Mend it, don’t end it.

Public Domain

In the beginning, debate in both houses of Congress was unlimited. Eventually, the growing House created limits on debate, but the smaller Senate still allows unlimited debate on most issues, subject to a vote of cloture, which today requires three fifths of sitting senators.

Over the years, senators have used their privilege to speak without end to stall legislation. Because the majority can change the Senate rules, and the minority is most likely to use the filibuster, the temptation for the majority to kill the beast is tremendous. But unlimited debate survives; apparently, both parties want it to be there…

Let me first establish my bona fides. Here’s an excerpt from an article I posted on financial site Seeking Alpha more than ten years ago:

The time has come to ban all naked short-side derivatives. The only way to take a net short position on an asset should be traditional short selling. Everything else creates too much moral hazard.

Some short sellers are scumbags. They short stocks then publish hit pieces about them, driving the price down, where the shorts can cover. There’s nothing wrong with what these noisy shorts do in principle. If a stock is terrible, shorting it…

Quantity has a quality all its own.

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Fifty years ago, internet fraud wasn’t a thing. But if someone told you in 1980 that you should not expose your personal data on line, would you cite the lack of data breaches at that time as a reason not to worry? What we all do changes what we can do safely. Willie Sutton robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” I believe that people screw with the votes, if they can, where the ballots are. So long as those ballots are created almost entirely in secure and private booths, there is no accessible point of attack. …

A little counterfeit never hurt anybody

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is getting a lot of attention these days. Proponents of MMT tend to be politically liberal, and many use MMT to explain why their schemes for massive government spending won’t bankrupt the country. Of course, those schemes may be bad ideas on their own merits regardless of their monetary and fiscal consequences. Still, critics of the programs seem obligated to be critics of MMT, too, as if MMT implies that the programs are good, as opposed to affordable. …

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Inflation is …

Inflation is one of the most misunderstood concepts in finance, perhaps because the term is often used imprecisely. I will use the word precisely in this essay, not in the sense that I will use it in the only “correct” way, but in the sense that when I use it here, it will mean the very specific thing I intend it to mean.

Irving Fisher’s Equation of Exchange connects money and economic activity:

MV=PQ

For purposes of this essay, “inflation” means a positive change in P, and “deflation” means a negative change in P. Thus, as used…

What if all the ant-vaxxers just went away?

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In 1958, John Mantley wrote a Cold War novel called The 27th Day. It was made into a movie. I’m pretty sure I saw the movie and read the book, probably in that order. I was 13. Spoiler alert: The ending of that story is the hook for this article, so read on at your peril.

At the end of the book, the good guys figure out how to wish death, successfully, on all the bad guys. That’s really an awful thing to do. Not all badness deserves capital punishment. …

Citizenship Demands Service

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We are at war with an invasive species, and war requires service. “Service” in this case means wearing a mask until you can get vaccinated, and getting vaccinated as soon as you can. Service in the war against COVID is not a personal decision. If you don’t get vaccinated, I may eventually die from a variant that arose in your body. The unvaccinated are literally a fifth column, providing aid, comfort, shelter, food, and breeding ground for the enemy. The metaphor really does bear the weight. …

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I believe that the market for BTC will ultimately be “cornered,” with the winners winning big, and the losers losing everything. As the man said, timing is everything.

Four features of Bitcoin lead me to that conclusion.

There is a maximum number of Bitcoin that can ever be mined, at least under the current rules.

The estimated date for the mining of the last Bitcoin is still over a hundred years off, so what happens when that limit is hit does not seem to me worth examining. I would argue, though, that not enough new BTC are being mined to…

Energizing greed to energize the world

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I read the other day that China is booting out its Bitcoin miners because they are using too much dirty energy. Where are they going? Apparently, to Texas, where wind and solar energy are cheap and the government doesn’t give a shit about anything that matters. (I have to believe some are moving to Oklahoma!, where the wind come sweepin’ down the plain.)

The average cost of something depends on volume, so there’s a chicken-and-egg dynamic for many new technologies: they are too expensive only because not enough people want them, yet. Green energy is cheaper in Texas than elsewhere…

What’s safe and what’s practical are not always the same thing.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The CDC has determined that vaccinated people needn’t wear masks to protect themselves from acquiring the disease or to protect unvaccinated people from acquiring the disease from them. It is, therefore, safe for vaccinated people to go maskless at all times, whether or not those around them have been vaccinated.

It is not safe, however, for unvaccinated people to go maskless indoors with other unvaccinated people. Thus, it really, really matters to unvaccinated people whether those around them who are maskless really are vaccinated. Believe it or not, some unvaccinated people will pretend to be vaccinated if that will enable…

Remarkl

Self-description is not privileged.

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