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.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Liberals are notoriously poor at dynamic analysis. They are forever trotting out statistics that prove nothing. Here are four such silly claims of implied relevance to get your mind headed in the right direction:

  • More innocent people than attackers are killed by guns kept in homes.
  • Very few rape reports are false.
  • Men don’t pretend to be trans in order to get into women’s rooms.
  • There is very little evidence of voter fraud.

I’m not going to go into all of these claims, but if you believe that any of them makes a point, it’s only because you want to…

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. …

Photo by Frederick Warren on Unsplash

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:


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

Blurring distinctions where distinctions are everything

Photo by Johannes Krupinski on Unsplash

“***gers” is a bad word. Still, if you go to law school in New Jersey, you may find yourself saying it, as it may be the name of your school.

The first thing they teach you at law school is “how to think like a lawyer.” (I’ll pause while you make little jokes to yourself. Let’s continue…) Because so much of lawyering is about precedent, lawyers are taught early on the importance of “distinctions,” details that distinguish, or don’t, the legally relevant facts of a current situation from those in an earlier case that may be a precedent. …

Do you think Pence knows what an awful human being he is? His role in 2016 was Judas goat. Those who followed Pence to the moral slaughter (as opposed to those who embraced Trump's evil directly) at least have their cluelessness as a defense. But Pence? Is there really anything good that anyone can say about him? Anything that would evoke sympathy? If so, it hasn't been said to me yet.

Money can be anything anyone will trade for

Frans Hals, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been watching This is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist, a documentary series on Netflix about the 1990 theft of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The series answers a question that I imagine many laymen have about art theft: What does one do with stolen art? You can’t display it publicly, and you probably can’t even show it to your friends. Do criminal art collectors just look at the stuff in their private vaults? Doesn’t seem likely. So what’s the pay-off?

Proponents of Modern Monetary Theory maintain that a national currency gets its value…

… is that they aren’t primaries.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Open primaries are general elections with run-offs called “general elections.”

The difference between closed and open primaries is simple. In a closed primary, the party’s members choose their candidate. In an open primary, the candidates choose their party, rendering the party machinery inoperative. That doesn’t seem too bad when the parties have already lost their institutional power to affect the outcome of the primary system. But it’s still a bad idea.

In 2016, the DNC took a lot of heat for “rigging” the primary process. But “rigging” the primary process is precisely what parties exist to do. The party bigwigs…

It’s the Nash equilibrium, stupid

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

Root, root, root for the home team!

I root for the New York Football Giants. Every six years at least, if not more often, my Giants must travel to Seattle, where they usually lose to the Seahawks, a team whose “Twelfth Man” — the crowd — drowns out the visiting quarterback’s signals, creating a tremendous homefield advantage. The Jets, also a local team for me, have a similar obligation to play in Denver, where the altitude favors the resident athletes.

For a while, I thought such homefield advantages “unfair,” and I wasted temporal and neural resources thinking of ways to…


Self-description is not privileged.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store