[ExI] Is the USA doing too much to prevent COVID-19?

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Mon May 4 08:20:47 UTC 2020

On Sun, May 3, 2020 at 2:10 PM Keith Henson via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Economics.  Every one of the states that went red had a population
> that was facing a bleak economic future, unlike the blue states.  Not
> bleak in absolute terms, but humans respond to relative stimulations.
> For a long list of reasons, the average life prospects in those
> populations were not as good as they had been for their parents.
> People in the stone age facing a resource crisis (or a looming one)
> would fight with neighbors. At the individual level, going to war was
> irrational, but at the gene level, it was not.  So if conditions
> called for war, the tribe members have the psychological traits to
> find an irrational leader attractive.
> You do need to be careful in extrapolating evolved stone age
> psychological traits to the present day, though one example.
> http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Capture-bonding is obvious.
> I would also say that it is clear from history that people under
> stress from falling income per capita switch on the same mechanisms
> that stone age peoples did for a resource crisis.  These include
> spreading xenophobic memes and supporting irrational leaders.
> Assuming the above analysis is correct, does anything jump out at you
> as to how to prevent what happened in the red states?

 It's that "relative" that's a problem.  People make more wealth, and then
get used to what they have.  When, inevitably, some lose out and degrade
from the level they are accustomed to, this happens.  To satisfy the new
normal takes more resources - especially as the population rises.
Fortunately, new technology can create more wealth, but a challenge is
distributing this new wealth equitably.  Many efforts to provide a safety
net and transition for the less fortunate are derided as socialism or
wealth redistribution, in the sense of robbing from the rich for no useful
purpose and/or for corrupt ends.

The suggestion to learn to code was given apparently facetiously, but it is
a good one in many cases - and there have been several organized attempts
to teach out-of-work coal miners or similar to code (granted, some of these
have amounted to fraud, but there are ways to reduce this, such as basing
the pay to these efforts on the improved income of their students).  I
would go beyond merely teaching "coding" and try to teach software
engineering: writing specifications, debugging, planning software
development (in particular, learning to work in a team and figuring out how
to divide up a software project, including designing, documenting, and
agreeing to interfaces between different parts), and so on.
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