My Faults My Own

…willing to sacrifice something we don't have

for something we won't have, so somebody will someday.

IN  WHICH Ross Rheingans-Yoo—a sometime artist, economist, poet, trader, expat, EA, and programmer—writes on things of int­erest.

Reading Feed (last update: November 24)

A collection of things that I was glad I read. Views expressed by linked authors are chosen because I think they're interesting, not because I think they're correct, unless indicated otherwise.


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power — "[F]or now I’ll just note it is very much in the running for very best book of the year. It brings Native American history to life in a conceptual manner better than any other book I know."


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Favorite popular music listening for 2019


Blog: Marginal Revolution | Do social media drive the rise in right-wing populism? — "Overall, we do not find evidence that online/social media explain support for right-wing populist candidates and parties. Instead, in the USA, use of online media


Donations 2019

For the sixth year, I remain committed to using at least 10% of what income I earn to support the organizations that I think best make the universe a better place, and to talking about it on this blog. Here are my thoughts at the end of 2019.

These specific organizations I'm supporting are, in relative terms, mostly unchanged from 2018. The biggest changes are:

  • Marginally more saving / investing for later donation opportunities (including the potential for political contributions in 2020).
  • Marginally less donor lottery.
  • The Good Food Institute replacing The Humane League.

note: I'm still working on some parts of this post with more details about these organizations and my thoughts, but wanted to get an early version out in case it was helpful to others making donation decisions before year-end. Watch this space for updates, maybe.


Compared to years past, I spent relatively more time thinking about donations this year. This reflects a few things:

  • I'll be giving more as my income grows and my personal

Elasticities, revisited

Hannes Malmberg commented on my review of Saez and Zucman in response to a point I made about the elasticity of capital supply:

I think you are confusing demand and supply elasticities of capital.

The revenue calculations hinge on the elasticity of capital supply, i.e., how fast capital supply rise with the interest rate (how much more do people decide to save).

The Piketty spiral, in contrast, hinges on the elasticity of capital demand, i.e., how fast the interest rate fall with increasing capital (i.e., how fast firms and companies switch away from using capital when it gets more expensive).

There is nothing theoretically preventing us from having an almost horizontal capital demand curve, and an almost vertical capital supply curve. In such a world, a capital tax raises a lot of revenue, but increasing the savings propensity increase the capital stock without reducing the interest rate. (...)

I think he is basically right, and I'll partially retract section 3A of my


Review: The Triumph of Injustice

Or, the coming debate on moral incidence of taxes

You're going to hear a lot about the triumph of injustice in the next 6-12 months. Or rather, you're going to hear a lot about The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay, by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman (2019).

For one thing, the two economists have signed on as economic advisors to 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who has for years been putting questions of economics and notions of justice front-and-center. But more generally, economic justice is having a moment, and I prophesy that you'll hear more about it before you hear less.

So this is my first real attempt to understand exactly what kind of moment it is, in the best way I know how -- by writing. Specifically, by writing a review that unpacks TToI for non-economists. (I am an economist, but not the kind that helps p— I mean, not a macroeconomist.


Everybody knows

One of the things I've appreciated about living abroad is that it's helped me better understand context that I used to be swimming in. Sometimes it's context on the breadth of the human condition, but sometimes it's just my daily lesson on filter bubbles.

Google knows enough at this point to show me SCMP articles about the MTR/Cathay Pacific thing (no I'm not going to link this, because my point is precisely that maybe five people reading this know enough not to have to look it up). If it was the MTA that had banned an American Airlines ad depicting a no seriously you don't know what goes here, do you?, then I'm near-certain that it'd be all over (my) Facebook. But no, I logged in today just to check, near-certain that I wouldn't find a single mention of it. I was right.

This isn't an objective fact about the world; it's a subjective fact about who I'm talking to. Somewhere, someone has a Facebook feed full of


Adding HTTPS

My Faults My Own (and other and subdomains) are now available over HTTPS, with certificates from Let's Encrypt. (cf.

The setup took nontrivial effort, so I've narrated it here for my or your future reference. I don't think there's anything technically novel here, and there may even be an HTTPS-setup guide for 2019 somewhere else that dominates mine for usefulness, but there wasn't one easy-to-find enough that I found it, so here we are.


First, the dramatis personae:

Let's Encrypt (hereafter "LE"), a project of the nonprofit Internet Security Research Group, issues free TLS (née SSL) certificates; they recommend that site administrators with shell access use the LE client Certbot, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

My Faults My Own, and other and subdomain services, are happily hosted by Digital Ocean (this turns out not to matter), running nginx on Ubuntu 14.04. (Certbot supports many other servers and OS setups as


Donations 2018

Well, it's been a crazy calendar year in any number of ways...and here at the end of it, I have a few commitments to uphold. I remain committed to donating at least 10% of my income to the organizations that I think best make the universe a better place, and to talking about it on this blog. Here are my thoughts at the end of 2018.


While I've recently been conducting some independent research into investment strategies for effective altruists (results forthcoming), I haven't been particularly active in producing my own independent opinions on the effectiveness or value of organizations. So, as in 2017, my perspective here is primarily a synthesis of a raft of conversations I've had with a (uncredited) gaggle of friends and friends-of-friends.

disclaimers: I've made no particular attempt to be discriminating or fair in these conversations. Some of the friends who have helped me form my opinions here are involved in some capacity in the areas or organizations I'll mention. Some have their


Review: Ready Player One

tl;dr: For yet another techno-corporatist dystopia, I found Ready Player One a surprisingly refreshing, hopeful, humanist story about uncynical protagonists whose only superpowers are earnestly caring about something. The visual effects are pretty well on-point, the action is well-done, and the dialogue is inconsistently but occasionally witty. I went in expecting the most vapid of action movies, and was pleasantly surprised.

I'd read plenty of thinkpieces explaining ways that Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One was shallow, bad, and/or problematic, but I had an evening to burn, so I went to go see it with a friend of mine.

I'm glad that I did; I enjoyed it a lot. (I'm going to say ~nothing about the 'and/or problematic'; just not going to go there today.)

spoiler note: Mild spoilers for references, worldbuilding, and visual style. No significant plot spoilers.


On its face, it's a effects-rich action-romp. And in that genre, it felt reasonably well-done, if not particularly deep (though it had its thematic notes, see 2A

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