Redistribution, favored classes and selfishness

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Leandro Castelluccio

Myths of redistribution. What does redistribution involve?

Today we are faced with erroneous conceptions in politics taking into account what a long history of information and facts about the evolution of nations tells us.

At the same time there is an unjustified position on the good and rights associated with notions such as the redistribution of wealth for example. The terms can be analyzed to illustrate this more clearly. We speak of a re-distribution of wealth as a just action, but if we talk about re-distribution, we are assuming that there has been a previous distribution of wealth, and we associate that this has been unfair. But then we can ask ourselves who has been the distributor of it? Well if there is distribution, one way of thinking is that there is someone who distributes, or we can say that wealth is distributed passively, does this mean that wealth follows its own course regardless of people? It does not seem that there was any distributor that distributed the wealth, rather one would say that the subjects take for themselves the wealth, the later redistribution would be rather distribution, the first one that there is, and here we would come to say that the taking of the wealth has been unfair.

But thinking of a time not far away where computers did not exist, how did particular individuals took a wealth that did not exist? How could there be an unfair take of something that was not there? Well here is the other question, this wealth was generated, not taken, yes people took the elements that were then reorganized to give rise to computers, but elements that were in turn creations, other organizations of existing materials in reality. People do take resources in nature that have not been exploited.

The truth is that subjects take objects from reality and use them according to their purposes to generate other goods, which they then maintain or exchange for others. The essential here, and taking into account some aspects of property as I developed in a previous essay (“What exactly is property?“), is that one can produce and keep goods, use certain objects and spaces in reality according to one’s purposes, there is no justification in reality ultimately to say that someone cannot get ownership of something.

Things do not belong in themselves to all people, this would imply a kind of non-existent mystical connection that expresses ownership between an object and a person, the wealth is of particular individuals, and a system that defends the individual ensures the property based on reward. One has no justification in reality ultimately if one says that the wealth of another belongs to oneself, if this wealth was not made one’s property in the first place, and was in function of the ends of another from the beginning, there is no reason in the reality ultimately that says that they should give it to one, this would deny in fact the possibility of high states of reward, one can do it if it rewards one, but it will not take one to high states of reward (in this aspect is developed and deepened in my work “Proposiciones” – currently only in Spanish language). 

Thus an entity, like a State that distributes wealth considering it to be something just, is in fact unjustifiably considering that it has the right or duty (as an abstract entity in reality) to take over the property of others. One may be considering in turn that the wealth does not belong at a given time to particular individuals, but to the whole of the people, thinking that all things belong to everyone, which is not the case (see in the previous essay “What exactly is property?“).

On the other hand, our language falls into imprecise denominations. Think when the subjects talk about someone with wealth as that has been favored, as if someone had given favors to that person, as if the wealth was the result of favors that someone with wealth gives to someone who does not have it, this at least is a way of understanding it, and certainly in our society today, in an institutionalized way, there is this way of having wealth, through favors, which goes hand in hand with a previously established conflict where property has been taken away from another person, which ends up in the hands of the favored. And so there are favored people, groups of subjects that live on what is produced by others, but this class lives in different groups, may not present much wealth or yes, having a lot of wealth is not a demonstration of having been favored, there are of the richest, but the rich do not have their wealth in this way by nature, nor do economically poor people have what they have through favors by nature. Having wealth according to the high reward states implies facing such favors that imply the appropriation of the wealth of others, something for which the State does not take part in all circumstances, and what is more, promotes and executes that said appropriation.

In a more abstract way, we speak of a favored class, and here two errors that alter a more objective view of the world are often carried out. On the one hand, certain people are thought to be favored for possessing the wealth they have, which, as mentioned, is often incorrect. And the second one forms an abstraction where they are grouped in a class of people of favored, which entails an additional problem, and it is the propensity to begin to attribute certain equal traits to the whole group which is defined based on only one criterion, that people are favored. It happens in multiple scopes, we generalize certain behaviors or characteristics to a whole group when only a smaller percentage of the same presents and shares such features. An additional error arises when the above is associated with categorically separating such persons from one based on the criterion of good or bad. That is, one can consider that the favored and/or those who favor act immorally, and one acts in a moral way to oppose that, then one begins to generalize to those who are part of the group the characteristic of acting immorally, because one consider them favored, when in reality they are not or there is a nuance in the fact of not being aware of their behavior and the consequences that it has.

Collaboration and greater well-being

It is affirmed many times that in certain cases or in the majority, collaborating with others and setting aside the selfish interest generates a greater well-being than if everyone acted in their selfish interest. This is not so, because we do not take into account the context, and it is an expression of a fundamental error: to consider the selfish interest, in the sense of what one wants and seeks to achieve, that would imply a high state of reward for one, refers to follow a certain alternative in the short term. This is a mistake, for such an interest one it should be taken into account the long term.

It is thought, for example, that if in a football team everyone wanted to be the scorer and all seek goals in a game, things would not go very well for that team, there would not be a structure and organization according to the game, because this is not designed for everyone to convert a goal. A team with such players would probably lose and perhaps none even convert a goal. In this way it is considered that if all seek selfish interest the results are disastrous, and so one must collaborate and set aside that selfish interest. But we must consider the long term when we speak of selfish interest.

But if one thinks that satisfying the selfish interest is about following a certain alternative in the short term, one is mistaken, besides that it is a mistake to generalize what is more beneficial for one outside the context, since a football team represents a structure in particular, whose rules do not necessarily apply in other contexts or social structures. If the players of the team want to be scorers, in any case they should seek to improve their offensive skills, demonstrate them in the game, seek to change positions over time to positions where they are more likely to score goals, possibly look for other teams that take them to such positions or where one has the possibility of reaching such positions. Thus, over time, in the long term one can satisfy that selfish interest of being the team’s top scorer. Bearing this in mind we can see how in fact if in a match one that is a defender is launched to the attack, looking to avoid all the rivals, to convert a goal, where he ends up delivering the ball to the opponent, leaving his side of the defense vulnerable, the player is in fact hindering the satisfaction of his selfish interest, more if he does it repeatedly, because that imprudent, risky move will probably cost him a sanction by the coach, and perhaps he removes the player from the team, and his recklessness will be a burden on his sport records, perhaps other teams will not hire him. It will be more difficult that the player can eventually become a scorer. 

Both the collaboration and the competition have to be based on the high reward states, there is not one type that is inferior or superior to another, collaboration will not always be the best, the same with competition.

Collaborating does not mean not being selfish, this is usually a common misinterpretation, perhaps driven by a notion of selfishness where one deceives and manipulates others to obtain a benefit. In the short term that egoist will be attracted to cheat, but in the long term that kind of decisions are not good. This is central, the kind of reward at stake, not whether it is selfish or not. Who collaborates is also selfish, in the sense that there is always some reward that manifests itself, one does not do something for a reward that is in another, we can do something that rewards another because it rewards us.

On the other hand, sometimes collaboration would not be the right option. Competition would be the best alternative in many cases if it were not because there is a possibility of deception or a strategy contrary to collaboration on the part of other people, as has been raised in the prisoner’s dilemma. Within what is game theory, it has been suggested that the most rational option (in the sense of profit maximization, given the situation) is non-collaborative in cases where cheating is potential, since to opt for collaboration there would be greater losses if the other does not collaborate. This has been taken to unduly conclude that it is rational to choose not to collaborate in various scenarios, where in fact, the situation is not like the case of the prisoner’s dilemma, and it has been wanted to apply that specific situation to everyday life, where the scenario is different many times in several aspects. In the daily life of people and nations, taking into account the short and long term, in the long term, if one is not a collaborator when it is beneficial to be one, taking into account the high reward states, one will not have much success and benefits. While there is a solid defense against the conflict, against deception and fraud, society will not tend to the option of cheating, since the potential benefits remain in the short term, in the long term there are losses, such strategy is not going to be selected for a long time.

The question of competence and collaboration is more complex than simply saying that one thing is good and the other bad. Collaborating with criminals, authoritarian regimes, despots, etc., is not beneficial in the long term, for example, and may not bring a benefit in the short term for one either. 

The same issue of the short and long term applies to other situations. It may be that at a certain time a certain alternative is not the most appropriate, that does not mean that one is leaving aside that selfish interest, on the contrary, it can be favorable to it, taking into account the long term. This error in considering the selfish interest with the short term is dangerous, because it is concluded that one should not seek to be a scorer, that the selfish interest has disastrous consequences, the result is to live thinking that we should be satisfied with that “greater well-being “of which it is spoken, which in fact is not a greater well-being in the long term, if we end up living dissatisfied, leaving aside our aspirations.

This applies politically and economically, there is a lot of emphasis on collaboration, on putting aside the selfish interest, considering that if companies were left to look for nothing more than profit, we would all be in a worse state, so a “greater well-being” must be guaranteed than would be achieved if selfish interest were followed. And consequently, many times this selfish interest is attacked, through regulations, even if it is considered the long term, and the actions of the individuals are in fact leading to better levels of life. Consider the example of the football team, companies can harm and hurt by considering that the selfish interest, and the best, is to follow a specific alternative in the short term. If a company sells a defective product, and believes that it is best to make a profit now that in the future when the product is already obsolete by new technologies, for example, that does not mean that following the selfish interest leads to lower levels of well-being, we need to consider the long term and what in this case means the best for oneself. In the previous case, the reputation of the company will come down, probably lose money with numerous demands and the whole venture will end up being a disaster. The greatest selfish interest (in terms of greater long-term benefits) is to improve the product, innovate, be more efficient, and thus obtain profits and good consideration by buyers, this requires long-term work.

One should not leave aside the selfish interest, we can not live in a perpetual state of just settle for that “greater well-being”, we should aspire in the long term to do what we like, be with those we love the most, enjoy the best alternative, do not settle for less. Perhaps the most rewarding option is not always an easy and safe road, perhaps the alternative is simpler, but the counterpart is that it does not reward so much, I think we should aim for the highest in the long term.

The State must defend efficiently

Not disconnected from the above is the issue of the State’s behavior around guaranteeing the possibility of high reward states, ensuring that people can follow such selfish interest in the long term.

How is the possibility of high reward states institutionalized for people efficiently? First of all, the State must defend against conflicts, when the possibility of using spaces and objects for one’s own purposes is denied. Then there are some exceptions to this rule (to inquire about these aspects you can consult my work “Proposiciones“-currently only in Spanish language, or the previous essays “What exactly is property?“, “The fallacy of poverty and the utilitarian justification of freedom” and “Entrepreneurship and Capitalist Culture – Myths and Truths – Part 1Part 2“). 

Particularly I want to emphasize here that when a person uses the property of another, for example, without the owner’s knowledge, the first could not determine whether or not it is the end of the other that this happens, theoretically we must take into account the possibility of existence of an end in a particular owner that guarantees that another uses his property. That is, one does not know if there would be conflict or not. This point is relevant for an entity such as the State, if in fact the person violates the property of the subject, the aggrieved person will try to defend himself once he becomes aware of the conflict. The State, to ensure a good defense, should consider a case like this with the factor behind it, the awareness of the conflict, as if there is indeed conflict, for those things that already have a certain probability of involving a conflict. Acting without the conscience of the other does not mean that a conflict would not be established, on becoming aware there would be. The defendant’s defense, to be effective, by the State, must presuppose that in cases like the previous one, there will be conflict.

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