Upvoted for being honest about status-related desires. Good to keep an eye on them but I think they can be useful motivators when they're pointing in the right direction!
This is a good point, although talent across time is comparatively harder to estimate. So "act according to present-time comparative advantage" might be a passable approximation in most cases.
We also need to consider the interim period when thinking about trades across time. If C takes the ops job, then in the period between C taking the job and E joining the movement, we get better ops coverage. It's not immediately obvious to me how this plays out, might need a little bit of modelling.
I've DM'd you.
Sure - I don't think "systematic change" is a well-defined category. The relevant distinction is "easy to analyze" vs "hard to analyze". But in the post you've basically just stipulated that your example is easy to analyze, and I think that's doing most of the work.
So I don't think we should conclude that "systematic changes look much more effective" - as you say, we should look at them case by case.
There's a sliding scale of what people consider "systematic reform". Often people mean things like "replace capitalism". I probably wouldn't even have classed drug policy reform or tax reform as "systematic reform", but it's a vague category. Of course the simpler ones will be easier to analyze.
Frame it as a matter of degree if you like: I think we're drastically more clueless about systematic reform than we are about atomic interventions.
You seem to be assuming that the "bad case" for systematic reform is that it's, say, 1/500th of the benefit of the GD average effort. But I don't think that's the bad case for most systematic reforms: the bad case is that they're actively harmful.
For me, at least, the core of my problem with "systematic reform" is that we're "clueless" about its effects - it could have good effects, but could also have quite bad effects, and it's extremely hard for us to tell which.
I think the ceiling cost estimate is a nice way of framing the comparison, but I agree with Milan that the hard bit is working out the expected effect.
"Mental Health and Happiness Research". Coin your own meaningless acronym if you don't like it :)
I think you're right that having "an organization" talking about X is necessary for X to reach "full legitimacy", but it's worth pointing out that many pioneers in new areas within EA just started their own orgs (ACE, MIRI etc.) rather than trying to persuade others to support them.
Having even a nominal "project" allows you to collaborate more easily with others and starts to build credibility that isn't just linked to you. I think perhaps you should just start MH&HR.
I think the easiest way to understand is by analogy to carbon offsets, which are a kind of limited form of CoI that currently exist.
Carbon offsets are generally certified by an organization to say that they actually correspond to what happened, and that they are not producing too many. I don't think there's a fundamental problem with allowing un-audited certificates in the market, but they'd probably be worth a lot less!
I think the middle man making money is exactly what you want to happen. The argument is much the same as for investment and speculation in the for-profit world: people who're willing to take on risk by investing in uncertain things can profit from it, thus increasing the supply of money to people doing risky things.
Here's a concrete example: suppose I want to start a new bednet -distributing charity. I think I can get them out for half the price of AMF. Currently, there is little incentive for me to do this, and I have to go and persuade grantmakers to give me money.
In the CoI world, I can go to a normal investor, and point out that AMF sells (audited) bednet CoIs for $X, and that I can produce them at half the cost, allowing us to undercut AMF. I get investment and off we go. So things behave just like they do in the for-profit world (which you may or may not think is good).
What you do need is for people to want to buy these and "consume" them. I think that's the really hard problem, getting people to treat them like "real" certificates.
Happy to talk about this more - PM me if you'd like to have a chat.