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Kaj_Sotala comments on Doing your good deed for the day - Less Wrong

115 Post author: Yvain 27 October 2009 12:45AM

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Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 28 October 2009 09:27:46AM 7 points [-]

Everyone (the drivers, their company, the potential customers) would be better off if they kept working.

Well, the drivers would be better off in terms of money, but this way they get to enjoy the rest of the day more than if they'd keep working. Don't confuse being better off in terms of money, and being better off in general.

(Of course, it may be that they'd also be better off in general if they kept working, but that conclusion doesn't seem certain based on what you've said so far.)

Comment author: RobinZ 28 October 2009 01:20:05PM 12 points [-]

Getting off early is a good thing, but see Mycroft65536 regarding poker: they would do better by knocking off early on bad days and working longer when business is good. Either they would (a) get more money working the same hours or (b) work fewer hours for the same money. Either way, it works.

Comment author: Nanani 29 October 2009 12:17:08AM 3 points [-]

I didn't mention it, but other replies did: They'd stop working earlier on bad days instead, so the leisure time total would not decrease (well, assuming roughly equal numbers of good and bad days, with median days being the most common.) Also, its quality would likely improve as well given the financial boost of making more profits on the good days.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 29 October 2009 03:27:38PM *  5 points [-]

They'd stop working earlier on bad days instead, so the leisure time total would not decrease (well, assuming roughly equal numbers of good and bad days, with median days being the most common.)

This assumes that the effect of leisure time on well-being is merely a function of the amount of leisure time you have. That seems unwarranted: you can't simply take a long break and then spend the next year working with no leisure time at all, even if that gave you an equal amount of leisure time as a scenario where you distributed it more evenly. Likewise, it seems intuitively plausible to me that if you

a) take the day off early as a result of having made a lot of money

b) take the day off late after you've worked through a bad day and gotten a feeling of deserving that time off instead of quitting early and not accomplishing anything

your subjectively experienced leisure time quality ends up being higher than if you'd distribute the leisure time otherwise. (At least for some people - admittedly, I think I'd myself feel better if I did things the way you propose.)

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 30 October 2009 02:13:46AM 2 points [-]

I don't have any examples, but I think your hypothetical is a common problem and that a lot of leisure is degraded by guilt, and a lot of fake work is done out of guilt. But I think another effect is working with the cab drivers, possibly in addition.

Comment author: RobinZ 29 October 2009 03:45:24PM 1 point [-]

Subjectively, that's likely, but there's a different way to look at it: if you think of driving the cab as providing a service, then a few people knocking off early on slow days isn't hurting the customers (after all, the remaining cabbies can handle the traffic), and working extra on busy days helps (more cabbies, less wait).

Comment author: wedrifid 29 October 2009 04:00:46PM 1 point [-]

Less cab driving doesn't hurt but more cab driving helps? Either that's a weird margin we're sitting on or your rationalisations are inconsistent.

Comment author: RobinZ 29 October 2009 04:10:44PM *  4 points [-]

Ignoring logistical complications:

  • When there are more cabs than people who want to ride, changing the number of cabs will not change the number of cab trips, as all people will immediately take their trip in whatever cab comes up. These are the slow days.

  • When there are fewer cabs than people who want to ride, changing the number of cabs will change the number of cab trips, as all new cabs will immediately find passengers. These are the busy days.

The cab drivers can't change the number of passengers available on any given day, but they can influence the number of cabs.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 October 2009 04:18:54PM 0 points [-]

That does make sense. If the 'on slow days' and 'on busy days' qualifiers were in that post when I read it then I clearly missed them.