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Comment author: SilasBarta 11 July 2011 04:39:39PM *  5 points [-]

Thanks for bringing that up. I've actually argued the opposite in the case of voting. Using timeless decision theory, you can justify voting (even without causing a bunch of people to go along with you) on the grounds that, if you would make this decision, the like-minded would reason the same way. (See my post "real-world newcomb-like problems".)

I think a crucial difference between the two cases is that non-pollution makes it even more profitable for others to pollute, which would make collective non-pollution (in the absence of a collective agreement) an unstable node. (For example, using less oil bids down the price and extends the scope of profitable uses.)

Comment author: agrajag 14 November 2011 10:24:26AM 5 points [-]

Getting this point across is difficult, and it's a common problem. For example, I'm from Norway and favor the system we have here with comparatively high taxes on the high earners, and high benefits. When I discuss economics with people from other political systems, say Americans, invariably I get a version of the same:

If I'm happy to pay higher taxes, then I can do that in USA too -- I can just donate to charities of my choice. As an added bonus, this would let me pick which charities I care most about.

The problem is the same as the polluting though: By donating to charities, I reduce the need for government-intervention, which again reduces the need for taxes, which mostly benefit those people paying most taxes.

That is, by donating to charities, I reward those people who earn well and (imho) "should" contribute more to society (by donating themselves) but don't.

So that situation is unstable: The higher the fraction of needed-support is paid for trough charitable giving, the larger is the reward for not giving.