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.
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.
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.
This is more of a thought piece than anything else, though I’m sure it will rile up a lot of Bitcoin HODLs and “technical analysts.” Much as I own (not enough) of the shiny algorithm coin, the entire way we go about perceiving future currency seems rather warped. It’s a question requiring a bit beyond the typical wide-eyed enthusiasm of liberty advocates and the general freedom rabble.
For a long time, the theory of Bitcoin promoters has been that its limited cap of 21 million units serves as a safe store of value versus the highly-inflated dollar, which shows no signs of stopping its brrr-a-thon. Coin baggers predict that their currency will continue to rise as governments spend and borrow, perhaps at some point replacing the classical concept of “fiat” or paper money. Folks who have bought or continue to purchase before Bitcoin’s rise to a dominant financial position will be rich, while others are left with largely worthless investments.
But there’s one problem of sorts. These Bitcoin pumpers are basing their wealth and success on its exchange rate with the U.S. Dollar. In other words, to be a Bitcoin “millionaire,” you must assess its value in accordance with the same fiat currency that is supposedly unstable. Selling out of Bitcoin to realize some of this wealth means holding large amounts of an inflationary currency which continues to rise along with the president’s signature on spending bills.
Now, a skeptic could argue he will buy gold with his Bitcoin, but this is highly inconvenient for global transfer and transactions where the price point is less than a full ounce of yellow metal. Furthermore, gold itself is giddily valued in line with the dollar, despite the fact that its supporters believe fiat to be unstable and inflationary. A goldbug I knew even tried to diminish the validity of S&P 500 returns by claiming they were based in dollars instead of gold, despite arguing for gold on the basis of dollars.
This brings us to an important query: what happens if the dollar actually collapses, or ceases to exist? Does gold continue to “store” value? Is Bitcoin still worth a lot of money relatively, or does it adopt a dominant position attune to the dollar, albeit with less inflationary tendencies? And what happens to the people who failed to purchase crypto when it was cheaper in dollar terms? Are they doomed to scraping out an existence with whichever fiat currencies remain, or trying to collect a monthly check of 0.00000000001 BTC to afford the good consumerist lifestyle?
No one can really know. The future might be crypto, but that scenario could end up being unpleasant, depending on who possesses a bigger account.
The older I get, the less enjoyable or exciting any “black pill” realization becomes. It might speak to the sad state of affairs currently showcased, but in reality a cosmic manifestation of elitist gall is the culprit. Rather than hiding their malevolence, the dominant players of our time have settled into an open, unapologetic method of communicating intent. Thus we as observers are left to endorse rather blasé attitudes in the face of searing rain, at once feeling the discomfort but taking solace in the fact that its arrival could be predicted from a long ways off.
A perfect example of this lies in the wondrous implications of the Dodd-Frank legislation signed by President Obama in 2013. The landmark legislation was celebrated for supposedly raining in the excesses of Wall Street (a highly dubious claim), and is regularly cited by leftists to show the successes of 44. At the same time, the mammoth bill put forward some rather interesting features that drop hints about what is to come.
In reaction to the controversy over government-funded bailouts of banks, the legislation permits such institutions to maintain solvency by pursuing a strategy of “bail-ins,” an option which involves seizure of a large percentage of customer assets to keep the firm afloat. Due to protections bolstering derivatives on the totem pole of importance, users with regular checking and savings accounts might well be subjected to the experience of people in Cyprus, who lost tremendously after a financial crisis on the island.
What’s really lamentable about the whole matter concerns how little attention it has received. The stock market continues to return stimulus-induced profits, Congress is just barely approaching a COVID deal after months of haggling, and an incompetent geriatric is poised to become president in January. But this bit of legal scribbling, which stands to produce disastrous effects in the very real future, is remanded to the likes of The Epoch Times, an alleged “fake news” paper.
I suppose the natural response is to dive deeper into Bitcoin, yet even on that front the waters are becoming murkier. Mnuchin the Moocher has taken first blood, and I would not expect Yellen to be much different. The steady swill of power and corporate greed seems to overtake everyone, no matter the designs of their sacred oaths and professed beliefs.
There has been much gnashing and simping over the announcement of an SEC lawsuit against Ripple, one of the more controversial cryptocurrencies on the market. For some, the move is confirmation of their fears that XRP is a scam, and carries with it an advisement to purchase Bitcoin. Others are holding the line, suggesting the storm will work itself out and leave Ripple stronger than before.
I tend to be in the latter category, perhaps driven in part by my long-time holding of the currency, but also because the lawsuit itself seems rather like a rather flimsy last-ditch attempt at relevance by Jay Clayton, the outdoing SEC chairman and historical big bank shill. Take a look at the government’s statement:
“We allege that Ripple, Larsen, and Garlinghouse failed to register their ongoing offer and sale of billions of XRP to retail investors, which deprived potential purchasers of adequate disclosures about XRP and Ripple’s business and other important long-standing protections that are fundamental to our robust public market system.”
The SEC’s argument hinges around the idea that Ripple should have been registered as a security (like a stock) rather than a currency, and thus their practices are problematic under federal law. They claim that the coin’s coming into existence with an existing trove of units rather than gradual mining of new ones pushes it outside the cryptocurrency category, as buyers were purchasing coins from the company itself.
Much as this might seem devastating to XRP’s future, it runs up against an obvious issue: the government previously granted Ripple the status of a currency, and thus will have to go against its prior declarations. While the SEC has won lawsuits against other altcoins in the past, this was following the release of a 2017 directive on their part, a rule which post-dated the ICO of Ripple. Thus Jay Clayton and Co. will need to prove XRP was running afoul of existing rules despite the relatively uncharted waters of cryptocurrencies in federal code.
Another obstacle for the federales surrounds the openness of the global community. Although Uncle Sam might well crackdown on firms like Ripple, other jurisdictions could opt for looser restrictions, or perhaps adopt XRP for themselves. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that smaller countries begin to use Ripple, and geopolitical opponents may well do the same. In any case, the nature of crypto makes it difficult for a single bureaucratic move to put the kibosh on all hope.
Of course this could just as easily be investment white-knighting on my own part, but at least the cheap price of Ripple makes any future collapse largely nonthreatening.
One of the most annoying aspects of reading historical texts involves being exposed to concepts which are simultaneously exciting and depressing, on the latter point because you realize the information will likely never have widespread acknowledgement. Such truths remain distant and untouched, at best exposed on occasion by the lone examiner to his motley crew, who may not actually be interested. But still he must do so, because otherwise the wisdom will be lost to a larger portion of the population.
I admit to feeling this way following my run through several political works by Feder. Although somewhat dogmatic at times, he manages to break down the question of currency and usury in a manner which countless lolbertarians and Marxists fail to do, despite their public acceptability. What’s more, the discourse doesn’t demand an excessively unmerciful slog through the miseries of Das Kapital, or any “free market” equivalent.
At the heart of Feder’s advocacy is the notion that debt-financed capitalism (which he calls Mammonism) creates slaves out of people and destroys nations. Folks are tethered to their debtors and spend long swaths of life attempting to serve the objectives of the banker class, in many cases falling into utter destitution during the process. Even traditional socialism is blamed for this, insofar as Marxists make deals with private corporations to issue interest-paying loans for state projects. Thus the outcome remains subservience and poverty on the leftist front as well.
In contrast, Feder demands the eradication of all interest on loans, replacing such private measures with offerings by the State, with only the principle to be repaid. The implications of such policy are substantial, even in the context of our modern age. If the government cannot borrow on interest, it seems probably that our debt would be much lower, as U.S. interest on liabilities alone was $404 billion last year. Furthermore, interest-free loans by the government would have certainly softened the 2008 crisis, when many people lost their homes due to the machinations of the Adjustable Rate Mortgage.
On money itself, he describes paper currency as essentially a voucher representing – but not holding within – the value of what labor has been performed. So in effect a person who pays for their car to be washed is actually purchasing the value innate in the service, which can then be exchanged by the washer for other goods or services. The result is more of a barter system than the “money is money” arguments we see strewn across popular discourse. From here we get to the nationalist concept of a currency being backed by labor or productivity, as opposed to gold or merely the printing press.
Towards the end of his tract, Feder endorses a wealth tax, and makes an interesting argument about inheritances. He dismisses the concerns of those who might not be able to pass on wealth by suggesting what they should care about is raising their children well enough to live successfully in the world. Taken in the context of the “Affluenza ” case some years back, his logic is quite interesting.
Because the info is unique, I may find a way of including it in the possibly upcoming book on Rightist socialism. Time will tell.
One of the great cultural nuances of the internet is how everyone can be right. Providing you are convincing, or at least look the part, most effective dissent will get chucked out the window, along with any need for respect. In point, we have the prototypical messaging of the Bitcoin-promoting community, which often argues that digital currency is beyond government regulation or control due to algorithms and encryption. They have some credibility, but as with all things deemed to “beat the system,” there are major exceptions which must be considered.
To start, the idea that crypto transactions can simply fly under the radar is muddled by known IRS actions. The federal government has already issued warnings to thousands of people about failure to report crypto gains to the IRS, and significant penalties lurk for those who flaunt such warnings. We also have the recent indictment of John McAfee for allegedly hiding cryptocurrency assets. Thus from a reactive standpoint the State is already gearing up for the long haul fight.
Perhaps more immediately, reports suggest the government seized around $1 billion worth of Bitcoin connected to the controversial Silk Road marketplace, whose founder Ross Ulbricht was given a life sentence for numerous alleged crimes. That’s a small but noticeable chunk of the overall coin value, and it’s not the first time Uncle Sam has held a stake. Other governments such as Bulgaria have snapped up digital currency in the past, with the leaders in Sofia holding 200,000 bitcoins at one stage.
Ruling out these sorts of criminal situations, what of the more obvious methods for centralized regulation? Governments could begin requiring trading firms like Coinbase to meet specific standards of licensure and tax reporting, much as investment companies are required to do. They might also go after crypto miners, placing restrictions or taxes on their Morian mainframes These are hardly out of the question when we examine the history of the State, and its insatiable desire for money.
By this I don’t mean to suggest crypto is a bad idea; in fact, I own a great deal and will continue adding. Just avoid becoming too drunk on the swill of lolbertarianism. As Ronny boy might say, “The government wants what it wants.”
For at least the past thirty years, allegiance to market liberal economics in the West has been colored by a mostly bipartisan support structure. Conservatives embrace capitalism wholeheartedly, while mainstream leftists operate under the Clinton-Blair-Renzi deluge of “Third Way” thinking. Skeptics do exist, yet even they carefully align criticisms to fit the neo-liberal sphere, certifying that the principal concept of meritocratic expansion is not too harshly eradicated. Because for all of its faults, the liberal economy is seen as the “best of the worst,” just like democracy seems to be the safe option for nation-state organization.
The threat of such ideological complacency rests with petty dismissal, not only of opposing viewpoints, but individual human lives. We see this most vividly with the destruction of traditional agriculture. After India liberalized its markets in the 1990s, the country saw a wave of suicide on the part of farmers reaching over 250,000 people, with the cause attributed to their inability to compete. Although free markets allegedly make products cheaper – allegedly – they also contribute to the conditions under which smaller producers may struggle to survive. This is due to the manner in which neo-liberalism causes farmers to compete with large, GMO-empowered companies who strive to corner the market with expensive seeds and equipment that drive agriculturalists into debt. All it then takes is a drop in commodity prices for the little guy to lose his family farm and fall into despair.
On the latter point, the “it’s good for the economy” argument related to pricing of goods hides major cynicism. Cutting out pesky regulations and tariffs may result in cheaper products for the world at-large, but these basic (and typically lower quality) items look rather toxic when they come at the expense of one’s livelihood. In line with the India example, Syrian farmers were left destitute after Bashar Al-Assad signed a free trade agreement with Turkey that flooded the Damascus world with cheap imports. Think too of Midwestern Americans being able to afford a fancy smartphone thanks to globalization, while working a minimum wage job to replace the factory’s closure. Goods may be cheaper, but so are wages, or employment itself.
Where quality is concerned, the issue goes beyond a thing’s basic utility. GMOs and preservatives might have theoretically allowed us to feed much of the world by diminishing the risks inherent to poor harvests or malnutrition, but are the costs worth it? America for example has incredible rates of deadly disease tied directly to the typical Burger’s horrendous diet. Greasy and processed foods seem convenient, and still the outcome is destructive. We have lost sight of concrete natural cycles in order to feel like nothing impedes the bustling of everyday lives, and our jobs which have no meaning.
Affordability can also reduce the value of an item, even for the classes who are better-positioned to enjoy it. The more we accumulate, the less individual possessions matter, leading some down the path of aggrandizing products simply to extract value from a paycheck. “I have money so might as well spend it,” becomes the zeitgeist of distilled existence. Then on the opposite spectrum we see those made poor by liberal prosperity, who must compensate by describing their own lifestyle as a dynamic dungeon escape towards the mythical land of Minimalism.
Imagine if instead those souls worked the soil they stood upon for the food in their mouths, the love under their roof, and the belief clasped to their hearts.
Hanging around investing circles results in the brain being peppered by a plethora of loaded talking points. These might include specimens such as “Value Investing,” or “Contrarian Growth,” themselves miniature tribes to help organize the sphere of economic debate. An especially lovable variety is the claim summarized as, “Gold is better because it has intrinsic value.”
Yet does this argument stand up in the real world? The term “intrinsic” is defined as “belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing” by our frat bros at Merriam-Webster. Applied to gold, the concept becomes a little bit dicey, to say the least. To be clear, Burl Ives’ beautiful metal can be employed to build a variety of modern technologies, so in that realm its naturalistic state may hold value, providing of course that no replacement substance is found. Other metals such as silver enjoy similar advantages, although they do not necessarily track the same price levels as those bright yellow blocks.
That being said, as a firm medium of exchange versus the mocked “fiat currency,” gold’s worth should be called into question. Currencies or assets are ultimately worth something based upon how individuals (or large groups) value them. In the United States, our government has long since adopted a policy of monopoly money inflation, but this doesn’t mean people ignore a $20.00 bill lying on the sidewalk. The piece of paper holds value due to perceptions of the institution behind it. Because America remains a major world player with powerful military resources, we have not been relegated to the status of the Zimbabwean Dollar or Argentine Peso, even against eternal criticisms by Austrian-leaning economists. Inflation is of course real in the United States, but our country’s position prevents it from becoming as visibly horrible and destructive as it might otherwise be. Were the nation to lose its international standing, or if large swaths of the population suddenly reject paper money, this would of course change.
Gold on the other hand appears safe because there is a limited known supply on earth, and it cannot be printed by central banks. True, but technology exists allowing scientists to create the metal in a lab, and while it is presently cost-prohibitive for businesses, could a powerful government with the ability to print endless sums of a (valued) currency not pursue the endeavor, and succeed in flooding the market? There is also the possibility of more sophisticated approaches being developed to reduce the expensive nature of the process, which would radically disrupt the metals bazaar.
Placing all else aside, gold like any paper currency retains value largely due to how people perceive its worth. If we take the extreme scenario of inflationary and societal collapse peddled by libertarians, the glistening doubloons will only matter for those who wish to have them, or folks seeking to construct things from the metal. Most people are liable to be interested in bartering for guns and food, two resources less popular in the Wonderful World of Mike Maloney. Not to mention the influence of private armies who could well issue their own currency, enforced as always by the barrel of a gun.
With all this I seek not to dismiss the importance of precious metals in an investment portfolio. My own includes them (but more so silver), and concentrating your resources into one asset alone is risky. It is however crucial to not drink deeply of the popular swill pushed by gold marketers. Last time I checked, most (if not all) are taking payments in that crisp-smelling green paper doomed to make our bank accounts absolutely worthless.