Hi. My point in these discussions is not that an individuals human worth is based on his or her productivity but that societies capacity to help is based on the its(societies') productivity. No help is possible for the disadvantaged/unfortunate if individuals on the average are unproductive. Logically, I think one could assert that the more productive the individual is on the average, the more a society can assist the unfortunate.
Thus, the most important question becomes: How as a society do we attempt to make each individual as productive as possible? I believe all answers are based on some combination of (1) We force individuals to work or (2) We make individuals responsible for themselves and let them keep most of the fruit of their labors. Historically, I think that alternative (2) has been by far the most effective.
On Jun 12, 2012, at 4:28 AM, Andrusela wrote:
> Thanks for continuing the discussion, and allowing me to be there by
> proxy (smiley face). Are we only valuable if we are productive? My
> uncle suffered a stroke and spent the last years of his life in a
> wheelchair, unable to speak. Yet my aunt treasured his presence and
> called him her "silent friend." Are we human "beings" or human
> On 6/10/12, Jon Anderson <[address removed]> wrote:
>> 6/5/12 questions and discussion
>> 1-how might each of us become more productive?3
>> 2-will left and right continue to move apart?4
>> 3-is gender identity important, if yes, howso?6
>> 4-exactly what is it we're teaching in our education system?6
>> 5-what are the ramifications of the disintrgration of the family?6
>> 6-have we created technology in our own image?2
>> 7-why technology?2
>> what gives people value [in any given society]?
>> Phillip: I've been thinking about our conversations over the last weeks.
>> This leads me to wonder about our social security and the elderly -- are old
>> folks worth the worth the investment to keep them productive or even alive?
>> I felt blue about it. I am elderly.
>> Jon: are you of value?
>> Phillip: I lead a photo group, I'm helping a child prodigy study. I hope
>> these things make me valuable.
>> Jim: break it down. Go by societies. If we're on the edge of survival it's
>> different. What makes the individuals in any culture valuable are the
>> assumptions of that society. If we decide to invest more into the young than
>> the old then youth is more valuable. Religion can do this too. I may not
>> agree with how religions get to their valuations [the various stories used
>> to back up their morality] but the end result is admirable. Constitutions
>> and God are important; beyond being only "up to us."
>> Steve: in a capitalist society productivity's measured by money.
>> Money=value. differs from Jim's human/intrinsic value. All men are created
>> equal = equal value? They may conflict. Fairness and productivity are
>> needed. As money and power accumulate the balance of fairness can tip.
>> Dick: it was "value" that produced the economic mess beginning in 2008. The
>> older people among us -- those who were around during FDR times -- were
>> largely responsible for the economic success via their social security
>> savings. Native Americans learned from their elders. Old age was considered
>> inherently valuable in those cultures. Those elders were the maintainers of
>> traditions as well.
>> John: the economist Keynes was more accurate in his assessment of economic
>> values than is the Wall Street Journal.
>> Sarah: We've talked a lot so fare about money until Dick mentioned oral
>> traditions and ancient cultures. My friend at college is from Indonesia
>> where children are expected to care for their elders, potentially
>> sacrificing opportunities to achieve economic or career goals made possible
>> only by moving away from their elders or even working hard outside their
>> homes. Here it's about money more than family. We want to care for our
>> families, of course, yet at what point are people not family? At what
>> point(s) do we no longer have to care for them?
>> Jim: I wanted to talk family. Andrea (her online name is Andrusela) recently
>> told us of her life raising her kids as a single mom. How her efforts to be
>> economically successful led to her kids being bounced around/not always well
>> cared for. The work of motherhood is productive but unpaid. Sarah's
>> Indonesian example is how it should be, even though productivity demands
>> contradict it. Imperfect solutions lead to bigger problems.
>> Sarah: social security benefits iare not on my horizon at this point. I am
>> valued after I graduate college. Too often it's my test scores that matter.
>> Specialization in work and in education is increasing and one's value to
>> American society now depends on it.
>> Jim: what makes a person valuable doesn't necessarily make one productive.
>> Larry: special needs kids have value; we get a joy from giving to these
>> people. It builds character to give to them. We satisfy our need for feeling
>> needed by others. Then there are the elderly couples trying to care for each
>> other and hurting themselves in the process by doing work they're just too
>> old to do. So we do need help from the outside of our lives; help from our
>> government, our neighbors.
>> David: does life itself have value? Is existence valuable? Do we value the
>> life in each other? Then there's the tribe/culture perspective. Warfare
>> means lesser regard for life of strangers.
>> Jim: is life a beating heart?
>> David: it's a whole different question. During America's Revolutionary war
>> period, most families here then were farm families. Only the eldest sons
>> inherited those farms. The remaining family members were to work on the
>> farm. We now are doing doing the Ronald Reagan idea: splinter the family, go
>> off on one's own. Nursing homes developed, putting our elders out of sight
>> out of mind.
>> Jon: Andrea's kids, according to her, did not benefit psychologically from
>> her strenuous efforts to work as they grew up. So while she was being
>> economically productive she was unable to productive as a mother, perhaps
>> leaving children who grew up less capable of themselves being as productive
>> as they might have been if they'd had a better mothering experience. This is
>> quite the rub!
>> Larry: president Johnson signed the welfare bill and unintentionally
>> increased the prevalence of unwed mothers in America.
>> Steve: backing up; I've had difficulty digesting the conflict Larry
>> describes with educating special education students. it takes a lit of
>> resources to tailor an education to special kids needs. This is very
>> valuable, very productive work I think. But maybe we can't afford it. I
>> can't resolve these conflicting realities.
>> John: Andrea's example shows the value of the intact family. Mother's work
>> is undervalued in our culture. As with Larry's example, we have a lot of
>> moral hazard with AFDC.
>> Jim: raising kids is more than a one person job. Making sure families have
>> enough resources creates problems if it's our government we look to for the
>> help. The only real answer is somehow to get the young to think long term.
>> Larry: care of the infirm improves and increases our virtues. It makes us
>> more humane. Without this priority we end up with a "dog eat dog" culture.
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