Friday, August 31, 2018

Plantation of the Mind

"Go tell your folks how kingdom come in the year of Jubilee!"
--Sgt Major John Rawlins (Glory)

Candace Owens sees the Democratic Party combined with the mainstream media as a political plantation. The complex seeks to enslave the minds of black Americans by telling them who to love and hate, and what to believe. Anyone who questions the slave masters is subject to harsh punishment.

The Democrat-media complex is a plantation of social control. Its objective is to enslave minds. As Owens astutely observes, the business of social control hates freedom--as in freedom of thought.

Freedom of thought in pursuit of truth marks the escape route from the plantation. As minds are freed, Jubilee approaches.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Outsourcing Crime to Government

Agent David Coppinger: Leary is what we nowadays call a wet boy.
Al D'Andrea: What's a wet boy, Frank?
Frank Horrigan: Leary's an assassin.
--In the Line of Fire

Some people hire agents to do criminal acts for them. A hit man commits murder. But that in no way absolves the principal who retained him.

Why, then, do the principals outsource crime? The criminal act may be sophisticated and require the skills of a specialist. The principal may not have the stomach for personally committing the crime. Or perhaps there is the hope that contracting with an agent will make it more difficult to trace the crime back to the principal.

Strong armed government agents commit crimes on the behalf of principals everyday. Theft, counterfeiting, kidnapping, slavery, murder. Does the same rationale listed above apply in this case? To some degree, yes.

Add another reason to the list, however. The reason is in actuality a rationalization. The rationalization is that when government uses aggression on others, it is not a crime at all. It is done in the name of national security. Or for the greater good. Or for [insert positive substitute symbol here].

Those who retain government agents to commit these acts see themselves as principals of good, not evil. They believe that they are absolved of any wrongdoing.

In reality they are outsourcing crime to government.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Can Media Bias Be Reduced?

"Mrs Garrison, you've got to stop them. Your husband created a new kind of journalism, and you helped him. Take a look at the first paper you ever printed. Quote: 'This paper will fight for progress and reform. We'll never be satisfied with merely printing the news. We'll never be afraid to attack wrong--whether by predatory wealth or predatory poverty.' You're not selling The Day, you're killing it."
--Ed Hucheson (Deadline U.S.A.)

Rarely a day goes by where I don't encounter commentary about the persistent state of media bias. A common question is this: Why can't [insert outlet name here] be more even-handed in their coverage?

At least two factors prevent reduction in media bias. One is the ingrained political ideologies of journalists and other people who create and report the 'news.' Viewing the world thru an ideological lens filters the data. Some data are filtered out which necessarily concentrates or biases what passes thru. Slanted coverage is bound to result--and persist as long as ideologies remain ingrained.

A less discussed, but perhaps more important factor contributing to persistent media bias in the long run is the strong market that has developed for biased media coverage. People generally gain psychic pleasure when they consume media that reinforces their view of the world. They feel psychic pain when media do not confirm their worldview. Because they generally prefer pleasure over pain, media consumers will gravitate to outlets that produce palatable content. Empirical evidence suggests that media markets have segmented accordingly.

Stated differently, as long as media outlets depend on resources, monetary or otherwise, from their readership, they will be reluctant to reduce biased content because they will lose readers (and resources).

Factors that slant media markets on both the supply and demand sides reinforce each other in ways that cause media bias to persist, and perhaps even escalate, over time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Uncharted Territory

Look out on the street now
The party's just beginning
The music's playing
A celebration's starting

The S&P 500 has joined the Nasdaq Composite in marking all-time highs. The Dow remains a couple hundred pts away from its high water mark set back in January.

Volumes have been trending lower. While buyers do not seem very enthusiastic, selling pressure is virtually non-existent.

Market participants are having trouble imagining what could possibly burn the market playhouse down. This, of course, is bearish in the end.

no positions

Monday, August 27, 2018


"You see, grandfather scratched the Scott mills to life with nothing much but his bare hands."
--Paul Scott (Valley of Decision)

In 1850 the US was in the midst of a productivity-led expansion. The country's population had more than quadrupled since the turn of the century. Innovations were driving spectacular increases in productivity. Agricultural output more than doubled from 1840 to 1860 while the value of manufacturing and mining industries nearly tripled during this period.

1850 $20 PCGS XF40 CAC

A bottle of port cost about 10 cents while a pound of coffee cost about 80 cents. Pianos could be purchased for less than $200 and a routine doctor's visit cost $2. A new home in Brooklyn cost $2,500.

With a sound money and improving productivity backdrop, prices would generally remain stable or decline during the second half of the 19th century.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Partial Justice

"If this thing reaches as deep and goes as high as we think it does, they'll do anything not to be exposed."
--Gray Grantham (The Pelican Brief)

Kim Strassel discusses the uneven hand of justice as it pertains to the Trump and Clinton campaigns.

"The country has watched the FBI treat one campaign with kid gloves, the other with warrants, wiretaps, and eavesdropping. They've seen the Justice Department resist all efforts at accountability, even as it fails to hold its own accountable. And don't get them started on the one-sided media.

"And now they are witnessing unequal treatment in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe."

As she correctly observes, Mueller's blindness to the national expectation of equal application of the law is undermining the legitimacy of his team's findings.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Militia Clause

"The army is a broadsword, not a scalpel. Trust me, senator, you do not want the Army in an American city."
--General William Devereaux (The Siege) 

Ryan McMaken researches the rationale behind the Second Amendment with a focus on the 'Militia Clause' portion of the Amendment. The Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Review of the debates surrounding the establishment of the Second Amendment finds that our founding ancestors had a more sophisticated view of gun ownership than is often assumed. In particular, they understood that a large federal military that stood in peacetime would threaten liberty over time. "When once a standing army is created in any country," said George Mason, "the people lose their liberty."

To counter the threat posed by a standing federal army, the founders envisioned militias in each state. These militias were not of the organized variety similar to today's National Guard. Instead, they were 'unorganized' militias composed of people who could capably bear arms and organize if need be to defend their states against intrusion by federal forces.

Importantly, the Second Amendment, similar to the First Amendment, was not written for the states. Rather, it was written as a restriction on the federal government. The states were still free to regulate weaponry in their own constitutions and legislatures. Most state legislatures elected to include provisions protecting private gun ownership--both as an element of the state's overall militia strategy and for personal protection.

Interestingly enough, those present at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia toyed with the idea of 'select militia' of specially trained citizens not unlike today's National Guard. However, they rejected it out of concerns that a select militia would pose similar threats to a national army.

McMaken ends by noting that, ironically, many 'defenders' of the Second Amendment today also enthusiastically support a strong federal military establishment--something that many of our founding ancestors would have found incomprehensible.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Social Media as Censors

Dream, baby dream
Of all that's coming and going
And you will find out in the end
There really is
There really is no difference

Many complaints that social media outlets have been censoring content--particularly from conservative/right leaning commentators.
Should government intervene to force 'equal voices for all?' As long as the social media outlets are not being subsidized by government, then the answer is 'no way.' Providers of any good or service should be free to associate with whom they want.

If users of a particular social media outlet do not like how they are being treated, then they are free to go elsewhere. Poor quality service also signals opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop capacity to better serve user needs.

Just as a baker should not be forced to bake a cake for any particular customer, social media companies should be free to discriminate among users.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Birthright Citizenship

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took is when I hit the ground
--Bruce Springsteen

Several interesting points made here, including observations about birthright citizenship. In the United States, birthright citizenship refers to the notion that any child born on US soil is conferred American citizenship--regardless of whether the child's parents are US citizens or not.

The Fourteenth Amendment ratified in 1868 was intended to modify Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution pertaining to the Three Fifths Compromise. But the amendment contains five sections, and only Section 2 directly applies to the original Three Fifths language. The other sections of the fourteenth amendment must be construed as additions, not changes, to the Constitution because they do not supercede portions of the original legal document.

It is Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment that introduces the concept of birthright citizenship into the constitutional conversation via what now known as the Citizenship Clause:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

The question posed by a portion of this article is whether birthright citizenship is what our founding ancestors intended. There is no explicit language concerning qualifications for citizenshipship in the original Constitution. The closest thing I can reference appears in Article II, Section 1 concerning eligibility for president:

"No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of the President."

One train of thought argues that the framers adopted the English common law notion of birthright citizenship. But English common law focused on subjects, not citizens. Subjects born under the protection of the king owed 'perpetual allegiance' to the king in exchange. Birthright subjectship, not birthright citizenship, was inherited from the feudal system that defined relationships between master and servant.

The Declaration of Independence absolved the American people from feudal allegiance to the crown. This absolution represented a rejection of common law as a basis for citizenship. Instead of perpetual allegiance to a king, 'consent of the governed' is required. No individual can be ruled without his consent. As the author observed, "consent--not the accident of birth--is the basis for American citizenship." [emphasis mine]

The author asks, "Is it plausible--is it even remotely credible--that the Founders, after fighting a revolutionary war to reject the feudal relic of 'perpetual allegiance,' would have adopted that same feudal relic as the ground for citizenship for the new American regime?"

This is a reasonable question. If the answer is 'no,' then it calls into question the true constitutionality of the portion of the Fourteenth Amendment related to birthright citizenship

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wheelbarrow Effect

Well we barely make the airport
For the last plane out
As we taxied down the runway
I could hear the people shout
--Don Henley

Venezuela is currently experiencing the wheelbarrow effect. This is when hyperinflation hits the point where it no longer makes sense to count currency, in this case the bolivar, being used in transactions. That would take too long. Instead, it is easier to just weigh it--often by the wheelbarrow full.

That could never happen here, right? Only in third world countries and banana republics.

Sure. Just ask the Germans about Weimar.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Treaties and Executive Power

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states:

[The President] shall have Power by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.

During his presidency, Barack Obama did not present either the Paris climate accord or the Iranian nuclear deal (a deal that made sense to me) to the Senate. Because he apparently didn't think that either treaties would pass muster in the Senate, Obama unilaterally committed the United States to both agreements using his executive power.

Since he became president, Donald Trump has discontinued those treaties with executive orders of his own. He has used his executive power to get the US out of commitments that were unconstitutionally created in the first place.

Lesson: A president who ignores the law to advance his agenda by using discretionary power reduces the durability of his legacy when a subsequent president uses similar discretionary power in reverse.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Enemy Within

And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself
And then make a change
--Michael Jackson

As Thomas Massie observes, current hysteria over U.S. government officials meeting with Russian government officials demonstrates just how twisted people's brains can get in the political sphere.

It is always good to sit down and talk to your adversaries. It is an important step in the direction of durable peace and voluntary cooperation.

Massie correctly notes that Russia is nowhere near the top of the list of threats facing the US. In fact, the greatest threats facing America have been created These include out-of-control federal spending and crushing national debt.

The enemy is not 'out there.' The enemy lies within.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Conspiracy Theory and Scrutiny

"To be normal, to drink Coca-Cola and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, is to be in a conspiracy against yourself."
--Jerry Sutton (Conspiracy Theory)

As these pages have noted before, 'conspiracy theory' used to connote conjecture that a group of people had collaborated to do something bad.

Today, conspiracy theory is an attempt to parry attention made by people proposed to have committed the bad act. It is an attempt to divert attention from proposed bad actors and to ridicule those making the conjecture in the first place.

The deflection is intended to send this message: The conspiracy theorists are obviously nut jobs, and their theory is ludicrous. We are innocent.

In reality, those crying "conspiracy theory" are probably worthy of scrutiny.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Trade Dollars

Do you remember when we used to dance
And incident arose from circumstance
One thing led to another, we were young
And we would scream together songs unsung

In the mid 1800s, Washington policymakers thought America was losing trade opportunities in Asia because the US dollar coin (there was no paper currency back then) contained about 10% less silver by weight than the popular Mexican peso coin circulating throughout the Orient. Subsequently, the Coinage Act of 1873 authorized the production of a heavier coin to be used primarily for overseas trade.

1874 $1 Trade PCGS PR64CAM CAC

Designed by US Mint engraver Charles Barber, the Trade dollar resembled the reigning domestic dollar known as the 'Seated Liberty' dollar. On the obverse, Ms Liberty is still in a seated position and looking left. However, rather than sitting on a rock she is sitting on a bale of commodity-like merchandise with a chaff of wheat at her back and an olive branch in her grasp--all consistent with the commercial character of this coin.

While used primarily overseas, Trade dollars were legal tender domestically until 1876 although they continued to circulate afterwards. Proofs were struck in small quantities from the original year of issue 1873 until 1885--seven years after commercial production ceased in 1878.

The Trade dollar remains the only US money developed exclusively for external use.

Friday, August 17, 2018

No Rabbi, No Respect

What you want
Baby I got it
What you need
Do you know I got it
--Aretha Franklin

A former CIA analyst observes that former CIA director John Brennan lacks a 'Rabbi.' In Washington-speak, a Rabbi has the political capacity to advance your interests and to protect you if things get dicey. Brennan, as well as his FBI/CIA/DOJ co-conspirators, surely expected that the Rabbi would be President Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be.

As the emails, memos, and other shreds of evidence accumulate unabated, Brennan and his Deep State gang are coming to the realization that without a Rabbi, you get no respect.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Security Clearance

Charlotte Blackwood: What happened to your father?
Pete 'Maverick' Mitchell: I guess I kind of figured with your security clearance...that you'd know more about him than I do.
--Top Gun

'Security clearance' is a privilege granted by government officials to select people, who may be government employees or not, that allows those people access to information that the government considers 'classified' for 'national security' purposes. These are government secrets that government officials deem sensitive enough to be kept from the citizenry for their own protection.

Whether withholding certain information from the citizenry actually improves security while preserving liberty is a subject for another day. Consider instead the notion of security clearance.

Security clearance is clearly a political good. It is granted to some but not to others. It can be given and it can be taken away. It grants access to information that some consider valuable. As such, in markets for political favor, security clearance will be bought and sold.

Security clearance will therefore be subject to mischief among those with political interests.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gold Dump

It happened one summer
It happened one time
It happened forever
For a short time

Hasn't been a pleasant summer for those long gold. Selling has been relentless with nearly every day down.

The 'reason' has been attributed to the strengthening dollar.

Lots of towel throwing out there. That along with twisty stochastic suggest trend reversal approaching.

position in gold

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Gallup Survey on Capitalism: Two Questions

"You know, I was thinking, and I was wondering two things."
--Captain Georg von Trapp (The Sound of Music)

Have read/heard numerous media stories about a new Gallup poll over views about capitalism and socialism. The headline maker is the finding that, for the first time in four surveys since 2010, more Democrats have a more positive view of socialism (57%) than they do capitalism (47%).

What has been less reported is that Democrat views of socialism have not materially changed since the first survey eight years ago (steady in mid 50% range). Instead, the percentage of Democrats reporting positive views on capitalism fell from 56% when last surveyed in 2016 to 47% in this survey. Judging from the age group data, which is only reported in aggregate and not by political affiliation, the decline in positive views about capitalism comes predominantly from the 18-29 year demographic. Otherwise, it does not appear views on capitalism or socialism have been trending in any age group since this survey began.

Question #1 is why do 18-29 year olds view capitalism less favorably today than in the past?

When looking at the methodology and general results, I also found it interesting that respondents were also asked about whether they had a positive or negative image of 'free enterprise.' Here are the results side by side (% positive/% negative/% no opinion)

free enterprise 79/17/4
capitalism 56/40/4

Most economic theory that I am aware of treats free enterprise and capitalism interchangeably.

Question #2 is why do people view free enterprise far more favorably than capitalism?

These questions will be considered in future posts.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Double Standards and Democratic Process

"It's the old Potomac two-step, Jack."
--President Bennett (Clear and Present Danger)

These pages have discussed the 19th century work of Auberon Herbert and his theory that division between the two dominant political factions will escalate as stakes from winner-take-all democratic processes increase.

Would think one indicator of this escalation is increased use of double standards by the warring factions. Each side practices behavior that is condemned when done by the other side.

We're talking about hypocrisy, of course. And, indeed, we're seeing it in spades as political stakes increase.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


The times are tough new
Just getting tougher
This whole world is rough
It's just getting rougher
--Bruce Springsteen

It is increasingly clear that the 'Russia collusion' investigation against Donald Trump is nothing more that an attempt to deflect and cover up wrongdoings by Hillary Clinton and the Obama administrations.

Statists were confident that the Clinton email scandal, the Clinton-Russia uranium deal, and associated lawlessness by State and Justice depts would never see the light of day because a Clinton presidential victory in 2016 was a sure thing. When that turned out not to be the case, statists scrambled to construct the Russia collusion narrative to divert attention from their crimes. A complicit media has gladly pushed the story.

In the best case scenario, they hoped (and still hope) that their fabricated narrative, if given enough legitimacy and time, could unseat Trump--and forever bury their wrongdoings in the tomb of the Deep State.

If they can only extend the witch hunt to the mid term elections, then their cover-up wishes will come true.

So goes the thought process.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Diversity is Not Homogeneous

Well East Coast girls are hip
I really dig those styles they wear
And the Southern girls well they way they talk
They knock me out when I'm down there
The Midwest farmers' daughters
Really make you feel alright
And the Northern girls with the way they kiss
They keep their boyfriends warm at night
--Beach Boys

Although diversity is the natural state, that does not mean that it is homogenous or equitably distributed. It can be patterned and territorial. Generally, the more local the area, the less diversity.

Diversity is more apparent when the lens is widened toward the big picture.

Trying to force diversity into local areas is liable to result in negative consequences.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Comparative Economics

There's a king on a throne with his eyes torn out
There's a blind man looking for a shadow of a doubt
--The Police

Decent side-by-side comparison of Austrian (i.e., 'free market') economics vs today's more mainstream monetarist/Keynesian mix. Which side is more intuitive, dynamic, and realistic?

It should probably be no surprise that the more realistic economic framework has been crowded out by a static, rigid one.

After all, a bureaucratic roadmap is the only one that central planners are capable of reading.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Diversity and Compliance

You thought it was a joke
All that emotional soft smoke
--Ric Ocasek

Diversity is the natural state of nature. It requires no force to institute.

Those who try to force it are not proponents of diversity. They are authoritarians trying to impose their view of the world on others. They want others to comply with a pattern or distribution that they prefer over the natural one.

Their actions promote sameness, not diversity.

"We all need to value diversity." The paradox embedded in such a statement should be readily apparent.

Diversity and compliance do not go hand in hand.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Monopolies and Government

Brill: In guerilla warfare, you try to use your weaknesses as strengths.
Robert Clayton Dean: Such as?
Brill: Well, if they're big and you're small, then you're mobile and they're slow. You're hidden and they're exposed.
--Enemy of the State

Point made in these tweets has been made on these pages as well.
In unhampered markets, monopolies cannot exist for long. If a producer acquires a monopoly position, the smell of profits will entice entry into the industry. The monopolist's advantage will subsequently be competed away.

Monopolies can only persist with the help of government force. Regulation could raise entry barriers that keep entrepreneurs out and protect the monopolist's franchise. Government could also issue edicts that explicitly prohibit production by anyone other than the monopolist.

History suggests that government is a monopolist's best friend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Education Indoctrination

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
--Pink Floyd

Prof Williams discusses the growing role of colleges as distribution channels for leftist ideologies. Collegiate level indoctrination provides icing on the cake of sorts for brainwashing that has been taking place since students' early grade school days.

By the time students reach me, many seem incapable of thinking critically about topics such as global warming, capitalism, child labor, freedom of speech, government's role in society, and immigration. Stated differently, they know only one side of the issue and have little interest in asking "What else can it be?" in the pursuit of truth.

What has me most concerned is the stranglehold that collegiate bureaucrats are gaining on activities that impact real learning. Classroom methods, faculty hiring decisions, on-campus speakers, and even research methods are under increased scrutiny by administrators interested in imposing ideological constraints on academic inquiry.

Sadly, truth and college campuses are increasingly at odds.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Rational Ignorance and Politics

"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
--Morpheus (The Matrix)

People's ignorance related to political issues is sometimes the subject of disdain. However, in states where political decisions are made by democratic vote, such ignorance can be viewed as completely rational.

In democratic elections of the 'first past the post' variety, the odds of a person making a difference when voting is approximately 1/N where N is the total number of voters. Consequently, many potential voters conclude that the cost of being politically well-informed is greater than the benefit of being knowledgeable about political affairs.

Political ignorance, then, becomes a rational choice.

Suppose, on the other hand, that becoming well-informed about politics did not take much time or effort (i.e., information costs are low). Voters would become more informed because, even though the benefit associated with voting is low, it is cheap to become knowledgeable about political affairs.

Government officials who benefit from the welfare and warfare state will almost certainly view a well-informed electorate as a threat. After all, the more voters understand about the damage wrought by an authoritarian state, then the more likely they will be to want to throw it off.

Because it is in the best interest of state officials to promote voter ignorance, those officials are likely to do what they can to raise the cost of becoming knowledgeable about political affairs. They will make information difficult to obtain and interpret to obfuscate the process as much as possible.

As information acquisition costs rise, voters rationally get dumber--to the delight of state officials.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Tariff Foolishness

One summer never ends
One summer never begins
It keeps me standing still
It takes all my will
--The Motels

President Trump has been tweeting that tariffs are a great way to enrich the country.
He is just plain wrong. Tariffs might enrich particular groups--i.e., those shielded from competition by protective tariffs--but overall people are worse off.

As Ron Paul explains, tariffs on imports to the US are a tax--a tax paid by American consumers. Taxes never create wealth, nor do they raise standards of living.
The president is foolishly offsetting gains from income tax cuts with tax increases in the form of tariffs on purchased goods.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Procedural Fairness and Trump

"It ain't fair what people in this town are trying to do to you."
--Wilbur 'Shooter' Flatch (Hoosiers)

Prior to the 2016 election, these pages postulated that one reason for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's rising popularity was growing support from fair-minded people who saw blatant bias against Trump during the campaign as a violation of procedural fairness.

Nearly two years later, here's a thoughtful piece from a former Democrat who walked away from her party because "even a flawed sinner like Trump doesn't deserve to be figuratively kicked every day in a manner that's often dishonest, exaggerated or out of context."

She further observes that because Trump ran as the most anti-establishment of candidates, "almost everything that political and media establishments have done since then have confirmed what millions of voters have realized: these establishments are out of control" and that this "post-election behavior has confirmed that a President Trump was necessary [emphasis mine] for this time in American politics."

She notes the hypocrisy of many on the left who pay lip service to civil liberty only to ostracize Alan Dershowitz, one of the few principled progressives who has stepped up to defend the rights of the Trump team.

"The striking thing is," she adds, "the side that has been accusing Trump of subverting democracy has been guilty of it themselves. In America, even a serial killer has rights and deserves due process. But in the eyes of the left, Trump deserves neither."

She concludes:

"But the public isn't dumb. Those of us who aren't hardcore Democrats recognize what's going on and have come to see something that seems counter-intuitive. This loud, brash president is actually a victim and an underdog in American politics today, and he hasn't been getting a fair shake since he won the election.

"And so we feel sorry for him, and angry and repulsed by his opposition."

When people think someone is not being given a "fair shake," they are naturally prone to begin pulling for him. Leftists seem incapable of figuring this this out.

Friday, August 3, 2018

$1 Trillion

It's such a magical mysteria
When you get that feeling
Better start believing
--Def Leppard

Yesterday Apple (AAPL) became the first domestic company to cross the $1 trillion mark in market cap. It is not the first company in history to be worth a trilly, though. That distinction goes to PetroChina whose stock rocketed past the benchmark during the oil boom more than a decade ago.

Of course, it hasn't exactly been roses for PetroChina stock since then.

I suppose we almost 'needed' at least one US stock to trade north of $1 trillion before the hysteria ends.

no positions

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Patents as Protectionism

"Now, if my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty eight miles per hour, you're going to see some serious shit!"
--Dr Emmit Brown (Back to the Future)

The argument for protecting emerging industries with tariffs, subsidies, et al is to shield innovative nascent sectors from competitive forces. Nonsense, respond the free traders, this just a form of protectionism. Competition, not lack of it, is what spurs innovation and productivity improvement.

Yet many of those same 'free traders' support the patent system. Patents are necessary, so goes the argument, to provide incentives for innovators to innovate.

But don't patents essentially serve the same purpose as protectionist trade barriers? Patents shield inventions from competition by essentially granting patent holders legal monopolies over production of patented items. Trade barriers act in a similar fashion as they increase the monopoly position of protected industries in domestic markets.

In both cases, prices rise and quantities fall. Consequently, prosperity is restrained.

Innovation is motivated by profit (broadly defined) possibilities, not profit guarantees.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

In the Vanguard?

"I know what it's like to lose precious things. And then, of course, to find them again."
--Laura Charles (The Last Dragon)

In 2001 Vanguard removed the word 'gold' from its precious metals fund title. Gold subsequently commenced a decade long bull market move.
Vanguard recently announced that it will change the name again--this time removing all reference to precious metals. Old name: Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Fund. New name: Vanguard Global Capital Cycles Fund.

Contrarians will surely raise eyebrows...

position in gold