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6/20/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Thursday, June 28, 2012 7:54 PM
1-what do we do with our misfits?4
2-assuming food, clothing, and shelter are what we most value, what's driving the economic need to grow?5
3-are professional sports good for us?5

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Assuming food, clothing, and shelter are what we most value, what's driving the economic need to grow?5

David: through most of our existence we were content with having enough food and shelter. Now, myself included, we want (need?) more and more things. Why? how much do we need of anything? I like to buy video games, some I'll never use, yet I want 'em!Why want a mansion when your little house will do? is it greed, envy?

Jim: if we have a house, food, and nothing else, would one be happy? I say no. We need something to stimulate us. People want to work. 

David: I agree but there's a difference doing work to achieve something and doing work to accumulate stuff.

Jim: a person who wants to be productive will inevitably need more to continue productivity.

David: but we once were satisfied just to have food, shelter, clothing, and safety?

Larry; I don't think they were any more satisfied then than we are now.

David: maybe survival was so up front we had little time for hoarding.

John: we don't know if they weren't trying to acquire then. Perhaps they sought to acquire better hunting grounds? Once tools began to develop, then our ancestors wanted to improve those tools. Then moving to our modern society, things aren't equal, so those with less would like to get more.

David: why?

Larry: we want to improve ourselves

David: but "improve" isn't what's happening

Jon: the author Jonathan Haidt argues in his book The Happiness Hypothesis that we strive to acquire the things that will make us fit in with those around us. It's a community making thing. He even goes so far as to say that we are willing to sacrifice a great deal -- even our happiness -- in order to acquire whatever we decide is necessary for fitting in.

David: is fitting in why poor areas have people who won't succeed because they fit their community?

Jon: we have a Socrates Cafe member up in St. Paul who tells us he was raised in such a poor economic community and that yes, he had zero awareness (or even interest) in how one fits in outside that neighborhood. He says he one day decided the expectations he grew up with were wrong for him but that this decision was not easy. He had to leave that neighborhood in more than physical ways. He had to begin living/working among people he had previously seen as outer space aliens. 

John: poor African American kids don't want to be excluded. David assumes that we could live in a steady state. Pick a year, say 1918, we were using gas and oil then but we would effectively run out of gas and oil well before now for lack of the techologies that came later which enabled better and more efficient ways of retrieving and processing oil into gas. In the book "the Prize" efficiencies enabled not running out, tech for finding oil and gas. 

Jim: Malthusian population control arguments work only if we assume our technology will not improve.

David: I want more video games. I collect books. 

Jon: how'd you feel if you weren't allowed do those things?

David: I'd find a way to get 'em anyway!

Jon: so then acquisition is human nature?

David: I guess.

Jim: "we don't need" is the rub. Without improvement we don't get infrastructure. We need infrastructure and so many other things.

Larry: Joe Campbell, talking with students said he spent a lot of time building his reputation as a scholar but when if the time lost away from family was away from family was it worth it, he said no! This is the guy popularly famous for advising we all "follow your bliss"!

Jim: yet we're assuming that along the way he knew his choices to be apart from family were wrong. Hindsight is 20/20.

John: it also assumes that family time would have made him happy -- it's hypothetical. Everyone has an ego. People at the top are striving for "positional goods." It's more important than money. Some baseball players want the bigger salaries not for the money, but for the status
Jon: I am definitely doing work that means little to me in order to maintain my version of success. Some of that success looks like excess, but perhaps having that satisfies my wish to belong.

Jim: I think we underestimate Obama/Romney as position seekers having an impact.

David: big egos must not be so important to some.

Larry: I found some of the best leaders were lazy; they were skilled at talking others into doing their work! What about the ones who don't want anything?



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