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Common Sense: The Price of Freedom

One feature of government bureaucracy which is most unsettling is that its constituents tend to disassociate its agents' wrongdoings from the failings of the whole system. 

Constituents, whether voters or members of a government agency, tend to assign higher and more abstract authority to the office than it has historically warranted. 

Much as we referred to the "operational Air Force" during my days at the United States Air Force Academy, we invoke a nebulous and impossibly-abstract notion of what the institution represents, while its beginnings are rooted in rousing controversy and its actions have been hopelessly mired in dire disappointment. 

As the institution endures, it begins to assume a life of its own, independent of its history and the flesh and blood which has comprised it. 

Constituents everywhere either tolerate the inadequacy, out of confusion, disinterest or capitulation, or they create excuses for it by blaming the controller instead of the system itself, or…

What "Molly's Game" Teaches Us About Income Inequality

Did you happen to notice the "income gap" in the 2017 drama Molly's Game

It is astounding how many causal clues for related statistical outcomes can be ignored when audiences are staring at them for two hours and twenty minutes of runtime. 
In the buildup of the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker club, inclusive of the likes of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCarprio and the since-reviled Tobey Maguire, Molly Bloom demonstrably capitalized on the unique services she offered as a motivated and intelligent woman. 
In the incipient stages of what would eventually become a multi-million-dollar gambling ring, Molly leveraged attractive looks and clever wit to charm wealthy men into staking enormous sums of money to join her prestigious club and seek out sexual gratification with seductive hostesses. 

For Molly, this happy habit didn't begin with poker games. 
In a desperate attempt to find herself, Bloom decided to move from Colorado to Hollywood in 2001, wanti…

Affordable Housing: Transforming the "American Dream" Into A National Nightmare

According to Melora Hiller, CEO of Grounded Solutions Network, "Community groups are looking into community land trusts as a tool because the affordability crisis all over the country." 

Hiller goes on to confidently claim, "Part of the reason is that markets have been left to do what markets do, which is to go up or down at will." 
The CEO then stamps her airy sales pitch with her firm's mission: "The community land trust is really trying to take the house out of that kind of up and down and keep it in a more stable situation." 
First, markets have simply not been "left to do what markets do." 
Government regulation on where we can build, how high we can build, what kinds of housing we can build, how much we can charge, and how we can lawfully occupy the units, has manifestly yielded the contemptible outcomes that we gauge today. 
And no, free markets don't naturally "go up or down at will." 

That's purely a function of what is …

Is Business Responsible for Your Well-Being?

Business isn’t naturally responsible for the well-being of anyone, nor is it responsible for finding ways to make people productive.

It tends to incidentally achieve this end, but it is not out of obligation, but rather due to the perception of mutual advantage, something which is sought consensually by free and independent parties.

Rather, it is the responsibility of the parents, then later the mature offspring, to care for the individual. Bringing a life form into this world entitles it to nothing beyond the mere opportunity to survive of its own might, or in some cases to decidedly reject it.

The failures of such human experiments can then justifiably be traced back to a failure of individual adaptability, or one of incompatibility with the given environment, or that of parental capacity to ensure survival of their offspring.

It is neither the assumed failure of business nor the dearth of identifiable employment options which is to blame.

This is all too often the game played by gr…

The Price of Capital: Serving Your Interests, Incidentally

The assumption that credit ought to always remain cheaply available for the spurious investment, business or otherwise, is predicated upon the belief that advancements are linear, that they occur as a function of time, not as a consequence of thoughtful deliberation. 

Of course, it is the latter which determines a worthwhile investment, whereas the former simply creates busy work which was rendered feasible by the aforementioned easy access to credit and the artificially low costs of failure. 

Of course, credit creation is a luxury of savings, neither an entitlement nor an absolute benefit to the economy realized through its mere transition through the spending phase. 

The political Left tends to construct an emotionally-appealing narrative to establish the illusion that lives would improve if credit were only made more widely available for those mired in misfortune. 

Well, the theories of economics are not alone in disproving this fallacy, as even real examples of recent history illustra…

Bitcoin: Are You Feeling Lucky?

The popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, has tumbled greater than 50 percent since its all-time high set just a month ago near $20,000. 

Since then, it has traded as low as $9,000 before rebounding modestly back over the $10,000 mark. 
The short story of bitcoin (XBT) is powerfully illustrated by its graduation from its initial use case as an easy, inexpensive medium of exchange to an erratic and highly speculative risk asset which scarcely resembles anything more. 
And despite the chance that it regains steam, it is steeped equivalently in bubble territory at $9k as it is at $20k or even $100 or $100k. 
Plainly, it is a bubble at nearly any price. 
The only difference is the anchoring effect which seduces the investor into interpreting the drop as a buying opportunity. 
So while the fundamentals and the use case haven't dramatically changed since the decline, the greedy investor assumes that the price has dropped because of reasons unrelated to its future viability. 
This is wishful thinkin…

Why Boys Become Cops

In an encounter captured today through Facebook Live, political activist and libertarian presidential candidate Adam Kokesh was detained by highway patrol while traveling in his RV across the state of Texas.

While detained near the city of Decatur, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Kokesh admirably attempted to reason with the arresting officer after he was apparently stopped for exceeding the speed limit, attaining the speed of 74 miles per hour in a reported 65 MPH zone.

After a discouraging exchange with the officer, a number of backup officers arrived on the scene. By all measures, the event appeared under control while Kokesh remained calm, composed and cooperative during the entire process.

After the original officer momentarily returned to his squad car, Kokesh initiated a discussion with the other two responding officers who had arrived as backup.

During this exchange, Kokesh introduced the officers to his book, Freedom, imploring them to consider the reasons which guided t…

The Real Cost of Rent Control

From a poignant article published today on MarketWatch.com, "A new report adds to the growing literature concerning the effects of rent control."

A new working paper on the subject, released this past December, illustrates the damaging and expensive effects of a successful 1994 ballot initiative in San Francisco that implemented rent control protections for small multifamily buildings erected before 1980.

According to the report, the rental supply in San Francisco consequently dropped by 6 percent following the expansion of rent control. 

Additional findings show that landlords were 10 percent more likely to convert their buildings into condominiums if they were subjected to rent control. 

Further, rents were discovered to have increased by at least 5.1 percent as a result, amounting to greater than $2.9 billion of total rent increases passed onto tenants across the city. 

Roughly half of this financial burden is shown to have been shouldered by residents who had moved to San Fra…

Political Process and the Milgram Experiment: Casually Condoning Genocide

In 1961, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments to demonstrate the willing obedience of human beings.

In this experiment, Milgram posed a series of questions, which were to be delivered from the participants, or teachers, to the subjects, or learners.

The participants, men of varying levels of education and professional experience, received guidance from an authority figure, or experimenter, who issued prompts to the individual teachers, who in turn communicated the questions to the respective learners.

After each incorrect response, the participants were advised to administer electric shocks to the learner, with increasing intensity after each additional incorrect response.

Milgram neatly summarized his findings in a 1971 article entitled The Perils of Obedience:

"The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment a…