NOT (just) ABOUT IRAQ -- a Social Algorithm, hopefully self-reproducing -- Fw: 66 lines about insurance against famine and war -- dpw

From: Douglas P. Wilson (
Date: Tue 12 Nov 2002 - 12:13:50 GMT

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    A copy of a personal message, about an idea which I (humbly) think deserves wider distribution:

    ----- Original Message ----- From: "Douglas P. Wilson" <> To: <> Sent: Monday, November 11, 2002 5:25 PM Subject: 66 lines about insurance against famine and war -- dpw

    Charity-Insurance Algorithm -- Memo to charities: for every dollar you spend on feeding hungry children, spend a dollar on life insurance for one of them. There are several reason to do this. The higher insurance rates with respect to children in the US are stark evidence of the lower life expectations there, and that evidence is useful. Make (other) charities the beneficiaries, and make sure that any benefits paid are distributed around to all other charities who do the same, and this will have much more profound effects.

    If this becomes commonplace, then lots of children will have their lives insured, and suddenly the insurance companies will have a lot of their money riding on the continued survival of these children and their families. If each an every poor child in this world had such life insurance, the insurance companies woud have a strong motive to make sure they rarely have to pay out. No individual and not even any individual charity would benefit from any death, but the life insurance companies would lose money, and they hate to do that. Many life insurance companies are owned by banks. They don't like to lose money either. If they find they are paying out money because of children dying of starvation or disease, then suddenly they will find investing in the preventation of famine and disease a wise thing to do.

    That's the basic idea. Now, about war. Life insurance on people likely to be killed in war is a good idea, for the same reason. If a proposed attack on Saddam Hussein or any other US enemy is as necessary, but as clean and surgical as they claim, then the life insurance premiums on those powerful individuals should be extremely expensive, more than anyone can afford, while the price for life insurance for nearby poor children should not be affected at all.

    Instead, I imagine, Saddam is so well protected that life insurance on him is not terribly expensive, but anyone trying to buy life insurance for poor children in the Baghdad area would have noticed a sudden rise in the insurance rates, which reflect the likelihood of their being innocent victims. So, don't go to Baghdad with food and flak suits for the kids, just start buying them life insurance. And post the insurance rates being charged you on every bulletin board and website you can afford. When it costs a million dollars to buy a million dollars worth of life insurance on Saddam, but only the usual dollar a day to ensure the poor Iraqi children, then the situation will have changed.

    The best way to mak the situation change is just to do that, buy the insurance, give the banks and insurance companies and the governments they support a large financial incentive to be careful of other people's lives.

    In general, Insurance is a kind of reverse-gambling, a kind of hedging-of-bets. An Insurance Company is betting against the loss of someone or something, and if they do that over a large pool of people or things, then on the whole they win. To take out insurance against something happening is rather like betting that it will, except that you know that the game is (or will be) rigged and that if THEY find Their MONEY at risk they will do something to prevent it from happening. Taking out life insurance on EVERYBODY in Iraq -- except Saddam and his military forces -- would probably cost less than a single fighter plane, perhaps less than a single "smart" bomb. But if the US invades, the insurance industry would stand to loose vast amounts of money ... and They won't let that happen.

    Taking out life insurance on every poor child in this world would probably cost less than the invasion of Iraq, and should the US invade anyway, the insurance payments from the "acceptable casualties" and "collateral damage" would be enough to pay for it.

    This is an algorithm, a scheme, method, or plan, an invention, an idea, and even a piece of technology, social technology. It is a way to give the rich and powerful a financial reason for caring for the poor. Yes, they should not need financial reasons, but so what? Regardless of their motives, it would be a good thing if they stepped in to stop people from dying. Somebody has to, and They have the resources.

    So, for every $1 spent on charity, spend $1 on charity-insurance. It will work. --dpw

            dpw http://www.SocialTechnology.Org/dpwilson.html

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