Instead of productivity, why isn't quality of life the more important measure? See here for example: https://lukelea.substack.com/p/a-place-for-everyone

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"in China, even in a very strong authoritarian dictatorship, which some would call totalitarian, even there, the government has to listen to the masses”.

That an astute observer like Garret Jones should know so little about China's governance is sad.

If we examine six dimensions of democracy – constitutional, elective, popular, procedural, operational and substantive – we find that the US fails to score in any and China scores well in all.

As to authoritarian/totalitarian, in what country does the leader have the sole power to:

* Hire and fire the country's 5,000 top officials.

* Declare war. Frequently.

* Issue 300,000 national security letters (administrative subpoenas with gag orders that enjoin recipients from ever divulging they’ve been served);

* Control information at all times under his National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.

* Torture, kidnap and kill anyone, anywhere, at will.

* Secretly ban 50,000 citizens from flying–and refusing to explain why.

* Imprison 2,000,000 citizens without trial.

* Execute 1,000 citizens each year prior to arrest.

* Kill 1,000 foreign civilians every day since 1951

* Massacre its own men, women and children for their beliefs

* Assassinate its own citizens abroad, for their beliefs.

* Repeatedly bomb and kill minority citizens from the air.

No Chinese leader, including Mao, has ever had one such power.

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Seems like the whole “want the best” argument would reduce down to only wanting the best single person since the second best single person would have negative externalities on the first.

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Jones is careful to speak in terms of reduced positive externalities rather than negative externalities. I take his point as saying that you want to have strong selection pressure, not just put up a sign that says “must be this tall to ride”.

And historically America has had really strong selection pressure on a number of important dimensions. Arguably that is why we have been relatively good at assimilating migrants relative to a lot of places.

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Yeah, I would say I didn't get convinced the negative externalities were so bad from having millions of smart capable people coming in.

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