The Future Of Freely Using Your Own Money, a.k.a. Capitalism

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This is only a quick introduction to a vast subject; mere musings. I’ll have a review of George Gilder’s timely new book, The Scandal of Money, next week, where I’ll explore matters in more depth. Forbes also has a new book, Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming The Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity.

On Wednesday, Steve Forbes and George Gilder held sway over an intimate gathering at the Cosmopolitan Club in Manhattan. The subject was What Future for Capitalism? Which is exactly the right question given we have presidential candidates promising, with all appearance of sincerity, to install socialism as official policy, to enforce “equality” and to shut down the coal industry and plunge us into darkness, and to, albeit indirectly, foist upon us a 45% punishing sales tax on many items in the name of greatness.

That’s only three, leaving one who would allow freedom to remain intact (well, more or less). Three-to-one against aren’t great odds. Still, there is no choice in our Democracy but to roll the dice. Gilder was optimistic and reminded us, “You can have revival almost overnight.”

Forbes made the case that “capitalism is profoundly moral”. It does good because it is a system where you need other people, with all that that implies. Socialism, as all experience proves, could rather do without people. Socialism always devolves into a heartless and brutal utilitarianism.

A problem, I think, are the names we give this system of economics: “capitalism”, “free markets”, which sound well enough considered as isolated words. But they by now have so much baggage that they grate the ears of many of us. “Free market” sounds, to many, like “rich people taking our money.” Well, that only goes to prove propaganda works.

My alternate title, freedom to keep and use your own money as you see fit, is too unwieldy. Have you ideas?

Against top-down control by self-credentialed experts of all subjects, i.e. socialism, and in the favor of letting people (families) look after their own business, Gilder said, “Creativity always comes as a surprise. If it didn’t, planning would work.” Centralized planning by definition is hostile to creativity, which is why socialist economies stagnant and develop cancers.

The cancers are entities which are not allowed to die. “Too big to fail” means the government supporting proven failures. Propping up the dead, besides consuming resources better left for the living, does not allow learning to take place—all people see is that failure isn’t failure—which is strange given the endless paeans to education which emanate from Washington.

Forbes said “Socialism goes against the grain of human nature.” Not those aspects of our nature that have fallen, but our more nobler parts. He also is a keen student of language. Take the phrase “giving back”, used of the generous. “Giving back implies you took something that didn’t belong to you.” Instead, in philanthropy, we should speak of freely giving “what you created.”

On trying to sell his flat tax plan, which is being used with great success in 40 jurisdictions around the world, he suggested giving people an option: use the new 17% fits-on-a-postcard plan, or use the old one, which requires an IRS to run. Then see which is preferred.

Now what about money. On this, Gilder has much to say, but I’m going to save most of it for the book review because there are too many details to summarize in this small space. However…

Both Forbes and Gilder agree that America is the biggest guilty party in manipulating its currency. Manipulating currency, a money tied to nothing but ephemeral human promises, is power, and politicians and their cronies like power. So it’s unlikely they’d cede this enormous benefit willingly. It has to be wrested from them.

Surely the most astonishing spectacle of our time is an official singular entity which gives almost free money to specially designated cronies, who in turn loan that money back to the government at a healthy interest. Strike that “almost”; it’s just-plain free.

Can you imagine what Janet Yellen must be thinking? “How are they letting us get away with this?”, she must whisper to her fellow Fed board members.

Indeed, how are we?

The solution is…What’s that? That celebrity, Whatshername, as a new selfie of her enormous buttocks? Let’s talk about that!

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Podcast redux.

Pardon the indulgence, but since this post is emailed to many, and I want to test how an embedded mp3 player works for the podcast, and since I screwed up the time of this week’s show, I want to include it here, so I can see how it works.

Masters Predictions & (Some) Statistics — Podcast Bonus

PODCAST BONUS!


See last Master’s year’s predictions here. Since not much has changed, I’m doing a lot of copying and pasting. The Podcast bonus is because of the screwed up time I ran it yesterday, causing most to miss it.

Here’s a view of the winning scores from par since the inception of the tournament.

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As noted last year, the early years saw little variability, but since the 60s there were a lot more very high or low scores; variability increased. Jordan Spieth last year tied Tiger Woods biggest year in 1997 with 18 under, but poor Zach Johnson in a small typhoon in 2007 cleared with field with 1 over.

Using a simple model, I projected a 90% chance the score would be -4 to -15 under in 2015, but Spieth shot -18, showing how rotten that model was (it only gave a 5% chance for scores -16 or better; the model does not account for weather forecasts). This year the projection is -5 to -16 (with same 90% certainty). Spieth’s performance pushed this model down a full shot. Spieth is playing in this year’s tournament, but Woods (who is now 40) is not.

Like I said last year, youth does not have a significant, or at least overwhelming, advantage. Some 71% of the winners were 30 or older, and 14% 40 or older. The oldest was, as everybody knows, Jack Nicklaus who took home the Green Jacket at 46 in 1986. The youngest was a tie, Spieth and Tiger Woods, who were both 22. There isn’t an clear signal that suggests older or younger players are coming out ahead.
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Don’t forget that many of the visible embedded “mini-trends” are from golfers winning more than one title, and necessarily aging in between victories.

Large margins of victory are still rare. Tiger Woods had the biggest, a 12-shot lead in 1997, followed by Jack Nicklaus with a 9-shot gap in 1965, with Raymond Floyd in third place with an 8-shot margin in 1976. Ties are common: 20% of time there is a sudden-death playoff. A 1-shot lead is the most usual outcome, happening 28% of the time, followed by a 2-shot lead at 23% of the time, and 3-shot victory at about 11%. Margins of victory of 5 or more shots only happen about 10% of the time.

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The trend, if any, seems to be for closer margins of victory with the occasional break out. Yet the astonishing performances of Nicklaus, Floyd, and Woods would seem to belong to another era.

Here’s more indications age doesn’t play that much of a role in victories. There are no clear signals in age and the difference from par or the margin of victory (some jittering has been added to these plots to separate close points). Of course, age does play some role. There aren’t any 10-year-olds nor 60-year-olds making the cuts. Once a player gets past the cut, his age is not of much predictive value—however much it may mean to the player’s aching bones!

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Players from these once Unite States took home about 3 out of every 4 Green Jackets, winning 75% of the time. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the next most winningest country is South African with just over 6% of the victories, followed closely by Spain, with about 5%. England—actually, just Nick Faldo who won thrice—took almost 4%, the Germans just under 3%. Only 7 other countries took anything. There were 11 winning countries in all: USA, Spain, South Africa, England, Germany, Wales, Scotland, Fiji (Vijay Singh), Canada, Australia, Argentina.

Most players have only won once: 65% of the tournaments were by a man who never repeated. About 19% of the time saw a golfer winning twice, around 10% were three-peaters, two men (Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods), or 4%, won 4 times, and only one time did anybody win 6. Jack Nicklaus, of course.

Last year I guessed Jordan Spieth had the best chance of winning. I give him less of a chance this year, because his confidence appears shaken, but if I had to pick the person with the best odds, I still say Spieth.

WMBriggs.com Podcast 6 April 2016 — It’s The End Of The World: Again

Download MP3.

Subscribe to the podcast feed (paste this into iTunes or elsewhere): http://wmbriggs.com/feed/?category=podcasts

Use Player.fm to find the podcasts.

 

Show is over. Archived version above. Next week, a new time; almost certainly early so people can listen to archived version any time. Keep watching the NEWS box on the right.

The votes in the poll are in! Overwhelmingly, people want late afternoon or early evening. Which is why I’m doing the show at 5 PM. I’m nothing if not responsive (and I may be nothing).

I would have picked 6 or 7 PM, and next week I might, but today I have to leave by 6 PM to report on a forum with Steve Forbes and George Gilder. (I’ll have a report on this Thursday here, and a review of Gilder’s new book next week, probably at The Stream.)

The difficulty is that posts are shown here, on the site, around 8 AM, at which time they’re also emailed to subscribers (enter your email in the form at the bottom of any page so you don’t miss anything). I don’t want to send out more than the usual morning post on Broadcast Days because I don’t want to annoy subscribers. So on Broadcast Days, which is today (Wednesdays), everybody has to remember to come back at broadcast time, or to remember to click the email at Broadcast time.

The link to the YouTube live video (above here or by email) is dark until broadcast time. It will be live for the half hour broadcast, and then go dark again. It takes about 20-30 minutes for the video to archive. At that time, I’ll update this post—but not, obviously, the email—with the archived video.

Last week’s broadcasts are now easy to find. Look to your right. No, a little more; outside this window. There it is! It’s audio only, so there’s no reason to maximize it.

I’m also going to make the audio downloadable in mp3 format, so that more people can find and use it in more places. One step at a time.

And now, finally, to the point of the broadcast…

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Forecasting that “something will happen to the stock market” guarantees perfect accuracy. If you repeat the same forecast, you’ll garner the same accuracy. You can then, quite legitimately and with complete honesty, announce that “My predictions are perfect.”

This makes for a good sales pitch. Who doesn’t want to buy guaranteed accurate predictions?

On the hand, suppose you forecast Zorg Industries will go up. It goes down. You were wrong. Again, you forecast up; again, it goes down. Repeat several times.

You are perfectly inaccurate (in a way), and therefore it would be rational for your victim to distrust the accuracy of your next prediction. Yet if your victim said, “All his previous predictions have been wrong, therefore his next forecast certainly will be wrong”, your victim will have committed a logical fallacy, because it is possible that your next forecast will be on the money. Be sure to point this out to him, using his mistake to browbeat and shame him into buying your wares.

But if your victim said, “All his previous predictions have been wrong, therefore his next forecast will very probably be wrong” your victim utters a truth. This is the logical lesson of Chicken Little, which we all learn as schoolchildren—and then promptly forget as adults.

At least, we forget the lesson for falling skies. It’s doubtful most of us would be fooled for long by salesmen such as used in the example. Unless it was a government salesmen predicting environmental doom for the 50th consecutive year.

A history of failed predictions is always forgiven in one of two ways. (A) When the thing predicted is desirable in itself; and (B) When the action taken based on the predicted is desired in itself.

(A) is called wishcasting, where the predictions is edged in the direction of the outcome desired or believed too strongly because the outcome is desired. It it very difficult to avoid, the more so the closer the matter is to the heart. Think about political or sports predictions you have made (or the failed ones I have made!).

Only die-hard environmentalists want environmental doom; only they want a planet shorn of mankind. Very few wishcast in the manner of Paul Ehrlich (who will be discussed in the Broadcast), who would be delighted were the world to burn.

So it’s (B) that concerns us with forecasts of global cooling and global warming. The politicians who frighten (or try to) the public don’t care about forecast end result itself, but they surely want the solution of that end result. And that solution is themselves.

Stream: Should Women Be Allowed In Combat? A Debate

Shoot 'em up!
Shoot ’em up!

Today’s post is at the Stream: Should Women Be Allowed In Combat? Equality Debates Reality.

On 3 December 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter decided unilaterally to open combat positions to women…

A debate over the implementation was had last week at the New York Bar Association. Two positions were represented. In one corner was Equality (these are my designators), which supposes whatever differences between the sexes exist are unimportant or are a bar to proportional participation in leadership and other roles. This position was pitted against Reality, which says sex differences are ineradicable, important, and deeply consequential…

The case for Equality was this. According to Germano, “We have cultural issues in the Marine Corps” which hold equality back, “issues” which can be cured by education. For decades, she repeatedly and insistently said, “women were held to a lower standard.” They thus performed at a lower standard. If women were held to the same standards as men, she claimed, they would perform at the same level as men.

Ackerman echoed these sentiments and charged that objective experiments to demonstrate differences in the sexes (which were conducted by the Corps and which proved these differences existed) were a “smokescreen” designed to hold women back. Insistence on metrics like unit cohesion and combat effectiveness were “disingenuous”. Further, the culture of the Corps meant that attempts at integration would “proceed begrudgingly.” The notion that women should be treated equally, as with blacks and those with same-sex attraction, was a sign of progress…

Germano and Ackerman were adamant that standards would not and should not be lowered to accommodate more women, and that if standards were lowered they wouldn’t stand for it…

A goodly fraction of the audience was aghast when Eden reminded the room that killing is the main role of soldiers, but this was nothing next to the gasps of shock which greeted a question from retired Marine Corps officer Cris Dosev. He asked if all the men in the room were to fight to the death all the women (the sex ratio was about 50-50), “Who would win?” The Equality side felt the question was tacky. Dosev later said those pushing for Equality were not doing so in “the best interests of the military” but were instead laboring in the “service of an idea.”…

Given all experience in mandating and enforcing Equality, here is Yours Truly’s prediction for what will happen. First, as at the debate, all will vociferously argue “Standards will not fall!” Authorities will claim, “Women will made to perform the same tasks as men. That’s fair, isn’t it?” Mollified by this, critics will fall silent.

The tests of standards will then begin. Quicker than any would like, reality will begin to intrude. Far, far fewer women will be able to keep up with men than was hoped. The proportion of women in leadership roles will be show no appreciable bump.

…Next, a diversity officer will realize that since it is a qualification for promotion to have served in combat, what counts as having “served in combat” will be broadened. Women will rise in the ranks.

The entire process will be iterated until the semi-official quotas of women in positions of leadership are met. At that time other metrics, such as “combat effectiveness” or “victories in battle” will be amended to include the targets of equality and diversity.

In the end…

Don’t hesitate! Go there to read the rest.