No basis in rationality? That you can say that proves the point. Or do you live in a magic land where tall, good looking, people don't get *far* better treatment and, as a result, far more reward?

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Except in knowledge work there is no toiling factory worker "sweat" don't be ludicrous

Working for Microsoft in the early days made you a multimillionaire and today is a pretty good gig.

Your strawman is ridiculous and purely based on abstracts

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You're hand waving away something that kills your whole point

It is *statistically proven* that attractiveness is tied to height, facial symmetry, bone structure and body type.

You CANNOT just casually "fix" or control these things the way you're implying. In your fantasy scenario, a short, fat, ugly, hairy, balding man can just do a magic makeover and be fine.

You see life this way because you are likely tall, slim and good looking. You don't understand how massively damaging his particular social bias towards heigh, beauty, and physical perfection is for those who are *genetically* incapable of living up to it.

And this social bias has been *proven* to translate to material wealth. The tall, good looking, guy gets married, has kids and is chosen first. As a result he is wealthier and happier.

Obviously there are exceptions, but that's like saying "well black women have no problem because Oprah is rich". Trust me... There is a problem. The difference is, unlike sexism and racism, most people are perfectly ignorant of the notion than short, ugly, folks are just viewed as repulsive and rejected. It's so subconscious it isn't even acknowledged.

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It isn't just wearing clothing. The author didn't think it through.

Tall, good looking, people have more opportunity, and are treated better, and as a result earn more money, statistically.

This has been proven in studies.

Having grown up short, ugly, poor and white I can tell you now I would definitely trade places with a tall, good looking, equally poor black guy.

What you're refusing to see is height and looks are *universal*. so even *within an underprivileged group* they cause caste division. Those supposed Bangladesh factory workers? The tall, good looking, folks are doing better *relative to their short ugly peers*

And you can't just magically grow, and no amount of dieting can make you not be ugly, nor can everyone just magically have a fantastic physique.

I'd almost bet that your lack of empathy comes from being tall and above average looking. That's ok though. That was the authors point and you helped make it

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Uhhh, no, please don't do that. Money isn't wealth. Giving a random billionaire another $10 billion is not increasing the amount of wealth in the world, just giving that billionaire a larger share of it.

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How about because wealth is not a personal trait in nearly the same way as health, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. Wealth is always and only defined socially - it is your claim on a portion of the resources available in your society. How much wealth someone has is always and only a contingent result of how that person's social system distributes wealth. Some social systems are more meritocratic in how they distribute wealth than others, but even then the justification is that linking wealth to merit encourages people to put forward greater effort, not that the meritorious somehow deserve more wealth than the incompetent.

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I absolutely agree that people care much more about privilege driven by some factors than by others. I think in the cases you listed, people think of those factors are somewhat under people's control: you can diet and work out to look better, or practice witty conversation. Of course, in reality there is great inequality in how easy people find these activities.

But the examples you listed are of shockingly diminutive privileges. The privilege of having more enjoyable conversations? Of being able to wear more types of clothes? These are extremely minor.

Usually when people think of privilege, people think of bigger privileges. A few examples:

- The privilege of not having police knock you down in the street and searching you on a random basis. - The privilege of not having a 1/3 chance of being sent to jail in your lifetime.- The privilege of not having a 20% chance of being raped at least once in your lifetime- The privilege of not being constantly harassed by men as you walk down the street.- The privilege of getting to complain about "only" earning $20/hour + benefits at a factory job while your counterparts in Bangladesh earn a few dollars a day in dangerous conditions.

Those are immense privileges. And they are awarded on the basis of race, gender, family wealth, and nationality. The privileges of looks and cleverness pale in comparison.

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A unified theory of complaining and inequality.

One of the things complaining is not, is a passive noting that certain things are bad. It's way of doing something. Rational complainers complain about thing they can affect, which tend to be relatively small scale and close to home.

Another thing complaints about inequality are not is a substitute for threatening or grabbing. Those who have the power to grab, grab, those who can issue plausible threats do so. Complaints about inequality are part of a process of rationally discussing resource allocation, and can lead to reallocations that are preferable ethically or in terms of efficiency.

A successful argument for reallocation involves multiple factors, including the extent of an inequality, it's tractability, and the benefits of changing it. Natural inequalities, like looks, tend not to be tractable. Opaque acquisition processes make it harder to counterargue that resources were fairly acquired. Emergency situations can tip the balance of argume.nt by creating urgent needs.

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Caring about is not necessarily proportional to complaining about. Rational complainers complain about thing they can affect, which tend to be relatively small scale and close to home.

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Physical unattractiveness was chosen by the parents of the unattractive person, not necessarily by the unattractive person. A choice was made, just not by the individual. An unattractive personality is indeed chosen.

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I hypothesized that the sorts of inequality that tend to generate the most controversy are ones where the inequality is along sharply divided factional lines: http://lesswrong.com/lw/fnt... Income/parental wealth seems like a counterexample for my hypothesis since its distribution is relatively continuous.

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The types of inequality that people talk most about, seem to be the ones that do the most damage. The first three types of inequality you mention are to do with status and socialising, whereas the rich taking money from the poor (the one my mother talks about by far the most) harms many people in dramatically larger ways regarding necessities (food, shelter, health). Can anyone give an example of an inequality that clearly causes much more damage to a person's quality/quantity of life that people care about less?

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I see a clear distinction between: able to control and not able to control.

You can control your health, beauty and intelligence to a fairly high degree (exercise, eat well, educate yourself). In other words, effort can level the playing field (not totally level, but much more so than out-of-control factors).

Parental wealth -- well, that is something that we have no control over.

Thus, the bias is "even the playing field for things that we can not change" -- BUT, give people the opportunity to tilt the playing field to their advantage with the variables that are largely under their control and reflect effort.

--Note - I'm not saying that this is totally accurate (poverty and lack of health go hand-in-hand, as a single example) -- but I believe that is the logic wrapped around it.

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It makes sense from a basic psychological point of view. If you are rich it's better for your mental health if you believe people mainly get rich through mechanisms that society considers "fair", so to protect itself your mind will be biased to believe the rich "deserve" their wealth and that leaves only the explanation that poor people are clueless or just jealous. Economic conservatives who are not rich usually believe they'll be rich one day or that they would have been rich if the role of the state was smaller, these are also self-protection measures of the mind because it shifts away the (painful) blame for unrealized ambitions.

Now this works the other way around too with leftist anarchists (who believe that the lack of financial success from their "art" is due to "the man"), for example, but it just so happens that reality has a liberal bias: someone who thinks they're so special that they "deserve" to make 100 times the median income are obviously MORE delusional than those who make half of the median income and think they "deserve" to make the median income (the former group even has to pull out of their asses "fair" mechanisms that would translate limited natural variation of abilities into income ratios on the order of magnitude of hundreds).

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Stargirl, your generosity would be rewarded in the way of you (and most people you care about) getting screwed over by whatever right-wing superpac/candidate/party much of that $10 billion of wealth would end up with.

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The genie example is interesting. Personally I would definitely say no to giving a random billionaire extra money, on the grounds that creating money out of nothing has consequences for everyone else (inflation). I expect you are trying to ignore this effect but I don't know if the thought experiment is coherent if you do.

However I might say yes to the genie anyway if I thought the average billionaire was a good guy and would spend it with high effectiveness on public goods (philanthropy, patronage of deserving artists, research etc).

I do not really think this however.

What about with a genie who offers extra IQ points to a random genius? Here I'd be likely to say yes for two reasons.

1) There would be no comparable 'inflation' effect.

2) But more importantly, I think the average genius is likely on balance to benefit the rest of us more if they have extra IQ points.

I suppose my conclusion from this is that inequality is not bad per se. The real debate is about which distribution of qualities is likely to yield the most public good.

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