27 Oct 2014

Murphy on Sound Money

Shameless Self-Promotion 1 Comment

I’ll be speaking at the Acton Institute next week (November 4) if you are in the Grand Rapids area and want to stop by…

27 Oct 2014

Potpourri

Potpourri 29 Comments

==> Bill Kauffman has no love for the U.S. empire.

==> Martin Wolf writes in the FT that we’re trapped in a cycle of credit booms.

==> If you’re into Bitcoin, catch me in the second hour of this show or here again.

==> If you’re into the Mandelbrot Set (the cover image of my website), this tutorial is the best I’ve ever seen. Especially the end where it shows what’s going on when the computer fills it in with different colors.

==> As I said on Twitter, it’s even creepier for some reason when the CIA spies on the U.S. government.

==> Not sure if it’s worth getting into the weeds on this one, but I found Scott Sumner’s comparison of the Fed with classical gold standard to be filled with difficulty.

==> Tom Woods and I talk Ebola.

26 Oct 2014

Well It May Be the Devil, Or It May Be the Lord

Religious 33 Comments

…but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Since I am relatively new to this stuff, I thought some of you–whether believers are not–would be interested to hear of it as well. As I’m sure you can imagine, I have a circle of friends/acquaintances who are Bible-believing Christians, and I have a circle who share my skepticism of the welfare/warfare State and ostensibly humanitarian organizations like the United Nations.

Generally speaking, the people from both groups wouldn’t get along. Although the people in my church, for example, are hardly fans of Barack Obama, they are extremely proud of the U.S. military and would probably be astonished at certain libertarian positions. On the other hand, many of the people who like my economic and political writings also think “the Church” is a malevolent institution just like “the State,” which exists to control people’s minds and convince them to send in money in order to avoid catastrophe.

However, there is a small intersection of the two groups, and that’s where things get really interesting. For people with that worldview–who understand the “secular” critique of the efforts to establish One World Government, etc., but who also believe in the book of Revelation–they will tell you that it’s obvious why all of these various organizations throughout history seem to be operating in a coordinated effort to take away our liberties. It’s not a coincidence, according to these people. No, it’s a conscious plan designed by the prince of this world.

As I say, I am quite new to this stuff. It was only a few years ago that I had even heard of, say, the Bilderberg Group and the other icons in the “conspiracy theory” toolbox.

What I’ve found as I explore this stuff is that at first, you hear the most (apparently) outrageous, absurd allegations. But then when you go and investigate it, you find evidence in support of the allegation that you wouldn’t have thought possible.

The most recent example that prompted today’s post, was someone mentioned to me that these elite, One World organizations were openly pledging their allegiance to the devil. He cited as an example the Lucis Trust, which is affiliated with the United Nations (though I can’t get a good idea of what that really means, apart from claims made in the obvious “conspiracy” websites).

Putting aside for a moment the issue of how much attention we should be paying to the Lucis Trust, there is no doubt about their origin. This is from their own website:

There are comments on the World Wide Web claiming that the Lucis Trust was once called the Lucifer Trust. Such was never the case. However, for a brief period of two or three years in the early 1920’s, when Alice and Foster Bailey were beginning to publish the books published under her name, they named their fledgling publishing company “Lucifer Publishing Company”. By 1925 the name was changed to Lucis Publishing Company and has remained so ever since. Both “Lucifer” and “Lucis” come from the same word root, lucis being the Latin generative case meaning of light. The Baileys’ reasons for choosing the original name are not known to us, but we can only surmise that they, like the great teacher H.P. Blavatsky, for whom they had enormous respect, sought to elicit a deeper understanding of the sacrifice made by Lucifer. Alice and Foster Bailey were serious students and teachers of Theosophy, a spiritual tradition which views Lucifer as one of the solar Angels, those advanced Beings Who Theosophy says descended (thus “the fall”) from Venus to our planet eons ago to bring the principle of mind to what was then animal-man. In the theosophical perspective, the descent of these solar Angels was not a fall into sin or disgrace but rather an act of great sacrifice, as is suggested in the name “Lucifer” which means light-bearer.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is mostly just to make you aware–in case you didn’t realize it–that in addition to people who openly revere God, there are those who openly revere Lucifer.

For one final remark, consider this: Even those of you who are agnostic/atheist can surely recognize that a genuine believer in the power of God might, in certain circumstances, be able to achieve things because of his faith. So by the same token, if there are people walking around out there who genuinely believe they’ve achieved their position of earthly power because they “made a deal with the devil”…you can expect atypical behavior from them. I submit that adding that feature to your mental model of powerful people might allow you to better explain the world we see.

23 Oct 2014

Why Money Doesn’t Measure Value

Inflation, Shameless Self-Promotion 93 Comments

Marc Miles (an economist I’ve cited in some of my more mainstream policy work) was also flummoxed by the mischievous David Gordon, so I thought I needed to be the diplomat. The best part of the post:

[S]uppose the government follows Forbes and Ames’ advice, and pegs the dollar-price of an ounce of gold. Then a few years later, an asteroid containing 170,000 tons of gold lands on the earth, effectively doubling the amount of gold held by humans in just a few weeks. If the U.S. government did nothing, the dollar-price of gold would crash. To maintain the peg, therefore, the government would flood the world with new dollars, causing the dollar-price of everything BUT gold to skyrocket. Do Tamny and Miles deny that this would sure seem like “inflation” in the eyes of the general public, and that the objective “ruler” now seemed to have a malleable length after all?

22 Oct 2014

*The Three Lads and the Lizard King*

Shameless Self-Promotion 28 Comments

I wrote a story for my son and decided others might enjoy it as well. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, let me say that this is the most important thing I have ever written; if I had to pick one item summarizing what I’ve learned so far in life, this would be it.

Three Lads Cover

There’s actually a “Halloween hook” early in the story, so if you’re curious, I would encourage you to order it in the next day or two to get it in time for Halloween.

UPDATE: Here is the blurb at Amazon:

Three friends find themselves magically transported to a land where they learn of a prophecy–about them! The lads must use their newfound gifts of power in their battle against the Lizard King.

22 Oct 2014

The Science Is Settled on the Threat of Man-Made Price Change

Climate Change, Inflation 44 Comments

In a recent post I reproduced this funny excerpt from Cliff Asness’ thoughts on his 2010 open letter to Ben Bernanke warning of (price) inflation:

At the risk of enraging a whole different group (I promise I’m not denying anything I’m just making an analogy, and one I know is very far from dead on) I’m amazed that a Paul Krugman can look at 15+ years of the earth not warming and feel his beliefs need no modification or explanation, but 4 years of the CPI not inflating is reason not simply to declare victory, but to decry those who disagree with him as “Knaves and Fools.” In fact, rather than also anger Mr. Gore and Steyer, I hope they find this paragraph supportive as I’m saying these debates are rarely settled in either direction in short time frames. Now, if I were cheekier (cheek is not denial!) I’d ask if perhaps our letter was right and the inflation we predicted is in fact occurring in the depths of the ocean? Or, maybe we should ex post relabel our letter a warning of the risk of “extreme price action” including of course the extreme stability we have experienced in CPI these last few years.

As I was hoping would occur, a critic tried to respond to me that yes the climate models have too been right, since the warmest x years on record have occurred in the last 10 years. (The profanity-containing comment didn’t actually make it onto my post, incidentally.)

Indeed this is a standard move by the people defending the popular computer models predicting large increases in temperature if emissions do not slow significantly. OK great, then by the same token let’s look at the CPI:

2014.10 CPI levels

Wow look at that! Yes, there was a one-off interruption in the constant evidence of man-made price change–which the inflation deniers called a “pause,” those dirty rotten anti-scientists–but the last three years have had the highest consumer prices on record. QED.

OK, ha ha, I’ve made my point. I’m not here arguing, “The climate models are all utterly insane and are funded solely by George Soros.” No, I’m just pointing out that if you’re the type of person who thinks the “warmest years on record” argument cinches it for the global warming warnings–even though the models predicted much warmer temperatures by now, given how much emissions have been–then you really can’t in good conscience love Paul Krugman for mocking the “derp” of analysts who still think we are in store for large-scale price inflation. Just be consistent, is all I’m asking.

22 Oct 2014

A Carbon Tax Will Be Set By Politics, Not Science

Climate Change, Shameless Self-Promotion 4 Comments

In this latest IER post I walk through a blog from an enviro group in the Northwest, discussing revenue projections for Washington State if they impose a stiff carbon tax. My favorite part:

I encourage the reader to look again at the part I’ve put in bold from Eberhard’s commentary. Notice that she didn’t write, “After 2050, if we consult with scientists and economists and determine that the ‘social cost of carbon’ has risen then we can adjust our economically optimal level of taxing the negative externality.”

No, that’s not at all what she said. Rather, Eberhard wrote: “This scenario is the only one in which revenue tapers slightly in the final years…Washington could choose to continue de-carbonizing its economy even more after 2050 by pushing the price even higher. Doing so might result in a flat revenue stream. In other words, Eberhard is trying to convince her readers to sign on for a carbon tax, because even if the revenue dries up prematurely, policymakers always have the option to jack up the rate of the tax in order to keep the dollars flowing in to state coffers.

21 Oct 2014

Potpourri

Potpourri, Shameless Self-Promotion 12 Comments

==> This is a video I broadcast from a bunker to celebrate Mises’ birthday.

==> Ian Cioffi gives tips on how to make money hosting liberty events. So read up, and then hire me to speak!

==> Looks like I picked the right place to settle down. Apparently Nashville cops told the Secret Service to get lost after they were going to lie about having a warrant to harass an Obama critic. (At least one person asked me if I’m the guy in the story. No.)

==> In contrast, apparently this NYPD officer made a musician leave the subway even though he read that the man wasn’t breaking a law. (I say “apparently” because I couldn’t really hear the exact words when the musician claimed victory.) Notice how the public offers financial and moral support. If you click it, just “skim” through the first 4 minutes to get the gist. Unfortunately may be an omen for the future.

==> This Jimmy Kimmel bit with Eminem is actually pretty good. (Probably old, but I just saw it.)

==> Check out Cliff Asness’ half-apology for his 2010 (price) inflation warning to Bernanke. I love this part:

At the risk of enraging a whole different group (I promise I’m not denying anything I’m just making an analogy, and one I know is very far from dead on) I’m amazed that a Paul Krugman can look at 15+ years of the earth not warming and feel his beliefs need no modification or explanation, but 4 years of the CPI not inflating is reason not simply to declare victory, but to decry those who disagree with him as “Knaves and Fools.” In fact, rather than also anger Mr. Gore and Steyer, I hope they find this paragraph supportive as I’m saying these debates are rarely settled in either direction in short time frames. Now, if I were cheekier (cheek is not denial!) I’d ask if perhaps our letter was right and the inflation we predicted is in fact occurring in the depths of the ocean? Or, maybe we should ex post relabel our letter a warning of the risk of “extreme price action” including of course the extreme stability we have experienced in CPI these last few years.

To my knowledge, no one who (a) fervently believes the “science is settled on climate change” and (b) fervently believes “the evidence is on on the liquidity trap and austerity” has explained this tension.

What’s really interesting is that Asness goes on to make the ocean-analog argument, claiming that we do see price inflation in asset markets. The reason I like this so much is not because, “Phew, we can throw up that hypocrisy jab and run away from our bad CPI prediction.” Rather, I am truly fascinated by the psychology and rhetoric of both camps on this issue. I would appreciate more humility all around. I don’t expect Al Gore to jump off a bridge with each passing year, just like I shouldn’t be expected to fall on my knees in front of Krugman when the CPI comes out. On the other hand, everybody involved in these issues needs to deal with the fact that the incoming observations were not what some of us expected.