My preface to *Stubborn Attachments*, and why this book is especially important

Here it is:

One theme of Stubborn Attachments is that economic growth in the wealthier countries has positive spillover effects for poorer individuals around the world.  If you think of the publication of this book as a form of economic growth/gdp enhancement, I want to boost its positive global effects.  I also argue in Stubborn Attachments that we should be more charitable and altruistic at the margin.  That includes me!

So having written Stubborn Attachments, I now wish to live the book, so to speak.  I am donating the royalties from the book to a man I met in Ethiopia on a factfinding trip earlier this year, I shall call him Yonas [not his real name].

He is a man of modest means, but he aspires to open his own travel business.  He has a young and growing family, and also a mother to support.  He is also hoping to buy a larger house to accommodate his growing family.  In his life, he faces stresses – financial and otherwise — that I have never had to confront.  When I visited his home, his wife had just had a new baby girl, but Yonas’s income depends on the vicissitudes of tourist demand, and by American standards it is in any case low.

I met Yonas when he served as my travel guide around Lalibela.  I spent a full day with him, touring the underground, rock-hewn stone churches of that city.  He struck me as reliable, conscientious, well-informed, and I was impressed by the quality of his English, which he had acquired on his own.  He also took me by his village to meet his family, and they performed a coffee ceremony for me, cooking freshly ground coffee beans (it was delicious, something I had never imagined).  Based on my impressions from that day, I believe an investment in Yonas will help his entire family and perhaps his broader community as well.  Since then, he and I have kept in touch by email.

As another way of “living the content” of my book, I will be sending the funds via Stripe, Stripe Press being the publisher of this book.  Stripe, a payments company, really has made it easy to send money across borders, thereby helping to knit the whole world together.  I hope someday Yonas is able to apply for incorporation through Atlas, a Stripe service that helps entrepreneurs incorporate in Delaware, with his travel business, or with whatever else he may do.

I suppose this means I will remain stubbornly attached to Yonas.  And with the publication of this book, Stripe Press is now stubbornly attached to me.

Think of this book — due out in October — as my attempt to defend and explain why a free society is objectively better in terms of ethics, political philosophy, and economics.  No punches are pulled, this is my account of what I strongly believe you should believe too.  My bottom lines, so to speak.

But today I’d like to focus upon Yonas, in Ethiopia, rather than the content of the book.  All of my share of the income from the book goes to him and his family, I get nothing.  So if you order Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals, you are very directly contributing to economic development and human betterment and the multiplication of possibilities.  And perhaps you are also expressing some faith in the quality of my judgment as to who would put the money to good use.

I would like to see that you pre-order the book to make a difference for Yonas and his family.  And the earlier you order, the more attention the book will receive, the greater the chance of reviews and a further print run and further sales, and so on.

You can pre-order here.  By the way, what is your stubborn attachment?



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Maybe that's you! Taking a look forward to peer you.

Persuasive, I'm in, will pre-order.

Sounds like all those begging you to stop with the Straussian got their wish.

'has positive spillover effects for poorer individuals around the world'

A rising tide lifts all boats, from the largest superyachts to the leakiest refugee boats.

'it was delicious, something I had never imagined'

Serious question - considering how for the last generation there have been a number of Ethiopian restaurants in the DC region, you never once experienced Ethiopian coffee the way it is prepared in Ethiopia?

'I will be sending the funds via Stripe, Stripe Press being the publisher of this book'

[This is a real company name]

'hope someday Yonas is able to apply for incorporation through Atlas, a Stripe service that helps entrepreneurs incorporate in Delaware'

For what possible reason would being incorporated in the U.S. help him? Even giving away a spare iPad would be more useful.

'my attempt to defend and explain why a free society is objectively better in terms of ethics, political philosophy, and economics'

You mean it is not about justifying the rich getting richer? That will be a surprise.

Debbie Downer in the house!

"a free society"

"Just the rich getting richer!!!"

Content's gotta content.

US incorporation with a US bank account would be valuable because it would be a lot more difficult for local bureaucrats to steal the entrepreneur's revenue than if he kept the money locally.

Incorporating in Delaware also means that his company is subject to suit in the US, US tax laws, etc.

Done. Nearly all of my charitable contributions have been going to the Against Malaria Foundation (perhaps a belief in the underlying logic of "effective altruism" is my stubborn attachment?), so I suppose this is an act of faith in the wisdom of Tyler...

I wonder, what would Derek Parfit say and do in this situation?

Doesn't a free society as the best society sound too good to be true? Seems like you would have to believe in God to believe such a thing were true.

Solutions to optimization problems often lie at extreme points in the space of possibilities. This obviously isn't always true, but it makes sense that many utility functions over states have a maximum at maximal freedom.

Thanks David!! Do you have any thoughts about how this depends on the nature of the optimization problem? For example, I remember this being true for some simple "linear programming" examples that I played with way back in high school - solutions were often extreme points in possibility space. What affect would relaxing the linearity assumption have, or increasing the dimensionality of the space, or certain changes to the relationship between competing variables, etc.?

It's my vague intuition that big, messy concepts like "freedom" are getting pulled in many different directions, since they have such a multitude of downstream effects. But you can't get pulled too far in any particular direction, because eventually the gradients in that direction might get very steep (non-linearity).

In any case, this seems like a super interesting perspective. I'd love to hear more thoughts on the relationship between the nature of optimization problems and general features of their solutions, especially where it sheds light on particular domains like econ. Anybody aware of any books/articles on this or related topics?

I live in a small poor east european country of Moldova. About a year ago I learned about possibility of incorporating in USA through Stripe Atlas.

Since then I applied, they preapproved my application and I had to submit real documents. I began to study how all of this works and quickly found out that I have to make something like half a million dollars a year in sales to be able to justify being incorporated in US.
It's not even near my current sales levels and had I had this amount - I would've find ways to incorporate in US even without Stripe Atlas.

So for myself I figured that this service is more hype than real help to anyone.

I suspect it will prove to be a boon for people in the business of money laundering.

Precisely. I have acted as local "director " of quite q few DE companies. Got to know the local FBI and IRS folks on a first name basis. Then 911 and I put a stop to it. Some unsavory local attorneys still do this but...

Would like to, but or uk do not offer pre-order for the book yet.

On kindle pre-order in the UK if that helps

I'm getting motivated to open an Amazon account just for your book.

Stripe, Transferwise and others are cheaper when sending $1000 or less. Otherwise, SWIFT transfers are cheaper, traceable, etc.

"the quality of my judgement as to who would put the money to good use"

now why wouldn't an economist just assume diminishing marginal utility of consumption and start from there?

I’m surprised no one tried to convince Tyler to change the title, or maybe they did. It’s supposed to mean you should have a stubborn attachment to economic growth, I think? I guess it fits with Tyler’s desire to be slightly cryptic, even while trying to lay out his views clearly.

This book cover is very unsettling to me. Shown is the deity-like hand of Tyler threatening to rid us of our "stubborn" attachments on Earth by crushing the planet between his thumb and forefinger.

Out of curiosity...

Hey, why tie the donations to Yonas and his family to the number of copies of the book sold? Why not just write him a check for $10,000 and be done with it?

Doing it this way will generate publicity for the book, probably increase sales among people who already know about it, and possibly encourage others to make similar charitable contributions, as well.

Maybe, Tyler views strong book sales as a validation of his thought processes and mental frameworks, the same thought processes that caused him to evaluate Yonas highly. Thus, he wants to tie the donation amount to book sales:

0) At the zeroth level, TuringTest's thoughts seem correct. The "purest" action would seem to be for Tyler to donate an amount to Yonas based on Yonas's merits and Tyler's overall wealth. If Tyler's stock holdings go up in value while book sales are disappointing, why would Tyler donate less than the converse case? That would be mental accounting. Similarly, if others are persuaded by Tyler's endorsement of Yonas, why not just donate to Yonas directly rather than buying Tyler's book?

1) Some might think that bundling royalty donation with book sales will allow readers to get more "bang for the buck". Spending $17 on Tyler's book also produces some gain for Yonas, cheaper than spending $17 on some other book and donating some additional money to Yonas. The problem with this line of thinking is that Tyler can't really credibly commit to not donating to Yonas if book sales are poor. See (0) above. Tyler is rational and money is fungible, so one can't help but believe that royalty donations will simply offset donations that Tyler would have otherwise made from non-royalty wealth.

2) That brings us to my first paragraph. Book sales could contribute marginally to Yonas if Tyler views book sales as validation of his assessment of Yonas.

Similar principles might also apply to matching donations, where a donor agrees to match others' donations rather than donating a fixed amount. Although often portrayed as a means to incent others to donate, the incentive would seem to fall apart once donors consider the matching donor's credibility to not donate, if the matching donor truly believes in the cause. However, matching donations can make sense if the matching donor views others' willingness to donate as validation. It's a deferral to the wisdom of crowds.

Interesting. But in this particular case, aren't these principles 'stubborn attachments' that Tyler already believes in quite strongly? It seems Tyler's views on these matters are unlikely to shift much in the face of moderate amounts of external validation.

I agree more with Dan1111. To expand on one of the points, selling additional copies of this book benefits Tyler in all sorts of ways - warm fuzzies, success of future ventures, nudging his readers toward a worldview he sees as more correct, etc. So if Tyler is willing to subsidize sales of the book, it could mean Yonas gets more than Tyler would be willing to donate directly. Perhaps much more, if Tyler cares a lot more about the book's success than he cares about Yonas.

And Tyler might prefer this type of subsidy over simply lowering the price of the book for lots of reasons: maybe it helps amplify the book's message, or maybe donating to Yonas is just the more effective subsidy - power of stories, media attention, etc. Oh, or maybe Tyler also cares about Yonas. ;)

Proud of you, darling:)

This is great. I don't know what he means by Stubborn Attachments yet, but I know his idea from The Complacent Class has gotten me to do things, go places I wouldn't've otherwise. I look forward to understanding this new (old) book title.

If only as many of us actually tried to help poor people around the world, the world would be a much better place. Well done Tyler

I ordered 10 copies for myself and friends!

But I already got the book for free by pre-ordering your LAST book!

Yonas is not pleased to read this comment.

Doing good by doing good, that is to say doing good (encouraging production and economic growth) by doing good (altruism). I have not read the book but I have listened to a few interviews of Cowen about it, which raised my interest and encouraged me to buy the book. One in particular stands out. The interviewer's initials are CG. I have not provided the link (to the podcast and transcript) for fear that readers may come away believing they know enough about Cowen's thesis that they don't need to buy the book. The interview had the opposite effect on me (Cowen's thesis is too complex to be captured in a single interview), but I will leave it to Cowen whether he or I should provide the link.

As for the connection to Stripe, I have to say that my attitude about the company was greatly improved yesterday when I listened to a lengthy interview of one of the Collison brothers during the return of my weekend's road trip. Their big break came when they were able to get an interview with a possible funding source. As Collison described it, rather than being obsequious, in their naivete they actually offended the possible funding source. There's something appealing to me about self-deprecation. They got their big break anyway (the funding source is a contrarian) and the rest is history.

I pre-ordered a Kindle copy (via, BTW, which results in a small contribution to a charity -- I've selected GiveDirectly -- every time I buy something)

I also argue in Stubborn Attachments that we should be more charitable and altruistic at the margin. That includes me!

I wonder about that. Is it better to give money to Yonas and others like him or to, say, invest in his travel agency as a normal business partner expecting to earn a return? Will charity do more for places like Ethiopia or will 'rapacious' Chinese multinationals:

And why not use Yonas's real name? Might not a connection to a prominent U.S. economist and columnist be even more valuable than the financial contributions (in his travel business or other endeavors)?

Done. This is oddly exciting.

My stubborn attachment is that without the presence of a powerful, hegemonic, culturally confident Anglo-Sphere ruled at its core by Victorian principles and commitment to traditional notions of propriety, the world is doomed to fall into a state of war, factionalism, and ultimately barbarism instead of the mildly disorderly peace that characterized the decades after the Second World War. In other words, we are mostly screwed.

This is the third opportunity for a description of the book's contents and I am still none the wiser.

So far I've gathered that people are stubbornly attached to something, economic development is good for the poor, and we should be more charitable to others. Each of these overarching themes is vague and conclusory.

Am I supposed to buy this book on the author's reputation alone? Again, I feel like I'm part of a science experiment, and I'm watching other rats entering the maze in search of cheese we can neither see nor smell.

I have enjoyed some of Tyler's books, but the last one (complacent class) was underwhelming. I can never remember what the big points were. Not sure why I'd get excited about Stubborn attachments.

An obvious sign of your complacency.

Listen to the podcast he did on this topic w Russ Roberts. He explains the idea behind the book there.

Cowen's new book is called "Stubborn Attachments", but the object of his charity is not a family member or even an American but some guy he met in Ethiopia. Many Trump voters think "globalists" care no more about them than about random people around the world.

"Many Trump voters think "globalists" care no more about them than about random people around the world."

Not care more, but *worry* more. Trump voters are (as nearly all Americans are) among the wealthiest people in human history. Many Trump voters profess to be Christian. Now I'm not religious myself, and Sunday school was along time ago (and I daydreamed through most of it), so maybe I'm confused, but did Christ teach his followers to favor non-poor countrymen over 'random' poor strangers? Did you know that the Ethiopian Church has been around since the 300s and there are 46 million Ethiopian Christians? Do you think that, if they were aware of that, it would make any difference to most Trump voters? Or would Ethiopians remain random strangers of no concern?

Well argued. I agree completely.

As anyone who has spent time in the developing world knows there are lots of Younis's out there -- smart and industrious people kept down by incompetent and corrupt governments. But i wonder if the travel idea is a good business idea?

Mm quietly wondering that myself. Businesses that require Deus Ex Machina donations usually have problems other than lack of investment.

Still, TC always offers a good read and it's up to him how he spends it, so all the best to Yonas.

Straussian Reading:

"Youni's Travel Business" = "Youni's Immigration plans"

Seriously, there are a lot of Youni's out there. The thing that would help them most is probably nuking the crap out of their local kleptocractic government until the local polity was big enough to know it's constituents personally.

preordenada como se ordenó.
envío gratis de 2 días hasta Rusia. es un world1 maravilloso.
bill maher tiene una boca de caca que
no es un biólogo.
no comas los doritos anaranjados.
1 L. Daniel Armstrong

What are Yonas' views on intersectionality and have we vetted his history of domestic violence/sexual harassment in the tourism industry?

Is the important operational "freedom" the ability to donate to a guy called Yonas, as opposed to "confiscation" to help people less specifically identified?

"People" like big powerful corporations? Nice shitpost, though

I have no attachments (stubborn or otherwise) for Jeff Bezos, for his smirk adorning every Amazon box, or for Amazon itself.

Book and periodical publishing in the US remain in far worse shape than anyone at the top can or is doing anything to combat (short of facilitating more web venues and apps): the internet's global and national perspectives KILL all local perspectives (no matter how apt or well informed), and the invitation simply to adopt the global(ist) views of our compromised cognitive elites hardly looks an invitation to keep considering simply out of loyalty to touted "economic efficiency": so much of publishing in the US today consists of no more than what publishers want to sell. Trust and credibility in our media deserve to be far lower than whatever boasts media apologists and publicists dare to claim.

Academia has become far more recondite than its devotees seem to prefer to think. Non-academics today therefore might do well to become much more thorough and focused skeptics, considering how unaccountable our cognitive elites have become along with the rest of our corrupt and corrupting elites.

Any cures in your new book for our corrupt and corrupting Media Establishment, TC?

Otherwise, everything looks great this Monday in August 2018.

The retreat of our effete elites is not yet complete.

It all went downhill when we started trading for that obsidian from over the mountains. We should have stuck with that good native deer horn.

No, our downhill climb might be traced to the advent of modern science itself: the accumulated wisdom derived from the informed practice of empiricism did nothing to forestall the advent of Technogenic Climate Change, in spite of all the purported dedication to observations of repeatable phenomena intended to yield informed bases upon which to offer predictions.

It was another kind of prescience altogether that permitted physicists, chemists, and mathematicians to gift us with the nuclear weaponry humanity simply had to possess.

Wholesale ingratitude is not my point: the distinct failures of product and policy that our cognitive elites routinely unleash decade by decade, without regard for consequence, offer insight as to the consistency of elite views of causality and their views on "experimenting in public" upon those who are not deemed members of any elites, cognitive or otherwise.

IOW you question that this is, in fact, the Up escalator.

I'm not with Isaac Newton, but gravity seems to be winning. (More amenable perhaps to the charitable views of Jonathan Swift, I have grave doubts that today's model of the Flying Island of Laputa can remain aloft for one century more: all of our contemporary conjurors seem to have appropriated the magnets for their parlor vaudevilles and pastimes.)

My pre-order is in.

As far as stubborn attachments, what are common ones? I guess I don't want to leave my city, much less country, or my industry.

I just per-ordered.

I pre-ordered the Kindle version.

Very nice. Good on you, Tyler.


Effective Altruism?

I am all for charity but when you advertise it, you kind of tarnish the deed.

Well I guess he'll sacrifice his reputation then, in order to increase the size of the donation

You can write a book under a pseudonym and advertise it. That sounds more legitimate to me.

But a book written under a pseudonym wouldn't garner the same publicity or enjoy the same success.

More generally, announcing one's donations tends to be met with skepticism, but it seems to me that doing so probably often has good effects by encouraging others to donate, and/or bringing more attention to the cause in question. I'm with Anon - sacrifice the reputation but enhance the beneficial effects. This is especially true if you believe the cause you are donating to is among the best ones. And I sure hope you believe that!

Hmm... Makes sense. I'll reassess my position. Cheers {:^)

Tyler, you’re great. Excited to read this.

Is Tyler the large fish that will save Yonas from going under from the stresses he's dealing with?

And I may be alone in wondering, how many children does Yonas have, and how many more does he wish to have? Has he thought about the optimal number that will aid him in his travel business? The number that will make life worth living, as only children can do - at least for ordinary people - but also will not create so much further stress that he buckles under it?

I would love to pre-order ... but there's no paperback option!

What's a "free" society? Is it 'devil take the hindmost'?

A lot Americans aren't finding that such an appealing prospect at the moment.

Since when did you start drinking coffee. I need to update my mental image of TC

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