Not sure if promotion is allowed here but super interested what people think of this article: https://atis.substack.com/p/on-income-and-happiness, think it’s in the style of an SSC post, would love some feedback.

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I'm starting the "by-George Society" for those who wish Georgism were true. "We're not with George, but we're by him."

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The cat link is confusing. Is the old-timey image on that page supposed to be the landscape painting in question? If so, I have to confess that I can't see the cat either. If not, maybe they should fix that, it's horribly misleading if not.

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What happened to the shill threads? There haven't been ones since October, or have they been paying-subscribers only?

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I'm interested in building a list of learning resources, ideally free, for something like a "learn by doing" approach to math and statistics. (I have in mind primarily programming as "doing" but also opened to eg. games, spreadsheets, etc).

For example these are great and fit what I have in mind:

- [Think Stats](http://greenteapress.com/thinkstats2/index.html)

- [Think Bayes](http://greenteapress.com/wp/think-bayes/)

- [Advanced Data Analysis from an Elementary Point of View](http://stat.cmu.edu/~cshalizi/ADAfaEPoV/)

- [Computer Age Statistical Inference](https://hastie.su.domains/CASI/)

...Green Tea Press in particular has the philosophy of "if you can program you can learn the discrete version of many concepts, then the continuous version", which is most in line with what I have in mind.

I have this idea that very practical math and stats thinking can be taught to a very wide range of on people if we used discretization to teach the basics first, then followed it with analytics optionally.

I'd love to find more resources like these, if you know of any, please share!

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I'm a traditional horary astrologer and I'd like to practice my art: I invite anyone who would care to have a query answered through the toolkit of astrological divination to drop me a line at FlexOnMaterialists@protonmail.com. (The email address is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, of course materialists and even--dare I dream?--atheists are quite welcome.) I look forward to hearing from you!

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1. I thought the Georgism articles were very well written and informative, especially the first one.

2. Going into them I was vaguely familar with the concept, having seen it in some econ undergrad classes briefly and having read the book review. Afterwards, I'm firmly anti-Georgist.

Firstly, as far as I can tell by reading the articles, discussing them in the comments, and being responded to by the author in the comments, it doesn't seem like there's really any answer available for how it could be implemented. At best I got some waffly 'maybe if we phase it in slowly over a century' responses which were unencouraging, but at least the author just left implementing the whole theory as an exercise to the reader. I would be interested in a follow-up to address this, if there is interest.

Secondly, while the author did a reasonable job of arguing his theses, that Land Matters, Land Value Tax can be Effective, and Assessment of Unimproved Land can Work, I never picked up on any moral or ethical argument for why Georgism is good.

I like the ability of people to own their own land, and the American public as a whole seems to agree with me, at least the 64.8% owning their own homes. The Georgist worldview that was laid out appeared to me to be so profit focused and hypercapitalistic, with everybody forced to use their land in a maximally profit-efficient way just to not be evicted, was so disturbing that it made me assess my own opinions and realize I wasn't as much of a capitalist as I thought I was, and certainly not enough to be a Georgist. Implementation, as I mentioned above, also appears more or less impossible or at least incredibly inequitable to current landholders.

As a whole, I am still not convinced that Georgism is a good thing. I can see why it would have made sense a century ago with robber barons, high poverty, and high inequality. At present, though, I still don't see any point to it aside from in theory being a revenue-neutral alternative to income tax which punishes rural and suburban homeowners and rewards urban renters with higher incomes.

Can somebody, in plain English, justify why Georgism is a good thing and something I should want?

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How do you conceptualize utility gain? I find that I am frequently confused about how to think about problems posed in these terms.

Eg. The writer for "All That Is Solid" recently wrote a hypothetical that says, "one person who you do not know at all will gain 10 utility from [you giving him a prize]; the second person is a close friend, and will only gain 5 utility from the prize. Who do you give the prize to?"

I have only understood "utility" via context of writings like these, so perhaps it is more defined than I realize. At present, I find that I struggle with it in a few ways. For one, I can't intuitively "feel" the weight of the utility that each of these people gain. Is there a good analogy of what each of these feel like, and when you think about them, is it purely in numerical terms or do you convert it to some experiential feeling?

Another problem I have is one of scale: if one person experiences 10 utility, do I understand that to be "positive" like my experience of eating a good breakfast or taking a nap? Or is it more positive; or is it less, and a good nap is actually worth 20 utility? "Double" the utility means different things depending on how "good" a utility of 1 is. Are units of utility defined or commonly agreed upon?

* Also I think I might be conflating utility and happiness / pleasure. Not sure how much they go together or if they are distinct.

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Are there any pure coincidences? Are there any totally meaningless happenings?https://allsouls.substack.com/p/are-there-any-pure-coincidences-are

Would love feedback :)

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Why is wading out into mildly cool water so unpleasant, but jumping/diving in with your whole body so much better? And also why after 30 something years of experience with this phenomenon do I still always opt to start wading in and resist diving for as long as possible?

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Economics is not my strong suit, and maybe I missed it because of all the jargon, but I'm *really* confused about how Georgism protects against people destroying the land / extracting all the value (like, for example, a farmer who spends 20 years doing destructive farming practices) from the land and then not caring that they've destroyed its productivity for the next 200 years. Honestly, the environmentalism angle is as big a concern for me as solving urban landlord problems or government tax revenue, am I missing something?

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While people are normally risk averse, I think utilitarians should be risk neutral. Being risk averse would result in less than maximizing expected utility. Also, utilitarians should not have time preference over pure utility. So, 10 utility right now is equal to 10 utility in 2022. Are there any arguments against this?

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What's the latest evidence on risk of long COVID in vaccinated people?

It's been 3 months since Scott posted - https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/long-covid-much-more-than-you-wanted

And 4 months since Matt Bell's article https://www.mattbell.us/delta-and-long-covid/

It seemed to be unknown at the time how common long COVID was in vaccinated people.

The only study I'd seen that estimated risk of long COVID was the Israeli study:

"Another study in Israel, of around 1,500 vaccinated health-care workers, found that 7 (19%) of the 39 breakthrough infections produced symptoms that lingered for more than 6 weeks5. However, the numbers of infections studied are too small for firm conclusions to be drawn about the absolute risk." - https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03495-2

A 19% chance of a viral illness that causes symptoms 6 months later is concerning to me, and makes me careful even if the people around me are unconcerned. But my prior would be that since long COVID is likely related to ICU stays and cellular / organ injury, then vaccines would like reduce it's incidence.

Is there any new evidence?

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In (21st century) warfare between nation states, is there any kind of moral or practical reason to not target (aka blow up) the other country's civilian leadership? I'm thinking specifically about Iran, one of the top two most likely subjects of a US military attack due to its ongoing nuclear program. I'm not really interested in debating the utility of actually bombing Iran to disrupt its nuclear weapons efforts (probably the least bad option we have on the table now, sadly), but I am interested in discussing- if we do get in a shooting war with them, why not just take out their entire civilian political structure, or military chain of command, with a few cruise missiles? Who would be left to issue orders? Isn't it kind of..... game over for them? It seems like wholesale surrender would have to be next, aside from a few disorganized units here and there.

I do understand that decapitation strikes (there's a fun Wiki page on the topic! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decapitation_strike) are probably not practical against peer adversaries- we don't target Xi's family in Beijing or Putin in Moscow because we would not like to have Biden or Trump's family targeted here in the US. I don't really understand what the argument is against decapitation strikes with a non-peer adversary like Iran, who can't realistically fire multiple targeted cruise missiles back to the US mainland. The type of SIGINT/data analysis to know where every member of the Iranian parliament or upper military command is at any given time seems like one of the key US technological advantages that we have- we just own that sort of intel.

There must be some kind of ethical/'laws of warfare' type of reason not to, because we did not target the Taliban political structure that way, despite them being fairly out in the open towards the end with press conferences and such. Seems like a drone could have easily targeted them once they moved into Kabul. Is there a reason that we didn't/continue not to just bomb every member of the Taliban leadership whenever we know their location?

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Does anyone have a plot or a simple model for how omicron cases have been growing in the US over the last few weeks?

BNO news has current cumulative numbers https://newsnodes.com/omicron_tracker but I'd like them split up by day (either day of sample, or day of report)

https://twitter.com/NathanGrubaugh/status/1469721839027081219 shows data but as the tweet points out presumably there's a ~10 day lag in reporting (because the peak is about that long ago)

Trevor Bedford https://twitter.com/trvrb and Marlin Figgins have a model https://github.com/blab/rt-from-frequency-dynamics/tree/master/results/omicron-countries but the numbers seem very high (~1000 cases on ~Dec 1) and I don't understand how they came up with them.

This is in contrast with the UK where there are graphs like https://twitter.com/AlastairGrant4/status/1469451643167121416 that seem to tell a useful story on more up to date days.

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I have a serious question that is attached to a rather radical/hyperbolic idea, I'd like to toss both out there.

-- Over and over we have been told that Covid "surges" could overwhelm hospital capacity, with horrible consequences. But given that there is actually no treatment, no clinical protocol that we know to be effective,

Q. -- Why are people with COVID symptoms going to hospitals at all? What do they really expect will happen there that will have any effect on their health outcome? They get a cookie and a pat on the head, maybe some cough syrup?

Q2 -- Why are hospitals admitting these patients? Wouldn't the proper public health response be to send them home and arrange for their quarrantine and try to arrange for a nurse or health aide to visit them? (Someday we may have drugs to treat Covid approved by the FDA, which would strengthen the out-patient case.)

Which leads to my rather radical idea: To really stop the pandemic, rather than close everything else in society and the economy, why not CLOSE THE HOSPITALS? Or, at least order them to take no Covid patients. Test every patient at the door and the Covid-positive are denied admission, are treated on an out-patient basis, with strict quarrantine rules while they recover. (As I see it, you will either recover, or die, and the only difference from being in a hospital is tying up emergency resources that could actually help people: trauma victims for example.)

If you think this is monstrous and cold, ask yourself just how different this is from policies aound vaccination.

Vaccination passports etc bar you from entering public venues, and in Austria and Australia, force you into house arrest, just because you MIGHT have a higher risk of possibly catching and spreading Covid. So how is turning away and quarrantining those who are known to be infected (also a much smaller number than the people unvaccinated) not the best strategy?

Given that 99.x% of those who test positive for COVID recover, and are then effectively immune, home-treatment would absolutely free up hospital capacity and allow the rest of society to return to normal.

I will freely admit that my risk calculus is probably different from most people's. Also, I feel in my gut that 99% of anything the govt has or might do to "stop the pandemic" is utterly useless, there is so much randomness in the world that we will arrive at the same medical outcome, whether health officials control society, or people are allowed to choose their own precautions.

We have to stop treating this like the end of the world. It's just a mild respiratory illness for most people.

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The comment system in Substack sucks. Once you go to a different page you lose your place. This involves a non trivial effort to reverse. And it can happen both to follow comment threads that are long and interesting AND inadvertently, when you click on someone's name or a post time. Both feel unnecessary and annoying. There also appears to be no way to communicate this to Substack.

Also, why isn't the comment system itself better? There should be a way to find better comments more easily than having to read through all of them. Maybe likes and dislikes aren't great, but surely there could be better systems that we could think of - quadratic voting, reputation systems, any number really

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Interesting factoid I stumbled up that you all would probably appreciate. I recently moved to Canada from the US and was wondering why they have bagged milk here. Turns out it's because when they transitioned to the metric system in 70s it was easier to adapt the container sizes. So I guess the only thing that stopped the US from having bagged milk was our stubborn refusal to part with Imperial units. https://www.eater.com/2019/10/21/20919693/milk-carton-bag-pouch-history

I admit the explanation is so cute that it makes me suspicious of its authenticity, so if someone else knows more about it please do share.

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In the movie "Miracle on 34th Street", the antagonist is a corporate psychiatrist. Is that, or has that ever, been a real thing? The only other example of a psychiatrist employed by a corporation, that I've seen, is Dr. Scratchensniff from "Animaniacs".

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I've been thinking a lot lately about the disconnect between people who say things that are symbolically true, and people who (frequently willfully, it feels like) make fun of them because they are not *literally* true. Case in point, there's currently a tweet from a right-wing congresswoman making the rounds on reddit, stating that the only gun policy the US needs was written in 1776, and proceeds to quote the 2nd amendment (which was of course, actually written in 1789.)

People are dunking on this tweet because it's factually incorrect, but they're missing the point--the tweet *feels* true, and it is indeed having the intended impact on the people who understand it. People miss this, either because A. they're part of the ingroup, and so don't recognize the incongruity, B. they're part of the outgroup, and so can't see anything *but* the incongruity, (or possibly, C. they're rationalists, and have consciously trained themselves to think in terms of facts.)

I feel like we missed the point of "truthiness", back when that word was in the zeitgeist. We dismissed it as the folly of evangelicals who still believed in the sky-daddy and wouldn't recognize a real fact if it came up and bit them in the face. But just like how "irrational" people one-box on Newcomb's problem and walk away the big winners, it's the people who know how to speak "truthiness" that end up driving the conversation. It's great to be here and get in-depth, nuanced takes on complicated issues, but if we can't trade the literally true for the symbolically true, I despair of making much of an impact.

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Just reminding anyone in the Philadelphia area that the Philly ACX Meetup is hosting a Winter Solstice Celebration on Tuesday, December 21 starting at 6pm. We’re hoping to make it a good time with food and warm drinks, a fire pit, a raffle and maybe a few rounds of “Cards Against Rationality”. Request to join our Google Group for full details:


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Enjoyed the guest posts, but it might have been nice to spread them out - it was already a lot of reading and that's before accounting for the thousands of comments.

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As several of us have commented in the Georgism threads, it's highly unclear how Georgism would be implemented without disincentivizing large-scale new developments, such as building a new city (assuming that city land wouldn't just be taxed at its farmland value, which would be very low).

So two recent interests of Scott's—model cities and Georgism—may be at odds.

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I feel as though it is worth distinguishing between Radical Georgism and Moderate Georgism. I just made up these terms, so I should explain them.

Radical Georgism:

- We need to redo most of economic theory.

- Land shouldn't really belong to anyone.

- How can we capture all Land Rent?

- Focus on a large (utopian?) scale.

- Closely tied to UBI / Citizens' Dividend.

Moderate Georgism:

- Focus on local issues in your city.

- Replace existing property tax with a land tax or a mix.

- Revenue neutral tax reform, e.g. 2% property tax -> 1% property tax & 5% land tax.

- Focus on reducing vacancies and urban blight.

- Don't talk about big economic questions.

- Support / opposition to UBI is unrelated.

Since Georgism is a fringe belief, it does not have very many weak supporters. [1] There isn't a large population of people who kind of like Georgism but haven't really looked into the worldview in detail. Most of the conservation about Georgism (including here) is about Radical Georgism. I think this is a shame. We should be asking if any moderate forms of Georgist ideas could gain broad support. Perhaps a good analogy is Socialism : Social Democracy :: Radical Georgism : Moderate Georgism.

Moderate Georgism already exists in some cities in Pennsylvania. [2] Last time I checked, Pennsylvania hasn't depended into an abyss of unintended consequences. We know that this can work. The argument can simply be that it is simply better than our current system of property taxes, instead of trying to answer Big Questions about what land ownership means.

[1] Scott's "Popular & Silenced" post is kind of relevant, although Georgism is more unknown than taboo. https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/05/23/can-things-be-both-popular-and-silenced/

[2] This is also where I got the example tax rates above. https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/3/6/non-glamorous-gains-the-pennsylvania-land-tax-experiment

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"An analysis of a large insurance-record database of more than seven million Americans has found that Viagra may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia by almost 70 percent."


The article is at https://www.nature.com/articles/s43587-021-00138-z, and mostly deals with the approach to analyzing existing drugs to figure out which might be effective against Alzheimer's.

If true it's a huge effect. The article ended with the usual boilerplate about not advising anyone to actually act on the information, which I expect to be widely ignored. It doesn't say what the average dosage was for the people using viagra; it comes in 25, 50, and 100 mg tablets but I doubt most users take it daily. The average mg/week rate should be deducible from the insurance data the article used and would be useful information.

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What should someone do who (i) sees a scientific consensus on a 'pro-regime' narrative and (ii) believes that there exists significant censorship (direct or indirect, offical or unofficial) of 'anti-regime' ideas?

Let 'p' be a 'pro-regime' proposition. Let 'e' be the proposition that the available academic research concludes (or points to the conclusion that … or whatever phrase you prefer), after apparently rigorous investigation, that p is true. If circumstances (i) and (ii) hold, then as the degree of censorship approaches Soviet levels, it seems as though one should disregard the data completely.

P(p|e) = P(e|p)*P(p) / [P(e|p)*P(p) + P(e|~p)*P(~p)]

As tyrannical censorship increases, P(e|~p) approaches P(e|p) since the state of the published academic output in such a regime becomes insensitive to the true reality, and, no matter what that reality is, elites will not allow the widespread dissemination of an academic body of research which suggests ~p.

Thus, P(p|e) approaches P(e|p)*P(p) / [P(e|p)*P(p) + P(e|p)*P(~p)]

= P(e|p)*P(p) / [P(e|p)*(P(p) + P(~p))] = P(e|p)*P(p) / [P(e|p)*(1)] = P(p).

Hence, in a censorious environment, academic consensus provides no evidence for pro-regime propositions.

However, the opposite is the case for anti-regime ideas. Where ‘p’ is now some anti-regime proposition and ‘e’ is as before, in a tyrannical regime, if p is FALSE, then reality and the censorship efforts will almost certainly combine to ensure that an academic consensus in favour of p could never emerge. Thus, as tyrannical censorship increases, P(e|~p) approaches 0. In that case:

P(p|e) approaches P(e|p)*P(p) / [P(e|p)*P(p) + 0*P(~p)]

= P(e|p)*P(p) / [P(e|p)*P(p)] = 1

So a consensus in favour of an anti-regime proposition entails that said proposition is true.

Of course, we used a lot of approximations and relied a lot on what a certain probability ‘approaches’ as censorship increases, but the general epistemic impacts are the same. As censorship grows, scholarly evidence becomes less relevant when assessing pro-regime propositions. If someone believes that (ii) holds, then one can seemingly disregard any scientific consensus brought to bear on pro-regime propositions.

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Do any of you have recommendations for online courses for kids getting into coding?

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I've been adding some predictions from this blog into: https://www.foretold.io/c/6eebf79b-4b6f-487b-a6a5-748d82524637

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I have been telling myself that bitcoin acts like a way of rewarding people for either following basic probabilistic reasoning, having libertarian ideals (or belonging to an epistemic herd that does) and punishing people for not engaging in probabilistic reasoning, valuing libertarianism, or following herds that reject both these ways of thinking.

But this could be entirely self-serving. Please poke holes in the reasoning. A basic argument is sketched out here:

- A: If bitcoin does become the global reserve currency, its value will be substantially higher than at present

- B: if A does happen, anyone who buys in earlier gets rewarded in rough proportion to how early they bought in

- C: we can see the price of bitcoin as being, roughly a market estimate of the likelihood of how likely A is; the price being higher now indicates that the market estimates it is even more likely than prior that bitcoin will be a globally accepted store of value and means of exchange in the future

- D whatever you think the probability of A is right now, it's got to be higher than it was 4 or 8 years ago

- E "You should buy a little bitcoin just in case it blows up" made senes 10 years ago, it makes sense now, but it pushes enough 'tribal buttons' that many intelligent adults reject this argument as absurd

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Test your meme theory on this.

In some recent reporting on Omicron and its origin, a hypothesis that it may be related to the clinical trial of Merck's anti-viral pill is mentioned. To quote one paragraph from [Financial Times](https://www.ft.com/content/bbc9eae3-5a49-43e8-8c25-a755008189e0):

"Another theory about how Omicron emerged in southern Africa has been advanced by William Haseltine, a virologist who has speculated that mutations could have been caused by Merck’s Covid-19 antiviral pill. He noted that South Africa was among the locations chosen for clinical trials of the drug molnupiravir, which began in October 2020."

I am not in a position to evaluate the claim. Neither does FT try. I generally welcome a less timid science that is willing to explore more "out there" hypotheses and that doesn't indirectly promote safe conformity in research. So even if we index this particular hypothesis about Molnupiravir at a very low probability, I think it CAN BE fine to let the idea enter the discourse. But I see the potential issues too.

However, what will be the fitness of this meme, prior to any actual data supporting or refuting the hypothesis? In hindsight it is easy to explain and "predict" which meme will find fertile political soil. Before hindsight is available I ask: will regulatory agencies go full precautionary principle on this and the pill receive "the AstraZeneca treatment", will it be pooh-poohed by the Scientists and thus find supporters on the political fringes, or will this meme fizzle out because something else proves more sticky in the crowded December/Holiday meme space? Could we place bets on some meme proliferation prediction market?

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I had an interesting discussion with my parents, where I played the role of Georgism Advocate, and they played the role of Status Quo Defenders. After some back and forth we realized my hometown is already somewhat Georgist.

Our town has high property taxes (although they are levied based on property value rather than land value). However, if the tax was changed to be based on land value, but with a higher percentage than is currently levied on property value, I think most residents would end up paying about the same amount of tax.

I think the way that this town uses the money they bring in is good. There are plenty of parks and green spaces, the downtown is clean and lively. The school district is well funded and highly rated. There are many old and massive trees throughout the neighborhood, which are costly to maintain but enhance quality of life and land values. Much of this comes down to good planning during the building of the town and good stewardship by its government over the years. However, I suppose much of it is enabled by the property tax.

Anyways, it seems to me that Georgism is more of a spectrum than a binary thing. It would probably behoove proponents of Georgism to sneak their policies in without having to familiarize people with the name of their ideology and all its baggage (which most people will probably suspect is just undercover Marxism). Perhaps you can get most of the way to Georgism with policies that people are already familiar with.

Maybe I'm wrong though and there's a huge gulf between what I've described and true Georgism. If so, it would be enlightening to see how!

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In the comments to one of the Georgism posts, I compared private land rents to consols: bonds with no maturity date that make regular interest payments perpetually (unless and until the issuer repurchases and retires them or defaults on the debt), which were somewhat popular mechanisms for long-term government debt in the 19th century. From a Georgist perspective, the people collectively rightfully own the rental income stream from unimproved land, and the government as instrument of the people's collective action should collect and spend that income stream on the people's behalf.

From this perspective, it seems to me that when the government sells, barters, or assigns the income stream from a particular bit of land, that action is morally and practically similar to issuing a consol: in both cases, the government is granting a vested property right to a future public stream of income into private hands. And for the government to confiscate that income stream without compensation would be improper in most cases, for the same reason it would be improper in most cases for the government to default on a consol or other bond.

I do however see a couple significant differences between consols and a private right to collect rental income, differences which would be of particular concern to Georgists. One is that consols typically pay a fixed interest rate on their original par value: e.g. a $1000 face value consol with a 3% coupon rate would pay $30/year forever. But land's rental value may go up or down a great deal over the decades, and the distributionary effects of unearned appreciation in land value seems to be one of the core concerns that Georgism aims to correct. The other is that a consol only entitles the owner to an income stream, while land ownership bundles the right to collect the rental value of the land, control of the land's usage, and both control and benefit from whatever structures and improvements are on the land.

These differences suggest a possible route to a soft transition to a Georgist regime without defaulting on the "consol" by simply imposing a steep LVT to "reclaim" the rental income stream for the public benefit. My idea is to impose a 85-100% LVT (assuming for the sake of argument that land value can be assessed fairly and accurately enough), but compensate property owners by issuing actual consols to them that would bear a face value equal to the assess value of the land at the effective date of the policy, and would pay an interest rate similar to the capitalization rate used to assess the tax. If unimproved land values increase faster than inflation (as Georgists expect it to), then this will represent a substantial haircut to landlords in the long term, but to a degree more akin to an ordinary tax increase than to wholesale expropriation or a large-scale debt default.

Side note: this is more in the nature of exploring an idea than a policy proposal I'm personally in favor of, as I'm a bleeding-heart libertarian, not a Georgist.

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I'm not sure where to put my high level criticism of Georgism in the topic specific threads, so since it's present here... again... I figured I would drop it here.

At the end of the day there's no debate in here on the topic of whether the state, the public, the people (however you want to refer to it) have a right to to the land and a right therefore to extra the total value out of it.

This all plays out, to me, as a convoluted way to achieve "communism-lite".

From a theoretical view, the whole thing is preposterous once you start talking to me about the "extremely high land value in Manhattan". This is not true. There is extremely high land value for land sitting on top of a gold mine, for instance.

What there is in Manhattan is extremely high societal proximity value. If the government suddenly came in and said ok every landowner in NYC now owes 200x the property taxes, there is a chance that the value of the land in NYC could plummet over an extended period of time.

The value of the land in NYC is the community that surrounds it. Not the land. Taking that value, and distributing it to the "people", is not how you build the next Manhattan or protect your existing Manhattan.

Property is already the most disadvantaged asset class after cash (property tax rates typically are at or under inflation, so I think cash is worse).

We don't have sprawl because we don't tax land enough. That's one of the crazier arguments I heard in these conversations. "If we had LVT people would build up not sprawl". What? If I invest in the infrastructure and the "value of the land" goes up because the "area is now worth more" because of all the up-investing us landowners have been doing, you're just going to tax me more and give it to the "people".

The only good thing about the Georgism conversation is the conversation around incentives and taxes. This is good thinking. The existing tax regime for instance discourages specializations. I am massively incentivized to not hire someone to do work for me. If I hire someone I have to hire them with money I was taxed on (30%+ on the margin depending on your tax bracket) plus I have to pay their payroll and income taxes and depending on the service sales tax. So if the value of the service is $100 of utility my choices are:

1. Invest my free time in it, capture $100 of utility.

2. Hire someone. So for them, $100 * (1.3 marginal income tax) * (1.05 sales tax) * (1.12 payroll taxes) = $152.88. For me to pay $152.88, I had to make $218.40.

So hiring someone to do work for me costs 218% the value of the service being provided thanks to our tax structure. This is why we have unemployed people when almost every American would love for more domestic help.

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Posting a question here instead of on the relevant Georgism post because I've only skimmed those posts not read them in full yet --

If you assume that the first LVT experiment would likely be in the form of a $ for $ substitution of LVT for property tax (a fairly modest assumption given that home-owners are a supermajority of voters in most municipalities)*, what's the benefit of a Land Value Tax?

Context: I was very interested in Georgism / LVT a few years ago but as I've learned more about modern zoning codes + the associated submerged thicket of anti-building regulations that exist in most cities where I might want to live, I've cooled on LVT as a solution to the problem of modern cities. LVT wouldn't make it easier to build new buildings, which is the core problem, IMO. Modest pro-building reforms seem to have a clear/larger pay-off for equivalent levels of political activism (e.g. modest steps taken in California to legalize ADUs).

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Also Georgism related, apologies if this was covered in the articles because I've only skimmed them not read them in full --

In a very high cost city where there is a large gap between the value of a new unit of housing and the cost to build a new unit of housing, you get really weird results by trying to calculate the land value.

Stylized example:

In a given city core, a "standard" unit of housing of 1,000 square feet of liveable space sells for $1 million, and a "standard" unit of housing costs $300,000 to construct. There is a $700,000 "zoning windfall" that accrues to the handful of people lucky/connected enough to get permission to build (which rarely happens, which is why these prices are currently at equilibrium).

There are two adjacent Parcels of land of equal size in the city core.

Parcel-One has been zoned for 10 units of housing, and so has 10 units of housing on it, giving it a total price of market price of $10 million.

Parcel-Two has been zoned for 1 unit of housing, and so has 1 unit of housing on it, giving it a total market price of $1.1 million ($1 million for the housing unit, $100,000 for the front/back yard).

If the city transitioned from a Property Tax to a Land Value Tax, then EITHER

(1) both Parcels would be taxed at the same rate since their land quality is identical, spiking the tax rate on Parcel-Two *even though Parcel-Two is improved to the maximum extent allowable under the current law*

(2) the Parcels would be taxed at a rate that takes into account their current zoning, so Parcel-One would pay substantially more LVT than Parcel-Two, making LVT not too different from Property Tax

And scenario (2) gets even weirder, because if you use zoning to account for land value, then either

(2.1) you use zoning-at-time-of-law-passage to account for land value, causing real land values to change relative to taxable land values over time as people get changes made to zoning


(2.2) you declare the $700,000 "zoning windfall" of getting permission to build a new unit of housing to be a "land value increase" that is thus taxable. This keeps real land values and taxable land values the same, at a cost of LOWERING development because now the incentive to try to hack your way through the thicket of zoning regulations has been taxed away.

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In praise of landlords. First it must suck to be a landlord these days. I was contemplating becoming a landlord before we sold my mom's duplex. I figured it wasn't worth the hassle. Better to sell the house and put the money in the market. Having been on both sides of the renter fence, I only recall good landlords, and mostly good tenants, a few not so good ones. (Almost all my renting experience has been with two family houses.) Landlords have to; pay the mortgage, pay the taxes, pay the insurance, pay for maintenance, deal with tenant complaints, find new tenants... I figure I'm missing something. As we make it harder for landlords, I predict we will drive 'good' people from becoming landlords, and we will be left with the bottom feeders, who can squeeze enough out of an apartment to make it worth it. I think we need to make it easier for landlords, so that more good people will join the ranks. Treat landlords as evil, and you get evil landlords.

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Politics allowed, just in time. So California is doing tit-for-tat and fighting fire with fire - going after gun rights the same way Texas is going after abortion. What could go wrong? I expect Supreme Court will have to eventually deal with it, and would not be surprised if they do so inconsistently, upholding Texas law and overturning California. If they do decide consistently, I wonder which way they would go.

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Since politics are allowed on this thread, I'm curious what people's predictions are for the 2024 election. Who are the contenders in the primaries? Who wins them? Who will be the new people who didn't run in the last election cycle?

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Since this is a political thread, what do people think about the 2024 election? Who will be the candidates and the winner? Give odds. Who will be the new players? Is there a good way to predict who will be new players?

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One thing I found lacking from the Georgism discussion: even if it will work in principle to raise taxes, it would cause an absolutely enormous shift in _what_ we tax. Farms in particular will be massively taxed, while a tech company or a venture capitalist will be essentially untaxed (at least if they forego downtown offices).

Is this really a good thing, shifting the tax burden almost completely to activities that are land-intensive? _Why_ would we want this, as opposed to for instance a flat tax on income or a fixed VAT, that affects the economy more evenly?

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step 1: genetically engineer algae to excrete massive amounts of caprylic acid (8-carbon saturated fat which is just barely liquid at room temperature and bouyant in water)

step 2: skim it off the surface of the lake

step 3: convert it to octane with a catalyst https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsomega.8b00562

step 4: ???

Step 5: sell equivalent fuel to gas stations for cheaper than fossil oil companies can

Step 6: sell carbon offsets for about the same price as fuel, by pumping biofuel back into depleted oil wells.

Step 7: profit! Also avoiding GW.

Not so far-fetched, since some biofuels are already <2x more expensive than gasoline. Genetic modification has boosted crop yields by >2x before.

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Plans You’re Not Supposed to Talk About is an ACX post mysteriously written on another blog: https://dynomight.net/plans/

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The term "economic collapse" is thrown around freely, but what does it mean? What specific conditions must exist for an economist to be able to say "the economy has collapsed"?

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I think police should use bodycams 100% of the time, and have the footage livestreamed to a separate agency which monitors it and publicly posts the footage of any arrest that involves struggle. (exception: delay if necessary to avoid tipping off related suspects that are about to be arrested) This would have some benefits:

1. Give people a feel for the entire distribution of police & criminal activity, instead of only seeing incidents that are ultra-cherrypicked to push a particular emotional narrative. This probably leads to more accurate beliefs and better policy prescriptions.

2. Preempt misinformation that incites riots about falsely alleged police misconduct.

3. Prevent coverups of actual police misconduct.

4. Incentivize police and criminals to be on their best behavior, since unnecessary violence by either party will go to a permanent public video record.

5. Protect police from harm, because it is no longer possible for the criminal to murder the only witness. This changes incentives a lot.

6. Since police become less likely to get shot, they can also be more chill.

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A key lesson from WWII is that, in a war of attrition between industrial countries, it is crucial to strike the right balance between the quantity and quality of weapons your side produces. U.S. and Soviet-made weapons (especially tanks) are generally closer to the optimum than German-made weapons, which are considered too expensive and complicated to have been worth it.

What are some specific examples of WWII weapons that, without doubt, represent the following:

1) Too cheap / primitive / simple; country would have been better off changing the design to be more expensive / complex.

2) A perfect balance of cost and complexity.

3) Too expensive / complicated; country would have been better off changing the design to be cheaper / less complex.


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When inflation is calculated, hedonic regression can only account for legible attributes of products. But there is quite a lot of corner-cutting on illegible attributes. You could even say that producers are often incentivized to maximize illegible corner-cutting. So I thought of an alternative to hedonic regression which is directly based on consumer preferences rather than instead of central planners trying to do linear algebra to calculate what the price of something "should" have been. Compare the price of a used P1 with the price of a used P2 at time T3, and adjust for depreciation.

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An oft-expressed notion in recent years is "food is the new music". I continue to think this is true, and that it's due to economic change. Music used to be expensive. An album cost you more than a good meal 30 years ago.

Music is now ridiculously cheap, almost free, whereas food still costs something but it's available in many more varieties than it was a few decades ago.

Is this change purely an economic phenomenon---ethnic food has become more available and affordable? Or does the shift from music to food mean something else? Some deeper value change?

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Why is the resale market for NBA tickets a failure? I'm watching a mediocre team on TV and more than half the good seats are empty. This in a city where ticket scalping is legal.

My guess is the problem is that digital tickets are still a recent advent, one which gives the franchise a monopoly on the resale market. You can't go out and buy a physical ticket outside the arena from a scalper like you could just two years ago.

The franchise "resells" tickets on their home ticket site, but they obviously aren't succeeding at the mission. My guess is that it's not really a market. They won't drop their price in the insolent face of low demand, so the seats go empty.

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Does anyone have a working link for the discord server? The one in the sidebar doesn't seem to work for me.

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I'm leaning towards effective altruism, I give more than 10% of my income to EA-related organizations.

But I also buy stuff from Amazon, which told workers to work through the tornado, and people have died due to Amazon's company policies.


If I think of my impact on the world, how much me buying stuff from Amazon reduces my positive impact?

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Swire is a British conglomerate with British roots, but operates on Chinese land, hires Chinese employees, and profits from Chinese customers.

I wrote a reflection from reading Bickers' China Bound: John Swire & Sons and Its World. It turns out the history of Swire is the history of 1) a firm retelling history of itself 2) indexing Hong Kong's economic growth 3) operating in emerging markets with the backing of hegemonic power. 


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