Status update 5/25/2016
Do rich people deserve their riches? Do poor people deserve their poverty or criminals their punishment? Is inequality a problem that needs to be solved? Inequality of what, exactly?
For the past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with the idea that we’re thinking about these things in an entirely wrong fashion. Not just that the judgments and solutions proposed by your Facebook newsfeed and your favorite presidential candidate are wrong, but that the entire way we think of these issues leads us away from being able to make them better.
For example, “is fatness a disease?” is the wrong question to ask if our goal is to help people who want to lose weight to be healthier and slimmer. Whether it’s a disease is a red herring, we should be asking things like “will shaming fat people make them eat less?” or “what if we had an ‘exercise pill’ that made everyone fit?”. This idea is so simple that it’s absolutely brilliant, it’s the top post with 100% approval rating on LessWrong. I want to dissolve desert and inequality like Scott dissolved disease in the link above. I’ve been cramming my head with economics from the left and the right, the top and the bottom, hoping that the picture in my head resolves into something that’s both utterly obvious to me and utterly different from most discourse on these subjects. I don’t know if it’s even within my ability to write, but I would rather take a month and try to write something good than force myself into the self imposed 4-a-month blog timeline and write something embarrassing.
(Needless to say, please comment below with your own best ideas on the subject so I can shamelessly steal them.)
I’ve (coincidentally or not) also decided to learn touch typing, aka changing the unconscious way I perform the mechanical act of blogging. If you’ve gone through it, you know that the four paragraphs so far have taken me approximately 27 hours to type. Basically, I’m trying to change how my brain thinks about equality of opportunity and also change which finger my brain sends to type the letter “c”. In the same week. It’s frustrating, confusing and difficult; I think that’s how rationality is supposed to feel like. In a couple of weeks I will either be spitting sharp truths at 60 words per minute or crying in frustration in the corner of my room, a beaten down shell of my former self.
Thank you for your patience.