Paul Krugman’s Most Evil Idea

Erik Torenberg, co-founder of the VC firm Village Global, interviews me in a wide-ranging podcast. Here is one bit from a series of questions on what do you disagree about with ____. In this case, Paul Krugman.

AT: …Krugman and I are almost in perfect agreement. Only marginally different. Paul says ‘Republicans are corrupt, incompetent, unprincipled and dangerous to a civil society’. I agree with that entirely. I would only change one word. I would change the word Republicans to the word politicians. If Paul could only be convinced of doing that, coming over to the libertarian side, we would be in complete agreement. But he is much more partisan than I am and even though I worry about Republicans more than Democrats at this particular point in time I think the larger incentive is that we all need to be worried about politicians rather than any one particular party.

Although I agree with Paul a lot of the time, sometimes he does just drive me absolutely batty. He just says things which I think are so wrong. In his latest column which to be fair was written as a column fifty years in the future so maybe it was a bit tongue in cheek. The column was pretending that Elon Musk and Peter Thiel were a hundred years of age and fit and fiddle and still major players in society. And Krugman wrote:

Life extension for a privileged few is by its nature a socially destructive technology and the time has come to ban it.

Now to me this is just evil. This is like something out of Ayn Rand’s Anthem, that it is evil to live longer than your brothers and all must be sentenced to death so that none live more than their allotted time. I think it is evil if we accept even the premise of his argument that these technologies are very expensive. Even on that ground it’s evil to kill people just so that they don’t live longer than average. But perhaps even a bigger point is that I think these technologies of life extension are some of the most important things that people are working on today. And the billionaires are doing an incredible service to humanity by investing in these radical ideas and pushing the frontier and that is going to have spillover effects on everyone. If we are to reach the singularity it will because the billionaires are getting us there earlier and faster and they are the ones pushing us to the singularity and everyone will benefit from these life extension technologies.

So I agree with Paul quite a bit, more than you might expect, but sometimes he just says things which are absolutely evil.

We cover open borders, whether capitalism and democracy are compatible, the Baumol effect and more. Listen to the whole thing.


Life, like an economy, requires creative destruction to remain vigorous and viable. A civilization full of staggeringly old immortals will be stagnant and decaying. Yet another possible solution to the Fermi Paradox.

Maybe, maybe not.

There is evidently a bundle to identify about this.
I consider you made various good points in features also.

I instinctively agree but that's not Krugman's point. His point is that only the rich could afford it, therefore it should be banned.

Even if it was only affordable by the rich, why would this be "socially destructive." Lots of things are only available to the rich; what makes this one different?

What is available only to the rich? Flying business class and expensive houses and cars. A middle class worker can even get a pretty good lawyer if he waits for one of those Labor Day discount deals.

"What is available only to the rich? "

Taking private jets, super yachts and even bringing your very own Mazerati to the Mediterranean for a conference on Global Warming of course. And of course it's important to bring your own staff and to bring in high quality entertainment from all over the globe. After all, how can one be expected to concentrate on the important issues if you don't take care of the bare necessities first.

Is it just me, or does the modern environmental movement read like an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel?

Like this ...

This is stupid. Does it even exist? Ask Steve Jobs. To the extent it does exist OR it is investigated wouldn't the science help all people? Besides, what are you going to do to stop it? Kill the rich?

No, it wouldn't. Only rich people would benefit.

Only rich people would benefit *for how long*? Like any other technology, rich people would probably benefit first but given that prices would go down, more and more people would also benefit from it.
Yes, there's a point to be made that this would create environmental and maybe social havoc but to say that the problem is "access" is completely bogus. Leftists like Krugman use this argument to basically everything, from health care to iPhones. They are always wrong.

I see, we will outource our longetivity to China as we do for our trinkets...

"Electric lighting is no great boon to anyone who has money enough to buy a sufficient number of candles and to pay servants to attend them.... The capitalist achievement does not typically consist of providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort." -- (Capitalism, Socialism, & Democracy, P. 67)

"If we are to reach the singularity it will because the billionaires are getting us there earlier and faster and they are the ones pushing us to the singularity and everyone will benefit from these life extension technologies." Trickle down economics delivered from zombies. Peace be with the zombies. I am fine with the zombies (Peter Thiel and friends, which I assume will include both of our hosts) as long as so-called tech isn't a zombie too. As for Krugman, I interpret his sometimes over the top columns as more performance than commentary. As for "Republican", even among conservatives it's become an epithet: who are those self-identified Republicans? Even St. Ronnie, it turns out, was a raging racist. Who knew?

Here is an interesting column, one comparing the "religion" of Marianne Williamson to the "religion" of Donald Trump: I'd be more sympathetic to Tabarrok's argument for letting the zombies live if Thiel and friends promised not to share the magic elixir of everlasting life with these two. I mean, if these two are going to be around, who would want everlasting life.

Williamson v Trump 2020. A chance for D and R to be embarrassed by their nominee while fighting not to lose. Amash 2020, the sensible choice.

Look Ma its John Prine!

Good to see John, but he looks like hell. But after what he’s been through, it’s no surprise.

I thought your video would have been “Living in the Future”.

“We are living in the future
I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper
Fifteen years ago
We're all driving rocket ships
And talking with our minds
And wearing turquoise jewelry
And standing in soup lines
We are standing in soup lines”

Paul Krugman isn’t in his league.


"If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never." Paul Krugman, November 2016.

Meanwhile, the USA is breaking records in almost every category.

I agree. Republicans are 'corrupt, incompetent, unprincipled and dangerous to' Krugman's hypocrisy.

Indeed. Anyone who relied on Krugman for investment advice has been the victim of evil.

So failed predictions are evil? The weatherman must be the true Antichrist I guess.

His prediction wasn't "failed", it was specifically a lie for political purposes. Krugman was smart enough to know it wasn't the truth. He has a pseudo-Noel prize for Economics and he's not an idiot. He just feels that it's acceptable to lie for political purposes.

A quote that shall live in infamy.

Krugman is an example of what happens to a person blinded by prejudice. Such a waste of talent! He has given in to hatred.

IAC, who really cares? I guess the left likes him because he just reinforces their beliefs.


Yup, I don't know whether to regard Krugman as tragic or pathetic. He's the world's biggest hedgehog.

dissecting/criticizing Krugman's muddled musings is almost a national pastime -- but it's merely idle amusement.
Krugman's just an eccentric, highly partisan leftist with a bigger bullhorn than most.
He would fit right in with the current crowd of wacko Democrat Presidential candidates.

Yeah, but Paul wakes up every morning fully intending to spend the day telling outright lies for his own personal profit. He's no less evil than the politicians this guy is complaining about. But it seems clear that this is lost on him.

"...telling outright lies..."

What???? I've never known Krugman to tell anything but The Truth! The part of it that supports his point of view.

Raymond Aron once offered something along the lines of the idea that the 'unification of the elites' was a hallmark of totalitarian societies. Most disconcerting that honored academics are, in their public expression, quite frankly repulsive and that their views are now widely shared in finance, tech, and media.

The amazing thing is that the mullet guys have been convinced that middle class college profs are the elite, and billionaire fail-sons will save them.

A more amazing thing is that Trump detractors fancy if they lie about him often enough and persistent enough, eventually we'll all treat what they say as true.

That was a perfect comment for a comment section. It was an unrooted anonymous assertion without reference or documentation. It was, the Big Lie Repeated.

1) Read the Mueller Report

2) or see Will on how libertarians should properly adapt to these times.

If only people read the same stuff you read, they'd agree with you.

In a better age we believed that accepting common facts was a necessary precursor to meaningful debate.

Well, that age is gone, so no debate is possible. You can stop commenting now.

You may have cracked the code.

Hopefully he’ll never post his drivel again.

We won't be that lucky. The least we can do is subject him to the ridicule he deserves, though.

At this point you're just jacking off to your own ignorance.

"In a better age we believed that accepting common facts was a necessary precursor to meaningful debate."

So we can all agree that Donald Trump is the legitimate President of the US. The Mueller report puts to rest the contention that Donald Trump is some kind of Putin puppet.

You haven't read it, nor even watched the testimony.

Mueller Testifies Russia Had Blackmail on Trump

Sometimes MR does seem a Mullet Club.

Did you even read the article you linked to?

Directly from the article: "To establish that Russia had leverage over Trump is not to say it had control over him. Trump is not a Russian agent. He does not follow orders from Russia."

Oh good God, you rest everything on the hedge that even if Putin had leverage on Trump, Putin was a nice guy and would never use it.

At, say, Helsinki.

Obvious bad-faith argument is obvious

Correct, I am not making a argument that requires anyone accept the good faith of Vladimir Putin, and I feel pretty good about that.

Yer gon'na need a bigger hoax, Mr. Anonymous.

Mueller didn't read the Mueller Report, either.

The Mueller Report is dead. Old news.

Now Hard is going to bust the real Russian colluders - all the clowns in the Obama administration that took a DNC political hit piece, used it illegally in a FISA court fraud, and tried to execute a coup d'etat against a duly elected president. That is tantamount to treason.

Good luck!

Sure he his. Right after he puts Her behind bars.

You guys aren't Mullet Club but their increasingly geriatric parents.

That is some seriously weak tea. In order for blackmail to work, the information if revealed has to be damaging or embarrassing to the party being blackmailed. "He said publicly he didn't have any business dealings in Russia when he was negotiating to maybe one day build an office tower or luxury condo tower there" doesn't qualify. There's nothing embarrassing or unethical about a possible commercial real estate investment. I'd say "nice try," but it wasn't.

You should read more from the US spies on this issue. They note, obviously, that a spy is under no obligation to tell the truth. Putin could have *inflated* his role to Trump.

But of course he didn't have to. Simply telling the truth and saying "Wikileaks? Yeah, that was us" would be enough to give Trump the shits.

Think this stuff through, people.

Lulz. Straight to the conspiracy theories. Putin was the second gunman on the grassy knoll!

Trump faked the moon landing! Wake up, sheeple!

Look at these mullets. Did Putin commit WikiLeaks? Yes. Fact in evidence. Did Putin know that he did? Yes. Fact in evidence. Would this information have been damaging to Donald Trump in 2016 or 2017. Yes.

What the mullets are demanding is that we believe there is no way Putin with use this information to his advantage.

If Putin committed wikileaks, whatever that's supposed to mean, how would Putin not know that he did? Your grip on sanity appears to be growing tenuous, I'm afraid. Probably time to quit the internet.

I was connecting dots for you, buddy.

Putin knew before Trump did. Putin before we did.

That was *big* leverage.

You're committing moron.

Just think how you could play it, if you were Putin and you were an SOB:

"Remember when you asked for emails, Donald?

We got you emails.

We can say we got them. We can say how we got them.

We can say we got them because you asked us to."

Oh, so we've dropped the whole "Trump was developing condos in Moscow and Putin blackmailed him over it" bit and moved on to hacked emails as our conspiracy du jour? Way to move the goalposts, buddy. Committing moron, indeed.


Not only THAT! 9/11 was an inside job. Putin and Trump colluded to force Bush to declare war on peaceful Muslims in Afghanistan.

If Putin wanted to play Trump, he had an embarrassment of riches, just based on public info. But what if Putin, like any good former KGB agent, was willing to be a lying SOB?

"Donald, the FBI told you we attempted to break into voting machines in all 50 states. Well, we did. Not only that, we changed votes. We got you your win. You're our boy."

Even if Trump actually trusts the FBI that no votes were changed, he's in a very private spot. With a problem he can tell no one. Again, shitting himself.

And this boys and girls is why you don't lie down with Russians. Why "if you're listening" jokes aren't funny.

"And this boys and girls is why you ..." don't forget to take your meds.

That this dude still thinks "a rat in Putin's maze" is funny tells you a lot.

You’ve gone off the deep end.

Your construction is now based on a fantasy of a fake hacking of election machines and using this fake conspiracy to create a Manchurian candidate president.

Quit the twitter for a few weeks.

But why do you guys keep responding to this nutjob?

The only thing thrown back, all day, has been ad homenim, no concrete argument, let alone documentation that (a) Putin did not have leverage of several kinds, or (b) some reason not to use that leverage.

Just get mad because someone asks you to think it through.

Besides the fact the Mueller report doesn't really uncover any illegality (even if you believe Mueller's fanciful interpretation of obstruction), the crazy thing is that you are treating as fact the prosecutions view of the evidence.

It is quite clear the Mueller team was anti-Trump and the Mueller report was the worst they could dream up. Let's hear from the defense, and then maybe we can discuss...facts.

Truth is a three-edged; your side, their side, and the truth.

"the Mueller team was anti-Trump"

Mullet flag.

The mouse is back!

I was worried - thought the kitty caught you! This is coded language meaning I thought maybe you were ill or passed away.

I am glad you are back.

I missed your TDS comments - they are unintentionally funny, but still funny.

Do you really believe that 60 million people are "mullet guys"? Would a counter example give you pause?

Are you unmoved by the current prosperity? A prosperity that changed direction overnight, like the flip of a switch, right after the election?

Aren't you pleased we are not in a war, not meddling in Libya, or killing Innocents with drones? ???

I have seen you take great offence when you feel people on this blog have made as hominem attacks against you, and yet you seem to have no problem calling 60 million people "mullet guys".

I see a contradiction.

"Are you unmoved by the current prosperity? A prosperity that changed direction overnight, like the flip of a switch, right after the election?"

WTF are you babbling about? US economic has been sub-3% during the entirety of Trump's term. He inherited a delayed recovery from Obama and damaged it.

The US Bureau of Economic analysis disagrees with both of the two above comments:

4 of 10 quarters were over 3% GDP growth, and the average of 2017/2018 was higher than the previous 8 years.

Trump has resided over a good but not great economy.

The data has been revised:

In any event, the economy is no better than it was in 2014-15.

Nah, it’s better. We can operate on the same factual landscape. Some is due to the recovery having more time to run, the tax cut does have a limited positive supply side impact, and investor/consumer confidence is up considerably since the election.

But mostly we’re doing well in spite of, not due to, Trump’s shenanigans.

For the first time in my adult life we have a president who (accidentally?) understands on a visceral level the importance of monetary policy.

I wanted pressure on the Fed to be accommodative. I didn’t want an orange man risking the independence of the Fed. It’s almost like he could appoint members and change the policy without causing institutional damage...

Even when he’s right, he’s basically John Goodman in the Big Lebowski. It’s not that you’re wrong..

"Some is due to the recovery having more time to run, the tax cut does have a limited positive supply side impact, and investor/consumer confidence is up considerably since the election."

So it's the same (trend), to address the first point, and piffle, to address the second.

"For the first time in my adult life we have a president who (accidentally?) understands on a visceral level the importance of monetary policy."

No we don't:

Further, Trump is-as he is on everything- an idiot on the subject of money. He actually believes that a weaker dollar can make America more 'competitive'. Because the dollar devaluations of the '70s and '00s had such good outcomes.

Oh okay. You’re a bus driver or garbageman. Talking about things you don’t understand.

I’m not going to teach you Dy/Dx.

Consult a community college. Your word vomit about things that are orders of magnitude outside your ability; that’s not my problem.

Junior colleges can often teach low IQ individuals the basics of algebra.

May be a place to start. I wish you luck!

Maybe in two years we can talk ceteris paribus. Good luck! I wish you the best. Spoiler alert, it’s Latin! Pari means foot!

Good luck! I hope to see you comment more cogently.

Unemployment 2019 =3.7%

Take a look at that graph. Try to comprehend it, if you can. See the change when Trump was elected? Me neither.

Facts matter.

Aside from the $908 billion infrastructure boondoggle, which accomplished very little, what did Obama do to foster the economic recovery.

In fact, your community organizer/magic man accomplished nothing until he won an election and less than nothing as POTUS.

He wasn't out to foster economic recover. He was out to effect fundamental transformation.

Con men like Obama and the Democrat Party depend on ignorant people.

This is a bad argument. My daughter grows a foot a year (she is still very young). I guess in 6 years, she will be taller than I am...

The real question is when GDP is larger, is it harder or easier to have the same growth. If harder, then the economy is doing better. If easier, than the economy is doing worse. Of course, how much credit any particular President should receive is also highly questionable.

I don't know the answer, but I do know a bad argument when I see it.

Pretty ironic and un-self-aware that your own link was to a guy rambling without any reference or documentation. In other words, it was the Big Lie Repeated- all Trump voters are deplorable idiots, etc.

He was going off, for reasons explained in subsequent links given.

Krugman, in his early years, read and absorbed far too much science fiction, and took it too much to heart. There were lots of SF stories that had as a premise an authoritarian gerontocracy ruling over oppressed young people. He has always had a problem separating fiction from fact.

Except of course, that is probably what would happen. We have seen dramatic unequality in access to healthcare, education and housing in the USA. Does any one really believes our elites won't corner life extention treatements the same way they do everytging else. Or that they won't declare that treating poor people is too much expensive and would get in the way of the necessary tax cuts for oligarchs?

"We have seen dramatic unequality in access to healthcare, education and housing in the USA."

Really? Don't rich people have basically the same access to healthcare and education as the average person? Sure they have bigger houses but the average person has alike a 2500 sqft house so they're hardly suffering.

Why would the rich "corner" such treatments when they didn't corner the market for high-end TVs, which not long ago only they could afford.? What exactly do they "corner"? Houses in Malibu?

Ask real Americans, whose jobs were stolen. Ask those who depend on an overburned public sector. Americans are, on average, poorer today than they were under Richard Nixon while the rich are outrageously richer.

That's a lie. Americans can buy things today that didn't even exist in the 1970s, and their standard of living is higher.

No one's job is stolen because it doesn't belong to them. It belongs to whomever the employer awards it to. Work harder.

And that is it. America now is ruled by people who think their job is to make CHINA richer and fund its military against the West. If it hurt common Americans much better.

China's gotten richer by making us richer. "Common" Americans are ever less common, thank goodness.

It's like Jesus said: "The filthy rich ye shall always have with you."

"... But I have a solution", he added while expelling merchants and money changers from the Temple.

Krugman is a big fan of the Foundation series, which are inherently authoritarian. The entire premise is the Galactic empire was going to fall, so a Shadow government of Academicians was set up to save humankind from its own follies.

Did we read the same original trilogy? I recall Seldon's project was essntially to cut the ensuing dark ages from 30,000 to 1,000 years, and after ca 400 years, the Mule showed up, throwing things off kilter.

Of course, maybe attempting to reduce such a span of human misery (within the fictional framework of the books, at least) is inherently authoritarian in a fashion that suits this comment section perfectly.

Apparently you never read the whole series. Seldon was a patsy. The robot, R. Daneel Olivaw, was running everything and was behind Seldon's creation of psychohistory , as well as the creation of Gaia. Pyschohistory was designed to control humankind,

At the end of the series, the Galaxy and all mankind is doomed to be absorbed by the Hive mind Gaia.

Krugman as a young guy probably read only the original trilogy, where there is no robot and no mention of Gaia. Clockwork_prior's summary is quite faithful with this "true" foundation series.

'Apparently you never read the whole series.'

Which might have been deduced from 'original trilogy,' at least as a limitation, regardless of having read the works he wrote decades later. Niven did pretty much the same thing with Ringworld - sad.

Particularly as the attempt to merge two of Asimov's signature series was about as disappointing as one would expect. Besides, it was fairly clear at the end of the collected I,Robot stories that humanity was going to be cocooned or otherwise handled in some sort of protective fashion by its creations, following the First Law.

But fair enough, who knows whether Krugman had the same reaction to Asimov's inferior later Foundation work as myself.

(Thank God they never made that 3rd Mad Max movie, with its stupid plot involving a train and stranded children - that would have been awful, and likely just about as bad as Asimov's later Foundation writing.)

Even if you stop after the first three books, the series ends with one group of Academicians attempting to control humankind with psychohistory and another group (once again) secretly using mental control to truly control humankind.

The whole charade is that these are the 'good guys', but that's all Vox Dei. The Foundations are Good guys in the same sense that the CIA were Good guys in South America in the 1950's.

To be fair, I'm somewhat younger than Krugman and I read the series during the late 1980's. So, I went from enjoying the "Foundation(s)" as shadow "good guys" in the same sense that the CIA were "good guys". IE they weren't always morally good, but at least they were better than the "other" side. The Foundation(s) were better than the warlords and the CIA was better than then Soviets KGB.

This was quickly eclipsed by reading the 4th book in the series (which had already been out for years at that point) and my tentative support for the Foundation and pyschohistory was replaced by revulsion in the "reveal" that it was all a charade for a takeover of human free will by a Galactic hive mind. Of course, the Galactic hive mind was necessary, just like the pychohistorians were necessary. Everyday Humans couldn't be trusted to manage their own lives. For that you needed Smart Men controlling society, to prevent the little guy from making poor choices.

At the end of the day, it's all very authoritarian, with unelected technocrats running everything from behind the scenes.

Indeed, there's no significant difference between Asimov's Gaian "good guys" and Heinlein's Puppet Master "bad guys".

'but at least they were better than the "other" side'

That being a dark age that lasted 30,000 years instead of 1,000. The original Foundation trilogy is inspired by what happened to Rome, and speculates from there with the Foundation(s). You are welcome to point out that Salvor Hardin's various quotes are indications of an author who is clearly in love with authoritarianism. such as "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." or "An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways." Not sure where the Mule fits into that framework, though.

'This was quickly eclipsed by reading the 4th book in the series'

Which comes 4 decades later, and was basically written to make a big pile of cash. Asimov may have been sincere when writing it, of course. And in all fairness, the Foundation series as a whole is still better than whatever has happened to Dune, which also consisted of three (well, 2 1/2) very good books, followed by another quite acceptable book, before wandering off to becoming as attractive as a rotting sandworm.

"You are welcome to point out that Salvor Hardin's various quotes are indications of an author who is clearly in love with authoritarianism. "

Challenge accepted.

"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!"

Or maybe:

"Nothing has to be true, but everything has to sound true."

Or how about:

"Only a lie that wasn't ashamed of itself could possibly succeed."

Glad I skipped out on that series. Sounds terrible.

Eh, maybe. But lots of people who read lots of SF didn't turn out with the beliefs of Krugman. While I expect loads of people with other specifics of his social class and individual life history did.

(Though I will note when I read Krugman I am usually surprised that he is actually better than many of his political fellows. And it does lead to new thoughts. For all that this is damning with faint praise.).

".. I think the larger incentive is that we all need to be worried about politicians rather than any one particular party."

I can see that, but worry that it does build in an abdication. It is sometimes a moral responsibility to choose a lesser evil, but it is even better to demand virtue within the system.

Niskanen does well in this regard.

Perfectly useless waste of verbiage. The cultural abcess generating our political disorders is one identified in its various aspects a generation ago by Thos. Sowell, Robert Bork, and Christopher Lasch: the conviction on the part of much of our professional-managerial stratum that the country is their's to dispose of and that any democratic choice which offends their tastes is properly annulled. The poseurs at Niskanen ain't going there.

You missed some punctuation, it should be "Perfectly useless waste of verbiage:"


Conservatives sure do love them some impotent whining.

Jesus you guys are such hysterical over emotional drama queens.

Needs some punctuation but overall most accurate post in the thread.

I thank President Trump for declaring our good ally Brazil a major non-NATO ally as a stepstone for it joining NATO. Brazil has risen again!

The general pattern with modern pharmaceuticals is that they are extremely expensive to discover, test, and bring to market but not actually expensive to manufacture. So why on earth would we assume possible life-extension treatments would turn out to be any different?

Inexpensive to manufacture doesn't mean inexpensive to buy, right?

Yes, ten years ago Krugman wrote about life extension therapies that would cost a million dollars, and it didn't make any sense then, either. He just isn't a science person.

Budabing! Now *that* is the best comment on the thread!

When Krugman talks about science he might as well be Homer Simpson trying to explaining muons to Feynman (shaking his head).

The general trend with pharmaceuticals is that they are priced at a rate that makes them unaffordable to most and development is focused on treatments, not cures because they make more money. The most likely outcome is an extremely expensive monthly treatment that the upper middle class may be able to afford if they take extraordinary financial risks.

Because of the extreme cost that is likely, life extending treatments are likely to be a huge drain on intergenerational wealth; a huge hit to the middle class. The super wealthy may be able to buy the treatment while also investing, but everyone else is all but guaranteed to spend down any savings they have, finally dying penniless when they can no longer afford the treatment. A large subset will not only spend down their savings, but will spend their children's income as well, since children will be forced to pay for their parent's treatment or watch them die.

Simplistically, there are three types of people; the wealthy whose net worth grows as they get older, the middle class, whose net worth rises slowly until they retire and then drops quickly, and the poor, who never really have a positive net worth. The poor can't practically afford the drug, and will live natural lives. The middle class will extend their lives a little bit until they've drained their savings and their children's savings, and the wealthy will live as long as the treatment works, building up more and more wealth. Without some intervention or serious change in how the pharmaceutical industry works, this is the outcome: a rapid draining of the middle class wealth and a huge increase in the economic power of the already economically powerful.

do you have any idea how many poor people in the u.s. are
currently getting "life extending treatments" via medicare,medicaid
and charity?
its in the millions

Right, but we are assuming it's the super duper deluxe version not yet out.

Economists and venture capitalists are no better than politicians. The people perhaps most responsible for modern conveniences were Descartes, Bacon and Newton, and they weren't in search of personal monetary advancement. Enslavement to the illusion that money is a real scarcity hobbles individual psychology and prevents creative emergence in the future.

Time to take Krugman to Carousel.

[Logan's Run Reference]


But you know Carousel would have exceptions for politicians and important academics who advise them.

The problem with life-extension isn't that it will be available unequally, but that it can be used non-consensually.

Currently, there is only so much torture you can force on a person who disagrees with you: At some point, they will die at least of aging, even if you constantly monitor them to prevent suicide.

Speeding up the singlularity or just inventing anti-aging will make fates worse than death much worse and much more effective. If we could trust people to respect basic human rights such as suicide rights and the right not to be tortured, this technology may be a net-positive for our interests. Problem is, we already know people are nowhere near trustworthy enough for that to be true.

I'll risk it.

It won't be limited to those who wrote "I'll risk it". This externality will not be consensual.

I'm not going to stay up at night worrying about how the glass is only half full.

The glass is half full of... blood.

If his analysis of the situation is wrong, at least he is still alive. And if he is right, dying would be no escape.

It is not that simple.

Why would dying be no escape?

There is life eternal within the eater of souls.

I have no mouth, and I must scream.

Do you have eyes? You could scream in morse code.

I don't see how anti-aging technology would make it any more likely that people would survive massive physical trauma. If you burn someone at the stake you won't be able to bring them back and do it over.

You can inflict severe suffering without physical trauma.

I know this is true because I went to grad school.

This is true of any medical technology. "I don't agree with the proliferation of modern medicine because it makes it possible to torture longer" comes off as a bit paranoid.

It's a Communist plot to put Fluoride in our drinking water! They want to prevent tooth decay. That way, when they torture us, they can pull out all our teeth. It's diabolical.

It's not the case for ordinary medicine to enable thousands to millions of subjective life-years of artificially enhanced agony. The technology necessary for that are being developed as part of the general "progress" trajectory, of which medical and AI research is a part. Of course the medical routinely violates human rights without victims' consent, there is nothing paranoid about empirical realism and risk estimation. A small probability of hell implementation is still extremely severe enemy action worth considerable reciprocal penalties.

*the medical industry

"A small probability of hell implementation is still extremely severe enemy action worth considerable reciprocal penalties."

Not without defining small. Anybody can come up with an extremely unlikely scenario of great harm happening. We can't defend against every scenario someone can possibly imagine. At some point, you ignore the background noise.

You're right, but I don't think this is small enough to be discarded as background noise.

We'll let you die.

It's likely that the first life extension treatments will rely in part on reducing inflammation caused by a number of factors including stress, in which torture will negate it. Besides whenever I hear of torture, the victims are fed poorly in between bouts of more active torture. I never hear of torturers feeding their victims nutritious meals so they can live an extra few months to be tortured.

Andaro is a bit of an odd duck, he is childless and adamantly opposed to anything except being able to die when he feels like it.

Oh hi social parasite, no longer feel like using your established nick?

And what's a 'nick'?

If you ever get caught in a coercive institution specifically designed to maximize your nonconsensual suffering without the right to even die, I hope you remember the time you gleefully pissed on the people who tried unsuccessfully to defend this right for everybody.

"Defect, defect, defect - please cooperate!", cries the DefectBot on the iterated prisoner's dilemma.

Solve for equilibrium, as they say.

It was bad to make an argument that "computers" are slowing because CPU makers specifically require greater investment cycles.

The highest value companies are not chip makers. Heck, Microsoft passed Intel valuation decades ago. Software ate the world. So much so in fact, that the problem looks like too much productivity, but with power law wins and rewards. One guy in Vietnam wrote Flappy Bird. One guy. He got 50 million downloads in the first 28 days.

One guy. 28 days. 50 million customers.

You need to go back to the drawing board on this productivity stuff. It might not be limits of generation so much as limits of take-up.

+1, software is clearly the low hanging fruit

Checking the Android app store "top chart," a "drink water" app is number 26, with 10+ million downloads.

Again, a simple thing with a lot of productivity, but again a lot of randomness in the win. It is abound power law return more than the engineering effort, the productivity. No doubt "average" returns, and productivity, for drink water apps as a category are still low. But not because those were bad programmers or because they had poorer tools of production. It's a different world.

Ah, this ties into "winner takes all" stuff that comes later.

As I say, consider how this affects *median* productivity.

This sounds like an interesting podcast, but transcript or bust.

I agree. I have trouble listening to podcasts and don't have the patience to read close captioning if they offer them. I'll give youtube credit even though their closed captioning is usually a bit poor at least they offer automatic closed captioning and the ability to speed up the video.

What "singularity" is the allusion to, exactly?

--the "theory of everything" that unites tidily and elegantly quantum physics with classical/macro physics?

--contact with caring, philanthropic, mentoring aliens ("relatives" from our trusted home galaxy or xenomorphs from some distant galaxy)?

--"coping strategies" that will help some few privileged folk deal with the intensifying ravages wrought by Technogenic Climate Change?

--a REAL singularity: we finish dropping into the black hole whose embrace we entered almost six thousand years ago?

What "singularity" is anticipated exactly?

The closest I could think of was the technological singularity, where technology becomes so advanced that humanity is left behind. I don't think it's ever been thought to be something positive, though.

Vernor Vinge wrote "Marooned in Realtime." A light read and neat summation. I think it predates many of the more serious proponents.?

Basically technology gets better, and innovation gets faster, especially with AI and brain-computer interfaces, until "take off" is achieved.

In a neat gimmick the characters in the story miss it, and like us, have to guess what happened.

But without super powerful AIs and brain interfaces, how could we know?

Charlie Stross attempts, with Accelerando, to take us through one imagining of the change,

He is referring to me - the only singularity that you need to worry your pretty head about.

What's so great about The Singularity?

It's the techno version of the New Jerusalem of Christian mythos.

I am *much* more awesome than that, punk!

I just listened to the discussion of “open borders” and immigration, at about 24-40 minutes.

The guys starts out by describing himself as a crazy open-borders libertarian, and then he goes on to demonstrate that he really is a complete loon.

Tabarrok (also a loon, but playing sane devil’s advocate) asks whether it might be a problem if lots of people whose ideas of how people should interact are completely different from ours. We just persuade them that our ideas are better, says the guest loon!

Then they talk about crime. The Erik T. says we should double the number of police. He says criminals are like stupid children who don’t understand right and wrong, and who don’t worry about their long-term future. Erik T. says that the key to dealing with such people is to have so many cops around that these idiots get nabbed right away when they do something wrong. That sounds somewhat sensible to me.

But what if, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a big continent with over a billion low-IQ people (predicted to grow to over 4 billion by the end of this century). No problem letting a billion or two of them in, right? We just need lots and lots of cops and to persuade them to stop acting like Africans and start acting like Americans! What could possibly go wrong?

Correction, sorry:
Tabarrok (also a loon, but playing sane devil’s advocate) asks whether it might be a problem if lots of people come here whose ideas of how people should interact are completely different from ours.

I'm not necessarily against additional cops, but it isn't necessarily a good thing. Baltimore has a huge police budget, but the cops won't go in the ghetto anymore, so there is a lot of crime. Back before they left the ghettos lots of people complained that too many cops wanting too much overtime had to invent things to do to justify their pay, which is a problem too.

If you description of his comments on criminals being stupid children is accurate, its the best observation in the lot. Most criminals are too dumb to respond to anything besides:

1) extremely high rates of catch/convict for every crime and

2) punishments that their little pee brains can understand and process as feedback (like a beating)

That kind of direct feedback "you won't get away with this" and "when you don't get away with this, something really bad is going to happen" both need to be there. Miss either and it doesn't work. I favor corporal punishment over long prison sentences because the latter institutionalizes and doesn't seem to have a good effect on behavior.

You'll still need some prisons for perpetual offenders (especially the mentally ill), but this would do a lot more to stop crime then anything else.

When I wrote “That sounds somewhat sensible to me”, I meant sensible relative to the loony open borders stuff.

And if, as in Baltimore and Chicago, cops are told to do as little as possible, then having cops around isn’t as much of a deterrent.

It's why libertarianism is an inherently unworkable ideology.

You can't create a libertarian utopia by allowing the free immigration of people who are not and will never be libertarian.

Yes you can and America did almost just that for over a hundred years. It works perfectly fine.

Of course! That's why America is today such a bastion of libertarian ideals.

Why, just this past week in the Democratic debates we've heard all of these presidential candidates present their policies to their libertarian constituency, such as dramatic increases in taxes (including the institution of a wealth tax), or using the power of government-issued fiat currency to greatly expand state spending, or eliminating private health insurance, or creating trillion-dollar bureaucracies to provide free college, healthcare, etc. to not just American citizens but any person who wants to come here to enjoy the gravy train (and vote for Democrats, of course!).

These are the types of libertarian proposals that would have been unfathomable a hundred years ago. But thanks to the magic of virtually unrestricted immigration the Overton window in America has shifted more towards libertarianism than ever before!

During times of low immigration, statism thrives. The Great Society and New Deal all came during times of low immigration. America's current malaise is in part due to insufficient immigration.

I don't know if you noticed, but all of these statist proposals are explicitly directed towards... immigrants. Several of these idiots have advocated for free college and healthcare for illegal immigrants and are silent on the same proposal for actual citizens!

2016 saw more immigrants gain citizenship than any other year. More are jumping the border this year than ever before. The percentage of the population that are immigrants is the highest it has been since Ted Kennedy unleashed this upon us in '65. There are an astounding 1.5 billion people worldwide (nearly five times the current US population) who would come here if it were feasible for them and half the country would readily let them in if they made it to the border. And all of these people come from highly statist countries.

Whatever problems we have, they aren't caused by a lack of immigration. In fact it's quite the opposite.

"all of these statist proposals are explicitly directed towards... immigrants. "

That's a lie. They're doling out the freebies to everyone. Just like Trump.

The rest of your comment is the typical lies and cherrypicking. The 'total' immigration may be a record but not the rate (which was once much higher).

"The percentage of the population that are immigrants is the highest it has been since Ted Kennedy unleashed this upon us in '65"

It was slightly higher in the late 1800s to early 1900s...which had no negative consequences, and still doesn't. We will drive it even higher. In Canada the proportion is about a third, and there's no evidence of any problems whatsoever.

Better get used to it, we always win. We always get our way. If you resist, we'll shove it down your throat just like gay marriage. Don't resist.

I hope so, for your sake. Most people don't take too kindly to those within their society who try to subvert it.

What would you do if all 1.5 billion people who want to come here actually did? What would the country do with them? Would you say there were no negative consequences and that you wanted still more people to come here? I wonder.

Canada is about a third foreign born and no worse for it. America had over a hundred years of relatively open borders only better for it.

You desperately desperately want immigration to ruin America but it just won't. We have to put up with squealing from the likes of you and I'm tired of it. Time to bury you with hundreds of millions of immigrants.

As usual, the mask comes off. The actual goal of unrestricted immigration isn't to better the nation, it's to subjugate heritage Americans.

Whether you side with the invaders is your prerogative but you would do well to remember how societies have dealt with traitors historically.

No one's being subjugated you idiot. You're just being replaced by better, fresher stock.

If the stock were truly fresher and better then the shithole countries they come from wouldn't be shitholes, they would have societies comparable to the one they are trying so hard to reach.

What's actually happening is that your leftist handlers have seen the endemic corruption in the third world and decided they want their own banana republic to lord over. Much easier to stay in power when you have a population of low-IQ sheep content to enjoy the welfare, TV, and snack food. So they're dissolving the people and electing another, as Sailer puts it.

One wonders what they will decide to do with you once you cease to be useful and revert to being just a regular idiot.

"We should kill people so they don't live longer than average." Is not the same as, "A technology that massively extends current lifespans is only available to very very very rich people and is *socially destructive* should be banned."

It's almost like the Prof is one of these politcians he doesn't like.

On this proffered model: is Evil a monopolistic/monopsonistic function or is it generous and productive of approaches to human problems?

--because another distinct evil Alex is not treating us to is this: so billionaire entrepreneurs help pay for research that leads to some semi-miraculous, quasi-miraculous, or pseudo-miraculous "life-extension protocol" that yields lifetimes of almost two entire centuries.

So what? Why should wealthy entrepreneurs automatically be deemed beneficiaries? According to Alex, their ONLY qualification is their wealth and their documented willingness to share some small portion of it: no other criterion is offered that would govern access--no moral criteria, no intellectual criteria, no aesthetic criteria, no other criteria but wealth alone and some middling "generosity".

Some lingering form of evil continues to spew thick sulfuric scents as our pitiful technologies of "death evasion" and "death postponement" are released.

The stuff on 12 dimensional chess and the TPP is spot on.

I can imagine an 1800s-era Krugtard making the same argument about the telegraph, or the horseless carriage.

Lucky for humanity, all of them were too weak to survive the winters.

"Were" is the operative word here. Today the former casualties of hardship are not only protected from their weakness but venerated as superiors. We live in a world of dysgenics, but the good news is that such a world can't last long.

When it comes to life extension, I think it's a topic people have visceral feelings about and changing minds is not going to be easy. As a libertarian, I'm loath to ask the state to enjoin people from pursuing this, and other technological advances such as genetic enhancement and AI. However, at a gut level, I see them leading to a dystopian future, one I don't want to be a part of. The current evolutionary state of the human psyche is, IMO, not equipped to deal with unnaturally long lifetimes. To me, those who seek immortality are gluttonous. Better to offer the life experience to a greater number of minds/souls over a shorter lifespan than to clog the earth with life-extended narcissists who've worn out their welcome. If it ever comes to it, the battle over life extension will not be pretty.

I can't imagine having to live longer than the average lifespan. This dumb earth is too frustrating and exhausting to put up with that shit.

"The current evolutionary state of the human psyche is, IMO, not equipped to deal with unnaturally long lifetimes."

What would be the problem that people would have?

Fair question. I think for the case of extended lives for the few, much like for today's naturally superannuated, there is the sense of loss and loneliness of having no peers, noone to commune with who has shared common experiences, especially those of one's youth. Then there is the generational gap between the aged and more vibrant part of the populace. Hardly a proper psychiatric analysis, but I think intuitively would make sense to most people(that I know, anyway). If _everyone_ was extending his/her life, then I guess your challenge is harder to respond to, admittedly. Suffice it to say, it's clear that organisms on earth(higher organisms certainly) have been programmed with a natural lifespan, and it's entirely plausible that our psyche is aligned with that. Unless life extension technology were to address that aspect, and 'normalize' it for the target extended lifespan, my bet is that it does not lead to happiness(more likely the opposite) for the life extended individual. So, that's my speculation, anyway.

What part of life would be extended? Your youth? Your old age? Some other point or each phase equally?

My neighborhood has those "Hate has no home here" yard signs. You know 'em. It's funny because no one seethes hate like Krugman Democrats.
Hubs and I joke about putting up our "Hate has a home here" sign. But of course we wouldn't because the hate would come out of those other homes...

Hate Has No Home Here signs are frequently on the most intolerant people’s lawns ....smug, self righteous self segregating pricks

There were a couple of lawn signs around where I live that said, “Welcome Immigrant Allies!”

I wanted to ask those people who their enemies were. I’m pretty sure I’d qualify.

r-strategists always submit to the out-group.

Thanks for posting this. I'm certainly sad to see that people are putting up signs that say that, but it's better to know. It's also sad to know that people assume you must be a hate something or someone or be a bad person to disagree with them about something.

I myself wonder how much these people would be willing to sacrifice for their beliefs about immigration. If it would affect their own children's schooling, if it could be proven to cause their taxes to up, if it would mean they could no longer afford to live in a house but would have to live in an apartment, if they would make less at their job -- would they be OK with that?

I feel like I know the answer but I'd like to put these people on the spot and make them cough up the real truth.

That you think any of that matters explains in part why you keep losing and should.

You have the causality backwards.

I support unlimited immigration because I can be sure that it will affect my income and living standards. In a positive way.

And it won’t affect my kids’ education, because any immigrant kids that would negatively affect their education won’t be at their schools to begin with.

It may cause my taxes to go up over time, but the future stagnation of middle class wages combined with tens of millions of grey and black economy undocumented workers will more than make up for it.

Plus, the costs will be localized. I can live in a tax regime where it will not affect me. It will just be Detroit / Ferguson but on a national scale.

Unlimited immigration is for the best. Millions of immigrants are better off, and most importantly I’m better off. And if the racists’ fever dreams come to pass, we can just move to another country.

"It will just be Detroit / Ferguson but on a national scale."

Detroit and Ferguson are certainly noted for their high levels of immigration, which somehow caused local government to become predatory and automakers to leave. Somehow.

Well it does seem to really depend on how Elon Musk and Peter Thiel are living to be 100+.

The implicit assumption Erik Torenberg is making is 'vampire innovation' is impossible. If Thiel and Musk achieve perpetual youth, it's because they found some drug or technology that allows them to do so. In theory the only bar to everyone else enjoying it is the productive capacity of the economy.

Let's say some type of surgery allows this to happen. But only one human knows how to do it and he is limited to, say, 5 operations per month because it is so labor intensive and taxing on the body.

In that case clearly the economy will try to train more surgeons to carry out the operation as well as trying to find ways to automate the operation (robots) so you can move it from a bespoke elitist good to a mass produced one.

But what if life extension is possible as a vampire type good? Essentially by transferring it from others? For example, pro-lifers would say extracting stem cells from aborted babies would be exactly that and if there was no way to move the stem cell procurement away from aborted babies you'd have a vampire good.

Another example: Suppose life extension is possible by taking tiny brain slices from healthy, younger people. Donating a slice of your brain doesn't harm you immediately but it does increase the odds of future brain breakdown thereby shortening your life. However Musk and company will pay you good money for your brain and you can't afford to buy other people's brain slices.

Assume it's impossible to substitute brain slices from 'lab grown' brain cells. Say it has to be from a human 'lived in' brain. Assume donating slices cannot be 'fixed' by receiving donations from other. Assume the whole 'let's all upload our minds to computers and just keep making copies' doesn't pan out after all.

This would seem to be a pure vampire good. Would it be 'murder' if future Krugman said it coudln't be done?

It’s Alex speaking not Erik.

There was a good episode of Babylon 5 where a war criminal used her knowledge from genetic experiments to invent and immortality serum. Her victims spend most of the episode debating whether to exact justice or make an exception so they can benefit from the serum.

At the end the war criminal reveals that the serum can't be synthesized, and it can only be produced by killing other living beings. Giving it to others was her "fuck you" attempt to prove that if one needed to kill to live, everyone would do it and be a war criminal just like her.

The finale has her killed by Dues Ex Machina so it can be a one off episode only.

So...the Vorlons are basically Paul Krugman?

Though I note that the episode implies that they have cracked the problem....they just seem unwilling to share it with the younger races.

This is like something out of Ayn Rand’s Anthem, that it is evil to live longer than your brothers and all must be sentenced to death so

Yawn. Talk about warped priorities. The administration today argues it doesn't have to provide soap and toothpaste to kids it's holding in its 'camps'.

Alex, though, worries that future Paul Krugman might unjustly sentence 100+ year old cyborgs Thiel and Musk to death. This is really something we should give our priorities too.

It's not even Alex who is saying this!

"The administration today argues it doesn't have to provide soap and toothpaste to kids it's holding in its 'camps'. "

Do they really? Do you have a link?

Do we have a link (perhaps time travelling Sarah Conner) telling us the future is dominated by cyborg Peter Thiel and Elan Musk?

If time travel works, we would expect it's future controllers to appear unfeasibly successful today.

Libertarian politicians would be corrupt too. That's just human nature (Original Sin, if I can be theological) and not inherent to any one ideology

Correct, so the only solution is to limit the size and power of government.

Except no such system of restraints is stable.

The only solution is to run very fast.

Krugman (the archetype of the smug leftist) perfectly displays the logical end of the false god of egalitarianism with his assertion. When you assume everyone is equal, then everyone must attain equal accomplishment. When some remain less accomplished than others, they must be lifted to the level of all others. When this proves impossible, as it inevitably does, then the only solution is to bring the more accomplished down to the lowest common denominator. This from people who style themselves as "progressives".

Totally agree.

BTW, for some of the commenters: Life extension is not "immortality". Most likely the privileged few will live (at best) an extra 20 years, at first, and as the technology progresses, will stay some extra number of years ahead of everyone else. But then everyone else will get the extra 20 years and start living longer after some lag time. There's likely to be plateaus and halts periodically where everyone catches up to the same longer lifespans too.

One a side note, longer life spans may be needed to make human space travel possible. If everyone lives 1000 years, then travelling to or colonizing another star system won't be so infeasible.

What's wrong with generation ships?

I mean, you still need to arrive with enough people to establish a viable gene pool. I don't think super-longevity changes the engineering feasibility that much here.

Krugman has zero credibility when it comes to politics. He's a partisan hack.

I don't know enough about economics to judge his economic ideas, but they seem to be clouded by Trump derangement. He predicted that the stock market would crash if Trump were elected. He predicted the most recent quarterly growth would fail to meet expectations. He's just blinded by his hate.

It's absolutely appalling that Krugman's idea here is essentially just to murder people he doesn't like. What's even worse, though, is that he seems to believe there's any realistic chance that immortality will be invented before the end of the century. I think his worldview is far too influenced by science fiction.

Never fear. Paul Krugman will swoop down from Fantasy Heaven and show the USA how to raise $20+ trillion dollars to fund the Democratic Party platform programs for Green Initiative costs combined with free Medicare-for-All, free medications, free nursing homes, free college, guaranteed annual income for 350+ million residents of the USA, interest on eventual $200+ trillion of national debt, free food, free housing, Social Security benefits, pensions, and other safety nets. Please swoop down and save the USA pensions and the rest of the USA economy Paul.

Meanwhile the economy seems to be rolling along with relatively low unemployment and record stock prices and record pension fund levels. Those damn Republicans are really killing us Paul --- that is before you swoop down to make big improvements in our economy and its incoming hordes of undocumented immigrants.

It never dawned on me that you can raise $20+ trillion just by using the printing presses.

And don't forget reparations

Krugman and the Hicksonian jump shift ISLM dynamic thing is horse manure.

He claimed that Congress, by moving government purchases forward could change our 'expectations' in some specific manner regarding prices.

Never happens, a complete figment and never proved on any aggregate basis. Brad Delong, after an entire career of looking for multipliers, still has not found them. The economics manure out of MIT, started with Samuelson , but the ergodic assumption was false, and was created solely for the 'This time is different' excuse for the Nixon Shock.

We are not back in the same position, we are going to have the shock and that is how we do it, generation by generation.

Krugman and the MIT nuts all assumed the normal recession cycle was the end and beginning. It never was, and all they did with bogus 'expectations; is cause the economy to be more pro-cyclic, not less.

I didn't listen to the talk, but I know the conversation about the Baumol process is where one starts. I know most of what is on his mind, he is mostly about saving a bunch of MIT inspired careers, ex post.

Paul Krugman "Naturally, Frodo, the enemy wishes to use the Ring only for evil. Yet it seems that I and the rest of the very wise can resist it's power and wield it only for good! How fortunate that it should come to me, who can clearly see such things!"

"Now, if you would kindly lend me your Ring, we can have single payer healthcare set up in Mordor 'ere lunchtime."

It takes quite a mind to read about a future similar to Altered Carbon and think "Won't somebody think of the poor immortal Billionaires! They're the real victim here!"

I was sympathetic for Paul when he road the roller coaster.

Read Joe Haldeman's "Buying time" for a novel-length explanation of Krugman's scenario, and how they deal with those who are rich enough to have the "Stileman process" in that timeline.

Also, why would an anti-aging technology be so expensive? What is the critical scarcity? Lots of labor? Rare chemicals that can't be mass-produced effectively? Do they need to buy organs from lots of people? What exactly is it that drives up the price so only billionaires can partake?

Trickle-down immortality, eh? I'm sure that will work about as well as trickle-down tax cuts (sarcastic eye roll).

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