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Thursday, August 23, 2001

Where There's a Way, There's a Will

Elaborating on my theme from last night, I realize what specifically has been bothering me is not simply people's presence, but that people keep changing plans on me without even thinking to notify me first, let alone consult me. Almost everyone I've interacted with recently will recognize themselves in that statement, so take heart--it's not you, it's everyone. And of course, any time it's everyone, it may well just be me. Maybe I didn't used to care or notice and for some reason now I suddenly do. Or maybe it's just an unfortunate string of coincidences, amplifying each other's significance via proximity. In either case, each such incidence in solitude is hardly worth notice, but their sum crossed a threshold.

On a related theme, I continue to wonder about the balance between work and play, spending and consuming, between being an Einstein or a playboy. I am reminded of my ramblings on productivity and capital, and I wonder: When contrasting "work" and "play", are we really talking about a balance between modern work and paleo work -- between the part of us that understands and enjoys the exponential growth, and the part of us that evolved before we were capable of that? I.e., would a fully evolved being ever desire to engage in consumption other than in the service of productivity? Of course what we have to work with is a mishmash of legacy psychology, a long ways away from "fully evolved". The question is, should we cater to the legacy, or to the intent?

Pivoting the theme again: if I were rich, I now think I know the strategy by which I would divide my estate amongst my friends and children: I would do the antithesis of what most people consider fair -- I would give to each person in proportion to the wealth they had deservedly accumulated on their own (taking into account the value of knowledge and skills, not just dollars). If I had a son who was a playboy through and through, I wouldn't fault him for it -- I have no objective answer for how to strike that balance. But nor would I reward it with capital -- consumption does not create capital, and so it should not beget it.

There is a very elegant fairness to the scheme -- it is as if I had gone back in time, to everyone's beginnings, and given to them all in equal proportions. It is more fair, is it not, that we should all start out on equal footing than that we should all end up there.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com