Category: Economics

Econ Saturday: Buy Stuff Now

Unemployment and Crytpo

I’m disgusted that the federal government refuses to acknowledge that its federal unemployment benefit program is killing employers. It’s simply disingenuous to claim that people would rather work for $10 an hour when they can get $7.50 an hour for doing nothing.

In my corner of the world, COVID has been virtually non-existent for the past six months. It hit us pretty hard in the second half of 2020, and I knew a lot of people hospitalized with it (and had five clients die of it . . . or something like it), but since last December or so? It has been a non-factor, but fast food restaurants can’t keep regular hours because they can’t find staff.

How bad is it? My law firm can’t find a receptionist and the workload is humongous. We have been forced to adopt summer hours. Instead of being open to the public for 45 hours a week, we are now open only 31 hours a week.


Dogecoin mania continues. I bought a small chunk at less than 4/10ths of a penny. I cashed in this week and am spending the profits as fast I can: a nice dinner, donated money to restore our local auditorium, bought Marie a very nice bike, invested in agricultural stocks, bought a leaf mulcher, bought more Bitcoin and Ethereum, gave each child some extra spending money.

As millions of Americans have experienced, Dogecoin has been great fun.

But what does it say about our economy when billions of dollars are flowing into a joke cryptocurrency (“They’re all jokes, Scheske!”)?

It tells you that there’s so much money sloshing around the system, people don’t know what to do with it. That’s why I spent my Dogecoin earnings right away. I wanted to get tangible stuff in my … Read the rest

Cryptocurrency isn’t in a Bubble

It might be terribly overvalued, but it’s not in a bubble

The cryptocurrency market was a lot of fun this week. The Coinbase IPO drove interest and prices to all-time highs. The leader: Dogecoin, which went from six cents to 50 cents in a wild frenzy (it has since settled in the upper 20s).

Dogecoin isn’t sustainable. Its creators have minted over 100 billion coins, they mint millions more every year, and they aren’t committed to capping it. It’s like the Federal Reserve.

Bitcoin, however, is different. It’s capped. Supply will run out. Other than land, it’s the only asset that can claim such a thing.


I hear two vigorous objections to Bitcoin:

1. “Each coin is worth $60,000. How are you supposed to buy a pack of gum with a $60,000 coin?”
2. “Bitcoin is in a bubble.”

Both of these objections, I believe, are bunk. I think there are other valid objections, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bitcoin is extraordinarily overvalued, but those two objections don’t cut it.

1. Look at the edge of your coins. You notice the serrated edges? That’s a holdover from the days when the king had the right to take chunks off coins (or “criminals” did it), in order to create sub-specie that could be used to buy small items (or melted down with others “bits” and recoined). I don’t know of any reason Bitcoin couldn’t be used like that. In fact, right now, I own Bitcoin: about 5% of one Bitcoin. My account breaks it down to the seventh decimal. Call me crazy, but I suspect these newfangled computers could break it down to the 100th decimal, then reconvert the whole thing into a new sub-species currency (“Sub BTC”), like our dollars are broken down into quarters, dimes, nickels, and … Read the rest

I Was There When Vegas Came Back

What I Saw in Sin City

I went to Las Vegas last week, spending four nights at the iconic Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. I spent Tuesday evening walking from the Nugget to the Strat, where I surveyed Vegas from 100 stories high for two hours.

The next morning, I covered five miles of downtown Las Vegas on foot, covering huge swaths of area.

On Thursday, I walked the length of the Strip, clocking in over 32,000 steps.

I took a two-hour bus tour and talked with the guide. I talked with Uber drivers. I chatted with all sorts of workers, from a farmers market vendor a half-mile north of Fremont Street to bartenders who make those frozen concoctions along the Strip.

I made notes. I came home and surfed the web. I bounced observations off my traveling companion (wife).

I then put all this into a giant blender and poured out these observations.


Primary Observation: Vegas is Back

Vegas, economists say, got hit the hardest among major cities. Nevada casinos alone saw revenues drop $6 billion in 2020. Vegas’ lucrative convention business was shut down. The reverberation through everything—other tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants—has been devastating.

I could see it Tuesday evening when Marie and I walked 2.1 miles from the Golden Nugget to the Stratosphere. We marveled at the ghost town feeling. After we left the Fremont Street area (which had plenty of people, but not crowds), we didn’t come across a single pedestrian until we got a few blocks from the Strat. The uber-cool Art District was empty . . . I mean, zero people. (The Art District isn’t terribly popular, but to see no customers or tourists over the course of about 20 minutes of walking?)

Once we got to the Strat, there were … Read the rest

The Chicken Heart that Sucks Out Our Souls

Photo by Changbok Ko on Unsplash

The great Stoic Epictetus pointed out that education is the means to freedom.

Unfortunately, education today frequently becomes the means of slavery.

Everyone knows that the cost of higher education keeps escalating. Even the excellent tax advantages of educational IRAs and 529 plans haven’t made it easier to pay for college because education inflation outstrips the plans’ benefits.

A handful of families can afford to pay for their children’s education, but most cannot. So what do those families do?

The children get student loans.

The result? The loans often hound the children into their forties, forcing them to work intensely to pay the principal and interest. Does a man with a snootful of office life and savage commutes dream of what so many great men, from Epictetus to Russell Kirk, lauded: a leisure tinged with slight poverty, a small amount of money but a large assortment of books, a meager stock portfolio but a blooming garden, a mediocre car but lots of time with his children?

Tough.… Read the rest

Why Gardening = Freedom

From the Gardening Journals

Gardening is anti-government. The gardener is, in a little way, an anarchist. He doesn’t pay tax on his produce and no one tells him what to grow.

If you meditate on this, you begin to realize the immense importance of private property. Without private property, there is no freedom. That’s not rhetorical flourish or poetry or exaggeration. It’s naked reality.

If the State can take the position that all things come courtesy of government (“you didn’t build that”), then the State can even take away your garden, either directly (by seizure) or indirectly (by taxation). It reminds me of this quote from von Mises:… Read the rest

I Almost Became an Anarchist

A mini-review of The Essential Rothbard by David Gordon.

Murray Rothbard almost made me an anarchist.

I had read some of Rothbard’s stuff and had delved into various areas of anarchist thought (mostly through this this somewhat difficult, very thick, often fascinating volume). I’ve abandoned such notions, but my six-month foray was worth it. The anarchists make you ask questions that every person concerned about things public (the republic) should ask: What is the origin of government? How exactly do wars happen? How can a country surrender in a war if it has no government? If the State exists by violence–actual or the threat of–does that tend to make society more violent?

I’ve come to view Rothbard as a great economist, a good historian, and an amateur but unique philosopher. He has his flaws (he tends to indulge in false dichotomies), but he raises questions that the American people ought to ask a lot more frequently.

Gordon’s volume is a great place to start.

Oh, and why didn’t I become an anarchist? Simply because of natural law. We desire to live among others, either for self-preservation or because we are social animals. Once we come together, a hierarchy will naturally develop and from there, government will form.

Anarchism, simply put, isn’t natural.

Read the rest

Breaking Down the Great Reset

I gotta believe Klaus is thinking he shouldn’t have let the WEF’s cat out of the bag

“Totalitarian social control is not the remedy for any crisis.” Ernest Araujo, Brazil Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Nihilistic secularism.” Renato Cristin, University of Trieste, Italy.

Potential “gruesome human experiment.” Cardinal Muller.

“Be aware of how this road to death, of extermination and brutality, began.” Francis I.

Based on this article at National Catholic Register, it appears the disturbingly self-confident Klaus Schwab’s assertion that we need a Great Reset is getting blowback from across the political and global spectrum.

The whole thing is worth reading, but this might be the best passage from it:

“Without directly referring to the (great reset) initiative, he (Cardinal Muller) told the Register Jan. 29 that two sides — ‘profiteering capitalism, big-tech giants of Western countries’ and the ‘communism of the People’s Republic of China’ — are today ‘converging and merging into a unified capital-socialism,’ producing a “new colonialism” that the Pope has ‘often warned against.’

“The goal, Cardinal Müller believes, ‘is absolute control of thought, speech and action.’

“’The homogenized man can be steered more easily,’ he added. ‘The Orwellian world of homo digitalis has begun. Through mainstreaming, total conformity of the consciousness of the masses is to be achieved via the media.’ And he recalled the 19th-century French polymath Gustave Le Bon who predicted such a situation in his book The Psychology of Crowds.”… Read the rest

Tales of Just Rage

Matt Taibbi got ahold of the guy who wrote the viral Reddit post, “This is for you, Dad.”

Photo by Alec Favale on Unsplash

If you followed the Gamestop saga, you probably saw the Reddit post, “This is for you, Dad.”

It was a brief post by “Space-peanut,” describing how the 2008-2009 meltdown destroyed his Dad and how he’d spend every dime on Gamestop stock if it would take revenge:

I remember my brother helping my father count pocket change on our kitchen table. That was all the money he had left in the world. While this was happening in my home, I saw hedge funders literally drinking champagne as they looked down on the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I will never forget that.

My father never recovered from that blow. He fell deeper and deeper into alcoholism and exists now as a shell of his former self, waiting for death.

This is all the money I have and I’d rather lose it all than give them what they need to destroy me. Taking money from me won’t hurt me, because I don’t value it at all. I’ll burn it down just to spite them.

This is for you, Dad.

This isn’t envy disguised as Marxian class envy. It’s rage at injustice admitting it’s rage. It’s rage at seeing one’s father get throttled by a system gamed by Wall Street and federal politicians. It’s rage at seeing one’s father get discarded as a chump because he played by the rules. There are going to be more and more chumps as the federal government gets stronger and stronger, doling out riches to its friends and allies, destroying middle America in the process, making the United States’ economics increasingly resemble a South American country.

But enough of that rant. If you want … Read the rest