical purposes, a dead system.

This is a meaningless statement as far as context is concerned. This "dead" system would entail equality for all human beings.

In death we are all equal, but is that necessarily a desirable outcome?

OK, I know we are talking about a dead economic/monetary system, rather than directly dead human beings; but it still does beg the question as to whether a dead monetary system serves human society any value?

If, no matter what you or I did, we were to always have the same amount of money as everybody else, then why would we try and do anything to change the amount of money we had, because we would, no matter what we did, be incapable of making any such change.  In that scenario, the primary value of money, to motivate human action, would be nullified.  So what value would money have.  In such a scenario, we would have no money at all, since that which we might now regard as money would no longer function as money, so they would be worthless pieces of paper.

Quote
Yes, we could consider a hypothetical economic system that was in its lowest energy state, but such a system would have no dynamic, and thus be useless as an economic system.

Consider my original post again and notice how I specifically did not repeat the part about "lowest energy state" as part of the analogy; the reason being that energy is not as relevant to the context of a state as is societal levels. And considering societal levels instead of energy makes the critical difference.

The term 'energy' has a number of meanings (which can be confusing when one simultaneously talks of conservation of energy and consumption of energy – but they are two different meanings for energy).

In general terms, energy is that which causes action; and something is considered to be at its lowest energy state if it is no longer capable of any further action (at least without an input from an external energy source).  In that respect, a monetary system that is in a stable state of 'equilibrium' should be in a state where it cannot move out of that equilibrium, otherwise we cannot regard that state as stable, but merely transitory.  That is what I meant by being at the lowest energy state.

In that respect, if the monetary system is in a permanently stable state, it follows that it can no longer do any work (i.e. perform a useful function) for society.



Quote
In order for a system to perform work, it must have a dynamic, and thus must not be in a state of minimum energy where no more useful work can be done by the system.

Again, I specifically did not mention an economic system being in a state of minimum energy, let alone an economic system as they have nothing to do with the argument. Can you even qualitatively describe to yourself what it means to have high or low energy states in an economic system?

I think that is what I have done above.

Anyway, I was talking about the monetary system, not economic systems which use the monetary system as a medium through which wealth is transferred. As such, this is not so much a critique of capitalism as it is a critique of man-made systems (but I suppose that delves into a topic of its own).

Whether one makes a distinction in the present social context between the monetary or the economic system (since many would regard money as merely a measure of economic value), the underlying fact remains that any system, of whatever nature, is only useful insofar as it is capable of doing work, and once a system ceases to do work, it no longer functions as a meaningful system.

If money does not work for human society, then it ceases to have any useful meaning to human society.


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« Reply #28 on: 26/03/2007 05:39:23 »
I think that a lumpy distribution where the money is with a few plutocrats is, unfortunately, the low energy state.

I actually think that money is far more complex than that.  That its natural state is to be unevenly distributed is a reasonable comment, but that money is its own attractor is too much of an oversimplification, and if that were to be the case, the monetary system would long ago have reached such a low energy state, and having reached that state would have lost any dynamic in the system, and thus causing a collapse of the system.

While it is true that the rich get richer, it is also true that the rich can get spectacularly bankrupt - so there are limiting factors that reverse the flow of money, and this is what keeps the system going.

It is also the case that money only has as much value as whatever you buy with it; so a rich man who never spends his money has no money (in any practical sense, since buying nothing with it, the money merely has a theoretical value that is never actually realised).

All of this means that while money will always attract money, there are pulls in both direction, that while causing the system to be lumpy, do not simply creating black holes into which money enters but never leaves.

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« Reply #29 on: 26/03/2007 09:14:41 »
The point of all this is to be able to say that the unequal distribution of wealth around the world is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic. And further more any system that supports the natural tendency for wealth to equilibrate (such as the Islamic commandment to return all excess profits to the central government for redistribution to the poor), will be sustainable in the long term.

Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.
« Last Edit: 26/03/2007 09:16:56 by DoctorBeaver »
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« Reply #30 on: 26/03/2007 12:02:11 »
Hi another_someone,

Although I can't expect everyone to read every post that I write, if you want an engaging discussion, you should consider reading some of my previous posts as they address the central theme of your post.

Basically your understanding is that I am referring to some sort of socialist ideals when I talk about equality of distribution of wealth. Consider some of my previous quotes:

Quote
I general, and I have said this over and over again, I am only referring to the tendency of wealth to equilibrate among the various societal levels and make no claim on it actually equilibrating. As pointless of an argument as this might seem, the reason that I make it is to be able to say that it is the unequal distribution of wealth as we see today that is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic in nature rather than vice versa.

Quote
Ultimately, the reason I bring all this up is mostly because I am tired of hearing the idea that the inequality across the world is a natural phenomenon and that achieving equality among all humans (in term of have the basic needs of life met; not the socialist ideals of forced equality of wealth) is idealistic thinking of the worst kind and completely unpractical.

Following from the argument I have made thus far, I would argue that it is the current model of extreme accruement of wealth among a small group of individuals that is idealistic and unpractical as it runs counter to natural effects of all equilibriums.

Quote
There is a big difference between being able to work for extra wealth and 1% of the world's population owning 40% of economic wealth don't you think? I am not a supporter of socialist principles where everyone should be forced to have exactly equal wealth. In Islam, there is room for ownership, running a business and generating profit and all that good stuff, the only difference being that Muslims are commanded to give back to the community "all that is in excess" via the central government.

P.S. I'm not like keeping a record on the posts or anything  [::)]
I found those posts by simply searching for "socialist" in the reply section.
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Offline namaan

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« Reply #31 on: 26/03/2007 12:36:59 »
Since I am being confused for supporting socialist principles, I think a disclaimer is necessary:

By equality in distribution of wealth, I do not mean forced and exact equality in wealth. So long as the wealth distribution curve does not look like the Eiffel tower or even the pyramids, I have no problem [O8)]

Quote
Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.

The assumption was that money (the pieces of paper in your wallet) does not move of its own accord (obviously). Whereas water has a natural driving force (gravity) for moving to its lowest energy state, the pieces of paper in your wallet have no such natural driving force (again, obviously).

However, and I guess I have not really elaborated on this, I mentioned in a previous post that money and wealth are just representations of the raw material attained from economy. There isn’t any particular species towards which food, one type of raw material, gravitates towards. Food naturally becomes available equally for all species. It is this natural tendency for equality in distribution that I am referencing when I say that wealth “wants” to gravitate towards the lower societal levels. While there is no driving force for money, there is a driving force for the raw materials which equally become available to all species which is the natural cycles of the earth.

So, again, I do live on this planet too so please don't think that I have assumed something so illogical as money and wealth themselves magically move around by the wind or something to find poor people. Money and wealth don't have a driving force themselves, however seeing as how they represent raw materials which are meant to, in general, equally present themselves to those who need them, they too can be thought to want to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state. So, following this logic, the only nation states that can exist in the long term are those that adopt wealth distribution methods that act as driving forces similar to the naturally occuring ones.
« Last Edit: 26/03/2007 12:55:58 by namaan »
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« Reply #32 on: 26/03/2007 13:59:17 »
Food naturally becomes available equally for all species.

Sorry, but I disagree. Species develop to fill niches, to consume available food. If a food source dries up the animals will perish.
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« Reply #33 on: 26/03/2007 14:13:01 »
Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.

Are humans outside nature?

What is the meaning of unnatural?  Does it have any more meaning than supernatural?

If it is, how can it be unnatural, unless one judges something as being outside of nature (e.g. God)?

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« Reply #34 on: 26/03/2007 14:34:16 »
As an aside, I found your post to be somewhat confusing, partly because you are claiming I said things that I never actually said. For instance, I never made any claim on some standard "natural equilibrium state" for wealth. I general, and I have said this over and over again, I am only referring to the tendency of wealth to equilibrate among the various societal levels and make no claim on it actually equilibrating. As pointless of an argument as this might seem, the reason that I make it is to be able to say that it is the unequal distribution of wealth as we see today that is unnatural, unpractical and idealistic in nature rather than vice versa.

the point is that money has many competing tendencies, which is why it keeps working.

If money had a single, simple, tendency (in any direction – whether it was towards centralism or towards equal distribution), sooner or later it will have all flowed in one direction or another, and would have nowhere else to flow.  Money works, and keeps working, because there are both centralising forces and distributing forces, and these are constantly in tension.

You can debate whether the forces of distribution ought to be stronger, and the forces of centralisation ought to be weaker, but practical observation shows they are not.  If the theory and the practice disagree, it is usually a reasonable assumption to make that the theory is at fault.

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« Reply #35 on: 26/03/2007 15:02:12 »
By equality in distribution of wealth, I do not mean forced and exact equality in wealth. So long as the wealth distribution curve does not look like the Eiffel tower or even the pyramids, I have no problem [O8)]

Are we talking here about your preferences, or the natural preferences of the monetary system?

I have no problem with your preferences, but I do have a problem with the notion that because you or I would wish it to be so, thus it must naturally be so.

The assumption was that money (the pieces of paper in your wallet) does not move of its own accord (obviously). Whereas water has a natural driving force (gravity) for moving to its lowest energy state, the pieces of paper in your wallet have no such natural driving force (again, obviously).

Money is not a piece of paper, it is the sentiment (i.e. the trust placed in the value) associated with those pieces of paper.  Today, a piece of paper can buy you a house, while tomorrow that same piece of paper may not even buy you a loaf of bread (I am making assumptions the the relative values of bread and houses are as we see them today, and am only making a statement that the value of the money in your pocket can change, even as the pieces of paper themselves do not move anywhere).

However, and I guess I have not really elaborated on this, I mentioned in a previous post that money and wealth are just representations of the raw material attained from economy.

In an idealised world, this would be so; but in the real world, money is simply a way of measuring power.  Clearly, having control over necessary raw materials is a way of accumulating power, but power distribution has always been more complex than that.  More to the point, there is a natural positive feedback cycle that allows that if you have power, it allows you to assert greater control over essential resources, and the greater control you have over essential resources, so the more power you will accrue.

Long before the days of the modern complex moneyed society, there were kings and there were slaves.  The abolition of each (Kings have not been abolished, but where they do survive, they have tended to lose much of their historic power) has been commensurate with the rise of money (I know that money is much older than that, but its social significance has clearly been amplified over the last few centuries).  As the roles of King and slave have reduced, so money has made its own kings and its own slaves, although they are not called so.

In that respect, money has not really changed very much, except that it has given us a new way to measure that which always was there.

There isn’t any particular species towards which food, one type of raw material, gravitates towards. Food naturally becomes available equally for all species.

Are we talking species here, or individuals within a species (arguments exist for each, but individuals within a given species will inevitably be far more in direct competition over the same resources than would inevitably be the case between species, where different species might utilise different resources).

In both cases, shortages do arise (although they do fluctuate from year to year, from decade to decade, from century to century).

Generally, an animal with more power (the alpha male and his mates) will have access to more, or better, food; while other individuals will be relegated further to the margins.  Clearly, the smaller the social unit, the less capacity there is for social inequality (an ant colony, having millions of members, will have much more inequality between the queen and the workers, than a troop of 30 monkeys).

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« Reply #36 on: 26/03/2007 18:15:05 »
Any distribution of wealth is unnatural as humans play a hand in it. What you are putting forward is an ideology, not a natural law. If wealth is returned to the state (society) for re-distribution then it is not a natural state (condition); there is human interference. It's illogical to argue that a man-made condition is a natural 1.

Are humans outside nature?

What is the meaning of unnatural?  Does it have any more meaning than supernatural?

If it is, how can it be unnatural, unless one judges something as being outside of nature (e.g. God)?

Confusion of semantics again; I'm a psychologist, you're a scientist, so differing terminology. I'm not asserting that humans are outside of nature. When referring to human nature I mean the way humans think & behave.

There are those who argue that all behaviour is predictable; it's just that we don't yet know the rules involved. Personally, I don't concur with that viewpoint. Therefore when I say that human interference is not a natural process I mean there are no universal laws that stipulate that humans will behave in a particular way under particular circumstances. There are certain laws in physics, for instance, that apply equally everywhere - Boyle's law, Hook's law etc - but there are none that can be applied to human behaviour (or, at least, none that we have yet discovered; and I doubt we ever will).

For that reason I consider everything that humans play a part in must be unnatural - it is not inevitable that it happens.

As you rightly pointed out, wealth is not just paper money. Paper money is 1 representation of wealth. Among the Maasai of East Africa wealth & status is measured in cattle. Cattle do not "tend to spread out equally". Left to their own devices they will just wander where they want with a tendency to stick close together.

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« Reply #37 on: 26/03/2007 21:34:32 »
Namaan,
What you said in the very first post is this
"the system describing the flow of wealth or money will tend towards equilibrium and thus naturally tends towards the lowest societal level available to it "
then you clarified "lowest societal level" thus

"Also, by "the lowest societal level", you can think of homelessness, poverty, working more than full time and still not being able to earn a living wage."

I may have missed the point, but doesn't that mean you think the "lowest" level to which wealth flows is those unfortunates in poverty?
My observation is that it does not, rather the reverse is true and the rich get richer.
If that's not what you meant then please explain.
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« Reply #38 on: 26/03/2007 22:40:07 »
First of all, I largely skipped over the arguments about how “money is not paper”. That has nothing to do with this argument and is just a matter of semantics. I have been using the phrase “money and wealth” for a while now so it should be obvious what was meant. For consistency’s sake, I’ll just stop using the word “money” and stick to “wealth”.

Quote
the point is that money has many competing tendencies, which is why it keeps working.

If money had a single, simple, tendency (in any direction – whether it was towards centralism or towards equal distribution), sooner or later it will have all flowed in one direction or another, and would have nowhere else to flow.  Money works, and keeps working, because there are both centralising forces and distributing forces, and these are constantly in tension.

This is also a matter of semantics. In my understanding for something to have a tendency to do something means that it naturally does something without regards to external forces. Following this understanding, water has a single tendency as governed by the gravitational force, which is to go down. Even so, you can get water to do many things outside this tendency such as run a steam engine, take part in nuclear power plants, generate electricity in dams and so on. This is done by applying energy to the water which otherwise only has a straightforward tendency to go down.

Similarly, once again considering the following:

Quote
Food naturally becomes available equally for all species. It is this natural tendency for equality in distribution that I am referencing when I say that wealth “wants” to gravitate towards the lower societal levels. While there is no driving force for money, there is a driving force for the raw materials which equally become available to all species which is the natural cycles of the earth…. Money and wealth don't have a driving force themselves, however seeing as how they represent raw materials which are meant to, in general, equally present themselves to those who need them, they too can be thought to want to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state.

I would argue that wealth also has only one tendency, which is to “go down” to the lower societal levels (in possibly more effective terms, to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state of existence). But you can get this wealth to do many things outside this tendency such as the effects of the “centralizing forces” you mentioned (specifically the actions of the “elite”).

Quote
Are we talking here about your preferences, or the natural preferences of the monetary system?

Throughout the entire discussion, I have consistently spoken of the “natural tendency” of wealth to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state (or at least had a similar meaning). Just because I like this thinking doesn’t change the fact that I refer to this tendency as natural laws just as one would consider gravity to be a natural law. In fact this was the very point of the analogy I made between the laws describing the flow of water and those describing the flow of wealth in my very first post.

Quote
In an idealised world, this would be so; but in the real world, money is simply a way of measuring power.  Clearly, having control over necessary raw materials is a way of accumulating power, but power distribution has always been more complex than that.  More to the point, there is a natural positive feedback cycle that allows that if you have power, it allows you to assert greater control over essential resources, and the greater control you have over essential resources, so the more power you will accrue.

So, if the oil companies tomorrow could, for some reason, no longer find a single person to work for them anymore, and thus no more oil (a raw material) can be extracted from the earth, the people running these companies will somehow magically remain in power?

Quote
Are we talking species here, or individuals within a species (arguments exist for each, but individuals within a given species will inevitably be far more in direct competition over the same resources than would inevitably be the case between species, where different species might utilise different resources).

In both cases, shortages do arise (although they do fluctuate from year to year, from decade to decade, from century to century).

You responded for me, while there are shortages, there are also surpluses, but while there may be fluctuations, in general, equilibrium is maintained.

Quote
Generally, an animal with more power (the alpha male and his mates) will have access to more, or better, food; while other individuals will be relegated further to the margins.

And yet, in general, equilibrium is maintained as all members of a species are fed. This isn’t about how the animals treat each other; frankly that’s not an excuse for comparison to humans anyway with the brain capacity allotted to us.

Quote
Clearly, the smaller the social unit, the less capacity there is for social inequality (an ant colony, having millions of members, will have much more inequality between the queen and the workers, than a troop of 30 monkeys).

I never made any claim about a particular species’ capacity to get resources

And Bored chemist,

Quote
My observation is that it does not, rather the reverse is true and the rich get richer.

Unfortunately, I have responded to this observation too many times to repeat.

{phew}

I am rather overwhelmed by the amount of interest that this post has generated. Or maybe its because I am spending so much time on the replies that you guys want to have some sympathy and make some response if nothing else [;D]

Anyway, I probably won’t be able to post any replies again for a bit, unless they can be done in a sentence or two.
« Last Edit: 26/03/2007 22:55:44 by namaan »
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« Reply #39 on: 27/03/2007 00:27:36 »
This is also a matter of semantics. In my understanding for something to have a tendency to do something means that it naturally does something without regards to external forces. Following this understanding, water has a single tendency as governed by the gravitational force, which is to go down. Even so, you can get water to do many things outside this tendency such as run a steam engine, take part in nuclear power plants, generate electricity in dams and so on. This is done by applying energy to the water which otherwise only has a straightforward tendency to go down.

Sorry, but you are being wholly inconsistent here.

You are:

  • for something to have a tendency to do something means that it naturally does something without regards to external forces
  • Following this understanding, water has a single tendency as governed by the gravitational force, which is to go down

But is not the gravitational force an external force?

In the absence of any external force, water has a tendency to do nothing at all.

Similarly, once again considering the following:

I would argue that wealth also has only one tendency, which is to “go down” to the lower societal levels (in possibly more effective terms, to gravitate away from a non-equilibrated state of existence). But you can get this wealth to do many things outside this tendency such as the effects of the “centralizing forces” you mentioned (specifically the actions of the “elite”).

When you say 'similarly' – do you mean that you similarly regard a single force as not being an external force at all, and regard all other forces as external forces, and then regard that single force as pertaining to a natural tendency?

So, if the oil companies tomorrow could, for some reason, no longer find a single person to work for them anymore, and thus no more oil (a raw material) can be extracted from the earth, the people running these companies will somehow magically remain in power?

If the oil company is offering people good money to work for them, then you will have to explain why people are refusing to work for them?

It is possible that a government passes legislation that makes it illegal for people to work for oil companies, but that would merely be a demonstration that the power of government still exceeds the power of oil companies, but that too is dependent upon the government not being bankrupt (i.e. a bankrupt government would not be able to afford to pay to police its laws, and so the law would be futile).
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Generally, an animal with more power (the alpha male and his mates) will have access to more, or better, food; while other individuals will be relegated further to the margins.

And yet, in general, equilibrium is maintained as all members of a species are fed.

Are you really trying to say that in the wild no animal ever starves?

This isn’t about how the animals treat each other; frankly that’s not an excuse for comparison to humans anyway with the brain capacity allotted to us.

But humans are animals, and beneath the veneer, we still behave as any other animal behaves.

Furthermore, if you are talking about the way a system behaves (and you have consistently referred to the monetary system), then the assumption is that the system has a behaviour that is not under the concious control of humans (you have argued you are not trying to propose a controlled economic system, but are looking at the natural way the monetary system works without explicit controls applied to it).

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Clearly, the smaller the social unit, the less capacity there is for social inequality (an ant colony, having millions of members, will have much more inequality between the queen and the workers, than a troop of 30 monkeys).

I never made any claim about a particular species’ capacity to get resources

Neither was I – I was referring to the size of the social unit, without regard to the species that composes that social unit.

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Offline namaan

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« Reply #40 on: 27/03/2007 17:04:06 »
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But is not the gravitational force an external force?

In official scientific terms, yes, obviously. I don't know what else to call this, but by external forces, I guess I am essentially referring to all forces that are directed by humans; thus human directed forces? A better way of saying it might be intrinsic forces (gravity and such) versus extrinsic forces (forces directed by humans).

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When you say 'similarly' – do you mean that you similarly regard a single force as not being an external force at all, and regard all other forces as external forces, and then regard that single force as pertaining to a natural tendency?

?

I don't know what you said since what you said arises from a misunderstanding that I pointed out above.

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Are you really trying to say that in the wild no animal ever starves?

There was a reason why I put "in general" in bold.

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But humans are animals, and beneath the veneer, we still behave as any other animal behaves.

You didn't even bother to account for a humans brain having much greater capacity for thinking and reasoning.

Unless of course you would like to place your existence at the same plane of cognition as that of an ape.
« Last Edit: 27/03/2007 17:10:25 by namaan »
Take it with a grain or two of salt...

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« Reply #41 on: 27/03/2007 20:26:53 »
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But is not the gravitational force an external force?

In official scientific terms, yes, obviously. I don't know what else to call this, but by external forces, I guess I am essentially referring to all forces that are directed by humans; thus human directed forces? A better way of saying it might be intrinsic forces (gravity and such) versus extrinsic forces (forces directed by humans).

But even if one removes humans from the equation, there are numerous 'natural' forces acting upon water – whether it be the heat of the Sun, or the tidal forces of the moon (the last is actually still a gravitational force, but it is one that causes tides to rise and ebb in relation to the Earth).

The reason why rain keeps on falling is because the water keeps getting up into the upper atmosphere.  If there were only one force, going in only one direction, once the rain fell, it could never fall again, and the entire water cycle of the planet would cease (this has absolutely nothing to do with human activity – it has been happening long before humans ever developed on this planet).

It was the same thing I was trying to say about the money system – unless there were forces driving it in both directions, one could not sustain a perpetual system (what goes in one direction, in order that it may come back again, must at some time go in the other direction, otherwise, once it has all moved in one direction, it would cease to move anywhere ever again).

Another, very simple example, is a rail network.  You cannot have all the trains only ever moving in one direction (unless you have a circular line – which I shall exclude from this example, and is in any case a rarity), otherwise the railway companies would soon run out of rolling stock, and the railway would cease to function.  Thus, you must have trains moving in both directions in order to be able to keep the railways running (even if, and it often happens, they have to run the trains empty just to make sure they get back to where they started).  The same is true of both money and of water – there must be a way for money (and water) to get back to where it started from, and thus there must be forces driving that money back to its starting point, just as there must be forces driving money in the other direction (and for the system to remain dynamic, those two forces must operate over different time periods).


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Are you really trying to say that in the wild no animal ever starves?

There was a reason why I put "in general" in bold.

All animals, whether human or non-human, die of something.  I cannot tell you offhand what percentage of animals die of starvation, what percentage of predation, and what percentage of disease.  Certainly, in general a higher percentage of non-human animals die of predation that human animals do; so that is a factor that would slightly skew the percentages in the other two categories.  That aside, certainly food shortages are a very significant killer in the non-human world; although this may be more skewed towards the very young (as bad as human infant mortality may appear, it is still but a small fraction of what infant mortality is amongst most non-human species, and those infants who make it into adulthood are likely to be tougher than their human counterparts because of the greater odds against them surviving to adulthood).

Furthermore, very few, if any, non-human animals outside of a zoo (or those kept as pets, etc.) will ever survive into what we might regard as old age.

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But humans are animals, and beneath the veneer, we still behave as any other animal behaves.

You didn't even bother to account for a humans brain having much greater capacity for thinking and reasoning.

Unless of course you would like to place your existence at the same plane of cognition as that of an ape.

Many biologists would class us as apes, and make no significant distinction.

Clearly, there are differences, mostly in the complexity of the social organisation we undertake; but motivationally, and biologically, there is not a great deal of difference (and the more we learn about apes, the more difficult it becomes to draw a clear line between other apes and ourselves – we know apes are capable of using tools, of using signalling devices, and or undertaking planned ambushes and acts of warfare).

That is though somewhat irrelevant to the matter in hand.  The money system is a chaotic system, that is not amenable to long term prediction, let alone to concious control.  Those who are best at making even approximate short and medium term predictions about the way the money system works, tend to make a small fortune on successful speculation on the money and commodities markets.  Some have in the past managed to interfere, and thus control, the short term activity of a small corner of the money and commodity markets – it is illegal, and their success can be only limited to a small corner of the whole system, and only for a short period of time, but for that alone the rewards (if you can get away with it) are tremendous.

The long term predication and management of the entire money system is as unattainable to human concious control as is the long term management of the weather (and each is probably equally as undesirable).
« Last Edit: 27/03/2007 20:45:18 by another_someone »

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Offline namaan

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« Reply #42 on: 30/03/2007 13:29:07 »
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But even if one removes humans from the equation, there are numerous 'natural' forces acting upon water – whether it be the heat of the Sun, or the tidal forces of the moon (the last is actually still a gravitational force, but it is one that causes tides to rise and ebb in relation to the Earth).

You are right; in this regard, the terminology I used was pretty stupid. While the point I was trying to make seems straightforward to me, language is not allowing me to present it as straighforwardly as I would like. Well, that's what happens when you make up the argument as you go along. Anyway, it did start as a rant afterall and like all good rants, its time to close.
Take it with a grain or two of salt...

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« Reply #43 on: 11/04/2007 09:49:00 »
I have just caught up with this thread and have skimmed through it but it appears that no one has picked up the fundamental flaw in the original arguments.  Whilst I agree that there is a general tendancy for things to "run downhill"  this definitely does not mean that all systems tend towards a uniform equilibrium near the centre of their range.  Any familiarity with control theory would show clearly that there are many final states for systems in general and these include equilibriums in varous parts of their range from one extreme to another they also include the possibility of there being no stable state as in limit cycle oscillations.

To determine which situation may apply to a complex system requires a full knopwledge of all the parameters that affect it and the way that they interact.  Economics is incredibly complex  far more so than most normal physical systems like (for example) the way a blob of hydrogen and helium etc becomes a star and evolves.
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« Reply #44 on: 11/04/2007 13:29:51 »
Economics is incredibly complex  far more so than most normal physical systems like (for example) the way a blob of hydrogen and helium etc becomes a star and evolves.

Not sure that it is more complex, only that we understand the two from a different scale.

With hydrogen, we have studied lots of hydrogen on a macroscopic scale in the lab, and we can observe lots of hydrogen before, after, and during start formation within the wider universe.

Our understanding of economic systems is as if we had wandered into a huge hydrogen cloud, studied it an an atomic scale in vivo, but had no capability to study it in vitro, and no ability to observe comparable gas clouds in nature in various stages of evolution.  I would doubt that with those limited observations, we would ever have been able to reliably been able to predict that whet the long term evolution of a gas cloud would be.

Even today, we might (by various in vitro studies, and wider observation) be able to say that stars formed from gas clouds, but could we really be able to accurately predict the future history of a particular region of a gas cloud - will it become part of a star, or escape - will all hydrogen become part of a star sooner or later?

The difference between the two is not one of innate complexity of the system, but the distance between what we are trying to predict and what we have been able to study - hence the calculations we must use are inherently complex in order to span the wider gulf (and at present, wholly unverifiable); but the inherent system is no more complex.

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« Reply #45 on: 12/04/2007 00:39:03 »
Most stars form and evolve in precisely predictable ways that are only controlled by the mass of material present in the star. 
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« Reply #46 on: 12/04/2007 01:20:03 »
Most stars form and evolve in precisely predictable ways that are only controlled by the mass of material present in the star. 

I agree with that, but it is predictable only because we have been able to research how hydrogen behaves on a large scale - we have built fusion explosions on Earth, we have looked at stars in different stages of formation, etc.

What I was saying is that we cannot predict how economies behave on a large scale because we have not been able to study large numbers of such economies on a large scale.

We can only study economies on the atomic scale, and what I was saying is that if our entire experience of how hydrogen behaves is based on one isolated cloud of hydrogen that we could study at an atomic level, without being able even to see a single star (and thus no reason to suspect that stars could even be formed), then how would we be able to make the accurate prediction we can about the behaviour of hydrogen clouds.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2007 01:27:18 by another_someone »

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« Reply #47 on: 12/04/2007 09:29:04 »
As I said economies are much more complex and subject to a vast number of variables but there are occasions when economies can be considered as isolated and it is possible to learn a lot from the study of how economies have worked in the past but I agree that the knowledge is far from complete.
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