58.POLITICS | The Veil of Ignorance, Duality of Billionaires, and Restructuring Society - Transcripts
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Welcome Ladies and gentlemen, Degen's and degenerates to another episode of the Alfalfa podcast. We are for radically moderate entrepreneurs and investors swimming in the messy gray ocean serving up alpha in money, politics and life. We are nick rabbani eric, Johanson, Stephen cesar and I am Arman Asadi. All links at Alfalfa pod dot com. Make sure to hit subscribe wherever you are listening or watching on Youtube and follow us on the socials and most importantly, hop in our discord to join the community for the after party and more Alfalfa. Welcome to the Alfalfa podcast. We are back for another episode. Uh yeah, bringing the ruckus, bringing the, can I come out hot and say motherfucking ruckus. That's for those of you that like hip hop. And uh we were talking, yeah, we were talking hip hop in the uh, in the Life channel recently. Nineties hip hop eric is coming from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Coming to you
a redneck bar.
Welcome E. J. Yes,
from a redneck wine bar.
And uh, what's the deal? You were at? A redneck wine bar last week And what happened?
Yeah, as redneck as you can get in Jackson Hole um of all places. But yeah, like there's a, there's a very local bar that's outside of town that goes um hard on Sundays and they call it the locals call it church. So we went there last night, did some country dancing, a lot of cowboy hats. A lot of uh, one single demographic in this bar plus. Uh,
but but the deal is with the shirt. You had the shirt on?
Oh yeah, yeah, I was wearing the radically moderate shirt and it was getting a lot of positive commentary from people that you would not expect positive feedback from
hell Yeah brother,
it was cool.
And uh, it's funny though, because I think you just said you were in the middle of somewhere Wyoming Montana and then hook them from our community, found out that you were in Jackson and he was like, I knew it, he's had a fancy wine bar. Um, so this is the week of TJ's wedding, which is very exciting. We're all heading out to uh, to Wyoming to send off our boy into marriage and Holy matrimony exciting week and this episode, we're going to be talking about the veil of ignorance Talk to
me. So we got a little wonky politics episode today, Little thought exercise for everyone. Um there's some words that get thrown around a lot in news media when it comes to politics and policy words like justice, fairness and equality. But we've often thought about like, well how do you know, if something is fair, gets debated a lot, what is fair? What is equal? And uh, you know, one test you could do is, I think if you had to start from scratch, how would you redesign society today, how would you distribute wealth? How would you distribute power would you make everyone equal or not? How would you define fairness and equality. Um, but that question on its own has an issue. We all have our biases about who we are, demographics, Race or station in life. Um so this philosopher John Rawls, uh he wrote a book, well, he was a philosopher, uh you know, his whole life and and talked about topics about particularly about justice, but he had a book called the theory of justice. He published in 1971, if you want to look it up.
But he poses the little different question, which is what if you had to make those decisions without knowing who you would be in this new society? And so introducing the veil of ignorance that that Armen mentioned. Um and the veil of ignorance is this curtain? This this thought that you do not know who you're going to be in this new society. So, um how would you design it in a quick example, would be if you design that 90% of the people are going to be normal people and 10% are gonna be slaves? Well, you don't know are you going to be a normal person or you're gonna be a slave? It's 10% probably that you could be a slave as an example. So this is obviously just a thought experiment that this poses out. You can actually play it in real life. But we thought it was a fascinating topic and we can explore if this is like a potential test to apply um to policy when we heard the words equal or or fair and so um I think that's a good kind of rough around description of the veil of ignorance, anyone have anything to add that before we kinda start diving in. Yeah,
that was that was pretty good. It's it's a that's a huge high praise. Alright, I'll take it, I'm just trying to bring some fun this episode. Alright, I'm back, I'm excited. I'm trying to bring the ruckus. But yeah, as Nick said, it is sort of like a thought exercise proposed by roles to sort of derive like the sort of underlying principles of of of justice that you would use to design society in the first place. And I think he arrived at sort of his own particular conclusions and there's a whole slew of like criticisms encounters to it. Um but I think it's a really interesting discussion because it gets to like a very root first principles thing. Like we talked about policy policy, but like why do these policies even exists in the first place? Like what is uh the purpose there? They're trying to serve. So, um did you did you come across and you're reading like the ideas of like utilitarian egalitarianism, libertarianism, those sort of things,
those are like the broad strokes like frameworks that seem to be that, you know, most
used or most
talked about so so
we can opt
like public policy. So it's sort of like an algorithm in a way where you can take these variables and you can optimize for different variables, like it's it's very difficult to argue that one system is better than another, but you can certainly make the case that a different ideas optimized for different variables. Like for example, like libertarianism at its core says like the most important thing is like these sort of fundamental rights, like the right to property, for example, and they build society around the preservation of those rights. Um Utilitarian may say that well we should build society so that we create like the greatest aggregate good. Um you know, just sort of on average for for everybody and egalitarian maybe say like everybody has to be equal, right? So there's there's different ways of approaching this, but like
kind of curious like, do you have a strong opinion on like what do you what do you lean towards? Like how would you build everything?
Well, you sent out a video that I think most of us watch, but I found interesting the issue with utilitarianism, um the idea that, you know, we should do things that that benefit the most amount of people. And in the video he sent, they give this example, um there's a doctor that needs a heart transplant and the doctor who's going to administer the heart transplant. Um they need a heart and someone points out that there's a homeless guy outside the hospital. And so in the, you know, utilitarian mode, you would be like, well, we could take the heart out of that homeless person, give it to this doctor who needs a heart and that would benefit the most people to have another doctor alive and well, and fixing people and helping people. But there's obviously issues with that. And it seems like roles like, kinda implements this uh, threshold of rights, um, threshold of uh liberties and rights that each person should have, um which in principle, I think is kind of where, you know what, what feels right, and this is what I want to talk about with you guys, because I think there are some basic rights that everyone should have. And then on top of that, anything in in extend to that would be nice if it still benefits everything else beyond that benefits the most amount of people.
Sure. But I think the challenges and the reason for this thought experiment in the first place, which I find absolutely useful and fascinating. Uh, it's tough is that where and who you are born as is the number one predictor of outcomes above all. And so, like, when you're born on planet Earth, it's a lottery. But most people don't take the time to consider that because we're born into positions into different strata into different statuses, status levels, we find our place in hierarchy. And then depending on where we are born, we have the ability to ascend up because there's more opportunity available depending on if the society is more egalitarian or more libertarian or what have you. And so you have a certain level, uh, in which you're able to move up. But the real question is a certain number of people get the short end of the stick and suffer for the rest of their lives. If only they were in a position where they had been born into a more just system. Now, what? That just system, we don't know. That's the whole purpose of the thought exercise.
But the purpose is if you were to really take a step back
remove all human bias and say to yourself, if truly, like 11 example that I that I really like is like the idea of apparently they do this with kids when they first teach this idea of the veil of ignorance. The Children in school, they say, okay, okay, you really don't get it. Let me make it really simple for you. It's your birthday, there's a cake you really want to eat the cake. You get to cut the cake, but you don't get to choose which slice you get. How do you cut the cake? And then the kid finally goes, oh, okay. So some people are gonna get bigger slices if I don't make the cake perfectly cut equally. And so then you begin this discussion philosophically in the first place of like, what is just what is Right? How should the system be set up from day one. That's like one way to look at the the veil of even just take like our own society. The United States into account for example.
Um Here's here's like an example I laid out. It's like you're born you can be born even just in the US which is known as one of the most it is known as the land of opportunity. It always has been since it was born. But you could be born as the son of a dentist in California or the son of a black single mother in eastern Detroit in the ghettos. It's pretty much the same. It's like the same lottery system. Can we go back to your cake thing? Because I think that's really good. So let's talk cake. So in the system where you cut the cake it's it's not inherent that you're the last piece right? I think like it's like you are randomly kind of get to choose a piece. You could be first or like if you cut the cake last.
I think the G. T. O. Is pretty obvious. You just make all the cake slices the same.
if it's random I think it's um
think it's interesting. I think the other problem with the cake analogy is that when you eat cake like all of the cake sort of has the same utility right. Whether you get like a piece of cake that's two X. Or one you get cake, it's all pretty good. But there are elements of society, a socio economically where you it's like a step function, right? Like it's it's not like linear between like oh my life is good and I have a private jet. Like there are certain like elements of like awesomeness that come with being fabulously rich that it's it's not a smooth distribution I guess is what I'm saying. So that's one of the problems I have with the the the cake analogy. But like I'm I'm curious like how you would cut the cake if the cake isn't cake though, the cake is society and you have to be born into it. Like what would you do?
I had this initial thought and I think I'm I and you can let me know if I'm not, you know using this uh this method properly, but originally I kind of thought of, well if you just distribute everything equally, uh people might end up back where we are now. They talk about how um you know for example lottery winners when they win the lottery, they often end up, you know bankrupt. And if you probably took all the billionaires in the world and just all the money in the world and divide them up amongst, you know, everyone equally that you would over time end up in very similar distributions.
At least they did it for their own decision making and devices,
right? So that the idea is that you know the people who are good at making money good at achieving would eventually do the same and the people who are not would end up with you know what what they have And so
Don't you think there's a huge number of people though that are disadvantaged from day 1?
Well that's what I was thinking. So I don't think I'm using this methodology
correctly truly end up in the same place.
so many people who are so far from the time that they're born. You're because of their circumstances. I think you're conflating like the equal division of resources with the equal division of of opportunity which is like a nuance, right? Like I think it is true that if you just take all the resources and you split them amongst everybody equally then people with like exceptional abilities ultimately like reclaim all of the resources and the people who are like you know 65 i. Q. obviously don't do that throughout time.
You could be one of those people who has 65 I. Q. Or a physical disability. But
the but the design of society might not be like we're going to take money from Ellen and just give it direct deposit into everybody's bank account when they're born. The bargain might be we're going to create social structures that allow you to have like medical care or some sort of safety net where you're not gonna end up homeless because you're don't have the capability to work a job. Right? Exactly. I think those are the types of resources we're talking about, we're talking about access to education, healthcare. Um, let's see what else they noted down. Fair law, access justice, right. Whether you're black or white or brown or yellow or whatever the hell like that makes a difference, but we know that we've talked about that a lot. Uh and housing, like, are you safe? Do you live in an area where like, just think, just think about this, you roll the dice. One of us at this table has to go live in the ghetto and the other one gets to live in a mansion, Is that fair? So if you were sitting behind the scenes and we were constructing the game before we rolled the dice and we were debating, we were arguing over what happens after we roll the dice, what would we probably land on?
Would we land on taking the chance that one of us would end up with no shelter and one of us would end up in a mansion. Hang on. I don't think we would because what we would do is we'd say, hang on, hang on, hang on, okay, if we're really gonna play this game, guys really gonna roll the dice and we're gonna get four very different houses and one of us is gonna be homeless. ErIC, you can be the homeless one I want to hear from you next eric's gonna be homeless, I get a man steven gets his current house, I don't know, Nick gets his apartment, would we really say that? That's a fair way to play the game? I think, I think what we would do is we back up and we'd say wait a second. The only way to really play this game where it's actually fair and just for all is that we get the same thing because the risk is too high because these factors healthcare, education, how housing and justice through the law are too important to my livelihood and then and and to my ability and desire and desire to ascend the ladder of life to become more successful if I don't have those four or five basic things, I'm fucked. But what are those things have to do with the house that I did, I miss something. Housing, I'm saying equal access to housing, equal access to housing, like having like, you know, being able to actually have proper shelter, just talk about basic human needs. I have I have a lot of thoughts on this, but I also want to kick it over to eric to see if he's got any initial comments or questions here.
So, so I when we chose this topic um you know, yesterday or a couple days ago, I had a conversation with my parents about it because I wanted their their take and I think there are many ways you can sort of like talk about this, but like you can, you can talk about the social component of it, which is like uh, you know, like our skin colors or how we perceive each other. But then there's like a socioeconomic component, that's where I really want to focus. The conversation is like on the, on the economic side. So um my parents were, my dad was an immigrant and my mom was a first generation. So her parents were immigrants. They were poor and they were disadvantaged, but they both like made it, you know, and um they have loved ones um who had the same setup who didn't make it. And I guess like for them, the opportunity was equal. Like my parents worked hard and they saved their money and they invested the opportunity that opportunity existed for their loved ones who didn't choose those uh same decisions. But I think where where I'm interested in is like, so those loved ones had Children who uh were born with without the same opportunities that I have extra opportunities because of the choices my parents made to like save, they like they chose to forgo um, consumption in the immediate term. And that led to increased consumption down the line. And that benefited me. But I didn't do anything to earn that.
And you know, the Children of these other people that didn't make those same choices, they're disadvantaged relative to me even though we're both born, you know like with this this very similar genetics and everything. So I think where I land on it is that this this should come down to like a a state tax issue where like somebody like me or somebody like this other person who's just born shouldn't get like such a wild advantage based on the choices by our parents or whatever. And I think like it really comes down to how wealth is transferred through generations because the the opportunity is equal for people within the same generation. But then when it's passed down to Children that's when I think you know somebody starting out way ahead where like the starting line is is well in advance of
I think these are all factors of the thought experiment overall. Eric so like one of the pillars is okay economically what is just and what is fair and how how should money be transferred from generation to generation? What are property rights? What are the like should people be allowed to endow future generations their Children with with money? Like all of those things are part of this larger philosophical question of what does a just society look like? And I totally agree with you. It's it's crazy that the decisions of people that were born before you that you had nothing to do with when the dice was rolled and you were born affect everything about your existence. And I think that's what's so fascinating about the thought experiment about this veil of ignorance is that that's really the question, if you were to sit down and design a society, my question for you guys is would it be more like the United States or would it be more like an egalitarian society like Denmark or Sweden or or or the Netherlands or would it be something completely different and maybe it's a wild card you guys might say like china or something? I don't know. Um, but for me, I've been actually struggling with this question because I'm a big fan of a lot of what we've discussed in the past around like thomas, souls ideas and one of the things that thomas souls ideas have done is toughen up my thinking and reduce my emotional reaction to what sounds good and wanting to take what sounds good and implement that as policy or law or um how we should all live our lives and what it's done is it's pushed me to say, you know what, regardless of what has happened in the past, we today do not necessarily need to pay debts from the past. We need to just create a system for all people to have equal access to opportunity. So I go okay, if that's what it's really about great.
So you go into life, no matter how you're born, where you're born, what area code, what society, what political system, what economic system. But as long as you have opportunity, that's the name of the game, right? But when you go through this thought experiment, it kind of flips it on its head because it's like wait a second. Is that really fair? Like why should some people have to work so much harder to get to that level of success than other
obvious that if you're born a certain type of person in a certain type with, maybe you're born with no parents. If you're born, you
no housing, you're born uh with no parents. Maybe you're born in foster care, which is coming common. You don't go to a good school and you don't ever have good health care versus the person who's had like personalized concierge healthcare since they were born. Mean that life is so different. So the more I went into this thought experiment, it's crazy. But I actually started moving more towards societies that are more egalitarian as being fair. Like really truly if we're before we're born and we roll the dice and we were all sitting up in the clouds and we were about to enter the game of life. That's the question, How would you design that society?
It's really the starting point, right? That's what we're talking about is the starting point of the design because I do think there is this kind of like false hope that you can design a society and that in the end and throughout eternity it will remain equal and fair. I don't I don't think that's necessarily true, but if we're talking about what's the best way to start off a new society, then I think it's worthwhile to talk about. Um,
I have a question though, you guys because, um, you know, when when we think of systems of government and stuff, are are these like egalitarian and utilitarian, Are these the same, like on the same spectrum as like socialism and communism, are they are they different? Are we talking like a societal construct versus a system of government? Are they, are they different?
They're related? Um, like, you could take egalitarianism into communism for sure there's elements of it in socialism, um, obviously, but egalitarianism isn't a simple thing, like you could have social egalitarianism, you can have economic egalitarianism for example, and those two things will guide you to different,
like everyone gets the same amount of income per year.
Yeah, Yeah. And then like the, what we, you know, like to attribute to the, you know, social justice, where your crowd might be, you know, social egalitarianism. Um, and obviously there's some overlap between those two things. Utilitarianism is
sort of tricky and I I think it can it can it can go into either camp because if the the sort of argument for it, you know, broadly speaking is you just optimized for the greatest sort of aggregate social good, Which means a lot of people might get screwed. Well, the, the, like the idea that I think a common rebuttal to this idea and again, this is, this is a bit of a bit of a straw man on utilitarianism I think because I don't think people would be like this push it this far, but like slavery, right? Like if if 20% of the population were slaves, the 80% of the population might benefit quite a bit from all the free labor, they have right? But that seems like a terrible way to design a society, right? Even if it results in this like overwhelming benefit for the overwhelming majority of people, right? So we, one of Raul's points was that like we intuitively know this is wrong, we all feel like that is wrong. And then he sort of tries to arrive at a more nuanced and and, and, and like a better principle that that serves that let's get into like, I want to hear from you guys like, well let's get into it. Like I want to really had to like, what do you think is right? What is just, can I push back on like one of your things first than on all the people do something. So you, so you were talking about how you're more egalitarian now and we'll hold on, I mean, I just said, I started kind of like exploring your more than you were yesterday. One of the problems I have with this is like, and in your words like I heard what I hear from everybody where people are talking about things like race, um your economic circumstances you're born into whether you have a father and those are all good things, right? But
where does it end? Why do we only optimize for those variables? For example, I would argue that
intellect you're born with is maybe like, I don't know if it's like the most important indicator of how successful you will be. I think we're walking into a trap. So I want to jump back in that thought experiment is a different thought experiment. And I think probably I took that the wrong step there with some of those comments. So I think what we're really discussing is things that we can control from a societal perspective, but why why are you controlling for the color that your skin is? I'm taking that out. I'm pulling it back, I'm saying forget that we're talking about society, policy, education, housing, healthcare, things that we can control for all people were still No, no, no. I'm talking about the first thing and then you're talking about the benefits that we give to the people or the policies that we as a result of those, right? Like you're like, we should give more access to housing because these people are born into economic circumstances where they can't access it, right? But that's the same as me saying we should give more access to housing because some of these people are born with such a low I. Q. That they can't possibly earn to like make up for it and like get this housing right?
And this is one of the critiques I have with the veil is that it's sort of arbitrarily like like and maybe this is unfair, maybe this isn't a super accurate. But when people talk about it, it seems to me that like unfairly hone in on the specifics like subset of stuff. And like as a society like we do this as well, you don't hear anybody ever asking for redistribution of resources because some people are just so fucking smart that they just like our ruling everything. It's just like they have too much economic resource. They were they were born rich. Nobody complains about people being born absurdly smart. They just complain about them being absurdly rich, right? And you can get into this game where you just start, you're like, okay, it's sort of like the reparations argument where you sort of agree to it at a high level, but then you're like, okay well when we get into the nitty gritty, we have to account for all of the way how well you're an immigrant, none of your parents are just I don't I'm not really following your argument and maybe let me revert it back and tell me what I'm missing. I don't see how any of those factors like race, parents uh zip code, any of that matters if all you did is you sat back and you said what would a just fair society and system look like? Because I'm not trying to optimize for every aspect. I'm removing those aspects. I'm saying whether they're there or not, they're there as a probability of evolution of human beings,
we decide to fucking procreate. That's the part that we just roll the dice. What I'm talking about is how we design the system that we're all born into. Not to optimize for where there's weakness or disparity or unfairness, but just simply the purpose of the thought exercise. How do we design the society for all but the purpose of the thought exercise is that you are going to be born with a subset of traits that are going to directly influence your success in life. And the point of the thought exercises that you want to design a society, we're blind of the gender. Um race, economic background, you are born into society will give you a fair shot and be good for all that you want to be born into. That you're saying it
takes those into account, it takes an account that some people have a lower I. Q. And some people have a higher.
You know my my point is that like when people talk about this like they overemphasize some things like people talk a lot about like we it's not fair that people are born with money but they don't talk about, it's it's not fair that people are born like like if you're a man and you're born like with 100 and 80 I. Q. And you're 64
are by default going to have a different future potential earning profile than somebody who was born 4 11 with an 85 I. Q. But nobody really cares about optimizing for those
peter Zion would say if you're born near a river that flows into a big body of ocean, you know you're going to have a better chance at you know up economic mobility than than someone who's like in Appalachia for example is that is that kind of similar to what is it
because is it because like is it because the the idea of like changing somebody's housing is something that's doable. But changing somebody from 4 11 to 6 ft four is not actually doable.
Not exactly because the housing is the thing that we change to compensate for the primary trade, what I'm saying is that people are saying this whole thing is a
saying the veil is sort of a trap because once you start and I'm not saying it's wrong to do this, but once you start optimizing society to make up for shortcomings or wrongdoings, you start realizing there's this like infinite amount of gripes and like this is like where does it end? Okay I like where you're going so you're saying we actually by doing the thought experiment we begin to optimize for all of these aspects, some get more weight than others. Then we get trapped in arguments of identity politics of what is more important than the other. And then in order to actually get a fair shot and we play this thought experiment, we start to debate which aspects of identity are more important than others and what deserve more points in their bucket to optimize for fairness and eventually we land where we are today which is absolute chaos of just meaningless, meaningless identity politics. I would say it goes beyond identity because I don't think there's like a short or tall identity movement. Like there's like a cohort of you know people who like there's like a social consciousness around like men being short or women being overweight and I would say that there actually is like a bit of a movement on like the overweight side of things but like there's yet to be like the low I. Q. Or like short dude push for equality.
are like you know, you could, you could argue that like those people starting line is not good like it's their gripe is just as legitimate. So I worry that we devolve into, it's not necessarily I guess it kind of is an identity thing because you could form an identity around anything right? And then it's just that that's what I worry about but the other end of that is like if I play this experiment out at the same time, like I do consciously think like I if I do the veil on myself, I'm like, well I want to be born into this place, but not this place. So like I don't want to throw it out. Like I do think it's it's good. I think that the court thing is that when you play this experiment,
everyone would insist
what I got from it. I don't know the answer, but I know that almost practically every single person would insist that the rules of the game change that's the key. So why haven't the rules of the game changed the rules of the game? Haven't changed Because as we've talked about many times on this podcast, the people in the positions of power and influence have zero incentive to change the rules of the game. The only thing and they lack the empathy or empathy or compassion in the first place to ever even consider what it might feel or look like to be born as the people that they are aiming to represent. Their only incentive is power and money and to live a good life because they were born into that or maybe they achieved it. Maybe they were and I believe that maybe they worked their way up. Maybe they played the game right? Maybe they got to that point and there's so many examples of that and that's the thomas Solway. Forget it, don't worry about all that just get after it, get busy, move on, move up the ladder of life and see what you can achieve. And I I believe that that that is a great path.
Yeah. So I mean I kind of had this left field half baked way of approaching this, that's that's different. It it doesn't involve creating schemes that try to balance everything out. Because like you kind of illuminated, there's a whole set of ways to identify yourself and how do you take into account all of those ups and downs and and knobs that need to get turned to make sure everything is equal. And then if you use like equality as the metric of your success, then any time someone does something good or maybe uh let's say achieve something or has progress, well there's inequality and you tend to try to, well we need to chop that person down. And so I guess it's kind of out of left field and kind of half baked in the sense that what if the norms that you built in society, we're not necessarily around uh fairness and equality but you uh idolized achievement and that doesn't necessarily mean economic achievement for example, um building a family and kids that were good, people could be achievement. Um building homes, building products, building community, building, whatever it may be, could be achievement. Also economic success could certainly be achievement. And what if you could design that society. So that was the true North, you still run into the issue where some people did not have the same amount of opportunity but you do kind of get this like flywheel effect where no longer are we talking about? Well who do we need to bring down in order to make everything equal? But our conversation has come about.
Look at example a through Z. Of people who, regardless of station life relative to where they started have made some kind of significant improvement in their life. Achievement success however you wanna phrase that and then and what what we get celebrated is learning development, you know, helping each other get better rather than necessarily trying to look at the tallest poppy and and cut it down and so it's not a framework for schemes and mechanisms and things to move the scales. It's just kind of like almost like a meritocracy. Like we we we celebrate merit and I don't know how you institutionalize that into a culture into a society. Um but that idea um seems like it could build over generations, not maybe in a single generation but over generations. Like a great amount of innovation no matter where you start. And to me that sounds um more exciting. Maybe potentially even more fair. Um I don't know
one of the things I hate really dislike about cutting from the top, cutting the tall poppies in order to raise up the bottom is that you're removing all the innovation and opportunity that has been created in the first
lessons from the person to write
precisely? Like we should be investing into almost like a grassroots way into the bottom of society to raise them up rather than cutting from the top down. Hold up. If you don't cut from the top though, like where are you going to like it? It seems to me like if you want to create structures that balance society, you have two options, you print the money out of thin air and borrow or borrow it or you shave off some wealth from the top and you redistribute it. Like what else investing in education? Where does the money come from to invest in education? I don't know where the money or where the money comes from to invest in education. That's the root of the problem is like you
gotta shave from the,
and I think
you have to shave from the tall poppies.
that's fine if we're talking about money because I would think, I would argue that most billionaires would be happy if you took their shavings and put it into productive, you know, education systems or whatever that may be. But I think what maybe our mom and I were talking about it was like, how do we view, how does like our society view those tall poppies, are they to be celebrated or are they part of the problem? And I think that if they were to be celebrated, you might have more inspiration, more learning more motivation, right?
didn't always start as billionaires. But then I asked myself the question like, okay, if I'm um, in some third world country, in africa or a country or city in south America where just it's violence, you know, is is like that the name of the day do I Now if I'm presented that opportunity, like, well we didn't give equal, uh, money, but look at this billionaire over here, this is the tools he used to, to, to grow like, you know, maybe maybe it doesn't pass the veil of ignorance test. But um, in my generation, but I would like to hope that it would over several generations help.
Can we look at a specific example of this? What do you guys think about baz o sauce and amazon and should is what he did good, should it be celebrated? And he created amazon? So I would argue that ba Xhosa and amazon is sort of the embodiment of like, like if you're optimizing for bas, oh, so you don't want to take anything from Brazos, you're falling into the realm of like utilitarianism, right? So I would argue that it's, it's actually true. That's sort of like on average and aggregate amazon and Bezos has added like massive utility to the average person's life, right? I I think that that's undeniably true and, and I don't want him or amazon
one of the biggest deflationary
Don't want to compare it to slavery like I did before. But it's like, it's a similar thing like where you've created this massive sort of aggregate, marginal good, but in the process, like maybe it's 10 or 15% of the population, you've completely annihilated their existence is whether that's like the um small businesses or whatever that amazon has displaced or sort of just like the aggregate impact of like the um this prototypical midwest worker who's like entire livelihood has basically been outsourced in the name of globalism and like cheap goods, right? Like, Like I would argue that we shouldn't be optimizing to have more amazons and to hold that up as like the gold standard or that at the very least we could take like a sweet and esque policy where we provide like no impediments at all to the creation of amazon, but sort of, once you create it, we do claw back a lot of that and then try to, you know, so you're just, you're just kind of arguing for a certain amount of strong regulation and prevention of monopolistic, no, no, no, no, no, no, I don't. I actually don't. I actually think like. Andrew yang is sort of blistering this like I'm very much in favor of free market economy to to an extent. But I do think there's merit to this sort of like the idea that you need to claw back some of the gains, right? I think it's great that what capitalism does in the long, like, I don't think anybody is like sad that we made all like the brutal, like longshoremen jobs and like the UK obsolete in like the 18 nineties and like that sure, that what people are mad at that at the time, but like society has moved on and there's, there's dozens of examples of that that go on and on and on and on. And we don't, we don't regret the advance of technology, But at the same time, like humans, like a human being, lives a life. They they exist for like 70 years. They are trained in a skill. And then there's there's an element of stickiness to a degree.
They can't just pivot become like a coder, right if they were like a cold war and there has to be some elements, it seems to me and I admittedly don't know exactly how to do it, but I don't have a moral objection to figuring out how to claw back some of the what, what amazon has gained, right. Um, and, and put it to a productive use from a theoretical standpoint where where I definitely side with like the libertarians and the free market, right? People is like, I have a skepticism about the ability of government as it exists to properly take utilize and redistribute those funds in an actual efficient way and that's where I'm stuck. I'm very cynical in that that realm that like most of those dollars never make it to the purposes of causes human beings that that like really actually need it for sure. So I think that's an accurate understanding actually of what you're saying is you're saying you're, you're not an ultra free market sort of person in your ideal society. You want the benefits of amazon being born, you want the technological advancements that provide society, you want the jobs that it creates, but you don't want certain people to suffer. You you don't want certain small businesses to never have a shot in the first place and you want to take some cream from the crop off the top and lay that back into society in a way in which there's almost like, uh I'm almost envisioning like one of those fountains in the park. You want that fountain to have a little bit of a shorter peak than it would if it were to be completely free. And I
mean I do agree that that does sound nice, but like the the redistribution of the opportunity is amazon itself. I mean they've at one point employed close to a million people and the company is literally a platform for entrepreneurs to start a business of selling a single product to a market that they would never have before. I think they also like single handedly made it so much easier to start a business outside amazon with a W. S. I mean I mean it was we were younger but we were still in potential business starting mode when some companies had racks of servers in their office right? That was like a thing that you had to do and so maybe this is just an example for amazon and it probably doesn't exist. Um
I just remembered Amazon gave me $100,000 so they
did. That's right, that's right. It was a gift from Brazos to Arman to use their
You can play
for grants, you can apply for grants
to use their.
Alright tell me about that later. That's but that's part of the perks of having such an incredibly profitable high leverage product company like that. Like it's incredible. I don't deny anything either of you just said. In fact one of the reasons why amazon has become so powerful and centralized and all consuming is because they have provided mass Of utility to the majority of people. But this becomes a question of do you want to build a society around just aggregate marginal mass utility provided and funk the 20% who get who become like the metaphorical slaves but sure people aren't slaves now in America but like the definition of slavery is like a shifting thing. Not anymore knowledge anymore. People are gonna stevens reference to slavery check like every every iteration of a new generation has this like element of like being totally like behind the eight ball and completely like off of his side. Right? So you're always going to get into this like trap where you want to do the amazon things to be like amazon is great because look at all the aggregate utility it provides. But this is sort of, we're coming full circle to the discussion. Like should society just be utilitarian or should we have some like floor, right?
Should there be like a floor? Like no, we actually don't accept the bottom of society to be below this level. Like the Amazon is even if Amazon is going to provide unbelievable utility, if it's going to destroy these 25% of the people and the 75% of the rest of the population has like immense riches. Is that how you would build society
if if amazon is not investing that money into that end, then yeah, we should redistribute some of that money.
it's kind of like how it works now, right? If they have a, you know, if they don't show any profit because they're investing money or losing money, then none of that money gets redistributed. But if they do have profit then so it does
forced distribution investment into good causes. Is that part of what you're saying?
Well, I think like, well we don't even need to trust them to do good cause we could just trust them to act in their own self interest for for example, like they know that climate change is like a big trend, right? So they've made a significant investment in a whole fleet of of delivery trucks that use electric.
But just to be really specific, are you asking for them to invest all bottom line net profit?
No, no, no, I'm saying invest in their
business and let
them continue to do what is provided,
just hold cash. What if they have a half a trillion dollars in
profit? Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah, got it. Can we check
in with eric over here? Yeah. Also slide how we doing on time We're at 45 yet. I
do want to say something here. Like I've been sitting on the sidelines listening and part of part of me is thinking like I'm getting like a melted brain because we're talking so like theoretical all the time and it's like I want to apply this stuff and the practical application of all this ends up becoming wealth redistribution because you can't redistribute opportunity to stevens. Point a guy who's 64 is gonna have a better opportunity than guys 4 11, you can't redistribute height, you can't redistribute biology, you have to redistribute wealth, that's the only thing you can redistribute and I think I'm like I'm getting infected by Stephen over the last few years because I feel myself becoming more and more liberal over these conversations where I do recognize that like there are um you know people that are delivering immense value and then reaping all the spoils. But I think the spoils should be shared a little more and I really do think that ends up becoming like taxation. And I think you know how, how you apply the taxation matters like right now amazon is like avoiding taxation, but for the 1st 25 years of their existence, they avoided taxation now, they're paying taxes um because they have immense profit but like Nick said they showed no profit for 25 years. Um And Bezos probably doesn't have to sell any stock, right? Because he's like, he's getting wealthier and wealthier by the day by by his capital appreciation. He's not getting income, so he's not paying personal taxes. Um I think where that can be captured is like, my original point is like on the estate level, like when Brazos passes, he's gonna have a ton of money and he's gonna he's gonna be able to give that to his heirs. I think we need to capture like we as a society should capture some of that wealth and redistribute that at that moment.
I think I don't know a lot about this, but I know on a country by country basis, the terms for that on those taxes are very different. And I don't know what they are. But yeah,
I mean, I think you do um you kinda accomplished two things with one shot. Like, I mean at the same time you're kinda kind of stopped this uh legacy building where you know if you're sixth in line of of Brazos, you're just like so much you know in a better place than than everyone else and at the same time then that money can be captured and used for something else much more immediately. So I mean I'm a fan of of increasing the estate taxes. Um And I think I I don't know the limits and the limits are pretty high what you can pass on. I mean if you're a billionaire, it probably sounds poultry to only be able to pass on millions um to your to your kids without being heavily taxed. But I do like that as like a reform and I'm pretty sure it has some bipartisan support. I don't know why it hasn't um You know come across, I do get a little nervous about what that money gets used to in that law and it should probably be um used very carefully I guess like uh it's a lot of money over over a long period of time, what we're talking about redistributing but I like that as a form of redistribution then you know when someone is 30 years old and happens to have a windfall One year but they spent the last 15 years, you know learning and building and taking risk and not making money and then they luckily maybe built a company and sold it and then taking it at that moment. You know, I'd rather take it at the end of life, potentially. Yeah, it's a
balancing act, right? Like I, I actually really agree with that in principle. There there's some problems that runs into in reality, right? Like obviously you can go too far and eventually wealth just leaves
country if you squeeze it too hard and that's not good for anybody. Um you also don't want to discourage innovation in the first place. Obviously, like, people need, people need to get paid, they're gonna take enormous risks, right? But there is a question of like, where is the equilibrium there? Surely there is some equilibrium that's a little, you
removed from where we're currently at, we can probably extract a little bit more value without dis incentivizing people, I think, especially since like, I have a problem with this the whole way we tax in general, right? Like I'm actually sort of very like, I'm very amenable to the idea of wealth practice in general. I I don't like the idea of the execution of them, but the print in principle, they're good, like we were taxing people with income tax laws from an era where like a lot like labor was a big deal, right? And we live in like a hyper financial ized economy right now and the people at the top just, they
not sitting in a factory, like making they, they own assets and the assets go up and they borrow against them and they have all these ways of never paying tax on them ever. And clearly that's not optimal, right? So we have this like two tiered tax system for people who like work and do things right? And then people who are financial eyes and it just doesn't seem right to me. Although I don't have a great solution for it. I just know it doesn't feel
what if we take all those Financial ization and we decentralize them so that everyone in the world can have access to them. Maybe we'll see if that plays out.
I think what's more likely as we go on a C. V. D. C, everything becomes tokenized and centrally execute, you can execute a wealth tax like pretty efficiently there. Although some might say that that
I know we have to wrap but I
think steven's right. But I think the estate tax is the solution because it's like that doesn't dissuade innovation because Bezoza gets to live his life as a rich man and then like it's only penalizing is like great great grandchild who doesn't deserve the money anyway. He didn't innovate
ship. But if you tax them so much that he's just before he dies, he just takes everything and he moves to like I don't know, Antigua or something or or ST Barts, I don't know it just moves it all and then it's just it's just gone, you know? So there's there's a point where you can squeeze too much, right? And it also doesn't solve the problem of how do you use the money effectively? Yeah,
that's part of the government in its entirety. That has nothing to do with like, you know, that has nothing to do with this conversation is just like government doesn't spend the money correctly.
I had a question and maybe this this we can continue this conversation that discord at some point, but um we've talked about different um, you know, modes of running society and the egalitarian part. I'm curious just real quick um have we kind of run that simulation with um potentially uh native americans in the US? Because isn't that structure kind of like here's a plot of land, here's an income stream, distribute that income stream equally. And here's like a little um I don't know, uh somewhat of an egalitarian bubble, you know, that you can operate within. Now, obviously there could be disadvantaged from out there, disadvantage relative outside that bubble, but there is the idea of like here's land, here's money, um things like that. So is that like a good No, no,
there's this um there's this guy, you're on Brooke would
need to be structured that way to really to.
Really? Yeah, I think so too. If you really want to go into
that bubble is such an extreme bubble that they've fallen into very hard circumstances within their bubble regardless of the amount of egalitarianism that is and and equality that has provided.
I think one way to explore this later on is is like steven said, you know, there's kind of like, you can go fully equal or or not equal. There's there's two extremes and somewhere that, you know, the media, the happy place is potentially in the middle there. Um, so I think we've seen examples of egalitarianism or have talked about it, but um, there's a guy named Iran Brooke, he at one point was the president of the Ayn rand institute and he wrote a book called Equal is unfair. And I had a chance randomly to to see him speak. And so he's on the complete opposite. So someone a listener wants to go down that path of like, um, is there an area where, you know, you don't necessarily have to make everything equal, everything fair from the start for society to progress? That's one way you can look, look,
I think, um Rawls proposed and let's bring this home now for real. Um, and if anyone has, I don't want to like round Robin this because maybe you guys don't have something on this, but if any of you have a definitive answer because we've bathed in a lot of gray, I'm curious if any of you have a definitive answer of like Yeah, as of today, I was just gonna say like, here are some ground rules for society, here's what it looks like. But my my final point is like, I think Raul's intention was to say there's a lot of risk and once that risk is introduced, most people wake up and the problem is that most people are asleep, they're not awake to the reality that society is not fair for a large number of people. The reason they're not aware of that is because they're living in uh the lives of abundance or power or whatever structures they were already born into in the first place. So most people don't consider it at all. But when you really zoom out and you hit reset on the game,
suddenly realize all the things that you are were given to you randomly through the roll of the dice. So then you realize, okay, there's risk in this game. But I do think as we've gone through this conversation for me, I've done this and 1 80 here and 1 80 there and I'm listening to all these different points and I've only had 40 minutes today to even think about this in the first place before we recorded, but maybe a certain amount of risk makes the game
Maybe If 20% of society has to suffer, but as long as opportunity is in place to ascend the ladder to want to get to where you want to get
That could be a version of fairness back to nick and that previous point, maybe
there is no
such thing as equality. Maybe all pursuit of equality ends in tyranny and and not just tyranny, but a lot of endlessly unhappy people. That's really I think the biggest problem is that when you optimize for equality, You just can't create it. I mean eric you made that point as well. It's like between the family situation, right? Uh between between the the family members. It's like if you can't create it in a family, how can you create it for 350 million people? So that's where I've landed in the conversation. You guys have anything
I'm gonna, I'm
gonna not talk because otherwise we're gonna get alright. I think we just like that's a wrap. Let's talk about drugs piece by next episode. Later