What is Money?

The word “money” comes from the Latin moneta, which is where coins of precious metal were made and stored. Precious metals naturally rose to the top of money markets because they are scarce, long-lasting, and valued by weight. Gold in particular became the standard for money because it is uniquely suited to serve the purposes of money.

A Sea of Counter Conformity

We live in a sea of conformity and signaling. We are drowning in it, and, to some degree, this is okay. We are a social species, and we need to accept that the social nature of the species expresses itself in this way. I am on the far side of the spectrum that feels moderately comfortable being unacceptable, but I am an aberration. Even in myself, I feel the same social impulses everyone feels.

Convenience vs. Social Desirability Bias

Convenience has a massive effect on your behavior.  You rarely shop in your favorite store, eat in your favorite restaurant, or visit your favorite place.  Why not?  Because doing so is typically inconvenient.  They’re too far away, or not open at the right hours, so you settle for second-best or third-best or tenth-best.  You usually don’t switch your cell phone company, your streaming service, or your credit card just because a better option comes along.  Why not?  Because switching is not convenient.  Students even pass up financial aid because they don’t feel like filling out the paperwork.  Why not?  You guessed it: Because paperwork is inconvenient.

Tidy Home, Conspiracy Theorists, Anticipation and Happiness, & Steelmanning (21m) – Episode 055

Episode 055 looks at keeping a tidy room (and home) by removing one or two items that don’t belong every time you leave; asking someone to explain their conspiracy theory in detail in order for them to see its holes themselves; the difference between excitement from anticipation and your long-term happiness; and the value in asking your discussion or debate partner to explain the other side as well as they can (steelmanning).

Millennial Socialism, Teachers’ Strike, Fat Capitalist Bezos, & Work or Die (26m) – Episode 448

Episode 448 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following entries to r/shitstatistssay: @NathanHRubin writes, “Millennials don’t hear socialism & think about the USSR or the Cold War… we think about Canada, Switzerland…”; PixPls writes, “It’s time that teachers stood up to their states and just said ‘No’. And while they are at it, a 20% raise is in order.”; Wordsmifff2991 writes, “The biggest cause of poverty is greed… Yes Jeff Bezos I’m talking to you.”; and NeonDepression writes, “There wouldn’t be any value without labor period. The worker HAS to create it for there to be any wealth whatsoever. Property inherently is theft… There is no such thing as a free market when people are forced to work in order to live. Thats called coercion.”

Homeless Camping in Austin: A Modest Proposal

This winter, I’m a visiting scholar at the University of Texas.  Though Austin is gorgeous, visitors can’t help but notice vast homeless villages scattered throughout the city.  Local sources tell me that this is driven by Austin’s repeal of the ban on homeless camping.  One of the economists I’ve met here has written a Swiftian proposal for reforming Austin’s approach.  The author prefers to remain anonymous, but this is printed with his permission.  Engage your sense of satire, and enjoy!