Should effective altruists care about the US gov't shutdown and can we do anything?

by Ishaan 6y1st Oct 2013112 comments


For those who haven't heard, NIH and NSF are no longer processing grants, leading to many negative downstream effects.

I've been directing my attention elsewhere lately and don't have anything informative to say about this. However, my uninformed intuition is that people who care about effective altruism (research in general, infrastructure development, X-risk mitigation, life-extension...basically everything, actually) or have transhumanist leanings should be very concerned.

The consequences have already been pretty disastrous. To provide just one, immediate example, the article says that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shut down. I think that this is almost certain to directly cause a nontrivial number of deaths. Each additional day that this continues could have huge negative impact down the line, perhaps delaying some key future discoveries by years. This event *might* be a small window of opportunity to prevent a lot of harm very cheaply. 

So the question is:

1) Can we do anything to remedy the situation?

2) If so, is it worth doing it? (Opportunity costs, etc)