1. komarov says

    Nah, way off. Put the money on track B but no person. “I would like to redirect the trolley, but the economy!!!”

  2. lorn says

    yes, that bis one aspect of reality. Some people have more money and will use it to slant decisions in their favor. Fair enough. It isn’t likely that will change any time soon.

    But then again there might be unexpected dynamics. Looking st the second drawing I’m thinking if I was at the switch I might work the switch so the guy with the money get flattened. I assume that our little money transaction was kept secret. So, at the very least, killing the rich guy allows me to both do the ethical thing, save more lives, and I get to keep the money.

    A little more conniving I note that if the rich guy dies I can:
    1) Do the right thing and get credit for doing the right thing.
    2) I get to keep the money intended to corrupt me.
    3) Given that the money held by Richy Rich is unlikely to be destroyed by the trolley, stained for sure, but it still spends after a quick wash. I can simply walk over and pick up the rich guy’s cash.

    Bribery is subject to unexpected dynamics and perverse incentives.

    With all that newfound (earned?) wealth I can stop working at the weirdly perverse trolley yards where people are routinely tied to tracks and they expect me to make the best of it.

  3. lochaber says

    I think one of my favorite versions is the “boomer trolley problem”

    I suspect it got started with the objections to canceling student loan debt, but it could be a number of other things.

  4. lorn says

    Incentives seldom work as intended. Money only temporarily motivates. After a while people just take it as read that they deserve it. Even to the point that they assume, lacking other reasons, that they have more because they are simply better people.

    In my opinion, albeit limited life and understanding, most of life comes down to the basics of emotional needs: To know and to be known; to love and be loved, to do work both meaningful and useful for yourself and others.

    People will starve and suffer and willingly live lives where they know they will never escape the suffering and deprivation if they can still meet those basic emotional needs. Materialism, capitalism and consumerism are, at best, either besides the point, or band-aides on bullet holes if those needs are not being met.

    Of course, a lot of band-aides get sold because of emotional bullet holes. The US spent three trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan buying band-aides to cover holes in the psyche of W-Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and most of the population of conservative white males. Yes, there was money to be made.

    Trump’s super power is offering the emotional payoff people are lacking. He never delivers but because he at least talks about those needs. He gets a lot of undeserved credit for giving lip service. But I think the main effect comes from the visceral/ emotional connection he makes.

    I have a neighbor that voted for Trump. Over time I’ve been able to get some understanding of why a normally very rational human might vote for Trump. It has to do with him getting older, with his back going out, losing his job, with his wife starting to make more money, with him being forced to wear adult diapers.
    He has seen his wealth, security, authority, and manhood deteriorate.

    When he saw Trump speak he felt that for the first time in years he was seen. Trump seemed to know him and he thought he knew Trump (Know and be known). Trump said he would restore America and would fight for him hr picture his younger more powerful self (Love and be loved). When Trump asked for his vote to save America (work useful to self and others) he felt the momentary thrill of of emotional completion and the connection was made. It was all fake. It was fleeting. But like the addict driven to recreate the first golden high those few seconds would drive him for years.

    That is, in a not so compact nutshell, the payoff. The switch puller in the trolley problem was paid off in money. The voter is paid off in a few seconds of belonging and emotional fulfillment. Trump used the emotional neediness of the voter to persuade them to vote in a way that went against common sense and morality.

    The irony, and fatal flaw, is that Trump can’t observe, or control, much less fulfill, his need for his father’s approval. But he parlays that emptiness, and the ability to leverage the same hollowness by feeding their inchoate emotional needs in others to pervert the moral judgments of others. To create an addiction and pride/shame cycles that can easily be exploited.

    You might read this and see it as trivial, or intellectually obvious. Perhaps, but to understand you need to feel the dynamics. I’ve had my own fights with addictions. I’ve tried to solve my own normal emotional needs with drugs, alcohol, consumerism, superficial relationships … band-aides.

    There has been some discussion of, in various persiflage forms, how to live, what to do, what is the value of life, any particular activity, a blog. My answer is to consider the deep emotional needs. If an activity or situation, in any way, even slightly or indirectly, fulfills the need to:

    Know and be known; love and be loved; to do substantial and meaningful work for one’s self and others.

    Then hold that activity high. Cherish it. Even if it means poverty, ridicule, and suffering.

    We stand at the switch and make decisions. Second by second, minute by minute we chose who we are and what we do. To my way of thinking this is the central act of being human. Those three central emotional needs are the essence of being human. You can’t be a better human by being less human.

    And yes, I’ve spent some time thinking, or should I say feeling, about it.

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