Monday, February 13, 2012

How Much Lazier Are You Than Mitt Romney?

So a site had been posted recently to show how long it would take Mitt Romney to make your annual income ( ).

This led to me thinking... how much lazier are you than Mitt Romney?

Actually, what I'm really thinking about is if our economic systems really gives people what they deserve financially or not, but this calculator just makes it easier to use Mitt Romney as the example (my point could be made even stronger if I used someone who made even more money than Romney, but I'll stick with Romney since the site above used him and I can still make my point clearly with him as the example).

First, let's say our economic system pays people what they deserve.  This would seem to mean that if a person works and gets paid what he deserves and is paid $1, then another person who works twice as hard as the former person would get paid $2, since that is what he would deserve for working twice as hard as a person who worked enough to only deserve $1.

With that in mind, consider that the average American makes around $50,000 a year (I believe this is being generous and the average is actually less than this).  In 2010, Romney made $21.6 million.  Using the link above (or just a normal calculator if you prefer), you get this:

"In 2010, Mitt Romney made $50000 in 20 hours 13 minutes and 13 seconds.

It would take you 433 years 2 months 21 days 23 hours 28 minutes and 7 seconds to make what Mitt made in 2010."

The underlined section is what I'll be referring to.  If both the average American and Mitt Romney get paid what they deserve, this would seem to mean that the average American is about 433 times as lazy as Romney!  It would almost be putting it lightly to say that is impossible.

But let's be fair.  Maybe we should take into after-tax income, in hopes that our tax system is meant to give people what they actually deserve (which is not the purpose, but let's pretend for this experiment).

Now, let's say Romney had a 70% tax rate on his $21.6 million, which is quite a bit higher than what he actually paid, but let's use a "high" tax rate like this anyway for now.  This would make Romney's after-tax income be $6.48 million.  Now, let's say that that average American making $50,000 a year didn't pay any taxes.  Surely this would have to to be much closer to giving people what they deserve!  

However, even in this scenario, this economic system would still show the average American to be about 129 times as lazy as Romney.  I doubt we need a scientist to come and confirm that this is not physically possible by taking something like the average physical and mental stress of the average American, multiplying that by 129 (or 433 in the first case), and seeing if Romney's body could handle it.  

But that was all just a hypothetical case to show that even with high taxes, people like Mitt Romney are either getting way more than they deserve for their hard work, or the average American is getting way less than they deserve for their hard work.

So, if Romney believes our economic system gives people what they deserve for their hard work, then he is committed to agreeing that the average American is about 433 times lazier than he is.  

To be fair, there may be other reasons Romney is entitled to his money or even good reasons why the average American only makes $50,000 a year, but as far as this reason being that our economic systems pays people who work hard what they deserve?  This is not anywhere close to being true.

If we want a system that pays people what they deserve, we need a system that either pays people like Romney much less, or pays the average American much more.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On Hard Work

"Liberals" aren't nearly as against the idea that hard work is necessary to do well in life as they get portrayed to be.

Most liberals will be much more disgusted by a man who became rich only by inheriting their wealth instead of working hard for it than a a "conservative" would be.

If I wake up and my toast appears to have the face of Jesus on it, and I sell this piece of toast on ebay for a billion dollars, it won't matter to a conservative that I didn't work hard for the money.

If a conservative gives freely to charity, he won't feel like he has done something wrong and his conservative friends won't tell him how immoral he was for giving to charity because they don't care if the people that have been given the donations are getting money without hard work.

Conservatives might have good reasons to support stances like the one above, but this reason cannot be something like hard work being necessary to do well in life because in situations like the above, if just doesn't matter to them if those who ended up with the money did so because of their own hard work.

And while it's typically exaggerated how much conservatives really care about hard work, it's again typically understated how important it is to liberals.

Well liberals might find cases where they feel a person should receive certain benefits even in situations where they have not done hard work, liberals also find hard work so important that they are against the idea that hard work isn't sufficient to being able to live well.  That is, right now one can still work very hard and still lead a shitty life (financially at the very least).  This is the the problem.  They aren't complaining because people need to work hard to live well, they are complaining because one can work hard and still not live well, and that is a significant difference.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What's So Great About Tolerance?

Tolerance seems to be promoted fairly often, but I'm not quite sure when one should even be tolerant.  If x is bad, x shouldn't be tolerated.  If x isn't bad, then one shouldn't have negative feelings towards x, and without the negative feelings I think it's odd to say one "tolerates" something (ex. it would be odd to say something like, "I tolerate non-murderers" since all things being equal, we don't have negative feelings towards non-murderers and despite "accepting" them, it still doesn't feel right to refer to this acceptance as tolerance).

A more relevant example: gay people. If being gay isn't wrong, you shouldn't have negative feelings for them.  If you do have negative feelings towards gays despite thinking being gay is not wrong, I don't think the best answer is to "tolerate" gay people by repressing your negative feelings to act civil towards gays, but instead you should work on getting rid of those negative feelings entirely to the point that the idea of "tolerating gays" sounds just as odd as the idea of "tolerating straights".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ayn Rand: First Impressions

So I read Ayn Rand for the first time tonight for a few hours.  Here are my initial thoughts...


-Pro-choice on the abortion issue.
-Against relativism 
-Against religion, faith, and agnosticism. 
-Supports atheism. (I'm not an atheist, but for some reason I'm happy she is one).
-Against tradition.
-Against Christianity and Christ's sacrifice.
-Makes good arguments against pure altruism.

-Against Group Rights.
-Too against the idea that sacrifice and obligation towards others could be a part of one's moral duty.
-Willing to allow too much suffering to the unlucky to keep a pure, capitalist society.
-Attributes too much to free will and not enough to deterministic factors.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"The Exception that Proves the Rule"

I hate the phrase, "that's the exception that proves the rule!"
It seems plainly false. An exception shows a rule to be false (or not entirely true and in need of modification), and at the very least the exception certainly doesn't prove the rule to be true.

The way the phrase is supposed to be used seems to make sense. But the way I always hear the phrase (mis)used now is the way it's used in the section, "Serious Nonsense" on the wik...i link.

The wiki also points out why this misuses is bad because it implies two stupid beliefs:

1. Exceptions can always be neglected.

2. A truth is all the truer if it is sometimes false.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Optimistic Quotes from Terrible People

Ever notice how depressing most "optimistic" quotes become once you say they're from someone like Hitler?
"Follow your dreams." -Hitler.
"Don't let anyone ever tell you you can't do something." -Adolf H.
"Live the life you want and to hell with what others think." -F├╝hrer Tiny 'Stache.

Monday, April 4, 2011

No Natural Right to Gay Marriage

First off, I wholly support gays being allowed to married for multiple reasons.  However, I've been wondering if arguing that they have a natural right to be able to marry is actually true.  

The problem I see is that in order to have a natural right to get married, it would mean that we would have a natural right to something"unnatural".  

I don't mean unnatural in the sense that homosexual attractions are unnatural, because I don't think such attractions are unnatural, and even if they were, I don't think that just because something is unnatural it means it's bad or should not be done.  

What I mean by unnatural is that if humans (or some other species) had not created the instituition of marriage, it would not exist in nature.  And keep in mind that it is not just gay marriage that would not exist, but any kind of marriage.  So this argument would work equally well against a heterosexual couple arguing that they have a natural right to marry each other, but I've just chosen to focus on gay marriage because I never really hear people arguing that heterosexuals have the right to a heterosexual marriage (they believe it I'm sure, but they just assume it is true and never argue for it in the way the GLBT community has to argue for the right to gay marriage). 

Perhaps here one would want to criticize my argument saying that we obviously have lots of natural rights to unnatural, human-created things.  For instance, pop-tarts, like marriage, are human-created things.  However, one obviously has a natural right not to, for example, have one's pop-tarts stolen.  And this means that one can have natural rights to human-created things.  So just because marriage is human-created, it doesn't mean that we can't have a natural right to marriage anymore than we can't have a natural right not to have our pop-tarts stolen.

However, this criticism seems like it can be responded to by saying that the reason we have a natural right not to have the human-created pop-tart stolen is because of a much more general natural right: the natural right not to have our property stolen, and it just so happens that human-created things like pop-tarts can fall under the category of our property.

It is possible that we could have the right to marriage under a similar general right, but I'm not sure what this general right would be.  Is it that we have a natural right to create and be a part of any group or union we create?  Is it that we have a natural right not to be given different legal rights based on sexual orientation, so that if heterosexuals are given the legal right to marry, gays have the natural right not to be denied the legal right to marry?  Maybe it's that people have the natural right to pursue happiness, and for some this means being able to have a gay marriage, but I think that might be a bit of a stretch and one might think that people should have the right to marry who they will, whether or not it is in the pursuit of happiness (ex. a man gets a woman pregnant and while both the man and woman think they won't live as happy of lives by getting married, they want to get married anyway out of a sense of duty and obligation).

But maybe there is a general, natural right that I have not considered that would give people the right to marry.  I'm not sure.

In any case, I should be clear that even if people do not have a right to marriage, this does not mean no one (gay or otherwise) should be allowed to marry.  It just means that we would need other reasons for arguing that people should be allowed to get married other than having a right to marriage.  And seeing as how many of these reasons have already been voiced, it would not be so terrible to stop trying to defend the seemingly bad argument of having a right to marriage.