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On cooperation and fairness as organizing principles

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Jul. 13th, 2006 | 10:18 pm
mood: busybusy
music: John Denver - Poems, Prayers and Promises

Subject: Re: [sasona] fine deadline approaching
To: Sasona Co-op Members mailing list
User-Agent: Mutt/1.4.2.1i

[...]

Also, even if 'fairness' had any objective meaning
with regards to the labor system, it would still be
an utterly irrelevant concept.

I am being quite serious.

Cooperation is about maximizing choice.
Maximizing choice maximizes individual benefit.
Individual benefit is necessarily personal and subjective.

Fairness is about minimizing difference.
Attempting to make things equivalent by some
objective external perception. It transforms systems
into zero-sum games in which nothing is maximized.
Even in unlikely cases where fairness results in a universal
benefit, the total benefit (to the members as a whole) is less,
and the individual benefit is likely less.


If something seems fair to you, you have ultimately
been cheated. If something seems unfair to you, reevaluate
the choices you have made.


Cooperation makes it likely that you get what you want.
Fairness makes it unlikely that anyone gets what you want.

Cooperation heals injury by sharing surplus.
Fairness avenges injury by redistributing deficits.


Trip

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Comments {10}

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tomato, tomahto

from: marconiplein
date: Jul. 14th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)
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the last person i knew who used that argument with any sort of bold sincerity was arguing that her only role in the co-op should be organizing a bookshelf and making cookies.

my household employs the principles of cooperation, which means that 2 out of the 4 housemates never do their dishes or any sort of cleaning. by these standards cooperation just becomes synonymous with being an asshole.

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Re: tomato, tomahto

from: marconiplein
date: Jul. 14th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
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actually, my housemates are quite nice. eventually, somewhere they will do the dishes. i have faith in that. i also have faith that i can speak up for myself and ask things of them.

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Triple Entendre

Re: tomato, tomahto

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 14th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
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the answer, i think, is to scale up until you reach the point where your population includes at least one member who prefers doing dishes, and allow them to do all of them. specialization and trade.

(and as i've said (or implied) before, this will occur at a population of 12 or more members.)

here at Sasona, I've noticed that a clever way to get people to do stuff is to undertake some pro bono house improvement project, publicly but without fanfare or complaint, and be seen having fun doing so. Later, one sees them doing the same, on their own.

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Re: tomato, tomahto

from: marconiplein
date: Jul. 14th, 2006 07:42 pm (UTC)
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that's one nice thing about being in the bay area. i get new ideas about cooperative living from people all over the country. my friend juli lives in a cooperative house in berkeley and it's big and beautiful and everytime i step inside the door i feel like i'm coming home and learning something new.

i think you're onto something about doing things publicly but "without fanfare or complaint."

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Triple Entendre

Re: tomato, tomahto

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 14th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
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no, it's not the whole story. those would have to be some damn good cookies.

(and, if nobody ever did anything, that would be fair, for sure.)

no, i am assuming an ideal population of members in which everyone understands that they have agreed to contribute towards creating the surplus.

but maybe i'm overstating my case, with this screed. we do have someone (a labor "czar" -- and the title, as you know, is only partly ironic) who is responsible for distributing labors by which a person's obligation to the coop is fulfilled, and he does apply some private standard of fairness -- discreetly, and within the bounds of that office.

this came up because a new member was getting his feathers all ruffled up over extra "make-up credit" being given for outdoor work because of the weather, but _his_ regular labor was outdoors as well, so _he_ should get extra credit, too, and.... he went so far as to claim that this meant he was being "indirectly penalized", and that's where I had to speak up.

i cannot abide fallacious moral judgments. and that's why i'm always trying to pull people into higher levels of abstraction. if i can't get them to see clearly, at least i can confuse them.

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(Deleted comment)

Triple Entendre

Re: tomato, tomahto

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 14th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
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then quit divorcing me and having kids!

*pout*

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(Deleted comment)

Triple Entendre

Re: tomato, tomahto

from: triple_entendre
date: Jul. 14th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
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yeah, i had a nightmare about that not too long ago.

okay, well, the part before that -- that was pretty good.

time is not still happening quite as much as it was then.

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(Deleted comment)

Looky Looky

(no subject)

from: yangenigma
date: Jul. 17th, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC)
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*puddled brains on floor*

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