Tales from the Interview - You Wore a T-Shirt?!

  • Recursive Reclusive 2012-12-13 08:05
    So the WTF is that two qualified candidates were offered jobs?
  • SomeGuy 2012-12-13 08:07
    Recursive Reclusive:
    So the WTF is that two qualified candidates were offered jobs?


    The WTF is that these companies don't realise that hiring isn't just about screening out the bad, it's about attracting the good.
  • snoofle 2012-12-13 08:25
    ...and that both candidates were wise enough to pass.
  • Black Bart 2012-12-13 08:29
    I'd have guessed that each pirate should get 20 gold coins. Can I get a job offer also?
  • Smug Unix User 2012-12-13 08:34
    1 pirate gets 100 coins and kills the others. They are pirates they don't share.
  • daef 2012-12-13 08:34
    the games more complicated (the rules include rules about the oldest being allowed to decide who gets what and pirates being greedy and it happening them to be not only pirates but also perfect mathematicians and logicians...)

    long story short: 98-0-1-0-1... google for more ;-)

    </spoiler>
  • Amazing 2012-12-13 08:35
    Hint to interviewers: you're trying to find qualified candidates, not haze fraternity pledges. Enough with the pirate/gold puzzles already. Unless, of course, your company manufactures or sells pirates.
  • milliams 2012-12-13 08:35
    Mr. Manager
    We just say 'manager'.
  • Parker 2012-12-13 08:38
    There are five pirates splitting 100 gold coins...
    Just burn copies of the coins for everyone!
  • Justsomedudette 2012-12-13 08:54
    Scumbag Mark - titles it tales from the interview, categorises it featured article.
  • emaNrouY-Here 2012-12-13 08:55
    I suppose I'm naive to have taken the offer from the second story. Well, unless there were other offers available.

    One thing that job candidates may forget (but is repeated oft on this forum) the interview process is a two-way road. You are interviewing the company, so come prepared. And the company is interviewing you, they will (hopefully) be prepared.
  • Pirates don't need no steenkin' logic 2012-12-13 08:57
    The pirate with the red hat reaches into the box, unscrews the cold light bulb and breaks it. He threatens to stab the other pirates and absconds with the 100 coins.

    He pays the man trying to cross the river 20 gold coins for the boat, goat, wolf, and cabbage.

    The pirate sics the wolf on the 4 pursuing pirates and slashes the other man in the throat to retrieve his 20 gold coins (he is a pirate after all).

    He then crosses the river in the boat with the goat and cabbage, whereupon he barbeques the goat and serves it up for lunch with a cabbage slaw.
  • Justsomedudette 2012-12-13 09:02
    Pirates don't need no steenkin' logic:
    The pirate with the red hat reaches into the box, unscrews the cold light bulb and breaks it. He threatens to stab the other pirates and absconds with the 100 coins.

    He pays the man trying to cross the river 20 gold coins for the boat, goat, wolf, and cabbage.

    The pirate sics the wolf on the 4 pursuing pirates and slashes the other man in the throat to retrieve his 20 gold coins (he is a pirate after all).

    He then crosses the river in the boat with the goat and cabbage, whereupon he barbeques the goat and serves it up for lunch with a cabbage slaw.
    Best answer ever
  • heh 2012-12-13 09:10
    If you got an offer here you would probably take it even if the company is strange. Because if you wouldn't, it might be a year or more for a new opportunity to arrive.
  • GNU Pepper 2012-12-13 09:13
    The recruiter now really blows his top... he's yelling at me, "I sent you over there, you were representing me and my company, we spent a lot of time and effort on you, they offer you the job and you REFUSE???"


    This is every recruiter everywhere, responding to any candidate who ever decided to decline an offer. At this point in the process the recruiter has started drooling and thinking about how to spend his commission fee, which he will receive if you only say "I accept the offer".

    Candidates turn down offers less frequently than companies reject candidates, and recruiters are far less concerned about maintaining a cordial business relationship with individual candidates than they are with employers. So they will feel free to treat you like crap and attempt to bully you if you're the only thing left standing between them and their commission.

    I once called an end to the interview process after a first interview. My long-term plans changed slightly and I didn't want to live in that particular part of the country any more. When I informed the recruiter that I would not be attending my second interview, I don't think I've ever experienced such a quick, polar shift in somebody's demeanour towards me. From one moment to the next this person went from friendly and encouraging to angry and rude. He seemed genuinely disgusted that I wouldn't reconsider my plans for my entire life for the sake of his chance at a couple of thousand pounds of commission.
  • Wildcatmike 2012-12-13 09:17
    So, the WTF is that as a college student this got a great job offer, presumably starting after graduation, and it obviously comes with the option to decline at any point down the road (at will employment and whatnot), and the idiot declined the offer just because a manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time? Did I get that right, because, yeah, WTF?
  • Captcha:abico 2012-12-13 09:20
    Smug Unix User:
    1 pirate gets 100 coins and kills the others. They are pirates they don't share.

    But I always hear them say they are just "sharing culture"?
  • Xarthaneon the Unclear 2012-12-13 09:22
    Recursive Reclusive:
    So the WTF is that two qualified candidates were offered jobs?


    TRWTF is two qualified candidates were offered jobs that were traps. One was a manager so inept he could not distinguish between one applicant and another. The other are managers so inept the could not remember the questions they asked the applicant shortly before.

    Thus, the inept managers are TRWTF.
  • Ironside 2012-12-13 09:31
    TRWTF is the last line
  • Narfff 2012-12-13 09:37
    No, he declined because the Manager repeatedly did not listen to him explaining things, and even after repeatedly being told that the candidate knew the answers because they were already asked before, still chose to believe that this person was the smartest student EVER.

    I don't know if I would have declined, but it does say a lot about the company.
  • Craig 2012-12-13 09:43
    Xarthaneon the Unclear:
    Thus, the inept managers are TRWTF.


    I thought inept managers were de rigueur.

    Did you know that it's a murder of crows, a herd of cows, and a hindrance of managers?
  • $$ERR:get_name_fail 2012-12-13 09:46
    Managers who confront applicants with brain teasers are often missing the point.

    Those companies who started that trend, like Google for example, are not interested in stopping the time until the applicant gets the right answer. They try to encourage the applicants to think aloud, so that they can observe how they think and what methods they use to get to their conclusion. The final answer doesn't matter that much - it's how they get to it.
  • Cbuttius 2012-12-13 09:49
    Home » Articles » Feature Articles » Tales from the Interview - You Wore a T-Shirt?!

    with a blue background rather than purple.

    With such an incompetent story poster I would never take a job working for TheDailyWTF as I could never work for anyone so incompetent as to get a couple of things mixed up. After all, if he confuses the headings, he might also confuse me with someone in a dirty t-shirt.
  • VictorSierraGolf 2012-12-13 09:54
    Wildcatmike:
    So, the WTF is that as a college student this got a great job offer, presumably starting after graduation, and it obviously comes with the option to decline at any point down the road (at will employment and whatnot), and the idiot declined the offer just because a manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time? Did I get that right, because, yeah, WTF?


    [...]just because the manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time, was either too stupid or too stubborn r too bossy to realize he made a misake, even after the interwievee told him 10 times and propably distributes the task and reviews results the same way. I mean, I'd really hate it to have to explain my supervisor why my shit is still not done, when actually it made it into production two months before the deadline.


    FTFY
  • The_Assimilator 2012-12-13 09:56
    Perhaps the student declined the offer because he understands the concept of ethics.
  • Paul 2012-12-13 09:57
    Parker:
    There are five pirates splitting 100 gold coins...
    Just burn copies of the coins for everyone!
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Here's how it works:

    1. The five inhabitants of island A use the gold coins to keep track of trades they make among themselves. When one gathers coconuts and brings them back for all to enjoy, the others each give him a gold coin (they're small coins...) as recognition of his efforts on their behalf. Later, when he wants to expand his hut, he gives a coin each to the two who help him, but not to the two who don't.

    By this process, over time, it becomes apparent who is the most valuable member of their small community, and who is basically napping most every day. (Let's call him Larry.) Larry finds increasing difficulty getting the others to do things he needs, since he is running out of gold coins. This provides an incentive for him to get off his ass and either fend for himself or start doing something useful to others.

    2. One of the inhabitants (let's call him Karl) persuades the others that it is a pain lugging heavy coins around all day, and they could accomplish the same record-keeping function by scratching numbers on banana leaves. Two of the others, being basically idiots, don't realize that banana leaves are much easier to obtain than additional gold coins, so they vote for the plan and Karl has a majority.

    3. After some time passes, Karl moves to the next phase of his diabolical master plan. He points out, tears flowing, that Larry is practically starving and has a leaky hut that is about to fall down. The solution, obviously, is to mark up some new banana leaves and give them to Larry. Then he can be as comfortable as everyone else.

    4. After some more time passes, the islanders notice that Karl's scheme has not actually increased the total amount of work being done. Four people are still working and Larry is still napping. Actually things have got slightly worse because Larry now naps all day every day, having no incentive to perform even the minimal self-care he did before.

    What has happened is that Karl's scheme has gradually reduced the value of the islanders' gold coins, because when one of them wants to buy a pile of coconuts for one gold coin, Larry can outbid him with a banana leaf that says "two" on it. Whenever Larry runs out of banana leaves, Karl just gives him some more. But the gold coins are still in limited supply.

    5. The other islanders observe that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized, so they all stop working. Everyone starves to death.

    * * *

    Do you ever wonder why the do-gooder politicians don't just take their "solutions" seriously and have the government write a ten million dollar check to everybody? What could possibly be more fair? Then we'd all be wealthy. Wouldn't we?
  • VictorSierraGolf 2012-12-13 09:57
    VictorSierraGolf:
    Wildcatmike:
    So, the WTF is that as a college student this got a great job offer, presumably starting after graduation, and it obviously comes with the option to decline at any point down the road (at will employment and whatnot), and the idiot declined the offer just because a manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time? Did I get that right, because, yeah, WTF?


    [...]just because the manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time, was either too stupid or too stubborn r too bossy to realize he made a misake, even after the interwievee told him 10 times and propably distributes the task and reviews results the same way. I mean, I'd really hate it to have to explain my supervisor why my shit is still not done, when actually it made it into production two months before the deadline.


    FTFY


    Sorry, that should have read "explain my supervisor FOR HE 20th TIME".
  • G 2012-12-13 09:59
    Xarthaneon the Unclear:
    Recursive Reclusive:
    So the WTF is that two qualified candidates were offered jobs?


    TRWTF is two qualified candidates were offered jobs that were traps. One was a manager so inept he could not distinguish between one applicant and another. The other are managers so inept the could not remember the questions they asked the applicant shortly before.

    Thus, the inept managers are TRWTF.


    The second manager could be smarter than he is being given credit for; especially if the story is modified from the original version.

    Step 1 – Give a slew of hard brain teasers
    Step 2 – Candidate answers a good number, but can’t get all of them
    Step 3 – Give him the answers to the remaining questions
    Step 4 – In the follow up interview ask him all of the brain teasers again
    Step 5 – Hire the only candidate that actually listened and remembered the answers


    I bet you in 20 candidates’ maybe one would be able to regurgitate what you told them. Its neigh impossible to find people that can follow the simplest instructions. The ‘we ask the different questions’ bit could easily be a cover.

    I’d bet just as likely the person interviewing as a dick about it, and lost his chance.
  • WhiskeyJack 2012-12-13 10:04
    Pirates don't need no steenkin' logic:
    THe then crosses the river in the boat with the goat and cabbage, whereupon he barbeques the goat and serves it up for lunch with a cabbage slaw.


    Which he shares with the two guards? The one who only tells the truth and the other one who only tells lies?
  • English Man 2012-12-13 10:06
    You're graduating college and you don't take a perfectly good job? What a fool.

  • erat 2012-12-13 10:24
    Somalian pirates, or Caribbean pirates?
  • Anonymous 2012-12-13 10:27
    I think it's stupid to judge the whole company based on one stupid person. There are stupid people in every company (except for maybe Google...)! Turning down the job is one thing, but to say "needless to say" I think is taking it too far. Besides, how many companies have managers that are intelligent and a joy to work for? Management attracts people persons, not intelligence.
  • aaa 2012-12-13 10:34
    Paul:
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Apparently you've confused "how the world works" with "Ayn Rand fanfic".
  • Rodnas 2012-12-13 10:40
    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt
  • Mark Bowytz 2012-12-13 10:43
    A group of villagers with pitchforks and torches just got off of the elevators here on my floor.

    I flipped the category bit on the article hoping that it would calm them, but it only made the situation worse.

    I can hear banging on the cabinets in the kitchenette and the chants are growing ever louder.

    Someone just screamed - something about how the multifunction printer is out of toner I think.

    I fear my time is drawing short - I don't know how long it will be until the mob navigates the cubicle maze to my desk. Hours or days - I just don't know.

    Please tell my wife and children that I love them and tell Alex that tomorrow's Error'd is already done.
  • ammoQ 2012-12-13 10:44
    None of those stories are so bad that I would refuse the job offer just because of that. So the managers in the second story are easy to outsmart? Seems like a recipe for lots of paid spare time!
  • Brogrammer 2012-12-13 10:44
    aaa:
    Paul:
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Apparently you've confused "how the world works" with "Ayn Rand fanfic".

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Atlas Shrugged.' One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
  • TK 2012-12-13 11:03
    aaa:
    Paul:
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Apparently you've confused "how the world works" with "Ayn Rand fanfic".
    Apparently you've confused "how the world works" with "Karl Marx fanfic."
  • Gorbachov 2012-12-13 11:06
    Neither, Antartican pirates!!
  • Steve The Cynic 2012-12-13 11:11
    Anonymous:
    I think it's stupid to judge the whole company based on one stupid person. There are stupid people in every company (except for maybe Google...)! Turning down the job is one thing, but to say "needless to say" I think is taking it too far. Besides, how many companies have managers that are intelligent and a joy to work for? Management attracts people persons, not intelligence.

    Depends on if you're being interviewed to work for the stupid person or someone else.

    Still, I like my dumb interview story. For complicated reasons, I had turned down an opportunity for further discussions with this company almost five years previously. It appeared that they didn't connect the Steve The Cynic of 1999 with the Steve The Cynic of 1995.

    So in I go, for a whole-day interview. Part of the interview was a programming test, and they said not to worry if I didn't get through all of it (so of course I was a bit stressed by this). They made software for molecular-modelling, and the test question was to read a file containing a model description, and draw a coloured-sticks representation of the molecule, and to allow the arrow keys to pan around it.

    The language was C++, and they provided a framework upon which I had to build my code. About half-way through the allotted time, I reached a point where there was obviously something critical missing from the framework, so I spoke up and said that I needed X in the framework and it wasn't there. "Um, er, you're right. Sorry about that, nobody's ever got that far before. Give us a few minutes and we'll have it in there for you."

    So I had used about half the time to get 50-60% of the way through, and I was further along than any other candidate, and even they hadn't worked their way through it to make sure that it was feasible to solve with the given framework.

    We eventually independently reached the conclusion that I was grossly over-qualified to work there - them because they thought it would be hard work making sure I had stuff to keep me occupied, and me for much the same reason. I do, however, wonder about the people who I never had as colleagues.
  • Morry 2012-12-13 11:15
    I had a recruiter like that in the first story. I suppose they're all like that, in a fashion. I was already in-place, working for the company, on a contract-to-hire basis. The contract was running out, and the company was arranging to hire me. It was in Europe, in the airline industry, literally days after 9/11.

    the airline industry was collapsing, and I was in fear of being left without a job. Plus I had agreed to hire on. But he was pushing me to continue contracting, instead of hiring on. He refused to listen to my concerns or placate them, other than "don't worry". And he and I had no history, no rapport.

    Push came to shove I told Mister nice guy that I just couldn't deal with the uncertainty. Mister Hyde turned up next and called me every name under the sun, how I was an idiot and didn't know anything. Seems I dodged a bullet.

    About 6 months later, his boss called me and asked for feedback on his performance. After I disclosed our discussion: "Yeah we've been hearing that a lot about this person. Sorry about that."

  • @Deprecated 2012-12-13 11:22
    daef:
    the games more complicated (the rules include rules about the oldest being allowed to decide who gets what and pirates being greedy and it happening them to be not only pirates but also perfect mathematicians and logicians...)

    long story short: 98-0-1-0-1... google for more ;-)

    </spoiler>


    If I were the last pirate, I would vote 'no' to getting one gold coin, so that head pirate gets what's coming to him for being a greedy bastard!

    Totally worth 1 gold coin.
  • EuroGuy 2012-12-13 11:40
    Only the guy that declines the job offer is eligible to submit it as a WTF.

    And that makes the exception look as the rule.
  • Ozz 2012-12-13 11:44
    Brogrammer:

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Atlas Shrugged.' One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
    The sad thing is, some people actually believe this.
    So tell me, where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?
  • Bill 2012-12-13 11:55
    Ozz:
    where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?
    She threatens my religious belief that productive people are always either evil thieves or drunkards who inherited wealth from their parents, who were always either evil thieves or drunkards who inherited wealth from their parents...

    And also my other religious belief that once a profiteer gets elected to government at any level they turn good and have the benevolence and skill to know what is best for everyone and distribute goods fairly.
  • daily 2012-12-13 11:57
    Rodnas:
    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt

    Been there, done that, wore the T-shirt
  • Yinzer 2012-12-13 11:59
    Pirates don't need no steenkin' logic:
    The pirate with the red hat reaches into the box, unscrews the cold light bulb and breaks it. He threatens to stab the other pirates and absconds with the 100 coins.

    He pays the man trying to cross the river 20 gold coins for the boat, goat, wolf, and cabbage.

    The pirate sics the wolf on the 4 pursuing pirates and slashes the other man in the throat to retrieve his 20 gold coins (he is a pirate after all).

    He then crosses the river in the boat with the goat and cabbage, whereupon he barbeques the goat and serves it up for lunch with a cabbage slaw.


    Yinz mean chip-chop ham instead of goat n'at, you know what I am saying?
  • emurphy 2012-12-13 12:04
    @Deprecated:
    daef:
    the games more complicated (the rules include rules about the oldest being allowed to decide who gets what and pirates being greedy and it happening them to be not only pirates but also perfect mathematicians and logicians...)

    long story short: 98-0-1-0-1... google for more ;-)

    </spoiler>


    If I were the last pirate, I would vote 'no' to getting one gold coin, so that head pirate gets what's coming to him for being a greedy bastard!

    Totally worth 1 gold coin.


    The way the rules are set up, the next alternative after 98-0-1-0-1 is dead-99-dead-1-dead. If you hate the head pirate that badly, then take the 1 gold coin anyway and then poison his fish heads. :)
  • Review Xtrac Do Not Use 2012-12-13 12:17
    WhiskeyJack:
    Pirates don't need no steenkin' logic:
    THe then crosses the river in the boat with the goat and cabbage, whereupon he barbeques the goat and serves it up for lunch with a cabbage slaw.


    Which he shares with the two guards? The one who only tells the truth and the other one who only tells lies?


    Yes, but you forgot to weight the boat (no scales are provided). It's also sitting on top of a circular manhole cover. And the boat has a light on the front and a light on the back, one of which is broken, but those guards will only let you switch it on if you're not looking.
  • cellocgw 2012-12-13 12:17
    Paul:
    Parker:
    There are five pirates splitting 100 gold coins...
    Just burn copies of the coins for everyone!
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Here's how it works:

    1. The five inhabitants of island A use the gold coins to keep track of trades they make among themselves. When one gathers coconuts and brings them back for all to enjoy, the others each give him a gold coin (they're small coins...) as recognition of his efforts on their behalf. Later, when he wants to expand his hut, he gives a coin each to the two who help him, but not to the two who don't.
    [[snip]]


    Fucking TeaBagger NeoCons: how do they manage to post?
  • Brogrammer 2012-12-13 12:28
    Ozz:
    Brogrammer:

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Atlas Shrugged.' One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
    The sad thing is, some people actually believe this.
    So tell me, where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?
    Pretty much everything, truth be told. There are plenty of resources out there on that fertile topic.

    Another great quote, this one from the late Christopher Hitchens: "As a fiction writer, she's absurd. But if you're young and not particularly wanted and not particularly brilliant, reading Atlas Shrugged provides all the feelings of compensation one might need for any period of terrifying inadequacy."
  • Timothy Baldridge 2012-12-13 12:40
    milliams:
    Mr. Manager
    We just say 'manager'.


    "So 3 pirates want to split the money in the Banana Stand..."
  • A Fantastic Opportunity 2012-12-13 12:45
    Job Recruiters == Used Car Salesmen
  • synp 2012-12-13 13:00
    Wildcatmike:
    So, the WTF is that as a college student this got a great job offer, presumably starting after graduation, and it obviously comes with the option to decline at any point down the road (at will employment and whatnot), and the idiot declined the offer just because a manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time? Did I get that right, because, yeah, WTF?


    There's no "accidentally" about this. The manager decided to hire him during the phone interview. Everything else is just gaming the office bureaucracy to get what he wants.

    thedailywtf.com readers are not the only ones with disdain for "the process"
  • Svensson 2012-12-13 13:14
    Wildcatmike:
    So, the WTF is that as a college student this got a great job offer, presumably starting after graduation, and it obviously comes with the option to decline at any point down the road (at will employment and whatnot), and the idiot declined the offer just because a manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time? Did I get that right, because, yeah, WTF?


    If he accepts it and then quits after 6 months, he will spend the next 10 years explaining to HR people why he left his first job so quickly -- that is, those HR people who will ask instead of just shoving his resume to the bottom of the pile.
  • jay 2012-12-13 13:29
    Paul:
    Parker:
    There are five pirates splitting 100 gold coins...
    Just burn copies of the coins for everyone!
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Here's how it works:

    1. The five inhabitants of island A use the gold coins to keep track of trades they make among themselves. When one gathers coconuts and brings them back for all to enjoy, the others each give him a gold coin (they're small coins...) as recognition of his efforts on their behalf. Later, when he wants to expand his hut, he gives a coin each to the two who help him, but not to the two who don't.

    By this process, over time, it becomes apparent who is the most valuable member of their small community, and who is basically napping most every day. (Let's call him Larry.) Larry finds increasing difficulty getting the others to do things he needs, since he is running out of gold coins. This provides an incentive for him to get off his ass and either fend for himself or start doing something useful to others.

    2. One of the inhabitants (let's call him Karl) persuades the others that it is a pain lugging heavy coins around all day, and they could accomplish the same record-keeping function by scratching numbers on banana leaves. Two of the others, being basically idiots, don't realize that banana leaves are much easier to obtain than additional gold coins, so they vote for the plan and Karl has a majority.

    3. After some time passes, Karl moves to the next phase of his diabolical master plan. He points out, tears flowing, that Larry is practically starving and has a leaky hut that is about to fall down. The solution, obviously, is to mark up some new banana leaves and give them to Larry. Then he can be as comfortable as everyone else.

    4. After some more time passes, the islanders notice that Karl's scheme has not actually increased the total amount of work being done. Four people are still working and Larry is still napping. Actually things have got slightly worse because Larry now naps all day every day, having no incentive to perform even the minimal self-care he did before.

    What has happened is that Karl's scheme has gradually reduced the value of the islanders' gold coins, because when one of them wants to buy a pile of coconuts for one gold coin, Larry can outbid him with a banana leaf that says "two" on it. Whenever Larry runs out of banana leaves, Karl just gives him some more. But the gold coins are still in limited supply.

    5. The other islanders observe that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized, so they all stop working. Everyone starves to death.

    * * *

    Do you ever wonder why the do-gooder politicians don't just take their "solutions" seriously and have the government write a ten million dollar check to everybody? What could possibly be more fair? Then we'd all be wealthy. Wouldn't we?


    Technical correction on point 4: There is less total useful work being done, because Karl is now no longer able to fish or maintain huts because he is too busy making marks on banana leaves, deciding who should get which bananas leaves, and monitoring the conversations of the other islanders to be sure that no one is engaged in hate crimes against Larry, like complaining that he doesn't work.
  • jay 2012-12-13 13:51
    Brogrammer:
    Ozz:
    Brogrammer:

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Atlas Shrugged.' One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
    The sad thing is, some people actually believe this.
    So tell me, where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?
    Pretty much everything, truth be told. There are plenty of resources out there on that fertile topic.

    Another great quote, this one from the late Christopher Hitchens: "As a fiction writer, she's absurd. But if you're young and not particularly wanted and not particularly brilliant, reading Atlas Shrugged provides all the feelings of compensation one might need for any period of terrifying inadequacy."


    Yes, because idealistic young people leap on capitalism because they're naive and simplistic. But it's impossible to imagine idealistic young people leaping on socialism because they're naive and simplistic: obviously they only turn to socialism because they have carefully studied the issues involved and concluded that this is the moral and pragmatic way to go. Socialism is SO grounded in hard facts, rational evaluation of human behavior, and empirical analysis.

    In general, people who disagree with you must think that way because they are blindly following some demagogic leader, or their professed ideas are all a cover for selfishness and bigotry, or some such. But people who agree with you obviously think that way because they have carefully analyzed the facts and thought things through to their logical conclusion.

    Seriously now. Even if you are absolutely convinced that someone is wrong, can't you at least consider the possibility that he arrived at his conclusions by honest evaluation and reasonable thought?
  • jay 2012-12-13 14:02
    RE the second interview: Ok, I wasn't there, so maybe the story doesn't give the full sense of how the interview went. But a manager makes a mistake in an interview, you try to correct him and he brushes you off. So what?

    Suppose the situation was reversed. You talked to a manager over the phone. In the course of the interview you asked him a couple of questions about the company. Then you are called in for a second interview. You ask one of the same questions, forgetting that you already asked it. Perhaps you are getting this interview confused with an interview with another company. He points out that you already asked this question. Sure you had not, you brush him off.

    The company decides not to make you an offer because they conclude you are an idiot who cannot remember what he's already asked. You could submit this as a "Tales from the Interview": "They wouldn't hire me just because I forgot and asked the same question twice!"

    Every job interview I've ever gone on where there was more than one interviewer, I've been asked the same questions over and over. Why couldn't they just talk to each other and share the answers? If you meet the same person twice, it's not startling to suppose he might be confused about which questions he already asked. I just don't see how it's that big a deal.

    I could see this being a minus. If there were twenty things wrong with the company, yeah, this might tip the score. But if otherwise it looked like a good job, I wouldn't see this as a deal-breaker.
  • CFO Idiot 2012-12-13 14:25
    5 pirates can split 100 coins down the middle with their swashbucklin' swords and each pirate gets whatever the hell they want.
  • A developer 2012-12-13 14:28
    I would have taken the second job because it would be easy to fool the damn ass manager any time you wanted.
  • PedanticCurmudgeon 2012-12-13 14:30
    Brogrammer:
    Pretty much everything, truth be told. There are plenty of resources out there on that fertile topic.
    Interesting. The first link doesn't at all support your claim that Ayn Rand had pretty much everything wrong; the second is from GQ. Not that there's anything wrong with GQ, but expecting philosophical rigor from them is like going to an auto parts store for groceries.
  • Jack 27 2012-12-13 14:33
    emurphy:
    @Deprecated:
    daef:
    the games more complicated (the rules include rules about the oldest being allowed to decide who gets what and pirates being greedy and it happening them to be not only pirates but also perfect mathematicians and logicians...)

    long story short: 98-0-1-0-1... google for more ;-)

    </spoiler>


    If I were the last pirate, I would vote 'no' to getting one gold coin, so that head pirate gets what's coming to him for being a greedy bastard!

    Totally worth 1 gold coin.


    The way the rules are set up, the next alternative after 98-0-1-0-1 is dead-99-dead-1-dead. If you hate the head pirate that badly, then take the 1 gold coin anyway and then poison his fish heads. :)


    No, the next alternative is dead-99-0-1-0.
  • John Hensley 2012-12-13 14:34
    Recursive Reclusive:
    So the WTF is that two qualified candidates were offered jobs?

    Seems the companies weren't qualified.
  • Jazz 2012-12-13 14:40
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Brogrammer:
    Pretty much everything, truth be told. There are plenty of resources out there on that fertile topic.
    Interesting. The first link doesn't at all support your claim that Ayn Rand had pretty much everything wrong; the second is from GQ. Not that there's anything wrong with GQ, but expecting philosophical rigor from them is like going to an auto parts store for groceries.


    To be fair, if you're wondering why [some work of fiction] by [author who writes only fiction] is wrong, it's entirely reasonable to expect that the articles would look more like literary criticisms than philosophical treatises.

    TRWTF is that this article didn't include any amusing HTML comments or links to cornify.js.

    (Captcha: opto -- I'd like to opto out of Randian politics.)
  • Jack 27 2012-12-13 14:40
    Here's where she has it wrong. Her philosophy requires everyone to act first in his/her own self interest. But, in the real world, a lot of people are idiots.

    She assumes there will be consequences for those that act against their self interest, which will persuade them to act differently. But those consequences cannot always come fast enough to prevent the collapse of the entire system.
  • Aargle Zymurgy 2012-12-13 14:41
    I think what a lot of people are missing is that in an employment situation it's a business situation where both sides are accepting a relationship. For those of you asking why the potential employees are rejecting the jobs clearly are assuming this is strictly one sided (or perhaps you think it should be).

    I did the same thing once. When I was once looking for some work, I was directed to a web page with a quiz on C programming. It was fraught with errors. Multiple choice questions with no correct answer, mis-leading questions, questions that revealed that the writer knew C, but only very badly. From the phone interview, I knew the test was created by their top guy; someone I'd have to answer to. I did not need that kind of agony.

    I already went through the above with one job. My manager was a BASIC programmer. He didn't understand the ternary operator, so he banned its use. The upper management insisted the work be done in C, but that didn't sit well with him. He created a collection of macros named PRINT, BEGIN, and END as replacments for printf and { and }. (As you can guess, there were dozens of other replacements.) The company was growing, so the influx of experienced C programmers grew and he never could get control of them to force his "standards." Heck, citing employees for insubordination on the issue would have been liking giving speeding tickets at the Indy 500. (That company and my observations during my brief tenure there should be good for at least 2-3 DWTFs.... time to fire up e-mail.)
  • John Hensley 2012-12-13 14:44
    Btw, Ayn Rand fans, do please hijack this section to tell us all about your lives as captains of industry carried aloft by her moral syllogisms, lest anyone think that you're just the usual insignificanrt antisocial nerds trying to compensate for your lack of recognition from the plebeian masses.
  • Ozz 2012-12-13 14:58
    John Hensley:
    Btw, Ayn Rand fans, do please hijack this section to tell us all about your lives as captains of industry carried aloft by her moral syllogisms, lest anyone think that you're just the usual insignificanrt antisocial nerds trying to compensate for your lack of recognition from the plebeian masses.
    Resort is had to ridicule only when reason is against us. --Thomas Jefferson.
  • darkmatter 2012-12-13 15:00
    milliams:
    Mr. Manager
    We just say 'manager'.


    You are my hero.
  • John Hensley 2012-12-13 15:01
    They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown -- Carl Sagan
  • PedanticCurmudgeon 2012-12-13 15:24
    Jazz:

    To be fair, if you're wondering why [some work of fiction] by [author who writes only fiction] is wrong
    Not sure if trolling or woefully ignorant... Most of Rand's writing is non-fiction and can be found in the philosophy section of your local bookstore.

    Disclaimer: I don't agree with Randian philosophy either.
  • bgodot 2012-12-13 15:28
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)
  • Joe 2012-12-13 15:31
    aaa:
    Paul:
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Apparently you've confused "how the world works" with "Ayn Rand fanfic".

    Wait, where was the fanfic? There wasn't any sex in that post!
  • Befuddled 2012-12-13 15:56
    I second that. I'm way into my career and if an offer like came up and I turned it down, it would certainly not be because a busy manager mixed up some names.
  • An innocent abroad 2012-12-13 16:36
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Not sure if trolling or woefully ignorant... Most of Rand's writing is non-fiction and can be found in the philosophy section of your local bookstore.

    Yes, but that's mostly because my local bookstore is shit. It has all kinds of popular science books mixed up with spiritualist crap on a single 'science' shelf.

    The only reason I can see for Rand stuff not being in the fiction/literature part of a normal bookstore, is that it is so incredibly badly written. For a philosophical tome you kind of forgive/expect it to be hard going, so it's a natural home. It's turgid, incoherent, switches from narrative to dry lecturing and back haphazardly, there's no overarching structure / narrative arc, etc etc.

    Admittedly, I've only read Fountainhead (didn't see the movie, natch) and Atlas. Which make up the vast bulk of her sales, and are definitely in the Fiction, not the Philosophy shelf of a decent bookshop.

    Even the 'pirate' puzzle already shows Rand is wrong on her fundamental assumptions: the absurd outcome is only due to the assumption that humans/pirates are coldly logical. The rise of cooperation/altruism in everything from bacterial colonies, human and animal societies, and game theoretic models is another good indication. She doesn't even have a grasp nor explanation for occasional 'you scratch my back & I'll scratch yours' opportunistic cooperation.

    Also:
    jay:

    Yes, because idealistic young people leap on capitalism because they're naive and simplistic. But it's impossible to imagine idealistic young people leaping on socialism because they're naive and simplistic:

    Where did socialism suddenly come from?! Or is this your entry in the "Weakest Strawman of the Year" competition? It has the same logic as "You're against Stalinism? Then you support Nazism!". I know it's the endorsed American view that you're either with or against 'Us', but do grow up, the world is not Boolean. (Not even extended-Boolean with an 'unsure', 'file-not-found', 'etc' category.)

    jay:

    (...) Seriously now.
    No, that train has left the station. A long time ago.
  • some guy 2012-12-13 17:42
    Paul:
    Parker:
    There are five pirates splitting 100 gold coins...
    Just burn copies of the coins for everyone!
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Here's how it works:

    One of the inhabitants (let's call him Karl) persuades the others that it is a pain lugging heavy coins around all day, and they could accomplish the same record-keeping function by scratching numbers on banana leaves.


    The only reason this failed is because all 4 of them were stupid enough to not realise that banana leaves are huge and much heavier than gold coins
  • some guy 2012-12-13 17:58
    bgodot:
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)


    This is probably because you were wrong about. The final step is to walk north one mile. There is no place from which you can move north, and reach the south pole when you're any distance away from the south pole.
  • Dave-Sir 2012-12-13 18:24
    some guy:
    bgodot:
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)


    This is probably because you were wrong about. The final step is to walk north one mile. There is no place from which you can move north, and reach the south pole when you're any distance away from the south pole.

    The goal is not to reach the south pole. The goal is to reach your starting point. Which, as the OP stated, is > 1 mile north of the south pole.
  • Matt Westwood 2012-12-13 18:27
    Brogrammer:
    aaa:
    Paul:
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Apparently you've confused "how the world works" with "Ayn Rand fanfic".

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Atlas Shrugged.' One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."


    Bah. At 14, I was reading Dune and Zelazny. LotR was kids stuff.
  • Chris 2012-12-13 18:48
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Jazz:

    To be fair, if you're wondering why [some work of fiction] by [author who writes only fiction] is wrong
    Not sure if trolling or woefully ignorant... Most of Rand's writing is non-fiction and can be found in the philosophy section of your local bookstore.

    Disclaimer: I don't agree with Randian philosophy either.


    Much of Philosophy is just fiction that people take a bit to seriously.
  • moz 2012-12-13 18:51
    erat:
    Somalian pirates, or Caribbean pirates?

    Good question. In the former case, the first pirate just gets back onto the insurance company and explains that you need 500 gold pieces. Then everyone's happy. Except maybe the ship's crew.
  • Anon 2012-12-13 19:04
    Clearly. I mean, not once in the entire history of man has someone who worked their ass off ever starved to death or died penniless.
  • Anon 2012-12-13 19:12
    Chris:
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Jazz:

    To be fair, if you're wondering why [some work of fiction] by [author who writes only fiction] is wrong
    Not sure if trolling or woefully ignorant... Most of Rand's writing is non-fiction and can be found in the philosophy section of your local bookstore.

    Disclaimer: I don't agree with Randian philosophy either.


    Much of Philosophy is just fiction that people take a bit to seriously.


    The holy books of many religions are also frequently located in the non-fiction section. That does not make them so.
  • Bern 2012-12-13 20:56
    Well, you know that's only a hypothetical example.

    In the *real* world, one of the five (let's call him Bill) has, through fair means & foul, managed to amass 90% of all the gold coins.

    Three of the remaining four, needing gold coins to trade, want to do work for Bill to earn them. Bill says, "Sure, but I'll only give work to the lowest bidder."

    The others are so desperate to get coins, that Bill not only gets his own needs fulfilled, but hires others at a discount to do the work that he gets paid gold coins for in the first place, taking 50-90% of all the income generated.

    The end result is that Bill lives a life of luxury, ends up with an even higher proportion of the coins, the 'middle class' get barely enough to scrape by on, and Larry spends his days poring through the trash heap, eating scraps and hoping like hell someone will throw out a blanket before winter arrives...
  • Ned 2012-12-13 21:28
    Bern:
    In the *real* world, one of the five (let's call him Bill) has, through fair means & foul, managed to amass 90% of all the gold coins.
    I'd be interested in more details about your backstory. Should the "fair means" have been rewarded? Should the "foul" have been punished? If so, why weren't they?
  • Norman Diamond 2012-12-13 22:19
    Mark Bowytz:
    I flipped the category bit on the article hoping that it would calm them, but it only made the situation worse.
    Well sure, because you didn't say what value you flipped it to. Think a bit. FileNotFound or (BOOL)-1?
  • foo 2012-12-13 22:25
    some guy:
    Paul:
    Here's how it works:

    One of the inhabitants (let's call him Karl) persuades the others that it is a pain lugging heavy coins around all day, and they could accomplish the same record-keeping function by scratching numbers on banana leaves.


    The only reason this failed is because all 4 of them were stupid enough to not realise that banana leaves are huge and much heavier than gold coins
    Come on now! This is a serious discussion of capitalism. Facts have no place here.
  • foo 2012-12-13 22:30
    bgodot:
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)
    Funny. I was asked this puzzle with the additional stipulation "it's not the North pole", so they were looking for the ring -- though it seemed they were unaware there are (infinitely) many rings, they only thought of the first one. BTW, this was around 1990, so it's actually sad that some people apparently still don't know (or even refuse to learn) about the alternative solutions.
  • flabdablet 2012-12-13 22:33
    Paul:
    Do you ever wonder why the do-gooder politicians don't just take their "solutions" seriously and have the government write a ten million dollar check to everybody? What could possibly be more fair? Then we'd all be wealthy. Wouldn't we?


    My God, you're right. Why have I not seen it before? Your explanation has made things so obvious! We just leave Larry and Karl in charge of all the banana leaves and their enormous and growing wealth will naturally trickle down on all of us, yes?
  • TK 2012-12-13 22:40
    Anon:
    Clearly. I mean, not once in the entire history of man has someone who worked their ass off ever starved to death or died penniless.
    Of course capitalists never made such a claim.

    To those who pointed out that capitalism is flawed because people don't always act in their own best interests: you're absolutely right! In fact, you are so correct that you've also found the reason why socialism and communism don't work either!

    Capitalism isn't perfect. It just sucks less that the alternatives. But by itself, it is not enough.

    And that is where Ayn Rand fails. She does a great job of explaining how Big Government is always doomed to failure, but her answer is overly simplistic.

    A successful society needs to respect private property and the right to keep the fruits of your own labors, but it also must encourage voluntary charity to the poor. Once "charity" becomes an "entitlement," (something you are "entitled to") then everything goes to hell like Ayn says. If it's a voluntary gift from those who are successful to those down on their luck, that entitlement mentality (envy, really) is less likely to trap the poor. It's a self-correcting system: if they stop being grateful for the charity of others, that charity is likely to dry up.

    However, if the "charity" comes from the government, then it's your right, dammit! I don't need to work, just gimme my moneys!

    This attitude is not sustainable, and it's bankrupt nations around the world.
  • hgrieo 2012-12-13 22:58
    Smug Unix User:
    1 pirate gets 100 coins and kills the others. They are pirates they don't share.
    Oh, this is an ITIL thing....
  • jim 2012-12-13 23:00
    emaNrouY-Here:
    I suppose I'm naive to have taken the offer from the second story. Well, unless there were other offers available.

    One thing that job candidates may forget (but is repeated oft on this forum) the interview process is a two-way road. You are interviewing the company, so come prepared. And the company is interviewing you, they will (hopefully) be prepared.
    Agrrrrreed. Though bemused, I would have taken the second job (and probably still considered the first....)
  • Prof Foop 2012-12-13 23:27
    Five pirates download 100 tunes. How many tunes did each get.? How many years did each get.?
  • Bill C. 2012-12-14 00:07
    If she wore a T-shirt when interviewing me, it would be dirty by the time she went home. But she'd still get the job!
  • JustSomeGuy 2012-12-14 00:19
    Socialism was never going to work because of its underlying essence: "from everyone according to their ability, to everyone according to their need".

    The reason it would never work is because, while resources are limited, desires are not.

    Even if it had lasted a thousand years (and it didn't get antwhere near that), that would still be a piss in the ocean compared to civilisation itself.

    jay:
    Brogrammer:
    Ozz:
    Brogrammer:

    "There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Atlas Shrugged.' One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
    The sad thing is, some people actually believe this.
    So tell me, where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?
    Pretty much everything, truth be told. There are plenty of resources out there on that fertile topic.

    Another great quote, this one from the late Christopher Hitchens: "As a fiction writer, she's absurd. But if you're young and not particularly wanted and not particularly brilliant, reading Atlas Shrugged provides all the feelings of compensation one might need for any period of terrifying inadequacy."


    Yes, because idealistic young people leap on capitalism because they're naive and simplistic. But it's impossible to imagine idealistic young people leaping on socialism because they're naive and simplistic: obviously they only turn to socialism because they have carefully studied the issues involved and concluded that this is the moral and pragmatic way to go. Socialism is SO grounded in hard facts, rational evaluation of human behavior, and empirical analysis.

    In general, people who disagree with you must think that way because they are blindly following some demagogic leader, or their professed ideas are all a cover for selfishness and bigotry, or some such. But people who agree with you obviously think that way because they have carefully analyzed the facts and thought things through to their logical conclusion.

    Seriously now. Even if you are absolutely convinced that someone is wrong, can't you at least consider the possibility that he arrived at his conclusions by honest evaluation and reasonable thought?
  • Someone 2012-12-14 00:30
    GNU Pepper:

    ...will feel free to treat you like crap and attempt to bully you if you're the only thing left standing between them and their commission.

    I once called an end to the interview process after a first interview. My long-term plans changed slightly and I didn't want to live in that particular part of the country any more. When I informed the recruiter that I would not be attending my second interview, I don't think I've ever experienced such a quick, polar shift in somebody's demeanour towards me. From one moment to the next this person went from friendly and encouraging to angry and rude. He seemed genuinely disgusted that I wouldn't reconsider my plans for my entire life for the sake of his chance at a couple of thousand pounds of commission.


    Same thing happened to me a few months ago. Polite, flirting, happy to help, up till I stalled on making a decision (I was waiting on another offer), and downright hostile when I said that I wasn't interested.

    Even went so far as to call the company and get them to call me directly. I had no issues with them, but the recruiters hostility has turned me off recruiters ever since.
  • foo 2012-12-14 01:12
    JustSomeGuy:
    Socialism was never going to work because of its underlying essence: "from everyone according to their ability, to everyone according to their need".

    The reason it would never work is because, while resources are limited, desires are not.
    Need != desire.
    Even if it had lasted a thousand years (and it didn't get antwhere near that), that would still be a piss in the ocean compared to civilisation itself.
    So which system did last a thousand years anyway? The Pharaos' rule, or perhaps medieval monarchies.
  • Norman Diamond 2012-12-14 01:21
    foo:
    So which system did last a thousand years anyway? The Pharaos' rule, or perhaps medieval monarchies.
    Here's one:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_House_of_Japan:
    The imperial house recognizes 125 monarchs beginning with the legendary Emperor Jimmu (traditionally dated to February 11, 660 BC) and continuing up to the current emperor, Akihito; see its family tree. However, there is no historical evidence for the genealogical relationships, and in most cases even the existence, of the first 25 emperors.
    Fallout from Tepco will last longer.
  • Dave 2012-12-14 01:24
    Black Bart:
    I'd have guessed that each pirate should get 20 gold coins.


    No, they were all caught up in a dawn raid by the RIAA, and even their 20 Linden Dollars didn't help them get out of it.
  • Rand Fan 2012-12-14 01:54
    foo:
    JustSomeGuy:
    Socialism was never going to work because of its underlying essence: "from everyone according to their ability, to everyone according to their need".

    The reason it would never work is because, while resources are limited, desires are not.
    Need != desire.


    No, but desire does not magically disappear when socialism is instituted. Pretending otherwise is just as simplistic as pretending that everyone is purely greedy or complete knowledge of the entire market is possible.

    As a Rand fan (really an Adam Smith fan, which I find simplified as well, but Rand provides a simplified version of Smith...), I put forth the following claim: Both her perspective of capitalism as well as the ideas of socialism are simplistic. I further put forth, having read Marx' Communist Manifesto, that communism was a grab for power and an attempt to make the workers revolt against the investors.

    If you've never read them, I strongly recommend reading all sources mentioned. It's illuminating.
  • Gunslinger 2012-12-14 02:25
    Narfff:
    No, he declined because the Manager repeatedly did not listen to him explaining things, and even after repeatedly being told that the candidate knew the answers because they were already asked before, still chose to believe that this person was the smartest student EVER.

    I don't know if I would have declined, but it does say a lot about the company.


    It says that the guy likely was the smartest guy they had interviewed, and he should have taken the job. He could have been CEO in less than 2 years.
  • iogy 2012-12-14 02:35
    TK:

    However, if the "charity" comes from the government, then it's your right, dammit! I don't need to work, just gimme my moneys!


    That just shows that you're stupid.

    You could've been loafing and doing nothing all day, but instead you choose to go to work and pay taxes. Efficiency is putting in as little effort as possible to get maximum gain - so quit your job and go collect welfare.

    You won't be off worse - or are you of such sub-standard intelligence that any lowlife with no education and no ambition can somehow beat the system, but you can't? Because the way you describe it, they are.

    I mean, it's not like you give a shit about the rest of the population, so the excuse that you are a pillar of society propping it up because you have a job is, well, bullshit.
  • John Hensley 2012-12-14 02:45
    Rand Fan:
    As a Rand fan (really an Adam Smith fan, which I find simplified as well, but Rand provides a simplified version of Smith...)

    Bwahaha. Smith wrote some things about markets that would make Rand pull her hair out, but you won't find them in free-market propaganda tracts.
  • Drak 2012-12-14 03:24
    Smug Unix User:
    1 pirate gets 100 coins and kills the others. They are pirates they don't share.


    Actually, as I have heard, the Quartermaster decided how the loot was split.
  • Norman Diamond 2012-12-14 04:17
    Some pirates were actually incredibly smart, and incredibly rational. Some of the booby traps they set would even put IOCCC contest entries to shame.
  • Schmee 2012-12-14 05:07
    Paul:

    5. The other islanders observe that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized, so they all stop working. Everyone starves to death.


    Oh, do fuck off.

    I think back to one of my acquaintances from a few years back, who was a small-time weed dealer and highly experienced benefits cheat. He'd done about a week's actual work in five years, had his rent and bills and food needs all covered by his benefits and spent the profit from his (short) deals on stuff he liked.

    Irritated me quite a lot at the time.

    Fast forward a few years. He's still the same. He's living in a shitty house in a shitty down eating the same shitty food. He's still getting the same amount in benefits, somehow... on the other hand, I've got a good job and whilst I work harder than he ever will and he effectively lives off my tax, my life is fucking awesome by comparison.

    I live in a decent house in a nice city. I get regular ski, windsurfing and mountain biking holidays. I can afford a decent car and a fancy computer and a fast net connection and I get to eat good food whenever I like. I have enough spare cash to get decent insurance, pension funding and savings and still have more than enough left over to look after my dad.

    Am I supposed to go on fucking hunger strike like a three year old having a temper tantrum because I have to work for my lifestyle? Hey, you wanna have a screaming fit about how society has parasites, you go right ahead. I'll be over here with a smug, self-satisfied smile on my face because I can cope with a small proportion of my earnings being wasted on the lazy. Feel free to whine yourself into an early grave.
  • Numerius Negidius 2012-12-14 05:31
    Gee, I wonder which president you voted for in the last election.
  • chris 2012-12-14 05:53
    Numerius Negidius:
    Gee, I wonder which president you voted for in the last election.

    So that's a vote for the temper-tantrum-and-hunger-strike philosophy then? ;-)
  • Tynam 2012-12-14 06:13
    It's hard to describe any place where she didn't, frankly. An understanding of the economics of enterprise bypassed her completely.

    Atlas Shrugged draws no distinction between "being competent", "being economically important" and "being rich". These are not the same thing, and any theory based on the assumption that they are will fail miserably in real-world economics.

    This fallacy does, however, explain why her work is so popular with rich people. (Note how weak, how straw-man, the arguments of her protagonist's opponents are; she couldn't handle writing *plausible* opposition, because she doesn't have a plausible counterargument.)
  • Numerius Negidius 2012-12-14 06:28
    Nah, I just voted for one of the many viable third parties where I live :-)

    Politics is so much more reasonable when it's not good versus evil or light versus darkness. The world just isn't that boolean.
  • dude 2012-12-14 08:55
    You've missed the bit where most of them work every spare minute but still aren't given enough to survive so they have to take out loans from the richest at extortionate interest.
  • Peter 2012-12-14 09:02
    dude:
    You've missed the bit where most of them work every spare minute but still aren't given enough to survive
    So how is it they can all afford cable TV and 2000-texts-a-month cellular plans?
  • PedanticCurmudgeon 2012-12-14 09:33
    An innocent abroad:
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Not sure if trolling or woefully ignorant... Most of Rand's writing is non-fiction and can be found in the philosophy section of your local bookstore.

    Yes, but that's mostly because my local bookstore is shit. It has all kinds of popular science books mixed up with spiritualist crap on a single 'science' shelf.

    The only reason I can see for Rand stuff not being in the fiction/literature part of a normal bookstore, is that it is so incredibly badly written. For a philosophical tome you kind of forgive/expect it to be hard going, so it's a natural home. It's turgid, incoherent, switches from narrative to dry lecturing and back haphazardly, there's no overarching structure / narrative arc, etc etc.

    Admittedly, I've only read Fountainhead (didn't see the movie, natch) and Atlas. Which make up the vast bulk of her sales, and are definitely in the Fiction, not the Philosophy shelf of a decent bookshop.

    Even the 'pirate' puzzle already shows Rand is wrong on her fundamental assumptions: the absurd outcome is only due to the assumption that humans/pirates are coldly logical. The rise of cooperation/altruism in everything from bacterial colonies, human and animal societies, and game theoretic models is another good indication. She doesn't even have a grasp nor explanation for occasional 'you scratch my back & I'll scratch yours' opportunistic cooperation.
    I think you'll find her philosophy books are even worse. She tried to create a system of ethics from first principles, but let ethical considerations leak into said principles, making for a nice bit of circular reasoning.
  • gnasher729 2012-12-14 10:06
    some guy:
    bgodot:
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)


    This is probably because you were wrong about. The final step is to walk north one mile. There is no place from which you can move north, and reach the south pole when you're any distance away from the south pole.


    He is of course absolutely right. You start for example 1.159155 miles away from the south pole. You walk south one mile and are 0.159155 miles away from the south pole, which happens to be 1 / 2pi miles. Walking one mile to the west covers exactly one round, 360 degrees, and you are back at the same point 0.159155 miles away from the south pole. Walking 1 mile north means you are now 1.159155 miles away, exactly where you started.
  • PRMan 2012-12-14 10:15
    I turned down an offer once because I felt like God told me not to take it. The recruiter was surprisingly understanding and respected me for having the guts to admit that.

    She tried to get me another job soon afterward.
  • foo2 2012-12-14 10:39
    Ozz:
    The sad thing is, some people actually believe this.
    So tell me, where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?


    Well, we all know socialism is bad.

    Unless of course you are dying and broke, so it's ok then. You're not really getting a handout from the government in that case because, er, um, because, um, just because, ok? Because I paid taxes! Yeah, that's the ticket, just getting back what was mine! I did pay, honest!

    But socialism is still bad, ok?
  • fa2k 2012-12-14 11:50
    Paul, in the featured commend you're conflating two unrelated issues, the economics of inflation and a welfare system. Having inflation does not make people lazy by itself, it rather encourages people to spend money instead of hoarding it. In practice, stable governments don't use inflation to finance the welfare system, they use taxes instead.
  • Anonymous Coward 2012-12-14 11:52
    Numerius Negidius:
    Gee, I wonder which president you voted for in the last election.

    Given that they used the words "pension," "holiday," and "whilst," I'm guessing neither because they are British or Australian.

    Peter:
    dude:
    You've missed the bit where most of them work every spare minute but still aren't given enough to survive
    So how is it they can all afford cable TV and 2000-texts-a-month cellular plans?

    My TV and phone bills cost less than one month of food. Less than a quarter of my rent. I do not go extravagant in the food or housing categories by any means.

    But don't let pesky facts get in the way of a good hate-on.

    Alternate response: Are you saying poor people shouldn't be allowed any creature comforts whatsoever?
  • regeya 2012-12-14 11:56
    So tell me, where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?


    If you have to have it explained to you...
  • Mr.Bob 2012-12-14 11:57
    Svensson:
    Wildcatmike:
    So, the WTF is that as a college student this got a great job offer, presumably starting after graduation, and it obviously comes with the option to decline at any point down the road (at will employment and whatnot), and the idiot declined the offer just because a manager got mixed up and accidentally gave him the answers ahead of time? Did I get that right, because, yeah, WTF?


    If he accepts it and then quits after 6 months, he will spend the next 10 years explaining to HR people why he left his first job so quickly -- that is, those HR people who will ask instead of just shoving his resume to the bottom of the pile.


    Hard to predict the future, but as a new wet-behind-the-ears college grad, I would rather risk the odds of explaining the 6 month job with a full belly and a tank of gas, than explain the 24-30 months of unemployment that I experienced right after college. Bird in the hand, and all that.
  • regeya 2012-12-14 12:04
    Interesting. The first link doesn't at all support your claim that Ayn Rand had pretty much everything wrong; the second is from GQ. Not that there's anything wrong with GQ, but expecting philosophical rigor from them is like going to an auto parts store for groceries.


    And yet, we're talking about the philosophical rigor of a Hollywood screenwriter...
  • abico 2012-12-14 12:46
    Anonymous:
    I think it's stupid to judge the whole company based on one stupid person. There are stupid people in every company (except for maybe Google...)! Turning down the job is one thing, but to say "needless to say" I think is taking it too far. Besides, how many companies have managers that are intelligent and a joy to work for? Management attracts people persons, not intelligence.


    There are actually plenty of morons in Google as well.
  • abico 2012-12-14 12:47
    Mark Bowytz:
    A group of villagers with pitchforks and torches just got off of the elevators here on my floor.

    I flipped the category bit on the article hoping that it would calm them, but it only made the situation worse.

    I can hear banging on the cabinets in the kitchenette and the chants are growing ever louder.

    Someone just screamed - something about how the multifunction printer is out of toner I think.

    I fear my time is drawing short - I don't know how long it will be until the mob navigates the cubicle maze to my desk. Hours or days - I just don't know.

    Please tell my wife and children that I love them and tell Alex that tomorrow's Error'd is already done.



    Inside jokes are not funny outside.
  • PedanticCurmudgeon 2012-12-14 12:47
    regeya:
    Interesting. The first link doesn't at all support your claim that Ayn Rand had pretty much everything wrong; the second is from GQ. Not that there's anything wrong with GQ, but expecting philosophical rigor from them is like going to an auto parts store for groceries.


    And yet, we're talking about the philosophical rigor of a Hollywood screenwriter...
    ...who went on to write a bunch of philosophy books. We've gone over this earlier in the thread. Please try to keep up.
  • Jazz 2012-12-14 12:49
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Jazz:

    To be fair, if you're wondering why [some work of fiction] by [author who writes only fiction] is wrong
    Not sure if trolling or woefully ignorant... Most of Rand's writing is non-fiction and can be found in the philosophy section of your local bookstore.

    Disclaimer: I don't agree with Randian philosophy either.


    In this case I was woefully ignorant. I shudder to think of Rand being treated as a serious philosopher, but TIL.

    Either way, I think my argument still stands if you remove the word "only." I think it's silly to expect academic-grade philosophical rigor from what is fundamentally a piece of literary criticism.
  • jay 2012-12-14 13:05
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Brogrammer:
    Pretty much everything, truth be told. There are plenty of resources out there on that fertile topic.
    Interesting. The first link doesn't at all support your claim that Ayn Rand had pretty much everything wrong; the second is from GQ. Not that there's anything wrong with GQ, but expecting philosophical rigor from them is like going to an auto parts store for groceries.


    Any time I ask, "What's the flaw in this reasoning?" and get a reply like "Everything!" or "Only morons would believe that!" or "All the experts say it's wrong!", I interpret that to mean "I can't actually give you a rational argument, but it would make me feel uncomfortable if it was true, so I have to believe that it's false."
  • Ben 2012-12-14 13:24
    Somebody doesn't get that welfare is a way for the government to invest in its citizens. I've had to use food stamps, pell grants, and sundry other Government aid to get through college as a teenage parent. I'm currently working retail, but I'll graduate and find a real job soon enough. Then I'm sure I'll be paying enough in taxes to pay all of it back, and more.
  • jay 2012-12-14 13:37
    An innocent abroad:
    jay:

    Yes, because idealistic young people leap on capitalism because they're naive and simplistic. But it's impossible to imagine idealistic young people leaping on socialism because they're naive and simplistic:

    Where did socialism suddenly come from?! Or is this your entry in the "Weakest Strawman of the Year" competition? It has the same logic as "You're against Stalinism? Then you support Nazism!". I know it's the endorsed American view that you're either with or against 'Us', but do grow up, the world is not Boolean. (Not even extended-Boolean with an 'unsure', 'file-not-found', 'etc' category.)


    I didn't say that if you don't follow Ayn Rand's philosophy you must be a socialist. I don't see where you get such an idea from my statement. I was criticizing the practice of "rebutting" a philosophical idea by amateur psychoanalysis of its adherents rather than debating the merits. Thus, I was attempting to show the emptiness of this line of argument by applying it to a competing philosophy. I didn't say that the example I used was the only possible competing philosophy. Ayn Rand's philosophy is generally described as being an extreme form of capitalism. The opposite of capitalism is generally understood to be socialism. Thus I used what most people would consider the opposite for my example. This made a good example, I thought, because the most vocal critics of Ayn Rand are generally socialists. That does not mean that the only critics of Ayn Rand are socialists. I disagree with many of Rand's ideas and I am not a socialist. I suppose I could have made the same point by using as an example a philosophy or theory that has nothing to do with economics or politics. But I was trying to use an example that would describe a large percentage -- though, I reiterate, by no means all -- of the people who would agree with the original attack on Rand.

    If someone says that Mr X must be French because he speaks English with an accent, and I say that this conclusion does not follow and note that Mr Y also speaks English with an accent and he is from Germany, this does not mean that I think that Mr X must be from Germany or that I think that France and Germany are the only countries in the world. I am just using two examples.
  • Mason Wheeler 2012-12-14 13:42
    I had something similar happen to me in an interview once. I was given a question by the first interviewer (let's call him Dave) that went like "given a set of data with characteristics X, can you create a function to determine fact Y about this data?" When I answered, he added "and can you make it work within constraint Z?" After a few attempts, I couldn't think of a way to satisfy the constraint, and he said that most people couldn't, and here's the answer.

    I got invited back for a second interview, this time by Bill. Bill asked me the same question, so I gave him the answer that Dave had given me. He looked amazed and said that I was the first person they'd ever interviewed who could answer that right the first time. I said, "well, that's because Dave went over it with me on my first interview," and we both had a good laugh about it.

    He then proceeded to ask me a bunch of other questions about programming, which I was able to answer to his satisfaction. I ended up getting the offer, and I accepted it.
  • Mason Wheeler 2012-12-14 13:47
    JustSomeGuy:
    Socialism was never going to work because of its underlying essence: "from everyone according to their ability, to everyone according to their need".

    The reason it would never work is because, while resources are limited, desires are not.


    While I agree that socialism was never going to work because of its underlying essence, I don't agree with your analysis of "its underlying essence." The concept of "From everyone according to their ability, to everyone according to their need" is quite sound, and as has already been pointed out, need is a very different thing from desire. Had this principle actually been implemented by some socialist system, they would have flourished.

    The true essential problem is that socialism expects that The People will find it in them to abandon selfishness en masse for the sake of the greater good, while also explicitly denying and condemning the only facet of human nature that has been shown, throughout history, to be strong enough to motivate people to do so: the religious impulse.
  • jay 2012-12-14 13:48
    Schmee:
    Paul:

    5. The other islanders observe that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized, so they all stop working. Everyone starves to death.


    Oh, do fuck off.

    I think back to one of my acquaintances from a few years back, who was a small-time weed dealer and highly experienced benefits cheat. He'd done about a week's actual work in five years, had his rent and bills and food needs all covered by his benefits and spent the profit from his (short) deals on stuff he liked.

    Irritated me quite a lot at the time.

    Fast forward a few years. He's still the same. He's living in a shitty house in a shitty down eating the same shitty food. He's still getting the same amount in benefits, somehow... on the other hand, I've got a good job and whilst I work harder than he ever will and he effectively lives off my tax, my life is fucking awesome by comparison.

    I live in a decent house in a nice city. I get regular ski, windsurfing and mountain biking holidays. I can afford a decent car and a fancy computer and a fast net connection and I get to eat good food whenever I like. I have enough spare cash to get decent insurance, pension funding and savings and still have more than enough left over to look after my dad.

    Am I supposed to go on fucking hunger strike like a three year old having a temper tantrum because I have to work for my lifestyle? Hey, you wanna have a screaming fit about how society has parasites, you go right ahead. I'll be over here with a smug, self-satisfied smile on my face because I can cope with a small proportion of my earnings being wasted on the lazy. Feel free to whine yourself into an early grave.


    Hmm, so as best as I can figure out, you are saying that you think that living off government benefits is bad for the individual and bad for society, but if someone else says that living off government benefits is bad for the individual and bad for society, they are whiners and screamers and lunatics.
  • Mason Wheeler 2012-12-14 13:50
    Rand Fan:
    As a Rand fan (really an Adam Smith fan, which I find simplified as well, but Rand provides a simplified version of Smith...), I put forth the following claim: Both her perspective of capitalism as well as the ideas of socialism are simplistic. I further put forth, having read Marx' Communist Manifesto, that communism was a grab for power and an attempt to make the workers revolt against the investors.

    If you've never read them, I strongly recommend reading all sources mentioned. It's illuminating.


    If you really think this, I can't help but wonder if you have ever read them. What Ayn Rand calls "capitalism" is nothing like the principles that Adam Smith described. If you go around advocating the ideas of Smith's capitalism these days, there's a pretty good chance that modern "free market proponents" (influenced by Rand) would call you a dirty commie.
  • Gobias Industries 2012-12-14 14:00
    I think you may have made a huge mistake...
  • jay 2012-12-14 14:00
    bgodot:
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)


    How interesting. When I first heard this problem many years ago, I thought of a single circle around the south pole. Namely:

    Start 1+pi/2 miles from the south pole. (It's not necessary to say in what direction from the south pole, as the only direction from the south pole is north.) Let's call that point X. Walk south 1 mile. You are now pi/2 miles from the south pole. Let's call that point Y. Walk 1 mile west and you make a complete circle around the south pole -- a circle with radius pi/2 has a circumference of 1 -- bringing you back to point Y. Walk 1 mile north and you are back to X, you're starting point.

    But I guess you're saying that if the problem is understood to allow you making multiple laps around a tiny circle -- which I guess isn't ruled out -- then you could start closer to the south pole. If, say, you start 1+pi/4 miles from the pole, then you walk south 1 mile, walk west 1 mile means 2 complete laps around the pole, then 1 mile north to your starting point. So under those rules there would be an infinite number of concentric circles that you could start from. Of course in practice, eventually we are talking about walking in a 2 inch circle many thousands of times, etc. I'd never thought of that before. Who says this web site is just a time waster?

    Does it count if you start exactly 1 mile from the south pole, walk 1 mile south, spin on your heals a few thousand times, and then walk 1 mile north?
  • jay 2012-12-14 14:32
    Bern:
    Well, you know that's only a hypothetical example.

    In the *real* world, one of the five (let's call him Bill) has, through fair means & foul, managed to amass 90% of all the gold coins.

    Three of the remaining four, needing gold coins to trade, want to do work for Bill to earn them. Bill says, "Sure, but I'll only give work to the lowest bidder."

    The others are so desperate to get coins, that Bill not only gets his own needs fulfilled, but hires others at a discount to do the work that he gets paid gold coins for in the first place, taking 50-90% of all the income generated.

    The end result is that Bill lives a life of luxury, ends up with an even higher proportion of the coins, the 'middle class' get barely enough to scrape by on, and Larry spends his days poring through the trash heap, eating scraps and hoping like hell someone will throw out a blanket before winter arrives...


    Let's consider this post as if it was intended seriously.

    I don't know of any advocate of capitalism who condones acquiring wealth by "foul" means. If Bill got rich by breaking into people's houses and stealing their wealth, or by making false representations about what he was selling and so tricking them out of their wealth, etc, then he should be caught and punished and the money returned. Even the most extreme libertarians agree that contracts should be enforced and theft and fraud punished.

    So let's assume Bill acquired his wealth legitimately: by his own hard work and ingenuity.

    So now, in your scenario, he no longer does work himself, but instead hires others to do the work and then resells the fruit of their labor at a profit. Okay. There are three possibilities here.

    One: Bill is managing the operation. That is, he is making plans, dividing up the labor, co-ordinating efforts, etc. While this is not grunt-force labor, it is still a job that needs to be done, and he deserves to be compensated for it.

    Two: Bill is assuming risk. No one knows for sure if the venture will be successful or not. So Bill pays people to do the work. If the venture fails, they have still been paid. They lose nothing from the failure. They go on to get other jobs. Bill is out the cash that was paid to them. So it's only fair that if the venture succeeds, Bill should get some profit to compensate him for being willing to take the risk. After all, why is it that most people don't start their own business? Surely it is because they are afraid to take the risk. They know that if the business fails, they could lose everything they own. They'd rather go to work for someone else and let that person take the risk. But why should the business owner be willing to take the risk of losing money unless there is some hope of gaining money?

    (Might be a combination of 1 and 2, of course.)

    Three: Bill contributes absolutely nothing of value. He just skims x% off the top of everyone else's income.

    But in case 3, how does Bill keep this up? Why would anyone go to work for him if he provides no useful service? It doesn't work to say that they have no choice because Bill has all the money. If that was really the case, then to whom does he sell the products that his serfs create? Bill may have more money than anyone else, but he doesn't have all of it. So someone else could start a competing business. If it's really true that Bill hires Fred to work for him, pays Fred 4 gold coins, and then sells the fruit of Fred's work to someone else for 10 gold coins and keeps 6 for himself, then why can't Fred just quit working for Bill and start his own business, selling the same work for, say, 5 gold coins. Now he makes more money than he did before. He can easily win away many of Bill's customers because he's charging half the price for the same product.

    The only way Bill can keep this going is if he can use force to prevent people from competing against him. That is, if he can make himself the government or get the government to support him. Then the 6 gold coins that Bill skims off the top are called "taxes" or "subsidies" or "stimulus". But now we're not talking about capitalism any more; we're talking about socialism.

  • PedanticCurmudgeon 2012-12-14 14:33
    Jazz:
    I shudder to think of Rand being treated as a serious philosopher, but TIL.
    If it's any consolation, she only wrote a bunch of philosophy books. She was never treated as a serious philosopher.
  • foo 2012-12-14 14:37
    jay:
    Schmee:
    Paul:

    5. The other islanders observe that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized, so they all stop working. Everyone starves to death.


    Oh, do fuck off.

    I think back to one of my acquaintances from a few years back, who was a small-time weed dealer and highly experienced benefits cheat. He'd done about a week's actual work in five years, had his rent and bills and food needs all covered by his benefits and spent the profit from his (short) deals on stuff he liked.

    Irritated me quite a lot at the time.

    Fast forward a few years. He's still the same. He's living in a shitty house in a shitty down eating the same shitty food. He's still getting the same amount in benefits, somehow... on the other hand, I've got a good job and whilst I work harder than he ever will and he effectively lives off my tax, my life is fucking awesome by comparison.

    I live in a decent house in a nice city. I get regular ski, windsurfing and mountain biking holidays. I can afford a decent car and a fancy computer and a fast net connection and I get to eat good food whenever I like. I have enough spare cash to get decent insurance, pension funding and savings and still have more than enough left over to look after my dad.

    Am I supposed to go on fucking hunger strike like a three year old having a temper tantrum because I have to work for my lifestyle? Hey, you wanna have a screaming fit about how society has parasites, you go right ahead. I'll be over here with a smug, self-satisfied smile on my face because I can cope with a small proportion of my earnings being wasted on the lazy. Feel free to whine yourself into an early grave.


    Hmm, so as best as I can figure out, you are saying that you think that living off government benefits is bad for the individual and bad for society, but if someone else says that living off government benefits is bad for the individual and bad for society, they are whiners and screamers and lunatics.
    Well, as best as I can figure out, he was contradicting the claim "that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized" by giving counter-examples to both.

    Of course, I can't read his mind, but I can read what's written (note the quoted paragraph), which seems to be a lost art in these debates ...
  • Your Name 2012-12-14 14:43
    Ben:
    Somebody doesn't get that welfare is a way for the government to invest in its citizens. I've had to use food stamps, pell grants, and sundry other Government aid to get through college as a teenage parent. I'm currently working retail, but I'll graduate and find a real job soon enough. Then I'm sure I'll be paying enough in taxes to pay all of it back, and more.
    Somebody doesn't realize that the government should not be doing half of what it does.
    I donate more to charity in a year than I pay in taxes, however I still resent some the causes for which my tax dollars are spent. The American government's welfare system is a trap. I spent the first portion of my life in it. I would much rather choose which programs I financially support.
    The charities I donate to have better outcomes with less overhead and (in the case of welfare charities) less recidivation than the governments welfare programs.
  • foo 2012-12-14 14:55
    jay:
    Bern:
    Well, you know that's only a hypothetical example.

    In the *real* world, one of the five (let's call him Bill) has, through fair means & foul, managed to amass 90% of all the gold coins.

    Three of the remaining four, needing gold coins to trade, want to do work for Bill to earn them. Bill says, "Sure, but I'll only give work to the lowest bidder."

    The others are so desperate to get coins, that Bill not only gets his own needs fulfilled, but hires others at a discount to do the work that he gets paid gold coins for in the first place, taking 50-90% of all the income generated.

    The end result is that Bill lives a life of luxury, ends up with an even higher proportion of the coins, the 'middle class' get barely enough to scrape by on, and Larry spends his days poring through the trash heap, eating scraps and hoping like hell someone will throw out a blanket before winter arrives...


    Let's consider this post as if it was intended seriously.

    I don't know of any advocate of capitalism who condones acquiring wealth by "foul" means.
    Ah, that's the problem right there. They don't need to condone it, but it happens in the real world. Just like it's never possible to have perfect market information, it's never possible to stop all playing "foul". Big difference between theory and practice. I think, just like socialism's big mistake is assuming most people are willing to work for the "greater good", capitalism's big mistake is assuming most people will (or can be forced to) behave honestly.

    Furthermore, if you are to introduce "pure capitalism" in this real world, you'll start from a distribution of wealth accrued over centuries of often unjst behaviour. So even if the system itself was fair, how would you at least give a fair starting point to everyone? By taking all existing wealth from everybody (and maybe redistribute it), so they all can start the same? (I guess so. :)

    There are three possibilities here. [...]
    Four: He has a monopoly, e.g. on that island he has acquired (even if in a fair way) all drinking water which everyone needs to survive. He now can literally force anyone to pay him whatever he wants or die.
  • Capitalist 2012-12-14 15:01
    Ben:
    Somebody doesn't get that welfare is a way for the government to invest in its citizens. I've had to use food stamps, pell grants, and sundry other Government aid to get through college as a teenage parent. I'm currently working retail, but I'll graduate and find a real job soon enough. Then I'm sure I'll be paying enough in taxes to pay all of it back, and more.
    Don't you know that anything the government can do, the market can do better? So don't let the government "invest" in you, find a sponsor who gives you some spare food when you're in college, and in return you give him some % of all you earn later in life. (And no, this has nothing to do with selling yourself into slavery. This is a free market solution after all.)
  • Mason Wheeler 2012-12-14 15:17
    Capitalist:
    Ben:
    Somebody doesn't get that welfare is a way for the government to invest in its citizens. I've had to use food stamps, pell grants, and sundry other Government aid to get through college as a teenage parent. I'm currently working retail, but I'll graduate and find a real job soon enough. Then I'm sure I'll be paying enough in taxes to pay all of it back, and more.
    Don't you know that anything the government can do, the market can do better?

    I know no such thing. I know that free market proponents like to make that claim. Still, I have yet to see the market produce a better Interstate highway system, a better Internet, or a better Post Office.

    So don't let the government "invest" in you, find a sponsor who gives you some spare food when you're in college, and in return you give him some % of all you earn later in life. (And no, this has nothing to do with selling yourself into slavery. This is a free market solution after all.)


    Simply claiming that "this has nothing to do with selling yourself into slavery" does not make it true. That's essentially what you're proposing. (Technically, it sounds a lot more like indentured servitude, but with one important distinction: indentured servitude was for a fixed period, and then it's over. You propose that the sponsor should have some claim on "all you earn later in life," without any time limit. That sure sounds like slavery to me.)
  • Capitalist 2012-12-14 15:22
    Mason Wheeler:
    So don't let the government "invest" in you, find a sponsor who gives you some spare food when you're in college, and in return you give him some % of all you earn later in life. (And no, this has nothing to do with selling yourself into slavery. This is a free market solution after all.)


    Simply claiming that "this has nothing to do with selling yourself into slavery" does not make it true. That's essentially what you're proposing. (Technically, it sounds a lot more like indentured servitude, but with one important distinction: indentured servitude was for a fixed period, and then it's over. You propose that the sponsor should have some claim on "all you earn later in life," without any time limit. That sure sounds like slavery to me.)
    No, no, no! If you're my slave, also your children and grand-children are my slaves. I made no such demand! (I'm generous today.)
  • PedanticCurmudgeon 2012-12-14 15:28
    Mason Wheeler:
    You propose that the sponsor should have some claim on "all you earn later in life," without any time limit. That sure sounds like government to me.)
    FTFY
  • abico 2012-12-14 16:05
    flabdablet:
    Paul:
    Do you ever wonder why the do-gooder politicians don't just take their "solutions" seriously and have the government write a ten million dollar check to everybody? What could possibly be more fair? Then we'd all be wealthy. Wouldn't we?


    My God, you're right. Why have I not seen it before? Your explanation has made things so obvious! We just leave Larry and Karl in charge of all the banana leaves and their enormous and growing wealth will naturally trickle down on all of us, yes?


    No - we'd all be equally poor. The difference is that everything would cost a lot of dollars (e.g. item that costs $1 today would cost $100,000). This is called inflation and it has happened many times in history.
  • Capitalist 2012-12-14 16:14
    PedanticCurmudgeon:
    Mason Wheeler:
    You propose that the sponsor should have some claim on "all you earn later in life," without any time limit. That sure sounds like government to me.)
    FTFY
    No, as I said, it's a private sponsor. If government does is, it's bad. If a private person does the same, it's good because it's not government. It's so simple.
  • WhiskeyJack 2012-12-14 16:27
    Can we please get back to being funny?
  • abico 2012-12-14 16:42
    TK:
    Anon:
    Clearly. I mean, not once in the entire history of man has someone who worked their ass off ever starved to death or died penniless.
    Of course capitalists never made such a claim.

    To those who pointed out that capitalism is flawed because people don't always act in their own best interests: you're absolutely right! In fact, you are so correct that you've also found the reason why socialism and communism don't work either!

    Capitalism isn't perfect. It just sucks less that the alternatives. But by itself, it is not enough.

    And that is where Ayn Rand fails. She does a great job of explaining how Big Government is always doomed to failure, but her answer is overly simplistic.

    A successful society needs to respect private property and the right to keep the fruits of your own labors, but it also must encourage voluntary charity to the poor. Once "charity" becomes an "entitlement," (something you are "entitled to") then everything goes to hell like Ayn says. If it's a voluntary gift from those who are successful to those down on their luck, that entitlement mentality (envy, really) is less likely to trap the poor. It's a self-correcting system: if they stop being grateful for the charity of others, that charity is likely to dry up.

    However, if the "charity" comes from the government, then it's your right, dammit! I don't need to work, just gimme my moneys!

    This attitude is not sustainable, and it's bankrupt nations around the world.



    If I was the president, I wouldn't discontinue feeding the poor or even those that do not want to work. However, I would not give them a penny. Instead, they would need to drag their ass to a public kitchen and consume their meal there. Sick and disabled could have their friends bring food to them, but proper documentation would have to exist. Those who don't have their houses, I'd provide barracks for. The last essential thing is clothing and basic healthcare. Basically, minimum expenses.

    Today's government does similar but with less effect: they issue food stamps and real money, which a large portion of people spend on beer and drugs - and they again don't have a meal, and they go out and beg and steal. My way, they'd at least have a meal every day. Basic life - but if you want more, find a job.
  • abico 2012-12-14 16:48
    [quote user="foo"][quote user="JustSomeGuy"]Socialism was never going to work because of its underlying essence: "from everyone according to their ability, to everyone according to their need".

    The reason it would never work is because, while resources are limited, desires are not.[/quote]Need != desire.


    That doesn't matter. The reason it fails is because most people stop being willing to work more than others around them, which results in less resources to share with those that don't or can't work, which circularly affects those that work hard because they start getting less. At the end, the system collapses to extremely rich (who are mostly criminals or ex-criminals) and extremely poor.
  • abico 2012-12-14 16:57
    PRMan:
    I turned down an offer once because I felt like God told me not to take it. The recruiter was surprisingly understanding and respected me for having the guts to admit that.

    She tried to get me another job soon afterward.


    So, what does that prove? That you found one honest recruiter? Nobody really meant that 100% of recruiters are dicks. Almost 100% of requiters are dicks. Better?
  • abico 2012-12-14 17:04
    Anonymous Coward:
    Numerius Negidius:
    Gee, I wonder which president you voted for in the last election.

    Given that they used the words "pension," "holiday," and "whilst," I'm guessing neither because they are British or Australian.

    Peter:
    dude:
    You've missed the bit where most of them work every spare minute but still aren't given enough to survive
    So how is it they can all afford cable TV and 2000-texts-a-month cellular plans?

    My TV and phone bills cost less than one month of food. Less than a quarter of my rent. I do not go extravagant in the food or housing categories by any means.

    But don't let pesky facts get in the way of a good hate-on.

    Alternate response: Are you saying poor people shouldn't be allowed any creature comforts whatsoever?


    Yes - poor who depend on gifts (grants) solely because they do not want to work should not be allowed anything else but basic meals (nothing fancy here), basic clothing (again, nothing fancy, second-hand donations), and basic lodging (minor leaks ok). They should in no circumstance receive cash - even if this means creating more jobs to serve those bums. Less cash bums have, less chances they spend it on beer and perhaps that'll result in little less crime (beer and drugs make you feel invincible). And, blah-blah... The point is: no, they shouldn't get any luxury.

    Sick and handicapped excluded, with proper proof and rigorous approval process (you better not have a leg then come to me claim disability pretending to have a bad-back problem).
  • Snowbody 2012-12-14 17:15
    So let's assume Bill acquired his wealth legitimately: by his own hard work and ingenuity.


    Libertarians must necessarily believe this is already the case for all existing wealth; otherwise the mental conflict they feel about perpetrating injustice is too large. They are basically adherents of the "just world fallacy" -- the idea that the world right now is perfectly just and the best of all possible worlds.

    Also, "hard work and ingenuity" may mean something different to a libertarian than to the general public: most people believe that tricking someone into signing an unfair contract is fraud; to a libertarian it's just good business practice, the weak naturally being devoured by the strong. Most people believe that offering a take-it-or-leave-it contract to someone with no other choice is unjust; to a libertarian that's just good business practice.

    If it's really true that Bill hires Fred to work for him, pays Fred 4 gold coins, and then sells the fruit of Fred's work to someone else for 10 gold coins and keeps 6 for himself, then why can't Fred just quit working for Bill and start his own business, selling the same work for, say, 5 gold coins. Now he makes more money than he did before. He can easily win away many of Bill's customers because he's charging half the price for the same product.


    Because the market has large barriers to entry, or Bill and Fred are colluding to create a cartel, or Fred's capital is not enough to both live on and start a business.
  • abico 2012-12-14 17:15
    jay:

    Three: Bill contributes absolutely nothing of value. He just skims x% off the top of everyone else's income.



    What came to my mind are recruiters, as they fit this case. And probably real-estate agents. Both over-compensated for the service that they provide. Yes, there is some value in what they provide, but not ongoing (in case of recruiters) and definitely not relative to the sale price (real-estate agents). I hate them both. Dicks...
  • BushIdo 2012-12-14 18:47
    Paul:
    Parker:
    There are five pirates splitting 100 gold coins...
    Just burn copies of the coins for everyone!
    Apparently you've confused "pirates" and "politicians".

    Here's how it works:

    1. The five inhabitants of island ... [and so on until]

    5. The other islanders observe that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized, so they all stop working. Everyone starves to death.

    * * *

    Do you ever wonder why the do-gooder politicians don't just take their "solutions" seriously and have the government write a ten million dollar check to everybody? What could possibly be more fair? Then we'd all be wealthy. Wouldn't we?


    So true.

    Did you know BTW that the German Pirate Party attempts to install welfare for all for free? Even the left-over leftists of the (former Eastern Germany) Socialist Party demand that welfare should not go to people who decline reasonable job offers without giving good reason.

    Don't they understand it's time for austerity?

    http://philebersole.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/1099cbcomic-desert-island-recession.jpg?w=620
  • foo 2012-12-14 19:15
    BushIdo:
    Did you know BTW that the German Pirate Party attempts to install welfare for all for free? Even the left-over leftists of the (former Eastern Germany) Socialist Party demand that welfare should not go to people who decline reasonable job offers without giving good reason.
    I suppose you mean the basic income guarantee (Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen). Did you know that one of its most prominent proponents is Götz W. Werner, the founder and co-owner of one of Germany's biggest drugstore chains. Bloody communist!
  • BushIdo 2012-12-14 19:21
    abico:
    They should in no circumstance receive cash - even if this means creating more jobs to serve those bums.


    So let's fany this works in real life. Say bum A has some illness and needs special food. Your job creating catering service has to take care of this. Then bum B has a child who needs needs pencil and paper for school. And so on. Subito you are in charge of running a full fledged parallel economy. This is sure to create some jobs. Than of course you might want to avoid getting fooled by bums who e.g. simply sell the stuff you give to them to get money anyway. More jobs for police detectives to come. Soon you are also in charge of running an entire parallel state organization. That's not going to be your typical small government thing. There are reasons for giving poor people money which have little to do with being generous: e.g. you might just want them of your ass.
  • BushIdo 2012-12-14 19:44
    foo:
    I suppose you mean the basic income guarantee (Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen).


    Yeah thanks. That was the terminology. Only wanted to write something pirate themed anyway.

    foo:
    Bloody communist!


    Sure he is. They are everywhere these days.

    http://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug/2012/10/04
  • BushIdo 2012-12-14 20:13
    Rand Fan:
    No, but desire does not magically disappear when socialism is instituted.


    But even concerning desires (as opposed to needs) how many sex robots would you like, considering that two are too many, three a crowed and four your death?

    How much increase in productivity do you need to produce and maintain these? There seems to be an engineer's solution even to the typical engineer's problem.

    Rand Fan:
    I further put forth, having read Marx' Communist Manifesto, that communism was a grab for power and an attempt to make the workers revolt against the investors.


    That was the modus operandi of achieving the goal of installing communism, as there was some opposition by the investors to the idea of simply retreating peacefully, but how does this relate to its value as an economic theory?

    Rand Fan:
    I strongly recommend reading all sources mentioned. It's illuminating.


    This may very well be the case, but how about instead of starting with Euclid's Elements go fast forward to some more modern approach to begin with, say e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes
  • Harrow 2012-12-15 03:51
    bgodot:
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)

    That's why the traditional form of this question properly must include a bear:

    "You walk south one mile, encounter some bear tracks, follow the tracks west one mile, encounter a bear, run north one mile, and end up exactly where you started. What color was the bear?"

    There are no bears in Antarctica, restricting your starting point to the singleton at the North Pole. Bears found within a few miles of the North Pole are white.

    -Harrow.
  • foo 2012-12-15 11:16
    Harrow:
    bgodot:
    I had an interview at a Microsoft-wannabe place once.

    They asked the cliche riddle of "Where is the one place you can walk south one mile, west one mile, and north one mile, and end up exactly where you started?"

    The traditional answer is the North Pole.

    However, given a little thought, there is also an infinite series of concentric rings (> 1 mile, and <= (1+(1/2pi)) miles I think) around the south pole, where you can walk towards the pole, do a whole number of laps, then walk one mile north to your starting point.

    They refused to understand that possibility, and I don't think they were just seeing how well I would stick to my position (because I didn't budge from it)

    That's why the traditional form of this question properly must include a bear:

    "You walk south one mile, encounter some bear tracks, follow the tracks west one mile, encounter a bear, run north one mile, and end up exactly where you started. What color was the bear?"
    Green. (The scientists at Amundsen-Scott Station were having a costume party.)
  • 300 club 2012-12-15 17:22
    foo:
    Green. (The scientists at Amundsen-Scott Station were having a costume party.)


    No. Pale pink.
  • Founder 2012-12-15 21:49
    One pirate decides to fence off the coconuts and firewood, paying another pirate to kill anyone who goes there without permission. He then hires 2 other pirates to collect the wood and coconuts so he can sell them to the others at a profit.

    Soon, none of the other pirates have any gold coins to buy coconuts. After a while, even the employees don't have enough as they are paid less than they have to pay for food and wood.

    Everyone starves as 1 pirate has all the coins but does no work, and the other pirates cannot afford food.
  • Ben 2012-12-16 10:30
    My point has nothing to do with charity. My point is that a smart government will recognize that supporting its citizens is in its own best interests.
  • Seb Wiers 2012-12-16 17:20
    [quote=paul]Do you ever wonder why the do-gooder politicians don't just take their "solutions" seriously and have the government write a ten million dollar check to everybody? What could possibly be more fair? Then we'd all be wealthy. Wouldn't we?[/quote]

    No, but I have wondered why people who seem to think welfare is such an overly generous handout, never just quit working and go on welfare. After all, its what EVERYONE ELSE would do, right?
  • Jeremy 2012-12-17 00:24
    Get your crappy made-up economics out of my Daily WTF.
  • JimFin 2012-12-17 06:25
    I really don't understand why that flawed political argument was promoted to a featured comment.

    Biological fact: People don't starve to death if they are given money for nothing. They starve to death if they don't have food.

    Psychological fact: If people stop harvesting food & eating it just because banana leave money is given away for free, they die of plain stupidity.

    Sociological fact: Those countries where small amounts of money is given away for free under specific conditions don't have mass deaths because of starving.

    Economical fact: Because Karl has unlimited supply of banana leaves, he can use them to buy any amount of food whenever he wishes. He can also buy people to use them to protect his banana leaf monopoly without risking anything. No matter how hard other people work, Karl can still buy more food without doing anything. That, dear Paul, is rewarding weakness and penalizing strength.
  • SnarkyBoy 2012-12-17 07:34
    It'll be even more efficient when all money is electronic so you can be automatically paid, taxed and tracked, and "currency" debauched before you can spend it!
  • NotHere 2012-12-17 11:43
    Once, a recruiter called asking if I wanted to go on a particular interview. With nothing better to do I said sure.

    He then spent 15 minutes telling me about previous candidates he had sent and that they hadn't accepted the job offer which made his company look bad. He went on about how I need to be "serious".

    So, I told him I had no intention of wasting anyone's time and if the job was a fit then I'd take it.

    A week went by. The recruiter called and asked if I was interested. By this time I was already starting to interview elsewhere, which I told him about, and that if the company was interested in me then the interview needed to happen pronto. He then went into the 15 minute discussion about previous candidates again.

    An hour later he called with an interview time for that day, which I went to.

    A little background: I'm a Sr. Dev; with over 15 years coding, the last 10 of which being new projects and I have zero interest in doing maintenance work.

    The interview went pretty well and the work sounded interesting. Later that day I got a call directly from the company with an offer.

    The offer was: For the next 12 months I would make half what I'm used to. In addition, I wouldn't be coding, just providing tech support. After I had "proven" myself, my salary would jump to 75% of what I'm used to and I would work with the maintenance team. After two years of that, I could possibly be promoted to work with the new stuff at the rate I'm getting today.

    I literally laughed and asked if they were joking. They said no... To which I replied: "Good luck" and hung up. The recruiter called an hour later screaming about how I obviously wasn't serious and mad that I had wasted his time. I hung up on him. [side note: I'm not normally abrupt, but this was insane]

    But wait, there's more.

    A friend of mine was called by that same recruiter, went on the interview and accepted the same deal I turned down. He worked there for the requisite 12 months. In addition to being relegated to tech support, he couldn't take calls on his cell phone while on property. Heck, he wasn't even allowed to bring his own coffee cup or pens. At the 12 month mark they said he needed to be in support for another 6 before being promoted out as they were still unsure if he could code. It was then that he finally "woke" up and left.
  • Chaos-Engineer 2012-12-17 12:16
    OK, I see where you're confused. You're missing some key information.

    One of the islanders - let's call her "Marie" - is a good worker, but she's even better at bargaining. She'll do 1 gold coin's worth of work, but she'll try to convince you that she's done 10, and she's such a fast talker that a lot of islanders believe her. She's also a bit of a miser and hates to spend money on anything, so she winds up with a continually-growing share of the available gold coins.

    So we reach the point where Larry would like to do enough work so that he can eat, but Marie isn't hiring (because she hates to spend money), and nobody else has extra money to spend.

    There are two ways this can end. The traditional one is for people to say, "You know, a lot of us really can't make a decent living under this social order; maybe we should overthrow it and start from scratch." That usually ends badly for Marie.

    The other thing we can do is try to figure out how to get Marie's gold coins back into circulation. One way to do this is to introduce inflation. (The banana leaves in your story.) If Marie tries to hoard money then it'll lose value, so she's got more incentive to spend more of it on goods and services. It's possible that this could lead to the sort of hyper-inflation that you warn about in your story - but most people aren't completely stupid, and they'll certainly notice if they're starving to death and make another set of changes to the social order.

    That said, inflationary pressure is just one of the tools that can be used to keep money in circulation. A progressive tax code is another way to solve the problem.
    We could even try to instill Marie with a sense of "noblesse oblige" so that she'll spend more money voluntarily. That one works pretty well on Downton Abbey but it's less effective in real life.

    Also, are you sure that Larry is just lazy? From your description, it sounds like he's got Type 1 Diabetes. I know that we're not going to get Comprehensive Health Care Reform on an island with five people, but can't we try to keep him alive as long as we can, in case a rescue ship comes by?
  • jay 2012-12-17 14:33
    foo:
    jay:
    I don't know of any advocate of capitalism who condones acquiring wealth by "foul" means.
    Ah, that's the problem right there. They don't need to condone it, but it happens in the real world. Just like it's never possible to have perfect market information, it's never possible to stop all playing "foul". Big difference between theory and practice. I think, just like socialism's big mistake is assuming most people are willing to work for the "greater good", capitalism's big mistake is assuming most people will (or can be forced to) behave honestly.


    Sure. If anyone supposes that creating a system of "pure capitalism" would instantly result in all the world's problems being solved, he's hopelessly naive. In the real world, there will always be people who are both dishonest, and smart enough or lucky enough to get away with it.

    Socialists are quick to point out how greedy and dishonest people manage to take advantage of capitalism. Then they offer socialism as the solution to this problem. But they never explain quite HOW it will solve the problem. What prevents greedy and dishonest people in a socialist society from taking advantage of THAT system?

    Leftists are always saying how the rich and powerful use the government to exploit the poor and weak, how the government is a wholey-owned subsidiary of the big corporations, etc. And their solution to this is to make the government bigger and more powerful. Umm, won't that just make it an even more effective tool for the rich and powerful to exploit the poor and weak? Just writing on a piece of paper, "In my utopian socialist society, everyone will be equal and everyone will love everyone else and treat them fairly and honestly" will not make it so.

    foo:

    There are three possibilities here. [...]
    Four: He has a monopoly, e.g. on that island he has acquired (even if in a fair way) all drinking water which everyone needs to survive. He now can literally force anyone to pay him whatever he wants or die.


    It is almost impossible, if not literally impossible, to have a monopoly in a free market.

    In real life, people will say that "company X has a monopoly on oil". Even if this was liteally true:

    (a) This does not mean they can "charge whatever they want and people have to pay it". Suppose tomorrow one company somehow monopolized all the oil in the world and announced that they were now charging $100 a gallon for gas. Would you grumble but continue to use just as much as you do now and pay the $100 per gallon? Most of us would find ways to reduce how much we drive, switch to more fuel-efficient vehicles (bicyles if necessary), etc. And surely some clever person would start researching alternative fuels. Suppose they demanded $1000 per gallon. Would you just pay it? At that point you'd likely move to an apartment closer to work so you could walk, etc, whatever was necessary to reduce your gas consumption to near zero.

    (b) What people want is not "oil", but "energy". If one company monopolized all the oil in the world and tried to jack the price up ridiculously high, people would switch to coal or natural gas or solar or nuclear or hydroelectric or some other source of energy. The same is true for almost any so-called "monopoly". Even if one person could monopolize one product, there are, in real life, always other products that one could switch to. If someone monopolized beef production, people would switch to chicken and pork. If someone monopolized cotton, we'd wear more clothes made of wool, etc.

    That's why the free market works in real life. Because there are, in practice, ALWAYS alternatives.

    Even take an extreme case like you suggest, someone monopolizes all the drinking water on the island. I guess that would mean he controls the only fresh-water springs on the island. He still can't "charge whatever he wants": If everyone dies of thirst, he's lost all his customers. Maybe he'd coldly calculate a price that maximizes his profit even though it results in some number dying of thirst. But more realistically: Is there literally no other source of fluids? People can't get coconut milk or squeeze the juice from oranges or some such? It doesn't occur to anyone to collect rainwater or produce drinking water from sea water?

    Okay, I suppose you could spin a scenario where he has bought up all the beaches so no one can access the seawater and he owns all the plants on the island and somehow he can prevent people from collecting rainwater. But now you've created such a far-out scenario, one can only say, So what? You could ask that kind of extreme hypothetical question of any system. You say you believe in public schools? But what if the teachers' unions become extremely powerful and threaten to shut down all the schools in the state unless you give them a huge pay raise? You say you want socialism? But what if some demagogue comes to power and corrupts the whole system to make himself dictator?

    As hypotheticals go, the idea that a demagogue could take over the entire government is far less far out than the idea that a powerful businessman could take over the entire economy. The first has, in fact, happenned many times in history. The second has never happenned.
  • Dummkopf 2012-12-17 18:14
    "So how is it they can all afford cable TV and 2000-texts-a-month cellular plans?"

    The Cable TV is bundled into their housing costs and the phone is covered by consumer subsidies.

    https://www.fcc.gov/lifeline
  • JimFin 2012-12-18 05:43
    [quote="jay"]That's why the free market works in real life.[/quote]
    In real life, there are no free markets. That's why the so-called free markets seem to work: they really don't exist so there is no exemplar of them failing!

    As long as there is government that imposes any kind of legislation, every business operation is regulated in some way. You may still call it free if you wish, I think I call it regulated because that is what it is.
  • Cbuttius 2012-12-18 05:58
    We do not know whether these candidates, who turned down the jobs, either:

    1. were applying from another job that they were considering leaving. When you are in that situation, you do look at WTFs and the interviewer and how you would enjoy working in the company more than staying put. I had a WTF'ery interview where I decided staying put was the better option, even though my current post at the time was boring and I was desperately looking to move elsewhere.

    2. Whether the candidates had applied for multiple jobs (probably, who only applies for one?) and got several offers and used these experiences as reasons to pick a different one.

  • Edmund 2012-12-18 07:42
    If anyone cares these problems always have a simple solution with a negative number of coins (almost invariably -1) and a family of solutions modulo some number. After mentally checking -1 works announce the solution is m^n - 1 (obviously choose m and n appropriately) and look like a genius.
  • Jim Blog 2012-12-18 09:51
    5. The other islanders observe that weakness is rewarded and strength is penalized, so they all stop working. Everyone starves to death.


    Not really. On an island where food is plentiful, few things will motivate people to get up and hunt/fish/forage more than starving to death. In real-world cases where the local currency (such as scratched banana-leaves) has collapsed, due to the hyper-inflation that's usually brought on my reckless increases of the money supply, people will often resort to the barter system or some other currency in order to continue living their lives.
  • claymade 2012-12-18 18:07
    jay:
    Even take an extreme case like you suggest, someone monopolizes all the drinking water on the island. I guess that would mean he controls the only fresh-water springs on the island. He still can't "charge whatever he wants": If everyone dies of thirst, he's lost all his customers.

    Of course he can charge whatever he wants without losing his customers; he just needs to also "generously" provide LOANS to people who don't have the money for his exorbitant rates. That way he can bleed them dry for what they have, and the rest of the difference serves to put them even further under his thumb, in a way that he can wreck them if he wants to. Like, say, if they have the temerity to try and start a competing business. Or even try to go to work FOR one.

    This is not hypothetical. This is economic exploitation 101. That kind of ever-growing insurmountable debt is exactly how people keep others in effective slavery, even today, in places that haven't instituted protections against it. And that's one of the reasons why we have regulations impinging on the purity of laissez-faire: to keep crap like that from happening.

    jay:
    But more realistically: Is there literally no other source of fluids? People can't get coconut milk or squeeze the juice from oranges or some such? It doesn't occur to anyone to collect rainwater or produce drinking water from sea water?

    In volumes that can reliably provide for everyone on the island, or even the majority? If not, our water baron is still going to be able to put most of the island into effective slavery in fairly short order, and then leverage all that power to go after his competitors (whose power base is going to be a mere shadow of his). Any bets on who's going to win?

    jay:
    As hypotheticals go, the idea that a demagogue could take over the entire government is far less far out than the idea that a powerful businessman could take over the entire economy. The first has, in fact, happenned many times in history. The second has never happenned.

    It's true that businesses, historically, have been second-teir powers. Ones that got too big for their britches usually would get slapped down by their associated governments. They are, in the end, the ones with the guns. And I do, in fact, agree that I'm more worried about governments getting too much power, in the overall sense.

    Nevertheless, I wouldn't go the extreme of saying that we need no other protections from the actions (even the "fair" actions) of more powerful businessmen than the market's free hand.

    Thus, I think bankruptcy laws have a definite place, even though they're an example of governmental intrusions into the "natural" flow of economic transactions, of debt and repayment. Nor am I so convinced as you seem to be that a shrewd/ruthless businessman couldn't achieve, (through the snowball-effect of power and/or natural, non-governmental barriers to entry) a naturally occurring (and expanding into other business areas from that power base) monopoly that could make things VERY unpleasant in the absence of any possibility of invoking anti-trust law against it.
  • Norman Diamond 2012-12-18 18:44
    CAPITALISM OVERCOMES SOCIALISM BY SHOUTING LOUDER.

    On the other hand, ...
    ... ....... um.....
    someone help me, what do social case letters look like?
  • AN AMAZING CODER 2012-12-19 14:59
    jay:


    It is almost impossible, if not literally impossible, to have a monopoly in a free market.

    In real life, people will say that "company X has a monopoly on oil". Even if this was liteally true:



    (b) What people want is not "oil", but "energy". If one company monopolized all the oil in the world and tried to jack the price up ridiculously high, people would switch to coal or natural gas or solar or nuclear or hydroelectric or some other source of energy. The same is true for almost any so-called "monopoly". Even if one person could monopolize one product, there are, in real life, always other products that one could switch to. If someone monopolized beef production, people would switch to chicken and pork. If someone monopolized cotton, we'd wear more clothes made of wool, etc.

    That's why the free market works in real life. Because there are, in practice, ALWAYS alternatives.

    Even take an extreme case like you suggest, someone monopolizes all the drinking water on the island. I guess that would mean he controls the only fresh-water springs on the island. He still can't "charge whatever he wants": If everyone dies of thirst, he's lost all his customers. Maybe he'd coldly calculate a price that maximizes his profit even though it results in some number dying of thirst. But more realistically: Is there literally no other source of fluids? People can't get coconut milk or squeeze the juice from oranges or some such? It doesn't occur to anyone to collect rainwater or produce drinking water from sea water?

    Okay, I suppose you could spin a scenario where he has bought up all the beaches so no one can access the seawater and he owns all the plants on the island and somehow he can prevent people from collecting rainwater. But now you've created such a far-out scenario, one can only say, So what? You could ask that kind of extreme hypothetical question of any system. You say you believe in public schools? But what if the teachers' unions become extremely powerful and threaten to shut down all the schools in the state unless you give them a huge pay raise? You say you want socialism? But what if some demagogue comes to power and corrupts the whole system to make himself dictator?

    As hypotheticals go, the idea that a demagogue could take over the entire government is far less far out than the idea that a powerful businessman could take over the entire economy. The first has, in fact, happenned many times in history. The second has never happenned.




    Jay, your argument is respectable, but not infallible. You're ignoring a key factor in monopolies -- they do whatever is necessary to remain in power. A monopoly isn't a company that has a majority control of a product or industry, a monopoly is a company that uses predatory tactics to maintain control in the name of profits which are harmful to competition and humanity.

    Whenever I say that, I always get "the company's goal is to take out the competition!". I'm not referring to producing higher quality product at a lower price, and putting the competition out of business. I'm talking about them using non-competitory tactics to do so.


    The hypothetical island problem you're describing is a big example. If company X controlled all of the water, without protection provided somewhere within the island's society, they could easily squash any uprising competition. This happens all the time in our MODERN economy, but it goes unnoticed because money is what's important in our economy, not water. It can be done by price fixing to "flush out" the competition, or by aquisition.

    Lets say Company X notices Person A's effort to produce "cheaper" water. It's starting to catch on, so people are coming to him for water. Since he's new, he can't keep up with the demand for water, so he can only supply a few people at a time. Since they have a super-majority control in how, Company X responds to this by flooding the market with cheap water. They sell this water so cheap that it's no longer viable to buy water from Person A, either due to his prices or due to his ability to fill demand. Person A drops his efforts and just takes the cheap water. Now that the competition is gone, Company X slowly raises it's prices back to "nominal" levels.

    Before that occurs, Company X would probably attempt to bribe Person A out of producing water by giving him 10 years supply of water for him and his family in exchange for his business. The island equivalent of a buy out.
  • Name Withheld 2012-12-20 01:10
    Isn't this just what the US calls quantitative easing?
  • Paul 2012-12-20 06:04
    Jack 27:

    No, the next alternative is dead-99-0-1-0.


    Not necessarily. If you are the last pirate and you say 'no' to the first pirate's offer, will the first pirate just say 'OK, then kill me, I don't care'? Or, maybe, would he say 'OK, I'll give you 2 then'?

    So, the whole question is flawed.

    If the last pirate says 'no', the first pirate could offer 1 coin to the 2nd or 4th pirate, but the second wants the first one to die, so will say no, the 4th may say 'yes', but he will know that if the first pirate dies, the same initial logic means that he will still get the chance of 1 coin from the second pirate, so he may say no in the hope the first pirate dies.

    So, the answer depends on the relative importance of greed & staying alive AND the risk-taking stance of the various pirates. The level of risk taking is not stated in the question, therefore it cannot be answered.

  • Paul 2012-12-20 06:22
    Harrow:

    There are no bears in Antarctica, restricting your starting point to the singleton at the North Pole. Bears found within a few miles of the North Pole are white.


    Assuming it is a native bear. Was that stated? Or could the bear be with a travelling circus? or lost?

  • damen 2012-12-21 16:08
    And this, grasshoppers, is why we don't let an IT guy do an economist's job.
  • BushIdo 2012-12-22 18:59
    Jim Blog:
    On an island where food is plentiful, few things will motivate people to get up and hunt/fish/forage more than starving to death.


    And that's a problems with calling a person lazy, who doesn't work. You first have to prove that he could make a living out of his work. We have a money society, so the only way to make a living is to make money. As a poor person just you try to move to the city park, cutting down trees to make a shelter and hunting animals. I doubt that they'll praise you for your initiative and ambitions.

    Adam Smith wanted people not only to earn at least enough money for their living, but also for the living of their family. He rejected mimimum wages set by the state, because he thought them unnecessary to achieve this (chapter 8), because the invisible hand could do this better. Well, seems it doesn't.
  • BushIdo 2012-12-22 19:15
    jay:
    Socialists are quick to point out how greedy and dishonest people manage to take advantage of capitalism. Then they offer socialism as the solution to this problem. But they never explain quite HOW it will solve the problem. What prevents greedy and dishonest people in a socialist society from taking advantage of THAT system?


    Dunno. Go ask them.

    Finally we can draw an analogy to coding: If you install a system, intended to pay by lines of code or number of changes or whatever, you have a similar problem: folks will just outsmart the system.

    jay:
    Leftists are always saying how the rich and powerful use the government to exploit the poor and weak, how the government is a wholey-owned subsidiary of the big corporations, etc. And their solution to this is to make the government bigger and more powerful.


    Where did you get that idea? Their solution is to make a lot of structural changes to the government and to pass a lot of laws. Of course that's also what conservatives want to do, but with different changes and different laws. Of course it's not just a matter of size. Size follows function.
  • x0f 2013-04-16 23:41
    [quoteNeedless to say...[/quote] like hell it is, why would anyone turn down an offer for a job just because one person that probably asked a hundred or more people the right set of questions while dealing with job stresses forgot and asked the wrong set of someone and offered them a job based on what he thought was sheer brillianc? THAT just seems asinine to me.
  • BlueCollarCritic 2013-05-10 11:06
    Bill:
    Ozz:
    where does Ayn Rand have it wrong?
    She threatens my religious belief that productive people are always either evil thieves or drunkards who inherited wealth from their parents, who were always either evil thieves or drunkards who inherited wealth from their parents...

    And also my other religious belief that once a profiteer gets elected to government at any level they turn good and have the benevolence and skill to know what is best for everyone and distribute goods fairly.



    I don't believe Bill here has even read the book because if he had then he’d realize how uninformed his comment is. Disagreeing with the philosophy of ATLAS SHRUGGED is fine but be sure you at least know what the hell it is before you start bad mouthing it.
  • Bad analogizer 2014-01-25 14:16
    Brillant!
    except you forgot the part where they are pirates, so they just steal each others coins then start killing each other.
    Larry is the weakest , so he is the first to go. Except not, because Larry actually is the one who knows how to make rum, and sealing wax, and doesn't mind an occasional buggering. So they actually keep him around. Get real.