Dangers of Over-Modeling

Treating heuristics as absolutes has caused me trouble in the past. I'm prone to this, as a typical part of depressive-logic. There are probably some future posts in these - all of them have caused me problems in the past.

Corporations are amoral profit maximizers

This is a decent approximation, but only that. (It would be a good approximation of "evil", also). Businesses are made of people, though, and people are basically good. If we take this model too seriously, that means Moloch will inexorably drive us into some sort of anarcho-capitalist dystopia.

Quality is irrelevant, only price matters

This is approximately true in software, but clearly untrue in many areas. This caused me lots of trouble - I assumed literally all knowledge work would migrate to poor countries rather quickly, and stay there forever (if such a country got a little richer, the jobs would immediately flee from there to a cheaper place, dooming us to all be poor). I lost 10 or 15 years of programming career building to this, figuring the jobs would just go to India and on from there.

After 9 years at one programming job, that started to feel a bit silly, and I eventually just stopped asking questions and ran with it. Now coming up on 8 years in the next programming job.

Globalization immiserating all the rich countries

I used to think this was inevitable, and even had a passing familiarity with the economics. But I thought they were missing distributional consequences by focusing on aggregates - Bill Gates walks into a bar, now the average patron is a millionaire. While some economists do this, most don't.

What got me out of this was a midterm question on Brad DeLong's blog (I didn't take the course, virtually or in person - I just followed the blog for econ insights).

This was: given then-current current GDP per capita of the US and China, and then-current long-run growth rates, when and at what GDP per capita do you expect them to cross? Futzing about with logarithms I came up with 80 years and $110K or so. Maybe growth could prevent us all from being poor after all!

LOL Nothing Matters

To amateur politics junkies such as myself, it seems that (from a Democrat's point of view) Republicans are completely divorced from reality, and so there's no point in responding to their critiques of policy, because if they can't find real problems they'll just make some up and everyone (including the people who originally made up the problems) will believe them.

No doubt Republicans say the same of Democrats, but I have less familiarity with the weak points of Democratic policies, and today's info environment will present me an unending stream of Republican strawmen at which to marvel, so that's where I can focus.

But this is only an approximation - there are limits to tribal reality's dominance over extant reality. We see cracks all the time (such as after 1/6) but media de-emphasizes them. Most of all, there's a large contingent of "normies" who just aren't that politically savvy - tribal reality doesn't dominate for them, because they don't necessarily know what tribal reality says.