Sunday, April 19, 2015


Just to hit the ball
And touch them all
A moment in the sun
It's gone and you can tell that one goodbye
--John Fogerty

Watching some recent highlights that featured Phillies manager Ryne Sanderge brought back memories of the Hall of Fame second baseman's stellar career as a player.

As I played out my baseball dream in the woods of Wisconsin in the 1980s, there was no player I admired more than Sandberg. His numbers, of course, spoke for themselves. But it was his approach that caught my eye. Quiet, unassuming. He played the game on the field rather than in the press. Consummate professional.

My best memory of Ryno was Memorial Day weekend, 1990. I had met up with my brother in Chicago, and a good friend who worked for Ameritech (remember them?) at the time scored corporate box seats at Wrigley.

There we sat, behind the first base dugout, on a glorious early summer afternoon at the Wrig as the Cubs played the Astros. Sandberg went 4 for 5 that day with two HRs. He went on to hit a career high 40 round trippers that year while batting .306.

Ryno modeled the game.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Short Sightedness

Years go falling in the fading light
--Al Stewart

"Why are people so shortsighted these days?" "It seems like people are becoming so short-term oriented."

I hear these kind of statements frequently. One factor that contributes to a shrinking time horizon is debt and leverage.

Borrowing resources enables people to further satisfy their 'now preference' by elevating consumption today. Saving is sacrificed in the name of instant gratification.

Debt also creates conditions of leverage. People are more sensitive to changes in the here and now because of increased risk of insolvency. People must react quickly and sometimes extremely to avoid balance sheet collapse.

Time preference increases as people shift into survival mode brought on by leverage.

As debt and leverage increase, so does shortsightedness.

Friday, April 17, 2015

On Margin

"The mother of all evils is speculation - leveraged debt."
--Gordon Gekko (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps)

For two years now, margin debt has been hitting all time highs. Markets are now much more leveraged than they were in 2007.

Let that factoid sink in.

position in SPX

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reforming Slavery?

'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me
--The Beatles

A common pro-tax argument is that taxes enable the federal government to take care of people and keep them safe. As Jacob Hornberger observes, pro-slavery arguments can readily follow similar rationalization. For example, aren't slaves typically provided jobs, food, clothing, housing, healthcare, and retirement?

Yet, every slave knows that freedom entails the inalienable right to decline that type of guaranteed security. Freedom entails the right to leave a plantation and engage freely in economic enterprise.

Various proposals for 'tax reform' are similar to calls for 'slavery reform.' Reform might make the slave life less objectionable, but it still keeps the institution in place.

Same thing for tax reform. Abolition is the only measure that provides genuine freedom for today's slaves.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taxation and Theft

Should five percent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
--The Beatles

As usual, Rothbard says it well:

Excerpted from The Ethics of Liberty.

Where Should My Taxes Go?

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
--The Beatles

Interesting proposal for letting taxpayers decide where their confiscated wealth should go. Schools? Military? Healthcare? Debt reduction?

Such a measure would motivate policymakers to focus spending on programs that interest those who are being forced to surrender resources.

Discretion over tax payment destination merely makes an unjust situation more palatable, of course. The right thing to do to eliminate force from the system entirely, and let people exercise their natural right to dispose of property as they wish.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Institutionalized Lies

"Define irony."
--Garland Greene (Con Air)

Paul Craig Roberts demonstrates the extent to which lies can be institutionalized in history books, movements, and causes by considering the myth of Abraham Lincoln as a civil rights hero.

Drawing from the work of Thomas DiLorenzo, much of which has been discussed on these pages, Roberts presents the case of Lincoln as a racist dictator who issued the Emancipation Proclamation out of desperation to save an empire that was in danger of losing a war. Roberts posits that Lincoln, had he not been assassinated, would likely have championed plans to deport blacks.

Yet, today Lincoln is hailed as a civil rights champion. That Martin Luther King chose the Lincoln Memorial as the site for delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech signifies how far off the rails the Lincoln story has gone.

Shelving history books that perpetuate such departures from the truth in the 'non-fiction' section of libraries cements the irony.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Anything That's Peaceful

In violent times
You shouldn't have to sell your soul
In black and white
They really, really ought to know
--Tears for Fears

Consistent with recent discussion on these pages, some nice observations in this missive regarding freedom of association. A simple truth here: "Tolerance does not mandate association."

For example, business owners who refuse service to people for whatever reason are, in fact, peacefully exhibiting tolerance. They are also refusing to associate with those people.

Intolerance occurs when aggression is applied. Using state power to force business owners to serve others is the height of intolerance.

If I am bothered by the behavior of those who refuse to deal with others for whatever reason, then I show tolerance by engaging in peaceful acts of persuasion or disassociation rather than in acts of violence.

Tolerance does not mean that we must like what others do. It means that we shouldn't stop them from doing anything that's peaceful.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Earth and Property

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings

Some argue that property ownership in unnatural because the earth's resources preceded human existence. As such, the bread we eat and the cars we drive must be collectively shared.

One problem with this argument is that the bread we eat and the cars we drive are not earthly resources in their natural form. Those resources have been converted into consumable forms by productive labor.

In their raw state, earthly resources do not reflect abundance if abundance is taken to mean wealth that can be consumed to advance prosperity. In their raw state, the natural state of earthly resources reflects scarcity. Unless labor is applied to them, these resources are capable of supporting only a tiny fraction of the people currently walking the earth.

Conditions are only alleviated through production--combining human effort with other factors of production to transform earthly resources into consumables.

If the argument is that the collective owns the bread and cars produced from this labor, then by extension the collective owns the labor itself.

Stated differently, the collective is a slave master.

Property rights naturally alleviate the slavery condition implied by collective ownership.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blue Bloods

"I'm the PC. I know everything."
--Frank Reagan (Blue Bloods)

No better weekly series than Blue Bloods. Current and controversial issues. Value centered. Irish catholic family. Weekly family dinner scenes some of the most enjoyable TV I've seen in years.

Good to know that network television is still capable of producing value.