Week of May 11, 2020

A few things of note from around the Internet this week:

Home Screens

Is life where anything can be delivered, work and school can be done from home, and entertainment delivered through the Internet really what we want?

When the formal quarantine came, it seemed like domestic cozy was fully coming into its own. Much of the necessary infrastructure was already in place. The world that tech companies had built and persistently tried to persuade us we wanted was waiting for us, ready to fully take over. It was consumer-facing disaster capitalism in action. […]

Pure economic exchanges can relocate to screen interactions with a minimal loss of fidelity, but encounters meant to be less instrumental are proving harder to sustain without the texture of physical space. Most of the apps we use for interaction simply unbundle an informational component from the scene of social contact. […]

“With people told to work from home and stay away from others, the pandemic has deepened reliance on services from the technology industry’s biggest companies while accelerating trends that were already benefiting them.” […]

Pandemics, beyond their direct consequences for those who get sick, heighten fear, paranoia, isolation, xenophobia, economic vulnerability, and depression. If some tech companies complement such a world well, we should ask why.


Wealth

Just keep scrolling…this is incredible.


Bye

You don’t often see a high-level, high-profile executive like Tim Bray publicly quit or resign, especially over the treatment of workers making many multiples less than him. That makes it even more refreshing to see.

Here are some descriptive phrases you might use to describe the activist-firing.

“Chickenshit.”

“Kill the messenger.”

“Never heard of the Streisand effect.”

“Designed to create a climate of fear.”

“Like painting a sign on your forehead saying ‘Either guilty, or has something to hide.’”

Which do you like?


Stuck

Scott Alexander with a few examples of why he thinks the American healthcare system is broken for everyone.

Any other system would fix these problems. A public system like Medicare For All would fix them. A communal system like the Amish have would fix them. A free market system like our grandparents had would fix them. The prepaid doctor cooperatives Reason talks about would fix them. A half-assed compromise like Joe Biden’s Medicare For All Who Want It would fix them. But here we are, stuck with a system that somehow manages to fail everybody for different reasons


Amish Health

And Scott Alexander on a healthcare system within the US that may actually work well.

Amish people spend only a fifth as much as you do on health care, and they outperform us on almost every health metric. What can we learn from them? They can share health care costs the way they want, ignoring any regulations to the contrary. They are genuinely on their own. So, they’ve ended up with a simple system based on church aid. Everyone pays tithes to their congregation (though they don’t call it that). The churches meet in houses and have volunteer leaders, so expenses are minimal. Most of the money goes to “alms,” which the bishop distributes to members in need. This replaces the social safety net, including health insurance. Most Amish people go their entire lives without needing anything else. About a third of Amish people are part of a more formal insurance-like institution called Amish Hospital Aid (AHA). Individuals and families pay a fixed fee to the organization, which is not-for-profit and run by an unpaid board of all-male elders. If they need hospital care, AHA will pay for it.


Cubic

Your tax dollars at work.


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