[ExI] "Controlling the cost of health care" an immoral idea?

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sat Apr 28 10:56:42 UTC 2012

On 28/04/2012 07:10, BillK wrote:
> Perhaps our leaders see the future and it frightens them. Western 
> society is faced with the closing jaws of an aging population with 
> extended lifespans and the 'death of work'.

Seeing the future and reacting to it rationally are two different 
things. Just consider the behavior of certain European governments in 
the face of unsustainable economic and demographic factors.

I think a fair number of political decisionmakers know the big 
challenges ahead well enough. There is no shortage of academics, think 
tanks and advisers talking about them, and those I have talked to 
certainly know plenty. Unfortunately it might not be politically 
rational to act on the challenges, since the voters often do not get it. 
Again, some voters are smarter and more informed than one might think. 
But if the perception is that not enough agree, then it will seem 
politically rational not to do anything. The result is a situation where 
action is delayed longer than any individual agent would actually want.

Technocratic and authoritarian systems replace this form of 
irrationality with a tendency towards bias instead. They are free to 
implement policies without support, but that means they will get weaker 
or no feedback. Mistakes, bureaucratic empire-building and groupthink 
are amplified.

Multi-layer systems of course can combine voter/politician irrationality 
with bias in wonderful ways. The principal-agent problem is deep and 
tricky to solve.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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