Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
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 […]
What if I told you that the march of human progress could be traced in a direct line from the Epicureans of Ancient Greece… through the 18th Century’s cure for smallpox… to where Steve Jobs and Bill Gates found inspiration as scrappy teenagers… to the flying car of tomorrow?Stay with me and I’ll show you […]
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.
What’s the #1 reason a start-up fails?It runs out of money!And why would it run out of money?Because nobody wants the product it’s selling!For early-stage investors, this presents a bit of a conundrum:If a product doesn’t exist yet, how do you figure out if there’s demand for it?And how do you figure it out before […]
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.
Every time Bitcoin crashes, it winds up at a price greater than it’s previous high. Yet the experts still call it a currency fad that will fade away. But a little over a year since it really took up, the digital currency is still going strong, and is once again seeing its price rise. But is there another reason why people are buying Bitcoins.
According to some estimates, one man - whose name you're probably not familiar with - has saved over a billion lives. Who is he? And how has he influenced the current crop of innovators? Josh Grasmick explains...
Edward Snowden’s one year visa in Russia expires at the end of next month. With only a few weeks left before he finds himself without a safe country to live in, he sat down to give an exclusive interview. Here are the most important things he wants you to remember from his recent sacrifice.
Biotech breakthroughs and other transformative innovations are a few of the brightly shining spots in the U.S. economy. In fact, Paul Mampilly believes this is the golden age of biotech investing, and that you can earn massive returns while investing in companies with drugs that benefit all of humanity. Read on for his latest example...
Harold Hamm isn’t your typical entrepreneur. His life’s story shows you success in America doesn’t always depend on a fat checkbook
Obama recently claimed this was the “Decade of the Brain”. But it not the first time the government made that promise. The last time they did it, they wasted millions of your tax dollars. Now they’re back for round two. But this time, their failure could mean more than squandered money. It could mean making Alzheimer’s even worse for those who suffer from it.
Does owning a gun mean you’re guilty until proven innocent? Considering what happened to one man from Florida, that might be the case. But there’s more to this story than just a case of police overreach. Police departments across the nation could be implementing a new technology that puts the burden of innocence squarely on your shoulders.
American ingenuity. It’s the stuff of lore and legend, and it’s what drives the global economy. We literally bank on the next disruptive entrepreneur — and innovative new technology — to completely redefine or create new industries. It’s what America does really well, our goose that continues to lay golden eggs.And yet, maybe not.The truth […]
When Michael Lewis’ new book Flash Boys came out, the author caused a stir while making the media rounds to promote it. “The stock market is rigged,” he told 60 Minutes flatly. His comments set off a firestorm of debate as to whether sharp techies and their fast computers are screwing small investors.As titillating as […]
Last November, when the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) proposed moderating years of escalating mandates by reducing the amount of ethanol that must be mixed into gasoline, a top ethanol lobbyist seemed perplexed. “We’re all just sort of scratching our heads here today and wondering why this administration is telling us to burn less of a […]
Why Is U.S. Health Care So Much More Expensive?After years of research and many conversations with health policy experts, I see three key culprits of expensive health care in the U.S.In no particular order, they are the third-party payer system (i.e., employer-provided health care), malpractice suits, and administrative support costs/paperwork.The unintended consequence of institutionalized employer-provided […]
At the recently concluded Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian security officials used state of the art facial recognition software to identify potential terrorists. Today, Byron King takes a closer look at this sophisticated new technology and what it means for the future of national security. Read on...
Back in the 1980s, John Nestor became infamous for single-handedly causing massive traffic jams on the Capital Beltway. But in his professional life, he created a completely different kind of traffic jam... one that may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Juan Enriquez has the full story. Read on...
Entrepreneurs innovate. Bureaucrats regulate. It’s the eternal struggle that exists in our modern economy/government. The people in power try to make the playing field as even and fair as possible. While innovators buck the rules and push the world toward a better tomorrow.
Technological progress moves the world forward. It finds ways to do things better, for less money, while using fewer resources. And if you ask any politician, they’ll tell you that’s the way to grow the economy and get America back on track. But if that progress threatens one of the government’s sacred programs, then that’s a different story. One that results in a crackdown on progress, and protection of the status quo.
I’ve just completed a heavy schedule of talks at the Agora Financial Investment Symposium in Vancouver. All my talks centered on information economics, Web startups, and the productivity of the Internet and its meaning. As usual, I learned as much from the attendees as (I hope) they learned from my talks. The research I did to prepare blew my mind concerning the role that the digital revolution has played in our lives.
How huge has it become? Well, 2.5 billion people use the Internet every day, and that’s nearly 80% in North America, 67% in Europe, and 43% in Latin America. I suspect that Africa’s usage of 15.6% is actually underreported, because smartphones are flooding the continent by the day.
Other interesting data include: Nearly 140,000 new websites go live every day, half of users bank online, and social networking users hang out on sites 3.2 hours a day! One point really burned into my mind, because I remember a time in the late 1990s when users were busy burning as much of the Internet as they could onto CDs. It turns out that if you tried to use your home computer today to download all existing content, it could take as long as…wait for it…11 trillion years.
The “cloud” has become the new world in which we live, communicate, network, build our professional and family lives, distribute what we know, find out new things, and generally manage the whole of our lives. The migration to the cloud intensifies in speed and substance every day. If you look at a map of what’s going on, you realize something else. No one in particular is building this world. It is being built without design by the individual choices of people, one choice at a time.
I can’t help but compare this new world with the old. The old world was governed by nation-states with borders and strict organizational charts and categories and plans for all things. The new world transcends states, borders, charts, and plans. It is a spontaneous order, extended constantly by people’s desire to know and connect. It is the most poignant and beautiful example in our midst of the capacity of people to organize their lives on their own, with the assistance of merchants, coders, promoters, entrepreneurs, and property holders.
The CEO of Google recently summed it up in this profound statement: “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”
By “doesn’t understand,” he means that no one person can possibly comprehend the extent, structure, or direction of this order that is emerging in our time. The knowledge that makes it possible is decentralized among billions of users themselves, each of whom grasps only the discrete choices that he or she is making at any one instant. You can see the whole only in the way that you can only see the fullness of a city by flying above it and looking down. The orderliness of it all becomes clear. But from that vantage point, you miss the detail that makes it all work.
The political implications have yet to dawn on this generation. We somehow keep pretending as if governments are in charge. They are not. Yes, they loot, menace, regulate, posture, preen, and hector. But they do not finally control. It simply is not possible. Even the strictest regulations that exist in places like China are a national joke.
If people really understood the implications of the rise of the global order in the digital cloud, everyone the world over would completely bail out of the illusion that our analog-age governments can make any kind of positive contribution to our future.
I was thrilled that there were so many people from older generations who attended my talks and paid such careful attention. They asked so many wonderful questions. Even my discussions of cutting-edge issues like Bitcoin drew an intense amount of interest from older people. This completely defies the stereotype, which I’m convinced is a canard.
Older people see their kids working in industries in which the Internet is central. It has saved them from loneliness by keeping them connected to their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. They see their grandchildren starting businesses on the Web, and watch in amazement as the great-grandkids use new tools so effortlessly.
They see the future, and they’re thrilled to see that it is bright. They want to know that when they leave this world, they will leave behind a world of hope and promise. They are seeing hope in this sector, and it thrills them.
Sometimes I play with an alternative history in my mind, one in which the Internet had never been opened to the private sector and there had not been any technological progress since, say, 1990. I’m pretty sure the economic environment would be dreadful beyond anything that’s been experienced in hundreds of years. Despair would have swept the Earth by now. Governments — their taxes, regulations, money manipulations, and controls — would have killed off any hope of prosperity.
But that didn’t happen. We were bequeathed this glorious new space in which to build and live, and it is largely a place that government cannot control with anywhere near the ability with which they once managed the physical world. The innovation essentially gave civilization another shot at survival after humankind made such a mess of the world in the past. Digital spaces unleashed humankind’s creative energy when the masters of the physical world had almost killed it off.
People asked me about my optimism. The best case I can make for it is as follows.
The state in all times and all places wants a population of despairing, dreary, hopeless, and weighted-down people. Why? Because such people don’t do anything. They are predictable, categorizable, pliable, and, essentially, powerless. Such people offer no surprises, threaten no change, and destabilize nothing. This is the ideal world that the bureaucrats, the plutocrats, and the technocrats desire. It makes their lives easy and the path clear. Today is just like yesterday and tomorrow — forever. This is the machine that the state wants to manage, a world of down-in-the-dumps and obedient citizens of the society they think they own.
In contrast, hope upsets the prevailing order. It sees things that don’t yet exist. It acts on a promise of a future different from today. It plays with the uncertainty of the future and dares imagine that ideals can become reality. Those who think this way are a threat to every regime. Why? Because people who think this way eventually come to act this way. They resist. They rebel. They overthrow.
Yet look around: We see progress everywhere. What does this imply? It implies that noncompliance is the human norm. People cannot be forever pressed into a mold of the state’s making. The future will happen, and it will be shaped by those who dare to break bad, dare to disagree, and dare to take the risk to overthrow in favor of what can be.
I realized all this some years ago, and when you begin to look around and see how the power elites do not and cannot rule, you discover the whole secret to social order. It turns out that they are not really in control, not finally. Then it all becomes fun.
It is a blast to see the powerful topple from the thrones they want to sit in so badly. It is a thrill to use and hold technologies, as we know them, that no one among the elite ever gave permission to exist. It is a kick to see how the market — meaning human beings acting with vision toward the future — is so constantly outwitting the arrogant planners who want to freeze history, control our minds, and wreck our world.
To defy them is so simple: Just imagine a future better than the present. You become an enemy of the state, and you begin to love every minute of it. You become part of the solution and see that your life and energies are worthwhile and making a difference. How fortunate we all are to be living in these times.