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YouTube is (Economically) Illiterate

In yet another hypnotic YouTube video, a channel with more than 350,000 subscribers parrots nonsense about the nature of money.



In the following paragraphs, I will dispel some of these popular myths by adding clarity and historical context for improved understanding. 

For starters, we will focus on the reported symbiosis between China and the United States.

In characterizing this international dynamic, the speaker commits a common accounting mistake: "We send money to China in exchange for goods and services, but get very little back." Indeed, the United States' trade deficit with China means the precise opposite of this. 

It doesn't even require an economist to point this out, as the ubiquity of Made in China nearly speaks for itself, rooted in China's status as the world's greatest exporter to the United States.

In its most recent report on balance of trade, the month of October, the United States even posted its highest monthly trade deficit over the past ten y…

The Economics of Vintage Luxury: The Wristwatch Phenomenon

“After the electric light goes into general use, none but the extravagant will burn tallow candles.”

This prophetic proclamation by American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison, printed by the New York Herald on January 4, 1880, aptly characterizes the modern market for mechanical and automatic watches, which serve today as extravagant showcases of wealth, or pretense thereof.

Just as with the tallow candles of old, the mechanical watch returns its wearer to a treasured past, full of sacred ideals and aspirational grandeur.

A great many, however, confuse the end retail price for an expression of quality, rather than one reflective of the voracious demand for recapturing the former.

This is the very subject of this writing, to disentangle fact from fiction, and to expose the real causes of the costs incurred.

Despite the illogical rumblings of the luxury watch community, the retail price is dictated not by intrinsic or utility value, nor exclusively by the cost of production, but by fact…

The Total War on Poverty

In the history of combat, total war has been defined as the unrestricted use of weaponry, territory and combatants to achieve a political end, with a complete disregard for existing law.

The War on Poverty, officially introduced in the United States by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 State of the Union address, takes the same appearance, deviating only by tools, actors and optics.

In total, the two forms of combat tend to exclusively serve special interests at grave economic and personal cost borne by others who bear virtually no influence over their operation, who stand to derive little to no benefit.

As Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz promulgated, "War is the continuation of politics with other means."

The War on Poverty is scarcely any different, but its effects are far more insidious.

The mission to "end poverty" is always a false face for bureaucratic aggrandizement. The only way to produce this desirable end is by incidence,…

Never Confuse Brains with a Bull Market: Bitcoin's Capitulation Phase

Over the previous week, bitcoin has declined a full 30 percent, marking a 78-percent decline from its peak back on December 17, 2017. 

This hasn't kept the bitcoin bulls and hodlers from trying to sound smart.

Faux crypto advisors still abound on YouTube, conducting spurious technical analyses and setting target buy-in prices for a speculative risk asset that is primarily owned and manipulated by a narrow segment of the population, that is visibly non-correlated against market developments, and that plainly lacks sufficient trading history and stability to support such public claims which serve exclusively as a platform for fame-hungry YouTubers to get in on the prediction front so they can look smart if the crypto asset, or cryptocurrency, trades accordingly. 

Meanwhile, these talking heads have absolutely no idea about the asset's utility value, yet they stake claims about target levels which essentially operate from the yet-untested assumption of utility. 

Moreover, the crypto …

Bitcoin: An Ornately Compelling Transfer of Wealth

In a 2017 interview with Fox Business, venture capitalist Peter Thiel identified bitcoin (XBT) as the "cyber equivalent to gold." 

While talk of this comparison has endured for just about as long as the cryptocurrency itself, Thiel's statement showcases more acutely just how highly imaginative and seductive the mental gymnastics have become: not only have successful entrepreneurs bought into its functionality, they have also endorsed a comparison between one asset that is usable in and of itself, absent trade, and another whose usability stems exclusively from its tradability.

Gold and silver are valuable not strictly because they require strenuous work to be extracted from the earth, but because of the valuable properties they present. 

It's their unique set of properties that first makes gold and silver worth the effort, both of which operate from a "proof of utility" instead of some measly "proof of work." 

The assignment of value operates not from…

Laws Lead to Tyranny, Not to Nirvana

In a recently-published video, a popular YouTuber strikes the ironic claim that there ought to be additional laws to protect his interests while he is admittedly speeding. He understandably denounces the use of retreads after his caravan of exotic cars is impacted by one as they roar down the highway. 

For those readers who are unfamiliar with tire retreads, also known as recaps or remolds, they are a relatively-inexpensive re-manufacturing process for replacing treads on worn tires. They are commonly used on transport vehicles around the world for their enormous cost savings, a function of considerable material savings and even significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the total of which incidentally results in the minimization of environmental impact and the physical waste that ends up in landfills. 

Notwithstanding this thread of logic, some impassioned drivers follow their emotions to the untested and wholly-unexamined conclusion that the world would be vastly improved by …

Power to the Parasites: SF Bay Area Ballot Measures Will Penalize Property Owners for Undeveloped Land

The residents of Oakland, California, and other nearby Bay Area cities, are considering a ballot proposal which centers around the assignment of a $6,000 penalty per parcel to property owners whose property fails to satisfy the City’s arbitrary use standards for a period of no less than 50 days each year: the proposal applies to both developed and undeveloped properties, which equates to penalizing people for failing to build, when it is precisely the existing regulations, compliance costs and zoning laws which make it so prohibitively expensive and challenging to build in the first place. 

I know this firsthand, as I have worked closely with property owners on such developments in the housing space; the permitting and engineering fees are exorbitant for even basic projects, let alone something as considerable as homebuilding or the development of multi-unit complexes. 

As it turns out, the terms of the proposal may also prove too ambiguous to secure the desired ends or to be actionable…

Stimulus Spending and the Keynesian Multiplier: The Thirteenth Stroke of the Clock

A new television commercial proposes a new way to add time to our day. 

In the commercial, the woman presents a generic clock which shows the addition of a thirteenth hour between the twelve and the one. 

Humorously, the space between the twelve and the thirteen, and likewise between the thirteen and the one, is precisely half of the distance between every other hour interval, and unless the gearing has been modified to accommodate this change, this implies exclusively that the twelfth and thirteenth hours will merely split that same hour, allotting only 30 minutes to each before the one o’clock hour. 

What’s more, this achieves nothing in the way of actually extending the day, serving only to unimaginatively obfuscate the reliable measuring apparatus which humbly reflects the average amount of time for the earth to complete a single rotation around its axis. 

While we could surely re-engineer the clock to accommodate a thirteenth hour, this change will only alter the significance of time…

Down the Rabbit Hole of Gender Pronouns

Another subject has entered the social scene in a more meaningful capacity than ever imagined for the most basic of questions about personal identity. 

The subject has entered casual conversation, the workplace and even schools, where teachers and professors have been encouraged or even required to gently inquire into the gender identities of their students, so as to avoid mistakenly referring to them by the traditional pronouns which have gotten the job done for so many centuries. 



Well, according to the fresh crop of Cal-Berkeley enrollees, there’s apparently nothing the average person can say or do that won’t offend a member of the protected class. 

And gender is yet another form of unrestrained abuse running rampant in our community, where some individuals have expressed that these two words fail to adequately represent them. 

Well, here’s the cold, hard truth: they were never really designed to represent anyone; they were designed to represent chromosomal composition and reproductive…

Institutional Racism: The Sasquatch of Political Folklore

A great confusion has arisen out of the clamor of political debate, one which presupposes that any dismissal of the merits of “institutional racism” somehow equates to one’s rejection of personal struggle. 

Whereas the struggle of any individual remains always and everywhere unique and wholly personal, his common bond of complexion with others who have struggled serves inadequately as the basis for any argument which regards this commonality as the cause, or as the reason, for that veritable struggle. 

To condemn the unidentifiable and nebulous abstraction, then, by castigating an unnamed institution which persists beyond our specific capacity to recognize its power, serves only to absolve individuals of their personal responsibility, to shift blame and culpability to a specter which exists only by the creative designs of our imaginations, which exists as the scapegoat for all outcomes popularly maligned as undesirable. 

This unactionable practice, then, swiftly and categorically excuses…