Paul Beardsell

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Paul Beardsell +44.7966-447-three-87 <firstname>@<surname>.com


Why an ellipse? I understand why the pure EA position might be the Y=X line depicted, a line from bottom-left to top-right. But surely the opposite ought to be considered too, there must be some whose anti-EA perspective would be the Y = -X line, a diagonal from top-left to bottom right. 


I can't find a way to change my username. I tried a few days before your post and again now. Please advise.

I don't know what the correct level would be other than the current level feels very wrong. They themselves give summary reasons for the very high reserves which seem unacceptable. 

(1) The possible but unknown reputational damage they can't really expect, or if they do so expect they ought not to build a fighting fund from my (potential*) charitable donations. Or if they're expecting reputational damage a better strategy would be to change their behaviour.

(2) The potential loss of a big donor.  When they lose a big donor that is the time to cut back on their funding of projects and their staff costs. High paid workers (and they are, this organisation) should not be protecting from losing their jobs in a downturn more than some commercial enterprise workers would be.  Instead they take my (potential*) donations and set them aside for this purpose.  

You'll all be aware of the matching funds concept in charitable giving. If I give £10 then someone else guarantees to match this. Effectively my altruism is DOUBLED. This is a great concept and has encouraged me to give in the past. Lets see what's happening here.  The UK CEA takes half of it's donations and sits on it. If I gave £10 to the UK CEA in 2020 only £5 is used. We're not even talking about the necessary admin and infrastructure costs here. Effectively my altruism is HALVED.

(*) Why am I here? Thru hard work and luck I find myself with surplus assets and I thought I would give some of it away now, and some later. I wanted to do so constructively and was so pleased to find the EA crowd! I had already typed the (UK) CEA's name and charity number into my draft will before I decided to properly check the hype for myself. I think I might be better off donating to OXFAM, their failings are distressing but the failings are human, they are not policy, and they're embarrassed by them.

I'm uncomfortable criticising so anonymously. I've tried to find out how properly to identify myself here. I cannot edit my psb777 id and there seems to be nowhere to type in my name. I'll stick it in the bio notes. Meanwhile I'm Paul Beardsell if you're looking for whom to avoid.

I was right[, almost]. The issue becomes not the misuse of funds, it's me saying [not "fois gras" but] "Michelin".

Again, the examples were never meant to be read as what actually occurred any one event. But that my deliberately hyperbolic example is identified so very closely with a real actual event just makes my point even more strongly. OK, I got the colour of the wallpaper wrong, sorry, but there really was an all expenses paid luxury jolly to the Bahamas. It's a scandal. 

I note no one complains about the other factually wrong (because it too was made up) example about the much much cheaper 2-star plus pizza Bracknell event.

Again: I said there were two styles of event I would not be bribed to attend. Not only would I not attend the fine dining etc etc event, I would not attend the pizza etc etc one either. The response: "I wouldn't call the [actual] Bahamas event fine dining." "The towels weren't unusually fine." "I didn't travel Business Class." 

Frankly it seems I don't know anywhere near the extent of all this abuse of funds. This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is what happens to money you (if the cap fits etc) solicit from me. 

Some people are uncomfortable being associated in any way with this. What is the behaviour modification required? Mine! How about a more general expression of discomfort from more people about this so-called effective so-called altruism? Silence is acquiescence.

Retaining funds without charitable intent [for survival in the case of potential unknown reputational damage, for the potential loss of a donor] where those funds are beyond the reserves actually necessary is what I criticised about the UK charity CEA. That the related but separately run and separately managed  USA CEA seems not to do that is something I too would applaud.

  • Not trying to "trip you up", but you said your org had "far less income"—surely you know that reserve size is inherently correlated with income.

I don't feel tripped up. Surely you know (your phraseology) that massive increase in reserves can only come from massive income, and that assessing the size of a necessary reserve has little to do with income but lots to do with  fixed outgoings. I'm asserting the reserves are being kept for reasons stated in their own report which are not justifiable by a charity. The reserves are excessive. My point was to counter the false assertion above that such degree of reserves is necessary by any organisation. 

A reserve fund like this [of this size relative to expenditure] is critical for operating any entity. 

Not critical. Not even usual. Not any entity. Not at 4+ years fixed operating expenses even if no further income ever arose and all staff were retained.

What motivates me is a horror of people making and accepting large expenses from charitable funds. That people accept large salaries to work in the charitable sector because perhaps they could earn as much elsewhere is a different question, it's the expenses entertainment travel accommodation paid for and accepted instead of the mosquitto nets etc which is very distasteful. 

The CEA was merely a  prominent example of charitable funds being retained for non-charitable purposes.  But I may take up your suggestion in that regard, thanks.

But your headline point, that I seemingly don't understand "patient longtermism" is I think unwarranted. Two major reasons given by the CEA for the retention of massive reserves are (1) survival in the case of reputational damage and (2) the loss of a major donor.

Neither of these are good examples of "patient longtermism". They're bad examples.

I was not criticising any one particular event or any one person's conduct. Indeed, I gave two examples of sponsorhip/bribe I would not accept. 

One was a Bahamas Business-Class 5-star Fine Dining. I'm amazed that something like this actually occurs, the repudiation of this example of mine is that "it wasn't quite as nice as that" but it was pretty damn fine.

The second example was the Bracknell 2nd-Class rail 2*star hotel pizza restaurant.  Accepting a charity's money for that is also unacceptable. It does seem the real Bahamas event which actually happened was almost as expensive as I posited (within a factor of 2, anyway) and much much more expensive (10 times?) than my Bracknell example, but such comparison is not made by anyone here other than me.

Michelin stars are awarded for fine dining, not on menu pricing. There are plenty of hotels which are nowhere near 5-star standard with restaurant prices exceeding those of my local Michelin starred restaurant. The point being made is that eating at such a place does not improve the effectiveness of one's altruism. Indeed, it must have a negative impact, because mid-priced or more expensive that's a charity's money your accepting for fois gras instead of that money being spent on mosquito nets.

Such is the tone here that I expect the mention of fois gras to be the one that provokes response rather than the similarly forced feeding of the similarly willing [the geese volunteer too] EA bribe takers.

That my comments are voted down so heavily here shows maybe the ineptitude and rudeness of my writings, or it shows something else. Too many people want to be on this gravy train and are not being self-critical.

I regret damaging my argument by perhaps unrecognisable satire. And I meant to [satirically] allege 500 thread count sheets, not towels. Whether or not the flights were business class it's that vs Zoom. And look, the hotel had a pool,  yes? And fine dining means different things to different people, but the cost of the meals were likely about the same as the Michelin starred restaurant near me which I must start to frequent so I can think better how to be effectively altruistic. If that is satire I hope it's hard hitting.

I am sorry to improperly or ambiguously identify the "charity". It's the Centre for Effective Altruism [UK 1149828]. I've amended my post to make that clear.

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