Sunday, August 4, 2019

Alex Tabarrok on Paul Krugman's Most Evil Idea

Paul Krugman
From an Erik Torenberg interview of Alex Tabarrok: 

 …Krugman and I are almost in perfect agreement. Only marginally different. Paul says ‘Republicans are corrupt, incompetent, unprincipled and dangerous to a civil society’. I agree with that entirely. I would only change one word. I would change the word
Republicans to the word politicians. If Paul could only be convinced of doing that, coming over to the libertarian side, we would be in complete agreement. But he is much more partisan than I am and even though I worry about Republicans more than Democrats at this particular point in time I think the larger incentive is that we all need to be worried about politicians rather than any one particular party.
Although I agree with Paul a lot of the time, sometimes he does just drive me absolutely batty. He just says things which I think are so wrong. In his latest column which to be fair was written as a column fifty years in the future so maybe it was a bit tongue in cheek. The column was pretending that Elon Musk and Peter Thiel were a hundred years of age and fit and fiddle and still major players in society. And Krugman wrote:
Life extension for a privileged few is by its nature a socially destructive technology and the time has come to ban it.
Now to me this is just evil. This is like something out of Ayn Rand’s Anthem, that it is evil to live longer than your brothers and all must be sentenced to death so that none live more than their allotted time. I think it is evil if we accept even the premise of his argument that these technologies are very expensive. Even on that ground it’s evil to kill people just so that they don’t live longer than average. But perhaps even a bigger point is that I think these technologies of life extension are some of the most important things that people are working on today. And the billionaires are doing an incredible service to humanity by investing in these radical ideas and pushing the frontier and that is going to have spillover effects on everyone. If we are to reach the singularity it will because the billionaires are getting us there earlier and faster and they are the ones pushing us to the singularity and everyone will benefit from these life extension technologies.
So I agree with Paul quite a bit, more than you might expect, but sometimes he just says things which are absolutely evil.


  1. Life extension technology for the wealthy but kept from everyone else was something Alex Jones was talking about a decade ago. Now it's mainstream enough for Paul Krugman?

    Which under Kruman's vision of the world that's how it will play out. Government interference will do exactly that. Under a free market it will start out very expensive and inside of ten years be cheap enough for the middle class. In another five to ten be cheap enough for anyone who can earn a living.

    File under: "The Twilight Zone" The Trade-Ins

  2. Due to today's life-extension "technologies" of better health care, sanitation, and diet, the average life expectancy of those in wealthy countries is already longer than those in poor countries, so why doesn't Krugman call for his idea to be implemented now? Likely because he'd be on the chopping block (literally) too.