Martin Taylor 2004.03.25.10.32]
[From Bill Powers (2004.03.25.0623 MST)]
Bill Williams 24 March 2004 8:30 PM CST --
I have come to the conclusion that the overwhelming condition of most people
in contemporary society is a situation in which the desired level of
consumption is greater than the budget availible to support consumption
Yes, this is one of the ideas that I have been considering and I'm pleased
at your corroboration. When there is a state of permanent uncorrected
error, the result could easily look to an outside observer like maximizing.
No matter how much more of something one gets, one still tries to get more
of it, and that might lead the observer to conclude that one is trying for
the maximum possible. Of course if one ever actually got close to reaching
the reference level, efforts to get still more would decline, going to zero
when the reference level was actually met (some level of sustained effort
would be needed to maintain the input near the reference level, so the
error would never quite get to zero).
I know that's a theoretically obvious statement, but does it
correspond to the real world? To me, it looks more as if the
"required money" reference level for poor people in a rich economy is
substantially higher than their perceived level, but this is not true
for poor poeple in a poor economy or for reasonably well-off people
in a rich economy. So far, so good. On could argue that the reference
level for "required money" is related to what one perceives other
people to have.
But going higher in the scale, it seems to me that for many people
the more money one has, even obscenely above the average, the higher
the reference level goes, as if very rich people actually do
maximize, or at least set their reference level using a positive
feedback loop in which the money available is involved. More money ->
higher reference for money -> more effort to increase money.
This latter seems a weird notion, I know, and it's quite incompatible
with the hierarchy, but could it be a kind of pathological condition,
and if it is, could a similar pathology exist elsewhere, leading to
other kinds of obsessive behaviour? In the money case, it seems to me
to describe the behaviour of some people better than does a simple
setting of the reference level very high right from the get-go.