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Just to comment on your footnote: my intuition is that political spending can be very effective and it is an important component of my family's donations. For anyone interested in this I really recommend Ezra Klein's interview with Amanda Litman from Run for Something. 

She speaks compellingly about how most political donations, especially on the left, are reactionary and not necessarily effective, but about how in certain races and particularly state and local races, tiny sums of money can really make a huge difference. I don't think she explicitly uses an ITN framework but it definitely fits, and their work is in what has in recent history been a very neglected space IMO.

I would agree that the ITN framework, and perhaps the more quantitative analysis generally dominant within EA, is not so well suited to political questions. Great for assessing the value of a marginal dollar, or helping a person decide where to devote technical skills / a career, but not so much which protest to attend or even which representative to vote for. 

I personally believe that many, if not most, of the world's most pressing problems are political problems, at least in part. For that reason I consider engagement in political movements and democratic processes to be incredibly important and meaningful and I would really encourage you to do so, if it works for you. I think all the ideas you mentioned are very sensible. I also completely agree that for the vast majority of people, there isn't a huge, or maybe any, resourcing trade off (although this particular issue does carry its own unique political costs).

That said: while I've always struggled with the lack of political engagement in EA, I can also understand it. Precisely because it doesn't fit into a clean ITN or quantitative framework, I'm not sure the community/philosophy itself is well placed to respond to political matters, as a community/philosophy. EA fills an important niche, and it isn't that, perhaps. People come with radically different priors, evidence is less clear cut in highly complex situations, and it's hard to establish dispassionate stances. 

So as a person who cares about the world: I would say absolutely you should engage in civil society, democratic processes, and politics generally, on this issue and others. I would encourage everyone to do so, even those who have different political ideologies to me. But I would not expect this community to converge on what that should look like. 

This surprises me, since on-budget ODA works through government and government accountability frameworks, whereas off-budget and totally private spending does not. Is this perhaps just because private philanthropy in international development is just very small (and therefore less risky) in dollar terms compared to ODA?

In the domestic context, excessive private philanthropic funding can be seen as undermining democracy and weakening the state, in relation to education policy for example. 

I'm thinking for example of the arguments made in "Winner Takes All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World" by Anand Giridharadas - a book which I really didn't like and don't personally endorse but makes some valid points, which I think are commonly held. 

I think it is very difficult to argue that aid "didn't work well" in Afghanistan when you look at any education or health metric. According to UNICEF there was a 90% increase in child malnutrition in the year from June 2021-2022, capturing the period following the collapse of the state and the majority of aid projects (number is partially inflated by the expansion of UNICEF programming to cover gaps left by other actors). 

I don't think it is controversial that there was too much money and way too much corruption in Afghanistan. Obviously, the state-building project failed. But "aid" in that environment covered such an extreme range of activity. I'll be honest, it's a sensitive personal topic, having lived there and given everything that since happened, but it does bother me to see "aid" as a whole written off when it includes such diverse activities as addressing child malnutrition and funding unaccountable quasi-police forces. 

Agree that critical disability theory would be a really interesting and challenging topic.

Yes I would love to hear a little more from "mainstream" aid and development orgs and have that discussion around how they see EA ideas, and how EA-compatible ideas are growing (or not) within those spaces. Also USAID, World Bank etc. although I don't have a specific name.

My understanding of both Universal Basic Income and Guaranteed Minimum Income are as programs that cover all of a given population and that can essentially only be achieved by policy /government intervention. The reason being that the cost of both, to cover a whole population, is just so expensive that it could only ever be funded by tax revenue. My (far less than perfectly informed) instinct is that true UBI or GMI in a developed country isn't financially possible with private funding but only with a more radically mandated redistribution through tax (especially UBI which is the more expensive of the two). 

I see your immediate pilot proposal isn't an actual GMI but is a limited cash transfer program over a period of time for a specific population. Your information on Arizona is really interesting and I tend to agree with you that cash is probably one of the best ways to solve this problem, but I probably wouldn't describe it as a guaranteed income due to the reasonably short duration.

Separate but related to community, I think your point about identity, and whether fostering EA as an identity is epistemically healthy, is also relevant to (1). 

Your analogy to church spoke very powerfully to me and to something I have always been a bit uncomfortable with. To me, EA is a philosophy/school of thought, and I struggle to understand how a person can "be" a philosophy, or how a philosophy can "recruit members". 

I also suspect that a strong self-perception that one is a "good person" can just as often provide (internal and external) cover for wrong-doing as it can be a motivator to actually do good, as any number of high-profile non-profit scandals (and anecdotal experience from I'm guessing most young women who have ever been involved in a movement for change) can tell you. 

I have nothing at all against organic communities, or professional conferences etc, but I also wonder whether there is evidence that building EA as an identity  ("join us!") as opposed to something that people can do is instrumentally effective for first-order causes. Maybe it does, but I think it warrants some interrogation. 

Agree these estimates are high, but disagree with Salon. While there are plenty of mundane potential explanations, I think suggesting that the 144 minus 1 sightings investigated in the Pentagon report are in fact explained is misleading. My starting assumption is that the Pentagon would have been able to diagnose something like a FLIR glare filter. 

I get that there's a sensationalism to the UFO angle, but I suspect in this community, we might be more susceptible to to letting cultural taboos around "seeing things in the sky" lead us to a really unscientific skepticism on this topic, which was definitely the status quo prior to the release of the report. 

My only other point is that the mundane explanations are also super important to explore! Many of them have major national security implications. 

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