Should I claim COVID-benefits I don't need to give to charity?

post by anony_mous · 2020-05-14T18:24:57.787Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW · No comments

This is a question post.


    15 Khorton
    13 DavidNash
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The Canadian government provides financial benefits to students who are unable to find work due to COVID. The emergency benefit amounts to $1250 per period of 4 weeks for a maximum of 16 weeks (so $5000 in total). I am eligible for it, but I don't need it, as I am fully funded for the rest of my degree and do not need to work. I am contemplating the idea of applying for it to give that money to an effective charity, but I have some misgivings about claiming emergency benefits that I don't need. I estimate the risks of being caught and having to repay as being null, and the time it is going to cost me to apply for it is negligible, so it seems like in terms of utility-maximization it would be a pretty good thing to do. Any thoughts on that? Are there any arguments not to do that from an EA perspective?


answer by Khorton · 2020-05-14T23:38:20.361Z · score: 15 (7 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I have one big question: were you originally planning to work this summer?

If you had planned to work and now you can't, then please do apply. You're just as eligible as anyone else.

If you had planned to take the summer off, then the honest thing to do is just stick to that plan and not apply for the extra money.

answer by DavidNash · 2020-05-14T19:57:50.570Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think the guiding principles from CEA would suggest that this is a bad idea

"Because we believe that trust, cooperation, and accurate information are essential to doing good, we strive to be honest and trustworthy. More broadly, we strive to follow those rules of good conduct that allow communities (and the people within them) to thrive. We also value the reputation of effective altruism, and recognize that our actions reflect on it. "

comment by anony_mous · 2020-05-15T14:58:29.495Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thank you David, I agree this would certainly infringe that principle. I was not aware that this was a core principle of EA, it seems like this could potentially often conflict with the duty to do the most good. I always assumed EA was committed to consequentialism, but this is manifestly inaccurate.

comment by trammell · 2020-05-15T15:47:04.054Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I don't know what counts as a core principle of EA exactly, but most people involved with EA are quite consequentialist.

Whatever you should in fact do here, you probably wouldn't find a public recommendation to be dishonest. On purely consequentialist grounds, after accounting for the value of the reputation of the EA community and so on, what community guidelines (and what EA Forum advice) do you think would be better to write: those that go out of their way to emphasize honesty or those that sound more consequentialist?

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