On Mike Berkowitz's 80k Podcast

Exciting to see a post about this episode 5 hours after we put it out (!).

A few quick thoughts:

"Berkowitz never mentions that the median voter in most Republican primaries is currently "pro-Trump" so he leaves out the single sentence explanation."

No but I say that. IIRC one of his responses also takes this background explanation as a given.

"Japan and New Zealand have shown that sovereign parliamentary democracies do not manifest even nascent electoral movements."

In general I'm with you on thinking some systems of government are less conducive to populist movements, but I'm not sure one can show that by choosing two cases without checking for counterexamples.

"Berkowitz argues that Trump drives turnout. But 2016, Trump's first term, had moderate turnout. 2020 was Trump's second election, so why is he driving turnout in turn two."

I mean there's multiple factors but I'm with Berkowitz here.

In 2020 polls more people had very strong views about Trump (strong approve or strong disapprove) than is typical of a president, while I don't think that was true in 2016. So I don't think there's anything strange about the idea that he raised turnout in 2020 but not 2016.

The other big factor I would think is easier postal voting.

"No it is not. People do not take on high personal costs for collective gains without a facilitating organization."

But that just raises the question, why weren't there better facilitating organizations? Folks expected them to be present but it seems they didn't organize effectively.

PhD student mutual line-manager invitation

Great to see someone giving this a crack! Let me know how it works out. :)

How You Can Counterfactually Send Millions of Dollars to EA Charities

"The 2.16% U.S. federal funds rate in 2019 is one of the most conservative interest rates possible."

The U.S. Federal Funds rate has been effectively 0% since April 2020 and was roughly 0% for six years from 2009 to 2015. The same is roughly true of the UK. Central banks in both countries are saying they'll keep rates low for years to come.

I can't immediately find a reputable business savings accounts in the UK/US that currently offers more than 1%.

Those that offer the highest rates (something approaching 1%) on comparison sites tend to have conditions (e.g. you lock the money up for a period, or have to keep depositing regularly), and usually have a maximum amount on which you can earn interest, a maximum which is low enough to be binding for these organisations.

These accounts usually offer a high rate to attract customers for a while, then dramatically reduce the interest rate and trust you won't be bothered moving your money. I think that's their basic business model.

Opening bank accounts for non-profits, at least in the UK, is a pain — something that will take a few weeks, and some time/attention from the operations team, management and trustees (who are needed for e.g. security checks). It looks like you usually won't be able to put in more than a million dollars/pounds in any given account, often less.

So you'd need to open many accounts, keep track of them, secure the chequebooks, have them audited annually, integrate them into your bookkeeping system, change the signatures when staff turn over, figure out the idiosyncratic requirements to pull out money when you need to, and so on.

This may sound simple but if you've worked in operations you'll know it's actually a big hassle.

In return, for each account opened you make <£10k a year, and probably need to keep closing accounts and moving your money into new ones every few years, as the teaser rate used to draw you in is removed.

This may all be worth it, but it's far from a no-brainer, as these organisation have other fruitful projects they could be using staff to pursue.

If Causes Differ Astronomically in Cost-Effectiveness, Then Personal Fit In Career Choice Is Unimportant

In addition to the issues raised by other commentators I would worry that someone trying to work on something they're a bad fit for can easily be harmful.

That especially goes for things related to existential risk.

And in addition to the obvious mechanisms, having most of the people in a field be ill-suited to what they're doing but persisting for 'astronomical waste' reasons will mean most participants struggle to make progress, get demoralized, and repel others from joining them.

How much does a vote matter?

He says he's going to write a response. If I recall Jason isn't a consequentialist so he may have a different take on what kinds of things we can have a duty to do.

How much does a vote matter?

Want to write a TLDR summary? I could find somewhere to stick it.

How much does a vote matter?

It seems like to figure out whether it's a good use of time for 300 people like you to vote, you still need to figure out if it's worth it for any single of them.

When you shouldn't use EA jargon and how to avoid it

I'm actually more favourable to a smaller EA community, but I still think jargon is bad. Using jargon doesn't disproportionately appeal to the people we want.

The most capable folks are busy with other stuff and don't have time to waste trying to understanding us. They're also more secure and uninterested in any silly in-group signalling games.

When you shouldn't use EA jargon and how to avoid it

Yes but grok also lacks that connotation to the ~97% of the population who don't know what it means or where it came from.

[Link] "Where are all the successful rationalists?"

The EA community seems to have a lot of very successful people by normal social standards, pursuing earning to give, research, politics and more. They are often doing better by their own lights as a result of having learned things from other people interested in EA-ish topics. Typically they aren't yet at the top of their fields but that's unsurprising as most are 25-35.

The rationality community, inasmuch as it doesn't overlap with the EA community, also has plenty of people who are successful by their own lights, but their goals tend to be becoming thinkers and writers who offer the world fresh ideas and a unique perspective on things. That does seems to be the comparative advantage of that group. So then it's not so surprising that we don't see lots of people e.g. getting rich. They mostly aren't trying to. 🤷‍♂️

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