December 30, 2009
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.
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
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