Quantity has a quality all its own.

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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.

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 believe it. That’s especially true of the one about voter fraud, as one might expect, because politics is one of the areas in which our confirmation bias is strongest. …


A little counterfeit never hurt anybody

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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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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:

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 here, inflation means a general rise in nominal prices, the kind of thing that allows us to say that $X in 1927 is the equivalent of $Y in 2020, not a change in real prices for individual goods or services (transistors or tummy-tucks) or in the price of assets, which I consider a reduction in the price of risk. Fisher’s equation may hold for a segment of the economy, but in this essay I am concerned with a particular economy: the one that uses the US dollar as its medium of exchange. …


It’s the Nash equilibrium, stupid

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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 reduce it. But then Colin Kaepernick happened. In thinking about Kaepernick’s right both to speak his truth and ply his craft, it occurred to me that his employer was not in the business of “playing football”; it was in the business of filling seats and selling beer and cars and little blue pills. Colin . …


Why must Democrats demean their stars by highlighting their demos?

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Photo by Tayla Kohler on Unsplash

This is a short gripe.

I was watching White, Catholic cis-het male President Joe Biden’s White, red-headed (maybe?), cis-het female Press Secretary Jen Psaki yesterday. She was asked whether Pres. Biden had faith in the leadership at the Fed. Ms. Psaki tap-danced a bit and then said something about how you can tell that Pres. Biden has respect for the Fed because he just appointed former Fed. Chair Janet Yellen as “the first woman Secretary of the Treasury.” Until yesterday, I did not know that this new post — “Woman Secretary of the Treasury” — existed. Maybe it was in one of those executive orders the President signed. If so, the order probably also created the office of “Black Secretary of Defense,” to which I read this morning that Gen. LLoyd Austin, (USA, Ret’d.) has been confirmed. I won’t bore you with the other new cabinet positions created by the order. Just watch MSNBC or CNN or listen to Ms. Psaki’s briefings. …


Unity in the age of Trump

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Photo by Luis Quintero on Unsplash

I am perversely enjoying the Republicans’ pleas for unity in the aftermath of January 6. As I started typing this, Kevin McCarthy was urging that Congress censure Trump but not impeach him, because doing something that would actually bother Trump would rile up the hoopleheads, and we can’t have that, can we? No, says the Minority Leader, we need to start the healing by only pretending to “hold Trump accountable.” A resolution of censure, that’s the ticket! That’ll show the bastard that we don’t take insurrection and sedition lightly. Seriously, Kevin? Really?

But, wait! Maybe Kevin’s on to something. Maybe we can work out a plea bargain. If the Republicans want to start the healing process, how about Trump resigns, without issuing any more pardons, and promises on behalf of himself and his family to stay the hell out of politics for the next twenty years? I might even let Trump finish his term if he agrees to take no more executive actions, including pardons. In exchange, the Democrats agree to censure Trump and not invoke the Fourteenth Amendment’s insurrection/disqualification clause against him so long as he keeps his promise. (Any of Trump’s other crimes, especially the financial ones, remain fair game.) …


One thing leads to another.

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Bloody Sunday, by Ted Ellis — Wikimedia

It started with race.

A democratic republic is a delicate piece of machinery. One of our Founders’ greatest challenges, stated perhaps a tad cynically, was to protect the mob without empowering it. The Senate was designed for that purpose, giving political interests with smaller population bases — agriculture, say, vs. manufacturing — voting power disproportionate to their numbers, and providing six-year terms that allowed legislation to “work” or not before senators would be judged on it.

Of the Senate’s minority protections, the crown jewel is the filibuster. But for so powerful a tool to be viable, it must be used sparingly. And for a time, it was. Before 1970, senators seeking to mount a filibuster had to show up and stand up. More important, they had to take the political heat for putting a broom through the spokes of government, because everything else on the Senate’s agenda stopped while the filibuster continued. …


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Photo by Jose M. on Unsplash

[January 7, 2021 update. This article is now obsolete. I try to make observations that readers may not have seen elsewhere (although experience tells me that those observations do appear somewhere else on the ‘Net). By now, talk of impeaching Trump ASAP is everywhere. I support efforts to impeach Trump, before or after he leaves office, but I do not believe I have anything to add to the case being made publicly by those actually seeking to do it. I will say, though, that I do not like the idea of using the 25th Amendment, if only because it does not result in disqualification for future office. …


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Photo by Ryan De Hamer on Unsplash

In a stunning and unexpected break with his party, Attorney General Bill Barr told Youtube! influencer Up B. Down that the Department of Justice has found “no significant evidence that Elvis is not dead.” “The investigation continues,” Barr said, “but at this point, some of the staff is coming to the conclusion that the King may in fact be gone.”

The revelation caught die-hard Elvis fans like Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn very much by surprise. Her office issued a statement on Twitter: “This report, if true, would be devastating. First they try to tell us he has left the building. And now, this! …


Ad-supported futility

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Photo by Cami Talpone on Unsplash

When I was still young enough to say “fool me once, shame on you,” a friend and I went to Coney Island for the rides and games. There we encountered a really stupid guy who claimed he could answer absolutely any question we could ask. We had to pay him a quarter for each question, but if he got it wrong, he had to give us whatever prize we chose from his large inventory. All I can say is we beat that poor sonofabitch out of every 10-cent doohickey in his stand. The guy gave up all that merch, and he never got even one question right. …

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Remarkl

Self-description is not privileged.

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