The Elon Musk Thread

Leo

Well-known member
different mentality. we're raised on the American dream, how anyone can work hard, work their way up the ladder, start a business of their own, rise from the mail room to the board room, business success=success in life. dovetails with America being the land of opportunity, which attracts immigrants who want to raise themselves up from limited possibilities in their home countries, provide a better standard of living for their families.

it goes beyond familiarity and comfort with capitalism, it's an embrace of capitalism in pursuit of creature comforts.

and while the average American is pretty modest about it, we do have a lot of people who are ostentatious in broadcasting their success and wealth. old money keeps it tastefully on the download, new money enjoys telling the world how they're no longer Jenny from the block.

is this why brits are attracted to US rap and hip hop, the fascination with (and perhaps repressed admiration for) the nonstop flaunting of bling and gettin' paid?
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I've talked on here before, loads, about this American tendency to elevate business leaders to culture heroes. Steve Jobs occupies the same position as Elvis Presley. There's a hero worship there. Again seems strange and disturbing to European sensibilities.
The Brexit lot started doing that with James Dyson and the bloke who owns Wetherspoons.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
different mentality. we're raised on the American dream, how anyone can work hard, work their way up the ladder, start a business of their own, rise from the mail room to the board room, business success=success in life. dovetails with America being the land of opportunity, which attracts immigrants who want to raise themselves up from limited possibilities in their home countries, provide a better standard of living for their families.

it goes beyond familiarity and comfort with capitalism, it's an embrace of capitalism in pursuit of creature comforts.

and while the average American is pretty modest about it, we do have a lot of people who are ostentatious in broadcasting their success and wealth. old money keeps it tastefully on the download, new money enjoys telling the world how they're no longer Jenny from the block.
I don't mind it so much from this perspective, it's healthier than a lot of the European neuroses and behaviours.
 

Leo

Well-known member
probably. at the same time, though, we've also got a real problem with depression, opiod addiction, etc., among the disenfranchised who are left behind by this pursuit of "success". many of these people probably make up the Trump base.

depression also exists within white collar communities, brought on by the inability to keep up with the joneses, the struggle to keep up appearances of success when they run into financial hardship. pressures to send the kids off to expensive private schools and universities because that's what all the neighbors are doing, etc. I'm sure it ruins as well as raises lives.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
It's also I think about the trifecta of democratic politics, private enterprise, and human progress. In the American vision, all three are tied up and depend on one another. Innovation is spurred by the market, as the result of competition, which leads to lowered prices and the benefit of the citizenry. Jobs isn't just a successful model to emulate: he's also helping usher in a better world. That's the logic, anyway.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
The really strange thing is that the demographics suffering in the USA right now with what Leo's talking about—opioid addiction, economic disenfranchisement—are to some extent exactly as well off as they were 50 years ago. Wages have stagnated, but they haven't really dropped. Rather, the problem is feeling like the future has passed them by, and to an extent it has—the future disproportionately benefits those who are participating in its economic creation, which means, more or less, you're in or around an engineering or information problem.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
The right package of progressive economics could redistribute gains, but a couple questions: 1) What're the moral limits of this? Does everyone deserve a piece of the future even if they're not participating in building it? A feeling of fairness permeates human psychology. Is there some baseline living standard people are owed, like having a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs? Perhaps. But most Americans who are angry right now have all these things. They also have endless entertainment options, digital toys and affordances; they want to keep up with their neighbors and feel Good about themselves. It's not just about the basics. And I think this is why questions of progressive redistribution and entitlement get trickier than they have been historically, IMO. And this brings us to the second hard question, which is 2) What people really want is to feel Good about themselves, and my guess is human nature requires that you contribute in some active way to the larger community, and have status/standing within it, in order to have high esteem. Just giving out universal basic income won't accomplish this. People are gonna become really obsolete real soon, in economic terms. So how can we restructure local communities such that there's still a meaningful day-to-day, in a post-AI society?
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
Material comfort doesn't ward off ennui: we have a long tradition, from My Year of Rest & Relaxation to A rebours to Roman emperors, etc showing that this is the case. You need purpose, and resources + too much time on your hands is as much a recipe for disaster as it is a progressive "solution."
 

vimothy

yurp
The really strange thing is that the demographics suffering in the USA right now with what Leo's talking about—opioid addiction, economic disenfranchisement—are to some extent exactly as well off as they were 50 years ago.
That depends on your metric. If your metric is the average real wage, then perhaps ppl at all points of income distribution have benefited to some extent, or at least, arent worse off. thats quite a reductive view of welfare however
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
Is there some baseline living standard people are owed, like having a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs? Perhaps. But most Americans who are angry right now have all these things. They also have endless entertainment options, digital toys and affordances; they want to keep up with their neighbors and feel Good about themselves. It's not just about the basics.
A lot of people don't own their own home though. You might have a roof over your head, but you're forever at the mercy of a landlord taking it away. There's also the healthcare issue.
 

vimothy

yurp
suppose you designed an economy where productivity grew every year (more and more output), yet the gains from this growth were entirely captured by the top 1% of earners, or the top 0.1%, or the top 0.01%, everyone else's income just stayed flat. would the majority of ppl have any right to feel aggrieved that they were not sharing in the benefits of the boom?
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
A lot of people don't own their own home though. You might have a roof over your head, but you're forever at the mercy of a landlord taking it away. There's also the healthcare issue.
Maybe in cities, but middle America homes range from 50-150k, which is affordable even on minimum wage, and most people have mortgages.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
The renter problem is more just that coastal cities are way overinflated, cost-wise, and the slowing demand hasn't caught up yet

I'd imagine that'll change a lot in the next 5-10 years; when you can buy a house in Iowa for 35k, and pay it all of in a single year with your cushy remote coding job, why pay 35k a year in rent in NYC?
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
Feel like the 99%/1% paradigm is already changing... It's looking increasingly silly... What it really will be soon is 85/15, where those who have information-centric or engineering or management jobs (or who head private enterprise, finance, etc) will live in a way traditionally reserved for nobility, and the rest will keep on keepin on like it's 1972.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
At the same time, digital goods are a huge benefit for everyone else (Q: does Dissensus make your life better?) but it doesn't show up on economic stats sheets.
 

Leo

Well-known member
it's usually the left that talks about the problems of income inequality, but I get the sense that lots of those in the "have not" camp became the trump base and vote GOP down the line, despite the general GOP tendency to push legislation that helps "the rich" at their expense. maybe it's an aspirational vote, they don't want to be viewed of one of "those people" who accepts government assistance. why else would anyone, outside of those with a vested interest, oppose something like universal healthcare?
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
yes, I think there's some suspicion that 1) lefty bailout money isn't for them, 2) the social costs of progressivism, with its disruption of tradition, and its imposition of coastal cultural norms on the middlecountry, outweighs any ostensible welfare benefits, and 3) that the elites are "buying" underclass votes with welfare
 
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