Beer, Crops, Laptops Browsers & Retailers Under the Fedora

Apparently a small beer company in Seattle is making beer with the Acronym APAB (all Police are bastards) on each can. The owner says he’s happy to lose customers that disagree.

The irony here is palatable he is free to put whatever message he wants on the beer, other are free not to buy it, that’s free market capitalism at work.

The bigger irony? He is free to do so because he doesn’t have to worry about those who disagree torching his brewery, thanks to police.


In something right out of the movie The Devil & Daniel Webster, between 180 and 270 million bushels of corn in Iowa were likely damaged by hurricane force winds and rain that hit the state. Given that Corn is the basis for a lot of what we make and eat expect food prices to go up fast.

As Glenn Reyonlds put it: We’re lucky to live in a country where news like this doesn’t presage a famine.”

Thank capitalism.


I finally got that replacement laptop I was talking about. I ended up buying a HP from my local Staples vs the Acer I was going to buy on Amazon because it seemed to me that every single laptop being sold there was from a 3rd party seller and the number of bad reviews of the specific sellers seemed awful high to me so I decided I’d rather buy somewhere so if there is a problem I can go to an actual person in an actual store face to face (or these days mask to mask) for relief rather than go to court.

It’s nice having choices like this rather than having to go through a monopoly like Amazon.

Thank Capitalism


Counting the new laptop that is still in its box I now have 3 laptops functioning. All of my email in done on the oldest. This one is going to get hooked up to ann old screen with an HDMI cable as soon as I find one and the new one will be for my general work. Interesting point. Didn’t have brave on the oldest laptop and because I wanted a link for an email opened a site I visit regularly in chrome.

The number of ads and popups was astounding. You don’t really appreciate the joy of running a brower like Brave until you do without it.

Thanks free market.


Finally apparently Macy is leaving its location in Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” where it currently has 8 levels with 170,000 square feet but has been hit twice during riots.

Everyone is insisting that this has nothing to do with the riots or police response I’m sure Amazon’s moves to get people out of Seattle and into the suburbs have nothing to do with the riots either.

But that’s the thing about the free market, people respond to incentives whether they are taxing to the pocketbook or hazardous to one’s health.

Someone might want to warn Austin Texas about this.

Thanks to the private sector the US is a space faring nation again

Like so many in this great nation I was glued to my TV this past Sunday afternoon watching the SpaceX’s Dragon capsule successfully splash down off the coast of Pensacola Florida.  While I was watching  the live coverage for several hours I was filled with tremendous pride because the United States is once again a space faring nation, something we have not been since President Obama canceled the Space Shuttle ten years ago.

What impressed me the most about this particular space flight was the fact that SpaceX is a private company rather than a government agency.  The free market has always been the engine that propelled the United States into becoming the most prosperous nation in the history of the world yet almost the entire US space program was placed in the hands of the federal government.  As a believer in free market capitalism I always considered this to be a mistake.  This article John Stossel: The private space race and the successful mission that concluded Sunday proved me right.

This week, American astronauts returned to Earth. Their trip to the space station was the first manned launch from the U.S. in 10 years.

By NASA? No. Of course, not.

This space flight happened because government was not in charge.

An Obama administration committee had concluded that launching such a vehicle would take 12 years and cost $36 billion.

But this rocket was finished in half that time — for less than $1 billion (1/36th the predicted cost).

That’s because it was built by Elon Musk’s private company, Space X. He does things faster and cheaper because he spends his own money

All during the SpaceX mission the commentators discussed the numerous innovations that were built into the Falcon Rocket and the Dragon capsule.   These innovations were swiftly and cheaply brought about because SpaceX is a private company. The John Stossel article documents how and why this type of innovation was rarely produced by NASA, a government agency. 

When I read the following quote in the article I was completely surprised.

Fortunately, President Obama gave private companies permission to compete in space, saying, “We can’t keep doing the same old things as before.”

Competition then cut the cost of space travel to a fraction of what it was.

I had no idea that President Obama was the person that opened up the US space program to private sector competition.  It is something that was completely out of character for him considering how far to the political left he is.

This quote from a Milton Friedman interview that took place on the Phil Donahue show perfectly sums up the overwhelmingly positive benefits produced by the free market.   A record that has never come close to being matched by any government entity of any kind.

Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.

A tribute to Thomas Sowell

Last week marked the 90th birthday of Thomas Sowell, who is my favorite economic and political author.  He is way more than an author to me, he is a mentor and favorite professor.  No author is more responsible for my transition from a progressive-socialist to a Libertarian free market warrior.  I owe Thomas Sowell a great deal of gratitude. He has not only informed and inspired me, he has entertained me a great deal because he is an exceptional writer who makes even the dry subject of economics fun

Thomas Sowell has written around a dozen books and countless articles.  Because of the volume of his works it would not have been possible for me to read through all of it to find quotes for this article so I cheated by using his Wikiquote page.

The welfare state is often a main target of criticism by Thomas Sowell because of the disastrous effects it has had on the African American community.  Here is a quote from a discussion in Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” television series in 1980.

What the welfare system and other kinds of governmental programs are doing is paying people to fail. In so far as they fail, they receive the money; in so far as they succeed, even to a moderate extent, the money is taken away.

Thomas Sowell is a very harsh critic of the political left.  Here is one of his more colorful quotes on that subject. It is from the Forbes article “The Survival of the Left” which ran Sep 8, 1997.

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

Is Reality Optional?: And Other Essays is one of his best books.  Here is a quote from the essay Social Deterioration.

Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. In area after area – crime, education, housing, race relations – the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.

Here is a quote from an article that appeared in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on December 26, 2003.

To the economically illiterate, if some company makes a million dollars in profit, this means that their products cost a million dollars more than they would have cost without profits. It never occurs to such people that these products might cost several million dollars more to produce if they were produced by enterprises operating without the incentives to be efficient created by the prospect of profits.

Random Thoughts was a running article he wrote.   Here is a quote from Sep 03, 2007

One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people’s motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans– anything except reason.

When Thomas was young he was a Marxist.  The book Thomas Sowell, A Personal Odyssey (2000) chronicles his transition to a Libertarian philosophical giant.  Here is a quote from Chapter 5 : Halls of Ivy.  Emphasis is from the Wikiqoute page.

In the summer of 1959, as in the summer of 1957, I worked as a clerk-typist in the headquarters of the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington. The people I worked for were very nice and I grew to like them. One day, a man had a heart attack at around 5 PM, on the sidewalk outside the Public Health Service. He was taken inside to the nurse’s room, where he was asked if he was a government employee. If he were, he would have been eligible to be taken to a medical facility there. Unfortunately, he was not, so a phone call was made to a local hospital to send an ambulance. By the time this ambulance made its way through miles of Washington rush-hour traffic, the man was dead. He died waiting for a doctor, in a building full of doctors. Nothing so dramatized for me the nature of a bureaucracy and its emphasis on procedures, rather than results.

Race is very frequent topic of Thomas Sowell’s.  The National Review article The Scapegoat for Strife in the Black Community is a perfect example of his genius on this subject.  This quote proves that the Founding Fathers of the US were well ahead of the rest of the world when it came to the condemnation and abolition of slavery.

What was special about America was not that it had slavery, which existed all over the world, but that Americans were among the very few peoples who began to question the morality of holding human beings in bondage. That was not yet a majority view among Americans in the 18th century, but it was not even a serious minority view in non-Western societies at that time.

Then how did slavery end? We know how it ended in the United States — at a cost of one life lost in the Civil War for every six slaves freed.

The welfare state was more responsible for the destruction of the African American family than even slavery. 

Were children raised with only one parent as common at any time during the first 100 years after slavery as in the first 30 years after the great expansion of the welfare state in the 1960s?

As of 1960, 22 percent of black children were raised with only one parent, usually the mother. Thirty years later, two-thirds of black children were being raised without a father present.

What about ghetto riots, crimes in general and murder in particular? What about low levels of labor force participation and high levels of welfare dependency? None of those things was as bad in the first 100 years after slavery as they became in the wake of the policies and notions of the 1960s. 

The Website American Thinker wrote this tribute article Sowell At 90. Isn’t It High Time More of Us Listened to This Man? and I could not agree more

The great toilet paper shortage was caused by laws that prevent price gouging

Anti price gouging laws were enacted across this nation with the best intentions however they very often produce shortages of essential goods.  This is exactly what happened at the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis.  In a purely free market economy the shortage of toilet paper would have been mush less severe.  We probably would not have witnessed near riots and even fist fights over a shortage of this so necessary product.

When the mass buying toilet paper began and store inventories began to run low the store keepers should have automatically raised prices.  A drastic run on  toilet paper should have led to a drastic rise in the price.  This would have discouraged the mass buying and hording when inventories in the stores began to run low.

Because of the increased sale of toilet paper the store owners would have ordered more toilet paper from their suppliers who would then charge the store owners more if their supplies began to run low.  Quickly, because of free market forces the increased price and demand of toilet paper would have reached the manufacturers who would produce more and ship it faster down the supply chain to the stores.

Here is how the Foundation for Economic Education explained the factors behind the toilet paper shortage:

From an economic perspective, the value of toilet paper is much higher now than it was pre-pandemic. But with the price of toilet paper the same as it always was and not reflecting its increased value, there is nothing to prevent individuals from buying as much of it as possible. Indeed, that’s the rational consumer response. But if shopkeepers increased the price of toilet paper to reflect its new value, suddenly we would think twice about hoarding it and only take as much as we need. These rising prices would also signal supply chains of the increased value of toilet paper, prompting toilet paper manufacturers to boost production.

In natural disasters, like a hurricane or an earthquake or a pandemic, we often hear people decry “price gouging” and blame “greedy shopkeepers” for trying to profit off of misery. Yet, price gouging is an unfair term. If the shopkeeper raises the price of toilet paper (or hand sanitizer or bleach or eggs or any of the other items that are currently in high demand), then it incentivizes the consumer not to hoard and to buy only as much of an item as is truly needed. It’s not greedy, it’s responsive.

If the store charges too much customers will not buy the product or they will buy very little then the store will need to lower the price.  When more product becomes available the store will need to lower the price if it does not sell.  The store will eventually need to order less causing the price up the supply chain to fall signaling the producers to produce less.

Because of the price controls restricting the price the store can charge they are not able to pay their suppliers more.  The suppliers are not able to pay the manufacturers more.  There is no incentive for the producers to rapidly produce more and no incentive for the suppliers to rush the product down the supply chain resulting in delays in restocking shelves.

Government interference in the free market always produces far more negative results than positive no matter how well intentioned they are.  Unfortunately most colleges do not teach free market economics and politicians who  do not support anti price gouging laws are decried as monsters.

Licensing Laws do far more harm than good

Licensing laws, and similar regulations, are a product of the progressive era which began around 1913.  These laws are meant to protect society as a whole, and individuals in particular.  A careful study of these laws will demonstrate that they have produced far more negative effects than positive effects.   This is explained in great detail in the Mises Institute article The Deception behind Government Licensing Laws

The primary justification for these licensing laws and regulations is:

One of the favorite arguments for licensing laws and other types of quality standards is that governments must “protect” consumers by insuring that workers and businesses sell goods and services of the highest quality.

There is one great flaw in that argument:

The answer, of course, is that “quality” is a highly elastic and relative term and is decided by the consumers in their free actions in the marketplace. The consumers decide according to their own tastes and interests, and particularly according to the price they wish to pay for the service.

Individuals are far better than a government bureaucracy, especially a gargantuan one at the federal level, at determining what constitutes a quality product.  Word of mouth and other forms of reviews by actual customers is a far better way of regulating the quality of products.  When potential customers hear that a product is no good or harmful then they won’t buy it resulting in the company losing money and possibly going out of business.

Licensing laws most always limit competition which is why they are championed by established large businesses.  That is why they spend so much money lobbying for them.

How much these requirements are designed to “protect” the health of the public, and how much to restrict competition, may be gauged from the fact that giving medical advice free without a license is rarely a legal offense. Only the sale of medical advice requires a license. Since someone may be injured as much, if not more, by free medical advice than by purchased advice, the major purpose of the regulation is clearly to restrict competition rather than to safeguard the public

Regulations meant to ensure quality products quite often stifle innovation.

Other quality standards in production have an even more injurious effect. They impose governmental definitions of products and require businesses to hew to the specifications laid down by these definitions. Thus, the government defines “bread” as being of a certain composition. This is supposed to be a safeguard against “adulteration,” but in fact it prohibits improvement. If the government defines a product in a certain way, it prohibits change.

Regulations imposed by government bureaucracies stifle private sector innovation for the following reason:

A change, to be accepted by consumers, has to be an improvement, either absolutely or in the form of a lower price. Yet it may take a long time, if not forever, to persuade the government bureaucracy to change the requirements. In the meantime, competition is injured, and technological improvements are blocked.

Licensing laws make it difficult for individuals to find jobs in a particular field. Take hair dressers for instance. It takes a lot of schooling to become a hair dresser, approximately 1500 hours.. Is it all necessary? The same holds true for many fields.

Here is the proper free market solution to low quality or harmful products and services:

In the free economy, there would be ample means to obtain redress for direct injuries or fraudulent “adulteration.” No system of government “standards” or army of administrative inspectors is necessary. If a man is sold adulterated food, then clearly the seller has committed fraud, violating his contract to sell the food. Thus, if A sells B breakfast food, and it turns out to be straw, A has committed an illegal act of fraud by telling B he is selling him food while actually selling straw. This is punishable in the courts under “libertarian law,” i.e., the legal code of the free society that would prohibit all invasions of persons and property.

Licensing laws and government regulations have affected me personally in a very negative way.  For the past several years I have been attempting to raise money to open a nano brewery.  I have created and perfected a large number of recipes that rival the best craft breweries.  Because of government interference the start up costs for this type of brewery is many times higher than what they should be.  The approval process for opening a brewery is about one year.  The beginning step is establishing a location before you begin the licensing procedure.   That means you have to rent or buy a location, before you begin the paperwork.  That is a whole year you have to pay rent when you are not taking in any money, and there is a good chance you could get turned down at the end.  Before federal government regulation put a stop to this, many started a brewery in their kitchen, then opened an actual brewery after they sold enough beer to afford this.  Because of the nature of beer it is a product that it is virtually impossible to make someone sick if you brew bad quality beer.  It is very expensive to outfit a startup brewery to meet federal standards, standards imposed by bureaucrats rather than brewers, There was no need for this change except to limit competition.