Milton Friedman

Aside from the disappointment of someone so brilliant and influential as Milton Friedman not taking a moral stand alongside the issues he could easily and clearly demonstrate with sound economic theory, he did teach me a thing or two and I’m glad for that. So I was bouncing around, here and there, noticed how fast Wikipedia got updated, then I went over to Wikiquote and recalled this from the past. There are four ways in which you can spend money. 1. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. 2. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. 3. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! 4. Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else,…

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Risk Assessment

Beck has up an interesting one, with interesting links to lots of things Everest. This is a subject I never tire of, having seen most of the documentary and docu-drama footage out there — not only about recent fiascoes on Everest, but other peaks as well. I wanted to call attention to this aspect, to which I’d never really given serious consideration: I have in mind a whole generation of people who really believe that they can do anything, steeped in grinning hype that “there are no limits”. Really: I diagnose a primacy of consciousness over reality which has turned the tallest peak in the world into “World Class” Dilettante Central. And so, for instance, a postal worker from Seattle, Doug Hansen, lies where he fell half a world away in geography and a universe away in reality from where he belonged. […] I cannot but reflect on the differences in culture between 1953 (the year of his famous ascent with Tenzing Norgay) and 1996, and conclude that there was once a time when people understood the implications of reality in ways that have, really, simply gone out of fashion. Whatever one might think of those men, I cannot imagine…

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Understanding What a Dollar Really Is

One of the many lessons traders learn is to greatly limit their information flow, which is especially tough in today’s environment of information overload. Ironically, those who are just starting out in trading often do better than seasoned pros precisely because they don’t take in lots of information that leads to fear and uncertainty, which leads to making exactly the wrong trades. But there are a few exceptions, and one of them for me is David Nichols and his daily Fractal Market Report. Here’s a discussion of inflation and the dollar from yesterday’s report that I think is pretty much on the money. The bottom line is that regardless of what you believe about the propriety of the matter, the dollar is a financial instrument that fluctuates in value relative to other assets and financial instruments. Understanding that is essential for making the correct long term moves. Here’s the article, reprinted with permission… My discussion of inflation vs. deflation sparked some questions, so I want to continue on this topic. The reason this is so important is the fluctuation in the dollar is almost never factored into most people’s thinking about financial markets. I’m just going to ramble on a…

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Oh, Good Then

Lou Dobbs “supports” my rights and my power. I admit to being, among many other things, a proponent of populism. […] a populist is, after all, nothing more than “a supporter of the rights and the power of the people.” In fact, I’m a damn proud populist. Now, if that does not really, really, really mean my power and rights, your power and rights, and every single individual’s individual power and rights then what can it possibly mean? You know what? If someone were to criticize me…that I try and explain or preach too much, I’ll cop to it this very instant. You’re on your own. Think hard about the answer to that question. (Neal)

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Business as Usual

If you need any more evidence that the Republican Party are a bunch of political dimwits, see here. And for a bit of sarcasm, Warren Meyer found it. If there’s one message that the electorate sent the Republican Party last week, it’s that we hadn’t given them enough of Trent Lott. A few years back, I, my dad, and a business parter attended a CATO luncheon in San Francisco with P. J. O’Rourke as the featured speaker. I think he did a fair job of summing up and juxtaposing American politics: “Republicans: smart voters, dumb politicians; Democrats: dumb voters, smart politicians.” I have yet to see anything that dissuades me from believing that rather elegant and simple view.

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“What, Me Worry?”

For the obvious reasons of why the stock market broke out of a several-week consolidation phase to new highs yesterday, see here. I don’t know how long that link will last for that particular article, but if you’re coming along late, it’s the Wednesday, November 15, 2006 update, in case they have an archive.

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No Questions. Just Observations

Kyle is exactly right. I can’t bear to read it on a daily basis, nor even to link to it directly Me either. To think I used to have it on my blog roll. This is Bruce McQuain’s fault, squarely. Had you told me back in 1995 that “McQ” was someday going to provide the prime moral basis for a statist-socialist blog, I’d have laughed myself silly. The other two numbskulls were and are what they were and are, but Bruce knew better and had a moral responsibility to try and change it, or, failing that, loudly walking away from it. Instead, he promotes it. Just awful, all the way around.

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Note to Kim du Toit

Kim, with reference to this prior abomination, now you’re talking. The question is: can you unravel the proper distinctions in the whole thing? Here’s a clue. Those people you are clearly praising are essentially free to produce what they want, so long as able, trade with whom they want, at whatever terms they want. What they lack is capital beyond their own labor and a measly few rupees, and that’s why they are going to be perpetually stuck. The capital will come, of course, but completely inaccessible to them. The capital will come as a 3-way partnership between multi-national corporations and their bedfellow politicians in Washington D.C. and New Delhi. I’ve traveled throughout a number of 3rd world countries: Korea (when it was 3rd world), Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, and a few others. Those pictures of yours are essentially interchangeable. It’s the same in all these places. That’s why so many of these people do so well if they get a chance to come over here. They already know how to make a living without having an employer. They’ve done it all their lives and it’s second nature to them. At least, when they come here, they can get…

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Meet Your Newest Old Hobgoblin

“Will it be working families vs. big business?” Oh, you know it will. Nothing says “democrat politics” quite like envy. Now, of course, the democrats aren’t stupid. They aren’t going to kill corporate America like uncompromising commies would. But they’re going to bleed it. Of that, you can be sure. And all those “working families” with their tax-deferred 401Ks and IRAs — that is their very best hope of building a significant retirement for themselves beyond the very few who take an initiative and a risk that pays off, breaking out from the pack — won’t even blink. Rather, they will believe that their diminishing returns and stagnating growth are the result of the government not doing enough. Just watch and see.

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Badminton and the Origin of Civilization

L. Neil Smith, in an essay titled There’s No Such Thing as “Goodminton,” comes up with a pun of sorts, served up as a metaphor in characterizing the latest in political goings on. Election 2006 has come and gone, uprooting Bible-thumpers, born again warmongers, xenophobes, torturers, and homo-haters, replacing them with what will soon prove to be endless hordes of food fascists, tree huggers, Luddites, energy Nazis, anti-smokers, animal rights (but never human rights) crazies, acid rain, ozone depletion, and global warming hoaxers, Sandalistas, and gun-grabbing victim disarmament zombies. I realize that it needed to be done, but it’s a lot like having a festering wound cleaned out by maggots. Somehow I don’t really feel much better. It seems that Skull & Bones still wins, no matter what we do. Indeed. One group of thieves with “ideals” replaced with another group of thieves with “ideals.” The ideals I speak of are mere window dressing, serving only to differentiate the one group of marauders from the other. This is why those with real ideals — individualist ideals — sometimes develop a sort of natural bias for one group of mafioso over the other (I count myself guilty in that respect as…

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First Laugh of the Morning

“Ok, that’s it. Who do I have to blow to get an invite to the next one of these?” and… “It can’t have been that good. Guido was up and blogging at 10.49 the next morning.” The first two comments to Samizdata’s after action report, complete with lots of photos. Enjoy.

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Leave it Alone, Kim

My, oh my. Kim: you don’t have any idea how silly you look to virtually anyone reasonably familiar with these ideas, do you? “What you guys are missing is that too much government has precisely the same result as no government at all.” I’m sure that must have seemed clever, ironic, paradoxical (did I say clever?) when you wrote it, but it really drives home the great suspicion that you are breathlessly lightweight when it comes to thinking through such matters. Then again, you’re a republican — and you vote! I often find that there are far fewer coincidences than I would have liked to think. (background)

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Belated Happy Birthday

To me. Well, more precisely, to this blog. It’s been three years and began with this post on November 2, 2003. Other than eventually deciding to allow comments, which I’m very glad I did, it has pretty much gone as expected. In fact, as to my continued and often increasing enthusiasm for it, it had exceeded my best imaginations. It’s truly a lifetime’s project for me. At least, that’s how I view it now. As of today: 873 posts and 2,931 comments. We’ve had 235,000 unique visits, and over 300,000 page views in that time. Downloading all the posts and opening in Word, it comes out to 2,400 pages. Back in around 1996 I totaled up everything I’d posted to Usenet and sent out in email on these more-or-less “socio-political” issues, and it came to over 3,500 pages, done in about two years time. So, I’ve backed off my normal pace a bit. But I’ve got to admit: sometimes I really love doing this. There’s likely a post or two in here that I could really do without, and I’m always wondering in the back of my head when (not if) something is going to come back to bite me…

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They “Love” Alright

If Bush and Pelosi “love(ed)” America, they would diligently strive to return America to Americans rather than jockeying for position in the power over the people game that politics is. John, what they love is the United States and the Republicratic for which it stands. They don’t love America, and I doubt they ever did, even once in their miserable lives. There’s a substantial difference. I think that most people nowadays are not Americans at all. They’re United Statesians. More directly: they’re statists. The two are mutually exclusive.

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Housekeeping

I’m changing the design a bit, going to three columns with a floating-width center column. Because of that, the banner will look stupid, so I’ve removed it and will, for the time being, just have text. But I’m having an issue getting TypePad to reset that property. So, if you’re wondering, this blog is: Uncommon Sense.

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“Bizarro-America”

People are welcome to think what they wish, but I will remind them they they are no more capable of determining the future with certainty than any of us. Try this: how many of you believed that this single-party government, over these past six years, would double the national debt and increase government spending on entitlements to unprecedented levels (well, since LBJ, anyway)? I know a lot of us didn’t expect much from the republicans, and we certainly didn’t expect any sort of real rollback of government, but I feel pretty confident that nobody in the world expected or predicted them to actually increase the size and scope of government to levels — and at a pace — that would make most democrat politicians blush. And, of course, the democrats always have to be to the left of the republicans (it’s a natural law), so, no matter what the republicans do in a vain and stupid effort to win votes they would never win anyway, it’s never enough for the democrats. So, the effect, really, is that the democrats are pushed father to the left than they might naturally be by…by the republicans. It’s all been a disaster for a…

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The End of Faith?

I’m simply saying that believing propositions on bad evidence is never a good idea. If there were sufficient reasons to believe Jesus will be returning to earth like a superhero, this belief would form part of our rational, scientific worldview. Of course, there are no good reasons to believe this, but this hasn’t kept a majority of Americans from watching the skies in the hopes that the savior the world will soon arrive. In fact, 44% of Americans believe that Jesus will return sometime in the next fifty years. Apocalyptic beliefs of this sort actually have political, economic, and environmental consequences. And yet they are based purely on religious dogma. Dogmatism is dangerous because it is intrinsically divisive—these ideas aren’t rationally held, so they can’t be rationally discussed—and it uncouples people from the events in the world that should actually inform their beliefs. Religious dogmatism impedes medical research, starts wars, diverts scarce material and intellectual resources—in short, it gets people killed. What most people call “faith” (in the religious sense of the word) is nothing but a willingness to accept religious dogma uncritically. I am definitely arguing that we have to transcend this impulse. But the truth is, I’m either…

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An Open Letter

Frequent commenter here, Kyle Bennett sends off a letter to some of his newly elected “representative.” Not exactly a congratulations.

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The Coming Disaster

Well, of course. The only thing I really disagree with Billy about is that it will be “unprecedented.” It will just be a general continuation of the general disaster that’s been underway for longer than anyone can really put a finger on. In spite of all the talk of gridlock, that particular sentiment is not what did the republicans in tonight. The republicans did the republicans in. They’ve had every opportunity over twelve years to stand on principles of individualism, private property, small government, free enterprise, and freedom of association they claim to hold. They just didn’t. Not a single one I’m aware of — and certainly not firmly or uncompromisingly. They still might have lost tonight, but at least they could have packed up and moved out with some measure of dignity and respect — rather than in the shameful, disgraceful, and embarrassing manner they’re tossed out on their asses now. There’s part of me that hates to see it, but they surely deserve it. I just can’t see it any other way.

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