Billionaires, Freedom, Stoicism, & Police Brutality (28m) – Episode 323

Episode 323 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: billionaires, what they do with their wealth and how to properly redistribute it through an increase to market competition; the difference between liberty and freedom and how unfree America really is; the value in his study and practice of Stoicism as it concerns driving around town for work; who the police are and why they aren’t your friend and protector; and more.

Listen to Episode 323 (28m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Hate Speech, Inheritance, Morality, & Anarchism (36m) – Episode 322

Episode 322 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following questions from Quora: “If we move to suppress ‘hate speech’, whom do we trust to define it?”; “Do you think rich kids deserve their wealth?”; “Why is there morally good and morally bad?”; and “What do you think about anarchism?”

Listen to Episode 322 (36m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Take Care of Your Tools

Back in May I spent a few days clearing brush with an older Hispanic man – someone far more experienced in the art of tree work than I. And every day before we started work and after we finished, he would take care of his tools.

He would tighten the chainsaw blade. He would sharpen the machetes. He would sharpen the shovels. And man, did his tools work well, despite the hard work we put on them.

I saw this every day and noticed a discipline and a level of care I still lack. This was a professionalism on the part of my coworker that I aspire to.

It’s easy to focus on getting the job done – I tend to be in this camp. I throw my energy, resources, and guts at a thing and worry about the mess later. But caring about the tools that get the job done – that’s a level up. And it’s an underrated aspect of success.

“Capital goods” are the materials that create wealth. And when what you have to work with are your machetes and your shovels and your chainsaws, those are your capital goods. If you can take care of those, maybe you will take care of the bigger capital goods (with more potential for wealth creation).

It’s also worth noting that just as acquiring customers is more costly than keeping them, acquiring tools is more costly than keeping your old ones in good shape. Our business has one tractor that’s nearly 40 years old, and it’s still in working order because of the discipline of maintenance. We could have flipped through two or three tractors if we hadn’t done that.

Finally, there’s a psychological edge to keeping tools in proper order that’s similar to the edge you might get from brushing your teeth, eating well, dressing well, and exercising in the morning. You feel more prepared for the work ahead when your tools are ready, and you feel a sense of pride that you have fought back the chaos in your world.

I’ll be trying to spend more of my time doing this in the weeks ahead: taking care of the things that take care of me.

Originally published at JamesWalpole.com.

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Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty, Part One (20m) – Episode 309

Episode 309 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following aphorisms written by Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski: “A bad economist believes that he knows what to do to make the world prosperous. A good economist believes that he knows what to do to let the world make itself prosperous.”; “A barbarian believes in coercion as a means to establish cooperation. A civilized person believes in cooperation as a means to eliminate coercion.”; “A civilized person believes that what matters is not whether wealth is equally distributed, but whether it is justly acquired. A barbarian believes that the latter depends on the former.”; “Achieving peace of mind is the dual process of maximizing self-awareness and minimizing self-consciousness.”; “A commercial culture is a tautology. A political culture is an oxymoron.”; and “A civilized person uses reason to evaluate his instincts. A barbarian uses reason to justify his instincts.” (Please excuse the audio anomalies that occur a few times throughout.)

Listen to Episode 309 (20m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Debunking the ‘Privilege’ Fallacy

To begin with, let’s just acknowledge that the term “white privilege” is a racist and disparaging term that endeavors to shame and ‘other’ white people based on their race. We must also recognize that such needless race shaming is based on myths and lies.

The ‘privilege’ narrative is based on some of the same fundamental fallacies as most other leftist dogma, namely the fixed pie fallacy and a belief that value is objective rather than subjective. (The “labor theory of value” is perhaps the most well-known example of this fallacy.)

In much the same way that wealth can be created or destroyed without taking it from or giving it to anyone else, so kindness and courtesy can be extended or withheld without harming or helping a third party.

Let’s take a simple example: there was a time and place in America in which some lunch counters opted to exclude certain patrons based on their race. This was discriminatory, no doubt, but it was also rather rude and unkind. All that said, this discrimination was not a benefit to the unexcluded patrons. It was a net loss, a loss of both commerce and goodwill. It was not a ‘privilege’ for anyone.

One additional example. When someone’s house burns down, it does not benefit neighboring homeowners. These neighbors are not ‘privileged’ simply because their houses didn’t succumb to the misfortune that befell another.

Put simply, one person’s misfortune is not another person’s ‘privilege’. Much like a house burning down, denying kindness and goodwill only serves to shrink the overall pie; it does not somehow redistribute it to others. I do not benefit from the harm inflicted on others. Neither do you.

Let’s cease perpetuating the divisive and discriminatory ‘privilege’ narrative and recognize that no one is privileged by the misfortunes of others.

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On Billionaires

Assuming that billionaires are any sort of “problem” (I don’t), the solution is not to take their wealth and redistribute it to others. No, the solution is to remove any and all barriers to compete with them entrepreneurially. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos became billionaires because they provide or have provided goods and services to willing customers, but some of their wealth was all but guaranteed by the monopoly protections afforded by software patents and trademarks. To the extent that competition was coercively prohibited by the state in the issue and protection of these patents and trademarks, their gains were ill-gotten. Abolish intellectual monopoly, and every other form of protectionism, and the economy will redistribute their wealth by redistributing their market share. “Problem” solved, and that’s today’s two cents.

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