Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Wed Jan 19 02:24:09 GMT 2011

On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 07:02:22PM -0700, Pat Mathews wrote:
> Actually there is a way to have servants in a generally eqalitarian
> society, though not the all-equal-across-the-board-regardless-of
> experience one postulated here. It's one Poul Andersen used in a tale,
> 60 years ago (?), about a world full of very high IQ people. Who did
> the scutwork?
> Beginners. Newbies. Students. Which was actually how it was done in
> rural America for its first few centuries, and often in the Middle
> Ages. Apprentices were teenagers. The lady's maids and the
> noblewoman's ladies in waiting were girls, learning how to go on in a
> great household before they married, and in the MIddle Ages, their
> mistress would often arrange their marriages and provide them with
> dowries.

This is helped by having a high teen to adult ratio, though; the
'ladies' are far from the whole population; and in the general case,
you're still not having a full-time lifetime servant per person.

A valid point, though.

> Today, my oldest daughter, who has small children and a demanding
> profession, has a series of au pairs - students who live with her and
> do child care.

Right -- I'd noted temporary servants were doable, and applying your
child/student labor insight, it's applying lifecycle arbitrage both
ways: established adults using younger inexperienced labor for a
relatively short high-need period.  (Helped by a presumably
above-average paying profession, of course.)

But affording multiple full-time servants from your birth to your death is
another matter, and requires a more specific social structure.

Visiting my friends makes me feel a bit guilty, but they've got a bunch
of small kids.  Worse was a co-worker, who said he couldn't imagine
living without a maid anymore, and I thought "you'd better learn, or
get used to paying a lot more, as Chile develops".  Of course that
probably won't be big enough to actually effect him for quite a while,
but the embracing of a disparit that shouldn't be sustained bugged me.

(These are Americans earning skilled American salaries in a country with
1/3 the average income and twice the ineqaulity of the US.  You can get
a full-time maid for like $5000/year.  Though for all that that, Chile
has better universal health care than the US.)

-xx- Damien X-) 

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