People hate America’s big disparities in wealth. It’s a reason why, among young people, socialism is as popular as capitalism. The Democratic Socialists of America want a country based on “freedom, equality and solidarity.” That sure sounds good. But does socialism bring that?
It was a fluke, really – a case of the enemy having their guard down that enabled Donald J. Trump to navigate his way to presidential victory in 2016 to begin with. Personally, I chalk it up to overconfidence on the part of the establishment: A smug certainty that such an entrenched, politically-connected public figure as former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could easily wipe an outspoken billionaire-entrepreneur-turned-TV-personality off the map without much rigging of the system. But of course, they were wrong.
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.
Unsurprisingly, not all economists agree on how to approach what used to be called “political economy”. Adam Smith in 1776 defined it as “an inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations”. It was understood that the default state of mankind was poverty, so the question was how people become wealthy.
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.”
Was 2020 the worst year ever? The media keep saying that. We did have the pandemic, a bitter election, unemployment, riots, and a soaring national debt. But wait, look at the good news, says historian Johan Norberg. His new book, Open: The Story of Human Progress, points out how life keeps getting better, even if people just don’t realize it.
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!
The main function of the state is to redistribute wealth from the productive class to the political class. That’s inherently an upward redistribution, and the “middle class” is half-fish, half-fowl: Partly productive class, partly a hodgepodge of political constituencies well-positioned to grab a share of the grift as bribes for their continuing support.
Episode 049 looks at choosing to protect your mental or physical health over choosing a higher paycheck; why being a good friend probably means holding your friends accountable for their poor decisions; some advice on dealing with difficult situations; and becoming comfortable in the face of uncomfortable truths.
The political left: “The so-called ‘experts’ who get paid by big corporations can’t be trusted! They’re just making up whatever results they need to in order to increase the wealth and power of their bosses!”