My paper was signalling the whole time - Robin Hanson wins again

You’ll have to explain the “utility you give up” framework.

Signaling loyalty and actually being loyal are pretty much the same here. We need other details to see if they diverge.

Arguably letting the farms close and replacing them with competitive industries for Mafraq would be cheaper and more loyal, but would signal less loyalty. But the Jordanians do not expect to succeed at such development projects anyway.

My paper was signalling the whole time - Robin Hanson wins again

Basically, cities want secure stores of groundwater for the long term. But farmers will use up all the water if they can. Right now most countries let total anarchy reign because the farmers are hard to stop (they’re everywhere and they constantly dig wells and they hide and bribe and shoot at regulators. So our primary question was “if we look at a country with really severe urban deficit, does that motivate the government to go out and reduce overuse? Or are the challenges and perverse incentives impossible to overcome?

We found that the Jordanians took advantage of the fact that barriers to regulation are unevenly distributed between aquifers. So you can find aquifers that are cheap to enforce and have few people capable of rioting/couping (the Jordanians fear revolt more than coup, but usually expect the reverse). The current preferred approach is to tax all the farmers in every basin (aquifer) to close a few less productive farms in each basin. But then you’re spending your scarce enforcement and “pissing people off” budget in low yield basins. Instead the Jordanians targeted one area as “preserve” for future urban use and successfully shut it down completely (way lower enforcement costs). Then you concentrate your resources on protecting one area.

Ooo I can make an analogy to wildlife preserves!

By coincidence the easiest area to make preserve was 600 km south and 1 km below Amman. So they paid probably an extra 2billion usd (1B Capital + 100 M/year energy) over 10 years to pump that water. They always framed the “pissing people off” budget as about “unemployment”, but it wasn’t about unemployment because they could have used 2 billion to reduce unemployment more efficiently with almost any other policy!

My paper was signalling the whole time - Robin Hanson wins again

Can someone explain why this got frontpage? While I stand by my core claims, I put zero effort into organizing these ideas. Was it the meme at the top?

Did I naturally organize the argument well by chance?

Do you all really like signalling when applied to politics?

My paper was signalling the whole time - Robin Hanson wins again

You've raised a great question. Two comments.

Their stated goal is reducing urban unemployment

The most efficient way to reduce unemployment is neither to cut checks nor to subsidize water in the desert. The thing is, the Jordanian policymakers did not say "we want to keep everyone having the same amount of income", which is the problem you are getting at, and one other countries have attempted (with mixed results, see below). What the Jordanians said is "we want to keep urban unemployment down". So subsidizing farms is a way to keep people from migrating, but the water provision is a terribly inneficient subsidy. Furthermore, from a "cause prioritization" standpoint its also really inneficient. Paying to keep unprofitable businesses alive is a less efficient way to reduce unemployment than, say, investing in infrastructure or even just subsidizing profitable business sectors.

Basically, picking winners is hard but its better than picking an existing loser and buying them an input good at 4 times its market value. The most efficient way to reduce So their stated argument "we want to reduce urban unemployment" is either not their real goal or they are very biased.

Some polities can cut checks reasonably efficiently, but the Jordanians cannot

Some political systems do a better job of cutting checks than others. The conventional wisdom is that most European countries have successfully preserved pastoralism through cutting checks without having to distort their economy with across-the-board subsidies. The conventional wisdom is also that the US attempt to cut checks for export job loss has failed. blah blah first-past-the-post blah blah pork barrel.

The Jordanians are probably very very bad at cutting checks. The best piece of evidence is that the GoJ expects to fail at cutting checks, and they would know. The second best piece of evidence is what happens when they open municipalities (patronage). I suspect USAID gets laughed out of the room when they say "the Danes did it, why can't you". So you are correct about that.

Covid 7/30: Whack a Mole

I searched herd immunity in the UK government report you referenced and found the following line

Serology studies suggest that ~5-10% of the UK population has been infected to date, with levels up to 15% in some areas, but infection levels of approximately 70% may be required to achieve herd immunity, bearing in mind that the degree to which immunity is conferred by past infection is still unknown (see section 3.1.2). (page 12)

That comment looks exaclty like the supposed strawman Zvi is putting up. Is there some reading between the lines explanation that contradicts their direct statement? And if there is, why would it matter more than their direct statement.

I generally do believe your point that modelers accept the broader evidence on immunity much more than public health officials and pundits.

Improving local governance in fragile states - practical lessons from the field

I'm greatfull for your helpful comments. I will surely add more citations (I have to do that anyway for the academics).

I need you to tell me if the structure of the argument works rhetorically. My struggle is in arranging the order of points, paragraphs and sentences such that the reader can connect each of them to my broader thesis. Historically, I tend to throw knowledge at the reader. The reader is left thinking "why did I learn this fact? how do they fit together? what was the point again". If you assume I have a good citation for each sentence, would you actually understand the conclusion?

Non offensive word for people who are not single-magisterium-Bayes thinkers

Fox - that sounds like a good word. Can you link me the Tetlock book it comes from.

Yeah I agree that toolbox isn’t shouldn’t be offensive. I guess something in my tone offended the person, rather than the word itself.

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