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"Pretty soon, "right now" will be a long time ago..."
This is a response to Jeffrey Tucker's defense of crypto currency, in which he addresses five points made by Peter Schiff during their recent debate in Las Vegas.
I write this as an early adopter who has built his own mining rig (4-card AMD in 2013-14) and sought investment to be the first to order ASICs... suffice to say I'm not a casual observer talking from my buns. Although I do happen to be sitting while I write this. If you would rather watch me talk about this, here's my YouTube video that covers the same content below:
I've recently come around to agree with Peter Schiff. You lost me a bit on this one; here's my thoughts on each of Tucker's comebacks to five points made by Schiff, which I'll list:
1) This stuff has no intrinsic value, Schiff says.
Tucker responds by citing the subjective value theory, with which I agree - to a point. Arguments from subjective value theory can become circular very fast, so I address this:
"...there is no such thing as intrinsic value." - until you have a value, then there are "inherited" values. For instance, if you value "a warm home in winter" then you will value "home heating technology" - which will result in valuing means to that end. The pragmatists supply the logic from there...
2) The price of crypto is purely speculative, Schiff says.
Tucker says that there is "no such thing as a non-speculative price of a financial asset." - is that true? I'm going to withhold judgement on this one and assume that Tucker is correct for the sake of the argument.
For starters, if it indeed is in the same catagory then Tucker is saying that it competes with all other financial assets. How, then, will it ever compete with money? There is a positive case for this which has yet to be made - and no amount of tractor analogies will suffice to convince a store owner to accept the tech. "Show me" becomes the natural, inescapable counter-argument. Tractors don't haul cargo across the country, unless you're talking about tractor-trailers. So perhaps some adaptations are yet to come?
I will say that Schiff is half wrong... or maybe 10% right... fact is, when I was involved in blockchain/crypto/bitcoin/whatever... I was speculating. I know others who speculate... I don't know anyone who uses Crypto to fulfill any "higher order value" other than speculation. Also, sure, I know a couple hipsters who have it and trade among themselves. Do you know anyone who uses crypto at their business?
3) No one uses it as money, Schiff says.
Tucker cites the number of transactions that are happening. So what? Those could be bots.
See #2. We're waiting for this to become a thing, and others are competing using assets like gold.
4) Blockchains have become inflationary, says Schiff.
Tucker seems to defeat his own argument here by stating that one should "see crypto in general not as a product but rather as a technology." And that "there are infinite ways to deploy it." How does this help make the case for a currency?
On this point, I agree; it's a technology, like the wedge or the pully. Which means there is no purpose in speculating in any given brand. There is a case to be made for state-backed currency, due to the necessity for stability. However I'll save that for another article on my Libertarian defense of the State. Yes, I'll go there.
"5) The costs of mining are out of control, says Schiff."
Tucker responds by making an analogy to Gold, that mining costs are necessary to secure the network. This is true, however does it matter? What Schiff is addressing is the long-run stability, at least that is what it sounds like. As the costs of mining go up, the whole "decentralized production" idea becomes a non-starter.
What I'd really like to know is, is Schiff really saying "this thing has no future"? or just that "this thing has no future as a money"?
In conclusion, I like the analogy Tucker made to the tractor. I would go a step further to say, "A tractor does not pragmatically fulfill the value of an automobile. Sure, you could drive one across the country. However, you surely wouldn't want to - nor would it, in light of the alternatives, be a wise thing to do." Furthermore, in an evolutionary system with intelligent actors, it is not a smart bet to say "Tractors will become the standard transportation for everyone to get everywhere."
Likewise, cryptocurrencies seems to have no pragmatic way to fulfill the roles of money. It'd be like using a tractor to drive across the country. That does not mean that the underlying blockchain technology itself is ruined, but it does mean that many people may be left "holding the bag" if the money-substitute concept is revealed to be a non-starter.
This begs the questions, "What are those uses?" or "How can the technology be deployed to fulfill other higher order values?"
Many people today remember the days before computers, when it took (for one example) a week for someone to do their taxes. Now, we have "Turbo Tax" - so, likewise, it may be another decade or two before this technology makes its value known.
In the meantime, best of luck to all the speculators!
What follows my YouTube video on this subject is my best attempt, in the time I've allotted, to answer the question, "what if everyone had voted in the 2016 election?
Assuming the same percentages of the 2016 election results, as reported by county, I multiplied these results through the 2013 census data.
For example, Catron County, NM's 2013 population was 3,607 people. Only 2035 voted and 71% went to Trump. So, his vote total for that county extrapolates from 1453 to 2575. In
68 Counties were not listed in the same format in the two tables, so I substituted actual vote counts in favor of the extrapolation.
I don't account for vote eligibility at the county level due to things like age, felons, foreigners, etc. Also, this is 2013 population data - the most recent I could find.
142.8 Million for Trump
147.1 Million for Clinton
Also, though, I did a quick count of how many counties each won... and that result is much different:
2,528 for Trump
408 for Clinton
692 counties were between 40 and 60 percent one way or the other... so there is a lot of room to wiggle. However, where Trump won he won a lot stronger than where Clinton won (1,274 over 70% Trump vs only 67 over 70% Clinton) - and it goes to 368 to 17 Trump when you look at counties over 80%, 16:1 over 90%, and 1:0 over 95%... as expected. Which one was that? Roberts County, Texas. You are practically guaranteed to find a Trump supporter there, where 524 of 550 people who voted chose Trump.
The idea of our Federated Republic is that we do NOT have a small segment of highly populated areas ruling over a vast continent of people. We have the most number of people being able to self-govern. Which is clearly what happened. Because now, those 2,528 counties get to have county-level conversations (in, you know, real life) about what happened. Many of them are close - and that's where we'll get a lot of good stuff happening!
So, the game is decided: Federalism Wins!
Here is the .xls file for anyone interested:
In this article, I will analyze a recent article from the LA Times, titled "Trump slams Russia probe and blames U.S. for bad relations with Putin as the two leaders meet." Click the link if you want to read it and follow along.
The article's title highlights two facts over all others. As we'll see, they aren't necessarily the facts that matter the most. I would say that it is far more important that Trump was criticized by Putin for pulling out of the Iran deal, and held his ground on the situation in Syria. Those are actually new things, you see...
...and using those for a headline might just cast things in a neutral, or even positive light. The press seems incapable of doing this. Counter-examples are welcome.
The article's text starts out with the usual assertion of "Russian interference" in our elections. What do our intel officials mean by "Russia" - what evidence, specifically, do they have to assert that it was Putin who gave the order or was at all involved?
Also, is it rhetorically smart to have a tug of war with Putin over this?
Trump is reported to have "slammed the special counsel's investigation…" But, it's not news that he would slam it; he's been railing against this from the start. This seems to be more about asserting his dominance than it is about being accurate.
The article continues to say that "president also blamed the United States for relations with Moscow that he said have “never been worse.""
What is wrong with taking responsibility for the state of relations, and asserting his will to correct them? This is actually a risky move, as the same intelligence community will be fully capable of returning a new verdict in the next election cycle. The question will be: is there more or less interference? Also, the general global policy analyst community will be able to weigh in on whether or not "relations" will have gotten better or worse throughout time.
The article states that Trump wishes the FBI investigation would be widened to include his political opponents. While I am not a fan of this kind of partisanship being brought into a discussion about national security and intelligence, I can understand his move as a political one. It makes sense that he'd do this. So what?
The statement following, from Dan Coats (Director of National Intelligence), is predictable: he reasserts that there is an ongoing threat by Russia to undermine our democracy. What that means in detail is subject to too much interpretation for me to really use as a meaningful statement for any purpose.
Putin offered "allowing U.S. investigators to interrogate the Russians who are under indictment" instead of extraditing them to the United States. That seems like a fair bargain, since I doubt we would extradite people to Russia regardless of whether they were part of our intelligence community or not. At least, I sure hope so.
When the press asks Trump to denounce "what Russia did" during the 2016 election, they are asking Trump to take a step backward in rhetorical relations. That is, they're asking him to dis Putin. What good could this do? Make some people feel good?
What isn't highlighted is that Putin complained about Trump withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. That's way down in the article, and I doubt it's getting any serious attention from the same people who claim Trump is Putin's puppet… cognitive dissonance avoidance?
Why didn't Trump bring up the dispute over Crimea? Again, this goes back to known quantities and public rhetoric. What rhetorical purpose would it serve to make Putin feel small in public? Does Trump deny this fact, or is he in favor of Russia's seizure of Crimea? They even admit that Trump raised the subject and maintained the view of NATO. He admitted that there is a point of disagreement here. So, what is the problem?
It would seem that those who are criticizing the President's style are more interested in hearing public cheerleading for their causes celeb than they are in getting things done.
The article continues to admit that, while officials in America and Europe feared that "Trump would agree to… effectively cede Syria…", they do not have any evidence to show that this prediction came true. Following this, the article quotes several people's comments - this is not news, it's gossip.
We already know that John Brennan, John McCain and Lindsey Graham have a different preference for rhetorical style in regards to Russia. People don't like the President's style. That's not news.
Let's be clear: Putin is a thug. He's been closely tied to things like the Olympic doping scandal, other nefarious and even murderous activity. We know this; it's a known quantity. What isn't known is how this will turn out, and we'll have to wait and see.
There are simply plenty of folks out there who would rather throw nonsense from the peanut gallery before the movie is over. Unlike Russia, we have a very solid election system and can vote in a new POTUS through that system next go-around.
If the American People wish to elect a new President, this performance will be a big part of that puzzle. The President is taking quite a gamble with his tactics here, as he took quite a gamble with his tactics in becoming President in the first place.
This all goes to show that we need less power in the office of the Presidency; it's almost as if limiting it according to the Constitution might be a good idea. We could start with trade, and we could look toward the founders for the wisdom of a more libertarian system in general.
This is something that we must confront: if we allow power to reside in a single individual such that they can "make our lives better", we are going to inevitably run into times when that same great power is used against us. That's why we need libertariansim, that's why we need a return to Constitutional governance.
That's also why we need a more disinterested press that's "free" from these ideological and self-imposed constraints. Until we get that, we're in for more of the same via articles like the one that I analyzed above.
In this video, I respond to the recent "Big Think" video and related Vox interview with Eric Weinstein.
Big Think Video: https://bigthink.com/videos/eric-weinstein-capitalism-is-in-trouble-socialist-principles-can-save-it
Vox Interview: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/7/25/15998002/eric-weinstein-capitalism-socialism-revolution
All to often, the "General Welfare" statement is used to justify unlimited potential power in the Federal Government.
If such an interpretation were valid, why would we have a Constitution at all? Why would we "enumerate" any powers? Why would we have multiple branches of government?
If this were right, we would simply be a tyranny of the powerful. That almost happened - starting when Woodrow Wilson, a man beloved by Benito Mussolini and who spoke in very Communist terms (before it was cool!) used those words to twist the State to his will.
In those days, with war and confusion run amok, one can almost excuse - and at least understand - why people could be capable of making such a critical error. The rise of industrialization made everything seem possible. Communism, Fascism, the "Total State" as expressed through War and Propaganda, seemed to have unlimited potential power.
So, why not throw away the founding wisdom in favor of a new ideal? Hundreds of millions of deaths and hundreds of millions of lives lived under oppressive regimes should be proof enough of the wisdom of our Founding Fathers to never place such power in the hands of the State.
James Madison stated in Federalist 41 that Wilson's interpretation amounts to "stooping to such a misconstruction" of the notion of "General Welfare" and found it absurd that anyone would consider such a clause to provide unlimited powers. He expresses the same logic I spelled out above...
Had he only known the death that laid ahead, would he have argued for the clause to be admitted? One can only speculate. However, it is no speculation at all to say that the words were never meant to provide unlimited power. Now here's Federalist 41, by James Madison:
The immigration debate was put back into center stage recently, due to reasons that themselves have become at the center of controversy. To summarize, the Trump Administration started to enforce the law strictly - calling the prosecution of all improper border crossings (which is anything not done through a port of entry) a "Zero Tolerance" policy. Branding aside, this is in line with Abraham Lincoln's view that "the best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."
Once this "Zero Tolerance" policy began, many people who previously would have simply been released back to Mexico were processed through our legal system at the border. This is a special kind of legal system, naturally, because the people being processed are not US Citizens. That doesn't mean morality goes out the window, but it does mean that detention is "indefinite" (although we have every incentive both morally and fiscally to process people quickly). Detention centers filled up, and families were being separated. This is where the big controversy really began. "The Media" took this chance to highlight what is truly a terrible situation for any human being - families being separated from their children.
Let the Hysteria Begin
I invited someone to a conversation about it. He declined, insisting there are only two ways to see the issue: either you are for separating children from their parents, or you are not... So much for civility, but that's been degrading for a while now. I'll come back to that later.
But for the legislature resisting doing its job, the system of law being executed and a population providing feedback worked quite well. Except for all the hysteria... and where did that come from?
"I've been losing sleep over the news..." - Redditer, commenting on the drawing he or she posted. The thread became so full of vitriol that it had to be locked. Whose examples are these people following?
The reporting has led many to believe that they live in a country run by evil people. Comparisons to Nazis are running rampant, while a cursory reading of the rise of the Third Reich would reveal that recent leftist tactics of public harassment to be closer to the brown shirt tactics than anything coming out of even the alt-right. Debatable, and I welcome anyone to discuss that topic. Because like most things, it is very complicated.
The border issue is complicated as well. There is a lot to consider, and it can get emotional very easily. People are looking for a better life, many of whom are escaping truly horrible circumstances. Those who are seeking asylum have a legal process by which to do so. Those who are not informed about the process of legally entering our country will be subject to the law - and I would hope that those with a legitimate asylum claim get where they need to go. That said, there are people who use false claims of asylum to try and get to the head of the line.
I have an opinion about our immigration system in general that I will post about at a later date, however for now it suffices to say that we need to create a fast track for people who just want to work. I think most reasonable people would agree that, if someone foregoes any citizenship or government benefits, good honest workers are a net benefit. That said, this whole situation is getting out of control - not because it is impossible to talk about, but because people are refusing to do so.
Battle Tactics Will Lead To Battle
While the tactics that took place in the Weimar Republic involved physical violence, it is not very far from what is happening here and violent showdowns. All you have to add is some right wingers in the vicinity, and you have a powder keg. Here is a quick run-down (credit to Get Off My Lawn for gathering these):
All this activity culminates in the most recent public statement made by Congressman Maxine Waters. Her calls for harassment are another reason I made my prediction 50% that someone in the administration or a Republican congressman would be seriously injured by the end of July. It is a terrible idea, and yet it is highly probable. Just over one year ago, a Bernie Sanders supporter attempted to kill Republican members of congress who were enjoying a baseball game.
I wouldn't place blame on Maxine Waters, as I didn't place blame on Bernie Sanders. Their rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible, but it is not an explicit call for violence. Unfortunately, that is just about all it takes for a crazy person to get the idea that they are serving a higher purpose as they pull the trigger.
Conclusion: Back to Reality
There is no doubt that we have a messy situation at our border that needs to be sorted out. However we also have to get our house in order. Decent people must start demanding an end to the emotional manipulation, or the situation will continue to get worse. Liberals have to police their own, and some of them are already doing so. Senator Chuck Schumer condemned Maxine Waters' comments, for instance. However the majority still looks to be on the side of violent tendencies.
The situation is far from catastrophic, but continual maintenance is required in order to keep the engine of liberty running. Order is not natural or spontaneous; it arises from specific people and ideas coming together.
This didn't have to be this way. We can do so, so much better. Here is my proposal:
1. Increase funding for ICE, with some earmarked specifically for child custody services
2. Give permission to parents or guardians who are caught breaking the law to decide what happens with their children while they are held in custody
3. Build a wall so that there is less of an issue in the first place
That is one starting point. Blaming the current administration makes no sense, getting hysterical makes no sense, and doing nothing is not an option. If you have another idea, I'd love to hear it.