In her new book The Right To Sex, Amia Srinivasan mentions my post on “sex redistribution”: Hanson asked on his blog why progressives are preoccupied with redistributing wealth but not with redistributing sex. He was widely decried—a Slate headline read, “Is Robin Hanson America’s Creepiest Economist?” But Hanson, who is an opponent of wealth redistribution, was charging progressives with hypocrisy. His question was: if wealth inequality is an injustice that demands to be corrected, why isn’t sex inequality, too?
At least since the advent of (internet) porn, I don't think sex per se is a very important thing for straight men to have in their life. Self-esteem and a sense of being valued and respected by peers is important. In our culture, there are powerful forces tying sexual achievement and being desired to status/esteem especially among young men. For example, romantic achievement can be an important determinant of who you can be friends with.
Redistribute income and make prostitution legal -- bam, both problems solved.
The most obvious approaches to sex distribution involve something of which most people disapprove - sex without mutual love, affection or even attraction. Most people don’t disapprove of sandwiches
The reality is that progressives don't just favor wealth redistribution in cash but favor many restrictions on wealth redistribution in kind. They tend to favor in-kind food stamps, government medicine, government-monopoly unionized education, child care, etc. over vouchers and cash. So, not including sex among the distribution in-kind package would seem consistent with their desire to impose their own preferences over everyone else's consumption and lifestyles.
Interestingly, I bet some progressives would support sex redistribution if it were limited to homosexual sex in certain contexts, e.g., hiring same-sex prostitutes for young adults to experiment and learn their "true" sexual orientation. (Subsidies for sex-change operations is not quite the same, but related.) Of course, progressives do favor sex redistribution to people where the consequences of sex might otherwise have caused them to abstain, e.g., contraception and abortion subsidies.
It's just word play to obscure state power. Like, because the state is democratically elected, state power shouldn't be attributed to the state; it should be attributed to the People.
One might call this verbal arbitrage. The word "people" can refer to a collective group or an aggregation of individuals. The arbitrage is created by surreptitiously flipping between the two different meanings. State power is power taken away from people as individuals. But, someone that claims that democratically-elected state power is "People Power", not state power, is substituting the collective definition of "people".
I was a little bit involved in commercial contract writing for a while in my career. It involved thinking about how much incentive was required and appropriate to make both parties actually do what the agreement intended. One of the major lessons from that experience was seeing how relatively little motivation was provided by even large changes in profit.
Identifying things as breaches, causing profit to cross into loss and making people need to attend additional meetings or prepare adfitional reports all achive much more than the dollar amount involved. Often people will see the dollar amount as a small price to pay, and paying that price as giving them the option and right to do something.
A good portion of Robin's posts are about the "hidden" motives people have.
Often it is more economically sound to have status changing rules in place rather than overly large taxes that cause strange side effects and still not work much of the time.
For example some people would see an 80% tax on their income for the year as the punishment for murder as a legal purchse of the right to kill someone. Such a tax would reduce murder compared to no punishme or social norms against it, but you'd be surprised how little it would achieve. It could even result in more murders than a strong social norm against murder because paying the cost legitimises the act.
My sense is that many on the left hold democracy to be some kind of terminal value, similar to prayer to a Christian or the free market to a dogmatic libertarian. I don't think they recognize the existence of market failures in democracic institutions, and whenever there are market failures in democratic organizations, it just means you didn't democrat hard enough. So not only is the concept unfalsifiable, it also means it's almost heretical to even think about ways to improve institutions beyond just throwing democracy at it.
I'm thinking about fixing income inequality by reconsidering people's preferences to not dwell in shanty towns and living on peanut butter and water.
Jokes aside, I notice that terms like "radical democratization" is used as a popular means of hand-waving away the hard problem of designing functioning institutions. The logic is something like:
p1: democracy is the best normative solutionp2: the best normative solutions are always preferableC: democracy is always the preferable solution
Ignoring the hard problem of designing workable institutions has been a tradition on the left since Marx, and Srinivasan is keeping that tradition alive and well.
Well, we don't see new laws/policies aimed at enabling more men to have sex either.
Indeed, but these are long-standing laws (for heterosexuals; and I'm not sure recent gay marriage legislation in the West has much to do with enabling more gay sex).
We don't see any new laws/policies trying to bring about more sex.
I’m just consistently surprised by proposals that insurance could make things better in practice, as opposed to in theory. Adam Smith basically felt the same way.
Agreed. But then she also supports legalization of sex work. So she’s simultaneously for it and against .
I have a huge amount of anxiety about state power … I broadly identify as a democratic socialist. …
She appears oblivious to the reality that democratic socialism necessitates a robust state. Which makes her an unserious thinker.
Legal systems supporting monogamous marriage are de facto polices to provide more people with more sex.
Ok, I agree with most of that. My point was that the formal process that codifies rules as laws and regulations doesn't take much feedback from the people who are affected. (Elections aren't a strong feedback mechanism because we don't have good parties to choose from.) Many people have a blind spot when it comes to seeing law enforcement as violent coercion even though it clearly is. Some laws and norms are of course against violence, but others are themselves violent and coercive. When you describe property rights enforcement as coercion, you are not completely wrong, but not being able to use your goods and services without your consent restricts my choice set much less than a universal ban against various types of goods and services. This is why I have less of a problem with property rights and traffic rules than with bans, most of which carry disproportionate punishments. Taxes I would say are somewhere in between. This is why I would prefer marginal taxation over bans on goods and services that are seen as "immoral" by some, e.g. in the realm of prostitution but also some drugs. You are right of course that law enforcement also enforces rules *against* violence, which makes it this weird hybrid thing that both coerces and protects us at the same time. You're never really sure whether you should be grateful or hateful.
'We' as groups do accept them. Most rules come into existance without much dispute. You for example seem to follow the rules of the English language, and millions of people benefit from following those rules.
There is no way to avoid conflict between the desires of members of any reasonable size group. That was a point I already made. It's the moral dilema. . Most groups favour rules that result in less rather than more violence. No rules can eliminate violence, and nor can an absence of rules.