Yonas thanks you all for buying *Stubborn Attachments*

I went to see him and his family in Lalibela over Thanksgiving holiday (they cook amazing lentils), and they are doing fine and making good progress on their activities:


Ask him if you should lock criminals up while you're there

Or whether he would prefer to view the criminal justice system entirely through the lens of economics.

have suggested that Ethiopia and the US are two different countries with two different histories, cultures, political economies....

Someone associated with this website is familiar with the alt attribute of the img tag, aren't they? After all, the picture is titled when displayed by itself.

And one has to agree with this Kenyan marketing text concerning the Tecno K7 - 'This phone is meant for people on budget looking for a smartphone that can capture high quality photographs.'

And the company that made the device is apparently doing well in Africa - 'However, following market research conducted in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, the company found that Africa was the most lucrative region. As a result of this, in 2008, it stopped doing business in Asia to exclusively focus on Africa.'

It will be very interesting to see what happens in this experiment. I have had problems in past giving money to poorer relatives. It creates a culture of dependency, resentment by the receiver that they had to get handouts from someone they don't necessarily feel junior to and jealously in those who didn't get money (why should they be disadvantaged because they were careful?). Worse in me it creates negative views of the recipient, especially when i see them engaging in spending that I don't approve of (cigarettes for instance). That makes subsequent gifts even harder. I don't have good answers for these things, when people close to you are in trouble you have to assist regardless. But these gifts never seem to solve the long term problems.

That’s true (and I’ve had similar experiences with giving money), but there is a big difference between poor people in places like America, where there is plenty of opportunity and poverty is more likely to reflect individual choices or characteristics, versus poor people in places like Ethiopia where everyone is poor so poverty is more likely to reflect societal conditions than individual choices. I wouldn’t give directly to poor people in America for the reasons you say, but direct giving seems to have achieved good results in poor countries where they studied it, with people there more likely to use the money on basic needs or productive investment.

Eh, I think the bigger difference than the one between the US and Africa is the difference between family and rando.

The strength of weak ties. We do more good for people with whom we are unbound than we do for those with whom we have entangled fates. This dynamic is well documented across domains, interpersonal to intercellular.


Why did you choose to donate the proceeds to this specific individual rather than, say, against malaria foundation or some other highly effective charity? (Not that I think you have a moral obligation to distribute your private wealth in an optimal manner, just curious.)

"felt like it - it's Tyler's money" is good enough for me.

Why did I just donate $200 to the Black Ensemble Theatre last night? Black actors in Chicago are not starving. Some in Africa might be. I felt like it.

Curious why Tyler did not give the book away for free, or at least provide a free digital copy alongside the published version? This is a common practice by publishers or mathematics, statistics and computer programming books, see some examples below.

My intuition would be that welfare Yonas' accrued from incremental sales to those who would have otherwise downloaded a free ebook is less than the welfare lost by these purchasers, and the deadweight loss of those who would only download the free book.

You could possible also expect some viral referrals from the readers of the ebook, generating yet more consumer surplus, and possibly even revenue for Yonas.

He's free to publish using whatever format he chooses, but I'm curious why he didn't go for something like this, given he seems to have put significant thought into it. A more extreme version of this would be publishing a free ebook, and selling the print version at cost.





"My intuition would be that welfare Yonas' accrued from incremental sales to those who would have otherwise downloaded a free ebook is less than the welfare lost by these purchasers, and the deadweight loss of those who would only download the free book."

Maybe they should buy their own books.

I’m fairly confident I would have been less likely to read and especially less likely to finish the book had it been a free ebook. I’m not sure why that is - probably something to do with having to pay for it signaling to me that it’s worth while.

The merits of direct giving versus traditional charitable donations is an ongoing theme on this site.

Here are some of the relevant posts: https://marginalrevolution.com/?s=Direct+giving

Here is the post about Yonas: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/08/preface-stubborn-attachments-book-especially-important.html

"they cook amazing lentils": now you're just taking the piss, Mr C.

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