It is surprisingly so. I had interned for a Congressional office years back and they do take letters more seriously than you'd expect, and that's at the national level, let alone a state/local. This is for reasons of imperfect information: everybody's running around so much and resources are so scattered that nobody really has a view of what their voters care about, so the loudest, most organized voices have surprising sway. Especially if it's a non-polarizing issue, this could definitely work. The key is to have a specific bill that you want voted up or down, make it as easy for the office to process as possible.
Sample size: 1 office. I feel like I had conversations with others about how this was surprising and they confirmed with theirs, but I'm not sure.
Wow, I'm surprised at how off the numbers are for the charity multipliers and the cost to save lives. Do you have any explanations for how they could be so divergent from EA views? You mention they're highly specialized, but I'm still surprised if their answers mirror the public's guesses more than EA's
I think this is a very useful post. New information for me: considering apparent digital minds as an X-risk, and that the incentives for companies would be towards creation of zombies rather than conscious beings. I also didn't know the current state of consciousness research, that was valuable too. Thanks for sharing!
I think both the total view (my argument) and the marginal view (your argument, as I understand it) converge when you think about the second-order effects of your donations on only the most effective causes. You're right that I argue in this post from the total view of the community, and am effectively saying that going from $50b to $100b is more valuable now than it would have been at any time in the past. But I think this logic also applies to individuals if you believe that your donations will displace other donations to the second-best option, as I think we must believe (from $50b to $50.00001b, for example).
This is why I think it's important to step back and make these arguments in both total + absolute terms, rather than how they're typically made for simplicity, in marginal and relative terms (an individual picking earn-to-give vs direct work). It's ultimately the total + absolute view that matters, even though the marginal + relative view allows for the most simplified decision-making.
Plus, responding to you in your framework it also just so happens that if you believe longtermism, the growth of longtermism has added not just more second-best options, but probably new first-best options, increasing the first-order efficiency like you say. So I think there are multiple ways to arrive at this conclusion :)