Monday, March 31, 2014

Walter Block on Refereeing in Mainstream Journals

Prof. Block writes:

From time to time, I am asked to referee papers by editors of mainstream journals. Perhaps many people who read this blog are in a similar position. I thought I would share with you, on an anonymous basis of course, a referee’s report I recently wrote. Perhaps some of you might consider adopting this sort of reaction. Please give me feedback on this (, both as regards this general type of response, and, also, specifically, if you can add to my bibliography of anti FDA publications. Here goes:
This is just another socialist pro market failure paper extolling the virtues of government intervention into the free enterprise system. I am tempted to say, reject this piece on that ground alone, since this is a very bad philosophy from my point of view, since I favor free enterprise. However, I do not take this viewpoint in this case. For two reasons. One, this is a pretty good attack on the system of laissez faire capitalism insofar as these things go, and two, I don’t think it proper for a referee to impose his political philosophy on an author. So, I advise you, accept this paper, with some major revisions. What major revisions? This author should at least confront the alternative viewpoint, the one that says the FDA for example, is a horror, a disgrace, a great inefficiency, etc. See below for a bibliography making this point. I don’t say the author should turn around 180 degrees and recant his socialistic position. I only say he should quote from this literature, and say why he thinks it is wrong. In that way, he will have a far more powerful paper than he has at present. Specifically, he should confront this magnificent quote from Tom Sowell:
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
Here is the bibliography:

‘Just Salute and Follow Orders’: When Secrecy and Surveillance Trump the Rule of Law

By John W. Whitehead

“The Secret Government is an interlocking network of official functionaries, spies, mercenaries, ex-generals, profiteers and superpatriots, who, for a variety of motives, operate outside the legitimate institutions of government. Presidents have turned to them when they can’t win the support of the Congress or the people, creating that unsupervised power so feared by the framers of our Constitution...”—Journalist Bill Moyers and White House press secretary under President Johnson (1988)

Question: How can

CNN: New IRS rules make using Bitcoins a fiasco

The government regulations that will make it difficult to operate with Bitcoins are starting to come. But the IRS ruing is only the beginning. 

CNN on what the IRS just did:
The United States' new Bitcoin tax rules just made casual, everyday use a complicated bookkeeping headache.
The Internal Revenue Service's notice last week will force the average Bitcoin user to keep a strict record of every purchase made all year long -- then perform difficult calculations to account for the changing value of a bitcoin.
It's meant to extract taxes from any gains in Bitcoin's value, and the rule applies to everything bought with electronic money, from coffee to cars.
That's problematic for two reasons. The going rate for a bitcoin fluctuates wildly -- easily by more than $10 a day. And no one diligently records the price of a bitcoin at every purchase.
"That would obviously create an accounting nightmare for taxpayers and may cause taxpayers to avoid using virtual currency," said Jeffrey Hochberg, a tax attorney in New York.
Of course,  you can just take your chances and hope you don't become a target of the government. Ask Ross Ulbricht and Charlie Shrem how that strategy turned out. Most of what Ulbricht is alleged to have done and probably everything Shrem is alleged to have done would not be illegal in a private property society, but we don't live in a private property society. We live in a society where government spends most of its time expanding regulations that it can use as tools to crack down on anyone it wants at anytime.

Consider yourself warned.

Cato Shrugged Analyst: Putin 'Wants to Regain Finland'

This is totally off-the-wall, neocon-type thinking out of Cato. The International Business Times reports:
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest ex-advisers has claimed that the ex-KGB agent ultimately wants to reclaim Finland for Russia.

Andrej Illiaronov, Putin's economic adviser between 2000 and 2005 and now senior member of the Cato Institute think tank, said that "parts of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States and Finland are states where Putin claims to have ownership."

"Putin's view is that he protects what belongs to him and his predecessors," he said.

When asked if Putin wishes to return to the Russia of the last tsar, Nicholas II, Illiaronov said: "Yes, if it becomes possible."

Illiaronov admits that Finland is not Putin's primary concern at present but, if not stopped in other areas of Eastern Europe, the issue will one day arise.
Once more, for the record, Russian troops are in Crimea protecting the overwhelming majority of the population who are of Russian descent. Further, they are protecting the naval port for Russia, which they have a right to based on a lease agreement between Ukarine and Russia. Finally, Putin only reacted after a U.S. instigated overthrow of the democratic elected Ukrainian government.

Why Rand Paul is Such a Disappointment

A great take from Scott Horton.

Daily Beast Takes Down Mitch McConnell and Jesse Benton

Jonathan Miller writes:
Mitch McConnell has thereby found himself in an unprecedented situation — the master politician is running an embarrassment of a campaign. And there is little that is tougher to survive politically than becoming a laughingstock, particularly with 24/7 cable news and social media replaying your humiliations on a virtual endless loop.
Veteran Kentucky political observers are shaking their heads at McConnell's sudden loss of political mastery. Some blame his lack of traction on the high level of difficulty of running his traditional scorched-earth strategy against a young female opponent — early sexualized GOP attacks on Grimes as an "empty dress" and an "Obama girl" backfired and perhaps have led to a heightened defensiveness from the McConnell camp and a more desperate effort to reach outside of their comfort zone into, yikes, positive advocacy."

He then goes on to point out that many believe Jesse Benton is the problem:

 Others blame the campaign leadership, specifically campaign manager Jesse Benton, a Ron and Rand Paul confidant and family member. The manager's hiring was seen as a bold strategic move by McConnell to blunt tea party primary opposition; but after a recording emerged of Benton claiming that he was "holding my nose" while he worked for the establishment icon — and then after McConnell's refusal to fire or even discipline Benton for his insubordination — it appeared that the powerful Senate leader was being held captive by insurgent forces that lack the professionalism and experience to run a top-tier Senate campaign. And perhaps some of the campaign's mistakes over the past month might be attributed to a manager whose head and heart aren't really in the race.

Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager, who is married to Ron Paul's granddaughter. 
And this is attack is going on before we hear the results of a grand jury investigation. Yikes. The left is going to have a field day. (SEE: EPJ Exclusive: Washington D.C. Grand Jury Investigating Activities Surrounding Ron Paul Inc.)

Is the US Government Trying to Prevent Taiwan from Having Closer Ties with China?

Radical Propertarian emails:

Have you guys been following what’s going on in Taiwan? Have NGOs been funding media outfits there, trying to prevent Taiwan from having closer ties with China? It’s just weird that, yet again, in quick succession, a surging protest movement rapidly arose over an economic deal with a US rival. First in Kiev, and now in Taipei.

How to Profit Off of High Frequency Traders...

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You Don't Have to be a Statist to Hate Bitcoin

Smaul gld emails:
Been a reader of yours for a while and appreciate your candor when discussing bitcoin.

I just penned this one that you might like:
RW note: Yes, I do like it. It is a great status report on Bitcoin.

AWESOME: De Blasio booed by Mets fans during 1st pitch

NyPo reports:
Mets fans greeted Mayor de Blasio with hearty Bronx cheers on Monday, as he delivered the Amazins’ ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.
Donning a pinstripe home white jersey and blue Mets cap over his dress pants, de Blasio was loudly booed twice by Flushing faithful — once as he was announced and then again as he left the Citi Field diamond.
This should happen to all politicians.

How High Frequency Trading Helps Markets Become More Efficent

Bloomberg's Matt Levine has a very good backgrounder on how high frequency trading actually results in tighter spreads between bid and ask prices. Note: This has nothing to do with the contention of Tim Worstall at Forbes that HFT adds to liquidity. It doesn't, but it will cause spreads to narrow.

Here's Levine (Note: I think this explains part of what is going on with HFT, but not all. In some cases, it is pure and simple front running--not by seeing the market, but by seeing the trades in advance.)
While I wait for [ Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt] to arrive, though, let me spin for you an alternative Michael Lewis story. This one starts with a bunch of stodgy old banks filled with the sorts of equity traders whom you might recognize from Liar's Poker. "Liar's Poker" has nothing nice to say about equity traders at big banks. In this story equities, in Dallas or otherwise, isnot an intellectual power center.
But it's a simple operation. A trader quotes a stock, Microsoft say, bidding to buy it at $39.95 and offering to sell it for $40.00.3 If a big seller hits the bid, the trader owns a bunch of Microsoft stock at $39.95, and then tries to resell it at a profit.4 He does this using his gut instinct: If there's a big seller, that means the price should move down, so the trader might lower his quote to $39.93 bid, $39.98 offered, hoping to sell at $39.98 and make some profit. If the seller isreally big and really informed, the trader might move his quote down faster, because you don't want to be on the other side of the market from a big informed seller. On the other hand, if the seller is a small retail order, the trader might not move his quote at all: Uninformed small orders are basically random, so for every one of those who sells to you at $39.95, another will buy from you at $40.00, making you a big profit.5
If the trader's instinct is good, he'll make his spread trading with a lot of uninformed orders. If he's less good, or unlucky, he'll get picked off: He'll buy from big smart institutions at $39.95 when the "right" price is $39.90, and he'll end up with a big loss. Overall, though, it's a lucrative business, because the spread is wide enough to make up for the times that the trader loses.
Then along come some smart young whippersnappers who replace gut instinct with statistical analysis. Instead of relying on some equity trader's ample gut to guess what orders are likely to move the market, you can use a computer to figure it out, and then automate how you trade. If you build your computer right, you won't be blindsided by informed orders that go against you, like a lot of mortgage-backed securities traders were.6
And this means that you can quote a much tighter spread: By being smarter than the competition, you can also be leaner and more efficient. You might quote Microsoft at $39.97 bid and $39.98 offered on every exchange, knowing that as soon as someone hits your bid on one exchange, you can instantly move your market down to $39.96/$39.97 everywhere else. This reduces your risk of being picked off by trading with informed traders, which lets you make a profit even on much narrower spreads. You can charge less to trade by being more informed.
There are two ways of characterizing high frequency trading. In one, HFTs are front-running big investors, rigging the game against them and making the stock market illusory. In the other, HFTs are reacting instantly to demand, avoiding being picked off by informed investors and making the stock market more efficient.7
In my alternative Michael Lewis story, the smart young whippersnappers build high-frequency trading firms that undercut big banks' gut-instinct-driven market making with tighter spreads and cheaper trading costs. Big HFTs like Knight/Getco and Virtu trade vast volumes of stock while still taking in much less money than the traditional market makers: $688 million and $623 million in 2013 market-making revenue, respectively, for Knight and Virtu, versus $2.6 billion in equities revenue for Goldman Sachs and $4.8 billion forJ.P. Morgan. Even RBC made 594 million Canadian dollars trading equities last year. The high-frequency traders make money more consistently than the old-school traders, but they also make less of it.

Paper Never Beats Rock

By Chris Rossini

What an interesting statement...and typical of the opposition.

If it were true, would it have to be said all the time? Do we walk around writing and tweeting that "Indirect exchange beats barter"? Of course not. It doesn't need to be said.

If the "paper beats rock" statement were true the next question would be: "When?" One cannot find a single instance in all of monetary history. Paper money has always been nothing more than just dust in the wind. Gold on the other hand? Money.

Today's freak show monetary system is no exception. Every few years, we find out that if there isn't some giant taxpayer bailout, everything is going to fall apart at the seams. Illusionary wealth (Bear Stearns, Lehman, and others) disappear faster than you can say the words "Quantitative Easing".

How long has it been since Nixon decided to hold onto the gold and stick the rest of the world with the paper? 40 years?

40 years!! That barely qualifies as dust in the wind.

The rest of the world holds onto the dying U.S. paper because if they didn't, the freedom fighters of the U.S. military would invade them. American citizens hold onto the paper because legal tender laws prohibit the use of anything else. 

One would think that using force against the whole world would be quite costly. Has that ever succeeded? Once again, not a single success story. Not one empire from the past has made it to this day. Pesky economics always ruins it.

Paper never beats rock.

Chris Rossini is on Twitter

Young People are Moving to Pittsburgh Like Crazy

There are two important data points on this chart, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

The young are flocking to Pittsburgh and fleeing Detroit.

I believe Pittsburgh is one of the most underrated cities in the country, with a very low cost-of-living. It is good to see youth catching on about the city. Detroit is a government financial nightmare not suitable for most, but for the tough, rugged, individualistic pioneer, there is great opportunity there.

Forbes Is Clueless About HFT

A commneter and a couple of emailers have asked me my views on a column by Tim Worstall in ForbesMichael Lewis Is Entirely Wrong About High Frequency Trading Hitting The Little Guy.

While I view the claim by Lewis, that high frequency trading has rigged the entire market,e nonsense (SEE: The Nonsense Surrounding Michael Lewis's Contention That the Stock Market is Rigged), HFT is skimming--aided by SEC government regulations, which allow elitists Wall Street firms to gain an outrageous edge.

 Worstall appears to be clueless about this. He argues that HFT traders are providing liquidity to the markets. Market makers and regular short-term traders add liquidity to markets, but not HFT operators. They are pure and simple front running.

That said, if you are going to play complicated games in the markets, you better know what you are doing. I don't put in writing my trading strategies, but traders, at times, have attempted to front run me. There are very easy methods to counteract certain types of front running---and to counteract with a damn good profit!

If you don't understand the game, invest for the long-term and buy undervalued stocks, the short-term trading gimmicks won't impact you.

As I said, I don't discuss my trading in writing, but if you ever meet me in person. I will be glad to explain how to beat front runners. Also ask me about the time I screwed a billionaire at his very own evil game. That story always gets plenty of laughs. And I promise to write that story up once he dies, but I really don't want to piss him off anymore than he already is, so it will have to wait until he departs to hell.

Law Student Arrested on Completely Bogus Charges

Agents of the government can do some pretty outrageous things, but it hardly ever makes sense to confront them directly, especially police. 

NyPo reports:
A young law student was arrested on completely bogus charges when he called out two lazy cops who parked their cruiser in a bus stop so they could grab lunch from a Brooklyn food truck, he claims in a new lawsuit.
Tzvi Richt, 22, a first-year student at Cardozo School of Law, headed home after finishing up his final exams last December when he noticed two officers honking at a man to move his car from a bus zone at Kings Highway and East 16th Street, the suit states.
The driver was using a nearby Chase ATM machine and hustled back to move his car to avoid getting a ticket, according to court papers.
The aspiring lawyer was shocked to see the officers pull into the prohibited parking area that they had just cleared out.
The officers clambered out of their cruiser and headed over to a nearby food truck for some noshing, according to the suit.
Richt approached NYPD officers Graham Braithwaite and Jason Pinero and quizzed them about the apparent double standard.
“Plaintiff asked the officers whether they thought what they had done was right,” the suit states. “Kicking a civilian’s car out of a bus stop so that they could park there just to get food.”
Richt claims that he asked the question in a respectful manner and was not “yelling or shouting,” according to court papers.
Braithwaite tried to shoo Richt away – but he wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“Plaintiff responded by asking whether he wasn’t allowed to ask a question of a police officer,” the suit states.
Braithwaite then demanded Richt’s identification – but the student asked if they had the right to make the request.
That’s when Braithwaite slapped handcuffs on Richt and tossed him into the back of the cruiser for a ride to the 61st Precinct, papers state... 
After placing him in a cell for an hour and a half, Braithwaite slapped Richt with a pair of disorderly conduct citations – but the raps were eventually dropped after the officer failed to show up for a hearing, the suit states.
Richt is now concerned that the arrest will wreck his legal career before it even starts.
He “has reason to fear that the arrest may interfere with his ability to secure admission to the Bar when he graduates law school and to obtain employment as an attorney,” his complaint states.

In almost all cases, it makes no sense to even call police if you have been the victim of a crime. They are not going to recover any property that may have been stolen from you and they are not going to provide you with 24 hour protection if you feel a real threat.

It makes even less sense to confront them about their conduct.You are not going to win that game.

The Nonsense Surrounding Michael Lewis's Contention That the Stock Market is Rigged

Michael Lewis is out with a new book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, in which, according to 60 Minutes, he contends "the stock market is rigged."

I am going to make a claim that will be very unpopular among many. Lewis is talking bs.

What his book is  about is front running of institutional trades by high frequency traders. That is all. For small long-term investors this type of trading, in many cases will provide an edge. Just use limit orders and wait for a high frequency trader to take a stock to where your limit order is and get the trade executed, you win.

There are many very smart people on Wall Street who spend time thinking of every possible angle to take your money. There are, also, very smart people who will try and counteract those people. Indeed, the 60 Minutes story ends by discussing a trader who has formed an exchange, the IEX, that will nullify the high frequency trader edge. That's how markets work. But more importantly, if you don't understand the game, don't play.

As for high frequency trading being some big news story that Lewis has broken, puhleez. ZeroHedge has been screaming about it for years.

Here's Ron Insana  in 2009 writing in Portfolio Manager about high frequency trading:
The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are taking aim at a new form of computerized trading known as "High Frequency" trading. The algorithm-based trading is allegedly an illegal form of front-running, as high-frequency traders hook into exchange computers and use "flash trades" to suss out incoming order flow and use the lightning speed of their own programs to jump ahead of customer orders.
The real scam here is Lewis pretending he has discovered some new overall rigged market. HFT should be of zero concern to long-term investors.

As Barry Ritholz notes:
The only surprising thing about Lewis’s assertion was that anyone could be even remotely surprised by it.
To be sure, it is a rigged game, but it is not about the stock market overall. As Ritholz points out, the SEC allowed stock exchanges to share with traders all of the unexecuted incoming orders, it was hard not to make money by skimming a few cents or fractions of a cent from each trade.  The real evil one here is the SEC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the elite Wall Street establishment.

It is outrageous, though, that 60 Minutes will spend so much time on claiming "the market is rigged" because of high frequency trading, when it really plays a very small role in the big picture of the U.S. stock market and doesn't come anywhere near the Federal Reserve manipulations of the economy and interest rates. That's rigging that people should be aware of and which should be of general concern. It hurts many, including many who don't want to play the Fed induced roller coaster game but are forced to because the Fed rigs the entire economy.

Samuel Adams on What It Takes

(via Libertarian Republic)

What Libertarianism Is, and Isn't

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

The explosive growth in the number of converts to libertarianism since Ron Paul first ran for president is one of the most exciting developments of my life. But I’d like to issue a note of caution.

There are several ways a young libertarian can distinguish himself. He can be an effective communicator of libertarian ideas as a writer or speaker. He can

What Would You Do If You Were in Putin's Shoes?

By Patrick Buchanan

As the old saying goes, you cannot truly understand a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

Perhaps Americans, a fortunate tribe, should try to see the world from the vantage point of the Russian people and Vladimir Putin, and, as the poet Robert Burns said, "see ourselves as others see us."

At 35, Putin was

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Teach Kids about Taxes

VIDEO Bitcoin Fanboy Eats His Hat as Bitcoin Price Crashes

Reddit user Anndddyyyy vowed to eat  his hat if  Bitcoin's value dropped sufficiently, he uploaded a video to prove that he followed through.

Bitcoin is currently trading at $445.53.The all-time high for Bitcoin was $1242.00.

Shocking Statistics on Black Youth Unemployment

The above headline is featured at Socialist Alternative web site.

The story following the headline goes on to report:
A report released recently by the Chicago Urban League has shed a new and blinding light on the failures of capitalism to provide for working people, particularly those of color. The report revealed that the unemployment rate of black male teenagers in the city of Chicago is at an astounding 92%. This means that only about one in thirteen black males aged sixteen to nineteen hold some form of legal employment, even if it’s employment with few hours and low pay.
An equally appalling released in this study highlights the similarly dire situation for this demographic nationwide, with 83% of black males aged sixteen to nineteen being unemployed. Indeed, there are fewer jobs for these teenagers to fill as more and more adults with families, often with four-year college degrees, seek out “teenager jobs” in food service, retail, and hospitality due to the lack of jobs in their own traditional fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2013 that the number of college graduates working minimum-wage jobs in 2012 was 71% more than in 2002, and more than twice as many as had been in 2006, before the Great Recession.
Socialist Alternative is a major supporter of the $15 minimum wage being promoted by Kshama Sawant:
Socialist Alternative is the nationwide organization that got Kshama Sawant elected as an unapologetic socialist to the Seattle city council...Starting immediately after the November 2013 election Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative – and subsequently 15 Now – have repeatedly attempted to bring together an effective and strong alliance of labor and grassroots activists for $15.
Got that? Low skilled black youth are currently blocked from entering the jobs market. This is mostky because the current minimum wage is higher than their hourly marginal revenue product. It's basic economics. No firm is going to pay an unskilled worker $9.00 an hour, if his skills will only generate $7.00 an hour in added revenue. But, the Socialist Alternative doesn't see this as a problem of government regulation preventing free exchange, no, to SA, it is a failure of capitalism and they want to raise the minimum wage even higher!

Biden Economics: Minimum Wage Hike Worth Billions, ‘Really Good for the Economy’

The Washington Times reports:
Vice President Joseph R. Biden asked Americans Saturday to confront lawmakers who oppose raising the federal minimum wage.
“Ask your representatives who oppose raising the federal minimum wage—why do they oppose it?” Mr. Biden said in the White House weekly address. “There’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty.”..
Mr. Biden, who filled in this week while the president was traveling overseas, said there’s proof that raising the minimum wage is good for the economy.
“There’s clear data that shows fair wages generate loyalty of workers to their employers, which has the benefit of increasing productivity and leading to less turn over,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s really good for the economy as a whole because raising the minimum wage would generate an additional $19 billion in additional income for people who need it the most.”
He also said it would help to close the gap in pay between men and women, because women make up the majority of minimum-wage employees.
“The president and I think they deserve it,” Mr. Biden said. “And we think a lot of you do too. So, folks, it’s time to act. It’s time to give America a raise.”

There you have it, no messy supply and demand curves which show that if you raise prices for any good, even for wages, there will be less quantity demanded of that good, just absurd declarations instead. (SEE:  The Truth About Minimum Wage Laws)

Bitcoin Supporters Clash

It is starting to get ugly between those who somehow believe that Bitcoin is going to be the money that will put the government out of the money business (fat chance) and the money players, who are putting money into e-currency transaction systems and don't mind at all if Bitcoin and other e-currencies are regulated. In fact, many of them seem to prefer such a state. They have the money and the connections and they will win, to the degree that Bitcoin (now trading under $500.00) survives at all.

Here is the San Francisco Chronicle reporting from the recent CoinSummit held in SF, under the headline, Bitcoin supporters clash over ideological, practical issues:
On the second day of CoinSummit, a virtual-currency conference at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts last week, bitcoin entrepreneur Andreas Antonopoulos took the stage to issue a resounding defense of bitcoin's anarchist spirit.

It was the day after the Internal Revenue Service issued tax guidelines for virtual currencies. Antonopoulos, who is widely regarded as a public face of bitcoin, called banks criminals and warned regulators that bitcoin is a gecko - "and when you stomp on the gecko, you cause it to evolve until it becomes a komodo dragon and it bites your foot off."...

Hemant Taneja urged bitcoin enthusiasts at the San Francisco conference to take themselves more seriously and focus more on consumer applications.

"There's a lot of stuff in the way of bitcoin succeeding," said Taneja, whose firm, General Catalyst, has invested millions in bitcoin companies. "We're taking the view that entrepreneurs working with regulators are the ones that in the end are going to succeed."...

In the words of Scott Robinson, who manages a bitcoin startup accelerator at Plug and Play Tech Center, there are the "crypto-anarchist" bitcoin types and the "banker, Wall Street, entrepreneur" bitcoin types...

This rift was particularly evident at CoinSummit, an insiders event that put the movers and shakers of crypto-currency in one place for two days...

Susan Athey, a Stanford economist who studies crypto-currencies, said that those who oppose working with regulators - or even the idea of regulation at all - will make progress more difficult for the entrepreneurs trying to grow the space.

"My own view is pragmatic: The services provided by bitcoin will be more useful if it is easier to get money in and out," she said, "but getting money in and out requires working with the financial system, and that requires working with regulators."...

For Zach Harvey, bitcoin was an ideological interest that became an entrepreneurial one. Harvey is the CEO of Lamassu, one of the companies producing bitcoin ATMs. He describes himself as an "anarchist," but anarchy, it turns out, doesn't make for a very good business plan. At least, not one that will help get bitcoin to the masses.

"Now that bitcoin is out there, the argument for it can't be an ideological argument," he said.

Mysterious New Book About Wall Street Due Out Monday; Will It Rock the Street?

A new book is coming Monday by Michael Lewis, the author of Liar's Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short and The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

New York Magazine reports:
.It’s called Flash Boys, but its actual subject has been not just a mystery but something of a guessing game among journalists, publishers, and finance types. To close readers of Lewisania (and there are very many) it might have been fairly obvious that the book was about high-frequency trading — brokers gaining microsecond advantages on automated exchanges...
But no one could be absolutely sure, because the book has been, through the entire run of its production cycle, a complete ghost...

.It wasn’t listed in publisher W.W. Norton’s catalog, and though it’ll appear this Sunday on 60 Minutes, today’s Amazon description still reads, blankly, “Michael Lewis returns to the financial world with a new book that gives readers a ringside seat as the biggest story in years prepares to hit Wall Street.” But what story is that — the subject of Flash Boys, or Flash Boys itself? In that Times item, Norton said only that it was “squarely in the realm of Wall Street”...

A rushed, stealth publication and an embargo mandated by 60 Minutes are hardly unprecedented, but they’re exceedingly rare when the subject is a long-form work of financial journalism, heavy on hard numbers and colorful personalities, instead of, say, a celebrity tell-all, an account of killing bin Laden, or a trumped-up Benghazi exposé. This is a writer who made his mark with a dishy Salomon Brothers tell-all and his name with a portrait of an innovative baseball manager — compelling stories, but hardly the kind of books that are gobbled up on the Acela the morning of publication. So when did Michael Lewis become Bob Woodward?
While Norton refused to comment on their cloak-and-dagger publication strategy, Michael Lewis himself was happy to chat yesterday by phone...

 “It’s scoopier than most of my narratives.” ...Lewis is feeling pretty confident. “I think that in this case, I have lighting in a bottle,” he says
Order the book here.

Major League Baseball Adds Super-High Tech Replay Call Reviews

A technician works in front of a bank of TV screens at Major League Baseball's Replay Operations Center in New York.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The new system will debut in Sunday night's Dodgers-Padres game...
The final decisions on a manager's challenge will be made at the command center in New York. It's taken out of the on-field umpires' hands, leaving the manager much less to argue...

The basic guidelines:

-- A manager gets one challenge per game and another if he wins his first challenge. If he's out of challenges after the sixth inning, he can encourage umpires to have a play reviewed at their discretion.

-- A challenge must be made before the pitcher steps onto the rubber and the batter steps into the box. To challenge a third out, the manager has 30 seconds. To challenge the final out, the manager must act immediately.

-- A team's video adviser can examine the replay and tip off the manager as to whether the umpire's call should be challenged...

-- To challenge, the manager notifies the umpires on the field, and a technician emerges to hook up the crew chief with New York.

-- Twelve camera feeds are to be positioned at every ballpark, all accessible in New York. An overhead camera will be used to help umpires determine placement of runners if a call is overturned.

Obama’s War on History

By Daniel McAdams
President Obama’s speech in Brussels this week was a shocking display of ignorance and arrogance masquerading as foreign policy.
Attempting to justify placing the US on war footing with Russia over the recent referendum in Crimea, the president stated:
Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.
Of course anyone who even remotely followed the Kosovo fiasco knows that never happened. There was no such thing. Made up. The Kosovo parliament declared independence unilaterally backed up by US/NATO military power to ensure the change of borders.
The US press? Almost completely silent on

Daily Paul reacts to Benton in the Beast

Ausscyn at Daily Paul writes:

PLEASE go post on this article about Benton, I did!

If only McConnell would LOSE! Benton just has to GO AWAY!!! If he is a key player in Rand's POTUS bid, it's over before it's begun. I can't believe some of the statements Benton makes in here, esp. about the national platform.....

It has always been a heartbreak for us that Benton ever met Ron Paul. When I arrived for the pre-briefing for the platform committee, there were some pages at my seat that detailed concessions that the committee was going to make to Rand Paul. No one else in the room had this sheaf of papers. Why were they left at my seat? I made copies of them & shared them with the rest of the liberty delegates on the platform committee. After the first day of the meeting, we went downstairs in the hotel & there were Benton & John Tate in the sports bar. They greeted our little band of platform people, who were supported by a band of non-members, who did their best to help us, sending text msgs. & furiously writing planks to help us get our ideas to the committee while we met. These people were led by the magnificent Jeremy Blosser of Texas. As we ate dinner in the sports bar that night & strategized for the next day's meeting, Tate & Benton never came over, never asked to help - nada. The next week when we tried to unite to do all we could to nominate Dr. Paul, he was not a part of that process at all. It pains me greatly that he's going to be involved with Rand forever it seems....

The Fat Man Screws Up at the "Sheldon Adelson Primary"

Politico reports:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won hearty applause with major Jewish donors after a speech Saturday heavy on appeals for GOP unity and strong support for Israel.
Christie mostly avoided foreign policy specifics, but he enraptured the crowd gathered for the Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting with tales of his own trips to Israel, and criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy...

Adelson entered the hall midway through Christie’s, sitting in a reserved seat in the front row...

Christie stepped on a fault line in highly fraught Middle East politics, when he referred to the “occupied territories,” a term some Zionists eschew...

Morton Klein, president of the hawkish Zionist Organization of America...confronted Christie after his speech about his use of the term, telling POLITICO he explained to the New Jersey governor that “at minimum you should call it disputed territories.”

Christie was non-committal, said Klein, who concluded afterwards that the governor “either doesn’t understand the issue at all, or he’s hostile to Israel.”
Christie later apologized to Adelson of the one man, one vote, one multimillion dollar wallet primary. Politico again:

Sheldon Adelson
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a Saturday afternoon meeting with Sheldon Adelson apologized for stepping on a fault line in fraught Middle East politics during a speech he gave earlier in the day, according to a source familiar with the conversation.

Invoking a 2012 trip he and his family took to Israel, Christie recalled “I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day.”

While the story was intended to forge common cause with Adelson and the several hundred donors to the Republican Jewish Coalition to which Christie was speaking, his use of the term “occupied territories” set off murmurs in the crowd...

the term is rejected by some conservative Zionists like Adelson who see it as validating Palestinian challenges over Israel’s presence.

Not long after his speech, Christie met with Adelson privately in the casino mogul’s office in the Venetian hotel and casino, which hosted the RJC [Republican Jewish Coalition] meeting.

The source told POLITICO that Christie “clarified in the strongest terms possible that his remarks today were not meant to be a statement of policy.”

Instead, the source said, Christie made clear “that he misspoke when he referred to the ‘occupied territories.’ And he conveyed that he is an unwavering friend and committed supporter of Israel, and was sorry for any confusion that came across as a result of the misstatement.”

Politico also reports that Ohio  Gov. John Kasich bonded with Adelson:
Kasich sat next to Adelson at lunch, and mentioned him repeatedly – and sometimes in a non-sequiturial fashion – in his speech, occasionally making it seem as if he were talking to an audience of one, while the hundreds of other RJC donors looked on.
“Sheldon and I were kind of talking about his background. I come from a little town outside of Pittsburgh called McKees Rocks – it was very blue collar,” Kasich said, as he launched into his biography. When he discussed the prescription of pain killers, he said Adelson – who once testified that he took as many as 25 medications in a day to manage pain from a neurological condition in 2001 – “is someone who knows about this.”
While Kasich’s speech didn’t touch on foreign policy – the primary political focus of Adelson and many RJC donors – he delved deeply into the subject in a question-and-answer session that followed the speech. Pointing out that he served for years on the Armed Services Committee in the House, Kasich said the United States should maintain a military presence in Afghanistan and that both Russia and Iran should face more sanctions. His assertion that the U.S. should not pressure Israel into a peace process was the biggest applause line of his speech.
He concluded his speech by saying, “Hey, listen, Sheldon, thanks for inviting me, and I want to thank all of you for giving me a chance to come here and speak. I don’t travel to these things much, but this is one that I thought was really, really important. And God bless you for what you do.”

Black Rainstorm Warning Issued in Hong Kong

The South China Morning Post reports:
Giant hailstones pounded parts of Hong Kong tonight as thunderstorms echoed around the city and the Black Rainstorm warning was issued for just the second time in two years.

Hailstones the size of golfballs were reported in Tsuen Wan as festivities to mark the end of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens were washed out.

Thunderstorms were accompanied by near constant flashes of lightning as the Observatory stated that more than 70 millimetres of rain had fallen in some parts in less than an hour.

Rain pouring on to the MTR tracks in Hong Kong

Windows at the Festival Walk shopping mall in Kowloon Tong were broken by hail, causing flooding.

Rain pours through shattered windows at the Festival Walk shopping mall.

Major Hollywood Movie Studio to Release Film Distorting Anarchy

Universal Pictures is about to release a new film, The Purge: Anarchy. The picture paints anarchy as a complete out-of-control society, as opposed to simply a society without government. And though anarchy can mean total lawlessness and disorder it is not the only meaning.

Here are the definitions of anarchy that are listed in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Full Definition of ANARCHY

a : absence of government
b : a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority
c : a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

a : absence or denial of any authority or established order
b : absence of order : disorder
Certainly, anarcho-capitalists, who believe in free markets, the non-aggression principle and respect for private property, use the definition of anarchy as a combination of Merriam definitions 1a, 1c and 2b rather than definitions that include disorder and lawlessness.

That said, this movie is going to reinforce in people's minds the definition of anarchy as disorder and a complete lack of respect for the non-aggression principle.

From EmpireOnline on the movie:
Moved into production swiftly after the success of last year’s low-budget chiller thriller The Purge, the sequel, subtitled Anarchy, put a teaser online last month. Universal and Blumhouse productions have now released the full promo.

Anarchy, like the Purge before it, takes place a bizarre, violent future America where the government comes up with a radical idea to curb crime and social issues. One night a year, all laws are suspended, the emergency services including police, fire and medical are benched and people are free to do exactly what they want for a 12-hour period. 

While maintaining the paranoia levels and still focusing on a relatively small group of characters, the sequel opens the canvas up a little, following what happens when a young couple (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez) break down outside LA on the worst night possible. Naturally, things turn very dark for them as masked weirdoes haunt their every turn and the violence begins to ramp up. Enter Grillo’s haunted antihero, who had set out during the night of the Purge on a vengeful agenda, but ends up being helpful to Gilford and Sanchez.

Curiously, the studio producing the film, Blumhouse Productions, tends to produce low budget paranormal themed films. Blumhouse is also coming out with a film about Area 51 that will distort what is going on there. The film is set as a mythical documentary that takes Area 51 beyond current conspiracy theories and puts Area 51 in an absurd, far from reality, paranormal setting.

If I didn't know better, I would think we have serious distortions about anarchy and Area 51 that suggest government psy ops in play.

For the record, the director and co-writer of Area 51 is Oren Peli, who was born in Israel and relocated to the United States when he was 19. Before getting involved with films, he was a  computer software programmer.

Peli also produced and wrote the 2012 horror film, Chernobyl Diaries based on the Chernobyl disaster.

Here's TMZ on that bizarre film:
The Friends of Chernobyl Centers U.S. tells TMZ ... it's furious with the plot of the new movie -- in which several people who were mutated in the blast hunt down unwitting tourists. 
Getting back to the word anarchy, I have always felt that most associate the word only with violence and the complete opposite of the non-aggression principle. This movie isn't going to help things. The confusion about the word is why I have always preferred do describe an anarcho-capitalist society as a private property society. It means the same thing without the possibility of confusing the words with violence and disorder.

Unnatural Death #13: JP Morgan Bankruptcy Lawyer Killed While Cycling

Another JPMorgan employee has died an unnatural death. This is unnatural death number 5 at JPMorganChase, since the first of the year, and unnatural death number 13 in the financial industry. I still don't see a close connection to all these deaths, but they keep on coming. (SEE: A Closer Look at Young Worker Deaths at JPMorgan Chase) in Columbus, OH reports on death #13:
A 56-year-old Dublin man was killed Saturday morning when he was struck by a car in Miami County.

Joseph Giampapa was riding alone on Troy-Sidney Road when he was struck by a car at about 11:08 a.m. Saturday morning.

The driver of the car called 911 and Miami County Sheriff deputies responded to the scene. Giampapa was found lying in the driveway of a home located in the 6500 block of Troy-Sidney Road in Springcreek Township.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by medic personnel.

Deputies say Giampapa was taking part in a 200 mile bike ride with a bicycle club named Ohio Randonneurs.

Their route started in Springfield and went through Troy, then reversed course.  Deputies believe Giampapa was on his return trip when the crash occurred.

"Joe was an extremely accomplished cyclist a responsible cyclist and that's what makes this tragedy so mind numbing," said Jeff Stephens, a friend of Giampapa. "That road that Joe was on was flat. No trees. It was just wide open visibility."
Giampapa was a vice president and assistant general counsel at JP Morgan Chase & Co.

IntelliHub lists the string of unnatural deaths:
1 – William Broeksmit, 58-year-old former senior executive at Deutsche Bank AG, was found dead in his home after an apparent suicide in South Kensington in central London, on January 26th.

2- Karl Slym, 51 year old Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym, was found dead on the fourth floor of the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok on January 27th.

3 – Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old JP Morgan employee, died after falling from the roof of the JP Morgan European headquarters in London on January 27th.

4 – Mike Dueker, 50-year-old chief economist of a US investment bank was found dead close to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State.

5 – Richard Talley, the 57 year old founder of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado, was found dead earlier this month after apparently shooting himself with a nail gun.

6 -Tim Dickenson, a U.K.-based communications director at Swiss Re AG, also died last month, however the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown.

7 – Ryan Henry Crane, a 37 year old executive at JP Morgan died in an alleged suicide just a few weeks ago.  No details have been released about his death aside from this small obituary announcement at the Stamford Daily Voice.

8 - Li Junjie, 33-year-old banker in Hong Kong jumped from the JP Morgan HQ in Hong Kong this week.

9 - James Stuart Jr, Former National Bank of Commerce CEO dies suddenly in Arizona with no explanation.

10 – Autumn Radtke, the 28 year old, American chief executive of Singapore-based virtual currency company First Meta, died mysteriously of an apparent suicide.

11 - Edmund (Eddie) Reilly, 47, a trader at Midtown’s Vertical Group, jumped in front of an LIRR train at 6 a.m. near the Syosset train station.

12 - Kenneth Bellando, 28, a JP Morgan investment banker was found dead on March 12th after reportedly jumping from the roof of his apartment.

13 – Joseph Giampapa, 56, a JP Morgan bankruptcy attorney was killed when his bike was struck by a minivan.  The killer allegedly confessed but no charges were filed.

A Tiger of a Book

By Thomas Sowell

Professor Amy Chua of the Yale law school is better known as a "Tiger Mom" because of her take-no-prisoners, tough love approach to raising children. She and her husband Jed Rubenfeld (a fellow Yale law professor) have written what may turn out to be the best book of this year.

It is titled The Triple Package because

Dr. Michael Edelstein, Author of "Three Minute Therapy": Today on The Robert Wenzel Show

Today's Guest:
Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D.
Psychologist and Author of "Three Minute Therapy"

Miss a show? Here's the archive.
**Thanks to John Daubert, Head of Editing and Mastering.**

Contact Dr. Edelstein: (415) 673-2848 or

The Three Minute Therapy by Dr. Edelsten order the book here.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Creative Writer: Raising the Minimum Wage is a Women's Issue

Reagan Jackson received her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and her MA in International Education from SIT Graduate Institute and is a writer, artist, activist, and "international educator."

She has published three collections of poetry God, Hair, Love, and America., Love and Guatemala, and Summoning Unicorns: A Collection of Poetry and a children's book Coco Coco LaSwish: A Fish from a Different Rainbow..

She writes that raising the minimum wage is a women's issue:
I never considered the Fight for 15 to be a “woman’s issue.”

Then just days before International Women’s Day and a full week before the National Fight for 15 day of action earlier this month, I found myself at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in the presence of a diverse group of women activists that made me think again.

Living in Seattle perhaps you’ve seen the red and white posters popping up all over town often accompanied by the face of city councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Maybe you’ve happened upon any number of rallies and actions related to the fast food workers who are asking for more.

They’ve rallied at Westlake, flash mobbed through Capitol Hill, and had roving strikes shutting down fast food joints from Ballard to Sodo yelling: “We want change and we don’t mean pennies.”

The ask is deceptively simple: Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

For many low income Washington workers this would mean a 61% increase in pay, which sounds like a big jump until you do the math.

At $9.19 Washington State frequently boasts of having the highest minimum wage in the country (the federal minimum wage is $7.25). Assuming a standard 40 hour work week , that comes out to $19,115.20.  That is approximately $6,312.80 less than the maximum you can receive on unemployment, and almost $8,000 less than the national poverty threshold for a family of four, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

$15 an hour would get a full time worker up to $31,200 a year — leaving a mere $4,200 annual cushion between the minimum wage and the national poverty line. It’s not all that much but at least workers would be on the right side of the line.

Doing the math was just the bit of shock therapy I needed to help me answer the question of whether $15 an hour is really realistic? What is clear is how unrealistic it is to expect people to be able to live in Seattle on $9.19 an hour. Even without a family that would be a tough ask — but contrary to the myth that only teenagers get paid minimum wage, according to Jobs with Justice, 88% of min wage earning workers are over 20 (with a median age of 34.9).

So what does all this have to with women?

“Lower wages oppress women and hold them in captivity,” explained Rev Dr. Linda Smith Pastor of Sky Urban Empowerment and Transformation Center located in Renton.  She was one of several religious leaders and workers, self-identified women of faith who called a press conference to put Seattle on notice that being known as progressive leaders on the left coast means we can’t just publicly espouse our belief in a living wage without putting our money where our mouth is.
What Jackson doesn't discuss in her writing is basic supply and demand economics. If you raise the price of any product, including wages, the quantity demanded will fall. Raise the minimum wage and more women will become unemployed. Fewer jobs for women, quite a plan.

Soros Doesn't Understand Power

That's Jonathan Soros, son of George. Politico Magazine informs:
Imagine for a moment that you hail from one of the most famous families in international finance. Your father is worth $20 billion. And on account of his largesse, your last name is as synonymous with Democratic politics as Roosevelt or Kennedy.
Seeking your generosity, candidates come to you, hat in hand. Your concerns, they tell you, will be their concerns—so long as you contribute at their next fundraiser. And then, in your early 40s, you decide that this whole system is messed up. That it is you, and people like you, the rarest of the one percenters, who have warped our politics.
This, in essence, is the path recently trod by Jonathan Soros, the son of the financier George Soros, who, like his father, has given prodigiously to Democratic interests—more than $2 million in the last few years to various candidates and causes. But now he’s hoping his cash can buy him something more: He’s quietly bankrolling an effort to limit the very influence of rich donors like him.
Sitting on the 40th floor of the midtown Manhattan office tower that houses the private investment firm he runs, with Central Park at his feet and a cloud-covered city rolling behind him, Soros is aware of the irony—as well as the skepticism—that surrounds such an idea. But he has sketched out an ambitious plan to support candidates in congressional and state-level elections across the country who can help push the most sweeping campaign finance reforms in a generation, reforms that would include a national clean elections bill, which would mandate a robust public financing system for all federal elections. If all goes according to his ambitious plan, Soros see this happening by 2021. “The path will not be straight, we know that,” he says. “But there is real momentum. We are serious about winning.”
What Soros doesn't get is that elected officials hold power to create legislation. If direct money contributions are eliminated, it will only result in those. who seek legislative change, to attempt other means of getting to politicians. At least with direct contributions, we get to see who the crony operators are. If they have to do all their influence peddling in the shadows, it will be much more difficult to get the general public to see how the cronies work.

Further, public funding of federal elections will tend to entrench those who already have a high public profile, chiefly people who are already politicians, and make it difficult for upstarts to break through. Without money bombs, Ron Paul, for example, would never have been able to raise his profile. There is no way that prior to those money bombs that Dr. Paul would have had enough nationwide support to qualify for government funds to run for office (Setting aside for the moment, the outrageous fact of forcing taxpayers to directly foot the bill for all those running for office). 


The Kentucky-based chapter of the Koch-funded Young Americans for Liberty is holding a one day convention at the University of Kentucky on April 15. Among others, the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture will be a featured speaker.

Yes, the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture! Does any state really need a Commissioner of Agriculture?

Commissioner James Comer recently retweeted this:

I get it, he is pro-weed legalization.  Well actually, he is only pro-industrial hemp.

Couldn't the YAL  find a libertarian who is pro-weed legalization for all purposes, heroin legalization, cocaine legalization and LSD  legalization?

Judging by the rest of his twitter feed, Comer is nothing but a backslapping politician, with an eye on the governorship.

Other speakers include Congressman Massie and a bunch of grassroots political organizers.

This isn't a liberty convention, it is a convention of future political operatives.