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Expect very rough edges and very broken stuff—and regular improvements. Please share your thoughts.
Economist Robin Hanson returns to discuss his proposal for increasing fertility rates through financial incentives for parents. He explains how governments could pay parents for having children by issuing shares of the future tax revenue those kids will generate. Robin argues this would provide better motivation for good parenting. The hosts consider potential impacts on social classes, racism, sexism, cultural objections, arbitrage opportunities, and more.
Simone Collins: Hello, everyone. We are so excited today. A little bit, a little bit fanboying and girling out because we are joined by the fantastic, brilliant, and super fun Robin Hanson. He, in addition to being a professor of economics at George Mason University, has written some of my favorite books, including The Elephant in the Brain, which is just mind blowing, and The Age of M.
He, he talks about prediction markets, grabby aliens,
Malcolm Collins: signaling. Well Simone didn't know that he had invented the term grabby aliens. And I didn't know he had invented the term great filter. This is in regards to the Fermi paradox. So genuinely like a huge figure in terms of and, and, and being at the we, we go to these events where it's all like young, like up and coming, like supposed to be all the smartest hip young people.
And he's always at these events. Because he is considered like the one person not in our generation who is Seminal to these communities. He's so with it. He's so with
Simone Collins: it.
Malcolm Collins: So what we're going to talk about on this one is we were giving a lecture at one of these that have been called manifest [00:01:00] about pronatalism.
And then he just drops this idea about how it could be solved. That we had never heard before and was really interesting and we want to go into it.
Would you like to know more?
Robin Hanson: All right. So let's first acknowledge that any solution requires some policy people to do some things. And if they don't do certain things, it doesn't happen.
And I'm honestly not that optimistic. The right people would do the right thing here. And we should, we could talk a bit about that. So the fundamental problem is a lot of things in our culture. Are oriented toward low fertility and a lot of people really like those things that is they're really deeply attached to intensive parenting, long years of schooling, delayed mating, gender equality, and there's a whole bunch more and any solution that induces high fertility.
Is going to cut into some of those things. And so even if we could get people to adopt the solution, which I'm about to tell you, and they [00:02:00] try it for awhile, there's a risk that they'll see that. In fact, it cuts into those things. They'll go, Oh no, Oh no, we can't have that. And then they would turn it off because they'd rather have declining population and low fertility than to have some of those things that, that I think is a fundamental risk that is just a fundamental cultural conflict.
And a lot of. Maybe even the majority of elites really prefer the package that leads to declining population, even when they understand that they could do otherwise. But doing otherwise will change some of these key parts of their culture that they're really attached to. So that's my fundamental warning.
But given that, if you're willing to prioritize fertility high enough, i. e. doing what it takes to raise fertility I think there is in fact a simple solution. So, first of all, there's a lot of studies on how incentives to increase fertility and their effects. And so there are definitely a lot of studies that show small incentives have pretty small effects.[00:03:00]
And then there's some studies that show modest incentives have modest effects. And as an economist, I feel really confident. Huge. Big effects. No question, right? If you gave people a million dollars per baby, a lot of babies, okay, that's just going to happen. Right.
Malcolm Collins: Businesses would be started around that, you know, exactly.
Robin Hanson: Right. Now, if I say that, then people will say, who, how can we possibly afford that? Cause now you're imagining we're going to have to tax everybody else to pay for this. And that's going to be a huge tax and we're not going to like it. So the key observation is that we don't have to pay for it. We can make investors pay for it.
So here's the trick. So at the moment, in say the U. S. We have roughly a hundred trillion dollars in debt. That's not just the explicit bonds we've sold, but also the promises we made, like Medicare and Social Security, that we haven't set up a way [00:04:00] to pay for. Which is yeah, we owe it. Okay. And if you divide that by 300 million people, that's 300, 000 a person.
And there are some other estimates of unfunded promises that are even higher, say 700, 000 a person. Oh, boy. Even the literal debt per person. In terms of bonds is a hundred thousand dollars a person. So we're talking somewhere between a hundred thousand, seven hundred thousand dollars a person that's owed at the moment in the U.
S. in debt. Okay. So here's the key observation. The way we've decided to pay taxes, it may not be just or right, but it's how we do it. Every time a new baby is born, we saddle them with their fraction of that debt. They're just on the hook to pay one out of 300 million fraction of that debt. That's how we do it.
We basically take all citizens alive and we say, You all owe this debt. So every new baby literally owes a hundred to 700, 000 of debt and [00:05:00] is expected to pay it in terms of bondholders are buying these bonds because they expect them to actually get repaid. So if we go with sort of the bondholders perspective on debt, then they're expecting every new baby to pay another, say 300, 000 of the debt.
And so that means it's worth it. Up to a 300, 000 to create a new baby because they're unhooked to pay that part of the debt. So if we paid a parent, say 200, 000 to make a baby, and then they're going to pay us 300, 000 in present value is that this isn't just future. This is the present value of all that stuff.
Then we're making 100, 000 profit.
Malcolm Collins: Yeah. So, so let's talk about this functionally, because I think when we talk about it in terms of dividing up the debt, it can sort of confuse people because they're like, well, this is negative value, but it's not exactly negative value because you can buy and sell debt and this debt might not be paid back as is.
So we can almost think of this as you're telling me if I'm explaining this wrong, but I'm trying to explain it in simpler [00:06:00] terms. When a person has a kid companies. can sort of buy parts of that kid's future earnings. So when that kid is paying taxes a portion of those taxes might go directly to the government, but then a portion of those taxes would go to paying off this debt, which is owed on this kid.
Robin Hanson: Right. So you're, you're jumping ahead. I didn't say how we would hand the money out. Okay. Now you're talking about how to hand it out. So, which I agree is an important thing, but I'm just trying to first say on average, a random kid should be willing to pay not 300 thousand, but we should also Be willing to issue more bonds to cover it.
That is, we don't actually need to pay up the money among ourselves. We could just issue more debt, say 300, 000 of new debt for every kid. Hey, their parents, 300, 000. to have that kid. And then we're all better off.
Simone Collins: And it's a net neutral,
Robin Hanson: at least with that. But that's on average, we want to, you want to talk about, well, how exactly do we pay and how maybe do we pay some people more than [00:07:00] others?
And that was the subtlety you were, you're about to get to, I think.
Malcolm Collins: Yeah. So, I mean, the really brilliant thing about this and I've heard some other mechanisms that, that try to solve the problem the same way is one of the big problems is you just say every human life. Is worth X same amount. Well, that money isn't worth the same amount to all citizens.
And it is going to be disproportionately of highest utility to the lowest productivity, cultural groups in our society, because they have less money. And so they will be motivated to have more kids, which leads to negative social effects. But this accounts for that. And. Gives additional money to groups that regularly and there's many ways these groups could be.
It could be cultural groups. It could be some sort of factor of where you live. It could be where they go to school. It could be where the parents went to school, but there are going to be correlating factors with families that raise kids who earn lots of money and are productive citizens, and they will be rewarded for that.
But what's really interested [00:08:00] is they're rewarded for it at a narcissistic level. So today I, as a parent, do not get rewarded in any way by society for doing things for my kids, which are likely to make that kid an active and positive contributor to society. But to him, this would be an active way to earn more money.
So suppose like we're Mormons, right? And, and our, our local Mormon church could be like, Oh s**t, like this is a good way to earn more money. Like it's a little scam or like Jehovah's Witnesses or something. Cause you know, Jehovah's Witnesses, they don't send their kids to college. So they would get almost.
No money from a system like this because they'd be considered very bad bets, but they could be like, Oh s**t, like I just found out how we scan the system. What if we make all our kids like really successful and like high contributors and
Robin Hanson: yeah, continue. So let's walk through the mechanism.
So I'm afraid we might be losing our audience here. So first of all, we get you to agree on average. People are valuable. And in fact, the nation would just make a profit on average by paying parents to have more kids and that money could come from investors. So it doesn't have to come out of taxes, at least current taxes.[00:09:00]
I can convince you then that the first step, Hey, we ought to be just paying a lot for kids. But you might say, if we pay the same amount for any kid, we've got this problem. They're going to. You know, dish up the less valuable kids and a lot more of those, and there's not an incentive to make the more valuable kids.
Right? So now under this scenario, the reason why we want to make kids is that they'll pay taxes in the future, right? So then a simple thing is, well, what we want to do is pay the parents in proportion to how much taxes these kids will pay. And you might think, well, how can we figure out that? How do we take a kid and figure out how much taxes they'll pay?
And the answer is simple. Of course. You just make an asset, which is a fraction of their taxes paid. That is every year, somebody pays taxes to the government. That's a stream of money that goes to the government. That stream of money can be turned into an asset. Somebody can own that stream of money and you can chop off fractions of it.
So you could say chop off 20 percent or 25 percent of the money this kid is going to pay to the government in taxes and turn that into an asset [00:10:00] and basically give that asset to the parents. This is what you own as a result of making this kid and You can either hold on to it for its future returns, or you can sell it off to investors at whatever price you pick.
But now we've given you, the parent, an incentive to make that asset worth more. The more you can convince investors that this kid will pay more taxes in the future, the more they'll be willing to pay for that asset, and the more you will get compensated as a parent for having this kid.
Simone Collins: So this would happen only after Your child becomes an adult then.
Robin Hanson: right. Right. But you could sell the asset initially. That's the whole magic of investments. Like a company might, you know, have a product that isn't going to make money for 20 years, but you can sell the stock right now. Yeah. People and get the money
Simone Collins: up front. So yeah, parents would have the ability to sell it right away.
And if people believed the parents would raise a kid that would make a lot of money. Then it is, do you know, like just from, from the numbers, do you know if there's a high correlation between the tax [00:11:00] revenue like across families, across generations?
Robin Hanson: There's a substantial correlation, but it's not 1. 0.
Malcolm Collins: A few really important notes of this that I think wouldn't immediately be intuitive to people. One, I'm going to talk about two industries this would create. And two, I'm going to talk about something that people think would be common but would actually be a pretty dumb move. I think a lot of people would immediately think that wealthy families would buy off their own kids debt things.
So that, or, or keep them in the family, basically, so that the kid would never have to pay this portion of their taxes. This would actually be a pretty bad move. And the reason why it would be a bad move is, whoever owns your debt or certificate or whatever you want to call it has a huge incentive to ensure you do well in life.
And so you would disproportionately want to sell these. To groups that are going to promote your kids. So suppose it's owned by a major financial firm. Now that [00:12:00] financial firm has a reason to hire your kid. Suppose it's owned by Google. Now Google has a reason to ensure that your kid is created in coding and hire them and pay them.
But what's really fascinating is it allows for middling cultural institutions to come into existence that don't exist now. So you could have something that's like a private school, right? That basically. Acts as a daycare for the kid teaches the kid middle school, teaches the kid high school, maybe even gives them college.
And these institutions would essentially buy at a discounted price kids from families whose economic circumstances prevent that kid from reaching their potential, full potential. And then those institutions could then arbitrage there. Buy low, sell high. Through the way that they play a role in raising the kid increase the kid's lifetime value.
It's like human private equity.
Robin Hanson: So let's distinguish two things here because they can get kind of [00:13:00] mixed up. One is the idea of. Taking the stream of payments you send to the government and creating an asset out of that, that then whose value can be increased by moving that asset into the hands of people who can better act on it.
So that's, I call this a tax career agent, but that's the idea you were talking about. So we can do that with anybody, even today. It's somewhat independent of giving part of it to parents. So my proposal here for fertility is. Once you have these assets that represent the ability to, you know, the future taxes, you should give a fraction of that asset to the parent as an incentive for them to be a parent, right, to create a kid.
And that's a good solution to the fertility problem. Right. We don't necessarily want to give the entire tax career agent asset to the parents, maybe a third of it or a quarter or something, but the rest of it is available there still to be sold to create these other valuable agents. Somebody who owns your future taxes or a fraction of them has an [00:14:00] interest to advise and promote you.
Yeah, and that's a valuable role in the world at the moment The thing is the government is already in this role and they're doing a terrible job You already have a career agent in the form of the government who gets 20 of your income and therefore should be Trying to advise and promote you They just don't do it.
If we switch their role to somebody else, we transfer that asset to someone else. Somebody else holding that asset could do better to improve that asset. That would be valuable for everybody. The government gets more out of that. You get more out of it. They get more. It's a win for everyone.
Simone Collins: Well, and it also seems like it's uniquely a win for lower middle classes.
Because like trust fund kids from my understanding are not very good at generating tax revenue. I mean, one, they have all these tax shelters for their financial instruments, but two, they're also typically not generating that much money themselves. So this looks, I mean, I feel like politically it's not so terrible, but you were sort of saying at the beginning of the podcast that you have your doubts that people would get their act together.
Policymakers would get their act together, even like broach
Robin Hanson: a subject like this. Right. So there's the two ideas here. So one is the general idea of it. [00:15:00] A tax and I, the idea of taking the stream of money that goes to the government and turning that into an asset that we sell to other people. Mm-hmm.
that's one idea. And the other idea is, Just giving part of that to parents as an incentive for parents. So it's that second idea I was initially being worried about. That is, if we do that, if we give parents 300, 000 a person on average or something, then they will change behavior. People will go to school less.
They'll be less intensive parenting. They will mate earlier in life. They may have more gender inequality. Those things would happen. And then people looking at the consequences might. Blanche and say, I don't like this. That was something I was worried about.
Malcolm Collins: Here's the really interesting thing that would be a consequence of this which is it could essentially end if it turns out that there are not persistent genetic differences.
between ethnic groups, and if it turns out that a person's social class isn't in any way genetically heritable, it would eradicate those [00:16:00] barriers within just a few generations. It could essentially end racism because that would always be a smart arbitrage play in terms of investing money, ensuring that these people are contributing more to society.
The problem is, and it would also do this with sexism to some extent, the problem is that if it turns out that any of those things are genetic and any of those differences are genetic, then it would. As we compound them. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Robin Hanson: I wouldn't want to focus people's attention on those promises because as you indicate, they probably won't be realized, but I might focus your attention on who today is making the worst choices of schooling and career.
Right. And I think most people presume it's lower class people who are in fact making bad choices there. And these career agents would be very incentivized to help those people make better choices. So then they would get, if you might say, you know, children of the rich probably get already get pretty good career advice, pretty good school advice.
They aren't lacking for good contacts to tell them what jobs to take [00:17:00] or what schools to go to. It's lower class people who don't really get the system and know what the best way to set up their career is. They would then be getting this expert advice from people who really care a lot and they would have the biggest benefits percentage wise.
Malcolm Collins: Yeah, that's fascinating. Well, I mean, the biggest negative incentive of this would be if it turns out that there are like persistent genetic heritable differences between individuals within the easiest way to quote unquote scam this system, but in a way that ultimately would help society. I always love when systems end up is you just.
Sort of get genetics that you would consider a high likelihood to end up in a high productivity individual and you just sort of mass produce them like you as a company pay for surrogates and then you, you know, have lots of kids and then you handle their education and then you would have sort of corporate families which I suspect we're going to see systems like
Simone Collins: this.
Yeah, let's not use the term corporate family because that's like industrial family. Industrial parenting. [00:18:00] Industrial parenting.
Robin Hanson: Yes. Yes. Basically. Scale economies of parenting, large, organized, systematic structures of
Simone Collins: parenting. Right. Kind of a little, a little Brave New World y. A little Brave New World y.
Robin Hanson: I think that would happen, and that would freak some people out. That's exactly the sort of thing that might make some people back off and say, Uh uh, I don't like this.
Simone Collins: Yeah. I mean, I also, I also worry about people selecting disproportionately for males because men are higher earners and especially in a world in which women would be incentivized to probably take more time out of the workforce for reproduction.
That is, But
Robin Hanson: in this world that's paid well, that's highly compensated. Yeah. But is
Simone Collins: that, is that, is that money taxed? I mean, a surrogate I'm sure would be paid well. But when a mother who chooses to, you know, Take time off
Malcolm Collins: if she was raising successful kids and keep in mind in this world, because one of the greatest signs that a kid is going to be a high productivity individual is going to be that the mother's a high productivity individual, that these women who want to be mothers are actually incentivized to work.
Simone Collins: Yeah, [00:19:00] because basically their, their, their kids will sell for a higher price or their kids tax tax revenue will sell for a higher price if they themselves are high earners. Correct.
Robin Hanson: Yeah. Or at least look like they couldn't do high. So they just have to show a promising young career and then abandon it for, for kids, but then show that they could have continued and they looked very promising
Simone Collins: or not abandon it at all or not.
But I mean, I, I feel like this could also, if it turns out the good way it would, it would also encourage a lot of we'll say so a, a big problem. For example, like in, in, in Sweden, amazing childcare. Like basically they've set up a prenatal list policy set. Not dialed up enough, I guess, for, to make a difference, but you know, their, their whole hypothesis is, okay, well, let's let women have kids and work.
So like great childcare, great education you know, whatever you need so that women can continue to stay in the workforce. And if we had something like that, where it was like, okay, great support and you keep working, then that could even encourage women to be both higher career achievers and even more leaned in
Malcolm Collins: Would create incentives for companies [00:20:00] to provide that.
Yeah. Yeah, that's true.
Robin Hanson: That's true. Yeah. As an economist, I have to point out that often people are looking at a problem that's trying to figure out intuitively through their own reasoning, what would be the most cost effective solution to things. And the economist often says, well, we don't want to take your guess of a most effective solution and make policies that require that.
What we want to do is just create the incentive to do the best job and let people figure out what does best. So if we just pay per kid according to their future tax revenue Let's the system be open for trying all these different things. Maybe the sweden approach will work better. Maybe the hungarian.
Maybe the israeli We shouldn't presume to know we should just set up the incentive so they can compete all those different approaches would try to get people to recruit into their thing and they would set up investors to try their approach and then they would try it and 20 years later they'd see what sort of kids they had.
Malcolm Collins: sense. I think trying to predict phenomenon you're going to see in the system another one that I think would be pretty interesting. Is [00:21:00] I suspect that many religious communities would sort of demand the tithing of a portion of a kid's debt to the religious institution, but then they would become more motivated to ensure that the kids were successful, which would lead to some really interesting behavior patterns for these institutions.
Which I'd be interested to see that. I think I think it would only lead to a lot of net benefit stuff for society. If you consider a good society, a society where a lot of kids are raised. You know, productive and happy, but it could be a net negative if you consider a good society, one that is closer to a traditional
Robin Hanson: society.
Right, so plausibly say religious communities would gain more from these subsidies. Yeah. They would more eagerly take advantage of them. They'd be more set up to take advantage of them. And then the larger world would see, oh, this is subsidizing religion. And the people who don't like religion,
they go, well, that's bad. We don't like that. And that's, again, the danger here. If it works, it'll work probably by changing some substantial things. And leaning in some directions and that'll just put people off [00:22:00] who don't like those directions. Yeah,
Malcolm Collins: no, you're absolutely right. Well, and I think one thing to remember if you talk about the political viability of all this is how common antinatalism is as an ethical stance among the far left at this point.
Robin Hanson: Yeah, it's really common, not just far left, middle left, even the center left.
Malcolm Collins: And I, and I've seen it and they consider you can get canceled. I remember one, one professor at Harvard was like, well, I'm a fan of your guys, but I can't be known as a pronatalist. Cause I've heard some people have even accused me of potentially being a pronatalist and I'm like, how is that that negative a thing, but apparently it's like a cancelable offense.
Robin Hanson: I mean, I think people perceive and guess that, in fact, stronger pro natalism policies would change gender equality. That is. It'll induce differences in the gender's life patterns and what they do, and they don't like that. And I think, they think advocating for that makes you an evil person.
Simone Collins: No, but gender equality depends on [00:23:00] perinatalism.
Because if you don't have feminist people having kids and passing on that culture, there will be no
Malcolm Collins: feminist culture. But they need it within their lifetime, Simone. They don't care about future people.
Robin Hanson: And they think of it as a percentage thing. You know, just what percentage of the world is doing different things.
The absolute size of the world is not really part of feminism in most people's minds.
Malcolm Collins: Yeah. Well, this is fascinating. Do you have any other thoughts about so if you were going to implement this, like realistically, well, I mean, we are looking at doing that charter city thing, Simone, we could work this into the way the tax code works.
Simone Collins: my gosh. Yeah. That's a good idea.
Robin Hanson: Yeah. Yeah. Notice that the reason that this tax. You know thing works is because we have a lot of debt say in the United States So it's an especially easy to make the argument for nations that already have a lot of debt If you're starting a new nation with very little debt great for you.
Good job, but I've got the problem. Well, I don't actually have You know, the same argument to give about why you should be issuing more.
Malcolm Collins: Yeah, we would do is we would just do it [00:24:00] to say that a portion of a kid's taxes go to just get split off to go to a private corporation basically. And, and the, by default, parents can buy and can, can not sell these and keep these and then the kids don't have to worry about it.
Now, a lot of people would be freaked out that a parents were trading a part of a kid's future to a company. And so you'd want some portion of the kids, them parents. Basically, all you're doing, and I think you made it really clear, Essentially I could go and make this agreement with someone in our society today, but because it's so hard for corporations to collect on my income right now, it functionally wouldn't work.
There's not good mechanisms for doing this at scale. However, if you used existing tax systems to do it, you could do it at scale, which would allow for these economic patterns to emerge. You don't actually need the debt argument. You just say, okay, half of a person's taxes are basically paid.
Robin Hanson: So actually, a few years ago, I said the generic solution to the fertility problem is just to allow parents to [00:25:00] endow kids with debtor equity.
Because then the parents, you know, are investing in this kid. Now, the problem there is most people see parents endowing kids with debt or equity as some kind of slavery and they go, Oh, that's terrible. The parents are owning part of the kids, but apparently they don't mind that when nations do that nations endowing kids with debt, that's fine.
That's not slavery. So it's only slavery when individuals do it, but not when nations do it. So that's why, you know, there's an attractive option to having the nations pay for kids because. They're allowed to endow people with debt and equity. Well, a
Malcolm Collins: really interesting thing you could do if you did this is make it sort of legally mandatory that this is the only way that the university system can collect money through improving kids net value to society.
And that way you wouldn't have them putting, you know, just, just charging kids an arm and a leg for nothing. You
Robin Hanson: could certainly try to a bigger stake in their students, [00:26:00] which would be by saying you can only, tuition can only be in the form of, of these sorts of tax shares. Yeah. They would presumably just sell them as soon as they could.
So now you have to require that they hold them for a long time. And now you've got a lot of budgeting problems that creates issues. Yeah.
Simone Collins: Do you think that there's a particular nation? One that presumably has a lot of debt already aside from the United States that could possibly be convinced to consider this, or do you think the United States is the most likely?
Robin Hanson: here, so the nation, the developed nation that most has the highest fertility is Israel, but there's a problem in the sense that if you think you have a cultural solution to the fertility problem, then you're less eager for this financial solution, right? Yeah, but you might want to double down and do both.
So then the problem is like you go for some other, like the United States is financially well set up because we have a big debt, but then we're not culturally as inclined to do it. So part of the problem here is if you're inclined to adopt this proposals because culture is in the [00:27:00] direction of promoting fertility, in which case you less need the solution.
The solution is most needed by the ones least likely to adopt it. And that's true for a lot of problems in the world, unfortunately. Well,
Malcolm Collins: here is a potential answer to that. This could be implemented through a religious organization. So for example, the church of Mormon could essentially do this for all of their members and that the, the fractional shares would come from tithing revenue from these individuals where a portion of the tithe.
would go to the company or whoever owns the shares. Now, this would be relevant because the church then would be explicitly motivating people to raise people in a way where they didn't deconvert from the church, which is also in their best
Robin Hanson: interest. Although they don't like to advertise such an explicit motivation.
So for example, You know, the most successful group like this in the U. S. is the Amish. They are very successful at a 93 percent retention rate, and they are [00:28:00] doubling every 20 years, and so they have a maintaining a high fertility and a high retention rate. But I think they go out of their way to kick teenagers out and say, go see the world and just say, look, it really is your choice.
We're not pressuring you to come back. And that's part of the reason why kids might come back and be persuaded. It's they might look worse if they said, sure, you can go, but look, we've got all this debt tied into you and we'll lose money to leave might not sell so well. Right?
Malcolm Collins: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Fascinating.
Simone Collins: Fascinating. This is still the, the, what bothers me most about financial incentives on the perinatalist front is that there are a lot of people out there who are just like, no, no, no, we need more money. Give parents more money. No one has an answer. And what I love about this is you're like, nope, here's exactly how it can be done.
This is why it would be done. This is why it's practical.
Robin Hanson: It's worth repeating then. Yeah. Yes. We're going to give a lot of assets to each parent. It's going to. Be worth say on average three hundred thousand dollars or more [00:29:00] What? We're going to give it in the form of an asset that represents future tax revenue first so that it's not just giving everybody the same amount of money.
And secondly, we're going to pay for that by issuing more debt because in fact, the investors will say, yeah, you can cover that. So say if you have a house, if you just are spending more than you earn and want to take out a loan in your house, Investors should go, well, I need to make sure you can cover that with the house because you know, you might not be able to pay if you build an addition to the house and you want to take out a loan for that.
Investors will go. Oh, yeah, sure. I'm happy to back your bigger loan on the house. If you have a bigger house because you're going to be able to pay that back. So that's what we're talking about here. When you have another kid, you're adding onto the house, you're making it a bigger, more valuable thing. And it's, It's perfectly reasonable to have a bigger debt on it.
Malcolm Collins: this talk has been fantastic. I've really enjoyed it. We'd love to have you back on. And thank you so much for your time. I, I love this solution because I do think it's one of the few financial [00:30:00] solutions that I think is very realistic and viable. Just very difficult to get past at the level of a nation state until they panic.
Simone Collins: in mind, keep in mind, one, they are going to panic and two, all of the antinatalists are going to die and not have kids. So. Yeah. You know, give it time. Give it time.
Malcolm Collins: All right. Thank you. So this is ending. We're ending Simone. Yes. Ending the episode. So we're going to do the next episode. I'm going to go use the restroom.
Go get a beer. I'll be right back. And get ready to say we're the beers. I would've
Robin Hanson: brought a beer. This
Simone Collins: is, this is our, this is our happy hour. This is our, okay. Yeah. We, we like basically live on UK times. It's like eating for Malcolm gets up every day to start working at 2 30 AM. So
Robin Hanson: where do you physically live in California?
Simone Collins: We're on East coast. We're, we're like right by New York. But yeah, Malcolm just likes working when no one else is conscious. So,
Robin Hanson: you don't get interrupted that way. It's
Simone Collins: really nice. Not going to lie. Yeah. And then
Robin Hanson: later on when you have meetings in the day, you can be kind of tired, but people don't care that much if you're tired in the meeting.[00:31:00]
Simone Collins: no, they don't notice. They don't notice it all. So it's totally fine. Yeah. I, I, I still really love this. I think that there's. There's a way in our lifetime to get people seriously talking about this. There will be some serious panics about it. I guess what I worry about is that politicians are never really incentivized to look at anything beyond their
Robin Hanson: term.
So, you know, if you're interested in what projects could be done, it would be possible to fund a trial of the tax career agent trial. What you just do is take a bunch of people and you'd make tax agents for them by. Creating an asset that pays as much as they'll pay in taxes, but it doesn't come from the government.
So you don't have to get the government involved in a trial. You just create a trial where you say, basically, when we give people these taxpayer agents, does that help? We just do a trial of seeing whether those people with this agent who gives them advice and promotion, whether they actually make more money.
Yeah. You can do a trial of that. And I've done some blog posts on roughly how much that would cost, but there's some clever ways to make it cheaper, but still that would seem a kind of thing that would [00:32:00] then launch the idea of selling tax assets as a thing by showing that, in fact, there's value there.
That's somewhat separate of the fertility part.
Simone Collins: Yeah, but it would still, I mean, that, you know, if we can make that small case, then we can make a bigger case that can actually affect the numbers. So that would be huge.