Comment author: AGB 08 April 2017 04:51:58PM *  3 points [-]

If minimum standards rise to $90,000 and I'm earning $100,000, I would argue they do probably affect me substantially and my original premise of 'minimum standards that basically don't affect me' no longer holds. For example, I might to start putting substantial money aside to make sure I can meet the minimum if I lose my job, which will eat into my standard of living. That's why I used numbers where I think that statement does actually hold ($10,000 minimum versus $100,000 income).

that's a nice fantasy but in reality the way the west works is if you are a single young male and you have less than enough money to afford rent, there is no safety net in many places, especially the USA and the UK. You are thrown into the homelessness trap.

Sure, this is why I said 'hypothetically' and 'in 50 years'. I'm not sure your above claim is true in the UK even as of today in any case.

(UK benefits are a bit of a maze so I'm wary of saying anything too general, but running through one website (www.entitledto.co.uk) and trying to select answers that correspond to '22 year old single healthy male living in my area with no source of income', I get an entitlement of £8,300 per year, most of which (around £5,200) is meant to cover the cost of shared housing. Eyeballing that number I think 100pw should indeed be enough to get a room in a shared property at the low end of the housing market around here.

I think it is also true that a 21 year old wouldn't get that entitlement because they are supposed to live with their parents, but there are meant to be 'protections' in place where that isn't possible for whatever reason. I haven't dug further than that.)

Comment author: the_jaded_one 09 April 2017 11:41:11AM *  4 points [-]

If minimum standards rise to $90,000 and I'm earning $100,000, I would argue they do probably affect me substantially and my original premise of 'minimum standards that basically don't affect me' no longer holds.

And I think the reality of the situation facing many people in the intended audience of the original graph is at least somewhat like that.

As this debate has progressed, the amount of income corresponding the targeted person has gradually moved upwards from $70k gross in an expensive area of The West (Bay Area, Oxford UK, NYC, London) to $200k net in an average-cost-area (Ohio). I feel like there is something of a motte-and-bailey defence going on here:

  • the "motte" is the position that the superstar lawyer earning $200k after tax who inexplicably lives in Cleveland, Ohio could pretty reasonably be said to be roughly 200 times richer than the person in the developing world on $1000. Not quite true (because it still fails the division test), but close. Problem with the "motte": If you literally told young EA recruitment targets that they all earned $200k post tax and lived in Cleveland, Ohio where living costs are average, they would unanimously object that that's nowhere near their situation in life.

  • the "bailey" is position that young potential EA recruits earning $70k net in an expensive area are literally 100 times richer than an average Indian earning $700. Advantage of the "bailey": makes people feel extremely guilty and more likely to donate money or sign the pledge. Disdvantage of the "bailey": as always, it's not actually a defensible position. We can see this by the fact that as I push on it, a retreat is happening.

Comment author: AGB 06 April 2017 07:21:14PM *  8 points [-]

I think your last paragraph is plausibly true and relevant, but this is a common argument and it has common rebuttals, one of which I'm going to try and lay out here.

However, $700/year (= $1.91/day, =€1.80/day, =£1.53 /day) (without gifts or handouts) is not a sufficient amount of money to be alive in the west. You would be homeless. You would starve to death. In many places, you would die of exposure in the winter without shelter. Clearly, the median person in India is better off than a dead person.

The basics of survival are food, water, accommodation and medical care. Medical care is normally provided by the state for the poorest in the West so let's set that to one side for a moment. For the rest we set a lot of minimum standards on what is available to buy; you can't get rice below some minimum safety standard even if that very low-quality rice is more analogous to the rice eaten by a poor Indian person, I would guess virtually all (maybe actually all?) dwellings in the US have running water, etc.

This presents difficult problems for making these comparisons, and I think it's part of what Rob is talking about in his point (2). One method that comes to mind is to take your median Indian and find a rich Indian who is 10x richer, then work out how that person compares to poor Americans since (hopefully) the goods they buy have significantly more overlap. Then you might be able to stitch your income distributions together and say something like [poor Indian] = [Rich Indian] / 10 = [Poor American] / 10 = [Rich American] / 100. I have some memory that this is what some of the researchers building these distributions actually do but I can't recall the details offhand; maybe someone more familiar can fill in the blanks.

A realistic minimum amount of money to not die in the west is probably $2000-$5000/year, again without gifts or handouts, implying that to be 100 times richer than the average Indian, you have to be earning at least $200,000-$500,000 net of tax (or at least net of that portion of tax which isn't spent on things that benefit you - which at that level is almost all of it, unless you are somehow getting huge amounts of government money spent on you in particular).

Building on the above, hypothetically suppose over the next 50 years the West continues on its current trend of getting richer and putting more minimum standards in place; the minimum to survive in the West is now $10,000 per year and the now-much-richer countries have a safety net that enables everyone to reach this. However, in India nothing happens.

Is it now true that I need at least $1,000,000 per year to be 100x richer than the median Indian? That seems peverse. Supposing my income started at $100,000 and stayed constant in real terms throughout, why do increases in minimum standards that basically don't affect me (I was already buying higher-than-minimum-quality things) and don't at all affect the median Indian make me much poorer relative to the median Indian? As a result I think this particular section 'proves too much'.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 08 April 2017 12:38:14AM 0 points [-]

why do increases in minimum standards that basically don't affect me (I was already buying higher-than-minimum-quality things) and don't at all affect the median Indian make me much poorer relative to the median Indian?

Well, this itself may prove too much.

Suppose that the minimum to survive in the west is raised to $90,000, and if you have less than that you are thrown out onto the streets and made homeless.

If the minimum to not be homeless is $90,000 and you earn $100,000, are you REALLY 100 times richer than someone on $1000 who has a shack to live in and food to eat?

and the now-much-richer countries have a safety net that enables everyone to reach this.

that's a nice fantasy but in reality the way the west works is if you are a single young male and you have less than enough money to afford rent, there is no safety net in many places, especially the USA and the UK. You are thrown into the homelessness trap.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 06 April 2017 05:37:09PM *  2 points [-]

these bottom lines remain in every estimate of the global income distribution I’ve seen so far... Many people in the world live in serious absolute poverty, surviving on as little as one hundredth the income of the upper-middle class in the US.

But is this bottom line really approximately true?

A salary of $70,000 could be considered upper-middle-class. 1/100th of $70,000 is $700.

According to the chart, that is slightly greater than the income of the median Indian, adjusted for PPP.

Since these figures have been adjusted, that should mean that $700 in Western Europe or the US will afford you the same quality of life as the median Indian person, without you getting any additional resources such as extra meals from sympathetic passers-by or free accommodation in a shelter (because otherwise, to be 100 times richer you would have to have 100 units per day of these additional resources - i.e. $70,000 plus 100 meals/day plus owning low-quality accommodation for 100 people).

However, $700/year (= $1.91/day, =€1.80/day, =£1.53 /day) (without gifts or handouts) is not a sufficient amount of money to be alive in the west. You would be homeless. You would starve to death. In many places, you would die of exposure in the winter without shelter. Clearly, the median person in India is better off than a dead person.

A realistic minimum amount of money to not die in the west is probably $2000-$5000/year, again without gifts or handouts, implying that to be 100 times richer than the average Indian, you have to be earning at least $200,000-$500,000 net of tax (or at least net of that portion of tax which isn't spent on things that benefit you - which at that level is almost all of it, unless you are somehow getting huge amounts of government money spent on you in particular).

The reality is that a PPP conversion factor is trying to represent a nonlinear mapping with a single straight line, and it fails badly at the extremes. But the extremes are exactly where one is getting this (misleading) factor of 100 from.

Comment author: Austen_Forrester 15 March 2017 01:54:55AM 0 points [-]

LOL. Typical of my comments. Gets almost no upvotes but I never receive any sensible counterarguments! People use the forum vote system to persuade (by social proof) without having a valid argument. I have yet to vote a comment (up or down) because I think people should think for themselves.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 16 March 2017 05:32:30PM 2 points [-]

Gets almost no upvotes

Actually you got 7 upvotes and 6 downvotes, I can tell from hovering over the '1 point'.

Comment author: itaibn 12 March 2017 02:34:05PM 3 points [-]

Suggestion: The author should have omitted the "Thoughts" section of this post and put the same content in a comment, and, in general, news posts should avoid subjective commentary in the main post.

Reasoning: The main content of this post is its report of EA-related news. This by itself is enough to make it worth posting. Discussion and opinions of this news can be done in the comments. By adding commentary you are effectively "bundling" a high-quality post with additional content, which grants this extra content with undue attention.

Note: This comment was not incited by any particular objection to the views discussed in this post. I also approve of the way you clearly separated the news from your thoughts on it. I don't think the post goes outside the EA Forum's community norms. Rather, I want to discuss whether shifting those community norms is a good idea.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 14 March 2017 07:23:06PM *  1 point [-]

you are effectively "bundling" a high-quality post with additional content, which grants this extra content with undue attention.

A post which simply quotes a news source could be criticized as not containing anything original and therefore not worth posting. Someone has already complained that this post is superfluous since a discussion already exists on Facebook.

Actually if I had to criticize my own post I would say its weakness is that it lacks in-depth analysis and research. Unfortunately, in-depth analysis takes a lot of time...

Comment author: Austen_Forrester 10 March 2017 05:44:00AM -1 points [-]

Those guiding principles are good. However, I wished you would include one that was against doing massive harm to the world. CEA endorses the “Foundational Research Institute,” a pseudo-think tank that promotes dangerous ideas of mass-termination of human and non-human life, not excluding extinction. By promoting this organization, CEA is promoting human, animal, and environmental terrorism on the grandest scale. Self-styled “effective altruists” try to pass themselves off as benevolent, but the reality is that they themselves are one of the biggest threats to the world by promoting terrorism and anti-spirituality under the cloak of altruism.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 11 March 2017 03:24:00PM *  5 points [-]

Also, I am somewhat concerned that this comment has been downvoted so much. It's the only really substantive criticism of the article (admittedly it isn't great), and it is at -3, right at the bottom.

Near the top are several comments at +5 or something that are effectively just applause.

Comment author: Austen_Forrester 10 March 2017 05:44:00AM -1 points [-]

Those guiding principles are good. However, I wished you would include one that was against doing massive harm to the world. CEA endorses the “Foundational Research Institute,” a pseudo-think tank that promotes dangerous ideas of mass-termination of human and non-human life, not excluding extinction. By promoting this organization, CEA is promoting human, animal, and environmental terrorism on the grandest scale. Self-styled “effective altruists” try to pass themselves off as benevolent, but the reality is that they themselves are one of the biggest threats to the world by promoting terrorism and anti-spirituality under the cloak of altruism.

Comment author: the_jaded_one 11 March 2017 03:21:43PM 4 points [-]

dangerous ideas of mass-termination of human and non-human life,

Specifically?

Comment author: AlasdairGives 08 March 2017 09:24:45PM 5 points [-]

According to my facebook this topic has had 156 comments on the EA facbook group already. I don't want to repeat or diminish those comments here so what is the purpose of opening a parallel discussion here as this seems like a topic which has attracted a huge amount of EA discussion already?

Comment author: the_jaded_one 08 March 2017 09:39:45PM *  12 points [-]

Facebook requires that you give your real name to post an opinion, be part of the group etc. That is certainly a serious limitation to open discussion, and this topic in particular exacerbates that problem.

Not everyone will necessarily want to comment on this issue under their real name.

Also, I presume this forum exists because someone decided that something other than Facebook is required. Are we questioning this logic in general? Or are we making a special case of this issue? Why?

But if you would be so kind as to post anything you see as particularly relevant, I would appreciate it.

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Peter Singer no-platformed by pro-disability protestors at Canadian university

On the topic of politics and effective altruism, I was somewhat surprised 1 to see the following pop up in my Facebook feed: What began as two conflicting defenses of free speech soon hindered discussion of any kind, as the Effective Altruists and protesters battled with the volume to deafening... Read More
Comment author: Ben_West  (EA Profile) 02 March 2017 11:55:38PM 2 points [-]

In order to think vote trading is a good idea, you have to think that, with some reasonable amount of work, you can predict the better candidate at a rate which outperforms chance.

Humility is important, but there's a difference between "politics is hard to predict perfectly" and "politics is impossible predict at all".

Comment author: the_jaded_one 03 March 2017 05:35:58PM 0 points [-]

there's a difference between "politics is hard to predict perfectly" and "politics is impossible predict at all".

I think there's a lot of improvement to be had in the area of "refining which direction we are pushing in".

Was there ever a well-prosecuted debate about whether EA should support Clinton over Trump, or did we just sort of stumble into it because the correct side is so obvious?

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