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Massachusetts Lyme Reporting

Not sure -- treatment for Lyme (if caught early) is just antibiotics, and there might not be a Lyme-specific office visit code. So it might just show up in billing records as:

1 Office Visit (these are coded with levels of complexity but not with specific patient complaints/diagnoses IIRC).

0-2 days later, 1 prescription fill for a standard course of some generic antibiotic.

Massachusetts Lyme Reporting

As someone who both lives in Massachusetts and has had Lyme, I can provide some context. When I had the classic bullseye rash pattern associated with Lyme, I called my doctor and asked about treatment. The doctor raised the possibility of getting a Lyme test, but told me that the Lyme test had a high enough false negative rate that even if I tested negative, she would still recommend I be treated for Lyme, and said that on that basis I didn't really need to do the test. I have not independently researched the accuracy of the Lyme test, but here's my understanding of the considerations based on what she said:


-The cost, both monetary and otherwise, of being treated for suspected Lyme is low

-The likelihood of a false negative is relatively high

-Untreated Lyme can be quite serious and can cause permanent damage if not treated promptly

-The test also takes time and hassle to obtain



Given these considerations, I (quite sensibly IMO) decided not to take the test.

Number-guessing protocol?

It seems like the most straightforward simple fix is for everyone to guess simultaneously. Then people can't just grab big ranges because they are big. E.g. the player who guesses 49 in your example would have to have actually had a lower estimate for the value rather than merely cutting you off at the knees. I haven't studied in depth but I think the incentives (if each person is trying to account what the others, N-layers deep) are to just guess your true prediction.

Spoiler-Free Review and then Semi-Walkthrough: Star Traders: Frontiers

Thanks for writing these! I often enjoy reading your game reviews. One thing I think that would be low-effort and really helpful to the reader would be to copy/paste or link to a succinct definition of the "tiers" that you always reference at the beginning of each review.


Covid 9/3: Meet the New CDC

I do want to get into it a little on this:

I don’t want to get too deep into the economics of this move. I won’t discuss whether it is completely and totally insane, or how much it will permanently drive up rental costs since renting means the government might decide to seize your property outright and pay you nothing in return, while you maintain it under penalty of law at your own expense in the hopes that the government will one day give it back. 

I am not here to dispute whether the *CDC* is the one to do this, but its worth engaging with the best arguments in favor of an eviction moratorium:

In ordinary circumstances, the purpose of evicting a non-paying tenant is so that you can vacate the property in favor of a tenant who will pay. But in a pandemic that is causing catastrophic levels of unemployment, large sectors of the economy shut down, and legal and prudential restrictions on travel, where are the paying tenants? One or two landlords may be able to find someone, but in the aggregate, allowing evictions now will just increase itinerancy and homelessness without really helping landlords much.

Law and Economics professor Neil Buchanan makes the economic argument at more length here: http://www.dorfonlaw.org/2020/08/why-would-any-landlord-evict-any.html

This is especially true given some of the criteria that have to be met to be eligible for the moratorium:

  • They have used their "best efforts" to first obtain all available government assistance
  • They are unable to pay the full amount of rent due to experiencing a "substantial" loss of income, or because they were laid off or had to pay "extraordinary" medical expenses
  • They are using their "best efforts" to continue making at least partial rent payments as close to the full amount as possible, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses.
  • Eviction would "likely" make them either homeless or force them to move into a shared living situation.

Although Trump's people call it a moratorium, it's really a very particularized defense to eviction that applies precisely to those people who it would be economically bad to evict -- tenants who were (pre-pandemic) reliable payers of rent, who can't pay now because of the pandemic but who, because they were reliable before, can expect to be reliable again when circumstances return to something like normal. There simply is no good reason to evict these people, and the consequences of such eviction would be ruinous for them, and yes, would at least marginally increase the risk of contracting and spreading COVID.

A Policy for Biting Bullets

One thing that seems relevant to philosophical "bullets" is how often they come up. If your theory says that you should kill a live person to save 5 with their organs, that comes up literally all the time. Not in the sense that you know who will get the organs, but we all know that transplant lists are long and people regularly die because there is no compatible transplant available.

Obviously bringing up Immanuel Kant is not exactly breaking new ground, but its worth considering what would happen if many people bit that particular bullet. And that's a major difference between the transplant problem and the triage problem -- few people are triage doctors or nurses and even for them, that particular situation is rare. Whereas for the transplant problem, tools are such that almost every adult human being could physically murder a healthy person in a way that preserves their organs.

So I would think that a policy for "biting" philosophical "bullets" should include something about how often the hypo would actually come up in everyday life. If it comes up frequently, the intuition that you shouldn't do that thing is probably more valuable than the clever argument. Intuitions should be considered "weaker" when applied to situations are rare or nigh-impossible to actually occur, since our intuitions were developed for common situations.

The US Already Has A Wealth Tax

One thing I think that's missed here is that the inflation rate isn't independent of the investment returns. On average, investments generate a certain amount of real returns, so if inflation rises it will tend on average also to raise the nominal investment returns, cancelling out the effect of the inflation-related capgains "wealth tax."

Property as Coordination Minimization

That can hold if you assume that a dollar collected is a dollar of value produced. As more and more wealth is concentrated in fewer hands, it becomes easier and easier to extract monopoly rents through market power rather than actually produce value by innovating. For example, Amazon is so big that it makes money by squeezing suppliers. One way it does this is by "accidentally" allowing low-quality counterfeits on its site and only making any effort to remove them when the supplier of the genuine item pays up. It's not clear to me that shifting the producer surplus from the manufacturer to the retailer generates any marginal value for society, but it does earn Jeff Bezos a lot of money.

Property as Coordination Minimization

They are allowed to hire temporary replacement workers, and permanent replacements under some circumstances. Unions typically try to bring a lot of social pressure on said replacement workers ("scabs") to discourage them from agreeing to be such a replacement worker.

Covid 8/6: The Case of the Missing Data

One possible less-nefarious explanation for the reduced test numbers is that more tests were performed but fewer were processed because one or more central processing labs were affected by the storm. LabCorp and Quest, our national backlogged testing duopoly, have several major labs in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina that could have been impacted, and this could affect test numbers for other non-storm states if they sent their tests to these labs.

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