Outcompete God and Country

 Here’s how you could better grow your one and only life, in my view.

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Outside the Busybody Box

Since 1991, I’ve had this metaphor in my head: outcompete god. On levels, it’s hilarious to me that people pray to a skygod for so many of the things man routinely manages and fixes. To state it another way, while I was intrigued by the New Atheists and read many of the books that came out, I never put much into promoting; and I care not for atheist activism in terms of Nativity scenes in the public square, et al. Big waste of time, and a distraction.

To me, the best way to defeat the notion of a skygod is to simply outcompete it. Pray all you like; but in the end, it was that quadruple bypass that saved your grandfather’s life, and humans invented that. …Organ transplants; and now, knee and hip replacements of god’s faulty, worn out equipment that give many old folks new life. I just spoke with the mother of my bro’s significant other on Sunday. She got both hips replaced in Jan/Feb and has a completely new lease on life. Now that she’s fully mobile again, she’s lost a lot of weight, back to her active hiking self. Alternatively, how long, being sedentary in chronic pain, until she’d have developed all forms of metabolic syndrome leading to eventual debilitating “living,” culminating in early death?

Pray all you like. God has been outcompeted. And now, humans have even created “aliens.”

…And so is my approach to the State. Outcompete this 19th Century (and way beyond) Idea. Four fucking videos; but hey, each of them are 3-4 minutes long, and they’re good.

Fuck the State and its pipsqueak & clown, pettifogging limpdicks. Update 1

On Lyft, both the driver and passenger rate each other. Accordingly, if either has too many bad ratings, going to be tough to get a gig or a lyft. I’ve found that people are pretty damn reasonable if you make a little effort to give them what they pay for and as advertised. In my vacation rental business, where I’m on VRBO, AirBNB and FlipKey, I have nothing but top ratings and all of my guests have been nothing but normal good people. AirBNB and FlipKey asks me to review guests just as they were asked to review me.

Fuck the State and its pipsqueak & clown, pettifogging limpdicks. Update 2.

There was a good comment by Lauren Snyder Grosz when I posted this to Facebook this morning.

I thought I might have a lil crush on the founder of EatWith until I heard him talk about working with officials. I don’t think this is the road he’ll be successful going down. The people signing up with EatWith don’t have any interest in having officials check items off a clipboard. They’ll just use technology to find ways around his company if he doesn’t figure out how to stand up for the people he’s getting a cut from.

Indeed.  Good way for him to get leapfrogged by someone who doesn’t give a fuck about working with regulators (OR PEOPLE FIXING DINNER IN THIER HOMES TELLING GUESTS THEY’RE REGULATED). Even for actual restaurants, now. When people want to check out a reputation, where do they go? Yelp, Zagat, etc. Moreover, have you ever watched Robert Irvine’s Restaurant Impossible? Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares? Ever wondered where are the State inspectors, when so many of these small operators are violating not only every health code in the book, but every common sense best practice for professional food servers?

So, the State actually harms you while professing to help you. Gives you a false sense of security. Moreover, it allows bad actors to scoot along because all they have to do is find a way to fill out forms, pay fees, and pass inspections—if tough inspections ever even happen. Restaurants need an Underwriter’s Laboratories equivalent—keeping you actually safe using all manner of electrical appliances for 120 years. Ever wonder why the State doesn’t have a bureau of electrical appliance safety? Can’t even hope to compete with the UL stamped on every electrical device you own (go look), that’s why.

Where is your savior?

Fuck the State and its pipsqueak & clown, pettifogging limpdicks. Update 3

Forwarded this to Beatrice. She has a million lesson plans going back 30 years. Told her I’ll be her editor.

Most notably, she’s more interested in the new stuff she’s been doing over the last couple of years as part of a Project Based Learning experiment in the school she originally taught at, as a new teacher. School went to pot over the last decade since she’s been gone, and she was hand picked—along with the entire staff including new principal—to get it back to where it’s helping kids, again.

She recently raised about $3,000 via online crowd-source-funding to beautify an area of the schoolyard that borders a neighboring property. However, unlike in the meat grinding, just-another-brick-in-the-wall way, the students did everything. She just facilitated and guided.

In other words, education is evolving into an apprentice-master relationship, instead of the loser teacher-student relationship to serve teacher and ivory tower authoritarian ego, and their structures.

Oh, just a footnote; one Kindergarten teacher on TeachersPayTeachers.com has earned $2 million, from other teachers, for her ideas and work. So, pray to your one-size-fits-all-lowest-common-denomiator Teacher’s Union. Or, strike out and get paid what you’re worth on your own.

Fuck the State and its pipsqueak & clown, pettifogging limpdicks. Update 4.

Back in around 2008, I and a co-founder did a startup that came within a few hairs of getting A-round VC funding (from Andy Rappaport at August Capital, a lead original investor in Skype) after dozens of presentations in Silicon Valley. It was in the peer-to-peer lending space. you may have heard of Prosper and Lending Club. These are basically people lending—not giving—other people money, for a rate of return.

As market research, I put $1,000 into each of Prosper, Lending Club, and Kiva.org, a non-profit lending vehicle where your charity is to forego interest (plus the risk of losing principal). I did OK. I lent in increments of $25 and $50 to tons of different folks, got back the vast majority of principle in Prosper and LC, and principle losses were made up for by interest received on good loans. Made a little money. For Kiva, I got back 100% of principle, from sheepherders, farmers, cart and roadside food-shack owners, and whatnot—in the 3rd world!

Educational. You can be a banker yourself.

Long story short, our P2P lending was more P2B lending. See, as small bus people ourselves, we knew how banks operate. Until you get to a scale where you can just sign for a credit line of $250,000 or more, you’re stuck with an equity line of credit, should you have equity in some property. So, our deal was to give people the ability to loan money to small businesses where they had knowledge. People actually know a lot about business, in niches. They frequent coffee shops, bistros, small clothing merchants and on and on. They have knowledge that bankers do not. How often have you thought that you could run this business? You may be wrong, you may be right, but the important thing is that you’re passionately invested, so how about give you a chance to put a little money on the line and earn some back if you’re right?

My active company at the time invested $160,000. Friends and family made up the other $90,000, for a total of $250k. $40K of that was spent on lawyers, because we anticipated regulatory issues. That $40K bought us the word that the SEC would probably file it under one of many exemptions. It did not. Both Prosper and LC had to cease operations for 6 months in order to get their loans registered as “securities.”

It killed our effort.

$250K down the drain. What’s the most disheartening for me is that we had a lending algorithm that would have been very competitive against Prosper and LC, in that the lenders would have had so many more options to manage risk. In essence, we synthesized what you would experience with a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd mortgage on your home. Lenders could “pick their position” (plus lots of other variables) with associated risk/return.

So now, FedCo wants you to be able to get actual equity. So they say.

Or, is it just a reach in order to have more stuff to “regulate,” more stuff to make headlines over every time granny does something dumb and invests too many eggs in one basket?

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  1. MeThinks on May 13, 2014 at 19:36

    Methinks that if the “corral” for the tree was built slanted, that Richard would intentionally grow upright, just to avoid growing through it, and think that that constitutes independence (even though he’s totally dependent upon where the corral is, nevertheless).

    • Richard Nikoley on May 13, 2014 at 20:00

      Me thinks you have a concrete bound small mind that can’t take a metaphor for its essential value and chew on it.

      Move on. There’s nothing to see here, citizen.

    • MeThinks on May 14, 2014 at 05:01

      Oh, I get the metaphor perfectly well. It’s the notion that somehow the tree is being hindered by the corral, when in truth – if anything – it would actually benefit from it. But, of course, to realize that, the tree would have to get over his superficial understanding of “independence”, and learn to take pride in something besides contrarianism.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2014 at 06:45

      It’s not about contrarianism. It’s about being your own authority and not living by the say-so of others.

      But, you go right ahead and play it however you like. You seem interested in being an authority over others, so perhaps submit to theirs as well.

    • John on May 14, 2014 at 08:12

      I like this post. I do not like the comment written in 2014 that starts with “Methinks.”

    • MC on May 14, 2014 at 13:58

      Lol gotta admit, it is kinda funny that the tree looks deformed now.

    • MeThinks on May 14, 2014 at 19:33

      Doing something differently – regardless of what it is, simply because it’s different, and simply for the purpose of “being your own authority” – isn’t actually being your own authority, ironically.

      Governments come into existence because we all live in the same reality, and it’s the most efficient way to protect the values they protect. It isn’t any kind of submission.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2014 at 20:37

      Methinks I have not the slightest interest in your prescriptions or proscriptions for my life, or anyone else’s.

      Have you ever considered living a life around the principle of minding your own business?

    • Mo on May 15, 2014 at 05:05

      Hey “MeThinks” – Thanks for my first laugh of the day. Check this out and get back to me about about how government is “the most efficient way”:


    • Bret on May 15, 2014 at 06:32

      I may be out on a limb here, but I’m sure MeThinks is plenty skeptical of government…when Republicans are in office. (as well he/she should be, as proven by eight years of Bush and the largely GOP-controlled congresses that accompanied him)

      But when it’s a Democratic enterprise of endless government growth, spending, regulatory bullying, etc, it’s the best thing ever!

  2. Dan on May 13, 2014 at 19:40

    One of my favourite posts ever. I run a small startup looking to shake things up in a particular vertical market in Australia.

    Nothing excites me more (other than a healthy biota) than examples of the above where passionate people running startups are disinter-mediating gubmint, their model couldnt be more open and their customers couldnt be more happy.

    This was sent to me by a VC friend of mine. Imagine a property developer crowdfunding investment and how many problems that solves for all parties!

    I think this is where real change will come. I hope. Your P2B funding platform was ahead of your time.

  3. SteveRN on May 14, 2014 at 04:11

    SEC. What a joke. Protect the public. After your last economics post, I have started to try and educate myself a bit on economic, money,the way it all works. I am sure my knowledge base is still low, but 100% above where it was. Just what I have learned about the derivatives markets and how over-leveraged all the to-big-to-fail banks are, I know whatever purpose the SEC serves is not about protecting the people. Love the post, thanks.

  4. TJ the Grouch on May 14, 2014 at 05:24

    As always, a breath of fresh air. Thanks for being you. The picture of the tree is priceless!

  5. Bret on May 14, 2014 at 17:27

    Come on, Richard. You know as well as I do that there are only two types of people in this world: people who work in the private sector, and *better* people who work for the state. ;-)

    Wish I could take credit for that, but I read it straight out of last year’s spring/summer Cato Journal issue.

  6. Kristine on May 16, 2014 at 09:25

    Great article Richard, certainly know which side of the fence you’re on! I really love the video handle, “Fuck the State and its pipsqueak & clown, pettifogging limpdicks.” Tell us how you really feel…lol

  7. kayumochi on May 17, 2014 at 05:28

    That picture of a tree was taken in Japan and looks like a black pine. They are quite adaptable to the environment which is why they are used in bonsai. I have seen them planted along the Pacific coast in Japan for erosion control and the wind coming off the water over the centuries causes them to grow bent, away from the ocean.

  8. Troels Rasmussen on May 21, 2014 at 05:59

    One could wonder about the possibility of such projects without computers and smartphones, that people can’t produce themselves and which are made by big companies.

    The power-to-the-people effects of the projects described in those clips don’t really resonate which some of the stories I’ve heard about electronics manufacturing workers threatening to kill themselves.

    I’m not trying to be moralistic (I’m writing this using a computer).

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