Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

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Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#1  Postby Synthesis » July 25th, 2017, 9:48 pm

Western society seems to be obsessed with the notion that there really is a free lunch. A great percentage of effort being put forth appears to be concentrated not on innovation and production, but instead, on manipulation, transference, and outright theft [legal or illegal]. And this phenomena takes place throughout the socio-economic spectrum, particularly concentrated among the wealthiest and most powerful. What drives this need to acquire and accumulate no matter the costs, no matter the feelings such might engender?

***As an aside, I know this type of inquiry is not really "philosophical," but, to me, practical philosophy is more interesting because it links what is happening with what/how people are thinking about it. For those interested in discussing, "What is the meaning of life," for the 400th time, my apologies.***

It should be apparent to all that there has been a massive transfer of wealth and political power from the masses to the elite. Although many like to blame technology for this shift, it seems clear that these changes have been orchestrated through the re-writing and manipulation of laws, rules and regulations put in place in an attempt to prevent this inevitability.

That conjecture aside, what exactly is it that seems to drive human beings to lust after something "free," when it is well understood that there no such thing as free in the first place? Somebody is ALWAYS paying the freight. Here is an example.

Many of you reading this have money invested somewhere or other, that is, you have allocated a portion of your savings to "work for you." So, you send this money to company X, and after a period of time expect them to send you back your "return," interest or dividends, that is, the profits made off of your capital investment. And you expect this for doing absolutely nothing.

People really don't think about this, but, over the past several centuries, this "something for nothing" mentality has been exported from the elite classes who actually owned the labor of others [slavery] or contractually owned a portion of their labor [feudal arrangement]. The current system allows anybody with available capital to put this abstracted labor-value to work and "earn" a return for doing absolutely nothing.

It is not my intention to argue the merits of the capitalist system of production, only to point out where the something for nothing mentality dove tails so nicely. I would like to suggest that we live in a culture that has raised this aspiration to achieve an income from doing absolutely nothing to the highest levels, where billionaires who do nothing are worshiped at the alter of pinnacle of human achievement.

Seems pretty lame. What do you think?
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Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"



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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#2  Postby Greta » July 26th, 2017, 12:42 am

I think it's because we already do so much of "something". We moderns are busy, with extraordinary productivity, thanks to machines.

In the 70s and 80s there was a promise of a utopian society where machines would do the work and we'd be paid to simply live. There was concern that people would need to learn how to use so much leisure time productively. After all, our jobs, our livelihoods, were been taken away by machines. There were demonstrations and much public concern, and disruption was prevented by providing the assurance that it would all be for the best. So the people were sold a pup. Rather than providing leisure, the increased productivity of the machines was used by capitalists to boost profits.

So the expectations of a free lunch were planted by the captains of industry who today lobby governments to slash welfare spending for those they displaced. If people today were genuinely lazy, okay, but I'm not sure most people get much "bang for the buck" when it comes to reaping the rewards of their productive work.

I am also not inclined to judge people for being selfish - for wanting to gain as much as possible for minimum input. This is an increasingly crowded and competitive world. Altruism is out the window thanks to an anti-altruist polity. So when the threats to people's prosperity increasingly come from all sides it's understandable they they might "selfishly" partition and protect themselves and their resources.

It's a wicked problem, another tragedy of the commons. We cannot solve our problems so our systems will break and re-form. This is a time of rapid change and change is never easy
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#3  Postby LuckyR » July 26th, 2017, 4:10 am

This is a real issue, though I would describe it a little differently. In my experience, the issue is the mental disconnection between work or effort and success (or profit).

As usual it is a combination of things, one is the halt in upward mobility of the middle class in modern times, second is the tidal wave of coverage of the lottery, game shows and reality programming etc. Not only is hard work frowned upon, but knowledge and skills are de emphasized.

Separately, as anyone who has gambled can tell you, there is a specific neurological thrill associated with "winning".

Personally I would not include investing in this topic, since investments can lose money.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#4  Postby -1- » July 26th, 2017, 4:27 am

Free lunch.

I don't believe there is such a thing. Even unconditional love has its own set of unconditional expectations.

I think theft is just a word. You gather fallen wood in the forest, that's work. You go to your neighbour's house and you take wood from there which he or she had collected from the woods, and that is theft. Both ways you gather wood. Theft and exploitation only matter or gain meaning if you involve relationships between humans. The action is the same.

-- Updated 2017 July 26th, 4:46 am to add the following --

Appardon. I need to correct myself. Theft is not just a word. It is a word that appears out of nothing when we mask and evaluate behaviour with an added layer of complexity, that is, with introducing the notion possession and personal property.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#5  Postby GraphicsGuy » July 26th, 2017, 12:35 pm

Synthesis wrote:That conjecture aside, what exactly is it that seems to drive human beings to lust after something "free," when it is well understood that there no such thing as free in the first place? Somebody is ALWAYS paying the freight.


I like what you said here. I tend to say this a lot, but I'm more crass about it: Someone has to shovel the sh*t.

There is always a cost. Everything comes with a price. Whether that price is our environment, our health, or someone else's life we (Westerners) don't seem to care.

I feel that most people seem to "surface dwell". In other words, they don't really think about what they are doing day to day and they don't consider their choices.

Chocolate, for example. Most people don't think about the fact that the chocolate bar in their hand was likely made from cacao harvested by child slaves. Other people are paying the cost, yet, we still feel like we are entitled to have that chocolate bar.

I'm as guilty as everyone else, it's just that I'm aware of what I'm contributing to when I buy a chocolate bar. For the record, I actually try not to buy them, but sometimes I just don't care because the problem feels too big and I have no solutions, so I give up and stuff my fat North American face. :lol: :(
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#6  Postby Synthesis » July 26th, 2017, 1:48 pm

Greta wrote:I think it's because we already do so much of "something". We moderns are busy, with extraordinary productivity, thanks to machines.


Greta, peer out the nearest window and observe the vast majority of people. They are lucky that they can make it to their car. People don't want to have to do anything. This is a society completely dependent on everything outside of themselves. Nobody wants to cook, to clean, do their yard, etc., etc. They just want to play and stuff their faces while others do the work for them. Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

I believe one of the great lessons of the 20th century was that the most effective way to control populations was not through force [ala the Soviet Union or China], but instead, to give people everything they could possible want [cheap junk food and drugs, unlimited TV and porn, etc.]. For this privilege, people will turn a blind eye and allow the elite to have their way. It is a society of adult children.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#7  Postby Fan of Science » July 26th, 2017, 2:02 pm

You are engaged in a fallacy. One can take all the money held by the rich, and distribute it to the poor, and guess what? It won't make much difference for poor people. Further, the claim that rich people are wealthy because they steal from the poor, the very people who really have nothing to steal, makes no sense. Rich people are largely rich because they create wealth, not because they steal it from poor people. Look at the innovations from a company like Apple? Did Apple force people to buy its products? Or, did people willingly buy Apple's products, because in buying said products, they made themselves better off through these voluntary purchases?

Trying to equate capitalism with theft, and further claiming that people become wealthy by stealing from the poor, who have nothing for anyone to steal in the first place, shows a great deal of misunderstanding on how real economics works.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#8  Postby Synthesis » July 26th, 2017, 2:14 pm

Fan of Science wrote:You are engaged in a fallacy. One can take all the money held by the rich, and distribute it to the poor, and guess what? It won't make much difference for poor people. Further, the claim that rich people are wealthy because they steal from the poor, the very people who really have nothing to steal, makes no sense. Rich people are largely rich because they create wealth, not because they steal it from poor people. Look at the innovations from a company like Apple? Did Apple force people to buy its products? Or, did people willingly buy Apple's products, because in buying said products, they made themselves better off through these voluntary purchases?

Trying to equate capitalism with theft, and further claiming that people become wealthy by stealing from the poor, who have nothing for anyone to steal in the first place, shows a great deal of misunderstanding on how real economics works.

Read what I wrote once again. You have mis-interpreted. This is not about wealthy v. poor. Everybody is out there trying to get something for nothing, rich and poor alike. It's just the wealthy have much greater opportunities for such.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#9  Postby Fan of Science » July 26th, 2017, 2:48 pm

You made a clear reference to wealthy people taking from the poor, and people getting something for nothing, which shows an extreme ignorance of basic economics. Wealth gets created. You are acting as if we are simply playing out a zero-sum game, where if someone gains, another must lose, which is not the case. People engage in voluntary exchanges, because both parties gain.

While there are certainly some instances of corruption, including fraud, this is not in general how our economic systems work in the west. They couldn't function if that is mainly what was happening.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#10  Postby -1- » July 26th, 2017, 3:03 pm

Synthesis wrote:...to give people everything they could possible want [cheap junk food and drugs, unlimited TV and porn, etc.]. For this privilege, people will turn a blind eye and allow the elite to have their way. It is a society of adult children.


This makes it clear that what people want and possibly could want is not the same thing as people having their way.

This means that people who have their way have something that they don't want.

Which is absurd.

(I am strictly going by what you said, not by what you possibly wanted to mean. If you want us to read what you mean, you must write what you mean.)
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#11  Postby Synthesis » July 26th, 2017, 3:49 pm

Fan of Science wrote:You made a clear reference to wealthy people taking from the poor, and people getting something for nothing, which shows an extreme ignorance of basic economics. Wealth gets created. You are acting as if we are simply playing out a zero-sum game, where if someone gains, another must lose, which is not the case. People engage in voluntary exchanges, because both parties gain.

While there are certainly some instances of corruption, including fraud, this is not in general how our economic systems work in the west. They couldn't function if that is mainly what was happening.

If you would like to discuss economics at some point, I would be happy to do this with you, but this is not the place or time. I consider myself a student of both classical and radical economics and have followed this slow moving train wreck of an economy since the U.S. went off the gold standard [completely] in 1971.

Please try to not to assume and then disparage what others may or may not know based on one or two sentences. Again, it just might be that you are mis-interpreting.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#12  Postby -1- » July 26th, 2017, 4:13 pm

Synthesis wrote:
Fan of Science wrote:Please try to not to assume and then disparage what others may or may not know based on one or two sentences. Again, it just might be that you are mis-interpreting.


Also, giving an expression of opinion on what others may or may not know, is against the forum rules.

You (or anyone else who is a member here) can report violators, but the judging process of actionable infringements is highly subjective, by people who are not keen on over-refereeing the site, so the reports are futile unless the infringement is violently vocal or aggressive.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#13  Postby Synthesis » July 26th, 2017, 4:15 pm

-1- wrote:
Synthesis wrote:...to give people everything they could possible want [cheap junk food and drugs, unlimited TV and porn, etc.]. For this privilege, people will turn a blind eye and allow the elite to have their way. It is a society of adult children.


This makes it clear that what people want and possibly could want is not the same thing as people having their way.

This means that people who have their way have something that they don't want.

Which is absurd.

(I am strictly going by what you said, not by what you possibly wanted to mean. If you want us to read what you mean, you must write what you mean.)

I could pick apart everything you and everybody says, as well, but that's not very productive. Isn't the idea here to have interesting conversations?
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#14  Postby Spectrum » July 26th, 2017, 11:15 pm

This has something to do with our evolved instinctual need for security to facilitate survival and avoid premature mortality.

The early animals will grab as much as possible. The more powerful will be able to grab more and produce stronger generations.

Then we have animals who will eat as much as possible when food is plentiful to sustain themselves throughout the drought and lean times. This is instinct is very evident in native reservations they have a strong instinct to binge and when food is continually available, they get obese. This same instinct is ongoing for our modern society who continue to eat with lesser exercises and thus the increasing rate of obesity.

Then we have this instinctual need for security extending to animals who grab, stash and hoard the maximum to enable a higher sense of security.

This instinctual insecurity is extended to humans with higher consciousness who will grab, stash, hoard whatever valuable they can get their hands on or from the power they possess.

The above is the basis 'Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?" ' or at the least cost to them.

The solution to the above is to understand the neural basis of this lust and find corrective methods to modulate such impulses. In addition those who continue to have such a compulsion to grab and stash must also learn how to share effectively.
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Re: Why Do People Lust After "Something for Nothing?"

Post Number:#15  Postby -1- » July 27th, 2017, 2:24 am

Synthesis, you could pick apart whatever everyone else says, too. We'd rather have that than for you to defend your indefensible argument with fallacious appeals to the emotions.

However, it is totally inadmissible to slough off valid criticism under the guise of calling it "picking it apart".

You are appealing to emotions. "Picking apart" and "valid criticism" mean almost the same thing. As well as "having their way" includes "getting what they want". If I call you out on your imprecision that confound your meaning, then you'd better not dismiss it with haughty references to protect your ego.

There are no egos in pure philosophy. All philosophers ought to realize that and act accordingly. Here, logic rules, as expressed by language.

You are not rejecting my criticism; you are rejecting the very validity of the language to convey meaning. THIS is inadmissible.

Man up, Synthesis. This is not a playground where little children stuff their socks with sand and boys sprinkle girls with water. Here your words have weight, and you'd only better say things that you can back up with arguments or with evidence.

If you keep on fending off valid criticism by calling it names (such as "picking apart") instead of facing them like a man a grabbing the bull by the horn, then you'd better go home. People here do not tolerate meaningless talk, and haughty but empty defences of the ego.

You defended your non-response to a call to your imprecision, by saying "isn't the idea here to have interesting conversations?" If you call imprecisely composed and self-contradictory claims "interesting conversations", then you are right, the idea is NOT to have interesting conversations. Here, interesting conversations have a set of rules which guide them, and the idea is to discuss the topic with those rules kept in sight. You fail at this, and you can take your "interesting conversations", because nobody is interested in your "interesting conversations".
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