Feudalism


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Continuing the discussion from Recommendations for local web page display?:

    @Buddy said:

    The thing is, while it's certainly important to keep an eye on what we might be moving towards, we should never forget about what we're moving away from. We still have work to do, removing the remnants of feudalism from our society, before we let our utopian dreams get ahead of ourselves.

    Here's something you might find interesting. I read this book a couple of years ago:

    The author had done some research about feudalism in medieval England, and found out that the average peasant on a manor spent only one day per week working for the manor. The rest of the peasant's time was his own.

    Compare that to Tax Freedom Day here in the US, which this year was calculated to be April 21st. So between a third and a fourth of the average person's year is devoted to paying the modern version of the lord of the manor.

    Now that I've done that side note, I'm curious about what elements of feudalism you think are still a factor today.



  • @antiquarian said:

    How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste
    Suicide?



  • Certainly there are real vestiges in places like the UK, where you still have hereditary nobility and the property ownership that came with it.

    But likening wealthy moderns to old feudal lords seems wrong to me.



  • I wonder what percentage of income goes to the government in most Scandinavian countries, including income taxes, sales taxes, etc...everything that the average person ends up paying.



  • @antiquarian said:

    The author had done some research about feudalism in medieval England, and found out that the average peasant on a manor spent only one day per week working for the manor. The rest of the peasant's time was his own.

    Did the author also point out how much of a peasant's time was taken for "hey I can eat/have a roof/etc."?

    Percentages of over a base level are important here. Basically if you are at something like feed self + a little and you give up nearly all the a little it is a very different thing from feed self + a lot and giving up half of the a lot. The second one may look like you are giving more as a percent of the whole (or more in actual amount), but it would still be vastly preferable to the lower percentage of total that the first one is paying.



  • @antiquarian said:

    The author had done some research about feudalism in medieval England, and found out that the average peasant on a manor spent only one day per week working for the manor. The rest of the peasant's time was his own.

    That's why they lived in shit. People were spending so much effort just staying alive, there was little to give for common good. Average white trash today is better off than a medieval lord.



  • I don't believe that feudalism is still in effect, rather, that a lot of people's world views are still quite heavily influenced by obsolete ways of thinking. It is my understanding that most people are in agreement that it is not desirable for a child to be placed in charge of a large estate without having to earn it, yet estate tax appears to be unpopular. So the obvious (to me) assumption is that a lot of people are stupid and wrong don't think about this kind of stuff a whole lot (why would they?).


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    I've also seen reports of hunter-gatherer societies that they only needed 20 hours a week to obtain enough food to live on.



  • We need economies for the same reason humans make laws and not algae.

    (insert webcomic of algae making laws)



  • We need economies for the same reason humans make laws and not algae.



  • See, and that's another thing. People seem to feel very strongly that everybody (and particularly poor people) should have to work, which just seems to me that it carries the implicit assumption that there is enough work to go around, an idea that I'm not entirely sold on. Why is job creation considered a good thing, again?



  • Everybody should pull their weight. But an 8 hour work day makes that impossible.

    http://www.4hourworkday.org/

    I haven't read it, so it might be some commie mumbo jumbo. But the economist in me agrees with the principle.



  • Why not just have an 8 hour work day and work half as hard?



  • Because that's a waste of time and money and doesn't increase aggregate demand.



  • How about a 16 hour work day and work a quarter as hard?



  • That's a worse waste of time and money and would hurt aggregate demand a lot.



  • Ok, 32 hour work day, final offer.


  • SockDev

    @ben_lubar said:

    Ok, 32 hour work day, final offer.

    Working one day a week, I could get used to that.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Did the definition of "24 hours in a day" change somewhere down this topic?

    Filed Under: I don't want 32 hours of work in a row. Please let me split them up over the week, thank you



  • @Buddy said:

    It is my understanding that most people are in agreement that it is not desirable for a child to be placed in charge of a large estate without having to earn it, yet estate tax appears to be unpopular. So the obvious (to me) assumption is that a lot of people are stupid and wrong don't think about this kind of stuff a whole lot (why would they?).

    I figure the alternative is worse. Especially since the typical heir isn't a child but an adult. One of the perverse things about estate taxes is what happens to family businesses that can't be passed down due to lack of liquidity.

    Plus, as I've said before, I believe taxes should be there to fund the government, not to achieve some other purpose. Estate taxes aren't big money makers. These are taxes of envy.



  • @Buddy said:

    People seem to feel very strongly that everybody (and particularly poor people) should have to work, which just seems to me that it carries the implicit assumption that there is enough work to go around, an idea that I'm not entirely sold on.

    Again, it's better than the alternative. Your phrasing leaves a lot out, too. Why should we force people to work to support other people?



  • I always thought that if I were an evil genie, I'd give every person in the world a replicator like the ones in Star Trek, with infinite energy, allowing them to create any object they want for free: food, medicine, electronics, even large objects like cars could be made by assembling smaller pieces.

    With that, consumer spending would plummet. Why buy things when I can make them for free? Companies would close down, people would lose their jobs. And thus, being unemployed and with no place to buy food, everyone would starve to death.

    (Or at least, this is what people who complain about new technologies because of "the jobs" probably think would happen)


  • SockDev

    Actually, I have a feeling it would lead to an age of enlightenment - albeit with a serious pain point first. Once it was understood that people didn't need to work, they could devote their time to studying, to art, to literature.

    Mankind will always create new challenges for itself.


  • BINNED

    @Arantor said:

    Mankind will always create new challenges for itself.

    Commie crazytalk!


  • SockDev

    @Onyx said:

    Commie crazytalk!

    But I'm right. :smiling_imp:


  • BINNED

    @Arantor said:

    But I'm right.

    I agree with you, but by the rules of this forum I'm required to try and entice a flamewar.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @anonymous234 said:

    I'd give every person in the world

    @anonymous234 said:
    with infinite energy, allowing them to create any object they want for free: food

    @anonymous234 said:
    And thus, being unemployed and with no place buy food, everyone would starve to death.

    And thus your plan was destined for failure right from the start...

    Filed Under: You can be my evil genie anytime

    Addendum: Filed Under: I remember there being an "evil genie" forum game at places where one person would wish for something and the next poster would grant that wish with a terrible sideeffect and then wish for something themselves... I never liked that game



  • @boomzilla said:

    I figure the alternative is worse. Especially since the typical heir isn't a child but an adult.

    Regardless of age, if they haven't earned it, they don't deserve it.

    @boomzilla said:

    One of the perverse things about estate taxes is what happens to family businesses that can't be passed down due to lack of liquidity.

    That is not ideal.

    @boomzilla said:

    Plus, as I've said before, I believe taxes should be there to fund the government, not to achieve some other purpose.

    What is the government even there for, if not to acheive some other purpose?

    @boomzilla said:

    Estate taxes aren't big money makers.

    Wiki gives an estimate of total wealth transferred through inheritance at 6% of gdp (fair disclosure, that source did seem to have an axe to grind against ‘the super rich’), compared to total tax takings at 24% of gdp. Do you have better figures, or are you citing the current ineffectiveness of estate tax as a reason not to try and make it more effective?

    @boomzilla said:

    These are taxes of envy.

    Nice appeal to emotion, but envy is the correct way to feel about seeing someone receive something that they don't deserve, that you yourself will never receive.

    @boomzilla said:

    Why should we force people to work to support other people?

    We shouldn't force people to work.



  • We shouldn't force people to work.

    That's not a 'we' thing. Until we can overcome the laws of nature, there isn't going to be enough of a surplus that 'we' can just give it all away.

    Stopping waste (like planned obsolescence) would be a huge step in that direction. Working on energy production is another huge step. The best we can do without "free" energy is cutting down the length of the work week. It is a worthy goal.



  • @Arantor said:

    Working one day a week, I could get used to that.

    At 40 hours, you're working one week a day.

    @boomzilla said:

    Why should we force people to work to support other people?

    Why are you so envious of people who get more days off?



  • Oh great, now someone's going to bring up that shitty Manna story.



  • @Buddy said:

    Regardless of age, if they haven't earned it, they don't deserve it.

    Little kids don't deserve the gifts they receive on their birthdays, either.

    @Buddy said:

    What is the government even there for, if not to acheive some other purpose?

    It has certain, limited legitimate purposes. Satisfying your insecurities about how much money other people have shouldn't be one of them. Among the limited purposes I'd include are things like public safety, national defense and other public goods (e.g. roads and some utilities).

    @Buddy said:

    Wiki gives an estimate of total wealth transferred through inheritance at 6% of gdp (fair disclosure, that source did seem to have an axe to grind against ‘the super rich’), compared to total tax takings at 24% of gdp. Do you have better figures, or are you citing the current ineffectiveness of estate tax as a reason not to try and make it more effective?

    I don't think I need to do more than point out that 6% is peanuts. That's over many years, I'm sure (hard to tell since you didn't link).

    @Buddy said:

    Nice appeal to emotion, but envy is the correct way to feel about seeing someone receive something that they don't deserve, that you yourself will never receive.

    You are just an asshole trying to tell people what they do and don't deserve.

    @Buddy said:

    We shouldn't force people to work.

    I totally agree, but this is incompatible with your previous statement.

    @dhromed said:

    Why are you so envious of people who get more days off?

    Why do you think I am?

    I mean, sure, I'd like to be wealthy enough that I don't have to work. Getting more for less is always good. But I don't envy those guys in the sense that I think some of their days off should be taken from them and given to me.





  • @boomzilla said:

    Iowakawk

    [insert video of man from Iowa talking about deck sealants]



  • @boomzilla said:

    Little kids don't deserve the gifts they receive on their birthdays, either.

    Are you one of those fuckers who get really angry when you don't get them a present? Anyway, the difference is, when those toys get broken one week later, I don't give a shit.

    @boomzilla said:

    insecurities

    Ha-ha, it's funny, because someone could literally just buy company I work for and fire me, on a whim.

    @boomzilla said:

    I don't think I need to do more than point out that 6% is peanuts.

    Holy shit bro, it's simple math. Tax takings are 1/4 as large as gdp (and to you, that's huge), inheritance (total, not just what gets taxed) is 1/4 as large as tax takings (and to you, that's peanuts).

    @boomzilla said:

    You are just an asshole trying to tell people what they do and don't deserve.

    I'm just an asshole who has spent too much time getting told what to do by people who don't have a clue.



  • Do you think that it is desirable to get a job?



  • @boomzilla said:

    You are just an asshole trying to tell people what they do and don't deserve.

    Well, you did the exact same thing.

    You're riding the envy train a little hard here. Do all economic equality arguments (whether it's money or free time) come from envy?


  • SockDev

    By definition, yes. Economics at its heart is the study of scarcity. Everything is by definition finite and for one to have something potentially or actually deprives another of it.



  • ...No, by definition absolutely not. I'm not talking about scarcity and opportunity cost. Envy is when you covet your neighbour's ass, regardless of whether you deserve it, or they deserve it, or anything, and you start doing irrational things. Envy is sometimes aligned with justice, by coincidence only.

    Me, I don't envy those who have millions. Too much management overhead.

    CUE BOOMZILLA

    Yeah, irrational things like progressive income tax



  • AND ANOTHER THING

    Envy is one of those pesky human things that mucks up beautiful economic hypotheses with their rational agents and optimal decisions.



  • @Buddy said:

    Holy shit bro, it's simple math. Tax takings are 1/4 as large as gdp (and to you, that's huge), inheritance (total, not just what gets taxed) is 1/4 as large as tax takings (and to you, that's peanuts).

    You're claiming it's 6% every year? No way.

    @Buddy said:

    Do you think that it is desirable to get a job?

    I do.

    @dhromed said:

    @boomzilla said:
    You are just an asshole trying to tell people what they do and don't deserve.

    Well, you did the exact same thing.

    The big difference being that I'm not all hot to take other people's stuff from them by force because I think they don't deserve what they got. There are lots of people I may think don't deserve their job or their rate of pay for whatever reason. I don't rationalize taking their stuff away from them (assuming we're not talking about drug profits or something illegal like that).

    The heir didn't work to earn the money, of course. But it was voluntarily transferred to him. So as far as I'm concerned, he deserves the money (again, in the sense that it's wrong to want to deprive him of it because he didn't earn it or whatever).

    @dhromed said:

    You're riding the envy train a little hard here. Do all economic equality arguments (whether it's money or free time) come from envy?

    Probably not all, Hanlon's razor needs consideration. But I think it's a big component. You hear a lot of stuff about what's 'fair.' And that usually involves trying to take more from certain people than trying to minimize the takings.

    @dhromed said:

    CUE BOOMZILLA

    "Yeah, irrational things like progressive income tax"

    I don't think a progressive income tax is irrational per se. But I think it's probably not the most efficient or moral way to tax.



  • Well, I prefer to think of economics as the study of flows. Less about ownership than about buying and selling. I feel like in an ideal world, income would about equal expenditure, and the harder you work, the more you would be able to increase your quality of life. But in my experience, the people who work hardest seem to be the ones who have no choice, and the ones with the best quality of life are the ones who never had to work for it.



  • @Buddy said:

    I feel like in an ideal world, income would about equal expenditure, and the harder you work, the more you would be able to increase your quality of life.

    Maybe. But that would imply that it's a world that doesn't need large amounts of capital accumulation to do certain things. I think that probably means we'll need @anonymous234's magic to get there.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I do.

    Well, suppose there were a finite number of jobs -- less than the number of people available to do those jobs -- that, when worked, would provide enough of everything needed for everyone to survive.



  • @Buddy said:

    Well, suppose there were a finite number of jobs -- less than the number of people available to do those jobs -- that, when worked, would provide enough of everything needed for everyone to survive.

    I'll run with this. Some people would get upset that they had to work for the benefit of others who didn't. They might be upset that, say, the people with the best quality of life didn't have to work for it. And they would work less or not at all. I imagine a vicious cycle here.

    The reality today is that we have a lot more people working than we need for everyone to survive. We have lots of people doing stuff that isn't necessary for survival but makes our life richer. Entertainment, literature, sports, etc would all fall under this category.

    The problem for us, as I see it, and which I think you're maybe dancing around, is that technological improvement is creating an underclass of people who are apparently incapable of doing the higher skilled jobs that the technology brings. And the lower skilled jobs are largely less valuable, so it starts to look like we have a lot of people for whom we can't find anything they can do to add value. And of course, importing many more people willing to underbid the un/lowskilled just exacerbates the problem.



  • That's exactly the problem that I'm talking about. How are we going to solve that problem?


  • SockDev

    I was going on what my A Level economics teacher said...



  • @Buddy said:

    How are we going to solve that problem?

    I'm not sure.

    One thing we need to do is not worship college so much. We've devalued degrees while inflating their cost, and pushed a lot of people into them who really shouldn't be, not to mentioned burdened a lot of people with a shitload of debt.

    I think stuff like what [Mike Rowe Works][1] does is probably at least part of the solution.

    An honest look at what high levels of immigration do would be good, but I don't think there's any way to have an honest public debate about that. Likewise, public education needs a good thrashing. It works well enough in a lot of places, but there doesn't seem to be a way out for the places where it doesn't. Not all of that can be blamed on the school systems in question, of course, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't do what they can to improve.

    [1]: http://www.mikeroweworks.com/home@Buddy said:

    That's exactly the problem that I'm talking about. How are we going to solve that problem?


  • BINNED

    @boomzilla said:

    The problem for us, as I see it, and which I think you're maybe dancing around, is that technological improvement is creating an underclass of people who are apparently incapable of doing the higher skilled jobs that the technology brings.

    It also deprecates jobs, up to the point that there simply aren't enough jobs for everyone because "the robots took it away". And, with the system that requires you to work to survive, they are of course angry at this, while in fact we should all celebrate this. I mean, do we really want to say that shoveling shit is something humans should do instead of a pumping station?

    The trend of technology replacing humans in repetitive and hard jobs is not going to stop. Hell, it's already stifled by the need to keep people working just so they can survive.

    @boomzilla said:

    We have lots of people doing stuff that isn't necessary for survival but makes our life richer. Entertainment, literature, sports, etc would all fall under this category.

    And there always will be people like this. Also, I am pretty sure we'd never have a shortage of educators, scientists and inventors even if we weren't paying them.

    Even with our current technology we're damned close to automating everything besides intellectual work (unless we get working AIs any time soon). So, how do we make a shift to a society that is focused on the discovery and arts rather than working 8h a day to make ends meet? Fuck if I know, but it seems to me that it's inevitable. Well, either that, or we're screwed. And with humanity's track record, I'm leaning toward the latter.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I'll run with this. Some people would get upset that they had to work for the benefit of others who didn't. They might be upset that, say, the people with the best quality of life didn't have to work for it. And they would work less or not at all. I imagine a vicious cycle here.

    A vicious cycle describes a system featuring positive feed back, whereas what you are describing is a negative feed back loop, better described as ‘self-correcting’. If a person who currently has a job chooses to stop working, that job goes back on the market. We have already agreed that it is desirable to have a job, thus we can assume that market forces will supply a new candidate for the position.


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