Politics Discussion Thread September 2012

by Multiheaded1 min read5th Sep 2012198 comments

1

Personal Blog

The last thread didn't fare too badly, I think; let's make it a monthly tradition. (Me, I'm more interested in thinking about real-world policies or philosophies, actual and possible, rather than AI design or physics, and I suspect that many fine, non-mind-killed folks reading LW also are - but might be ashamed to admit it!)

Quoth OrphanWilde:

  1. Top-level comments should introduce arguments; responses should be responses to those arguments. 
  2. Upvote and downvote based on whether or not you find an argument convincing in the context in which it was raised.  This means if it's a good argument against the argument it is responding to, not whether or not there's a good/obvious counterargument to it; if you have a good counterargument, raise it.  If it's a convincing argument, and the counterargument is also convincing, upvote both.  If both arguments are unconvincing, downvote both. 
  3. A single argument per comment would be ideal; as MixedNuts points out here, it's otherwise hard to distinguish between one good and one bad argument, which makes the upvoting/downvoting difficult to evaluate. 
  4. In general try to avoid color politics; try to discuss political issues, rather than political parties, wherever possible.

Let's try to stick to those rules - and maybe make some more if sorely needed.

Oh, and I think that the "Personal is Political" stuff like gender relations, etc also belongs here.

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[-][anonymous]8y 19

"Personal is Political"

I very much think the personal should not be the political. Because such a mentality when adopted by a society results in:

  1. Tribalization of more and more of the human experience. Making it harder and harder to think about more and more things.
  2. Apolitical identities or outlooks are harder if not impossible to maintain.
  3. Opening up areas to new kinds of remarkably damaging rent seeking.

Thus ceteris paribus it makes life in such a society suck more.

6Athrelon8yIs politicization of the personal inevitable? My model is that there are groups of people with common personal-life interests, such as raising the status of one sub-group or another. Those who can band together to exert coordinated social pressure, win. So unless there is some friction to group formation, politicization seems inevitable. Note that the nature of the groups that are politically relevant may change (ie the relevant group may be an extended family, an occupation, a religious sect, a social class, etc.)
3[anonymous]8yThere is no reason to expect different stable coalitions of such groups require equally large footprints of politicized subjects. Let alone that all such subjects are equally important for the common good! I'm saying that ceteris paribus the less politicized the result of a such a collation is the better off society as a whole will be. Perhaps stable coalitions requiring small footprints have other remarkably negative externalities that nearly always outweigh the gains in areas of life free from politicization. But considering just what a horrible cancer on action and the greater good politicking seems to be, I'm somewhat dubious this is commonly the case. People adopting a general stance of opposing "the personal is the political" subsidize smaller footprint coalitions. Naturally such subsidizing has very small if not tiny effect, it still probably beats out the effect from voting also I would claim that under current circumstances it serves as a useful filter to finding interesting people.
2Athrelon8ySo you're saying "Let the bakers' union be the bakers' union, but keep them out of the Green Coalition?"
2[anonymous]8yOutside the Green coalition they may still try to maintain a politicized outlook on certain baker issues, though without the feeling one can gain power or status remarkably few will in practice do so so. However they certainly won't feel the need to support the Green Coalition and neither will the Green Coalition help them.
2buybuydandavis8yMuch like mugging is inevitable unless people in general band together against it. In the war of all against all, people might wish to declare a truce to end the war, but they better be prepared to retaliate against those who break the truce, or they should expect to see it broken more and more, until even those who would prefer a truce feel it's not a realistic option and the truce ceases to exist.
1Multiheaded8yNah, this is an empirical claim. That is, not acknowledging that the personal is political will only leave 'the personal' trapped in the current discourse, accepted as the way of things.
8[anonymous]8yI am making an empirical claim. I am pretty sure it is correct. Though I also plain prefer to live in a society where I have to deal with politics as little as possible. Naturally this unfortunately isn't a politically neutral stance. "Right wing freedom" is often freedom from politics, while "left wing freedom" is often freedom to politics. I believe that most benign change is not brought about by politics while much of the harmful one is. The human mind is systematically broken at thinking about politics, at least politics beyond the size of the stone age tribe, but it can solve such problems when they are framed in other ways.
3TimS8yI think you are misunderstanding Multi's point. I agree with you that a world where the personal and the political were distinct spheres that never met would probably be a better world. But in the world we live in, there are groups that are (1) identified by persona characteristics, and (2) oppressed in some sense by the mainstream. If those groups don't conflate the personal and the political, they don't have a workable roadmap to social change. In parallel, those who oppose the social changes are committed to reinforcing the distinction. As you note, this formulation has a great deal of embedded status quo bias. In the US, a politician saying "I'm deeply religious." is often perceived as making a non-political statement that he is a good person. Analytically, the perception is false - applause lights are a political act. Keep in mind also that partisan electioneering (community organizer v. rich corporate executive) is not the same thing as politics. In the context of the quote under discussion, everything referenced by Hanson's status-based analysis of human behavior should be understood as "political" analysis.
9Athrelon8yThere is no reason to expect that politics somehow inherently favors the truly oppressed. In reality, groups that are strong have inherent advantages in politicking over groups that are weak. The real oppressed have low status, few allies, and no resources. Rule of thumb: the group that everyone agrees is the most oppressed is not actually the most oppressed - at least, not any longer. The most oppressed group doesn't have that kind of PR!
1gjm8yNo one is claiming that "politics somehow favors the truly oppressed", nor need they in order to argue that "the personal is political" [EDIT: in the sense that political activity can be necessary for personal-looking goals; the phrase can be understood in other ways]. What's relevant is whether politics is necessary for the truly oppressed. Hypothetical world: two subpopulations, the lucky Haves and the oppressed Have-Nots. Everything is harder for the Have-Nots because of explicitly discriminatory laws, casual tribal hatreds, lack of resources after historical oppression, widespread assumption that they're inferior, etc. If the Have-Nots' position is to improve, they will certainly need the discriminatory laws repealed, and it may be to their benefit for there to be anti-discrimination regulations. To get that, there will need to be politics. They will be at a disadvantage in any politicking, for sure, but they're equally at a disadvantage in every other way they might try to improve their situation. Trying to get richer through innovation or trade; getting better-liked through personal interactions; persuading individuals to treat them better; all these things and more will tend to go badly for the Have-Nots, just as politicking will. They need politics even though politics doesn't favour them. Depending on lots of details, they might do better to begin by concentrating on things other than politics. Or not. The same goes for oppressed groups in the real world. So "the personal is political" might well turn out to be empirically wrong. But it isn't refuted merely by observing that politics doesn't inherently favour the oppressed. (I agree with your last paragraph, with the proviso that a group that most people agree is most oppressed might actually be the most oppressed -- if the people who don't agree or don't care treat them badly enough. I don't know whether, or how often, this actually happens.)
0TimS8yMy point is simply that the original quote is a roadmap for moving up the status ladder. Moving a group up the status ladder is hard to do deliberately and the insightful idea from the quote goes to the methodology of deliberate social engineering. Like most social engineering techniques, it does not inherently favor any particular group.
3[anonymous]8yI think you have a good point, I did miss his point, I seem to have different underlying assumptions. Outside of war, and even in war the intention to win this or that goal matters surprisingly little, I do not think the change from oppressed to non-opressed group and back again is primarily the result of intentional human action aimed at changing such arrangements. They aren't utterly irrelevant but I do believe far stronger forces [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ecf/open_thread_september_115_2012/7bz2] and the unforeseen consequences of our own actions are the game changers.
1TimS8yI certainly agree that most value change is not deliberately engineered ahead of time. But it has happened - and there are more effective and less effective ways to deliberately cause changes in values over time.
0[anonymous]8yDoes "politics" in this sentence apply to things like negotiating your position among a hundred people in a corporation? Or are you restricting it to things like democratic elections, legislation, government taxes, and suchlike?
-4wedrifid8yTechnically true but bullshit [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Bullshit] nonetheless. Multiheaded make an "is" claim, you responded with an "ought not" claim. You happened to include "would have better consequences if not" as an intermediate step towards "ought not" but as a response to the grandparent the parent is rather misleading. It's also exactly the kind of thing I usually expect in "personal/political" conversation.
2[anonymous]8yI outright stated this is my preference and I wrote out an argument for why I hold that "ought" as we nearly always do here because of how endorsed consequentalism is. I kind of resent your implication that I'm not concerned with the truth of the matter simply because I tried to make my argument convincing. Whatevs man.
0[anonymous]8yIf you dislike it why are you reading this thread? Note that elsewhere I do say I think such threads are a bad idea [http://lesswrong.com/lw/edy/politics_discussion_thread_september_2012/7cfe].
0wedrifid8yDoesn't seem to be what I am saying.
1[anonymous]8yCalling something bullshit, regardless of a definition is most certainly saying you dislike that "kind of thing".
1wedrifid8yYes, I most certainly do dislike the form of interaction you were using [http://lesswrong.com/lw/edy/politics_discussion_thread_september_2012/7cfn] against multi and to a lesser extent have used in your other replies within this thread. That doesn't make the "If you don't like you don't belong in the thread" message appropriate. It means that, to the extent that I happen to consider it worth my time, I may choose to oppose it. This retort [http://lesswrong.com/lw/edy/politics_discussion_thread_september_2012/7cgr] is non-sequitur.
0[anonymous]8yYou said you expect "this kind of thing" from certain kinds of threads, then are upset when you find it in such threads. I hardly think it is a non-sequitur to point this out. Edit: I'm not sure it is a non-sequitur but I did just realize feelings are probably running high, so I do now think it was inappropriate. Retracted.
6[anonymous]8yWu wei [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei] dude. Social norms are never static and are shaped by strong forces outside the control any individual coalition making monkey brain part. By not acknowledging that the personal is the political I demonstrate it on a meta level. Of all the coalitions this subsidizes [http://lesswrong.com/lw/edy/politics_discussion_thread_september_2012/7cgz], the current is but one member. I am unsure if it is better or worse than what will replace it or its successor. I have much more confidence in which class of coalitions is better.
0[anonymous]8yI think I've discovered a Newsome lurking in my post.
-1Multiheaded8yLet me refine this to fit better within the current LW discourse: the Personal is Ideological. Also, see TimS below.
1Vladimir_Nesov8yI'm unable to get any inkling of what you mean. What do you mean by "personal" and "political" in this context? What's "current discourse"?
3Multiheaded8yThe "personal" being potentially "political": Sexuality and gender, power issues within a family or a relationship, etc. (See e.g. here [http://www.carolhanisch.org/CHwritings/PIP.html] for a simple explanation of the phrase's context.) A kind of the "current discourse" that I mean, then, would be a community and a way of life that would insistently and pervasively tell you how there's nothing political about coming out as queer, or feeling trapped in your marriage, or being mocked for your psychological issue - it's an entirely personal problem of you being a "freak", and you'd better change yourself because you aren't even allowed the language of changing the system. (One of the first steps in such language being the categorization of the entire sphere as pertaining to the "political", and needing complete ideological reevaluation.) This is where the New Left is usually insightful in its criticism of "structural oppression" and other such paranoid-sounding things, IMO. (Sorry for dropping such a brief and cryptic phrase, really. That would've sounded almost trite and obvious in feminist circles - e.g. TimS instantly understood what I meant by it, see below - but I can see how it might look obscure to a general audience.)
2Vladimir_Nesov8yI'm still not seeing a point. Obviously the political situation influences personal situations of people, and sufficiently widespread systematic changes in people's behavior influence aspects of the political situation. (What is the particular relevance for this point of the examples you chose?) The micropolitics you allude to is more about game theory than the global politics that's usually meant by the word. With this understood, what is the thesis worth making, or the "empirical claim" you've referred to?
0Wei_Dai8yAre there any subjects that should be political?
1NancyLebovitz8yPolitics?
1Vladimir_Nesov8yThere are questions of choice of policy, and subjects whose better understanding aids policy decisions. What does it usefully mean (i.e. aside from historically-formed taxonomy, a sense where "should" questions become relevant) for a subject itself to "be political"?
4Wei_Dai8yI guess that, as used in this thread, a subject "is" political means that a good way to solve problems within the subject is to acquire greater power via political methods (public demonstrations, party building, lobbying, etc), while a subject "should not be" political expresses a preference (perhaps based on altruistic considerations) that fewer people think that about the subject. ETA: It seems that historically [http://mindthegapuk.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/the-personal-is-political/] "personal is political" has more to do with the causes of the problems than the solutions, but with that interpretation it's harder to make sense of "should not be political".
-3sam03458yWomen have a higher need than men to belong to small groups (in mean and distribution, but the difference is so great that there is not a lot of overlap) I am unaware of any statistics or studies on this topic, but everyone knows it, just as enthusiasts for diversity are reluctant to visit certain highly diverse parts of town, such as for example, all those diversity lovers at the Democratic Party Convention who found themselves assigned to residences in the wrong part of town and then immediately put John Derbyshire's recommendations into effect. An infertile woman without a family is sarcastically called a cat lady. We have no similar jokes about men Women tend to hang out in small groups markedly more than men do. At the same time, women have a higher propensity than males to break their groups up. The general cause of divorce (usually observed by relatives of the wife, but blissfully unseen by the husband) is that the wife is screwing a high status male, divorces her husband, perhaps in hopes that the high status male will spend more time with her, but instead, upon hearing the of the divorce, the high status male takes off like a startled jack rabbit, never to be seen again. A husband, on the other hand, will attempt to keep both the wife and the mistress, and if he cannot have both, will retain the mother of his children. The viciousness of women to other women is legendary. Most women who has had a female boss will tell you that she does not want to work with female bosses, something men cannot say for reasons of PC. Thus female personal problems are indeed political in that they are frequently evidence for the seventeenth century view that females innately need male supervision over their lives: for example workplace problems and fatherless children. And now here comes the part that will result in this post being massively voted down, and accused of making claims without evidence: 2005 US Crime victimization survey, file cv0513.csv Rape/sexual assault ra

I used to have political views like this:

"Due to the diminishing marginal value of money and other factors, I expect greater total and average utility to result from greater wealth equality than is currently found in the United States."

Now I have political non-views like this:

"I expect greater total and average utility (over the next few decades) to result from greater wealth equality than is currently found in the United States, but it looks like the utility of x-risk reduction might trump basically everything else, and I doubt that "good for x-risk reduction" reliably tracks with "good for humans over the next few decades," so until I spend some serious time thinking about what political and economic policies are best for x-risk reduction, I'm not sure I have any reflectively-endorsed political views.

But somehow I never get around to thinking much about which political and economic policies are best for x-risk reduction. I wish somebody else (somebody who knows their shit) would do so.

Sure, there's the obvious stuff like "Engage in differential intellectual progress to reduce x-risk," but I'm not sure what to think about econom... (read more)

6[anonymous]8yThis post single-handedly made me think this entire thread was a good idea. A sequence on this would be of high value. But I wish we had more recent articles on economics on this site period. Considering how closely related that field is to the study of rationality it is surprising we explicitly say as little as we do on it, nor do we provide anything like an introduction for new readers. Actually on second thought it isn't that surprising since we needed a long time to give game theory [http://lesswrong.com/lw/dbe/introduction_to_game_theory_sequence_guide/] the latter treatment. More economics related links in discussion, posts and book reviews are something that would be easier for us to do right away. Perhaps that would help attract the right cluster of people interested in the topic and capable of contributing to the site? I thinks the results (even in this early stage) of the writing and networking that happened around effective charity show that growing the community in useful directions can be a good way to make progress on such questions.
0sixes_and_sevens8yWhat kind of progress do you expect could be made, and on what kind of questions?
1Eugine_Nier8yWell, I suspect one of the largest effects is that it's good to have a class of people with excess cash that they can afford to donate to speculative X-risk reduction projects.
1lukeprog8yBut not so much cash that they can invest in AGI projects, you mean?
0Multiheaded8yHow large a class, with how much "excess cash", how much of it can they afford to donate, and at what opportunity cost to themselves?
1Athrelon8yAlso worth knowing: what incremental, actually-achievable political change would most reduce x-risk, and what is the ROI of lobbying or investing in projects to bring such a change about?

When dating women, men are (traditionally) expected pick up the check. A naïve MRA might complain that this gives women an advantage, at men’s expense. Yet economic theory tells us that that men would be just bad off if women were expected to pick up the check. How can this be?

Layperson’s explanation: If Congress suddenly mandated that all women pick up the check, men would want to date more. They’d be more eager to ask women out, and improve their value by working out or buying nice clothes. Women would be less eager to accept date requests, knowing that ... (read more)

Tax incidence is not affected by which party pays the tax.

In a world with no transaction costs, perfect competition and full information, this is correct.

In a world of high transaction costs, market power and information asymmetry, this is not necessarily the case.

Which world does the dating market look more like to you?

9Wei_Dai8yThe men-pick-up-the-check norm can also be modeled as an opportunity for men to signal in a costly way. An opportunity to signal may be positive or negative or neutral, depending on the game-theoretic details (as well as side effects further removed from the immediate "game"). Removing the opportunity from one group of people and giving it to another may well increase or decrease the aggregate social welfare and/or cause a transfer from one group to another. ETA: In case it's not clear, “working out or buying nice clothes” are not perfect signaling substitutes for paying for dinner at an expensive restaurant. Someone with good physique might have good genes, a lot of spare time, or just enjoys exercising. Nice cloths can be reused for other dates and hence can't be used to signal interest in a particular person.
7Athrelon8yMy naive internal economist agrees. However, culture matters! I would guess that such a norm, with a persistent minor reminder of who is privileged to have whose company, would subtly shift the norms of which sex is higher-status. Much depends on the presentation though - is it "payment for (highly-valued) company" or "responsibility for the less capable"?
5wedrifid8yReally? That is a strong claim. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that some sufficiently arbitrary discrepancy could violate one of the premises that this kind of economic generalization relies on.
5sixes_and_sevens8yAre you aware this reads like a piece of satire?
4MileyCyrus8yI can see how someone could read this and think "is the author a human being?" But I still think I'm right. People aren't used to applying dry topics like economics onto intimate activities like dating.
4sixes_and_sevens8yThere have been a slew of pop-economics books over the past decade or so that apply economic concepts to just about anything but pecuniary subjects. Insofar as people without an academic background in the subject apply economic theory to anything, I'd say this is simply untrue.
3coffeespoons8yCertainly, I think that people in my social group are more likely to have read Freakonomics than any more traditional economics book.
2Athrelon8yOnly because humans are dumb when thinking about evolutionarily novel things like money in the context of evolutionarily ancient things like mating.
1Multiheaded8yMost people who are concerned about gender egalitarianism probably feel, in fact, slightly relieved that this comment is quite, so to say, neutral - I know I did! It treats hypothetical males as selfish animals who only care about dating a physically attractive fertile female and hypothetical females as selfish animals who only care about dating a socially attractive tribal chieftain! So basically it's neither misogynistic nor misandric, it's simply misanthropic :)
4sixes_and_sevens8yI say it reads like satire because it looks like a joke an economist might make when trying to underscore the limitations of simple supply/demand models, in a similar fashion to the efficient market hypothesis punchline of "if there was really $100 on the floor, someone would have picked it up already".
0Multiheaded8yI say you're much less neurotic than me! Y'know, like that saying that Orwell couldn't blow his nose without moralizing on conditions in the handkerchief industry. I have yet to attain any of his virtues, but I already have some of his flaws. :)
1MileyCyrus8yI tried going further than that by making them exactly symmetrical: both sexes want a physically fit partner who wears nice clothes. At any rate, my argument holds no matter what men/women want. As long as men and women can invest scarce resources into improving their dating value.
4drethelin8yWhat if we mandate splitting the check?
1cousin_it8yYour argument sounds correct to me. To change tax incidence, you need to change one of the parties' preferences, e.g. get most men to sincerely believe that picking up the check isn't worth it.
0[anonymous]8yAre people actually willing to date someone they otherwise wouldn't just for the free food? I've seen this claimed elsewhere, but personally the amount I'd have to be paid for me to be willing to spend a few hours with someone I dislike is higher than the amount I'd pay for a meal by at least half an order of magnitude. So, was I incorrectly generalizing from one example?
3wedrifid8yMany, almost certainly. Whether they would ever admit to themselves that crude economic incentives could have a deciding influence at the margin is an entirely different question. They just need to feel different amounts of attraction without understanding why.
2MileyCyrus8yThe effect is at the margins. A man won't date an extremely unattractive woman for free food. But if a woman is barely below a man's minimum standards, the prospect of free food can lift her over
0drethelin8yProstitution exists.
0[anonymous]8yYes, but most people are not prostitutes. ETA: also, AFAIK escorts are an order of magnitude more expensive than street prostitutes.
0[anonymous]8yWhen looking at the sexual marketplace from an economic standpoint, I think the most ideal solution is hiring a prostitute or a gigolo. Here are my reasons: 1) Prostitutes/gigolos usually have more "fit bodies and nice clothes" than the ones you would normally get in the dating market. 2) Prostitutes/gigolos are more experienced and adventurous and therefore more capable of satisfying you sexually. 3) You don't need to waste time with prostitutes/gigolos before having intercourse with them. For normal dates, you will have to court them several times amounting to dozens of hours, and even then, they might decide to break up before you even hit second base. I can think of other reasons, but you can understand where this is going. If I am in the market for long term relationships, I would like to have the capability of filtering out the moneydiggers who don't particularly feel attracted to me and are only interested in my money. These are the only people who are less likely to date me if they were going to pay for my dinner. Women who are truly attracted to me will find the whole issue of who is expected to pay no more than trivial.
6Athrelon8ySo would women who don't want to date a weirdo who doesn't conform to social norms (and is probably low status because of it.)
3Alicorn8yThere's a spectrum of attractedness (in particular, there is a spectrum of initial attractedness). On the margin, money can matter, especially if you're competing against a sea of opportunity costs who have different opinions about who pays for dinner. You may still set this as a dealbreaker, but your analysis of the situation is flawed. And there's some baseline of attractedness required before someone will let you buy them dinner, since your company is presumably a feature of that dinner. There are loads of people who I would not have dinner with even if they offered to buy me really nice food.
0[anonymous]8yAlicorn, my goal is a healthy long-term relationship with a minimal amount of money and time. There are three categories of women: 1) Moneydiggers: The false positives. I want to minimize my chances of winding up with them. 2) The category you suggested: Those who are mildly interested in me and don't mind having a dinner and getting to know me better, as long as I'm paying. My chances of winding up with a long-term relationship with them are say 1 in 10. 3) Those who are so attracted to me they will date me anyways even if I insist we split the bill or I force them to pay. They will find the whole issue trivial compared to the comfort of being around me. My chances with them are say 1 in 2. If I enforce the rule of forcing women to pay or at least split the bill, I will reduce the false positives (the moneydiggers) who will think I'm money-conscious, which is good. I will also increase the false negatives (people who would have wound up in a relation with me if I hadn't insisted we split the bill), which is bad and reduces my options, but now the ones I'm left with are the only ones who are worthile. I am not going to waste my time and money dining someone unless there's at least a 1 in 2 chance she will remain with me. Edit: Think of it like the M&M story: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/433/transcript [http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/433/transcript] Edit 2: Now I realize my argument is a little irrelevant because it addresses my personal dating policy rather than the general implications of forcing women to pay for dinner.
4drethelin8yInsisting the other person pay has a lot more signalling implications than you think. Depending on the rest of your personality/appearance, it can make you seem like a cheapskate, or like someone who's overconfident, or someone who gets laid a lot so doesn't care about impressing random women, etc. You're also viewing attraction in a very weird way. Most romance isn't love at first sight. Making a good impression on someone and seeing them a lot increases the amount they like you, and it is very unlikely that you meet someone for a first date and they totally want to be in a relationship right away, regardless of bill splitting. It's far more likely that they have some impression of you, either positive or negative, that bill-splitting will influence one way or the other depending on their personality and yours.
1[anonymous]8yI think you are right. Thanks for your insight.
1wedrifid8y4) Those who will not (or are less likely to) date you if you insist on paying but do want to date you when split or otherwise arrange approximately equal expenditure. If intended literally rather than as an illustration I suggest your figures may be unrealistic.
0Alejandro18yIn addition to what drethelin said, aren't you failing to take base rates into account? If there are many more women in category 2 than in 1 and 3, then you should pay the check even if only 10% of them are viable candidates for a long-term relationship. For example, suppose there are 100 women who accept a dinner date with you. 4 are moneydiggers, 6 are very attracted and willing to split the bill (and 3 of them are potential soulmates) and 90 want to know you better but would find you weird if you don't pay (and 9 of them are potential soulmates). By paying, you keep in good terms with all 100, and have a 12% chance of soulmate, a 4% chance of moneydigger and a 84% chance of meh. By refusing to pay, you have a 3% chance of soulmate, a 3% chance of meh, and a 94% chance of never seeing the woman again (which includes 9% chance of having lost a soulmate). Is raising your probability of finding a soulmate from 3% to 12% not worth the minor monetary expense of paying the check, and the minor time expense of following up with some of that 94% you wouldn't have seen otherwise until you can place them more accurately?
0[anonymous]8yMy priority was to find a healthy relationship with the least amount of expenditure spent on finding it. If I have too many dating opportunities and just want to limit my choices to the more viable candidates, I would do what I said. If my dating opportunities are more limited, I would have to consider what drethelin and Athrelon said before breaking any social norms.
3drethelin8yInstead of viewing dating as an expenditure of money, you can just spend money on things you want to do and factor dating into it. If you meet someone you like, can you invite them to do stuff you like with you? It doesn't need to be a seperate section of your life
1[anonymous]8yGood point. I should have taken that into account. It is not as perfect as hanging out with a friend. Your date will probably lack experience with the activity and might wind up feeling bored or uncomfortable. Also the emotional stress from the sexual tension, your unfamiliarity with each other and the uncertainty of your relationship all have their toll on your enjoyment. On the other hand, it is not as simple as time and money being flushed down the drain once you break up.
0drethelin8yThe activity doesn't need to be a sport or something you get skilled at. I like to take walks to a park near my house, so when I went out there with a girl it was fun for me, we had good conversations, and nothing was "flushed down the drain" as you say, even though I never saw her again.
0gjm8yEven sticking with the original dinner-date scenario: ElGalambo, are you really saying that for you going out to dinner with a woman you find interesting enough to consider a possible long-term partner is an unpleasant activity on net, an unfortunate expenditure you have to put up with for the sake of the benefit of finding a partner? That seems awfully sad. Or are you talking specifically about the financial cost, and saying that dinner dates have to be so outrageously expensive that on balance they're negative apart from the possibility of finding a long-term partner? (If so, perhaps your pool of prospective partners is too picky.)
0fubarobfusco8yYou may be expressing a contradiction here.
3[anonymous]8yI meant minimum amount of money and time finding it. Sorry for my bad English,
-2J_Taylor8yYou are talking to heterosexual males, correct?
[-][anonymous]8y 9

The last thread didn't fare too badly, I think; let's make it a monthly tradition.

I think it is a bad idea.

I expect such a monthly thread to be a net loss as we have reasons to suspect we are already seeing politically tinged fragmentation.

4Slackson8yIf possible, turning on the anti-kibitzer automatically for political threads might help.
3vi21maobk9vp8yMy impression is that there is a bigger problem - some LW-relevant issues become political inside LW. I have no reason to claim that poitical threads help or hurt, though.
3drethelin8yI think monthly is too often even though I enjoy these threads
1Randaly8yWhat reasons are these?
2[anonymous]8yRecent discussion and feedback [http://lesswrong.com/lw/e95/the_worst_argument_in_the_world/7a7o].
-7Multiheaded8y
[-][anonymous]8y 7

Despite my misgivings, If we already have this thread I may as well indulge in my desire to discus the fascinating and reactionary writings found in the archives of Mencius Moldbug's blog Unqualified Reservations. If you are unsure who this chap is inspect the links from here or perhaps here. I have recently read and found interesting the following:

... (read more)
3Multiheaded8yI've read the last one, it's extremely typical of Moldbug IMO. He rather distinctly perceives what sort of thing is going on (yes, "diversity" is a political weapon, not so much "towards" political power as to undermine the influence of the New Left's perceived enemies; personally I am lukewarm on it) - but he engages in a lot of empty rhetoric and faux-cynical views of human psychology (it's silly and unfalsifiable - not to say invidious - to say that most ideals of the Left are merely well-internalized means to get the thrill of wielding influence!). Meanwhile, he details nothing about how it is used as a political weapon, why it could have been picked by the post-60s Left over other kinds of weapons (the Old Left didn't care much for it), does it really further the New Left's other unspoken goals well, whether the New Left is aware of the openings this strategy provides to the Right, and so on. I think I have acquired a pretty clear - and uncommon - understanding of those why's and how's of "diversity" and "anti-racism" (as it's commonly used, not all opposition to racism). I've been reading a lot about the Western Left throughout the 20th century over the last months. So I'm trying to write a comment about it right now - but it's necessarily a damn long one, with some background about the general left-of-center/Universalist view on means and ends of political change and how it fundamentally shifted around the 1960s (what the Old Left/New Left divide is all about!). And although a general picture is now rather easy to envision for me, it's a LOT to explain, with fairly large inferential distances to both the Alt-Right view and the politically-aware-LW-mainstream view. And it'll take me a concentrated effort. So I'll try to write it throughout an all-nighter I'm pulling tonight, and even then I'm not promising anything. :) (and damn, I have so many other things to write for LW that no-one else is likely to post, I feel rather guilty for procrastinating) BONUS
3[anonymous]8yI recommend you read the prerequisite posts he cites since they really set the frame for these kinds of claims. He sees "diversity" happening because it is an effective political weapon not because some group found it the optimal tool for their goals. If I understand his models right he thinks that even if the "New Left" didn't exist some other political or apolitical force would employ a "diversity"-like model of gaining power simply because it works so well in circumstances broadly similar to our own. This is the difference between saying sheep are tasty so wolves will eat them and saying wolves evolved to like the taste of sheep because those who didn't starved more often.
2Multiheaded8yAlso: But the Right the world over can't do it very well! It's not that complicated a game - why, then, can't they play it? Because it's a game of breaking down traditional hierarchies, and that's the Left's line of work. The ways of the authentic Right and the authentic Left are not homogenous. It isn't all the same shit. The Left is simply pursuing this game ineffectively and without much useful resonance effect in other areas, it has itself been pwned, that's what I'm going to argue.
5[anonymous]8yI wasn't saying the "authentic traditionalist Right" could play this game, though the "populist right" obviously can, I was saying that different predators would have evolved in the absence of current ones and that the features of current ones are mostly the result of such pressures rather than being engineered. You focus too much on the specific and narrow political context. For example the implicit assumptions that this only works in breaking down traditional hierarchies must result in progress for something like the left that has at the very least egalitarian pretences if not perhaps real preferences. To the contrary, I think one of its most adaptive feature is setting up new hierarchies, which may or may not be more egalitarian than the old ones. I would for example argue the model works quite well if applied to the task mass conversions to different religions or pacification of conquered peoples.
0Multiheaded8yRight; it often does. In particular - not a very PC thing to say? - the more generally intelligent and educated a group is, the more the chance that it'll move towards rather than away from left-wing ideals after traditional hierarchies within it are seriously weakened for some reason. The sort of group currently most capable of living up to "liberty, equality and fraternity" is probably the intellectual class itself :) - and that's why nearly every radical left project with some serious theoretical background, like Leninism - for all the confused rhetoric about the innate decency of the proletariat - showed some awareness that it needs its massive indoctrination efforts to be accompanied by a plain ol' public education program, introducing patterns of thinking that are appropriate to modernity rather than a pre-industrial community, massively improving literacy to the point where the common man would enjoy just reading stuff (this actually kinda-half-succeeded in Russia, eventually, despite post-Soviet regress, and this is part of why it's so hard for me to condemn the Revolution)... Of course, there wasn't nearly enough of such enlightenment, not least because of endemic corruption and fear of practical egalitarianism within the communist elites themselves. However, what I meant here was not that the Left was playing this game properly or very wisely, but that it had many political and selfish reasons to try it while the established elites that the Left challenged had many political and selfish reasons to stay away from it. P.S. here you need to taboo such use of the phrase "populist right": Napoleon was the "populist right" to the French Revolution and the Directory, yet he sustained the attack on traditional hierarchies, although in a more cautious way - while Sarah Palin is also described as being of the "populist right", yet uses her standing up for traditional hierarchies as a major selling point.
3TimS8yWhat are your examples for this assertion? Why do you reject the idea of motivated historical revisionism? There are multiple pressures on any modern group to try to find a common core for fundamentally distinct historical movements that (1) won their conflicts and (2) the moderns like.
1Multiheaded8yHuh? Can't parse your comment at all, sorry. (Oh, and I'm mostly just toying with ideas that look plausible and coherent but under-discussed on the left. Not trying to sum up all the balance of evidence.) But as for a suggestive comparison, look at the un-conservative dating, sex and relationship patterns discussed on LW as advice and personal anecdotes (polyamory, the ethics of seduction and signaling, etc) versus the un-conservative dating, sex and relationship patterns commonly observed in American lower classes (including young white men not born into poverty but socially alienated and marginalized, like the "stereotypical unpleasant anti-feminist dude"). Both are very different from the "traditional" system and would be viewed dimly by a traditionalist conservative, yet one is a promising experiment while the other is a horrible fucking mess.
1Multiheaded8yI claim that there are certainly other effective political weapons that use identity politics and that the Left effectively used other weapons over "diversity" or "multiculturalism" up to the 1950s - class-warfare framing chief among them. "Diversity" works as a weapon because it can force people to associate with groups (like most African-Americans, etc) which are almost certain not to associate with the elites in competition with the Left. It breaks up the homogenity of the enemy elite's power base; the enemy either has to put up with it or be ruined in its reputation. But class, sex, religion, etc would work just as well, because the enemy elites are not just (almost completely) white, they're also almost completely upper-class (sometimes industrialists, often financists, occasionally from academic or military clans), they're almost completely male, almost never (in the US) outspoken atheists, Muslims, Confucians, Unitarians (would've been a beautiful gambit! although it'd need a little astroturfing) - in short, there are many potential angles of attack in this way, and before the 60s, race was practically never used for it, while class and wealth often were. Therefore, there must have been a reason to pick "ethnicity" instead of other characteristics for crippling enemy freedom of maneuver in such a way - just think for a moment, why is our "diversity" an ethnic "diversity", rather than a religious "diversity" or a class-background "diversity" (you only have people raised in rich suburbs at your organization? you're an enemy of the People!) or "diversity" among some other such line? I claim that this was because the American Left had at that point already turned to using race politics for other ends. I'm planning to explain what those other ends were, in my analysis.
2[anonymous]8yI think that would be a rather cool text, so please do! I've read some of her work before but not that particular paper, I've downloaded it for later reading. Just out of curiosity which works from Soviet dissidents would you recommend I read? This is unfair to him no? While Moldbug clearly dislikes universalism, his brain is far less black-and-white than that of the regular modern intellectual. If the past is a foreign country, he is its premier explorer. He may have gone a bit native, but it takes one of those to humble us into occasionally looking past our biases and taking those weird savages seriously. I would argue the fact that Moldbug can stand reading all these interesting and ideologically widely disparate sources is evidence he is if anything too open [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openness_to_experience] to any shiny new idea he encounters.
0Multiheaded8yVarlam Shalamov. Bleak, great and terrible. Also fairly apolitical, beyond a confirmation that tyranny is tyranny and it fucks people bad. He's certainly beyond the notions of individualism and collectivism that a "civilized" life allows; it's all about mere survival in an order of pure hatred and malice. Yes, but I meant a different thing by "black-and-white". "Grayscale" would be a better word, and it's more epistemic rather than directly about sacredness/purity. One might say that he doesn't quite appreciate in which ways and on how many levels people might value things, although of course he has a better understanding of the simple breadth of possible values than the "regular modern intellectual" (wanted to say how those might not be evidence that society is more conformist, but damn I need a rest).
0[anonymous]8yI think that would be cool to read I think, so please do!

Question for Liberals/Leftists and Libertarians:

I'm from the US and of the libertarian persuasion, though not so propertarian as most US libertarians.

Liberals here seem to want to help the poor and less financially fortunate.

But it seems to me that the means selected to help them always tends to be a paternalistic welfare state - more power and control for the government. I think that's just bad market economics and political economics - the regulatory state tends to hamper production and destroy wealth, and the rich are much better able to navigate and ... (read more)

9Unnamed8yI think that one of the main reasons why the US has the complicated welfare state that it does, instead of simple cash transfers, is that unconditional cash transfers to the poor are unpopular among the general public. They make a lot of people feel like they are being taken advantage of. Instead of working like we are, these people are just mooching off of us. The government is taking our hard-earned money, which we deserve, and giving it to people who don't deserve it. That feeling was one of the main motivations behind welfare reform [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Responsibility_and_Work_Opportunity_Act] in the 1990s (recall "welfare queens"). When the word "redistribution" does come up in American politics, it's almost always as an accusation by the right against the left (like in response to Barack Obama's "spread the wealth around" comments during the 2008 election). If you look at the various safety net programs that the US has [http://federalsafetynet.com/safety-net-programs.html] (alternate [http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2011/04/22/americas-ever-expanding-welfare-empire/] sources [http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258]), they're designed in a way that avoids that impression that they are just giving your money to the undeserving poor. The recipient seems deserving, because the program does some combination of the following: * help people who are especially needy, sympathetic, or helpless on their own, like children or the disabled (e.g., SSI, school lunches, CHIP). They're the ones who really need our aid. Programs for the elderly (like Social Security) might count here too. * meet people's basic human needs, rather than giving them money which they can spend on anything that they want (e.g., SNAP, housing assistance, Medicaid). Everyone ought to be fed; giving people food doesn't feel like you're being taken advantage of in the same way as giving money (and similarly with healthcare, housing, etc.
1buybuydandavis8yI think that's basically right. The unfortunate side is that lying about the nature of the programs makes the programs less effective. Rationalizations become implementations. A dishonest rationalization keeps people focused on the wrong things, and doing the wrong things. I think there are two good arguments for a direct redistribution, one common, one not. The common one is helping the poor. Yes, conservatives want to help the poor too. The uncommon one is based on justice. Except for propertarian ideologues, I don't think the proposition that everyone has an equal right to a share in natural resources is that controversial. It's just that few talk about. As I related earlier, even a Bill OReilly can get on board with that. It's a peculiarity that there is widespread support for the proposition with respect to "our" oil, whoever "we" might be, but few follow the implications, as Thomas Paine, Henry George, and others have. There is a final political argument that "this is better than what we do now". Not quite as satisfying to anyone, but it shouldn't be dismissed thereby. Political compromise by definition doesn't align exactly with everyone's values - until you add in the value placed on having an agreed upon and supported solution, and not continually fighting about it. (Although that implies something that hadn't occurred to me before; those who want to fight always have that motivation to prevent a compromise.) Much of that money is already collected in taxes, and much of the rest would be an accounting gimmick with withholding taxes. Money disappears from one account and appears in another. It's the net spending that matters, and how efficiently it is spent. There's no particular theoretical difficulty in rejiggering tax rates and payment amounts.
1Unnamed8yAround 70% of American safety net / welfare state spending goes to people who are elderly or disabled (including Social Security, Medicare, most of Medicaid, SSI, and chunks of various other programs). Keeping the amount of transfers to the elderly & disabled at their current level (either through the current programs or as cash), and giving everyone else in America $10,000 each, would require raising taxes by something like 10% of GDP (assuming that the rest of welfare spending was eliminated). I'd guess that plenty of people on the American left would support a proposal like that if it was on the table (although they'd probably prefer to keep some other components of the current welfare state as well, especially programs for children), but it is not currently a part of the mainstream political discussion and I do not think that Bill O'Reilly would respond favorably to it.
6[anonymous]8yA basic income guarantee [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income] is also endorsed by Charles Murray in his book In Our Hands : A Plan To Replace The Welfare State [http://www.amazon.com/In-Our-Hands-Replace-Welfare/dp/0844742236] . The basic income guarantee has the neat feature that it eliminates some of the perverse incentives of welfare as well as possibly being psychologically much more beneficial since people will know they have a secure revenue stream no matter what, while government programs often require compliance to all sorts of requirements.
3buybuydandavis8yhttp://old.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/qa200603270732.asp [http://old.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/qa200603270732.asp] Interview of Murray about the book. As per usual, he seems like a reasonable fellow.
3fubarobfusco8ySituation A: The government takes $1000 from me and gives it to you. Situation B: The government takes $1000 from me and gives it to you ... then takes another $1000 from me to pay someone to go around and pry into your personal life. Any consequentialist libertarian should agree that Situation A involves less loss of liberty for both of us than Situation B does.
6[anonymous]8yShouldn't most consequentialist liberals too? This plan is lifestyle blind. If I want to be a bohemian artist, work pro bono full time, edit wikipedia, smoke marijuana or just play Xbox in my basement, I won't be judged by the electorate or state for it.
2Viliam_Bur8yIn some situations those requirements may be nonsensical or even actively harmful. One usual harmful pattern is using the heuristics "we help more to those who need to be helped most" to detect people trying to improve their situation and then excessively reduce the help given to them. Soon it become common knowledge that if you try to help yourself, you may end worse.
4Vladimir_Nesov8yAsked in this form, this is a request for collecting information about distribution of opinions in the form of a few self-filtered anecdotes. The data thus collected is completely useless, so it might be better to look for data collected elsewhere or by other means. Suppose then that we do collect such data. In what way would it be useful for the purpose of a theoretical discussion? Opinions themselves may be hard to interpret: different meanings may be intended by the same simplified statement (e.g. one policy may be "preferred" if it magically worked reliably, but a different one may be "preferred" to be actually attempted given the knowledge of how reliably various policies work); the reasons for people holding an opinion may not be indicative of properties of the referents of those opinions (due to errors in reasoning like cultural status quo). Also, opinions (conclusions) are not the best form of data for the purpose of discussing properties of various policies (which would be the basis for making decisions/conclusions). I think it's best to avoid questions or declarations of opinion in either overly imprecise form (that would permit significantly different interpretations), or about conclusions that depend on many unclear considerations that should themselves be under discussion. A discussion should go forward from understandable facts to conclusions, not the other way around, from conclusions reached in an unknown manner, to justification of those conclusions.
2buybuydandavis8yNo, the data is not completely useless. Limited sampling of a distribution can give you information about the different clusters in the distribution, if not the relative frequency of samples in those clusters. There are only so many basic arguments for a position. I wanted to see if the clever folks here had one I hadn't heard before.
0Vladimir_Nesov8yI was making a distinction between arguments for a position and statements of a position. The words "asked in this form" in my comment referred to the way you phrased the question, which was as stated about positions and not arguments. Thankfully, the responses were mostly about arguments, although a couple of them opened with statements of positions, which was the unhelpful bit, whose flaws were the topic of my comment. (Nice point about limited biased samples being adequate for discovering clusters. It seems that this way you may form non-hopeless hypotheses with much less effort than is necessary to quantitatively judge them.)
0buybuydandavis8yI see now what you were getting at. Yes, the question as posed to libertarians lacked the request for "why" that my question to liberals did. As was likely apparent, the libertarian question was an add on to the question to liberals. I'm much more familiar with the basic premises of people who call themselves libertarian, and consider it unlikely that too many libertarians would prefer the hyper regulatory state, though I could make a libertarian argument for it versus the pure redistributionist welfare state. I was mainly interested in what those crazy liberals are thinking, because what they advocate doesn't actually effectively fulfill what they say they want. IMO.
4sixes_and_sevens8yThe telltale symptom of being poor is not having money. The problem with being poor is not being able to engage properly with the wealth-generating activities of society, and that happens for a variety of reasons. Some of those (such as cyclical unemployment or childcare needs) are absolutely best tackled by direct wealth redistribution. Others (such as disability, substance dependency, a criminal record or a lack of marketable skills) by the provision of services, which government may be best placed to orchestrate. Others still (such as statistical discrimination) are most directly addressed by employment legislation, which only the government is in a position to carry out. All of these interventions can be carried out badly. Since mechanisms of social welfare tend to be one of the big issues on the table for party politics, they usually are carried out badly. This is a problem with prevailing methods of governance, not with welfare programs in and of themselves. It's far from clear (although quite plausible) that no welfare is preferable to bad welfare.
6[anonymous]8yWhy should every member of a society be wealth generating? Let alone net wealth generating. To the first approximation people want to do something about poverty because they feel sympathy for people who can't afford various worldly goods, what they however don't realize is that above some very low level (above which starvation and death from exposure aren't factors) their sympathy for the poor is rooted in the poor not being able to afford status markers that if all the poor could afford would cease to be status markers.
3sixes_and_sevens8yI didn't say they should be. I have mixed support for your second paragraph, but I'm reluctant to properly respond to it since I don't see how this comment is a response to the points in mine.
3[anonymous]8yI made a poorly written post if that is the case. I hope this might clarify: I dispute this is actually the problem people have with poverty.
2sixes_and_sevens8yRight. That makes more sense. I wasn't talking about the issue non-impoverished people have with poverty, but trying to characterise the sort of situation that makes someone poor. Simply not having much money is the symptom; there are many causes, generally describable as systematic obstacles to acquiring and using capital. For purposes of this discussion, I don't especially care why most people don't like other people being poor. Although making the public feel better about the society they live in shouldn't be discounted as a positive outcome, this is by no means the primary function of a welfare system.
0buybuydandavis8yNo, actually the lack of money is the problem. Give a poor person $10mil, and his poverty problem is solved.
1sixes_and_sevens8yAre you being serious?
3aaronde8yYes. I am in favor of an allowance being paid by the government to all citizens. The simplest way to do this would be to impose a flat tax on top of existing income tax, and redistribute the revenue equally to everybody. So that it works out as a negative tax for those making less than average (arithmetic mean) income. People making exactly mean income are unaffected. And the very rich get almost nothing back relative to what they put in. In the short term, most people would benefit, because most people make less than average. That is, median income is less than mean income, because wealth is concentrated at the top. And net utility would increase, because the marginal utility of each additional dollar is greater for the poor than for the rich. The long term effects of course are more complicated. But it's not obvious that this policy would result in less productivity. In the US at least, there's plenty of room to raise taxes on the rich without approaching historical highs. And for the very poor, having a tax structure like this replace welfare could actually make it easier to transition from complete government dependence to a low-paying job, since there's no fear of suddenly losing your support.
3[anonymous]8yArguably if you cut existing welfare and the bureaucracy and infrastructure it requires and giving every adult say 10000 dollars a year, you may not even have to raise taxes. And if you also cut regulation on employment, like the minimal wage or what employers can fire people over (since jobs aren't required to live a decent life in a low expense city) the economic gains probably increase tax revenue.
1Unnamed8yThe numbers don't add up. If you change a targeted program into a universal one, you either need large benefit cuts for some people or large tax increases. The entire safety net / welfare state might be getting close to $10,000 per capita each year, if you define it broadly, but something like half of it goes to the elderly (through Social Security, Medicare, and pieces of other programs like Medicaid). It's more like $5,000 per person (on average) for those under 65, and $30,000 per person (on average) for those over 65. So a change like yours would require either large benefit cuts for the elderly - eliminating Social Security & Medicare (and other programs they use) and replacing them with a $10,000 check - or (if you keep the spending on the elderly the same) you'd need a large enough tax increase to double per capita spending on the non-elderly from $5,000 to $10,000. People with disabilities similarly receive a disproportionate amount of welfare spending (through Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, etc.).
0buybuydandavis8yJust for accounting purposes, are you liberal, libertarian, something else? The bonus from an incentive point of view is that poor people on government assistance routinely face the highest marginal tax rates, often over 100%, as they lose benefits as they start to make money.
0aaronde8yI'm comfortable with the label "liberal", but support the basic income guarantee for both liberal and libertarian reasons. I think that relieving people of abject poverty and financial insecurity might make the market freer. But more importantly, it would make people freer to live as they choose, and reduce suffering. Also possibly important: it limits the share of income that the wealthiest people can control.
2TheOtherDave8yI suppose I qualify as a liberal for purposes of this question. If you're asking whether I'd support this as a political platform, my answer is mostly no. If you're asking whether I'd support this as a way for the world to be, my answer is mostly yes. To say that perhaps more clearly... While I don't think a guaranteed minimum income addresses all problems related to poverty (as sixes_and_sevens points out below), I do think there are a number of poverty-related problems that we currently solve in ways far less sensible than a guaranteed minimum income. If I could wave my magic wand and replace the former with the latter in a politically sustainable way, I probably would. (I haven't looked into this at all carefully and would have to think much harder about the details if I actually had such a wand, but I'm sympathetic to the strategy.) OTOH, if I don't have a wand, but rather have to work through political mechanisms to implement such a policy change, I doubt I support it... it doesn't seem like a viable political move in my country.
0buybuydandavis8yI think it's good to separate out the two problems. What state do you prefer? What state does it make sense to work to support, given political viability? Honestly signaling what you prefer allows the possibility of people seeing that you prefer it too. Political viability for what you'd prefer can be increased by signaling that you prefer it.
1TheOtherDave8yI thought I'd answered that? For many of the programs we are currently implementing to support poor people, I would prefer a guaranteed minimum income to those programs. If the costs of working towards such a state were not greater than the benefits, I would endorse working towards such a state.
2gjm8yI'm a leftist with some sympathy for libertarianism. I don't know how typical my views are of left-leaning people on LW, but I'd guess they aren't absurdly far from typical. I'm all in favour of redistribution. If by "expropriation" you mean tweaking the tax rates then I'm in favour of that too, with the proviso that I'd want to take a really hard look at the relevant history and economic theory before tweaking them too hard. If you mean something more coercive -- large-scale confiscation of property, say -- then quite aside from the question of whether it could be just, it would be destabilizing and divisive. Not to mention that in order to do enough good to be worth even considering, it would need to be a really big expropriation. Part of why I favour a somewhat-paternalistic regulatory state is because in many cases regulation benefits everyone overall by solving coordination problems, and governments are best placed (in status, coercive power, perceived legitimacy, resources, etc.) to solve them in this way. (This is mostly a separate issue from helping the poor.) The other part is that in many cases where regulation doesn't benefit everyone, it does provide a clear overall benefit, but the people it benefits have relatively little economic power and therefore markets will settle on equilibria that are worse overall. Roughly, markets solve the problem "maximize net utility weighted by wealth" and I would prefer to solve something nearer to "maximize net utility with equal weight for everyone". An alternative way to deal with this problem would be to redistribute enough that the differences in economic power go away, but it seems like this would need a really big redistribution, much too big to look either practical or just to me. (This one is about helping the poor, and the reason why giving them money instead won't do is that they'd need to be given an infeasibly large amount of money.) I would love to see something like a basic income guarantee. I think i
0[anonymous]8yWow, that's a fantastic way of phrasing it.
0gjm8yGlad to be of service!
0Bruno_Coelho8yHeath insurance programs take extremely expensive costs in the grounds of welfare state policies. To people, is inconceivable to live with private investiments in heath. The compulsive taxes make everyone pay, and only a few are aware of the monetary costs. Maybe in other sectors welfare state policies end well, but I doubt this happen frequently.
3gjm8yAn interesting choice of example. The USA is just about the only otherwise-civilized state that largely leaves healthcare in private hands, and "only a few are aware" (as you put it) that the US government spends about as much per capita on healthcare as, say, the UK government -- to be more precise: only two other OECD countries have more government spending on healthcare than the US -- and that total US healthcare expenditure is hugely more than that of any other country, and yet its actual outcomes are pretty much on a par with all those other countries that are spending so much less. (E.g., if you order countries by life expectancy at birth, the US comes in at about #50.) Of course this is a complicated business, obviously affected by other things besides the public/private difference. But, to say the least, the available evidence doesn't offer much support for the idea that a welfare state providing health insurance ends up being more expensive and less efficient. The only good example we've got of taking a different approach goes quite the other way.
1blogospheroid8yI am as libertarian as can be, once one is aware of existential risk. I prefer a basic income guarantee to a paternalistic regulatory state. I like the NIT for its simplicity, but am opposed to high income taxes. I prefer the georgist land tax. I believe that if the land were taxed well enough, people could not just hold it and make living expensive for other people. Almost everyone would have the option of going a distance and setting up something of their own over there. That is the taking. Now the spending. I believe that we should aim towards a meritocracy. So, most importantly, a strong minimal state providing justice, protection, primary and secondary education should be present. If you're hitting marginal contribution of zero over there and still have money left, move to the next item that can help. Basic research into intelligence and conscientiousness augmentation. Aim to make IQ85s into IQ 110s if possible. If, as a side effect, you can boost some already existing people to higher levels, that's lovely, but that is not the goal. The goal is to turn 80s and 85s into 110s and 115s. Basic research into happiness augmentation without affecting effectiveness. Aim to increase happiness set points across the board. If you're hitting marginal returns and still have money left, then try to institute a prize that will be given to firms that employ a large number of workers. The product of wages of the workers is a good proxy to try to aim towards. (This is actually quite hackable, but if done well, it does have the advantage of multiplying the prize amount, using dollar auction effects) After all these, if you still have money left, one can try the NIT or Morgan Warstler's variant [http://modeledbehavior.com/2012/04/20/the-ebay-job-auction-and-guaranteed-minimum-income-program/]
0buybuydandavis8yThe georgist program is about people compensating others when they presume to control part of a commons. Maybe it is a preferable tax system to taxing labor, but removing the compensation part of the program vitiates the original point.
0blogospheroid8yI disagree. Let me explain. Let us consider 2 worlds. World A has strict lockean property legislation, income taxes, the government investing in infrastructure, justice and otherwise a minimal state. World B has strict property legislation, land taxes, the government investing in infrastructure, justice and otherwise a minimal state. In world A, anyone who has moved away from their parents' home and is seeking their way in the world has to pay 2 charges - rent and taxes. Or if they set up a shop, the full capitalized value of the rent of the land and taxes. In world B, they have to pay just rent, or if they are setting up a shop, the much lower capitalized value of the rent of the land. Yes, in world B, the rent may be slightly higher, because the worlds are pretty similar technology wise. But I doubt that the total payment will be as high as World A. That was benefit 1. The more important point is the effect of land speculation/maintaining land idle on the margin of production. The margin of production is a georgist concept of the land that is of least value, the land that in classic economics is rent free. Anyone who works the least productive land earns the full product as wages. So, the least productive land sets a floor on the wages in a society, the margin of production. In world A, there is a tendency to buy land and keep it idle or utilised sub-optimally because of speculation that due to publicly funded improvements/infrastructure which will happen in time, the land will gain in value and later can be sold at a higher rate, without taking any risk. Any capital investment ends up competing with this expected rate of nearly risk free return. This lowers capital investment and pushes the margin of production further and further. A further margin of production implies land of lower value, which implies lower wages. Lower capital investment implies lower wages, In world B, where there are land taxes, anyone buying any land will buy it only with the i
1drethelin8yLiberals feel Poor people are too dumb to be trusted with money, but no liberal is allowed to say and/or think this.
5buybuydandavis8yDoubtless you could find people of all political persuasions who feel this way. I have some sympathy for it myself, but I'd still rather have idiots spend money on themselves than idiot bureaucrats spend the money supposedly for the benefit of other idiots. I saw some video with Milton Friedman where he walked through the various permutations of person A spending person's B money on person C, where to begin with A=B=C - you spend your money on yourself, and he slowly increased the distance of A,B, C in knowledge and caring, The farther you got from A=B=C, the less value C got per dollar spent. But I asked to get liberal opinions in particular because it just doesn't make sense to me, and they may be able to make sense of it without a paternalistic interpretation. Or, they may just endorse paternalism. Either, way, I'd consider it progress in understanding. One of the best posts recently was a liberal just asking libertarians why they favored what they did. What a great idea. It struck me that we rarely ask; we argue against instead. Thought I'd try something new.
-1Multiheaded8yOuch. Careful; LW standards still apply here. I'd like to have this nice thread of mine, but this kind of shit can get it killed. Everyone, please give the above comment 10 or so downvotes.
1phonypapercut8yWouldn't negative income tax be a fairly strong incentive to stay/become unemployed for those near the cut-off?
2buybuydandavis8yTax rates even now are on marginal dollars to avoid cut off effects. If the cutoff is X for a tax bracket N, and you make X+1, X dollars are taxed in the N tax bracket, and 1 dollar is taxed at the N+1 tax bracket.
2drethelin8yThis is why I prefer guaranteed minimum income
0coffeespoons8yI tend to associate the idea of a citizen's income with the left - eg, the green party in the UK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_of_England_and_Wales#Economy [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_of_England_and_Wales#Economy]
1buybuydandavis8yThat has not seemed to be the case in the US. I'd expect that to be the case for people who want to help the poor, but it seems that some chunk of libertarians support it, while liberals do not. I believe it got a little bit of play across the board in the 70s among public intellectuals across the board, but I haven't heard it from the left in political discourse since. Hence my question - why the regulatory state instead of guaranteed income?

I have changed my mind about "Market Monetarism".

Market Monetarism is the idea that the central bank of the country should target a growing path for nominal gross domestic product or nominal wages. The growth rate is to be set at a point just a little higher than the rate of increase of Total Factor Productivity, to avoid deflation.

A few things convinced me that this way of managing the money supply is not a bad one.

There was empirical evidence presented by Evan Soltas, where maintaining a NGDP target in the past few decades would have actually... (read more)

4Salemicus8yI too find Market Monetarism interesting. However, I find the discussion around it bafflingly incomplete. I live in Britain, where legally the central bank (BoE) is supposed to target inflation at 2%. In actual fact, however, before the economic crisis the central bank had inflation consistently running well above its legal target. What it was doing, however, was keeping NGDP growing at approx 5.5% per year - and it had been doing so for over a decade. It was therefore generally thought that, letter of the law be damned, the BoE was in fact an NGDP level targeter, of exactly the kind recommended by Sumner et al. Then 2007-8 happened, world financial crisis, bank failures, etc. NGDP collapsed despite (1) the BoE attempting to maintain NGDP and (2) the existence of the target. Moreover, despite the fact that the BoE continued its measures, NGDP did not recover to trend, and shows no sign of doing so. What is more, apart from a brief period in 2009, inflation has been well in excess of the BoE's legal target throughout the period in question. At the time that NGDP was collapsing most sharply, inflation was over 5%! This seems like a direct challenge to market monetarism. If the expectations channel is so effective at determining NGDP growth, how did expectations become unmoored? If the central bank really can determine NGDP, how did it lose control - and note that this is not a situation like the US, where MMs can genuinely argue that policy has been too tight. The BoE allowed high inflation rates and a massive devaluation of the currency (the £ lost around 25% of its value), but still could not get NGDP back to trend. Moreover, despite monetary policy in the UK being much more accomodative than in the US, economic recovery has been much poorer. Why has this been the case? Why has base money ballooned here, like in the US, but unlike in Australia? I am not saying market monetarism is wrong as a theory, necessarily. But it needs to have something to say about this s
1blogospheroid8yYes, I agree it is a good contrary case to consider. My understanding is that an explicit target really hits it home. It makes things legal. It gives people the ability to plan things around it. Did the BOE draw a line the way the swiss central bank did at 1.2 CHF to EUR and should out "You will not Pass"? If it did and still this happened, I would be quite surprised. You can check out Lars Christensen and Scott Sumner's posts on Britain, as I will do the same. As an aside, I myself live in a country (India) where nominal GDP growth is there, but practically nothing else for a healthy economy is there. I have no illusions that without serious regulatory and fiscal reform, India would not achieve the results of a good economic system - Supply side issues, not so much demand side.
2Salemicus8yThanks for your interesting reply. I've read lots of Sumner (and to a lesser extent Christensen) but their discussion of Britain is fleeting at best. How do you draw a line in the sand and say "you shall not cross" when it comes to NGDP? That is the whole question. If you are defending a currency peg, you have a clear policy tool (forex purchases) and you can see the effects of your interventions in an actively traded market. The SNB can check the CHF:EUR exchange rate at any time, and intervene in the market to sell CHFs and buy EURs as necessary, until the price adjusts - and reverse course if necessary. Note by the way that currency pegs are much harder to defend in the opposite direction; the SNB cannot print unlimited quantities of Euros to buy Swiss Francs. However, when it comes to NGDP targeting, there is no clear tool and no immediate way to see the effect of your interventions. The quarterly GDP numbers are backward-looking and already out of date when they are printed. How can you prevent the line in the sand being crossed, when you can't see if anyone is coming close to it until 4 months later? Even this might be superable if there was a clear tool. If you want to keep the CHF:Euro ratio low, you print CHFs and buy Euros. If you want to keep the £:NGDP ratio low, you print £s and buy... NGDP? Except you can't! You have to buy outstanding government bonds and then hope for various "transmission mechanisms" to take effect. But will this in fact do anything with interest rates at zero? Lots of people say otherwise (e.g. "liquidity trap", "market segmentation", "creditism" etc). In point of fact, the BoE was buying government bonds furiously and every quarter the NGDP numbers came in low. Meanwhile we had high inflation and a collapsing £, so it's not like their asset purchases were doing nothing, it's just that they weren't raising NGDP. This is what people like Cochrane mean when they say that they don't believe the central bank controls NGDP. It's no
1blogospheroid8yThanks for your patience and civility. I was never in doubt about a determined central bank's ABILITY to PASS a monetary target, not hit it like a bulls eye, but pass it like a tape at the end of a race. The runners keep running and may need sometime to slow down :) A central bank can create a depression. Increase the rates to a level where no conceivable investment is feasible. A central bank can create hyper inflation. Announce that you are willing to buy everything and start buying it. Somewhere along that route, measured nominal GDP would exceed the target laid out for it. So, the central bank can hit the target, by limiting its craziness. My doubt in regards market monetarism was - is this a good thing to do, in the long run? For supply side vs demand side issues, I guess the question to ask is if the productivity measurement is correct. If TFP is 1 % and you're aiming at 6% NGDP growth, you're just hurting the economy. Maybe, (don't know for sure), britain was aiming at too high a growth rate.
1Salemicus8yI too have no doubt that the central bank can cause hyperinflation or severe deflation. The question is, can it thread the needle and get levels where it wants them to be? If during a velocity shock like 2007-8, the only way to get 5% NGDP growth is to alternate between 200% NGDP growth and -47.5% NGDP growth, then it seems like the cure is worse than the disease, in terms of providing the kind of stable monetary expectations that MMs agree are necessary for economic growth, investment, etc. Suppose we have a patient with a fever (or pneumonia). The doctor is unable to stabilise the patient's temperature. It's true that if we throw her in an ice floe she'll be too cold, and if we throw her in an oven she'll be too hot, but that doesn't prove that we can stabilise her temperature, and I sometimes feel that Market Monetarists are coming uncomfortably close to making this argument.
0blogospheroid8yI doubt that there will be that much variation since even if you look at it, you are considering a sale of assets or a purchase. There are thousands of such transactions happening everyday. That range of fluctuations doesn't happen. I'm not great fan of central planning, but I think that NGDP or nominal wage targets are possible to hit without a 100% variation.

Here's a few left-wing, subversive provocations to get you started:

It's the 21st century – why are we working so much? - again, everything by Owen Hatherley is worth reading.

The boring, bourgeois but fairly diligent Mother Jones magazine has a nice report from last year on American companies driving their sl.. employees to greater and greater feats of Productivity. Don't you want to be Productive? No?! What kind of a parasite are you?!

(Observe how the top comment on MoJo and the first comment on the Guardian both mention that crazy bearded German with his ... (read more)

8Athrelon8y80% confidence on the following: Past economists are simply wrong about human nature. They look at humans in far mode and assume that they would agree to enjoy more leisure and de-escalate materialist status competition. In fact, humans, even wealthy humans, perceive status competition in near-mode as existential struggle. They're willing to work very hard, sacrificing leisure and quality of life, to avoid losing relative status. The fact that we continue to work hard is a fact about human nature not a fact about employee-worker power dynamics per se. Falsfiable prediction: if a four-day work week were instated, and cultural norms shifted away from work and productivity as the primary domain of status competition, people would redirect the vast majority of their freed-up effort into status-boosting leisure activities, such as exotic travel or conspicuous altruism, much like high-school students diligently doing the "right" extracurriculars.
[-][anonymous]8y 19

Checkable test: When the 40-hour work week was instated, is this what happened?

Alternative check: When France moved to the 35-hour work week (12 years ago), what happened?

2[anonymous]8yThis. I'm not an expert in economics, but much of what little I've seen is maths based on assumptions strongly reminiscent of assuming that a fluid has zero viscosity, with very little comparisons of theoretical predictions with empirical data.
3NancyLebovitz8yFrom what I've heard, people are willing to work very long hours if they get time and a half for overtime. Caveat: I'm not sure how much of this is that they have to take the work as a condition of keeping their jobs. (American?) unions seem to be at least as likely to push for time and a half for overtime as they are to push for shorter work weeks. On the other hand, Europeans aren't exactly revolting to get longer, better paid work weeks. Maybe there's no "human nature" on this question?
2Athrelon8yMy claim is not that workers want longer work-weeks per se. It is that they are willing to work hard to maintain their relative status. The primary domain of status-seeking may certainly shift, from work to academic competition or social/sexual competition or conspicuous altruism. Status-seeking is the main urge, but in the aggregate people are relatively indifferent about what domain it takes place in.
1NancyLebovitz8yOne thing to check would be how much people sleep in countries that have legal requirements for relatively short work weeks.
1DanArmak8yBut correlation is still not causation. Maybe people sleep more if they have more free time to fill without health implications.
5Eugine_Nier8yYou seem to be confusing productivity and drudgery. Productivity is the amount of "value" you produce by working, drudgery is the amount of disutility you experience while working. Marx's mistake was assuming that these two quantities were always the same and that therefore "progress" consists of forcing workers to endure more drudgery. In reality progress consists of increasing productivity per unit of drudgery.
4Multiheaded8yNo no no; the stereotype of Marx as disregarding the wonders of technical progress is basically a lie. This is literally the exact [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxian_economics#Effect_of_technical_progress] opposite [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/wage-labour/ch07.htm] of what Marx was saying in Das Kapital and elsewhere. Let me give a crude summary with anachronistic terms. Marx believed that due to technical progress, relentless automation and improving labour organization - all of which he could observe as profoundly transformative during his own lifetime - industrial productivity per unit of time would eventually become so enormous that, logically, some combination of the following has to ensue in most industries: 1) the amount of real wealth that workers take home as salary would skyrocket, giving them socioeconomic leverage and a position of power over the "bourgeois" - the production organizers and the beneficiaries of financial rent (two somewhat conflicting kinds of capitalists). 2) working hours would shrink as much less man-hours and effort are needed to attain a desired absolute amount of production or, most importantly, 3) - the relative share of value that the workers end up with would decrease even as their absolute real wages slowly increase or stagnate. Instead, ever more of the value generated by industries would go to the owners and shareholders, to waste or to the ever-expanding corporate bureaucracy. Marx thought that expecting 1) and 2) was unrealistic as they run against capitalists' direct economic and political self-interest. Therefore, 3) would escalate until it becomes just obscene and the workers can't help but notice how their share of the pie is ever shrinking. Hence, escalating political conflict along economic lines ("class struggle"). Oh, and Marx predicted formal technical knowledge to play an ever-increasing role in the creation of value in most industries, as opposed to physical effort, access to natural re
1buybuydandavis8yWe're working to pay off all the government enabled rent seekers, starting with land rent, sales of natural resources, intellectual property, government licensed occupations and industries, and finally, government workers themselves. And then we're working under regulatory regimes that cripple productive capacity and destroy wealth. So yes, people are a lot more productive, but there is little of the wealth they produce left for them after the rent seekers have taken their cut and the bureaucracy has finished flushing most of the leftovers down the toilet.
0Multiheaded8yAre you claiming that corporations like Microsoft don't have huge rent-seeking elements that have little to do with "government" regulation? Or that those rent-seeking elements (i.e. elements that optimize away the production of utility for society in lieu of utility for themselves) don't include top executives, huge PR/advertising departments and such? If e.g. a global supermarket chain reached an agreement with its several "competitors" (and I use the word loosely) to "set industry standards of team-building" (use a unified strategy of emotional manipulation towards personnel, like paternalism and engendering status competition), "share information on human resources" (spy on potential troublemakers' conversations, blogs, etc), "work closely and productively with unions" (keep local union leadership on a short leash to avoid dangerous examples while throwing bones like "gender awareness") and "maintain a healthy relationship with the media" (no explanation needed) - -would it really need a large government lobby to cover its ass while doing all that, even in today's America? Indeed, I believe that they're already doing much of this all over the world.
1Eugine_Nier8yYour scenario presumes that said cartel covers all the corporations in the industry, otherwise employees would go to places with better working conditions, unless the the places with worse working conditions paid more to compensate. That was my attempt to describe what is essentially a 3-dimensional labor supply function in words, hope it wasn't to confusing.
0John_Maxwell8yHow's this for an idea: Continue with the current system of market capitalism until humanity is wealthy enough to have colonized a few planets, then switch to socialism and kick back. I see it as delayed gratification on the societal level.
4Multiheaded8yIn brief: capitalism is not defined as "unpleasant thing that creates lots of wealth" and socialism is not defined as "pleasant thing that costs lots of wealth". Not AT ALL. There are vast issues at stake in any choice which can be framed as "capitalism vs socialism", and none of those is "how much wealth would it take". We already have MANY times enough spare wealth for no-one in the world to starve, yet somehow people still do.
1John_Maxwell8yOf course, but wealth production and happiness certainly trade off against one another, don't they? E.g. if corporations get their employees to be more productive, those employees will (likely) produce more wealth and be less happy. You could imagine a production-possibility frontier [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Production%E2%80%93possibility_frontier] representing the maximum levels of economic growth and happiness that are achievable. In some cases, taking steps to increase economic growth will also incidentally increase happiness. (E.g. if your employees are working 80-hour weeks, decreasing the number of hours they work will make them both more productive and more happy.) But it seems unlikely that the societal configuration that's optimal for economic growth and the societal configuration that's optimal for current happiness are the exact same societal configuration. An argument for optimizing for economic growth, possibly at the expense of current happiness, goes something like: economic growth tends to be exponential, and pushing even harder for it will probably increase the multiplier in the exponent, so the returns you get for optimizing for it will snowball exponentially. And it's easy to see how these returns could trivially be converted in to happiness later on if the growth takes the form of automating the heck out of everything. Of course, economic growth isn't obviously good [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/12/tiptoe-or-dash-to-future.html]. I'm definitely interested in whether economic growth is a net positive or negative, because knowing this would influence a lot of my everyday life decisions. For example, is it a bad idea to make an edit improving Wikipedia? Sure, but it seems likely that switching to an economic system where everyone was guaranteed food and shelter would significantly hamper economic growth. BTW, I recommend this [http://www.rightwingnews.com/uncategorized/a-really-really-really-long-post-about-gay-marriage-that-does-not
1NancyLebovitz8yPoll to find out what people mean by socialism [http://nancylebov.livejournal.com/552992.html]
0thakil8yKeynes, who is having a come back these days, was also in favour of a reduced week, based on the assumption that the prosperity societies have would lead to less work. We can certainly afford it, but if 40 hours is more efficient than 30 hours, in a competitive framework the former will triumph. Of course, theres a reasonable amount of evidence (as I understand it) that beyond short pushes to get stuff done, stretching the working day reduces productivity: this is one of the reasons companies excepted union demands for an 8 hour day. It is kind of weird that we have a 5 day working week and not a 6 day or 4 day week if you think about it. One suspects that thats a cultural creation rather than an inevitable one.
3Multiheaded8yIn what kind of a competitive framework? If, say, all the trade unions within a nation insist upon a 30-hour week, it would indeed maybe reduce the industry's output a little - but wouldn't the best and brightest/most conscious workers from the other nations either move there, giving the employer superior human resources, or have a strike at home and enable the same kind of thing for themselves? The question is, who tells, or broadly hints, the workers what to ask for? (and here the buck is certainly away from the Left - c'mon, look at how useless it has been, nowdays it can't tell the workers to stand up for anything!)
3[anonymous]8yThe incentives are higher for the best and brightest workers to move to where they are allowed to work more. Remember their opportunity cost [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost] for not working is much higher than that of the average or below average worker. If you are good at what you do and get paid more for it than others, let alone if you are competing for prestige within your field, you have an incentive to move to the more work heavy culture. Perhaps we even see this in the real world with migration of top talent from say Europe to the US. The typical mind fallacy [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Typical_mind_fallacy] is an important error to watch out for when considering policy. Many people feel they would prefer to work 30 hours instead of 40 hours or that they wouldn't respond to certain perverse incentives, so they assume no one else will.
1Multiheaded8yYeah, you're partly right. I was kinda mixing up two plausible consequences here - many of the "elite" workers might, in the hypothetical organized-labor-world, actively seek out higher wages even at the cost of leisure or worse conditions, while the "average" or "mediocre" ones in their line of work - or even most, if their line of work hardly allows an "elite" except as a foreman post (which was dangled in front of me after my slightly Kafkaesque stint of stocking shelves at department stores) - would prefer to stay where they are and bargain for a combination of 1)more of effective free time, 2)better conditions and 3)higher pay, instead of allowing themselves to be collectively hypnotized by 3) at the expense of 1) and 2). Um, in fact, to rely on a cached thought - haven't Italian workers been known for strong unionization, not-too-high wages by European standards and a rather carefree/relaxed attitude? Fun fact: work-to-rule [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work-to-rule] is called an "Italian strike" in Russian.
2Kindly8yThe workers don't ask for anything. If all the trade unions insisted on a 30-hour week, it would probably happen, but there's no real incentive for anyone to try.
3Multiheaded8yMy point exactly. It seems that the Market Fairy hasn't told them they could've bargained for a better deal.
0drethelin8y25 percent less output seems like more than a little to me
1Multiheaded8yIt would obviously be much less than 25%, if you think about the typical blue-collar worker's day a little.
1drethelin8yIt really depends on the field. If you get someone to work 10 less hours at mcdonalds, you are literally getting 25 percent less out of employing that person, and you need to make up the shortfall with more employees. On the other hand, office work is so independent of hours that many people can work at home with no enforcement just fine.
2Multiheaded8yYeah, the burger-flippers are exploited in a really hardcore and efficient way, no kidding. It's exemplarly of how far modern capitalism can go in full view of its 1st world clients. (Do read "Manna" [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ad2/utopia_in_manna/]!) I'd also argue that they're emotionally abused through all the phoney "team-building" and such, but that's another matter. But hey, that's exactly where organized labor could find a good spot to make a stand - "We're working as hard as we possibly can, we're not some big fucking happy family, treat us like adults!". Mcdonalds itself is known for trying various HR tricks ("Not bad for a McJob!") to defuse serious discontent, but lesser fast food chains might indeed have cause to fear such industry-wide organization. A better and more infamous example is Walmart.
1coffeespoons8y"...stretching the working day reduces productivity" AFAIK, it reduces productivity per hour; I'm not sure at what point it reduces overall productivity. ETA: will look this up later, if no one else gets there first.
3Rhwawn8yhttp://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/12/work-hour-skepticism.html [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/12/work-hour-skepticism.html] comes to mind. (http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/12/why-work-hour-limits.html [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/12/why-work-hour-limits.html] also includes some interesting links.)
0coffeespoons8yThanks!
0Rhwawn8yYou're welcome. It's an interesting topic for considering how ems might evolve: can a roughly human architecture work nonstop? Or will ems have to make tradeoffs between reloading a 'clean' brain every X seconds and being able to learn from work?

History of Wizards of the Coast as told by the founder, Dave Adkinson. One point that caught my eye is that even though he's an excellent administrator (he shepherded his company through a half a dozen or so major changes), he was eventually pushed out of the business because eventually the only thing which made sense was to sell it to Hasbro. After a while, he lost so much control that they'd squeezed out the only thing he could think of to do with the business.

I'm not worried about him-- he's going to film school, and I expect he's going to do something ... (read more)

6drethelin8ySelling your company to someone for huge amounts of money isn't exactly "punishing" success
4NancyLebovitz8yIt's punishment because he really wanted to keep working with Magic: The Gathering.
8Salemicus8yBut I'm sure he could have kept working with Magic: The Gathering, if he'd been willing to take a couple of steps down the ladder. Alternatively, he could have kept in the same position with Magic: The Gathering if he'd been willing to buy a majority of the stock. His actual desire seems to have been to run Magic: The Gathering exactly as he wanted, but also for other people to supply the capital to enable this. I'd like other people to buy me a pony too, but I don't regard it as punishment when they don't.
0NancyLebovitz8yHis problem was that he'd traded equity (98% of it) for a lot of the work done on Magic, and the people who held that equity wanted to be able to cash it out. I don't know whether selling bonds could have helped anything.
2buybuydandavis8yHe sold his rights, then groused when those he sold them to did something other than he wanted with those rights? Sounds like he wanted to have his company, and sell it too.
0NancyLebovitz8yI don't think he especially wanted to sell his company, but (at least as I understand the way he told it) , too many of the people who had equity wanted a chance to cash out for him to be comfortable not doing so.
1RomeoStevens8yHe could start his own card game with blackjack and hookers.
5Rhwawn8yLetting founders remain permanently in control under all forms of incorporation is very far from profit-maximizing, sorry! The system is working as designed.
[-][anonymous]8y 1

I'm curious if there are any good ideas on how to improve current political systems? E.g. ways to safeguard against the dark arts, encourage evidence based decisions.

6Jayson_Virissimo8yI think the best strategies are those that lower the barriers to entry into the 'governance market' (charter cities [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_city], seasteading [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasteading], etc...), but that these are unlikely to work (but more likely than anything else I know of). As for safeguarding against the Dark Arts in politics; read statistics, not newspapers.
2[anonymous]8yThere is some hope the experiment in Honduras [http://athousandnations.com/2012/09/05/honduras-signs-deal-to-create-private-cities/] that is now becoming a reality will work out. * The Case Against News [http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/03/the_case_agains_6.html] by Bryan Caplan * Read A Classic [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/06/read-a-classic.html] by Robin Hanson * Why Read Old Thinkers [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/12/why-read-old-thinkers.html] by Robin Hanson
6Multiheaded8yI have exactly one practical idea on how we can help bring about a better alternative to today's Western liberal democracy. See those three logos on the upper right? Click the middle one, and donate :) (My serious AND precise estimate? "History doesn't work like that." Remember, some rather experienced and high-IQ statesmen got themselves into WW1. Just try to push particular policies that you want, like more welfare or less regulation or education reform or whatever, but keep in mind that the system might always explode in an unexpected manner and in an unexpected point. And, in some places and circumstances, do stuff like killing your family.)
5[anonymous]8yIt has been said that good government is a FAI complete problem. Best one paragraph summary of useful political science ever.
0buybuydandavis8yI like that. yay. me too. etc.
1Randaly8yAre you claiming that there is no way to improve upon the current political system, or that there is no way to improve on the current political system that's worth the time and effort needed to get it implemented?
1Multiheaded8yDon't be mistaken, I have no blanket pessimism. I think that there are probably concrete, local, ad-hoc ways to find out and set up better systems of policies, e.g. whether a viable and true Universal Basic Income [http://www.basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html] could be a good replacement for the welfare state - I have absolutely no opinion at the moment - and if yes, how could it be instituted. And if life becomes stably better through good concrete policies, that would be cause enough for joy. However, better political systems are located one or two meta levels above the systems of policies, as most people (well, most people who think at all) think that they - not specific individuals within them, individuals need to be interchangeable - should be the engines of producing better systems of policies. E.g. "socialism" is a set of systems of policies, both economic and social ones - a set which was largely generated through irregular process and not as an output of a political system - while representative democracy is a political system. And on the absolute scale of our satisfaction - not their scales in relation to one another, like Churchill's famous quip about democracy - all known political systems applicable to industrial civilization have been really fucking awful at creating systems of policies. E.g. we can plainly see that neither democratic nor authoritarian, neither unified nor diverse Great Powers of the 1900s produced a system of policies that would've kept them out of WW1. In retrospect we feel that staying out of the war entirely was the only sane goal under the circumstances and a hugely important measure of success. Well, they all failed miserably and reaped disaster. Some were dragged in a little slower or more reluctantly than the others, but they all failed horribly. And their political systems were not only fairly varied, they were designed with quite different philosophies. So, given the outside view, I say that trying yet another n
0vi21maobk9vp8yOr maybe that the improvements require a complex set of seemingly unrelated changes to occur. For example, Adam Smith explained that the main driving force of change at some point was the appearance of new things to buy for the very rich people, as this allowed a novel redistribution of wealth and power. (I am not quoting the ful argument here, and I am not claiming that the described factor was the only driving force of change, or even that I can claim on my own that it was the main force)