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 Silk Road was an undercover website where you could buy or sell illegal goods — drugs mainly. I believe passports were changing hands for about $6,000, and I understand weapons were also sold, but that was ceased in response to the spate of shootings in the U.S. over the summer. The essence of the site was narcotics.
My view is that drug laws stink. They are both damaging and dumb. People have always wanted to “get out of it,” as we say in the U.K., and they always will. The desire to do so is normal and natural. Making drugs illegal has not stopped them — if anything, it has had the opposite effect and made drugs more glamorous.
But by illegalizing drugs, the government drives this practice underground and into the hands of criminals, where it becomes dangerous. Far better to have it out in the open, where it can be done safely.
Sure, drugs are dangerous, but the same could be said for water if it were sold by criminals. The danger with drugs is less the drugs themselves and more the impurities they are mixed with, the lack of transparency around dosages, and the world that surrounds them. In our governments’ great war on drugs, our children have been caught in the crossfire.
Right, rant over.
I should say, like Prime Minister David Cameron, I may have erred while at university. But now, at age 44, my need for any of the goods offered on Silk Road was pretty much zero. But that didn’t stop my curiosity, and when I first found out about the site a few months back, I went online to take a look.
Here was a site not unlike Amazon, Craigslist or eBay, but without the frills, bells and whistles. You typed in what you were looking for — 95% of the products I’d never even heard of, that’s how out of touch I am — and up came the various merchants selling said item and in various quantities.
Like eBay, both buyers and sellers had feedback ratings based on their past trades next to their account names. This meant you could tell if someone was a good or bad trader and you could vet them.
Whatever you may think about drug laws, the site worked. People were able to trade peacefully in a way that, for the most part, satisfied both buyer and seller.
To test things out, I even bought a gram of cannabis (don’t tell the authorities) from a vendor. Lo and behold, two days later, a tiny amount arrived in a nondescript brown envelope. I would far rather do this than have to go to some dark alleyway in some shady part of town late at night.
As an anarcho-capitalist, I liked the fact that a site like Silk Road was able to exist outside the law and self-regulate peacefully without the intervention of the benevolent hand of the state.
The speed in growth of the site is testament to people’s need of the service it provided. Since its creation in 2011, some $1.2 billion worth of transactions took place. There were some 957,000 registered user accounts. I bet even the likes of Google, Amazon, eBay, Twitter, or Facebook would have struggled to compete with those kinds of numbers in their first two years of trading.
All in all, I see it as a blow that the FBI managed to shut the site down. They consider it a victory. Many libertarians consider it a loss, arguing the site was not harming anyone. In fact, it was providing a much needed service, and its demise derailed another powerful force for freedom.
But they needn’t feel despondent. Arresting a drug dealer or a drug user never changed anything (except for ruining the life of the arrested). Another dealer just comes along and starts operating on his street corner. The same will happen with the Silk Road — if it hasn’t already. Someone will copy the site, make improvements, and make sure they don’t make the mistakes the Silk Road made, and the inevitable tide that is the Internet will keep on sweeping toward greater and greater freedom.
The key reason the site was able to operate so successfully was Bitcoin. If Silk Road had used government money — dollars or pounds, for example — to effect transactions, you would have needed only a two-minute chart to measure the site’s longevity. But not only is Bitcoin an independent form of digital money, it is anonymous. Bitcoin made the Silk Road possible.
No doubt the authorities are looking at ways to undermine Bitcoin, perhaps under the guise of fighting money laundering or making sure each and every one of us pays his fair share of taxes. But that’s to be expected.
It isn’t sites like Silk Road the state should be scared of. It’s the likes of Bitcoin — independent money. Only by its monopoly of money is the state able to do what it does, to wage wars and grow so big and invasive. But some form of digital currency, gold backed or otherwise, is going to supersede government money within a generation, probably sooner, just as email replaced the letter.
And once the state loses its monopoly on money, it’s toast.
Then the real fun begins.