Whatever You Like

I’ve been thinking about The Singer Solution to World Poverty and T.I.’s latest song: Whatever You Like.

The basic issue is the same one I have watching the debate coverage: how the hell do people end up thinking the way they do.

Almost half of America looks at the results of our current administration and the extent to which McCain/Palin propose continuing the same attitudes, and somehow think that voting for that ticket it is a good idea.

McCain I can kinda see. I think he is wrong about what is needed to solve many of our problems, but I understand sort of the emotional backing for why people think he will keep them safe and fight to reduce the size of government. Palin, on the other hand, is way out of her depth:These people hear her talking and they clearly have an entirely different perceptual experience than I do. It’s how a dinner in a fancy restaurant tastes better than the same one from a street vendor, and it’s how a $5 per pill placebo works better than a $0.10 one. Perception is shaped by beliefs to fit with the way one thinks the world works.

To some extent it makes me doubt my own perceptions. How can something so obvious to me not be obvious to someone else?

Not that I think I’m wrong, mind you. I’m almost certain that Obama will take our country in a better direction and barring some monumental snafu he is likely to get the chance.

I have an almost visceral need to understand though. I’m fine with assuming huge swaths of the general population are dumbasses. I’m even willing to think I can’t understand some folks because they’re nuts. Half the country though? In all likelihood, I’m the one that’s missing something when there’s that many people.

Singer is the same thing but in the opposite direction. I’m really interested in people who give up their comfort and sometimes even their lives to go against the common perspective and work for what they understood as a higher good.

I don’t really think that they are noble, at this point I mostly think that their perceptions have been skewed.

Honestly, the first time I watched the video, as TI is dropping stacks of hundreds on the counter to buy the girl a necklace, I was thinking of the girl’s mom sitting alone in her apartment opening a can of soup for dinner.

If you get to the point you start thinking about what you are depriving other people of rather than simply what you are getting, it really takes quite a bit of the fun out of buying shit.

As Singer points out, we live in a world with limited resources and dropping $10k on some pretty rocks means people don’t get to eat. It’s not some amazing spiritual revelation. It’s just a fact.

The question is what makes some people like Singer willing to not go out to eat so he can give his money to help kids, and other people like TI who, despite probably understanding poverty in a much more direct way, largely unconcerned?

Why do some people see the wider consequences of their actions and others don’t?

More importantly, can anything be done to change that?

I actually have some ideas, and I would love little more than to devote time to learning about the issue. Unfortunately, school prevents me from really having time to learn much at this point. I’m just laying groundwork and jumping through the hoops that need jumping through.

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