> Republicans seem to be post-policy, their groups doubly so.

Huh? I don't know which groups you mean, but the groups I'm aware of seem pretty policy-focused, from Claremont to Cato.

There has always been less correlation between policy and rhetoric on the Republican side, but this seems like a good thing consider how pretty obviously bad the policy preferences of both Democratic and Republican bases would be.

Overall good piece, but like I said in our convo I think many people underrate how dynamic and high-variance the Republican party is.

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One piece of feedback: as written, this narrative strongly seems to imply/be anchored in legislative action, not executive action. I'd suggest that there's also real room for a moral-mazes grounded element here that's targeted on the executive asking, "let's figure out what stupid tasks civil servants are doing for genuinely no reason required by law, and make a bid to grab that time for our priorities under existing authorities."

Everyone in DC knows a story of their friend who asked, "why do we do this weekly report that takes up half the time of Office A and send it to Office B?" and the answer ultimately turned out to be, "Office B doesn't know either, hasn't used that kind of data in a decade, and thought Office A had a vested interest in making it, so never wanted to burn influence on suggesting stopping the report."

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It's funny, but I have heard multiple times Democrats complaining that their side never has workable policies/legislation designed and ready to go, unlike the Republicans who have draft legislation written and chambered for when they win an election and can pass it.

It might just be the usual "my team is stupid and ineffective compared to the opposite team who is evil and effective" gripe, but a pretty consistent one. Maybe the D's lump libertarians in with Republicans overall?

A second point: How are you going to handle policy positions like "FDA delenda est"? I note in your essay a flavor of "propose ways to do more" instead of things that maybe the government should stop doing all together. Maybe just a writing style thing, but I would like clarification on whether you think stopping particular programs or departments is just too big or politically impossible to bother with.

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Zvi, one thing to add is how to work the bureaucracy once something is passed. As we saw with ACA and many post passage regulatory actions, this process may even be more important. Very few people understand the guts of the system: incentives in the bureaucracy, procurement, and the regulatory process. Those need attention to get good policy.

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Is Dominic Cummings involved with Balsa Research? (I hope so)

I ask because he was recently in the US for a project and this sounds right up his alley.

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How will this effort not just get eaten up and absorbed by what Dominick Cummings calls the blob?

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An republican alternative to the ACA had been proposed by the Manhattan Institute in 2014 called "Transcending Obamacare: A Patient-Centered Plan for Near-Universal Coverage and Permanent Fiscal Solvency". Figuring out why it never made it to Congress might be worthwhile.

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Death is the enemy?

I've become too cynical to put any real faith into such endeavors as this, but...best of luck anyway. Wish I could help more, besides whatever small effect my subscription revenue has on the Official Project Budget. Even if Balsa ultimately goes nowhere, to-dream-of-a-better-world and attempting-to-cut-the-enemy are important skills to model for others. Nothing makes me sadder in the modern age than people who give up on their own potential. The Devil's greatest trick, and all that...

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This seems like a very worthwhile effort that the world badly needs. I don't have anything to contribute but I hope it works.

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Donald Trump is the authoritarian? Are you paying attention?

Election denialism? Are you saying 2020 was simply perfect, that no laws were broken? Interesting. Why don’t we just look at facts? Here are some just on Pennsylvania. And you think this is normal?


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I am _very_ curious about how this turns out!

I'm intrigued by your idea about a "full stack approach". I am worried that 'higher' layers in the stack are riskier ('operationally') and that failures there might prevent work done on 'lower' layers from being useful _then on_ – especially given your own stated preference for working in those lower layers.

There's a (frustrating) amount of apparent 'bundling' in politics and that often seems to 'poison' potential policies by association based on those bundles. (And, for many people, there seems to be only two bundles, e.g. 'left' or 'right', or Democratic or Republican.)

At some point, you're going to have to make 'risky' calls at 'layer 8' and make hard tradeoffs about 'wins for you' versus 'wins overall'. (I do expect you to do a reasonably good job at that, but less so if those decisions are made relatively more indirectly by yourself.)

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Reading the essay I thought of this article:


Having worked in two separate bureaucracies, I applaud you for your effort and wish you the best of luck. Although I find most of the positions a state takes on issues are due to the people in the room, its somewhat the luck of the draw. Therefore I usually come to the conclusion that until there occurs a substantial change in those occupying the current administrative state unnecessary regulations will continue to be created.

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