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Post 20

Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 5:06pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for the reply Joe.
There's no need to create a situation where the lunch guest (or money borrower, or factory worker) needs to weigh his own benefits against the loss of a friend. 
OK. Point taken.




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Post 21

Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 1:19amSanction this postReply
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Joe:

"Up to $8 - complete acceptable and I wouldn't think otherwise
Up to $9 - A little more than I expect, but you're a friend so I won't let it bother me
Up to $10 - A little more. Starting to get a little surprised. But again, I did offer.
Up to $12 - Okay...that extra appetizer was pushing it, but maybe this is normal for you and I should have known better before offering.
Up to $14 - Okay...I'm starting to question how good of a friend you are. Of course, I'm willing to pay, but this is the last time.
Up to $16 - I'll never do anything nice for you again
Up to $18 - I'm not going to call you ever again. I want nothing to do with you.
Up to $20 - You sick, sick bastard!
Up to $25 - My goal in life is clear now. I must destroy you.
Up to $30 - I'll torture you before I destroy you.
Beyond $30 - We'll have to cleanse the earth of your entire bloodline."

Mises and Rothbard had this very same discussion in a dream I had once. Are you sure you're not psychic?

Ross



Post 22

Monday, June 13, 2005 - 6:20amSanction this postReply
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Joe, a very interesting article. I especially liked your examples. I agree with you generally about the restaurant issue, but with certain exceptions. Say that one person is having a financial struggle and a friend who is in a better financial position occasionally invites him to dinner. It is understood that dinner is on the friend, because the struggling man would not on his own go to a restaurant. Presumably, if Man A, the struggler, is not a moocher, he will order a moderately priced dinner -- he won't order bread and water or pheasant under glass -- and he will spare himself the awkwardness of asking Man B if he might order a more expensive dinner.

Similarly with dates Some of you probably will think I've just arrived from the Stone Age, but it is the case that men still invite women out for an evening and it is understood that the men will pay the expenses. Again, the woman will spend his money moderately. Occasionally, I have had a male friend who was financially strapped for a time, and I have been happy to pay for the evenings we spent together -- you see, I'm not still in the Stone Age -- and it is assumed without the necessity of being stated that he will order reasonably.

My point is that with this kind of issue -- as you well know, Joe, since you wrote an article about it -- one cannot make hard and fast rules.

Your example of lending money struck a chord with me. I once lost a friend -- or someone I had thought was a friend -- because I loaned her money. She was to pay me back "when she could." Many months went by, and she said not a word about it. Finally -- the sum was several hundred dollars -- I told her that I was disappointed that she had not mentioned the subject, and that I wanted her to pay me some amount each month; "It can be $25 a month," I said, "but then I will know that you aren't ignoring your debt." She did begin paying, but clearly with great resentment. The friendship was never the same after that, and we soon stopped seeing each other. If such a situation were to arise again -- that is, if I were to lend money to a rather casual friend -- I would follow your advice. But had she been a closer friend, someone dear to me, I would still not have initially asked for a scheduled repayment; I would have known that I would be paid as and when it was possible to my friend -- and that she would be sensible enough not to starve herself in order to repay me. So again, the rule is that there cannot be absolute rules.

Barbara



Post 23

Monday, June 13, 2005 - 7:11amSanction this postReply
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I liked reading the article because it displayed a reasoning mind. However, I don't think that it added anything to traditional notions of responsibility and character assessment. 

The key is always to select reasonable friends and create situations which do not compromise your friends' abilities to be reasonable.

My father taught me as a child to:
1) never lend money I couldn't permanently do without.
2) always try to get whoever borrowed the money to specify their own repayment date (which if reasonable, wasn't problem because I was lending money that I could do without).
3) never lend money to a person whose behavior during the whole deal didn't show integrity - if the person never repaid, or didn't detail the aggravating circumstances surrounding his failure to pay and make the repayment on a new date that the person specified immediately, for example.

The same for ordering dinner: set expectations and select good people.  This won't solve ALL problems, but for me, it has solved the annoying ones that come up when dealing with friends and money.

Laj.




Post 24

Monday, June 13, 2005 - 8:27amSanction this postReply
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I don't lend money, period. I've never had a good experience even when paid back. I'm not a banker. My policy to a friend is that if he needs money I'll give him the money. If he objects and says he'll owe it to me and pay it back I won't give it to him. What kind of friend is it that won't accept a gift? The most I'll bend is to accept a lump sum repayment: Fine, pay me back but in a lump sum or not at all and when you can, not on or by a specific date. Or, you might give money to someone else who needs it when you can; that person might be me someday.

--Brant

PS: Barbara, how do you eat pheasant under glass, and what the hell is it doing there? Do they give you a little hammer to break the glass? BTW, it'd probably be okay to have pheasant and water. Skip the wine.




Post 25

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 - 3:05pmSanction this postReply
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Sam, you do like living on the edge!

Kernon, quibble away.  I have a different perspective on the meal thing.  You don't want someone to pay when you've ordered a more expensive meal.  For me, if they do it at the end, I don't think I've cheated them or anything...it's their choice.  But here's where I would explain a similar feeling to yours.  As someone who earns my money, and likes knowing that I can and do pay for myself, I'm always a little uncomfortable when someone else wants to buy (unless of course, I bought last time).  I will let them, because I understand it's an act that embodies self-efficacy for them.  That is, they feel good knowing they can buy a friend lunch.  And the more expensive the lunch, the more uncomfortable I'd feel.  A nice gesture is one thing, but I don't want to be a burden.

I can't tell if this is what you're getting at.  If it is, I don't think we're talking about the same thing.  That will always be there. It could even be there with the money lending thing.  Many people would rather live in a more difficult manner than to borrow money.  It's an issue of pride.  Personally, I think charging interest and making it a business deal allows them to keep their pride...they're trading value for value.  Being generous by not having an interest rate or anything can make them feel that it's a charity case, and they'd rather do it on their own.  The point here is that the same issue affects the other scenarios as well.

But the article just focuses on the conflict of interests, and avoiding it.  I think it is a different issue.

Marcus, thank you for the excellent questions.

Ross, that must have been a great dream.

Barbara, I merely aimed to point out a common effect (conflict of interests leading to unjust situations, where the good suffer and the bad benefit), and how to avoid it.  I won't argue that you should never try to buy someone lunch, or offer ahead of time.  Your example is a fair one.  But it is hopefully exceptional as well.  Charity should be an exception and not a rule in a relationship.  It may be that under those circumstances it's worth risking the conflict of interest, and instead having to try to communicate it (as Marcus suggested).  The conflict there is probably minor, especially since you could at any point say "Whoa there!  I can't afford to buy you lobster!".

So you're exactly right...these aren't hard and fast rules.  The point was only to show that there are conflicts, and how to avoid them.  You always have to weight he costs and benefits.  Your dating example is a fine one.  If I took a girl out on a date who was poor, but I wanted to go to a fine restaurant, I would risk the injustice.  But I would do so knowing that the conflict exists, and working to try to alleviate it.  For instance, I would encourage her to buy what she wanted, instead of eating a small side salad.




Post 26

Sunday, June 26, 2005 - 4:41amSanction this postReply
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It astonishes me that in regards to the loan instance, no one suggested that the person receiving the loan be the one to establish the repaying schedule, thereby avoiding the ambiguity of ramen soup for three months....



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Post 27

Wednesday, June 12 - 9:46amSanction this postReply
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This is one of those fun articles. It was really about our ability to structure relationships and transactions in ways that encourage justice, and to avoid those instances that can lead to a conflict of interest which are the heart of the small injustices Joe wrote about.

There is a lot of meat at that level of abstraction! It could easily have been chewed on in ways that explored how we create a more just society, how we educate our children to be more just, how we encourage businesses to be more just, etc. Justice, at times, appears to be on a cusp between morality and psychology. It could have evolved into a discussion of how to define an Objectivist etiquette.

But, in the thread, what happened was people got all excited about the examples of lending money to a friend and about buying someone dinner... losing track of the real heart of the article (not that that has ever happened before on RoR... LOL).

Early on someone made the point, a good one, that communication would clear up a great many situations that might otherwise lead to conflicts of interest and injustice. True, but as Joe pointed out, not always.

There is another thing that's worth adding that will avoid a great many minor injustices (but, again not all) and that's simple self-assertiveness.

If I offer to buy someone dinner and they start to order the lobster which is two or three times the price of the other entrees, I'm completely comfortable interrupting them and telling them my offer did NOT include lobster, or anything else that is near the top of the menu's price range. I'm at ease with that and would have a smile on my face at the time. Think about it. If the person is socially obtuse and just didn't recognize that they were abusing my hospitality, I've helped educate them. If they have a narcissistic sense of entitlement, I've not let their poor grasp of boundaries become my issue. If they are a bit mean spirited and hoped to take advantage of me, I've stopped them.

We each are actors in our culture and will, by our actions, help encourage or discourage minor forms of justice as we go through life. And being comfortable with asserting our values is a measure of how effectively we will do this.



Post 28

Wednesday, June 12 - 9:49amSanction this postReply
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My favorite example of a minor, justice-ensuring device, when I was a kid, was being told, "You cut the sandwich in half, and then I get to pick which half I want." To this day I'm struck with the simple elegance of that arrangement.



Post 29

Wednesday, June 12 - 10:27amSanction this postReply
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We used to do that as kids! For the life of me I could NOT cut a grapefruit equally in half and my brother would always try to make me cut it! I wised up in hurry though and got my SISTER to cut it for me lol!



Post 30

Sunday, June 16 - 4:13amSanction this postReply
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Thanks Steve.

My favorite part of the article is towards the end where I focused on the conflict of interest, and how that inevitably hurts the good person as he tries not to harm another, while it benefits the bad person because he is more willing. It seems so clear to me that these conflicts should be avoided! And that is the thread that connects all of these cases.

Too many of the responses were about how they would be personally willing to live with the consequences if the other person screwed them. But morality isn't a competition to see how much you're willing to take. And in conflict, both parties can suffer. Only the inconsiderate person who takes advantage of the conflict to win at the expense of the other should think of a conflict of interests as a good thing. For everyone else, we should be trying to avoid them. And not just for our own sake, but for everyone's sake.



Post 31

Sunday, June 16 - 9:31amSanction this postReply
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Steve,

Post 27 was awesome. The example you gave displays a healthy self-assertiveness and a judicious equanimity which comes from having first decided that it is right to have earned your own self-esteem. That kind of a thing needs to be on display. I didn't grow up with a heroic vision of man -- a vision, by the way, which can be evident in less than 20 words at a dinner table! I didn't have such examples in my youth. I had a bunch of comic books with heroes in them, but I thought that they'd never apply to real life. Then I discovered that there are real heroes, and -- because of seeing what might become true of the world -- I slowly began to work toward trying to become one of them.

Thank you for showing how you'd react and why.

Ed




Post 32

Sunday, June 16 - 12:41pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, you are welcome.

I had a father that was heroic in many ways and gave me a good start. Then, later in life, working with Branden for many years was a real gift.

Today's Father's Day. If I had a kid, I'd want him or her to have the experience of being able to spend time with an extraordinary person.

One time Branden said that one of the best ways to grow is to observe how someone you admire reacts to things and to ask yourself, "How did he process what's going on in order to act the way he did?" When Branden asked me one day how I came up with something, I told him I checked with my Branden-self. I was only half-kidding. (I'm not sure how he took that - he looked a bit quizzical :-)



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