I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
“In the beginning, all the world was America.” — John Locke“The Garden of Eden was a perfect place,” my friend Manuel explained. “Man had free will. He could live in harmony with nature and God — and everything would be fine. But if he defied God, the stain of original sin would be on his […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
Americans have come to believe that the IRS and the income tax are inevitable parts of our lives. After all, most everyone alive today has lived his entire life under federal income taxation.It wasn’t always that way. For some 125 years, the American people lived without having any tax imposed upon their income.The obvious question […]
Here’s a fun fact: Although we all hate the U.S. dollar, as it continues to hemorrhage wealth, its foothold as the world’s reserve currency isn’t going to disappear overnight.A Russian gas deal with China won’t change that — as we’ll highlight below.But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s dive into a story that’s right […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
“As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding […]
The Keynesian disaster recovery plan has been to lower rates, force people to take more risk in search of yield, and entice others to borrow and spend and, magically, more jobs will be created. If people won’t buy stocks, central banks will.Back in 2011, Ben Bernanke, when asked if QE2 was driving up stock prices, […]
In September 2009, when President Obama made a primetime speech pitching his not-yet-passed health care overhaul, he made the following promise: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period.” To prove his seriousness, he further promised that “there will be a provision […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices are rising at a 2.1% annual rate. This suggests to us that the current stock market boom will die with a bang, rather than a whimper.Fed economists say they don’t think inflation rates are rising. They think the most recent reading is a fluke. But why […]
Real progress happens through real people, ideas, and innovations. Not by legislation argued and debated in Congress. Right now, one of the most influential technologies is changing the way people do business. And reinventing the future in the process.
Innovation can change the world… if the world lets it. Unfortunately, society’s gatekeepers make it a point to constrain, regulate, and control these ideas. But their power is limited, and the power of innovation is too great. Unfortunately for regulators, there are some technologies they can’t control.
“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” — Emperor Palpatine, The Return of the JediJon Stewart made great comedic hay during the Bush Administration out of the enormity of Dick Cheney’s “Sith Lord” malevolence. Events in Iraq in the past week have made especially palpable Cheney’s Palpatine-like quality.As Iraq unravels, you may suspect that Cheney might now […]
Entrepreneurs are high-tailing it out of the United States, and it’s the politicians’ faultThe U.S. government is driving some of its most productive citizens abroad. The only beneficiaries are countries such as Singapore and Switzerland, which offer sanctuary to Americans fleeing avaricious Uncle Sam.Three years ago Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook’s founders, joined 1,780 other […]
Politicians love raising the minimum wage because they don’t have to ask voters to pay more in taxes. They just dump the costs onto shop owners. But they don’t act like politicians and go into debt to pretend like they have all the money in the world. They face real world situations. And sometimes that means replacing workers with more affordable options...
A cushy job in Hawaii that pays six figures. A beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend. Job security and professional experience that gives you plenty of future opportunities. Would you throw that all away to do what you think is right? Last year, one government contractor did just that. And now you see the world the government tried to hide from you.
As the world gets more digital, people forget about the benefits of transacting in cash. And government officials know that.
Regulation is supposed to keep you safe and make the economy function smoothly. At least that’s what they tell you in the news. But there’s another cost to regulation. One that you won’t hear about unless you have to deal with directly. And for the people in the economy who do, they’re the ones who have to pay the final cost.
The experts will tell you the recession is over, but they’re only torturing the data to hide the truth. The economy never recovered from the downturn it experienced. But the downturn happened in 2000, not 2008. The country’s been in the middle of a 14 year recession and hardly anyone knows the truth.
All paper currency has a shelf life. It could be 5 years or 500 years, but at some point, the value of any paper currency eventually reaches zero. That's why, for centuries, people have turned to one shiny metal to safeguard their personal store of wealth. And, as Jim Rickards explains, you still have that option. Read on...
The organization Campaign for Safe Cosmetics doesn’t just want you to be able to have new choices about the makeup or other products you buy. It wants the FDA to be able to ban and recall products. It will decide for you what is and isn’t safe.
And it is prevailing against the industry itself, which has no interest whatsoever in selling unsafe products, but precisely the opposite. The industry is already ridiculously overregulated, and new regulations could come into effect this summer.
What’s the excuse? The usual nonsense about safety and security and health. There is a crowd of lobbyists backed by regulators who seem to believe that all of modernity is corrupting and horrible and must be reversed until we are living in the most-primitive state of being, sans makeup, of course!
In other words, cosmetics are going the way of everything else. The quality of the product will be depleted by regulations, just as with indoor plumbing, electricity, cars, light bulbs, soaps and gas-powered tools. Entrepreneurship will be hindered and truncated. Innovation will stop. In a few years, you will wonder: Whatever happened to makeup and deodorant and hair spray that actually works? Prepare: The end is near!
Already, I’ve heard many women complain that cosmetics today are far worse than they were 10 years ago. The colors don’t behave they way they should, and color is mainly what the FDA currently controls. I don’t doubt that whatever problems exist are due to government regulations. Whenever you see consumer products that decline in quality to the point that you have to pay vastly more for something of good quality, or that high quality suddenly becomes completely unavailable, you will find the hand of government if you look hard enough.
I can’t read about this subject without feeling a sense of pride for the life and work (and sadness for the great legacy) of Maksymilian Faktorowicz, who lived from 1872-1938. He was a Polish Jew who lived in Russia under the czars. He started working for a pharmacist at the age of 8, and as he got older, he inhabited the world of wigs designed for the opera in Moscow. At the age of 22, he obtained what amounted to a royal appointment. He was in charge of wigs and cosmetics for the Imperial Russian Grand Opera.
But by 1904, political unrest was making life more than a bit scary for Russian Jews, and he began looking to the United States as a place to settle. In these times before passports and visas, it was just a matter of catching a boat and moving in. So he did. He moved to St. Louis.
His big break came at the glorious pro-capitalist, pro-progress, pro-technology event: the World’s Fair of 1904. There, Maksymilian Faktorowicz sold his fabulous cosmetics to great acclaim. All hail the practical arts!
He took the trade name you now recognize: Max Factor. He was a great American entrepreneur.
Following the World’s Fair, disaster struck, and his partner stole his stuff and his money and left him penniless. He went back into barbering and crawled his way back, eventually moving to Los Angeles. He opened a shop that distributed cosmetics for the theater.
But it was not enough that he merely distribute what already existed. Max was an entrepreneur above all else. And there was a new industry in town: the movies. The existing makeup withered terribly under the hot lights. He combined his background in pharmacy with his expertise in cosmetics and created a new form of makeup, a thin greasepaint in cream form in 12 different colors.
It was a smash hit. The stars loved it. Soon every emerging star was coming to Max Factor to provide the right look for the camera. And his products kept improving. Eventually, he had an incredible list of clients that included Mary Pickford, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland. He invented lip gloss, provided huge innovations in nail polish, came up with products specifically for color films and never stopped improving all his products.
His name appears in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But more than that, Max was the guy who mainstreamed the idea that every woman could look like a Hollywood starlet. As the song goes, “To be an actor, see Mr. Factor / He’ll make your kisser look good!”
The term “makeup” that we use today is due to him as well. More broadly, when you consider the influence that Hollywood had on the world, he pretty well defined the 20th-century idea of beauty, both indirectly through his masterful work on the set and directly by marketing Max Factor products to consumers all over the world.
That’s a pretty impressive contribution for a poor Polish-Jewish immigrant from Russia! And between his old-world position serving the court and the new position in capitalist America serving the American consumer, which do you suppose he preferred? He made his preference pretty obvious by immigrating and then by absolutely thriving in this land of the free. Free enterprise made this story possible.
Now, I can imagine some readers thinking: “Oh, this is all superficial and irrelevant. Why make this man out to be a hero?” Cosmetics have been part of the human experience since the dawn of time. And today they are an intimate part of the daily life of nearly every existing person on the planet. For women in particular, cosmetics are a crucial part of what makes for a quality life, which is one reason that they constitute a $20 billion industry globally every year.
Sadly, when you look at the regulations today, you can see that this huge and wonderfully innovative experience could never be repeated. Let’s leave aside the point about immigration today, which is a tragedy in its own right. And let’s leave aside child labor restrictions that would have prevented him from learning his craft early on.
Would Max have been able to try techniques and colors and solutions for the unique problems posed by the hot studio lights? If he had to obey government regulators, rather than his demanding consumers, would he have thrived as he did?
I seriously doubt it. Entrepreneurs need the freedom to try things. They need to have their experiments tested by the most-relevant party, namely the consumer. The standards of excellence have to be set by the people who are using the inventions and buying the products. Because America valued this freedom and opportunity, and linked up geniuses like Factor with the buying public, many generations of American capitalists rose through the social ranks to achieve riches, fame and greatness.
Today, it is different. The regulatory bureaus step between the innovative capitalist and the consumer, causing friction and communication struggles. This forces the entrepreneur to have divided loyalties: Does he serve the bureaucrat, or does he serve the consumer?
Somehow I can’t even imagine Bette Davis taking a back seat to any regulator!
Rumor has it that the fate of cosmetics will be sealed by the summer, when the final power of the life and death of any cosmetic product will be handed over to the FDA. This is a terrible tragedy. I can predict the future. The new and improved makeup will not work. It is not supposed to work. It is supposed to please beauty-hating activists and power-mad bureaucrats.
Here we have another instance of government unraveling the achievements of civilization one product at a time. It is Max Factor’s grave they are dancing on this time. And that fact alone should infuriate every red-blooded and rosy-cheeked American.