2019 H2 writings

December 31, 2019

Reading time ~4 minutes

Levels of talking about policy

The idea of a 'supported policy' is somewhat vague, both in discussion and introspection. I don't know the proper terminologies for these, so I'll use my own--but am happy to be corrected.

  • Utopian policy: If everyone had my view on politics, what is my supported policy?
  • Blind policy: If the world worked the way I wish it did, what do I think feel like fits in both my ideal means and ends?
  • Naive policy: If everyone kept their current view on politics, and there weren't second order consequences directly related to the policy but I could get it passed with a snap of my fingers, what is my supported policy?
  • Negotiation policy: Given second order policy consequences but not political consequences, what is my supported policy?
  • Compromise policy: Given second order policy consequences as well as political consequences, what is my supported policy?

On the lying tendencies of politicians

As you listen to Democratic candidates for President campaign and debate, I want you to remember something. It's not unique to the Democratic party in any way, but I find it an important reminder sometimes. This is independent of their opposition to Trump, which is all well and good.

They are lying or ignorant about the issues -- issues rarely fit in soundbites.

They are lying or ignorant about their responses to the issues--they don't have the authority to do half of what they say they will do, though they'd love to try to expand executive authority.

They are lying or ignorant about the responses to the policies, because they don't know.

What you are getting, at most, is a sense of their sentiment of how they will use (AND abuse) their power, and little more. And it is a good thing, because I dread a world where Presidential candidates follow through on their promises.

Aversion Alarms

There are a lot of little tricks to being effective that depend on personal challenges and blocks that you face.

I have a close friend whose particular issue was dealing with problems he felt high degrees of aversion towards. Normal interpersonal accountability didn't work for him, because he'd feel aversion about talking about the aversion, as well as feeling shame that someone else was following what he'd missed doing.

I'm not sure if it will wear off yet, but we discussed a bit where these various reflexes came from, and something that he's now trying (and it's appearing to work) is the idea of an 'aversion alarm'. Every couple days he has an automated alarm that goes off that tells him to handle things he's been putting off (at least the small ones where avoidance is the core thing, not the size of the time commitment). The automated and impersonal, non-judgmental nature of it has allowed him to tackle some of these without stressing about it coming up.

Maybe someone else can leverage this as well.

Reasons to Read Old Philosophy

There are a number of reasons to read old philosophy.

For example, without being exhaustive, it is helpful to have a sense of history, continuity, and conversation reaching back into the mists of time. It can also be amazing to see how close people got about things like Atomism and try to understand what thought processes led to it.

However, at the moment I'm thinking about the fact that across history there are works that truly stand out when addressing the 'human condition'. The 'human condition' has enough variety that only a few authors, if any, can express what our own condition feels like in words--but even when they don't, we can use it to understand those around us better.

Fundamentally, we haven't changed. We have the same political tendencies--power held by one, by a few, or by many/all (discussed extensively in Herodotus and Aristotle, for example), we have the same emotional tendencies, we have the same experiences, joys, and griefs.

All of these happen intrinsically, and often we can learn from what the peaks of these civilizations did to handle them intrinsically in eras when they didn't have the material surplus to cushion these blows.

This isn't to say that the world we live in is the same, but that men are very similar today as they were to back then. Things do change! But it isn't human (emotional, political, intellectual) urges that change, but awareness of things like voting math, game theory, tax policy, psychology, and specific religions. We can't confuse the accumulation of knowledge in these areas with an accumulation of a sociologically 'evolved' man.

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