I haven't read any of Blattman's writings but in case I'm not too late and these aren't being covered, I'd be curious to hear his thoughts on
For what it's worth, I took a course on Causes of War in college ~ten years back with Professor Gary Bass, and I still have the syllabus alongside a summary of a few of the assigned readings. It's raw, but if you're still looking for inspiration I'm happy to share them for you to skim.
On the other hand, taxes are not entirely "money lost" - a good part of government spending goes into causes that you may not be entirely averse to - although it's hard to tell what a marginal dollar will do, e.g. whether it will be used to cut the taxes of millionaires, or to provide social benefits to the poor.
To your point on marginal impact - governments certainly don't spend money they take in dollar for dollar, and in fact it seems the correlation between intake and expenditure is quite far from 1:1. US government debt is on the order of trillions of dollars, so while its maybe slightly better than flushing your money down the toilet, I'm not sure I'd value it much higher
Got it - thanks for taking the time to respond!
Personally, I would donate to the Long Term Future Fund over the global health fund, and would expect it to be perhaps 10-100x more cost-effective (and donating to global health is already very good). This is mainly because I think issues like AI safety and global catastrophic biorisks are bigger in scale and more neglected than global health. Coming up with an actual number is difficult – I certainly don’t think they’re overwhelmingly better.
Not to pick nits but what would you consider “overwhelmingly better?” 1000x? I'd have said 10x so curious to understand how differently we're calibrated / the scales we think on.
Should "reduction" in the quote below (my emphasis) read "increase?"
"This is hard to justify intuitively - it implies that we should ignore the near-term costs, and (taken to the extreme) could justify almost any atrocity in the pursuit of a miniscule reduction of long-term value."
Posting as an individual who is a consultant, not on behalf of my employer
Let me start off by saying that's an interesting question, and one I can't give a highly confident answer to because I don't know that I've ever had a conversation with a colleague about truth qua truth.
That said, my short answer would be: I think many of us care about truth, I think our work can be shaped by factors other than truth-seeking, and I think if the statement of work or client need is explicitly about truth / having the tough conversations, consultants wouldn't find it especially hard to deliver on that. The only factor particular to consulting that I could see weighing against truth-seeking would be the desire to sell future work to the client... but to me that's resolved by clients making clear that what the client values is truth, which would keep incentives well-aligned.
My longer answer...
To your 2nd question about >70%:
Hi, one such consultant checking in! I had this post open from the moment I saw it in this week's EA Forum digest, but... I (like many other consultants) work a silly number of hours during the work week so just reading the post in detail now.
I'm a member of, but don't run, the EACN network and my take is it's a group of consultants interested in EA with highly varied degrees of familiarity / interest: from "oh, I think I've heard of GiveWell?" to "I'm only working here because GiveWell rejected my job application."
80,000 Hours' old career survey pointed me toward management consulting ~7-8 years ago (affirming a path I was already planning on following) and it's the only job full-time I've had. I'd be surprised if any of us had ever had an EA client (closest I'm aware of is Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), though I've unsuccessfully pitched my employer on doing pro-bono work with a top GiveWell charity.
I agree with Niklas that it seems to me it'd make sense for EA groups to start off by hiring existing consultants / consultancies to prove out the use-case and demand before expecting a boutique firm to get off the ground, but... as a matter of practice what I imagine would happen is as follows:
All that said, I'd venture to say almost every major corporation and government relies on generalist consultancies to varying degrees, even for fairly technical / specialized work. I think that should at least raise questions on how important EA-familiarity is for the work described above - it may be a narrower slice of work that really demands it than the author of this post imagines. [To be clear, not trying to shill here - I'm too junior to sell work myself - just sharing an "insider" perspective / trying to help re-calibrate priors.]
Really really impressive write-up; thanks for putting this together and hope it sparks more discussion on lead as well as more of these write-ups!
I'm not sure how to understand this line referring to the International Lead Association. Could you clarify if the expectation is that ILA would be an ally vs. an opponent (or does Pure Earth not yet have a belief either way)?
"Pure Earth believes them to be an ally or an opponent on a campaign to clean up informal lead battery recycling but we have not spoken to ILA ourselves."
Vanguard's website does not state that they can accept cryptocurrency, but I confirmed with a representative that they take donations of cryptocurrency if the value of the contribution is at least $50,000.
Schwab also told me (in Nov 2020) that they only accept cryptocurrency if the contribution is >$50,000, and their vendors charge a 1% fee on Bitcoin and a $3,500 flat fee for Ethereum. I spoke to Fidelity Charitable who told me they had no minimum contribution for cryptocurrency, but I didn't inquire about fees.
Yasher Koach - I'm a fan! As an Orthodox Jew myself I've been collecting some EA-relevant halakhic/biblical texts on this "source sheet" to eventually get back around to. It needs a lot of fleshing out, not to mention much clearer structure; perhaps this project will be the kick in the pants I've needed.
I'm personally still grappling with the same sorts of tension referenced in Raffi's post (linked above). Though I think a number of halakhic texts align quite neatly with an EA direction, a very well-known / internalized notion in the Orthodox Jewish world is the concept of aniyei ircha kodmim - the poor of your city come first i.e., proximity matters, which of course is... less well-aligned to EA thinking.
Given that, I think there's particular value in shining a light on some of those halakhic sources which emphasize the relative weighting of need and/or imperative to save lives to help foster more critical thinking among Orthodox Jews with regard to their giving, careers, volunteering etc. Hopeful that can be folded into this project!