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.
The buzz on the next big thing: products and services that claim to make you smarter. Forbes says it is the next trillion-dollar industry. Get-smart video games are hitting the markets. Websites and apps that promise fast results are booming.
I’m a skeptic of the tools being promoted these days, but not of the overall idea. It makes complete sense. Maybe you can’t do anything about the core capacity you were born with, but you can surely improve the efficiency and functioning of the equipment you have.
Heaven knows we think enough about getting our bodies in shape. Maniacal energy goes into pumping up our bodies, losing weight, flattening our bellies and bulking up our chests and arms. Health clubs have remained a boom-time industry, and there’s no end to the diet books, strategies, theories and ambitions.
It’s all terribly superficial compared with a much more important matter of finding ways to strengthen our capacity to think. But as with health clubs and exercise machines for our bodies, we will quickly discover that there are no shortcuts for… hard work.
Why so little attention to the mind? We can easily fool ourselves into thinking we are intellectually fit. It’s hard to admit it to ourselves that we aren’t thinking very well, that we are relying too much on our biases, that we aren’t challenging ourselves, that we have a reduced capacity for creativity and absorbing new information.
Step one: Admit there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
To shape up the body, and overcome our natural tendency to cut ourselves too much slack, people have various strategies. They hire personal trainers to push them further than they think they can go. They go to class so that they can exercise alongside others. They go to month-long camps that monitor eating and compel all-day exercise.
None of this works with intellectual life. It is just you and your brain, and if you lack the discipline to undertake the challenge, improvement is not going to happen. You need some framework to help, like the virtual path on a treadmill or stationary bike, something that keeps you on track and discourages you from cutting corners.
The best method I know is something taken from the world of digital journalism. When people attend live events like concerts or conferences, they tweet or blog the event as it happens. You see this during political debates, too. The journalist listens, reports and responds in real time.
It makes for exciting reading, and it is also a very challenging way to write. You have to pay careful attention and stay constantly engaged. You can’t suddenly flake out and skip some of the action. It is a challenge to extract information from the external world and convey its meaning in prose. It is also an excellent way to remember and learn from any event.
What if we treat a book like an event? It is an event, really. A great book can be just as interesting and invigorating — and even more evocative — than a live event in reality. This is obviously true of fiction, but it is also true of nonfiction, provided the book is well written and deals provocatively with a topic you find intriguing.
This task takes us away from our default use of our intellectual talents. Hey, I’m not putting down the tweet, the Facebook update, the email or the video game. All of these activities are better than what consumed the brains of several generations from the 1950s onward, namely sitting in a puffy chair and watching people on a screen talk to you.
But live blogging a book is far better still because of the sustained focus on one single subject that it requires. It is a seriously difficult task, one that requires a stream of daily concentration, creativity and a willingness to stick it out until the end. The results will be obvious to you at the end of the long road. You will have experienced an upgrade in your capacity to think, write, read and process ideas.
Live blogging a book is different from reviewing a book or writing a book report. The point is to process information and react to it as it comes to you in real time. The live blog doesn’t merely relate the contents. It reacts to the contents of the book and how it interacts with your own prior existing ideas and how it may or may not have changed your understanding.
If while you are reading you finding yourself reflecting on an example or remembering some debate you had with someone on the topic, this is perfect live blog fodder. Put it in there. The point is to make a literary chronicle of how some book has affected your thinking chapter by chapter, and to do so in the most intellectually honest way you can.
In other words, if you are buying what the author is selling, say so. If the author illuminates an experience or thought you already had, say that too. If the author has contradicted himself and you take note of that, put that in too. There’s no reason to try to anticipate what is in the next chapter. Write only what you have learned so far as the literary event proceeds.
Part of the challenge here is to make your own writing compelling, even apart from what you are reading. You will notice that you will probably start writing a bit like the prose in the book you are live blogging. That’s very good, because imitation of this sort is an important part of learning, too.
I would suggest a word goal for each live blog, perhaps 750 words per chapter. If the book is 20 chapters (never skip), you will end up with a pretty sizeable monograph on your hands. This is extremely satisfying!
Put a title on it and go back through it. You might be surprised at what you wrote at the outset. Then you will be in a position to see whether and what extent this book actually changed the way you think.
This much is for sure: Your capacity to recall the contents and use them in later conversations and thinking will be greatly enhanced. It teaches you to be thorough and not selective in your reading. Not only that, you will experience an upgrade in your capacity to notice things and ideas, think about them, process them and roll them into your existing thinking.
It’s like an intellectual boot camp that you initiate and manage entirely on your own.
It is not as hard as it may first appear. And the use of the live-blog model provides the disciplined framework that inspires you to push through all the way to the end.
What books? I might suggest the four that are part of the Economics in One Library. Start with Hazlitt’s own book on economics. Move to Hayek’s book. Cover Bastiat’s The Law next. End with Garrett’s A Bubble that Broke the World. These are all great choices, but there are millions more. The important thing is to choose great books that interest you.
One of the hopes I have for the Laissez Faire Club is that we can use the forums as a place to post these live blogs. It requires a certain humility to publicly post these things, but that is also a virtue that I hope the collegial atmosphere of the club can cultivate.
We can also learn from watching others learn. Mostly, we learn from possessing teachable spirits. The smartest people I’ve ever known are also the first people to admit that they do not know something.
Regardless, whether in the club or out, the live blogging is an effective literary tool that will do more than all the gizmos you might have over the next decade to enhance your ability to think and process information. It is something we should all require of ourselves just to try it out and see the results.
It is also a great activity for young students. It’s true that the spread of this approach will contribute nothing to the trillion-dollar industry, and certainly not give us an abdominal six-pack, but it could make a mighty contribution to making us all think more clearly.