Saturday, July 31, 2021

Government Sponsored Corporations

Say that you'll never, never, never need it
One headline, why believe it?
Everybody wants to rule the world
--Tears for Fears

Donald Trump is suing several social media companies over their efforts to censor him. Critics argue that the suit can't possibly win because companies like Twitter and Facebook are privately owned.

The issue is not ownership, however. The issue is whether an entity is open to government influence. If, for example, Twitter gets resource grants from the government, or if it receives favorable regulatory treatment, then the company is susceptible to influence and a potential tool for government-sponsored action.

A plaintiff should not even have to prove that Twitter has acted on behalf of government. It merely needs to demonstrate that the company has received favorable government treatment and is therefore 'available' to the government.

If Twitter has received favorable government treatment, and there can be little doubt that is has, then it is essentially a 'government sponsored corporation.' A GSC must abide by the same rules that apply to any government agency--including those that govern free speech as specified by the First Amendment.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Mandates No More

No more running down the wrong road
Dancing to a different drum
Can't you see what's going on
Deep inside your heart

--Michael McDonald

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed an executive order blocking state sponsored entities, including public schools, from requiring masks or vaccines as countermeasures to CV19. 

"The new executive order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates," Abbott said.

The governor appears to have learned from his past mistakes. He joins a growing list of officials to reverse previous policy mandates for masks, lockdowns, etc.

Abbott added that Texans "have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities."

Right on, governor. As these pages have noted since the beginning. Let the people decide.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Benefits of Specialization

Treating today as though
It was the last, the final show
Get to sixty and feel no regret
It may take a little time
A lonely path, an uphill climb
Success or failure will not alter it

--Howard Jones

Specialization is the extent to which individuals or organizations perform narrow groups of tasks, with commensurate limitations in variety of output produced. Specialization generally leads to higher productivity (i.e., output/labor hr) because of learning effects, lower switching costs, and other economies. The benefits of specialization explain why dividing tasks among workers (i.e., division of labor) is among the most intuitive of economic acts.

In order to realize those productivity gains, however, trade must flow freely. Because they produce limited variety, specialists are unable to produce the broad array of goods that they need to advance their standard of living. Those goods must be acquired from other producers--most likely from other specialists. 

When specialists can trade freely, then the economies of specialization are collectively realized. Prosperity improves for all.

The prospective reward associated with specialization is therefore high. But we also know that there is a positive relationship between reward and risk. Generally, endeavors that offer the prospect of higher reward carry more risk as well.

We'll consider the risks of specialization in an upcoming post.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Hysterical Hypocrisy

When you get that feeing
Better start believing
--Def Leppard

Cribbing this from a social media post I recently saw. Nice summary of the jaw dropping hypocrisy currently being displayed by leftists.

Them: Education is a universal right.
Also them: Education is a privilege we control.

Them: My body, my choice.
Also them: Bodily autonomy is a privilege we control.

Them: Open borders, no carding.
Also them: Vaccine passports to control you life.

Them: Equality.
Also them: Segregation.

We've noted the blatant hypocrisy before. But what is happening now resembles psychological dependence on hysteria.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Political Prisoners

Trim life shadows flicker and fall
But you still can't turn away
Get up and run before you stall
Before the edges fray

--Ric Ocasek

Ron Paul discusses the US version of Soviet show trials in which people who entered the "People's House" in January are being imprisoned on political charges. They are accused of being terrorists despite commission of no violent acts or nor evidence that they contemplated terrorist acts.

This is not the first time the federal government has unjustly held political prisoners. John Adams and the original Sedition Acts, Lincoln during the Civil War, FDRs WWII internment camps, the ongoing Guantanamo Bay group.

As Paul warns, people who are ok with this sort of thing--particularly because the present wave of convictions aligns with their political views--are likely to see the tables turned at some point.

When prisoners are permitted to be taken for political purpose, sooner or later, they're coming for you.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Better Balance

Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel LaRusso: Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have balance...everything be better. Understand?

--The Karate Kid

As an investor, I used to bet on one macro scenario. Even if I reasoned that several outcomes were possible, I'd put all my chips on the one I thought most likely.

I've come to learn that isn't a good idea. My most likely scenario might not materialize. And even if it does, it might take much longer than expected. Meanwhile the underweighted scenarios dominate.

So now I spread it around. If I envision three possible scenarios, then I allocate capital more or less equally among those three. I might adjust them a bit based how I suspect things might unfold, but I retain material exposure to all of the possibilities.

Although I won't kill it if my preferred scenario happens to play out, my performance is more balanced.

I no longer worry about having to be exactly right in both direction and timing. And I sleep better.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Tocqueville's Warnings

"You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it."
--Morpheus (The Matrix)

GMU's Dan Klein discusses some important points from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. In 1831 Tocqueville and a colleague were sent by the French government to study America's prison system. For the better part of a year, they toured the US and some parts of Canada. 

After returning home and reporting their findings, Tocqueville continued on, writing a two volume set with the first volume published in 1835 and the second in 1840. Although titled Democracy in America, Tocqueville's work was really a treatise on democracy in general, a phenomenon that in his view had been in motion for centuries.

Klein focuses primarily on Tocqueville's conclusions, or warnings, many which appear near the end of volume two in a chapter entitled, "What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear." It turns out that Tocqueville had been worried about the ultimate outcomes of democracy for some time, and his whirlwind tour of the US did not quell his fears. According to Klein, Tocqueville feared two scenarios in particular.

One was despotism from a "tyranny of the majority." Tocqueville was not the first to envision such an outcome, as similar concerns appear in the writings of our founding ancestors. Tyranny of the majority is bad not only because it rules by shallow, group-inflicted dogma (rather than by rule of law), but because of its constant expansion of government and its dominance in social affairs. Even if citizens do not regard it as tyranny, Tocqueville argues that it is because it is not in each citizen's interest. It "monopolizes movement and existence" even though "it does not ride roughshod over humanity."

Tocqueville's point is that tyranny of the majority can subtle, gradual, and perhaps even enticing enough for citizen subjects to demand it.

This leads to a worse scenario. Citizens "renounce the use of their wills" and lose "little by little the faculty of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves." They outsource their faculties to rulers believed to make decisions in their interest--often under the guise of equality of condition.

Such a belief is delusional. Tocqueville writes that a small group inevitably assumes control of the machinery of government for its own interests. Tyranny of the majority becomes tyranny by minority rule. The power proceed to destroy or modify institutions and customs. 

Ironically, people come to prefer "equality in servitude to inequality in freedom." Wow. Well said.

A citizen enjoys "goods as a tenant, without spirit of ownership." A "miserable person" can understand "robbing the public treasury or selling favors of the state for money...and can flatter himself with doing as much in his turn."

At the time of his writing, Tocqueville opined that "the majority...still lacks the most perfect instruments of tyranny...If ever freedom is lost in America, one will have to blame the omnipotence of the majority"

It is difficult not to spot manifestations of Tocqueville's warnings in current affairs.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Principled Living

It's 2 am
The fear is gone
I'm sitting here waiting
The gun's still warm

--Golden Earring

If you abide by the non-aggression principle, then you live your life by peacefully pursuing your interests. You do not seek to coerce others to align with your view of the world. If you want to influence others, then then you try to do so via persuasion, not by violence.

The alternative is living by the aggression principle. Here you seek to control the behavior of others through use of force. Rather than through persuasion, you 'influence' others by point of gun. 

You might point the gun directly. But in many cases that would put you in jail. 

Conveniently, institutions have been arranged so that you can act aggressively and get away with it. You can hire government agents to point the gun for you. And that is legal.

Most people live by the aggression principle. They are principals of violence.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Unmasked Again

It's easy to deceive
It's easy to tease
But hard to get release

--Billy Idol

Another study, this one out of U of Louisville, finding no significant effect of either mask use or mask mandates on CV19 cases.

Keep in mind that what officially was counted as a CV19 'case' was not constant throughout the study period.  PCR thresholds were being lowered, resulting in more cases being counted at a given 'true' level of infection.

As such, it would be interesting to add both hospitalizations and death counts to this analysis.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Looking Good

Louis Winthorpe III: Looking good, Billy Ray.
Billy Ray Valentine: Feeling good, Louis.

--Trading Places

Meyer & Rowan (1977) famously observed that organizations often adopt practices ceremonially rather than for technical benefit. The primary objective is to look good rather than to do better.

It is difficult to argue that we aren't witnessing their observation being played out in spades.


Meyer, J.W. & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutional organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, 83: 340-363.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Truth is Their Enemy

What's this crazy place
You want to take me to?
Tell me what's the price
If I go with you?

--Kool and the Gang

If public health agents choose to declare a pandemic and support all authoritarian measures, then how are they prone to manipulate associated data?

virus case counts: higher than true value

virus deaths: higher than true value 

problems associated with anti-viral vaccines: lower than true value

Truth is their enemy.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Due Process Don't

When situations never change
Tomorrow looks unsure
Don't leave your destiny to chance
What are you waiting for

--Swing Out Sister

The Judge recounts the story of a Yemeni cleric who has been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay since 2004 without criminal charges. This is an obvious violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Courts have repeatedly denied his appeals. 

Last week the DOJ refused to stand up for this man's constitutional rights. They are extra motivated not to do so, of course. 

If the DOJ argues that this Yemeni cleric has the right to due process, then so do the dozens of American citizens being unjustly held in connection with the DC uprising in January. And so do the tens of millions of Americans that government seeks to forcibly confine during public health lockdowns.

Acknowledging the right to due process for one person opens the doors for all who have had their liberty compromised by government force.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Paid Leisure

All I wanna do is have some fun
I got a feeling I'm not the only one

--Sheryl Crow

Several surveys suggest 1-2 million people are abstaining from work because they have been getting the extended and expanded CV19 unemployment checks.

Why should this be surprising?

People generally prefer leisure to work. If government is willing to pay people not to work, and compensation offers a subsistence deemed acceptable, then expect long lines at the unemployment benefits window--particularly for low-skilled workers.

When unproductive behavior is subsidized, you'll get more of it.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Immigrants and Economic Resources

How soft your fields of green
Can whisper tales of gore
Of how we calmed the tides of war
We are your overlords

--Led Zeppelin

When people immigrate, where do they immigrate to? Do they go to Afghanistan, Venezuela, or other economic wastelands?

No. They go to where the economic resources are. Those resources are either directly consumable or they can be used in production to improve standard of living.

People immigrate to where the resources are for two primary reasons. They either seek to work in resource-laden environments in pursuit of more prosperity. 

Or they seek to forcibly take those resources from others. They might do this directly by point of gun or knife. On the other hand, they may be able to recruit the strong arm of government to do it for them.

Because people prefer to economize effort, when governments of resource-rich countries signal that they are agents for hire--willing to pilfer the property of others in exchange for votes--then we should expect large waves of immigrants ready and willing to be principals of violence.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Smile for the Spies

All I want is to be left alone
In my average home
But why do I always feel
Like I'm in the Twilight Zone?

Judge Nap recounts what happened when he revealed that sources had informed him that the CIA had asked British intelligence to spy on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election cycle. Not only did the CIA vehemently deny what ultimately was confirmed to be true, but subsequently the judge learned that the NSA had begun tapping his communication channels (phone, internet, etc). Sadly, none of this is surprising anymore.

Thus it was also no surprise when the Judge mentioned that Tucker Carlson has been subjected to similar surveillance.

Government spying on its people has become the norm. Because they fought so hard to throw intrusive government off, our founding ancestors are surely mystified why we tolerate it.

Smile for the spies, people.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Hedonistic Serfdom

"Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they'll be distracted. Take away their freedom and they'll still roar."
--Gracchus (Gladiator)

Although this video considers George Orwell's premise for how people become enslaved by authoritarian states, it also compares Orwell's views to those of Aldous Huxley's. Whereas Orwell saw the state operating primarily through the traditional strong harm of force, Huxley argued that people would willingly forego freedom in pursuit of sensory pleasure and endless consumption.

If society could be structured so that people could be persuaded to devote much of their time to seeking amusement, material satisfaction, and even escapism, then coercive force would not be necessary. People would blithely submit to a state that brought them hedonistic gratification.

Essentially, Huxley reformulated the 'bread and circuses' policy of antiquity.

Judging by people's behavior over the past year and a half--willingly locking themselves in their homes to watch TV, play video games, and surf the internet while, in many cases, being paid to do so--it is difficult not to confer some validity to Huxley's thesis of hedonistic serfdom.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

In God We Trust

Put not your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
--Psalm 146:3

In the early 1900s President Theodore Roosevelt thought it was time to take US coinage into the 2oth century. For effect, Teddy first targeted the two highest denomination coins--the $10 (a.k.a. 'eagle') and $20 gold ('double eagle') pieces--for redesign. Renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens won the commission, and his designs were unveiled with much acclaim in 1907.

1908 $20 PCGS MS66+ No Motto CAC

Although the art deco-inspired coins were fresh, optimistic, and inspirational, there was public outcry over the omission of the 'In God We Trust' motto that had, by law, appeared on all new issues since 1864. However, an oversight in the Coinage Act of 1892 amended the law so that the motto was no longer required. The Saint-Gaudens coins happened to be the first new issues under the amended law.

1908-D $20 PCGS MS65+ Motto CAC

It took the federal government bureaucracy more than a year to pass the necessary legislation that reinstated the motto requirement. About halfway thru 1908 production, the mints retooled their dies to include In God We Trust on gold eagle and double eagle coins.

All was right with the world again.

This author argues that recent developments demonstrate that many Americans no longer put their faith in God. He may be right.

Which bids the question, would today's Americans raise a ruckus over the omission of In God We Trust on coinage as their ancestors did more than 100 years ago?

Or might they insist on a new motto: In Government We Trust?

Friday, July 9, 2021

Bioethics Be Damned

Agent: This is special agent John Kruger. He'll be handling your personal security.
Lee Cullen: My protection?
Special Agent John Kruger: New identity, relocation. I'll take you through it step by step.
Lee Cullen: What are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere!
Special Agent John Kruger: You're in an extremely high risk situation, Miss Cullen. That should have been explained to you.

--The Eraser

In another dystopian case of 1984-style censoring, big tech has eliminated discussions by the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, Dr Robert Malone, from various platforms, including discussions of mRNA vaccines from Wikipedia.

What was Malone's sin? Like other erase-ees, he questioned the actions of medical and public health orthodoxy. In particular, he has voiced concern about policies that are suppressing open disclosure and debate about the risk profiles of the CV19 vaccines. Such suppression violates fundamental bioethical principles for clinical research.

Because they did not undergo full evaluation in the rush to get them to market, the CV19 vaccines are still experimental products. Anyone who takes these products is a research subject. A bedrock principle of bioethics is that all test subjects must be informed of the associated risks before consenting to the treatment (i.e., 'informed consent').

Under normal conditions, participants would need to sign an informed consent form stating that they understood the risks involved. However, CV19 vaccines are being administered under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) waiver, meaning that subjects are not being required to sign informed consent forms.

But, per principles of bioethics, this does absolve trial administrators from fully communicating associated risks with prospective trial participants. When these risks are not communicated, or when processes are not put in place to collect information about possible adverse effects of a treatment and then to broadly disseminate this information to current and prospective trial participants, then this is wholly unethical.

Currently, neither informed consent, nor information collection/dissemination is being done.

Moreover, policies that entice or pressure subjects into trial participation also violate bioethical principles. For example, if a prospective clinical trial were to involve children, and participation was to be enticed by giving out free ice cream to participants, then any institutional human subjects review board (IRB) would reject that proposal. If a clinical research protocol proposed that a population within a particular geographic region would lose personal liberties unless 70% of the population participated in the study, then this proposal would also be shot down by IRBs. 

No coercion of any kind is permitted. Yet that is precisely what is going on with lotteries, college scholarships, employment, and other prizes/threats being used to motivate participation in what amounts to a worldwide clinical research trial.

Uninformed consent. Institutional pressure for participation.

Bioethics be damned.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Scattering Ducks

Sacrifice for a new nirvana
Night time
Sends us on our way

--Icicle Works

Several technical divergencies evident in the charts. While the Dow and other major indexes are close to all time highs...

...the Trannies are well off their highs and trading heavy.

Dow theory proponents would call that a bearish divergence. The financials are also well off their highs and looking head-and-shoulderish:

Bulls like it when their ducks all line up. Right now, the ducks are scattering.

position in financials

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Abortion and Communion

"I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos."
--Sir Thomas More (A Man for All Seasons)

Should a Catholic president who supports abortion be permitted to receive holy communion? In the Catholic church, abortion is considered a mortal (in modern terms 'grave') sin as it involves killing innocent lives. There is no ambiguity about abortion in the teachings of Catholicism. All humans have the right to life--from conception until natural death.

"Thou shall not kill."

Receiving holy communion is limited to Catholics who are not in a state of mortal sin. And it is the duty of church officials to safeguard all the sacraments. In many cases, however, officials may not be able to tell whether a person is in a state of mortal sin. 

For example, a Catholic who favors abortion and then supports it by voting for politicians who advance abortion-friendly legislation commits mortal sin. Essentially, they are complicit in murder as principals who fund agents to do their dirty work. 

But church officials cannot bar these people from holy communion because they possess no visible evidence of mortal sin. They can't access voting records. They can't see into a person's conscience. If a person appears in line to receive holy communion, the priest must trust that the individual is not in a state of mortal sin at the time of reception.

However, in the case of public officials who directly employ government assets to kill babies, their sins are plainly visible to church officials. The admonition of those government officials should be public as well.

As Judge Nap observes, permitting priests to give these people holy communion would be similar to the silence of the Catholic hierarchy in Germany during WWII who allowed distribution of communion to SS officers whose regime was slaughtering millions of Jews. 

No, it is not our place to judge. We should forgive others who trespass against us. And pray for them.

But the church cannot act in ways that publicly condone mortal sin.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Parabolic Decline

And there's some chance we could fail
But the last time someone was always there for bail
When will, when will we fall down?

--Toad the Wet Sprocket

Nice depiction of the gravity of our fiscal situation. Yes, debt is 'soaring,' but its actual effect is to pull progress downward--as in negative net worth.

btw, if you're wondering what the secret sauce was that brought about a brief reported surplus in the late 1990s, it was a combination of a capital gains tax windfall from the stock market runup and an accounting change engineered by the Clinton administration to count payroll taxes collected for Social Security as revenue (in reality they are trust payments). The key tell is that debt continued to increase during the 'surplus' period.

The days of smoke and mirrors surpluses are long gone, however, as even the boldest accounting chicanery cannot obscure the parabolic decline in financial position augured by our reckless borrowing behavior.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Conceived in Liberty

So speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.
--James 2:12

Two hundred and forty five years ago today, the document that changed the world was ratified. It declared that all people were endowed by their Creator with rights to life, liberty, and property that could not be justly rescinded by earthly authority. When government failed to secure those rights, its authors argued, the people are justified in throwing off that government in favor of a better design.

The original argument and its effect has not changed since the ink dried on the underwriters' signatures. Authoritarians fear and despise these ideas, and will do everything in their power to wipe them away.

Thus, a nation conceived in liberty still fights a revolution to preserve ideals that remain truly radical

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Real Radicals

"A high treason. That's what these men were committing when they signed the Declaration. Had we lost the war, they would have been hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered, and--my personal favorite--had their entrails cut out and BURNED! So, here's to the men who did what was considered WRONG, in order to do what they knew was right...what they KNEW was right."
--Benjamin Franklin Gates (National Treasure)

Today, those labelled 'radicals' are not radical at all. Radicals side with big government, and robbing life, liberty, and property from some for the benefit of themselves and their comrades. Nothing radical about that. Seeking to forcibly rule others has been the status quo position since the beginning of social man.

No, the radical idea remains liberty. The natural right to pursue one's interest without forcible intervention from others. 

1795 50c PCGS F12 CAC

It's as novel now as it was 245 years ago when our founding ancestors prepared to issue the First Law.

Be real radicals. Live free.

Friday, July 2, 2021


We can go where we want to
Night is young and so am I
And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet
And surprise them with a victory cry

--Men Without Hats

Dennis Prager discusses the growing phenomenon of 'safetyism.' We've noted it too. People willing to surrender God's gift of freedom for safety. The devil's trade.

Safety is a good to be purchased. Don't trade it for your freedom. 

Living your life locked in a safe house is like the servant who buried his talents in the sand. Talent is meant to be used as part of a free life, not preserved behind closed doors in an act of risk aversion.

Safetyism is waste. Waste of talent. Waste of life.

Instead of saying "Be safe" say "Be Free."

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Childhood Endangerment

They are seeing through the promises
And all the lies they dare to tell
Is is heaven or hell?
They know very well


Children walking to school with masks. Children on commercials with masks. Masked children have become, well, the poster children of this pandemic.

Absolute lunacy. Since the beginning, the data have overwhelmingly indicated that risk to children is miniscule. Evidence also suggests that children do not transmit the disease.

I have wondered about the damage that masking does to children. Psychologically. Socially.

But also physically. A recent study published in a JAMA pediatrics journal indicates that children inhale air while wearing masks, they take in nearly 4-5x more carbon dioxide than when unmasked. This result is also orders of magnitude above the legal CO2 limit for room air.

And children are doing this for hours at a time.

Why isn't this considered childhood endangerment?

And when will results of similarly designed studies on adult subjects emerge?