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.
Google bought YouTube in 2006 at the height of the infringement hysteria. The new owners got busy trying to get the platform up to legal standards and avoid billions in pending lawsuits. It seems that users had been posting a vast amount of copyrighted material, and Google was going to be held liable.
Over the next three years, the takedowns happened furiously. Users were having content deleted. Short films that used copyrighted background music found that their videos were silenced. Tributes to popular artists that used their songs went dark. Even videos of people dancing to a tune on their radio were torn down.
This was not fun for anyone. The artists didn’t like it. They are mostly flattered by tributes and happy to get their music out there. The copyright owners didn’t really benefit from it either. They get no new revenue through takedowns.
Google didn’t like it because of all the expense of creating bots to crawl the site. It was also embarrassing when the bots would take down a video of child’s party because the kids were singing “Happy Birthday.” For consumers and users, to have your video removed is an unforgivable insult.
No one really benefited from this system. And it was becoming more difficult to manage every day as uploads grew and grew (48 hours of new video appear every minute). But it continued, nonetheless. The presumption that copyrighted music cannot be posted on YouTube was built into the system.
No one really liked the way the system was working itself out. But it was hard to figure out another way. This is the system the law built. Surely, the law must prevail regardless of how absurd the results are. It was like the scenes in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: No one in Salem really believed in the practice of killing witches, but people went along with the slaughter because that’s how the system worked.
Clearly, the law had set up an untenable situation. It created a system too costly for everyone. It was unsustainable. But what would change it and how? This is where the creative forces of the market economy came to the rescue.
Google worked out a new system of placing ads before videos and at the bottom of videos. Many of these ads are incredibly interesting, by the way, and not annoying to users, as they might be. (The whole institution of YouTube ads deserves an article of its own.)
Further, Google worked out a deal with users and copyright owners. If a given video infringed, the owner would be notified and would then get a choice to either order a takedown or have an ad put up on the video from which the owner would derive the revenue. Most everyone took the revenue solution, simply because it is more advantageous to the owner to gain than to slap the uploader around using the law.
What the owners have learned in the process is something that has been obvious to many of us for a long time but, for some crazy reason, was often lost on the enforcers. They learned that what looks like a violation of the law and infringement on property rights can be re-rendered as a form of peaceful advertising. Business enterprises have no greater enemy than obscurity and no greater friend than attentive people who might turn into customers.
Today, YouTube hosts vast quantities of material that, two years ago, was considered to be pirated and illegal. It is all there serving hundreds of millions of users who don’t pay a dime to get to it. It is doing what Napster did at the turn of the century, before it was destroyed by the government. But this free access is funded through peaceful forms of advertising. What the law had turned into a war of all against all the market converted to a system of peace and plenty for everyone.
This is an absolutely brilliant solution and a fantastic example of how the market is capable of providing peaceful solutions to problems that the law would otherwise handle with coercive brutality. The market solution here is “breaking bad” in the sense that it is an open rejection of everything the state is trying to stop. But because the costs of the coercive approach grew too high, the market found another way. War is expensive.
Prosperity requires peace. The state wanted war but the market said no. It would be far better if the regulations and monopoly protections were repealed and the market itself charged with the task of hammering out commercial models of distribution in absence of intervention. But rather than waiting for the law to change, the private sector found a way around the law.
This solution is changing the ethos of music distribution. When the South Korean singer/rapper PSY came out with his “Gangnam Style” video and song this fall, it went viral beyond anyone’s expectations. It is poised to become the first YouTube video to receive 1 billion views, and it has happened in a very short period of time.
PSY (Park Jae-sang) is an artist who had previously languished in obscurity for a decade. He knew the value of exposure. When his song began to be pirated, when restaurants opened with the name Gangnam Style, when T-shirts and products began to appear all over, he absolutely refused to enforce his intellectual property. He very cleverly saw that sharing can only be good for him. And sure enough, he is estimated to be raking in $8.1 million this year from iTunes downloads, concert tickets, and advertising alone. Thanks to his refusal to participate in the state’s system, he has become of the world’s most famous musicians, and he will soon be one of the richest too.
Let’s reflect on the lessons here. In our time, the state’s regulatory apparatus, not just in intellectual property, but in every area of life, has set up an untenable situation for nearly everyone. Even those who imagined that they would benefit from it are not doing so to the extent they believed. That is because the march of history does not stop in the face of even the largest attempts at enforcement. The market will prevail — which is just another way of saying that human action will prevail over the coercive machinery of the government — in the long run.
We are seeing this is every area of life. The state’s drug laws are under serious pressure from public revolt against horrible waves of imprisonment for actions that most people don’t consider serious crimes (like smoking pot). The war on terror has everyone exhausted and drifting toward noncompliance. The public school monopoly is slowing eroding due to the forces of home schooling, online learning, and creative market alternatives.
Even banking is undergoing an upheaval, despite the Fed’s and the Treasury’s attempts to monopolize the system. The new currency Bitcoin is growing and flourishing, despite every attempt to call it a fake and a fraud. New payment systems are popping up every day in the form of gift cards and instant charge cards that you can fill with cash. Digital applications are enabling new ways of lending and borrowing that completely bypass the official state system.
Folks, if you want to see how the state collapses in the future, this is the direction to look. It won’t happen through politics. It won’t happen by top-down reform. It won’t happen even through seminars. It will happen through the trial and error of entrepreneurship, because the market will not sit still. Faced with the ghastly costs of the anachronistic nation-state, it will continue to find creative and surprising ways around the coercive apparatus, effectively inventing new realms of freedom that permit progress to occur.
Every act of entrepreneurship is revolutionary and rooted in the anarchist spirit. It strikes at the heart of the status quo. It dares to be dissatisfied with what is. It imagines something new and better. It brings about unexpected, unapproved, and progressive change by adding a new dimension of experience to how we understand ourselves and how we interact with others.
Without entrepreneurship, history would lack forward motion, our understanding of the uniqueness of our time in this world would be forever undefined, and society itself would atrophy and finally die. With it, every attempt to control and freeze the world faces opposition and long-run failure.
History teaches that those who dare stand in the way of human progress will eventually be run over. Yes, there is plenty of friction and too many victims as we get from here to there. But we will get there, one creative act of disobedience at a time.