Dec 30, 2016

Murray Rothbard on applying the methodology of the physical sciences to economics

Scientism is the profoundly unscientific attempt to transfer uncritically the methodology of the physical sciences to the study of human action. Both fields of inquiry must, it is true, be studied by the use of reason—the mind’s identification of reality. But then it becomes crucially important, in reason, not to neglect the critical attribute of human action: that, alone in nature, human beings possess a rational consciousness. Stones, molecules, planets cannot choose their courses; their behavior is strictly and mechanically determined for them. Only human beings possess free will and consciousness: for they are conscious, and they can, and indeed must, choose their course of action. To ignore this primordial fact about the nature of man—to ignore his volition, his free will—is to misconstrue the facts of reality and therefore to be profoundly and radically unscientific.

~ Murray Rothbard, "What is the Proper Way to Study Man?," originally appeared as a chapter in Scientism and Values, Helmut Schoeck and James W. Wiggins, eds. (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand, 1960)

Dec 29, 2016

Camille Paglia: historically, transgender movements occur as "civilization is starting to unravel"

The more I explored it I realized that, historically, the movement towards androgyny occurs in late phases of culture.  As a civilization is starting to unravel...  The people who live in such periods, whether it's the Hellenistic era, whether it's the Roman empire, it's the Mauve Decade of Oscar Wilde in the 1890s, whether it's Weimar Germany.  People who live in such times feel that they're very sophisticated, they're very cosmopolitan.  Homosexuality, heterosexuality, so what, anything goes and so on.  But from the perspective of historical distance you can see that it's a culture that no longer believes in itself.  And then what you invariably get are people who are convinced of the power of heroic masculinity on the edges, whether they the Vandals and the Huns, or whether they're the barbarians of ISIS.  You see them starting to mass on the outsides of the culture, and that's what we have right now.

~ Camille Paglia, video: "Lesson From History: Transgender Mania is Sign of Cultural Collapse" (4:16 mark), December 29, 2016

Scott Peck anticipates the victimology movement

When character-disordered individuals blame someone else - a spouse, a child, a friend, a parent, an employer - or something else - bad influences, the schools, the government, racism, sexism, society, the "system" - for their problems, these problems persist.  Nothing has been accomplished.  By casting away their responsibility they may feel comfortable with themselves, but they have ceased to solve the problems of living, have ceased to grow spiritually, and have become dead weight for society.  They have cast their pain on society.

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled (1978), p. 39

Dec 28, 2016

Bono has a change of heart on the cure for poverty

Aid is just a stop-gap.  Commerce (and) entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid...  In dealing with poverty here and around the world, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid.  Free enterprise is a cure...  Entrepreneurship is the most sure way of development.

~ Bono, speech at Georgetown University, 2013

Dec 22, 2016

Kellyanne Conway on Trump's advantage in the 2016 presidential election

Americans love to say they think outside the box.  Trump lives outside the box.  Hillary is the box.

~ Kellyanne Conway, as quoted in "The Year of the Reticent Voter" by Peggy Noonan, September 24, 2016, WSJ

Dec 21, 2016

John Milton on how freedom and virtue are linked

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.

~ John Milton, Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649)

Dec 18, 2016

Stephen Drexler: "the idea that we're in a bubble is crazy"

Everyone is so negative, which is highly positive for share prices.  Bull markets don't end like this.  The idea that we're in a bubble is crazy.  This could turn out to be the longest-running bull market in U.S. history.  [Before it ends], you'll see the average investor embracing the market.

~ Stephen Drexler, senior portfolio manager, Wells Fargo Advisors in Colorado Springs, "Taunting the Bull," Barron's, October 17, 2016

Lloyd Blankfein on how regulation creates a barrier to entry

There are some parts of our business where it's very hard for outside entrants to come in, disrupt our business, simply because we're so regulated.  In some cases, the burdensome regulation acts as a bit of a moat around our business.

~ Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, 2015 podcast

Time on Trump draining the swamp

Far from draining the swamp, [Trump] fed plums to some of its biggest gators.

~ Nancy Gibbs, "The Choice" (2016 Person of the Year), Time, December 19, 2016

Dec 11, 2016

Yogi Bhajan on cruelty

If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.

~ Yogi Bhajan

Dec 10, 2016

H.L. Mencken on public education

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.  That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else...Their purpose, in brief, is to make docile and patriotic citizens, to pile up majorities, and to make John Doe and Richard Doe as nearly alike, in their everyday reactions and ways of thinking, as possible.

~ H.L. Mencken

Donald Trump flipflops on stock market bubble

We’re in a big, fat, ugly bubble.

~ Donald Trump, first presidential debate, September 26, 2016


I hope I’m judged from the time of the election as opposed to from January 20 because the stock market has had a tremendous bounce.

~ Donald Trump, Time “Person of the Year” interview, December 9, 2016

Ludwig von Mises on central planning vs. individual planning

The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans. He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute preeminence of his own plan.

~ Ludwig von Mises, Planned Chaos, 1947

Dec 9, 2016

Jeff Berwick on the value of a college eduction

Universities for the most part today, are places where those who have been taught not to think for themselves go for four more years of training.

~ Jeff Berwick, editor, The Dollar Vigilante, July 18, 2016

Dec 3, 2016

Robert Higgs on the 2016 election

In effect, the election was above all a referendum on political correctness. People who had tired of being called every sort of insulting name—racist, sexist, ignorant, backward, religious, in short everything that the Clinton crowd fancied it was not—rose on their hind legs and began to buck vigorously. One suspects that Trump himself must have been surprised by the magnitude and enthusiasm of the following he attracted. After all, he is not a sociologist, a political scientist, or even an experienced politician. However one might label him, though, he had stumbled onto a cultural time-bomb waiting for a detonator. Thus, he was not so much the man of the hour as he was the right tool for the task a great many people yearned to see carried out.

~ Robert Higgs, "Ideology, Identity Politics, and Politico-Cultural Conflict," The Beacon, November 30, 2016

Nov 28, 2016

Chubb and Moe on democracy and public schools

Democracy is essentially coercive.  The winners get to use public authority to impose their policies on the losers.

~ John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, Politics, Markets & America's Schools (1990), p. 183

Nov 25, 2016

Doug Casey makes the case for anarchy

There are very few things a government should do. That’s because the essence of government is force. And, in a civilized society, force should be kept to a minimum. So the only legitimate function of government is to protect you from force. Which implies an army to protect you from violence from outside of its borders, police to protect you inside of its borders, and a court system to allow you to adjudicate disputes without violence.

But those three functions are actually far too important to be left to the state or the kind of people that inevitably go to work for it. So the only three things that it can legitimately do are the very three things that are too important to trust it with. It’s almost a contradiction of terms. In point of fact, there’s nothing the State does that shouldn’t be left to entrepreneurs and a voluntary market.

~ Doug Casey, "Doug Casey on Globalism and the Worldwide Populist Revolt," LewRockwell.com, November 25, 2016

Nov 22, 2016

Ludwig von Mises on nationalism and socialism, two sides of the same divisiveness coin

Nationalist ideology divides society vertically; the socialist ideology divides society horizontally.

~ Ludwig von Mises

Murray Rothbard on liberty, power and civilization

My own basic perspective on the history of man...is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power... I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life.

~ Murray Rothbard

Chinatown's Noah Cross on aging

'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.

~ Noah Cross, Chinatown (1974)

Nov 20, 2016

New York Times publisher tells Henry Hazlitt that it can no longer fight Bretton Woods

Now Henry, when 43 governments sign an agreement, I don't see how the [New York] Times can any longer combat this.

~ Arthur Sulzberger, New York Times publisher, mid-1960s?

Henry Hazlitt on the fight for liberty (70th birthday)

None of us are yet on the torture rack; we are not yet in jail...; what we mainly risk is merely our popularity, the danger that we will be called nasty names.

We have a duty to speak even more clearly and courageously, to work hard, and to keep fighting this battle while the strength is still in us... Even those of us who have reached and passed our 70th birthdays cannot afford to rest on our oars and spend the rest of our lives dozing in the Florida sun.  The times call for courage.  The times call for hard work.  But if the demands are high, it is because the stakes are even higher.  They are nothing less than the future of liberty, which means the future of civilization.

~ Henry Hazlitt, at his 70th birthday celebration, around November 28, 1964

Ludwig von Mises pays tribute to Henry Hazlitt on his 70th birthday

In this age of the great struggle in favor of freedom and the social system in which men can live as free men, you are our leader.  You have indefatigably fought against the step-by-step advance of the powers anxious to destroy everything that human civilization has created over a long period of centuries...  You are the economic conscience of our country and of our nation... Every friend of freedom may today, in this post-election month, be rather pessimistic about the future [LBJ had been just elected POTUS]...  [If we succeed] this will be to a great extent your merit, the fruit of the work that you have done in the first 70 years of your life.

~ Ludwig von Mises, paying tribute to his good friend Henry Hazlitt at a gathering of friends in celebration of his 70th birthday, around November 28, 1964

Aldous Huxley on totalitarianism and propaganda

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.  To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers.

~ Aldous Huxley, forward from 1946 edition of Brave New World

George Carlin on political correctness

Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance.

~ George Carlin

Nov 19, 2016

Kevin Duffy on early comparisons of Trump to Reagan

There are huge differences.  Reagan inherited a 14 year bear market in stocks and 34 year bear market in bonds. Government debt/GDP had continually fallen since WWII. The baby boomers were moving into their productive years. The IBM PC was just launched. The Soviet empire was on the verge of collapsing. Trump is inheriting asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, and commercial real estate. Total debt/GDP is at record highs, rates at all-time lows (with much of the world’s sovereign debt actually dipping into negative yields not long ago). Boomers are just moving into retirement which will swamp an entitlement system that was never reined in. Bonds are probably on the verge of a multi-decade bear market. The government’s interest costs will explode as the political class structured its debt on the short end of the curve, assuming rates would stay low forever.

Why anyone in his right mind would want to put his name on this Hindenburg is beyond me. But, heck, the Trump brand has been immune to economic forces in the past, so why not?

~ Kevin Duffy

Nov 17, 2016

Tim Price: At least Trump is not a socialist

For believers in free markets, small government and the primacy of the entrepreneur over the State, there may yet be much to celebrate about President Trump. But not for millennials, obviously. Their perpetual tin ear turned to reality and what can only be described as hysterical grief, in every sense of the word, is reason enough for the rest of us to be quietly encouraged about the future. Educators – in economics and history in particular – have a lot to answer for, having perverted the mindset of a generation. As the US economist Thomas Sowell once said,

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

Say what you like about Donald Trump, but he isn’t a socialist.

~ Tim Price, "Generation snowflake, clobbered again," LinkedIn, November 11, 2016

Nov 16, 2016

Clifford Thies on the 19th century private welfare system vs. the 20th century welfare state

The 19th century welfare system was privately supplied, much more efficient, and more compassionate, for society as well as the poor. Instead of giving away cash and other benefits, it mandated work and responsibility. In the 19th century, the poor were divided into three groups: 1) those who worked and were given supplemental assistance through private charity; 2) those who were manifestly incapable of working and who were sent into poorhouses; and 3) those who were capable of working but refused to do so. The latter were called “paupers,” people who lived from hand-to-mouth, and were drifters, alcoholics, beggars, and thieves. The social welfare system effectively (although not of course perfectly) identified them as the undeserving poor and denied them help. Through poorhouses, and other extremely limited programs, charity provided only for those manifestly unable to work. Poorhouses were usually private institutions, sometimes no more than a family with a large house, which, for a fee, took care of the mentally and physically ill, the enfeebled aged, and orphans who could not be placed for adoption. Conditions in those poorhouses were minimal (although better than depicted by the left-wing Charles Dickens). Accordingly, the able-bodied poor tried to stay out of the poorhouse.

 […]

Going to the poorhouse meant trading liberty for subsistence… The stark terms of the deal offered by the poorhouse was no bargain, as was intended… Private charities demanded that those would could work, do so. Their programs were not “anti-poverty” but “anti-pauper.”

[…]

Very few single women were able to raise their children without continuing help, and most eventually married. At the same time, however, the case of unwed motherhood led to a decoupling of welfare and work. In 1911 Illinois adopted the first “mothers’ aid” program and by 1928, 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Alaska and Hawaii had followed this lead. Modest at first, they made a step towards replacing the 19th century, work-based philosophy with a new “scientific,” income-based one. Today, income is no longer dependent on work, nor is assistance based on charity. There is no distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. There is no effort to provide the proper incentives. But this should be no surprise. By its nature, government is unable to do much more than dish out money to people who meet the standards set by the application process, regardless of their intent or prospects. Press group politics, moreover, has turned a permanent income combined with perpetual laziness into a civil right.

[…]

Government welfare has encouraged the worst vices of the poor, turning even able-bodied people into drifters, alcoholics, drug addicts, beggars, and thieves. In short, the poor have become paupers, the group the 19th century charity theorists identified as not deserving of support… In fact, the situation is much worse than the 19th century charity theorists predicted. The primary victims, ironically, have been unmarried mothers and their children, the supposed beneficiaries of the early 20th century reform movement.

~ Clifford F. Thies, "Bring Back the Poorhouse and the Workhouse," The Free Market, October 1992

Nov 13, 2016

Chris Evert on focus

Ninety percent of my game is mental.  It's my concentration that has gotten me this far.

~ Chris Evert, tennis champion

William Shedd on risk

A ship in a harbor is safe, but this is not what a ship is built for.

~ William Shedd, theologian

Muhammad Ali on details

It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.

~ Muhammad Ali

Prada on effort

The only way to do something in depth is to work hard.

~ Miuccia Prada, designer

Nov 10, 2016

John F. Kennedy on expectations

For those to whom much is given, much is expected.

~ John F. Kennedy

Nov 9, 2016

Emanuel Derman on the consequences of the 2008 bailouts

To all who argued the financial world would've collapsed without the bailouts: the political world is collapsing now because of the bailouts.

 ~ Emanuel Derman

Kevin Duffy on politics

I find it very sad that as friends we can be so divided over this thing we call "politics." For some unknown reason, we have this system called government that collects $3.8 trillion every year, brings it to Washington, DC, and hands it out to various people and groups. Every 4 years the Blue Team and Red Team send one of their best fighters to a death match, winner take all. The team that wins gets to write the checks. If martians landed they'd think we were all nuts.

~ Kevin Duffy (one night after Donald Trump's 2016 election victory)

Oct 30, 2016

Kevin Duffy on virtuous and vicious cycles

Just as giving is the virtuous cycle of life, coercion is the vicious cycle.  If the largest coercive institution, by far, is government, why do often the most privately giving people tolerate and even promote Big Government?

~ Kevin Duffy

Oct 24, 2016

Kevin Duffy on giving

Life is a gift.  Giving is the virtuous circle of life.

~ Kevin Duffy

Oct 23, 2016

Kevin Duffy on revisionist vs. official history

Revisionist history is like a good murder mystery: gathering evidence, checking alibis and finding associations and motives to build a plausible narrative.  Official history is a predetermined narrative where the guilty run free and the innocent get the electric chair.

~ Kevin Duffy

Oct 10, 2016

Angela Fiori on feminism

Feminism proclaimed that for women to be fulfilled they had to adopt the career ambitions of workaholic men, the sexual promiscuity of John F. Kennedy, and the cynicism of Gloria Steinem (the pre-married one, that is). Can you think of any demographic group other than women who would have bought into this prescription for complete disaster and then cried victim when the Bunker Buster of Inevitable Biology crashed through the roof and blew up in their faces? Think Wile E. Coyote. No, think of someone much dumber.

 ~ Angela Fiori, "Feminism's Third Wave," LewRockwell.com, May 23, 2003

Oct 5, 2016

Kyle Bass: Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley would've failed without Fed bailouts

I think they made a really significant error during the crisis.  I don't think that there was enough of a flush of bad activity and bad investing back then, and the point is when the banks and investment banks came to the Fed and wanted the Fed to bail them out, the taxpayers ended up bailing out the bankers.  Goldman Sachs exists today because they were made a bank holding company and so does Morgan Stanley.  Back then, I don't think they would've made it if not for the Fed stepping in.

~ Kyle Bass, Wall Street Week interview, 6:29 mark, posted January 3, 2016

James Turk on Fedspeak, a.k.a. propaganda

The Federal Reserve often speaks of controlling expectations. That’s a politically correct way of describing propaganda.

~ James Turk

Sep 27, 2016

Lionel Robbins on the delusion of stabilizing the price level (1934)

If, as soon as there appeared signs of a general boom on security markets, the Central Banks were to take action to bring it to an end, it seems probable that extremes of business fluctuations might be avoided.  Certainly this is a policy which would have averted much of the distresses from which the world has been suffering recently.

But whatever may be the truth in this very difficult matter, one thing seems tolerably certain.  The policy of stabilizing the general level of prices and ignoring all other movements is a snare and a delusion.  It was this policy, conjoined with that other policy of frustrating the effects of gold movements, to which we have already alluded, which was largely responsible for the catastrophe of 1929.  Again and again during the boom years we were assured by men who should have known better that the trade cycle had been eliminated, that so long as prices did not rise there was no fear of over-expansion, that the boom in land and common stocks was merely a reflection of the increased value of property, and that if there were any sign of a fall of prices due to a transfer of expenditure to Stock Exchange and real-estate speculation, then the Central Banks should create more credit to support the speculation.  This policy was pursued.  Yet such is the inflexibility of the human mind that, in spite of all that it led to, there are yet to be heard voices of men who failed utterly to see what was happening before the depression, and who throughout the slump, no doubt with the best will in the world, have consistently supported those policies which have arrested liquidation, prolonged uncertainty and delayed the coming recovery.

~ Lionel Robbins, The Great Depression, 1934

Sep 24, 2016

Charles Darwin on man's noble qualities and humble roots

Man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system - with all these exalted powers - Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.

~ Charles Darwin

Sep 18, 2016

Charles Darwin on survival and adaptability

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

~ Charles Darwin

Sep 17, 2016

Albert Jay Nock on the Law of Unintended Consequences

Any contravention of natural law, any tampering with the natural order of things, must have its consequences, and the only recourse for escaping them is such as entails worse consequences.

~ Albert Jay Nock

Sep 7, 2016

John Maynard Keynes on crowd behavior

Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for the reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.

John Maynard Keynes

Aug 31, 2016

Lew Rockwell on Trump: "It's a big bonus that all the right people hate him"

It's a big bonus with Trump that all the right people hate him... To my knowledge, there's never been a dictator-businessman.  That says something. Doesn't mean there couldn't be a first time, of course...  I think it's good not to be part of a gang.  Maybe you'd have some new approaches.  It's one of the things that scares the whole regime about him, that he's unpredictable.  And of course I think that's a good thing because if he's unpredictable maybe he'll actually do something good, as shocking as that might be.

~ Lew Rockwell, interview with Jay Taylor, August 30, 2016

Aug 26, 2016

Satya Nadella on lifelong learning

If you take two people, one of them is a learn-it-all and the other one is a know-it-all, the learn-it-all will always trump the know-it-all in the long run, even if they start with less innate capability.

~ Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, interview by Dina Bass, Bloomberg Businessweek, August 8, 2016

Aug 18, 2016

Walter Block endorses Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson

People instinctively are anti-market.  And it takes an effort of will, or understanding, or knowledge of the sort that Henry Hazlitt so magnificently supplies [in Economics in One Lesson] to pierce through this ignorance.

Walter Block, interview with Jeffrey Tucker about Economics in One Lesson, (9:04), 2008

Aug 13, 2016

Ulysses Grant on secession

The right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of oppression, if they are strong enough, whether by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable.

~ Ulysses S. Grant

Lincoln on the role of education in molding servile citizens

Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know. It means teaching them to behave as they do not behave.

~ Abraham Lincoln

Letter to Lincoln: "Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people"

Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people. As long as blacks continue to live with the whites they constitute a threat to the national life. Family life may also collapse and the increase of mixed breed bastards may some day challenge the supremacy of the white man.

Reverend James Mitchell of Indiana, later appointed Commissioner of Emigration, presented Lincoln with additional reasons why the Negroes should be colonized, May 15, 1862

Kevin Duffy on the 2016 presidential election

U.S. 2016 election: The Average Joe supports a billionaire while billionaires line up to endorse the candidate who claims to work for the Average Joe.

~ Kevin Duffy, August 13, 2016

Joe Sobran on the politics of theft

Politics is the conspiracy of the unproductive but organized against the productive but unorganized.

~ Joe Sobran

Friedrich Hayek on the task of economics

The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

~ Friedrich Hayek

Friedrich Hayek on power

The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbor and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest "functionaire" possesses who wields the coercive power of the state, and on whose desecration it depends whether and how I am allowed to live or to work.

~ Friedrich Hayek

John Maynard Keynes on The Road to Serfdom

In my opinion it is a grand book ... Morally and philosophically I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it: and not only in agreement with it, but in deeply moved agreement. ... What we need therefore, in my opinion, is not a change in our economic programmes, which would only lead in practice to disillusion with the results of your philosophy; but perhaps even the contrary, namely, an enlargement of them. Your greatest danger is the probable practical failure of the application of your philosophy in the United States.

~ John Maynard Keynes

Friedrich Hayek individualism, morals and collectivism

The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule.

~ Friedrich Hayek

Aug 11, 2016

Criminologist on fear, lack of trust, and the social fabric

We live in a society with a quarter of a billion people.  Once in a while these terrible things are going to happen to people.  Should we all worry all the time?  What kind of society are we going to have if no one trusts each other? It tears the social fabric apart if we assume that everyone we run into is a criminal.

~ Mark Warr, criminologist, University of Texas, "Are we scaring ourselves to death?," video by John Stossel, 12:42 mark

Aug 10, 2016

Harry Dent: "In 2012 the market will be cut in half" (2011)

In 2012 the market will be cut in half, or at the very least fall 30%.

~ Harry Dent, December 30, 2011

Bill Gross: "The cult of equities may be dying" (2012)

The cult of equities may be dying, but the cult of inflation may only have just begun.

~ Bill Gross, July 31, 2012

Aug 3, 2016

Lee Iacocca on business

There's no mystery to satisfying your customers.  Build them a quality product and treat them with respect.  It's that simple.

~ Lee Iacocca

Aug 2, 2016

Jim Grant on central bankers

The Ph.D. standard is the regime of discretionary monetary management by former tenured economics faculty. Not much is new under the sun in finance, except for this regime of improvisation by college professors trying stuff because it looks good on a blackboard. What it means for investors is thrills and chills.

~ Jim Grant, "Jim Grant Is Bullish on Gold, Bearish on Kraft," Barron's, August 1, 2016

Jim Grant on negative interest rates

We are living in a unique time. Negative rates aren’t a naturally occurring phenomenon in finance but a creation of our ingenious central bankers. Furthermore, they seem to defy common sense. Interest rates exist because we want things now rather than later. That’s the nature of human desire. Negative interest rates turn that on its head. So they are a sign not of constructive policy making, but of trouble.

~ Jim Grant, "Jim Grant Is Bullish on Gold, Bearish on Kraft," Barron's, August 1, 2016

Jim Grant on fiat currencies

We’re on the long, winding road to confetti—to the discrediting of fiat currencies. That is the end game. Adam Smith cautioned against being excessively bearish. One shouldn’t be dogmatic about when things will happen. But we’re on the road to an important perception that central bankers don’t have the answers and are in fact in the process of discrediting the very money they are meant to protect. I would be short the Ph.D. standard, long the periodic table.

~ Jim Grant, "Jim Grant Is Bullish on Gold, Bearish on Kraft," Barron's, August 1, 2016

Jim Grant on the 35-year bond bull market

You are talking to a guy who lived through all but three months of the bond bear market of 1946 to 1981. In the spring of 1946, a long bond yielded about 2.25%, and it ended in 1981 at 15%. Everyone was looking backward to the credit experience of the 1930s and the early ’40s, not anticipating they were about to be treated to a generation-length bear market in interest rates. That was 35 years in the making. And almost 35 years ago, the great bond bull market began that may, or may not, be ending right now. Since the 19th century, the cycles in interest rates are very long-lived. They have ranged from 20-odd years in this country to 85 years in 19th century Britain. So you can’t dogmatize on the timing. At Grant’s, we are very bearish on bonds.

~ Jim Grant, "Jim Grant Is Bullish on Gold, Bearish on Kraft," Barron's, August 1, 2016

Aug 1, 2016

Mark Cuban endorses Hillary Clinton for president

I am ready to vote for the American Dream. I am ready to tell the world that I am here to endorse Hillary Clinton.

~ Mark Cuban, "Mark Cuban Drops an Endorsement on Hillary — But the Name He Drops on Trump is Making Headlines," Independent Journal, July 31, 2016

Jul 25, 2016

Joseph Sobran on democracy and the social contract

Since the Declaration of Independence, American have been concerned with a philosophical question, to which they had an optimistic answer. The question is, how can the government claim the right to exercise power over its subjects? And the answer was, the right is given by the people, when they deem the government to be just (because it respects and secures their rights) and consent to its exercising power. This consent is thought to be conferred through elections. The very fact that the U.S. government holds elections is thought to certify its legitimacy.

 For two centuries, except for the Civil War period, this has been thought to be unproblematic. The simple old answer to the philosophical question has been simplified further, to the formula "This is a democracy." It is an answer that flattens out all the refined reasoning of the founding generation of Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison, but it suffices for most people and pundits.

But this answer no longer satisfies is the way it used to. We have discovered that the mechanisms of democracy can co-exist with tyranny, just as political philosophers since Plato and Aristotle have warned. Moreover, the current discontents of Americans run deeper than any since the Civil War.

~ Joseph Sobran, "The Crisis of Statism," The Free Market, July 1, 1994

Joseph Sobran on coercion

We can formulate some general laws of ruling. The more force you use, the more enemies you will make. The more laws you enact, the more criminals you will create. And when you coerce and criminalize too many people who think of themselves as law-abiding, you destroy your legitimacy in their eyes.

~ Joseph Sobran, "The Crisis of Statism," The Free Market, July 1, 1994

Jul 18, 2016

Joseph Sobran on how to teach your children basic principles of the modern state

Because I write about politics, people are forever asking me the best way to teach children how our system of government works. I tell them that they can give their own children a basic civics course right in their own homes.

In my own experience as a father, I have discovered several simple devices that can illustrate to a child's mind the principles on which the modern state deals with its citizens. You may find them helpful, too.

~ Joseph Sobran, "Teach Your Children Well," August 23, 1999

Jul 10, 2016

Daniel Henninger on government centralization hitting a wall, epitomized by NIRP

The "administrative state" hasn't been a phrase known to drive people into the street.  Until now.  What are witnessing is a global government fail - across Europe, the Middle East, in Beijing, Delphi, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.

[...]

No better symptom exists of the compact breaking apart than the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the Bank of Japan.  They epitomize the exhaustion of elite administrative intelligence.  For seven years, they failed at restoring even average economic strength, disappearing now into a black hole called negative interest rates.

~ Daniel Henninger, "Government Hits the Wall," The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2016

Bret Stephens on Brexit and the EU bureaucracy

The EU's bureaucratic arm - the Council and the Commission - employs about 33,000 civil servants. The U.K.'s civil service has 410,000 employees, not counting an additional four million public-sector workers. The EU's budget last year came to less than $160 billion, divided among 28 countries. Britain's was $1.15 trillion.

If there's a superstate, it's in Westminster, not Brussels. And the EU, despite its countless flaws, is not some colossal squid crushing the U.K. in its powerful tentacles.

[...]

A British taxpayer making over £43,000 ($57,000) pays a crushing tax rate of 40%, along with a 20% VAT on every item he purchases. The average wait time for an operation with the National Health Service is 10 weeks. The energy bill for an average British household jumped by 30% between 2011 and 2015, mainly to support David Cameron's green-energy fixation.

These problems are British, not EU-made.

~ Bret Stephens, "Of Trumpkins and Brexiteers," The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2016

Jun 20, 2016

Shaquille O'Neal on guidance

My father made me who I am. He gave me a basketball and told me to play with the ball, sleep with the ball, dream with the ball.  Just don't take it to school.  I used it as a pillow, and it never gave me a stiff neck.

~ Shaquille O'Neal, basketball player

Jun 12, 2016

Scott Black on U.S. national debt

The U.S. has $19.2 trillion of debt, equal to 105% of GDP, not including entitlement programs. With few exceptions, no one seems to care. This is the highest debt-to-GDP ratio since the Truman administration, but President Truman inherited high debt levels after the U.S. fought two world wars. If interest rates go up by two percentage points, that is another $380 billion a year in interest payments, which the country can’t afford.

~ Scott Black, "Barron’s 2016 Midyear Roundtable: 24 Investment Ideas," Barron's, June 12, 2016

Marx and Engels unwittingly explain the benefits of free trade

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization.  The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate.  It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves.  In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

~ Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

Jun 5, 2016

Felix Zulauf on Trump, Brexit and the anti-establishment political movement

When you look at the current political landscape in Europe and also in the U.S., you see that more and more political parties and politicians are popping up that were not part of the establishment before.  For instance, in the U.S. it was a big surprise for most that Donald Trump took the lead in the Republican Party eventually, and probably become the nominee by the Republican Party.  It was a surprise by many that Bernie Sanders did as well against the established Hillary as he did. And I think this is a reflection of people being completely dissatisfied by the establishment for all the economic reasons I explained before.

The same in Europe.  For the last few years we have seen new parties popping up all of a sudden.  In Italy, in Spain, in Portugal, in the Netherlands, in France and so on.  And those are all parties - be they left or right - that are against the establishment.  So the established parties are losing ground big time and that is because people want change.  They are dissatisfied with the results of politics over the last 20 years, and they want change.

And I think you have to look at the Brexit question in the same way.  The British will vote on whether they want to be part of the European Union or not.  As you can see, the European Union was designed to function as a Greater Europe entity, but it only functions well when the sun shines.  When it starts raining and problems prop up, it stops functioning and all hell breaks loose.  And it proves again that the smaller and entity is, the better it works and functions.  And the bigger it is, the worse it gets.  And I think the EU has overstretched it because they want to define every little part of everyone's life, and that is just too much.

~ Felix Zulauf, interview: "Monetary Policies, Outlook of Markets and Gold," Korelin Economics Report, June 3, 2016

May 27, 2016

Tho Bishop on Joseph Stiglitz selling government intervention as a "new innovative concept"

Last year, as chief economist for the Roosevelt Institute, [Joseph] Stiglitz called for “rewriting the rules of the American economy” in a crusade against income inequality. His policy recommendations include higher taxes, more “smarter” regulation, and having the Federal Reserve focus more on unemployment than keeping inflation low — a call for an even more activist Fed than we’ve had since 2008.

It is ironic that Stiglitz has chosen to brand his policy recommendations as some new innovative concept for the country, when it is simply doubling down on the interventionist policies that the nation has suffered from for over 100 years.

~ Tho Bishop, "Clinton Adviser, Nobel Prize Winning Economist Endorsed Venezuelan Socialism," Mises,org blog, May 23, 2016

May 15, 2016

Jeff Deist on why loss of faith in government is a positive sign

I'm convinced that this loss of faith in government is quantifiably different today.  This is not just our grandparents' sort of complaining about "let's throw all the bums out."  This is different; something's different in America today.  And really that's what our movement is all about, right?  It's helping people make the leap from where they already are, which is government isn't working, to where they need to be, which is government can't work.  At least certainly not a government of 320 million diverse people top-down style from Washington, DC.  It's an absurdity.

~ Jeff Deist, "Alt-Right vs. Socialist Left: What It Means for Liberty" @ 27:13, Mises Circle Houston, January 30, 2016

Jeff Deist on libertarian society

Now there's a lot of ways we might define a libertarian society (or more libertarian society), but one way we might define it is to say a libertarian society is a society where the great matters of the day - cultural, economic, social - are not decided by politics.  And I would suggest that we are heading in actually that direction.

 ~ Jeff Deist, "Alt-Right vs. Socialist Left: What It Means for Liberty" @ 26:37, Mises Circle Houston, January 30, 2016

May 12, 2016

Lew Rockwell on defending the rights of people whom society despises

It’s easy to defend the rights of people who are popular and whose views are in fashion. It is much more difficult – thankless, even – to defend the rights of those whom society despises. Libertarians need not endorse or actually be such people – I know of no one proposing such a thing – but if we do not defend their rights we are frauds.

~ Lew Rockwell, "What Libertarianism Is, and Isn't," March 31, 2014, LewRockwell.com

May 10, 2016

Lew Rockwell on the cause of freedom, truth and lies, and smearing of entrepreneurs

Is the cause of freedom, private property, sound money, and - to be moderate - taking a meat axe to the government and all its works - irretrievably lost?  Do we have to sit back and accept a form of economic and social Marxism?

NEVER.

And why is that?  Because the truth, no matter how seemingly battered and bruised, still shines through.  It can never be wiped out, no matter how rotten the regime.  In the end, the truth will triumph over deceit.

Our opponents are the party of lies.  Lies about economics, history, and political philosophy.  Lies about the Fed and other government chains on society.  Lies about the nature of the state and its deeds.  Lies about the heroes to be admired and emulated, and the villains to be despised.

In the media and the classroom, entrepreneurs are smeared as greedy and destructive, when in fact they are heroes, essential to human flourishing.  Instead, we are supposed to worship politicians and officials who are no better than common thieves.  Yet far more destructive.

~ Lew Rockwell, April 26, 2016

May 7, 2016

Sara Blakely on failure

My dad encouraged us to fail.  Growing up, he would ask us what we failed at that week.  If we didn't have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome - failure is not trying.

~ Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx

Apr 29, 2016

Richard Branson on opportunity

If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you're not sure you can do it, say yes - then learn how to do it later.

~ Richard Branson

Apr 13, 2016

Michael Jordan on improvement

My attitude is that if you push me toward something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength

Elbert Hubbard on risk

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.

~ Elbert Hubbard, philosopher

Apr 11, 2016

John Wooden on character

Worry about your character, not your reputation.  Your character is who you are, and your reputation is who people think you are.

~ John Wooden, legendary college basketball coach

Mar 30, 2016

Søren Kierkegaard on learning from the past, but living for the future

It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards.  But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forward.

~ Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher

Mar 23, 2016

Jeff Tucker on building societies from the bottom up vs. "some great man"

Let’s just rule out right now that Trump’s hope of personally making America great is achievable. In fact, the illusion that it could happen is ridiculous. Societies become great only through the diffusion of action among millions and billions of people, one decision at a time. It is the absence of power, not its presence, that builds nations. It does not result from the authoritarian dictate from some great man.

~ Jeffrey A. Tucker, "Lance the Boil: How a Donald Trump Victory Might Be Good for Liberty," Liberty.me, March 10, 2016

Mar 20, 2016

Francis Ford Coppola on critics

Usually, the stuff that's your best idea or work is going to be attacked the most.

~ Francis Ford Coppola

Alexander Graham Bell on opportunity

When one door closes, another opens.  But we often look so long and so regretfully at the closed door that we cannot see the one that has opened for us.

~ Alexander Graham Bell

Mar 11, 2016

Aubrey McClendon on becoming a grandfather

A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.

~ Aubrey McClendon (spoken after he became a grandfather)

Jan 9, 2016

Katniss Everdeen on centralized systems

It must be a fragile system if it can be brought down by just a few berries.

~ Katniss Everdeen, visit from President Snow in Catching Fire