Economic History · investing

Just Bumbling

Last month, the dating app Bumble debuted its IPO, which was meant to come in at a relatively impressive $43.00 per share. On the first day of public trading, the price skyrocketed by 70 percent, landing the girl power app at just under eighty dollars per share. The stock has since cooled off, but presently sits around sixty bucks, with a market cap of slightly below 7 billion dollars. So the swipers cheer.

Other (drowned out) voices are skeptical, perhaps because the stock movement leaves a very crucial question in limbo: What for? We get it, today’s market and drive for digital applications seems to know zero bounds. Anxious investors trade after whatever new flash has hit the water, and give hardly a second thought about it. Still, where is the argument in favor of Bumble emerging?

A cursory look at the company’s finances provide murky basis for this rise:

The company generated revenue of $416.6 million during the first nine months of 2020, up from $362.6 million during the comparable period a year earlier. Bumble also recorded a net loss of $118.5 million during the first nine months of 2020, versus net income of $54.0 million in the same period a year before.

Are those figures deserving of a share price far past many companies that have operated and delivered consistently for years? I understand something around $10.00 per share, but such grandeur seems almost entirely driven by religious belief. Bumble is after all a simple app that lets people date. It hardly has broken the standard in any regard, aside from letting women go first, resulting in most saying “Hey” rather than furthering the “meaningful conversation” they claim to desire.

Then we have the effectiveness issue. Countless men report (and are shown through social experiments) to be getting no results using Bumble or other dating apps. At best they are spending hours swiping on pretty pictures in a fruitless effort, or speaking with robot profiles which the company permits to enhance their numbers. Perhaps gay men are doing well, but otherwise the actual worthiness of the app is highly questionable.

And that may be precisely the wrong way to examine things. Maybe the focus on female empowerment is what makes Bumble a solid purchase. Men will continue to simp pointlessly, and females can count on the app to deliver a steady supply of eligible (attractive or rich) suitors. So instead of hindering their business model, the approach actually strengthens it.

What the hell. I’ll buy.

Culturalism

Does Hell Exist?

A bland notes post. I want to record here some of the ideas presented by the theologian Arthur Lunn, who is quoted frequently in William F. Buckley’s book, Nearer, My God. His argument on the nature of hell is as follows:

(1) I object to God being represented as a torturer. (2) I object to any form of punishment which is eternal. (3)I object to the fact that a man’s eternal destiny depends less on “striking a due balance between his virtues and his sins than on the pure accident of what takes place during the last moments of his life.”

Later on, Lunn is portrayed as being open to the concept of heaven as a place where few people go, but still establishes a divide between the idea of eternal punishment and soul annihilation. He further notes that man was not born to love God, and thus God cannot demand love of himself as a prerequisite to being redeemed. So God can insist on obedience, but not love, which is enjoyed by only a few. Hence Lunn is against the idea of hell because it is irrational in his outlook on the spiritual world. (pp. 68-72)

Uncategorized

The Duties of Man

Giuseppe Mazzini is an odd figure. While roundly celebrated for his role in the unification of Italy and promotion of liberal values, he actually spent years in the United Kingdom, a refuge from the Austrian-imposed death sentence on his head. It was during this time that he compiled The Duties of Man, a fascinating work demonstrating tremendous foresight, along with applicability to the present world. For the erudition of all who may stumble upon this post, I’ve compiled some solid points here.

What Is the Point of Freedom?

In all the Countries wherein these principles were proclaimed, Society was composed of the small number of individuals who were the possessors of land, of capital, of credit; and of the vast multitude who possessed nothing but the labour of their hands, and were compelled to sell that labour to the first class, on any terms, in order to live. For such men–compelled to spend the whole day in material and monotonous exertion, and condemned to a continual struggle against hunger and want, what was liberty but an illusion, a bitter irony?

This analysis reminded me of the anti-union Massey Energy employees profiled in the Blood On The Mountain documentary. They vigorously proclaim their freedom from the federal government, even as the local mining industry works them long hours and pollutes the surrounding countryside. Yet still they are “free.”

The Duty Principle

We must convince men that they are the sons of one sole God, and bound to fulfill and execute one sole law here on earth:–that each of them is bound to live, not for himself, but for others:–that the aim of existence is not to be more or less happy, but to make themselves and others more virtuous:–that to struggle against injustice and error, wherever they exist, in the name and for the benefit of their brothers, is not only a right but a Duty:– a duty which may not be neglected without sin:–the duty of their whole life.

The colons and hyphens aside, what a refreshing message this is, when compared with the aimless self-focus of our world, and its manifest hedonism.

On Attaining Education As a Wage Slave

You labour for 10 or 12 hours of the day: how can you find time to educate yourselves? The greater number of you scarcely earn enough to maintain yourselves and your families. How can you find means to educate yourselves? The frequent interruption and uncertain duration of your work, causes you to alternate excessive labour with period of idleness. How are you to acquire habits of order, regularity, and assiduity?

A timeless issue which we have discussed before. One of the main reasons why societies remain ignorant is that so little room is left for personal development after a 9-5 plus commute, if not more. The weekend becomes a pitiful monastery wherein many souls are so exhausted that they devote it to drinking or the consumption of crude entertainment. Intellectual stimulation is so easily lost.

The Role of Women

Love and respect Woman. Seek in her not merely comfort, but a force, an inspiration, the redoubling of your intellectual and moral faculties. Cancel from your minds every idea of superiority over Woman. You have none whatsoever. Long prejudice, an inferior education, and a perennial legal inequality and injustice, have created an apparent intellectual inferiority which has been converted into an argument of continued oppression .

Not easy words for the manosphere. I have always found it interesting how people will insist certain systems are fixed or ordained by nature, even as times and contexts change.

How The Elite Prevents Mobility

But does not the history of oppression teach us how the oppressor ever seeks his justification and support by appealing to the fact of his own creation? The feudal castes that withheld education from you, the sons of the people, excluded you on the grounds of that very want of education from the rights of the citizen, from the sanctuary wherein Laws are framed, and from the right to vote which is the initiation of your social mission.

The Slaveholders of America declare the black race radically inferior and incapable of education, and yet persecute those who seek to instruct them.

Here we have the Moral Sabotage tactic. Wealthy and powerful interests will often impede the development of the poor through various policies, only to turn around and claim the results are proof of a permanently lower station. We see this with politicians raiding pension programs and then claiming they are unsustainable. It is also the basis to block expansion of college education, because those who would benefit the most are perceived as being unworthy of access.

In the future I will probably do a video expanding on other points he makes. Until then, I highly advise checking out The Duties of Man.

crypto · Culturalism

The Good Citizens

Worth documenting here, as I’ve seen so many cases like this on Twitter:

What a nice man

He’s an empowered feminist as well:

Some people try to reason, but then we get a healthy dose of Kevinism:

The importance of these images lies with what they signal about the folks around you. For years we’ve heard of “La Resistance” courageously fighting back against fascism and evil Nazis. Today, they happily relish the opportunity to round up others. Such upstanding citizens.

Economic History · Federal Government · Personal Finance

The Ministry of Normal Existence

I’ve spoken before on the trend of the government and corporations essentially becoming one and the same. This is not “corporatism,” as many lolbertarians will smugly insist. It does however spell disaster for the future, and most especially in the short-term. The difficult part is ascertaining what precisely individuals can do in a strategic manner to protect themselves from this great scourge.

First on the list of grim tidings is the story emerging about Bank of America. The company, which currently occupies a position as the second-largest bank in our country, has been caught serving as a dutiful underling for the State. According to Tucker Carlson, BOA reviewed the private transactions and records of customers to determine if they had taken part in the DC events last month. What’s more, they were casting a wide net, going after people who had no indications of involvement with that scenario.

Even the greatest liberal humanitarians should find fault with this behavior. Corporations that rhapsodize about protecting customer data from breaches or marketing can simply turn around and hand it over to the powers that be, all in the name of security policy. There is no bar or threshold requirement, only the shrill declarations of politicians who lie frequently to generate hyperbolic sympathies. Not to mention what throngs of young fools will buy it all absent questions.

But problems fail to end there. Various airlines have already moved to ban passengers affiliated with the controversial protest, effectively crafting their own no-fly lists out of thin air. Bear in mind that these people have not been convicted of any crime; they simply hold a political opinion now considered to be toxic. Yet the desperate calls for regulating out-of-control corporations seem strikingly quiet, largely because people stand to benefit politically from such disenfranchisement.

So what is the proper solution? One might point to the notion of a protective rights bill, though this will require passage through the upper house, where finance and tech lobbying has no limit. Alternatively, a push for nationalization and redistribution of profits to the poor could feasibly scare the larger firms into better guarding individual liberties, though I certainly think they will fight on all fronts to defend the sniveling worship of power.

After all, it is a tremendous drug.

Economic History · Federal Government · investing · Uncategorized

Good Books On The 2008 Crash

There seems to be an endless supply of firm opinions on why the economy collapsed in 2008. Conservatives blame lending to poor people, and liberals claim it was a lack of federal regulation. I tend to lean towards the latter column, but rather than taking my word for it, here are a list of good books that analyze precisely how things went south those long years ago. They may not aid us in preventing a future hit, but at least the effort is commendable.

In Bed with Wall Street: How Bankers, Regulators and Politicians Conspire to Cripple Our Global Economy

The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the World Economy (Economic Controversies)

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History

crypto · Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government · investing · Uncategorized

Are We Wrong About Welfare?

An especially frightful bogeyman mustered by folks on the Plural Right to win elections is the idea of the welfare queen. This horrendous creature oozes about in life, deviously attempting to confiscate as much from the public dole as possible, and using taxpayer dollars to fund her luxurious lifestyle. She is often paired with her live-in boyfriend, a clownish drug dealer who uses his perch in a Section 8 housing complex to make tax-free money by selling controlled substances. Topping off the vignette are their countless children, who assist in generating those lovable food stamp checks which are annihilating the economy.

Effective as the idea may be for politicians, it betrays a fundamental unwillingness to understand the nature of the public support system, along with the actual status of people involved. Thus we must provide an overview of precisely what is available to welfare dependents, and for how long. Hopefully, a measure of clarity can help eliminate the misconceptions that inevitably fuel terrible corrective policy on the part of the State.

The first salvo ought to involve a popular 2012 study from Wisconsin distributed inside conservative circles. According to the authors, a family on welfare in the Badger State can rake in $35,000 annually post-taxes by yukking it up with a variety of government programs and not working. A similar 50-state analysis by the Cato Institute confirms such alarmism, noting how places like Hawaii grant payments of almost $50,000 a year to government dependents.

There is no doubt the proponents of such studies have justifiable concern about the nature of welfare. Unfortunately, they rely on rather self-serving conclusions to fit the bill of lolbertarian ideology. For one, the Wisconsin study relies upon an assumption that eligibility automatically equates to acceptance. In reality, analysts have concluded that less than 300 Wisconsinites would be able to draw the $35,000 amount of income, this in a state of almost 6 million people. Further complicating the matter is how most welfare programs require participants to be seeking a job or working, stipulations which undermine the suggestion they are simply mooching because they can.

Perhaps more critical to mention are the limitations on welfare programs themselves. In the case of SNAP benefits (food stamps), users without children are limited to 90 days in the service within a 36-month period by a federal law enacted in 2008, unless they can meet certain work requirements. When paid out, benefits average about $256.00 per month for a household or $127.00 a person, and come to around $1.40 for each meal. Higher payments materialize in the event of a household being extremely low income or with many kids, so not everyone receives the same amount of money.  It is worth noting that the Obama Administration promulgated an $8.7 billion cut to SNAP, despite its supposedly progressive credentials.

Section 8 housing also gets a bad rap due to the poor reputation of such communities, yet it too has strict standards for access, cutting out sizable swaths of the general population based on income and family status.  Quite crucially, the voucher system does not cater to illegal immigrants, as applicants must be citizens or possess eligibility for citizenship. The closely-associated LIHEAP program gives recipients help with heating and cooling bills providing they meet certain requirements. Strangely enough, President Obama also made repeated requests for Congress to cut funding to LIHEAP, instigating a move by the late Hugo Chavez to donate heating oil to Americans.  

Some critics will aim their guns at the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash support program to satisfy notions of dependency. Here again the issue is complex. TANF operates not as a long-term solution to poverty, but merely the helping hand to bring people back on their feet during hard times. Benefit checks in July 2020 ranged from just over $300.00 in Texas to $1,086 in New Hampshire, reflecting cost of living and state government decisions. The final point is important because individual states control the destiny of TANF money block-granted by the Fed, and are not obliged to offer a large (or elevated) amount. Furthermore, recipients are limited to 5 years on the TANF dole throughout their entire life, so it is hardly a career dependency model.

Welfare alarmism also flies in the face of the historical record. The 1996 welfare reform bill signed by Bill Clinton had the effect of eliminating the “entitlement” concept behind such programs by instituting stricter work requirements. Since 1997, spending on TANF has remained largely unchanged at $16.5 billion, and broader welfare caseloads have increased to 15 percent, while the assistance rolls remain down by 68 percent from the pre-reform highs, this even with the effects of the recession and Corona. As a percentage of the total federal budget, the programs amount to $361 billion, or 8 percent.

One final point to acknowledge regarding the 1996 reform lies with the impact on child support enforcement. Prior to the legislation’s passage, the State’s involvement in collection and insistence on men paying was decidedly more limited. Clinton’s bill changed that by requiring state authorities to more aggressively pursue orders on child support, and encouraging women to pursue it. So in a sense men replaced the State for a portion of the payments, arguably leading to the disaster of family courts today.

At the end of the day, I can appreciate the rage against welfare. Those of us who work feel indignant about folks who simply take checks and live on the dole. Of course the truth is that many of the “takers” are actually employed, yet simply do not make enough to survive. Perhaps our bigger focus should be on the creatures and organizations regularly taking trillions from the government to bail them out whenever the economy turns south.

Book Reviews · Culturalism · Uncategorized

No Clear Answer

In a futile effort to save more trees, I will at times use this digital scroll as a repository for random notes. Here we have an interesting tidbit from Edmund White’s biography on Marcel Proust, page 43. It actually stems from reference to The Guermantes Way, in which the Jew called Bloch asks a former French official by the name of Norpois what he thinks of the dramatic Dreyfus Affair. Norpois proceeds to avoid the question repeatedly by hiding behind rhetorical camouflage. The piece’s narrator then observes about Norpois:

“…the maxims of his political wisdom being applicable only to questions of form, of procedure, of expediency, they were powerless to solve questions of fact as, in philosophy, pure logic is powerless to tackle to the problems of existence…”

I cannot think of a better summary for our modern system of political grandstanders and toothless business leaders.   

Culturalism

Hotel California

A few days ago I was driving to work in the very early morning hours, when darkness floods your vision, and one asks softly that the faded hue of headlights refuses to fade away. With eyes heavy from inadequate sleep, I switched on the radio to perk myself up. After a couple of country tunes, the Honda’s audio system began issuing a timeless hit: “Hotel California” by the Eagles.

My first experience with the tune was well over a decade ago, yet at the time I just heard the sounds, and imagined it had something to do with love, or perhaps adventure. To the innocent mind, there is little treacherous about the instrumental, and even the lead singer sounds rather hopeful in certain parts. It was only as I focused upon the words that the undertones became clearer. Was it about pity? Then the clobbering blow:

 Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax, ” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! “

For all the times in my life that I’ve heard the song, those two lines never registered, but they make perfect sense now. Others have claimed the entire piece is about drug abuse or a vile music industry, all fair assessments. I choose to go further, however. From my perspective, it highlights our state of existence, and perhaps that of our forefathers.

To put things into perspective, consider a video topic I came up with a while back: “Can You Live Without Google?” The segment was designed to get at the fact that people attempting to rid themselves of the tech behemoth were often playing right back into servitude because it was too convenient. Going through the process of finding alternatives, which often do not function as well, would likely preclude the majority of these outraged revolutionaries from pursuing change.

But there were some who resisted. I received a treasure trove of smug comments from folks claiming to have dispensed with Google in favor of Yahoo or Bing, vehicles of two other massive technology companies with spotty records on data privacy. That was the extent of their opposition, marching from one burning pyre to the next, while somehow believing the newest flames are liberating.  

Today the problem is even more grim. People removed from Twitter or Facebook proudly sprint over to Parler or Gab, not realizing how quickly the system will move and absorb (or quash) such threats. The gallant ride of independent knights swiftly takes the shape of a suicide run, for the citadel has long since been breached. Our heroes at this stage are battling on to write history, not preserve their autonomy at all.

Much like a denizen inside Hotel California, we have the freedom to “check-out,” but is it possible to ever leave?

Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

What The State Could Do

If one thing is consistent, it would be the general atmosphere of dislike for the State in circles of the Right. One could spend hours parsing up the backstory and justifications, but such a practice fails to crystallize exactly what the future holds. Our reasonable guarantee holds that governments will continue to exist, and thus financial corruption shall abound. All else is fantasy.

With said negativity considered, we might consider exactly how the State might alleviate the suffering of countless Americans with a handful of small moves. Healthcare has already been discussed, although the government-run model falls under harsh modes of criticism. Federalized educational payments are similarly fraught with peril, at least insofar as they become breeding grounds of progressive lunacy and degree value inflation. So what else can we hope for? Government-funded groceries?

Not so much, but has anyone considered the question of usury? The term is controversial in modern days due to our obsession with debt-financed economics, but would it really be so bad to leave that category to the rich and empowered? After all we’ve heard about how “every man can be a king” with deregulatory policies, the powers that be still go about trying to blame poor people for financial collapses which their own foolish behaviors instigated.  If we take them seriously for a second, how could this downside be avoided in the future?

Simple, by smashing the concept of interest on home loans. A certain figure who will go unmentioned launched his very successful program on these terms decades ago, specifically oriented around building up the family. The program he promulgated allowed couples to attain interest-free loans which could go towards the purchase of a new house, along with furnishings. Instead of being mortgaged to interest payments, the newlyweds had merely to repay the principal, giving them a massive shelter against debt slavery in a world where the percentage charges often eclipse what has been borrowed.

When we account for the reality of Adjustable (Variable) mortgages, and how they threw countless Americans to the curb during the 2007-2008 collapse, the aforementioned plan sounds intriguing. Even a non-gambler would be inclined to wager that families who only had to pay their principle back without interest might well have avoided losing their homes when things went belly up, even if a job loss occurred. Furthermore, nothing prevents the State from extending grace periods in case the person is unemployed so they do not immediately fall into destitution due to vibrations beyond their control.

Obviously such a proposal must be crafted to avoid exploitation by real estate investors. Consequently, the applicants would need to prove they are in a committed marriage with intentions of having children. Allowing only one application per family would also stand to cut down on fraud, as might requiring them to live in the house for a certain number of years. The latter component has the potential to preserve communities as well, which is attractive.

Maybe the hammer to usury would backfire, turning into another predictable creation of the federal behemoth and pushing us closer to fiscal insanity. At the same time, it could be the solution to most national problems, and those facing the children of tomorrow. Debt is a scourge which conquers nations, so why not set our people free?