Saving Money, Lives, and Human Civilization

A couple gems from Glenn Reynolds. First, on finance:

I decide how much money to save, and it goes into a money market account, automatically every month. The key is that this account is for money to go into, not to come out of, except for major purchases (like a house or car) or emergencies. I have a separate "slush fund" savings account that also gets an automatic deposit every month, and that gets hit up for routine unscheduled things like home and car repairs.
This system turns my considerable sloth into an asset; savings is automatic, while spending takes effort.

Glenn's income is much more stable than my own, and I tend to harness my obsessiveness as my laziness tends to prevent me from spending money anyway: my overriding concern is to accumulate enough long-term bonds to live off the interest, and it's rare I go more than a few hours without thinking about this goal. This tends to satisfy both my paranoia and my need to obsess. I generally try to get about half my income into investments, and I try to avoid too much social signalling (I'm no Hetty Green, but I enjoy a certain ironic chutzpah in walking around with holes in my gloves at my income), and though I have occasional lapses they tend to come used, with low mileage.

I never lend money, always pay off my one credit card every month, and seek entertainment that is cheap but wonderful (we are blessed to live in an age where people spend billions of dollars developing games and movies that we can enjoy for a few dollars). It is probably fair to say my life as a consumer is strongly driven by the principle of seeking the maximum utility at the minimum cost. I stumbled across this concept in high school, and it has shaped my economic behavior ever since.

Taking a broader view:

We need to reach a stage of technological development where stopping an ice age is relatively easy. We should certainly be there in 2000 years if we don't blow it.

I would say closer to 100, but this is definitely an underrated threat. Global warming, if real, is a concern; the threat of an Ice Age is both existential and highly likely. People often seem confused about the relative dangers, but it's fairly obvious when you consider the approximately million to one ratio in biomass between equatorial regions and Antarctica.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the story of Lindsay Nagel. Dean Esmay has been way out in front on the problems with AIDS science, and taken a lot of heat for it, but the truth is some of the treatments appear to be more deadly than HIV.

posted by Dave on 12.30.09 at 11:39 PM


some of the treatments appear to be more deadly than HIV

AZT can be toxic, and is more toxic to some people than to others. HIV does not kill everyone who is infected. Before AZT (and especially the newer drugs, which are used in combination therapy), the vast majority of infected people died. Everyone I knew who was infected in the early 80s (dozens of people) died except one person who didn't develop symptoms until the 90s, when the treatments became available. He and many other later-infected people are alive. Without the drugs, they would have died just as they did in the 80s. It's hard for me to discount what I personally witnessed based on a single report about a child who was taken off AZT.

I think it's better to look at the overall numbers than a single case. It is beyond dispute that people with AIDS in the United States are living much longer than they did, and that the disease has gone from being overwhelmingly fatal to generally treatable. That the drugs are dangerous in some cases and that HIV infection is innocuous in some cases does not alter the general picture.

Interestingly, the South African government under Thabo Mbeki conducted an experiment of sorts, based on the Duesberg hypothesis, by not treating those with HIV. Predictably, those who went untreated died:

This is being generally hushed up by PC forces (who find it embarrassing), but had the white apartheid regime done the same thing, I think it would have gotten a bit more ink.

More here:

Eric Scheie   ·  January 3, 2010 10:08 AM

Well, sure. I don't think the claims that "HIV doesn't cause AIDS" hold a drop of water.

I do think they need to be more nuanced about who they prescribe AZT to.

TallDave   ·  January 3, 2010 12:29 PM

In the mid-80s I lived with my gay brother in Portsmouth, NH, it had/has a fairly large gay community.
Almost all of my friends from then and there are dead.

Except my brother, he's been HIV positive since the 80s and he's still doing fine. I'm pretty sure he stopped taking the "cocktail" and his HIV went down.
And a guy named Phil.
Phil, from what I was told, had a huge...uhhh.. Phil Jr.
Phil went to the bath houses in Boston all the time and he was very popular.

I don't know if he has HIV, I haven't seen him in probably close to 20 years, but I do know that I would have bet he and my brother would be the first to die from AIDS, they were the biggest sluts.

Veeshir   ·  January 4, 2010 8:23 AM

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