ShemTealeaf

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Don't Sell Your Soul

Unless you're really desperate, it just seems like a bad idea to sign any kind of non-standard contract for $10. There's always a chance that you're misunderstanding the terms, or that the contract gets challenged at some point, or even that your signature on the contract is used as blackmail. Maybe you're trying to run for office or get a job at some point in the future, and the fact that you've sold your soul is used against you. The actual contract that Jacob references is long enough that even taking the time to read and understand it is worth significantly more than $10. Even with the simpler contract that you're envisioning, who knows what kind of implications it has? It's just not worth exposing yourself to these risks for the price of a burrito.

Defending the non-central fallacy

France's 2015 taxes of 75% made rich people secede, so we can take that as a supremum on the minimal tax burden that can make people secede. Of course - France's rich didn't have to go live in the woods - they had the option to go to other countries. Also, they did not have the option to not go to any country, because all the land on earth is divided between the countries.

 

Right, but they're presumably moving to another country where they're still paying taxes and participating in the state. If they had the option, do you think that they would prefer to opt out of the state completely (with all the associated downsides), rather than just moving to a country with somewhat lower taxes?

Does the state have the right to prevent its citizens from doing business with whoever they want?

I think we can sidestep this question, because I don't think the state even has to do this with force. If they just say "anyone who does business with Person X loses access to roads, police, courts, sanitation, etc.", that's a very strong disincentive.

Defending the non-central fallacy

I agree in theory; I just don't think that the hypothetical bears much resemblance to reality. The tax burden of the richest individuals in the US is just a tiny rounding error in the federal budget. Even if you could stop the tax payments of every billionaire in the country, the federal government would barely notice the difference. You'd have to stop the tax payments of millions of people before it would start having a noticeable impact on the government ability to enforce its will.

Also, on a practical level, I think that the downside of losing membership in the state is so enormous that it would outweigh almost any tax burden. Just to start with, you would lose the ability to enter into most countries, since you would not have a valid passport. Even if your former government is willing to let you travel through their territory to leave your property (something which they are under no obligation to do), where are you going to go? How are you going to maintain your income? Realistically, how high would the tax burden have to be for you to accept those costs of secession?

Defending the non-central fallacy

That's fair; maybe I didn't understand the hypothetical. If the person is so rich that they are providing 100% of the funding for the government, my criticism doesn't apply. If you can fund the services that a government would provide on your own, I can see the case for opting out. In practice, I don't think that applies to more than a handful of people. If the argument is that the top 0.01% richest people and a few loners in the woods are being unjustly prevented from opting out of taxation, I'm willing to concede that point. I don't think it changes the overall picture that the overwhelming majority of people would not want to opt out.

Also, I wasn't really talking about an organized uprising in terms of why the person opting out would need protection. I assume there are plenty of criminals who already exist that would enjoy the chance to engage in some theft without risking jail time. The community would just put up a sign outside the rich person's property saying "this house is not protected by community laws or police". Maybe if the rich person wants to use a public street, make them wear a shirt that says "this person does not have the protection or backing of any nation" to ensure that they're not free riding on the police protection that they're opting out of. None of that involves the community threatening violence; it's just withdrawing protection.

Furthermore, legal protection is just one of many services that the state provides. At the most basic level, it's pretty hard to get around without using public roads, and it's pretty hard to stay rich if the government decides you can't do business in its territory.

Defending the non-central fallacy

If the rich person is giving up the ability to use public resources and have the protection of the community's laws, are they still going to opt out? Sure, they'll have more money, but they'll have to use that money to hire bodyguards, since the other members of the community are now free to rob or kill them. They'd also have to make sure they have some way of enforcing the contract with the bodyguards, since they can't use the community's court system. Presumably the rich person has some source of income that is making them rich; will they be able to maintain that without the community's cooperation? Honestly, I think just losing access to the legal system would be enough to prevent virtually everyone from opting out of membership in a modern liberal democracy.

In order to successfully opt out, you'd probably need to have enough people to form a competing community that can sustain and protect itself. After some time goes by, that competing community probably doesn't look all that different from a government. I recognize that this might not apply to people who live self-sufficiently in the woods, or to billionaires who actually could afford a private defense force, but it applies to the vast majority of people.

Covid 2/11: As Expected

I have one correction on the obesity/overweight numbers, unless I misunderstood the claim being made. In most contexts, including the NCHS numbers cited above, the cutoff for overweight is a BMI of 25, not 30. The cutoff for the vaccine is a BMI of 30, so only ~40% of people qualify, not ~70%.

Covid 1/14: To Launch a Thousand Shipments

I'm curious if someone more knowledgeable can help me understand how to think about a vaccine that is 80% effective. Is the idea that each person will have a high chance of being essentially immune, and a low chance of having minimal protection? Alternatively, does it offer approximately 80% protection to everyone, the way that masks and social distancing would?

If it's the latter, it seems like risk compensation could largely undo the effects of an 80% effective vaccine. If I see my family once a week without a mask, and I start going back to the gym, I could easily increase my risk by a factor of 4-5x.

A dozen habits that work for me

Fair enough; thanks for the advice!

A dozen habits that work for me

Interesting; I will give that a try. Any particular type or brand that you recommend?

A dozen habits that work for me

How long did it take you to adapt to the CPAP? I have mild sleep apnea and tried to use a CPAP for a bit, but I absolutely could not sleep with the mask on.

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