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Rabbit Holes 🕳️ #48
From simpler times to eliminating elections and free trade for environmental goods
THIS WEEK → 📟 Simpler Times 🗳️ Eliminating Elections 🌍 Free Trade for Environmental Goods
Rabbit Holes 🕳️
As always, here are three perspective-shifting ideas to create a better world, plus some fun extras. Enjoy!
#1 📟 Simpler Times
This is one of the best pieces I’ve read in a while, from the always super insightful, amazing-to-read. Somehow Anne is able to put the theories and feelings I have about the current zeitgeist into an extremely eloquently written, relatable story, so definitely check out her entire piece.
“There’s a story my friends and I like to tell about when we were in college. We didn’t have Facebook. We didn’t have digital cameras. We didn’t have cell phones. If you wanted to hang out with someone, you made plans and kept them. And if you wanted to find them…..you walked around. […]
The lack of precise data about where people were and what they were doing — and the lack of documentation of where they were and what they doing and whether or not it was “worth” it to go find them — meant that you might have a plan for what the night would be….and then there was what the night actually became. There was just so much less control, so much less ability to curate what your night would look like.
That lack of control and curation shaped how we hung out, but it also extended to how we consumed media. My college years overlapped with pretty seismic technological shifts, but their effects were slow-moving. […]
I’ve spent a lot of time interrogating my nostalgia for this period in my life. Some of it is related to being young and hungry for the world, but a lot of it is a yearning for limited options. There were worlds that were unknowable and whole swaths of life that were uncapturable. […]
[Nowadays] headphones allow us to be cocooned in our own soundtrack at all times. My watch tells me how I’m feeling, my phone allows me to track my friends’ locations, my workout starts when I press play, my television only shows me exactly what I want to watch when I want to watch it.
My surroundings are always in my control — which also means that I am always doing the work of controlling them. […]
When everything is available, all knowledge, all information, all entertainment ….nothing is perceived as valuable. Not the labor that creates the thing, not the person behind it, not the thing itself. The only valuable thing is our time, and if we spend it on something that isn’t amazing, isn’t exquisitely for us, we understand it as time wasted, instead of time gloriously wandering.”
#2 🗳️ Eliminating Elections
I already shared the democracy by lottery idea in a previous issue. Even though the article below argues basically for the same concept, it’s extra interesting as it is written by the bestselling author and organizational psychologist Adam Grant – and it’s also in the New York Times. So, great to see this idea spread a bit more!
The ancient Greeks invented democracy, and in Athens many government officials were selected through sortition — a random lottery from a pool of candidates. In the United States, we already use a version of a lottery to select jurors. What if we did the same with mayors, governors, legislators, justices and even presidents?
People expect leaders chosen at random to be less effective than those picked systematically. But in multiple experiments led by the psychologist Alexander Haslam, the opposite held true. Groups actually made smarter decisions when leaders were chosen at random than when they were elected by a group or chosen based on leadership skill. […]
Why were randomly chosen leaders more effective? They led more democratically. […] When you know you’re picked at random, you don’t experience enough power to be corrupted by it. Instead, you feel a heightened sense of responsibility: I did nothing to earn this, so I need to make sure I represent the group well. […]
How do we make sure that citizens chosen randomly are capable of governing? […] Imagine that anyone who wants to enter the pool has to pass a civics test — the same standard as immigrants applying for citizenship. We might wind up with leaders who understand the Constitution. […]
The most dangerous traits in a leader are what psychologists call the dark triad of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. What these traits share is a willingness to exploit others for personal gain. People with dark triad traits tend to be more politically ambitious — they’re attracted to authority for its own sake. But we often fall under their spell. […] Eliminate voting, and candidates with dark triad traits would be less likely than they are now to rise to the top. […]
A lottery would give a fair shot to people who aren’t tall enough or male enough to win. It would also open the door to people who aren’t connected or wealthy enough to run. […] Research suggests that on average, people who grow up in low-income families tend to be more effective leaders and less likely to cheat — they’re less prone to narcissism and entitlement. […]
The lifeblood of a democracy is the active participation of the people. There is nothing more democratic than offering each and every citizen an equal opportunity to lead.”
#3 🌍 Free Trade for Environmental Goods
Quite an interesting point about reducing trade barriers for so-called environmental goods (think solar panels, wind turbines, batteries…). Look I’d be the first one to make a point about the myriads of issues relating to globalization or global trade systems, and especially the WTO, but I think the idea outlined below is still very interesting because we desperately need better global collaboration to speed up renewable energy generation.
“[…] Globalisation and open trade could play an indispensable role in saving the planet. Given the existential threat of climate change, environmental goods and services should be made widely available at affordable prices to support a rapidly greening world economy.
Imports of solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles, along with services such as wastewater treatment, could also generate technological spillovers that stimulate and support the development of renewable energy sectors and clean industries domestically. […]
According to the International Energy Agency, China’s share in all the components used to manufacture solar panels – such as polysilicon, ingots, wafers, cells, and modules – exceeds 80 per cent. This is largely a result of its cost competitiveness, with prices 20 per cent lower than in the US and 35 per cent lower than in Europe.
But much of the world cannot access cheap solar panels from China because of countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by its trading partners. While efforts to level the playing field between foreign and domestic producers are understandable and permitted under WTO rules, erecting trade barriers for environmental goods slows the green transition.
[…] Making these goods more widely available might be our best chance to solve the climate crisis.”
🪑 Ikea’s Space10: A decade of ground-breaking design ideas
📖 Left Is Not Woke by Susan Neiman – “Susan Neiman’s powerful new book calls out to everyone who hopes to advance the cause of justice for all.”
🚿 Shower Thoughts
That’s it for this week!
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