2 karmaJoined Jul 2023


Right. I apologise if I made you waste your time, but I agree with everything you've just said. I can't exactly remember, but I'm imagining I wrote my comment wrong. Having reread the particular part of the article again, what I was confused about is the claim that Kenyan healthcare is narrower - not that money spent there would be more effective, which sounds very plausible. I was imagining "narrow" to refer to scope of the problem, which I presume is actually greater in Kenya. So what is the article's use of the word "narrow" getting at? Perhaps it's simply stating there is less currently done - it's more neglected. But to me it really implied the problem was narrower, which seems the opposite of the truth. Not that I'm really disagreeing with anyone. I'm just concerned that the wording may be misleading.

What's the reasoning for why health spending in Kenya would be more effective [EDIT: I think I meant "narrow" rather than "effective"] than in Costa Rica? (re: ~5% of the way through the article)

individuals usually save by investing, and governments save by buying other government’s debt or by investing in the private sector, but it’s unclear how the world “saves” as a whole"

I don't think this is particularly true. Government debt is not solely owned by other governments - otherwise it would be strange that all governments (as far as I know) have positive debt. Generally, I believe government debt is owned by the private sector (individual people, businesses, etc.). If we're talking about all governments having money saved up (because we would trust a government to pay large amounts of money to avert a crisis, whereas we would not normally trust the public to do so voluntarily), then that is possible. A good way of achieving that is having governments ensure their debt doesn't get too high (though austerity measures can have negative consequences too) - in fact this is advice that some give to governments: "don't have too much debt - otherwise if there's a crisis, you won't be able to afford to spend as much extra money". If you believe that it is morally crucial that governments are able to spend large amounts of money to avert a newfound moral crisis, then you might propose that they keep debt low, so they could spend extra large amounts if necessary. If you believe this to a very strong extent (which I do not), then you might even advocate that they have "negative" debt (which could be investing in the private sector).

Even though I hadn't considered this point before, and even though I consider it valid, I don't intuitively think it would have a large effect on the optimal level for debt - my instinctive guess is that this consideration might be worth ~5pp less of debt. I think it is sufficient for governments, when an extremely urgent cause is discovered, to increase taxes, decrease domestic spending, and send this extra money towards this new cause. I believe a more pressing imperative is that (rich) governments significantly increase their international aid payments now. The most effective charities are pretty good, and there's not too much risk of accidentally doing harm (I often argue that political causes are risky, though, because people are notoriously overconfident about their political views). I think it's unjustifiable that e.g. US healthcare expenditure could save many many more lives if partially diverted toward a poorer country.

About the main topic of the article, I do mostly agree, and especially so in cases involving non-human sentient beings. Given how much more time is devoted to human well-being, I think it is more difficult (but still, of course, very possible) for a particular human-centered catastrophe to slip under the radar. I nonetheless think advocating for an increase in "crisis awareness research" is very sensible in either case.

The idea of reparations doesn't have instrinsic value in my utilitarian morality, though I suppose it can often be incidentally relevant (in the same vein as money being more effective if spend on people who are more in need). The main priorities, in my opinion, should be reducing the chance of an ongoing catastrophe, and quickly (but also cautiously) stopping one when it is discovered.


Side Note: this is a linkpost, so maybe I shouldn't have commented here? This is my first non-trivial comment, and I got a bit carried away - apologies.

I think the "Our overall view" section may be missing some formatting? The sub-headings seem to be written in the same font/style/size as the body text, which it makes it harder to understand - specifically I don't know what "Profile Depth      Exploratory" means.