Yelnats T.J.

315 karmaJoined Jun 2022


CE Incubatee 2023

Talk to me about American governance/political systems/democracy


My journey to EA:

  • 2010: start arriving at utilitarian-adjacent ethics
  • 2013: read Peter Singer’s Famine Affluence and Morality
  • Circa 2013/14: find my way to EA through googling about Singer and FAaM
  • 2014-2019: in the orbit of EA. i.e. will talk to people about morality and utilitarian stuff but not very engaged in the community aside from attending uni club meeting every once and while.
  • 2020: EAGxVirtual (I’m starting to move from the orbit closer to the actual community)
  • 2022: Dive deep into the community. And now we arrive at the present day. 


the not realistic is a debatable assertion

Before you can get dozens or even several, you need to get the first.

Pretty sure its not public. I only know about it because the anthropologist and I were staying at the house of the same mutual friend for a two week overlap.

I think it was Bboxx.


The most interesting thing I heard though was how much the military (FARDC) benefits from the illicit trade of charcoal. The FLDR (major armed group) has been described as a charcoal cartel operating in Virunga Park and for this reason US representatives and others have wanted to get people in Goma to switch to another fuel source so that it hurts the revenue of the FDLR.

The anthropologist followed charcoal from the source to the end market and documented all the mark-ups it went through. The amount that came from the FDLR taxing the movement of the good was less than what traffickers had to pay the FARDC at various check points. The conclusion of the anthropolist was that the framing of the FDLR acting like a cartel with charcoal was not accurate and the military has vested interest in the trade as well.

I can imagine this be not just an economic intervention but also a health one. If I recall from one of my uni projects, indoor air pollution causes 600k deaths in SSA and the biggest source is burning biomass for cooking (more certain on the first claim, less certain on the second claim).

Another mass media intervention that could be considered is moving families from charcoal to gas or electric. Positive byproducts of the intervention is reducing deforestation and reducing revenue to illicit networks in a place like eastern DRC (where charcoal "makala" is harvested in protected parks).

People don't always act rationally or optimize. Tradition/norms can have a lot of staying power. E.g. in neighboring eastern Congo, people pay more money for charcoal than they would for gas plus they are subjecting themselves to more indoor air pollution with charcoal. It's an issue that is stumping the local gas stove companies. They even hire an anthropologist to help them design a new marketing campaign.

Another alternative is for people to stay in their well-paying EA job but just donate more to the leaner EA orgs.

Example: someone earning 100k (which is close to the starting salaries I see posted for OP and CEA jobs) that already donates 10% of their income could donate another 5% to a CE charity to increase a founder salary. That 5% sacrifice would represent a salary increase of 10-20% for the founder.

It seems to me that you'd have to think that that marginal difference from 90k to 85k had a very outsized impact on your productivity/well-being AND that your work is as important or more important than the work of the new org for you to hold on to that 5k rather than donate it to the increase the salary of the founder of that new org.

Also in support of the sodium tax is that we've seen health taxes used as a cost-effective way improve health/save lives in tobacco, alcohol, and sugar sweetened beverages. For tobacco, taxation is the most cost-effective of all the tobacco control measures. I'm not surprised to see the evidence point to a sodium tax.

To be clear I am not CE staff or a seed funder. I don't make decisions regarding how much is doled out or the culture upstream of those decisions. I'm an incubatee focused on the co-founder search here. Yes, I'd like to see more funding, but I'm not gonna benefit by railing here against a group of people who I don't know and don't know their circumstances or reasoning in their decision making.

Also worth noting most CE charity founders are not American. The range is much more manageable for other people around the globe. But people with more needs have asked for more. E.g. A line item for American health insurance.

I was referencing the comment for this: "We are a bit skeptical about the perception that talent increases from offering higher salaries (instead of attracting new talent, we typically see the same EA people getting job roles but just for a higher cost). "

My understanding is that the 40-60k figure is for CE itself not the founders of CE charities.

Yah I'm not opposed to better compensation for founders. Note: founders with more needs have asked for more before. How the seed funders have considered that is opaque though.

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