Maybe Prosperity is Not What You Think (11m) – Episode 264

Episode 264 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: an article he wrote in August 2018 on his rethinking of the concept of prosperity by divorcing it from the concept of material abundance.

Listen to Episode 264 (11m, mp3, 64kbps)

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On Voluntaryists III

A popular ethical thought experiment is the question of given the ability to time travel, would you kill baby Hitler? Allow me to nip this supposed quandary in the bud. The voluntaryist approaches this differently than a coercivist. Killing baby Hitler would prevent Hitler’s involvement with the Third Reich, but so would many other actions toward baby Hitler. For starters, you could simply kidnap and relocate him to an orphanage in America, or to the future. No bloodshed necessary. But further, consider his childhood, and the typical childhood of Germans at the time. They were filled with violence. No doubt this was a major contributing factor to the horrors that would come. Where did violent child rearing practices start in this culture? Alice Miller points to the 1860s, and the multi-edition parenting literature recommending violence. Sabotage the first and subsequent printings of these books, so that they never disseminate, and instead start peaceful parenting campaigns. I’m sure we can brainstorm all sorts of less to non-coercive solutions to the problem of Hitler (which probably followed the problem of Wilson). And that’s today’s two cents.

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Learning Is the Ultimate Motivational Tool

Most people feel unmotivated not because they lack good pep talks, but because they lack good perspective.

The key to inspiration is better information.

When you understand how things work, you’re less vulnerable to self-defeating assumptions about how those things won’t work for you.

Instead of forcing yourself to feel successful and productive, try to understand something new. Seek out a different vantage point.

When you can think clearly, critically, and creatively about things, your feelings and actions will follow.

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The Current Career Landscape in 8 Short Points

1. Young people mistakenly assume the way to start their career is to go into debt, spend four years taking tests, following rules, chasing grades and getting a degree.

2. Paper credentials won’t launch your career. Employers don’t care about degrees, they care about the right skills.

3. But you’ve gotta prove you have those skills. You can’t just tell people and expect them to believe you! You’ve got to be your own credential.

4. That means instead of padding a resume, build a portfolio of projects that showcase your ability!

5. Example. Cade Summers. 19, no degree, no experience, landed a great marketing job at a startup.

6. How? Gained a few key skills, made a portfolio of projects, researched the company, put together a marketing plan for them, and made a short video walking through it.

7. They were blown away by the creativity and initiative he showed while everyone else had boring resumes and degrees.

8. Young people get your hands dirty! Degree or not, get out of the classroom and start building something. Podcast, YouTube, website. You’ll learn more and be more interesting and impressive.

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Tampering with The Data

The town I used to live near was famous for its coldness. The locals were proud of this.

Then, someone (government?) decided that the “official temperature” should be recorded at the airport instead of at the radio station just outside of town (about halfway between town and my house). So, instead of being in a pasture, the “official” thermometer was now located around buildings and a large expanse of concrete.

Guess what result that had– it made the “official temperature” for town several degrees higher. We stopped regularly being the coldest spot in the lower 48– at least, “officially”. People complained but it wasn’t switched back.

I’m not saying that one reading was more accurate than the other, just that they were different and that there are good reasons for the difference which have nothing to do with “global warming”.

Yet Anthropogenic Global Climate Change (AGCC) believers would take this data and use it as indisputable evidence for global warming. It is real, scientific, and believable– the temperatures officially recorded for that town now really are warmer than the temperatures officially recorded there in the past– and it is misleading.

How often has this happened in other places? Has it happened this way more often than the “official thermometers” either staying in the same place or moving to a spot where the temperature would generally be lower?

It’s a good reason to remain skeptical.

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Banfield on the Hyperbole of Urban Bankruptcy

As I never stop telling you, politics is nothing but an ocean of hyperbole!  But seriously, folks, I just came across a fine debunking of political hyperbole while reading Edward Banfield‘s 1974 classic, The Unheavenly City Revisited.

A great part of the wealth of our country is in the cities.  When a mayor says that his city is on the verge of bankruptcy, he means that when the time comes to run for reelection he wants to be able to claim credit for straightening out a mess that was left to him by his predecessor.  What he means when he says that his city must have state or federal aid to finance some improvements is (1) the taxpayers of the city (or some important group of them) would rather go without the improvements than pay for it themselves); or (2) although they would pay for it themselves if they had to, they would much prefer to have some other taxpayers pay for it.  Rarely if ever does a mayor who makes such a statement mean (1) that for the city to pay for the improvement would necessarily force some taxpayers into poverty; or (2) that the city could not raise the money even if it were willing to force some of its taxpayers into poverty.  In short, the “revenue crisis” mainly reflects the fact that people hate to pay taxes and that they think that by crying poverty they can shift some of the bill to someone else.


That we have not yet been willing to pay the price of solving, or alleviating such “problems” even when the price is a very small one suggests that they are not really critical.  Indeed, one might say that, by definition, a critical problem is one that people are willing to pay a considerable price to have solved.

Whenever I hear about governments’ fiscal woes, my go-to remedy is austerity.  But I still furrow my brow when e.g. Californians tell me that higher taxes can’t balance their budgets.  Most obviously, if unimproved land still has market value, governments clearly have yet to exhaust their tax base.

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