# The Life You Can Save

by Greg Bernhardt
Tags: life, save
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 Quote by DanP Please. I like driving SUVs in mountains. I like driving German cars in the city. I love them. Due to my somehow eclectic interests, and my interest in wilderness, I consider almost a necessity to own two types of cars. One for the mountains, one for the city. Why should I carpool ? To depend on others ? I value my personal freedom too much to depend on the car of X or Y. I like to drive alone or with a women in my right. Its funny and relaxing. I dont want to listen to idiotic chit chat of my coworkers when I drive. And this is just a regeneration benefit I derive from it, never-mind the raw utility of disposing at will of a mean of transportation.
Off-topic:
I live in one of the most populated cities in the world. I have my private vehicle, but I recently started taking the train to work, because it saves a lot of fuel expenses and I reach my work place faster instead of being stuck in traffic. If carpooling mitigates the traffic situation I would rather put up with annoying co-passengers than being stranded for longer hours in traffic jams.

Charity is not something only a rich person can do. I don't expect a rich first world nation to solve the problems happening on my streets. Apart from situations of natural disasters, it is up to local communities and people (including me) to improve situations around them.
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 Quote by Reshma Off-topic: I live in one of the most populated cities in the world. I have my private vehicle, but I recently started taking the train to work, because it saves a lot of fuel expenses and I reach my work place faster instead of being stuck in traffic.

Yes, but the reason of this is because you fulfill a necessity for yourself. You save money for fuel which you will spend on other things and the train gets you in time at work :P

 Quote by Reshma If carpooling mitigates the traffic situation I would rather put up annoying co-passengers by than being stranded for hours in traffic jams.
How can carpooling mitigate the traffic situation ? It's not like the number of passengers in your car will have any influence whatsoever on the final state of traffic.

What happens in reality is an equilibrium situation. As more and more ppl will carpool, the roads will become free enough that more and more ppl will be find attractive to drive comfortably on the road alone. In reality you will not see any improvement in traffic, what you will see it's an equilibrium which is probably already in place.
 P: 6 Greg, you're just guilt tripping everyone. People are too lazy or don't care. It's that simple.
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I am also from India . And I feel that the apathy shown by well-to-do people(myself included) from India towards the poor and downtrodden is shocking . It isnt even a case of "out of sight out of mind" for us Indians. We are quite desensitized to the poverty. So in that way we are more guilty than non-Indians. I hope I may contribute at least something to the society when I start earning my self.

@Reshma , great video.
It may well be argued that giving bread earning capacity than giving bread is more noble.
But still giving bread is better than doing nothing. That guy is real superhero , as the video title suggests. And in some cases as in that video giving bread can be a life saver .

 Quote by DanP Why is it necessary ? Under what obligation are the "well-off" ones to intervene ? What twisted morale can lead one to rationalize that the rich ones should give more than they give already in taxes to somebody else ? It can, but nobody should expect others to doit. You shouldn't think that "at least X should give something of his surplus to others". Nobody is under obligation to share his resources with anyone , save for taxes. You should be grateful if he does, but you shouldn't think that he has too, or thats the least thing she/he can do.
It is not at all necessary. And the "well-off" ones are under no obligations. If they feel like donating only then, they should.
If a person is living a straight and non-corrupt life he is doing quite well.

In India , corruption is a bigger problem than people not doing charity.
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 Quote by K Rool Greg, you're just guilt tripping everyone. People are too lazy or don't care. It's that simple.

Ah, don't count me in on this one K Rool. I may be simple and I may be real lazy but not so much I don't care.

I am totally this thing went the distance without a rally to a cause. Any flippin cause.
Seems like all the people who really died trying to get the attention of any amount of people to care just wasted themselves for nothing if it ends like this.
Nobody is guilt tripping anyone.
some people are just sayin!

Now I am going to look for you to be my friend. Here I come...........
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 Quote by Lacy33 Seems like all the people who really died trying to get the attention of any amount of people to care just wasted themselves for nothing if it ends like this.
Who died trying ?
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 Quote by DanP I dont think I misunderstood. Why is it necessary ? Under what obligation are the "well-off" ones to intervene ? What twisted morale can lead one to rationalize that the rich ones should give more than they give already in taxes to somebody else ? This is what I asked you to explain. WHY on the earth do you think it's "necessary" to intervene and expect someone to feed and clothes somebody else ? Why expect help instead of helping yourself ?
Because extreme poverty is usually not the fault of that person. It is not because they are lazy. There are places in Africa and India where people really don't have options and they can't escape.

DanP, I really think you are suffering from not being able to identify with the victim. If you can in person go to a hospital and see a child on a bed suffering and not give the doctor $15 for a vaccine then I guess you would be consistent, but I think you'd cave for the right reasons. But because you are in front on a computer in a relatively comfortable environment thousands of miles away, you can afford to look away and rationalize with social science objections. Think of the pond scenario again. You'd jump in the pond to save a drowning child, no? If the only option to save the child were to hand over$15, you'd immediately hand over $15, no? Then why are you telling me you'd walk away from the drowning child now? P: 630  Quote by Greg Bernhardt Because extreme poverty is usually not the fault of that person. It is not because they are lazy. There are places in Africa and India where people really don't have options and they can't escape. I agree, but the solution does not stay in individual donations. How many of you involved in this thread knows who was Norman Borlaug ? The solution to help those ppl is simply to come up with the solutions at the scale Borlaug did. The answer is in globalization politics, further progress in genetics and molecular medicine, and applied genetics in food industry. IMO individual donations are as I said, a trap. First of all, as we seen in this thread already, some ppl came to the conclusion that "when you have a surplus", you *SHOULD AT LEAST* give some away. This is not so. You give if you want, and instead of other ppl expecting you to give what you have, they should be grateful if you choose to give.  Quote by Greg Bernhardt DanP, I really think you are suffering from not being able to identify with the victim. If you can in person go to a hospital and see a child on a bed suffering and not give the doctor$15 for a vaccine then I guess you would be consistent, but I think you'd cave for the right reasons. But because you are in front on a computer in a relatively comfortable environment thousands of miles away, you can afford to look away and rationalize with social science objections.
I walked the indian subcontinent, I worked in Sri Lanka, seen some god forbidden communities there, I seen poverty in Asia, I seen it in my country. I seen old ppl in hospitals , waiting for hours to have a MD look at them, barely able to contain their pain and not fall from the stairs for exhaustion. I seen in communist time old ppl with a rationalizing card waiting at interminable queues to get a bottle of milk. I seen enough ****, as many of us did.

Im not made of stone, each of those events caused emotions in me.

You can't accuse me of looking away. But yes, you can accuse me of being somehow disconnected now as we speak. Disconnected enough to say :

1. The solution to world social problems lies in politics and applied sciences, not in individual donations.
2. That the idea that ppl should cut on their "luxury items" is against human nature. Humans are obsessed with status, there is little surprise here, and those items are very powerful signals.
3. That nobody should believe that entity X has the obligation to help entity Y. It all good when X does it, but our society should not grow reliant on a higher class for survival. It's a two edged sword. IMO reliance on the higher class for survival will only widen the social gap
and will slowly institute a hegemony of the higher class over the clients.
4. Once you came to believe that "some persons should at least give", you are slowly closing yourself to Marxism.

 Quote by Greg Bernhardt Think of the pond scenario again. You'd jump in the pond to save a drowning child, no? If the only option to save the child were to hand over $15, you'd immediately hand over$15, no? Then why are you telling me you'd walk away from the drowning child now?
The immediate vicinity of a drowning kid would cause a very powerful activation of the limbic system in my brain. Powerful enough to override my frontal cortex, and cause me to act by either becoming frozen, either assume the risk and act to save the child, even if the water conditions are a threat to my well being.

The simple evocation of the scenario does not cause the same limbic system activation. In effect I can rationalize.

I dont tell you that I would walk away from the kid. Im telling you that IMO giving money for 3rd world countries is not a solution. That the best way we can help them is by politics. And that anyone who believe into variants of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is dangerously close to marxism.
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 Quote by DanP I dont tell you that I would walk away from the kid. Im telling you that IMO giving money for 3rd world countries is not a solution. That the best way we can help them is by politics. And that anyone who believe into variants of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is dangerously close to marxism.
The difference here is that I am asking to consider a very narrow circumstance and you keep trying to make it into a broad solution. It won't save the world, but it will save that one kid. That is all I am saying. Isn't saving that one kid worth $15? Work on politics is besides the point. P: 630  Quote by Greg Bernhardt The difference here is that I am asking to consider a very narrow circumstance and you keep trying to make it into a broad solution. It won't save the world, but it will save that one kid. That is all I am saying. Isn't saving that one kid worth$15? Work on politics is besides the point.
I think it's more correct to say that 15 USD will feed a kid for X days. Or that it can buy X vaccine doses. Or X antibiotics doses which can be used to treat a men for X days. there is no guarantee that 15 USD / head will save anyone.

Im also telling that I dont want anyone to impose his twisted morale on our society. It;s golden if you are a charitable person, and you choose to give and try to save others.

But for me it becomes a problem of grave political implications every time somebody tries to
shove such ides as rationalizing what is a unnecessary luxury for me and asking me to cut on it. Today they ask you to give from your so called unnecessary luxury, tomorrow they'll bit the hand who fed them.

If Singer would just make a passionate plead to help others, I would be OK with is view. But no, he tries to make it a "moral imperative". This is what is wrong with his view. Ofc , he is philosophizer, so he can afford to emit anything. But I prefer to swim with the likes of Borlaug. That man saved billions, very few ppl really know who he was and what he did, and
he did that without trying to impose his philosophical view of the world on others.
It is not anyone else other than yourself who should decide what is necessary and what is not. If you feel buying a $200 watch instead of a$100 alternative watch is worth the ramifications of not being able to use that $100 difference to save some children's lives, then so be it. I am not calling for some government mandate nor is Singer. This is about personal responsibility. Would you feel embarrassed if there were an article on the front page of the news about how you decided to spend extra money on a watch instead of saving a child?  Quote by DanP If Singer would just make a passionate plead to help others, I would be OK with is view. But no, he tries to make it a "moral imperative". This is what is wrong with his view. Ofc , he is philosophizer, so he can afford to emit anything. But I prefer to swim with the likes of Borlaug. That man saved billions, very few ppl really know who he was and what he did, and he did that without trying to impose his philosophical view of the world on others. Yes he is a philosopher, this is what he does. Before you assume too much about him and his views I will again state that this whole thread is about one small argument he makes early in the book. I think you'd enjoy the complete book where he fleshes everything out is turns more realistic and practical than you think. For one thing he values volunteering time more than money. Certainly there are people like Borlaug who did great work as a humanitarian and Buffet who has pledged billions, but we can't all be these people. This argument is something everyone can be aware of and use to make better spending choices. P: 335  Quote by DanP Who died trying ? Martin Luther King Ghandi JFK John Lennon Joan of Arc Benazir Bhutto "Hermila Garcia, the 38-year-old chief of police of the town of Meoqui in the Mexican state of Chihuahua." I'm sure I forgot one. Pardon. My great, great grandpa was killed by Napoleon in a street fight. Grandpa was just in the hood trying to keep the French gang off the street. And so on. Really Mr. DanP These are just the big names. How about all the little folks who serve in the forces. Fire, police, Army and so on? How about the UN workers, and any aid program who goes into a dangerous,uncomfortable place to do good and gets hurts, sick or worse? Blah blah blahh you know already. Now go and do good! P: 630  Quote by Greg Bernhardt Our own morale compass should impose this view. Why wouldn't we all want to be golden and charitable? How is that twisted? But the reality is that it doesn't. If our moral cognition would impose this view, we would be all cuddly teddy bears which would work "for the good of the species", and all the world would be a great kibbutz. Im more inclined to believe that there is a balance between our helping behaviors and our personal needs which sits in a form of a Nash equilibrium. IMO attempts to push the balance too far artificially, through social engineering, are destined to fail.  Quote by Greg Bernhardt I am not calling for some government mandate nor is Singer. It;s not you or Singer which Im worried about. Is the radical leftists who will very fast begin to think it;s natural and a right of the poor to be supported by the rich.  Quote by Greg Bernhardt This is about personal responsibility. Would you feel embarrassed if there were an article on the front page of the news about how you decided to spend extra money on a watch instead of saving a child? Are you appealing to my limbic system ? It wont work with me. But you have talent at framing your questions to appeal to emotions. I say framing, for you should have asked me "donate 15 USD instead of buying a watch which is 100 USD more expensive... ". But yeah, shame is a very powerful emotion. One of the motivators behind social conformity. If we would live in a world where the press should write such articles and the vast majority of your social group would exercise restrain and limit their status seeking behaviors, yes I would probably conform due to the enormous social pressure. But we do not live in such a world. We live in a world where driving a Mercedes opens you doors and gets you chicks :P Sad ? Probably. Natural ? Yes. Our neurobiology and some social forces play tricks on us.  Quote by Greg Bernhardt I think you'd enjoy the complete book where he fleshes everything out is turns more realistic and practical than you think. I would probably enjoy the book yes.  Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 12,500 Greg, given that probably 99.999% of everyone living, and everyone who has ever lived, could never live up to the standards suggested here, isn't the notion of "a bad person", a moot point? How can one logically argue that everyone dead or alive was or is bad? Bad compared to what; aliens? This is why [in part] the Catholics have saints. A few very special people are able to rise above their nature, but most of us are weak selfish beings who just want to be comfortable. Is that bad? No, it is human. There is also the case of hopelessness. We have given billions and billions and billions, and the problem never gets better. P: 630  Quote by Lacy33 Now go and do good! Yes ma'am ! Admin P: 9,511  Quote by DanP But the reality is that it doesn't. If our moral cognition would impose this view, we would be all cuddly teddy bears which would work "for the good of the species", and all the world would be a great kibbutz. Im more inclined to believe that there is a balance between our helping behaviors and our personal needs which sits in a form of a Nash equilibrium. IMO attempts to push the balance too far artificially, through social engineering, are destined to fail. It doesn't, but I think we all have the capacity to have that golden charitable compass. Our ability to discuss it proves that. Is our morale will really this weak? I agree balance is key and realistic. But I and Singer feel everyone could do a lot more. Certainly go see that movie on the weekend and buy a nice silk tie. But there must be better conscious effort to weigh and consider these alternate options to help some humanity that are helpless. The only people who complain about having to help and are who are in the position to help.  Quote by DanP It;s not you or Singer which Im worried about. Is the leftists who will very fast begin to think it;s natural and a right of the poor to be supported by the rich. The extreme poor do deserve to be helped and supported. I'm not talking about people on welfare.  Quote by DanP We live in a world where driving a Mercedes opens you doors and gets you chicks :P Sad ? Probably. Natural ? Yes. Our neurobiology and some social forces play tricks on us. But again we do have the capacity to rise above. Just by discussing this issue you acknowledge your awareness to the issue, but still seem content to live in a world where you see yourself as the victim of nature. You think nature made me selfish, so I will not fight it.  Quote by Ivan Seeking Greg, given that probably 99.999% of everyone living, and everyone who has ever lived, could never live up to the standards suggested here, isn't the notion of "a bad person", a moot point? How can one logically argue that everyone dead or alive was or is bad? Bad compared to what; aliens? This is why [in part] the Catholics have saints. A few very special people are able to rise above their nature, but most of us are weak selfish beings who just want to be comfortable. Is that bad? No, it is human. There is also the case of hopelessness. We have given billions and billions and billions, and the problem never gets better. Interesting Ivan. I think as I mention with DanP, it is just a complete lack of morale will. We know what is right to do, but we sink into apathy and ignorance. We have the capacity as we have noted a few of the certainly thousands of people who have overcome this weak morale fortitude. We personally need to look at ourselves and ask why we can't and whether we can live with the fact that we not doing more has cost lives. Ivan, certainly the system is a working solution, but it has saved millions of people and it means everything to those people. Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 12,500  Quote by Greg Bernhardt Interesting Ivan. I think as I mention with DanP, it is just a complete lack of morale will. We know what is right to do, but we sink into apathy and ignorance. We have the capacity as we have noted a few of the certainly thousands of people who have overcome this weak morale fortitude. We personally need to look at ourselves and ask why we can't and whether we can live with the fact that we not doing more has cost lives. Ivan, certainly the system is a working solution, but it has saved millions of people and it means everything to those people. When you say "the right thing to do" you are defining morality. What is the basis for this defintion? Many religious people would derive their defintion from the Bible or other religious texts, but to define morality in the absence of divine dicates gets pretty dicey. It seems a bit of a reach to say that your sense of morality applies to everyone else. One might argue, for example, that my moral obligation is to provide the best life that I can for my own children. The system is working? Then give me the dollar amount needed to solve this problem once and for all, and a deadline. What you call a solution, I might call black hole for wealth. I have never seen an end game here. What are the rates of population growth in countries like India, for example. You tell me how this will ever end even if we drain every dime from this country [which we are actively doing at this moment, btw, through our trade deficit]. I am completely sympathetic to your argument, but I am also sympathetic to the frustration of the problem. Admin P: 9,511  Quote by Ivan Seeking When you say "the right thing to do" you are defining morality. What is the basis for this defintion? I think everyone can agree that if you have the ability to save a life, it is moral to do so.  Quote by Ivan Seeking The system is working? I forgot to add "not" as supported by my "but" :)  Quote by Ivan Seeking What are the rates of population growth in countries like India, for example. You tell me how this will ever end even if we drain every dime from this country. Larger problems with the system, politics and sociology are irrelevant to the argument as I have discussed with DanP. If you can save a life by donating$15 to vaccinate a child with measles instead of going to movie, you do it. I don't care if the whole system doesn't work. It's about that one child you can effect with each spending decision. It matters to that one child.