2015-08-12 08:39:14 UTC
historic figures, people like Hitler, Mao or Stalin and equally evil,
but almost completely getting away scott free ones like Leopold the II.
Now, in comparing deaths it is important to consider what is the harm
of it. Surely, euthanizing a terminally ill and suffering old fart is
less bad than taking the life of someone in the blossom of their life,
full of unrealized potential.
On the other hand, we consider aborting a 1 month old fetus less evil
than killing an almost completely full grown 9 months old baby.
So clearly, even if the fetus has still more future to come, its
potential to realize that future is less than that of a 9 month old
baby who only has to go through the birth ordeal to become a full human.
Likewise, someone living in say the 1940's of last century could self
actualize way less than a current day human, which means the cost of
robbing them of their future counts for less than limiting the future
of a current day person. After all, with only some extra money, that
contemporary guy could live a hell of a life, produce comparatively way
more social benefit than someone struggling in a less technologically
But there's a weird counterpoint here, in that in some situations,
earlier errors are more costly than later errors. Say if you build a
house, and of course one has to start with the ground level, and you get
things wrong early on, all that will be built later on top of that is
likely to be wasted effort and has to be torn down.
Similarly, while writing a computer program (or ha, a Usenet post!)
getting things wrong at first, as I did in an earlier version of this
material, composed late at night, after reading some particularly
incendiary material, is likely to lead to having to rewrite a lot of
stuff, although, as it turns out, many of the original ideas can be
reused and repurposed.
All in all, we conclude that death is a form of future reduction, where
that reduction is expressed in easily actualizable potential, as
opposed to potential far away in the future or depending on non yet
existing technology or circumstances.
Now, for the back of the envelope calculation, let's consider the
financial worth of an average person during their life, as a proxy for
actualization, which even if bad, is at least a bit congruent to the
zeitgeist of trying to express everything in monetary value.
Say this person is educated for 20 years costing 10000 per year, total
cost is 200000 up to now. Then they work for 30 years at 40000 per
year, total yield is 120000000-200000 = 1000000. After that they start
costing money in medical care and consumption without production. let's
say they eat up half their million before they die.
So an average person 'actualizes' half a million dollars during their
Now, what is the cost of rising inequality?
Suppose someone has extracted through crafty means, 50 billion from the
global economy. This means that person has 'robbed' the world of a
100000 people's worth of possible life actualizations.
The claim that billionaires are responsible for progress instead of
being parasites that slow down progress seems absurd in the light of
what could have been had we for example placed a base on the moon or
started collaborating with open source and Internet 40 years
earlier. Arguably it is by hindering progress that most competitive
money making was done, things like forcing everyone to reinvent the
wheel, and once they had, preventing them from using it, via a patent
Now, just like say Stalin could not have killed 20000000 people with
his own hands, that single billionaire could not have reduced
the future potential of the equivalent of the lives ( 'killed people')
on his own.
So if we try to extrapolate the damage of the inequality that was
caused by misapplied capitalism we could take say the first 2000
billionaires and assume they slowly have decreasing net worth so that
they equal 1000 billionaires having 50 billions each. This is the kind
of bad math I was taking about earlier, reducing complexity. It however
is way less bad than tallying numbers without having a theory as to
what they mean and how they compare, making them point to nothing.
So we have a new atrocious person here, comparable to Stalin or any of
the other guys, he and his 1000 companions (but of of course we only
blame him, as we are wont to do) are responsible for a respectable 1000
* 100000 = 100000000 deaths.
A hundred million death equivalents worth of collective future
reduction, clearly we have a winner.
The computation of how many 1940 lives equivalents this would amount to
is left as an exercise for the reader.
'not a communist'