May 2008

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Umm, I know I'm probably a little late with this comment and I hope someone finds it because this idea is "frickin' cool." Seriously.

I can take your idea a step further.

Aside from poor people, maybe we can also ask (or maybe require) old folks the same thing. Think about it, we can kill 2 birds with one burning couldron of gas, the energy crisis and social security.

Kudos to your success, Scott! You deserve it.


I know it's a little late to comment, but I just have to point out why your analogy obviously has nothing to do with our army, even though it's the first conclusion everyone jumps to. It's probably triggered by the reference to the poor people's patriotism. Your analogy implies that we've never fielded an army of people before (i.e. never used people as fuel before) rather than the fact that since the beginning of time, nations have formed armies of people in various ways. We've just reached a point where we've come up with a "better than the alternative" solution (the draft, forced labor, slavery). The point you are trying to make doesn't work. Your analogy implies that we shouldn't use people for fuel (even though we should still use fuel) therefore, we shouldn't use people for killing because 1 in 20 die, even though we should still kill to defend ourselves. If you're trying to get people to think deeper about the war, then come up with an analogy pertaining to whether America has the right to defend itself preemptively or wait till it's attacked, or if it has the right to defend itself at all. But don't trash the honor of a fallen soldier by implying that they die because they're mindless poor just looking for a paycheck. I know it's tough for you to imagine, given your thoughts on free will, but some soldiers do what they do for something that is bigger than they are, not just a paycheck.


This is already how life works.

Jirayr Shavarshyan

I think the idea is not too bad.

But the only big question is !
After for a definite of time, how would you proof who is
rich ,who is not.


>>Under those conditions would you use poor people to fuel your car?

No, but I would be happy to use those volunteers to kill wacko induhviduals on the other side of the world who chant "Death to America!" and would otherwise raise funds, recruit, train, and plot to kill me on my way to work in the morning. Or at least they would try if they weren't preoccupied by those volunteers trying to kill them first.

Should it happen that if there fewer uncontrolled explosions near the global supply chain that my standard of living increases, then I wouldn't say no to such an economic benefit on the side.


"Now then, there’s a good news and there’s a bad news tonight. The bad news is that the Martians have landed in New York City, and are staying at the Waldorf. The good news is that they only eat homeless men, women and children of all colors, and they pee gasoline."

-- Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut

You can still make your point -and- acknowledge sources that may have inspired your ideas.


I don't see where you have shown where 'Omelas' is not a reasonable analogy. Well, I guess the lack of a 'volunteerism' factor. Still, the volunteerism is there only to make us feel better about the process.

How about if the process requires only the body, so the reward for volunteering is a continuous free banquet of high sugar, high-salt, fatty food (with transfats) until they pass naturally? With alcohol and dope to smoke.


It's not just gas that's made out of poor people. The whole western economy is based on exploiting the poor. So don't stop your analogy to Iraq war or military, people...

james  ferguson

If this hypothetical scenario is referring to the Armed Forces then you do me and others like me a disservice. I won't deny that some of what you outline is occuring, but there are plenty of people like me who joined the military. People who wanted to fly around in helicopters and blow shit up, people who jumped off of buildings and snow board ramps without ever pausing to wonder "will this hurt me". Whether it's easy to think about or not, the fact is some of us were born stone cold killers, or at least with the propensity to be this way. If you think of the amount of conflict that has occured over the last 5000 years of human evolution you should be amazed that more of us haven't inherited this trait. But a trait is just a trait, and does not define the whole human being. I guess the long and short of what I'm trying to say is that in my military service I have encountered several people like me who lie somewhere between Joe citizen and Jhonny criminal and the brotherhood and discipline I get in the Military goes a long way in keeping me out of a cell. And just for demographics I am a white male from an upper middle class background who scored a 30 on my ACT, had the funding to go to any University I wished and this was still my choice.

Specialist Holmes

We already have this system, the armed forces. If I survive my enlistment, I get my college education paid for by the Montgomery GI Bill. The downside is that I'm volunteering to risk my life so that the kids of the powerful businessmen benefitting from the War On Terror (read KBR/Halliburton) won't have to risk anything of their own.
I am the mudsill upon which the War On Terror profits rest.

Adrian D.

"Ed, your question 'Why poor people specifically? Why not people in general?' is quite easy to answer.

"A: "Because they contribute less to society. In fact in many cases, they are a complete drain on societal resources. Perhaps reading a book entitled 'The Origin of the Species', written by Charles Darwin, would help you a bit here."

Actually, the "investor class" are the largest drain on society. Those are people who produce NOTHING, but are good at diverting resources to them. Many of the poor are people who work hard but just have the results of their efforts taken away.


On my studies for an essay in penal law, I came across the following case:

A rapist sneaks up on a girl and captures her, ready to rape her. The girl, rationalizing, says, she would have sex with him without the use of force and they should go to her apartment. The rapist, now with the choice to get what he wants without being punishable by the law, of course accepts this offer. The girl manages to run when they encounter some other people passing by.
Faced with charges for attempted rape, the rapist defended himself saying, he did stop the attempt out of his free will (which grants him freedom in German law).

This case can be used analogues in this case: The poor people "volunteering" are not really doing so, as the choice is "Die in poverty or risk your life to get those benefits, which the state should give you anyway" and they have more or less no real choice. Doing the only rational thing is not a choice, thus the answer is no.


Its called the US Army and people are fighting for rich oil revenues. So yeh, you aren't describing a hypothetical at all.


Then again, as Scott has said, people don't have free will, so the poor people really aren't volunteering, they are rationalizing.

Whether to use people as fuel is a slippery slope argument. Why kill people when you can convert them to fuel? Smells like genecide to me. Good Holocaust reference above.

Also, I can see a future where criminals in China are fed to the ovens for "the greater good." This is disturbingly believable and is why you see this type of thing in science fiction. Babylon 5 Spoo anyone?

Also, I have a theory that the middle east has a lot of oil, because it is one huge graveyard... think of how many wars that have been fought there.

Don G

I'm evil, so I had no problems with the origional idea.

Chief of the Cubicle Police

Ed, your question "Why poor people specifically? Why not people in general?" is quite easy to answer.

A: "Because they contribute less to society. In fact in many cases, they are a complete drain on societal resources. Perhaps reading a book entitled "The Origin of the Species", written by Charles Darwin, would help you a bit here.


Sorry if this has been covered but I can't be bothered to read back through the whole lot.

We're already doing this in a multitude of ways, except that are no 19 people getting the upside for the 1 who suffers.
Subtitute cheap stuff for car fuel and crappy working conditions, life expectancy for being rendered down into fuel and you can see how large chunks of our comfortable lifestyles are supported by others who get very little in the way of benefit...


Using poor people would be environmentally friendly too! They are always the ones that have the big rust bucket cars back firing and spraying black smoke all over the place! Could you make it poor and stupid people, that way the gene pool would be cleansed. (My husband has an aunty & uncle and their 7 kids that we would be happy to donate to the cause!)


Yes, I would. I'm already using dead dinosaurs, and they didn't volunteer. I'd feel better about using dead poor people because I'd be helping 19 other poor people out for each one that sacrificed himself.

...and there'd be no fuel shortage, because we know how much poor people love the lottery!


Why poor people specifically? Why not people in general? Or did you choose poor to make the process seem more abhorrent?


AUGH! My comment came up as Nacho's, and someone's (presumably Nacho's) came as mine!

Time to check the scripts!


[Update: Please stop leaving Soylent Green, Jonathan Swift, a

Sliders, and "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" comments. You are not the first. And this post only reminds you of those. It's not the same.]

Swift was satire and in Soylent Green the people were murdered - they did not consent or even knew what would happen to them after they were abducted.

The Sliders example, on the other hand, is VERY CLOSE to this post. People voluntarily participate in the lottery, and are 100% informed (assuming they're not from another world) as to what will happen if they "win". Once they win, they ARE treated like heroes before being killed. Fuel or population control - it doesn't matter, key point is that they knowingly risk their life for selfish reasons, but the whole thing is set up for the good of the many.

Ok, fine, in the Slider's case you don't have the yuck factor of knowing your gas tank is full of people. That's the only real difference.


"Imagine that although there are many alternatives to using poor people as fuel, those alternatives cost way more. ... Under those conditions would you use poor people to fuel your car?"

But are those alternatives truly available? Or are they only theoretically available -- must we convince our congresspeople to convince each other to actually get those methods out on the market? *That* is the problem I have with the current system. I'd gladly pay more for alternative fuels -- if they'd actually power my car, of course.

Moreover, what we consume at the pump is but a portion of the oil we consume: there's all the fuel used by the trucks and planes to get the goods to the stores we buy from, and perhaps again to us (if we order it online, or special order it); petroleum products are used in plastics, medicines, food items, and others.

So give me alternative fuel and an alternative-fuel car, but also change the standard fuel in industry as well. Then my change will help make a difference rather than just being some small moral objection that accomplishes nothing in the long run. Of course they won't do that; everyone having 20% less of their income be disposable would wreak havoc on the economy.


I'd continue to ride my bicycle to work and do my best to be a green person in a black thumb country.

And I'd suggest that those poor people subject themselves to medical experiments cause when I get older and have hypertension, diabetes, alzheimer's, obesity, osteo-arthritis and multiple forms of cancer because I don't take care of myself and increasing medical technology allows me to live without taking care of myself, I want my drugs to have been tested on cute furry animals AND poor people so I know they're safe. The health care for those who don't care about their health (with the idea that we pay other people to do that for us) is just as valid an area to have poor people selling their bodies because they feel optionless in our society.

(Note: there are also going to be rich people entering the fuel pool in the hopes that they are one of the lucky 11 out of 12 to make it and they believe that the fact that they entered the pool gives them credibility toward a career in politics.)


You know what else this post reminds me of? Suicide bombers.


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