Fisher & Syed on Tradable Obligations to Enhance Health

Prefatory Note The purpose of this post is to inform readers of a global health policy proposal that I suspect many will find exciting. Since the original text is freely available, I only briefly describe it here so readers can quickly ascertain whether it interests them. Fisher & Syed on... Read More
Comment author: Cullen_OKeefe 05 August 2018 04:47:36PM 7 points [-]

Thanks for sharing this with us, Farhan. Like Holly, my heart goes out to you and the people of Dhaka.

I wish I was in a better position to help. This feels a bit feeble, but I'm sharing it just because there's a small probability that it helps. The EA community has done a little work on traffic safety. Obviously, this is quite different from the root problem of political corruption. However, given the entanglement of the corruption/violence with the traffic safety catalyst here, perhaps some of the listed organizations would amplify the concerns being voiced and bring more attention to Bangladesh—both the traffic issue and the resulting protests/crackdown.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 05 August 2018 01:54:07PM 3 points [-]

Not a comment on the content, but on the style of writing: I found it very hard to a read a document with so many endnotes - it was about half the scroll length - and gave up: it was too tricky to keep flicking down to the important content and then back up again.

Comment author: Cullen_OKeefe 05 August 2018 04:12:21PM 2 points [-]

Thanks Michael! I've linked to a Google Doc version with footnotes for ease-of-reading: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1i1-57jRg7vrcTBXAcqIFAYzGoC-bftIMnElqPKFGMVk/edit?usp=sharing

Comment author: rossaokod  (EA Profile) 02 August 2018 06:26:53AM 0 points [-]

Thanks Peter, Josh.

Personally, I see oftw as complementary to existing EA outreach, in particular local EA groups. I think Oftw can be very effective in 'broadening the funnel' of engagement with EA and raising money, then a general EA group provides a platform for those who become most engaged in EA, particularly in non-poverty cause areas. I think a OFTW pledge drive can help with engagement too, by giving concrete, tangible actions for members to work on.

In terms of how this works in practice, there are a couple of cases that have taken different approaches here. At Penn, the Oftw groups have operated pretty independently from the penn EA group - they have organised some events together, sometimes join each others' discussion groups and socials, but the core organisers haven't overlapped much. They've also focused on different populations I think (Oftw on MBA, law students and the broad undergrad body, the EA group focusing more on a smaller group of people very engaged in EA). At HLS, I think Oftw operates more as a 'project' of the general EA group, and the core organising team has a lot of overlap. To avoid crowding out or duplicating effort, I think some collaboration is desirable, but I think either of these approaches can work well.

Comment author: Cullen_OKeefe 04 August 2018 11:47:01PM 2 points [-]

This is correct about HLS. We think that OFTW outreach has generally been a good way to build name recognition for EA—if you ask people what we do, they know about OFTW because it's a big, very visible effort. I think there's some risk that they think we're limited to poverty work (a general EA problem), but I don't think this is an unavoidable consequence of our partnership with OFTW—it's because our other programming has so far been less visible.

It's also a good way for us to stratify our programming (both for our members and for involving non-members) so that we have meaningful interaction with both EA-sympathetic "normal" (i.e., not EA career things) people and career-minded EAs.


Harvard EA's 2018–19 Vision

A Vision for Harvard EA, 2018–19 Cullen O’Keefe, President Google Doc Version  (easier-to-read with footnotes) Preface This document will hopefully provide a short, comprehensible, and concrete model for how I would like to run the Harvard University Effective Altruism Student Group (“HUEASG”)  this year.[1] I’m sharing it here so that... Read More
Comment author: Andaro 08 July 2018 10:36:24PM 0 points [-]

I would beware the political backlash and retaliation costs from #2. What you are classifying as "ethical flaws" is actually about agenda.

In a representative democracy, government spending is supposed to be allocated according to the best interests of tax payers, voters, and citizens. Of course those are human beings living in the relatively present time with citizenship in the respective country. Trying to game the system so that it starts allocating those resources differently is not fixing an ethical flaw, it's a shift in agenda that does not match the principle of representation.

You may not care about that, but you should care about the political and social backlash EA will deservedly get if it undermines our best interests as voters, taxpayers and citizens of the countries you are trying to coopt.

Comment author: Cullen_OKeefe 08 July 2018 11:13:55PM 1 point [-]

I generally agree, which is why I explicitly acknowledge this in the post. But I also think you're mistaken about what's democratically feasible. The citizenry definitely gives a nonzero value to foreign lives (e.g., https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/05/04/americans-love-to-hate-foreign-aid-but-the-right-argument-makes-them-like-it-a-lot-more/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.208535615b42), but current CBA only weighs them quantitatively (which is as good as not at all). I really doubt that diminishing the discounting rate by a point or so would engender political backlash; most people presumably think we should care about the future too and in any case have no clue what the discount rate is.

Basically, the social welfare function of the US citizenry is actually probably more cosmopolitan than current CBA. CBA is pretty well isolated from political scrutiny (most people have no idea what it is and it generally has bipartisan support), so I don't think minor positive adjustments are a big risk.

Comment author: Safa_Amirbayat 08 July 2018 06:34:51PM 1 point [-]

A great resource for government CBA is Beckerman's Economics As Applied Ethics.


Comment author: Cullen_OKeefe 08 July 2018 09:30:06PM 0 points [-]

Thanks! I've added it to the Goodreads list.


Governmental CBA as an EA Career Step: A Shallow Investigation

Summary This post argues that EAs should consider performing and improving governmental cost-benefit analysis (“CBA”) as a career path or step. I identify at least four reasons why this is a good idea: Working in CBA has direct positive impact on the allocation of government resources Analysts might be able... Read More
Comment author: Cullen_OKeefe 26 March 2018 09:51:38PM 0 points [-]

Super interesting! Keep up the good work! :-)

Comment author: Cullen_OKeefe 26 March 2018 09:49:56PM *  2 points [-]

A final update for this: it looks like they have stopped considering new applications. They have made grants to the following (arguably) EA orgs:

  • GiveDirectly ($2 MM)
  • Possible ($1 MM)
  • MAPS ($5 MM)
  • SENS ($2 MM)

Total directed to EA orgs: $10MM

Apologies if I'm missing any.

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