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Coming to a waiting room near you, 50 years from now

Had to take Mom to the optometrist yesterday.

She got called back for the exam and Jasper and I went over to a little waiting area that had two rows of four chairs each facing each other. Well, the boy proceeded to make the whole space his space…putting his jacket on one chair, magazines and books on most of the others and insisted on sitting across from me. I was trying to explain to him that others may be coming along and he would need to show courtesy in that event.

Pretty soon, a married couple, I’m guessing in their early 30s, maybe late 20s came through the door and we started tidying up knowing that they would be needing to sit. This duo got done with their business at the front desk and while they were walking towards us, they both were grabbing for their phones. They sat, about 15 minutes before they respectively were called for their exams, staring at their phones, determinedly not making eye contact with each or anybody else.

Next up another married couple came in (I later learned they were both in their 80s), sat right next to me and they were all delighted to engage with a four year old little maniac. I mean to tell you that they were having a hoot with Jasper. In between entertaining the boy, they talked of their 14 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, church, going to the gym, how their house was down the street from a “beer hall” and they sometimes had drunks show up in their yard, their vacations in Florida….it was a nice, polite way to pass the time.

I had to wonder what it will be like for the first couple sitting in a waiting room 50 years from now…what is that going to be like?

Conversations with a four year old

Out on the back porch on a sunny but chilly day, Jasper is enjoying a wild cherry lollipop and just going to town on the old rocking chair.

So I ask, “Jasper, are you a mod or a rocker?”

“I’m a mahhhhrocker!”

After a slight pause, he asks “What about you Daddy?”

“I’m a rocker. Definitely a rocker.”

After a longer yet perfectly timed pause he says, “You’re not a rocker. I’m a rocker.”

Look to the right to find the left

I don’t have a lot of political conversations these days but, of the few that I do have, most of the people I talk to fancy themselves as “Left Wing”. My feeling is that if you believe in handing power to a centralized entity, you are decidedly on the right of any imaginable political spectrum.

Lo and behold, this morning I ran in to an essay by Karl Hess that I’d never seen before. Here’s a taste but, keep in mind that this was written in 1975…

The overall characteristic of a right-wing regime, no matter the details of difference between this one and that one, is that it reflects the concentration of power in he fewest practical hands…

…The far left, as far as you can get away from the right, would logically represent the opposite tendency and, in fact, has done just that throughout history. The left has been the side of politics and economics that opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands…

…The farthest left you can go, historically at any rate, is anarchism — the total opposition to any institutionalized power, a state of completely voluntary social organization in which people would establish their ways of life in small, consenting groups, and cooperate with others as they see fit…

…At any rate, at some point on the spectrum there is the great modern American liberal position. Through a series of unfortunate but certainly understandable distortions of political terminology, the liberal position has come to be known as a left-wing position. Actually, it lies right alongside the conservative tradition, down toward the middle of the line, but decidedly, I think, to the right of its center. Liberals believe in concentrated power — in the hands of liberals, the supposedly educated and genteel elite. They believe in concentrating that power as heavily and effectively as possible. They believe in great size of enterprise, whether corporate or political, and have a great and profound disdain for the homely and the local. They think nationally but they also think globally and now even intergalactically. Actually, because they believe in far more authoritarian rule than a lot of conservatives, it probably would be best to say that liberals lie next to but actually to the right of many conservatives.

Dear America by Karl Hess:


Maybe AI can save us all

The shortcomings of centralization were largely ignored until the advent of the computer age. Computing power gave scientists the capability to quantify the fatal flaws underlying the tenets of centralization. The phrase that computer technicians coined to describe these inherent defects is ‘single point of failure’. The ‘single point of failure’ principle refers to a system such that, if that one component were to fail, the entire system would grind to a halt… In socioeconomics, it means that one single error by a government agency could invoke a devastating outcome to society and its citizens. One error could crash a centralized system, leading to total systemic failure.- L.K. Samuels

Elon Musk is fond of saying that Artificial Intelligence will serve to control and possibly destroy humanity. Vladimir Putin says that whoever becomes the global leader in AI will have “control of the world”.

What if they’re both wrong? What if AI is so good that it realizes the flaws of centralization and functions to decentralize government power structures and force us all in to more self governing situations?

Just a thought.

Konkin on questions answered by Austrian Economics

An interesting bit from “The Last Whole Introduction To Agorism” by Samuel Edward Konkin III…

Austrian economics answered questions.

Q: Why do we value and how?
A: It is inherent in everyone and it is subjective.

Why do we give up anything at all ever?
A: Because we subjectively value A more than B while some Other values B more than A. We do not relinquish; we acquire a greater value.

But why would anyone give up something that is universally (or as close as possible)  subjectively valued for something of less value?
A: Because that one-thousandth unit of the seemingly more valuable is less subjectively valuable than the first unit of the seemingly lesser. Who would consider it folly to trade one’s hundredth loaf of bread for a first diamond? Utility is marginal.

Why do we have money?
A: Facilitate trade, keep quantitative accounts, make change and store value.

From where does money come?
It arises from commodities exchanged more and more as a middle or medium of exchange.

Q: Can government improve on money?
A: No, it is strictly a market function.

Q: What is the result of government intervention anywhere in the market?
Government is force, however legitimized and accepted; all force prevents subjective value satisfaction, that is, whatever human actors voluntarily give up and accept is, by their personal subjective (and unknowable to others) understanding, the best informed outcome to them. Any violence that deters their exchange is counter-productive to all the exchanges and to those whose exchanges depend on theirs – that is, violent intervention is a universal disutility in the market.

Mises thus concludes that all coercion – and that includes government action – is not just anti-market but inhumane. Not bad for value free assumptions!  Röpke (author of Humane Economy), Hayek, and even Mises felt that once private force or that of another state entered the marketplace, government counter-force was justified for rectification. Furthermore, none could conceive of any other way to deal with humane protection.