If You’re Afraid of Risk, Don’t Take the Job of Absorbing Risk

If you ask the average America what the job of a police officer is, you will likely receive some variation of, “To protect and serve the public.” This shouldn’t surprise anybody. We’re told from a young age that police officers are heroes who protect us and that we pay taxes so police officers can protect us from nefarious individuals.

So, at least ideally, the purpose of a police officer, like that of a firefighter or a private security guard, is to absorb risk. When your job is to absorb risk, the job you take is necessarily risky, which is why many individuals, including myself, are puzzled by officers’ obsession with going home safe at night:

If my concern was “you going home safe,” then I’d just fucking hunker down and die. Because I wouldn’t want that poor responder to endanger himself.

Except…that’s what I pay taxes for, and that’s what you signed up for. Just like I signed up to walk into a potential nuke war in Germany and hold off the Soviets, and did walk into the Middle East and prepare to take fire while keeping expensive equipment functioning so our shooters could keep shooting.

There’s not a single set of orders I got that said my primary job was to “Come home safe.” They said it was to “support the mission” or “complete the objective.” Coming home safe was the ideal outcome, but entirely secondary to “supporting” or “completing.” Nor, once that started, did I get a choice to quit. Once in, all in.

When that 80 year old lady smells smoke or hears a noise outside her first floor bedroom in the ghetto, she doesn’t care if you go home safe, either. She’s afraid she or the kids next door won’t wake up in the morning.

People have varying degrees of risk tolerance. The more risk tolerant a person is, the less they’re concerned about mitigating risks. An investor who is highly risk tolerant is more willing to invest in an unknown startup than an investor who isn’t very risk tolerant. An individual who is motivated to save lives and is highly risk tolerant is more willing to take on the job of fighting fires than an individual who may have the same motivations but isn’t risk tolerant (they might instead opt to become a doctor).

The problem with the “I want to go home safe at night,” mentality that many officers cite whenever they put bullets into somebody is that going home safe at night isn’t part of their job description. Their job description is to absorb risk, which means possibly not going home at night.

If you’re not willing to be shot at, signing up for the military isn’t for you. If you’re not willing to run into a blazing building, being a firefighter isn’t for you. If you’re not willing to put yourself in a situation where you have to let another person initiate violence before you can respond in kind, being a police officer isn’t for you.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong with Government Controlled Healthcare

If you live in Britain, I hope you weren’t scheduled to undergo a “non-urgent” surgery because the National Health Service (NHS) has ordered all hospitals to cancel such appointments:

Every hospital in the country has been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February in an unprecedented step by NHS officials.

The instructions on Tuesday night – which will see result in around 50,000 operations being axed – followed claims by senior doctors that patients were being treated in “third world” conditions, as hospital chief executives warned of the worst winter crisis for three decades.

Let the government control healthcare, they said. It’ll be better, they said.

With the wave of a hand the NHS has determined what is urgent and what isn’t urgent. If it deemed your health issue not to be urgent, then you just got tossed out of the system until at least February. If it deemed your health issue to be urgent, then you just found yourself put at the front of the line. I’m sure those in the former category are perturbed while those in the latter category are cheering the miracle of government controlled healthcare.

This is the issue with allowing government to control healthcare. With a single decree the government can shuffle around everything. It can determine that your condition isn’t critical and cancel your appointments. It can determine that you don’t live a healthy enough lifestyle and are therefore a burden on the system and thus no longer covered by it (but you’ll still pay your taxes towards the healthcare system). When the government controls healthcare it gets to decide matters related to your health, not you. Fortunately, medical tourism is a thing. Those who just found their appointments canceled can still travel to East Asia to get the operation they need for a reasonable price. However, the British government won’t credit those individuals on their taxes even though it failed to deliver the service it promised in return for those taxes. Tough break.

I Need to Begin Capitalizing on My Jokes

When raw food started making headlines I made jokes about selling raw water. Apparently I should start treating my jokes as serious business proposals:

Silicon Valley is developing a “raw water” obsession.

In San Francisco, “unfiltered, untreated, un-sterilized spring water” from Live Water is selling for $60.99 for a 2.5 gallon jug — and it’s flying off the shelves, the New York Times reported. Startups dedicated to untreated water are gaining steam. Zero Mass Water, which allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes, has already raised $24 million in venture capital.

I take solace in knowing that this will likely be a self-correcting problem. If enough Silicon Valley hipsters die of dysentery, the bottom of the market for a lot of these stupid ideas will fall out.

Value is Subjective

A lot of libertarians falsely believe that there is such as thing as intrinsic, or natural, value. People who believe gold has intrinsic value will spout off the industrial uses that gold has. But all value is subjective. What may be worth a great deal to one person may be entirely worthless to another. For example, lithium may be very valuable to a company that builds batteries. Lithium may also be valuable to people who sell resources to battery manufacturers. Lithium will likely be seen as worthless to a hunter-gatherer tribe in the Amazon which neither knows about batteries or selling resources to manufacturers.

What may be the best example of the subjectivity of value though are “precious” gems:

RIGHT NOW, IN A VAULT controlled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, there sits a 752-pound emerald with no rightful owner. This gem is the size of a mini­fridge. It weighs as much as two sumo wrestlers. Estimates of its worth range from a hundred bucks to $925 million.

$100 to $952 million is quite the range.

“Precious” gems are a good illustrator of the subjectivity of value because their primary use is decorative. While some gems, such as diamonds, have a plethora of industrial uses, others are used far less. But many people find them pretty and the simple fact of being pretty can make something extremely valuable in the eyes of some.

I would certainly value a 752-pound emerald higher than $100 because novelty is worth something to me but I wouldn’t value it anywhere near $1 million, let alone $925 million.

If value is subjective, how can the value of something be determined? Through the market. The amount something can be sold for is its value. The iPhone X, for example, is worth $999.00 for the 64GB model and $1,149.00 256GB model. While I personally don’t view either model to be worth their respective prices, I feel safe in saying that they’re priced appropriately because they’re flying off the shelves.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

There is a belief among statists that laws can prevent undesirable behavior. But statists have been passing laws for thousands of year, which is the same amount of time that other people have been ignoring them. Any law that is found to be inconvenient is ignored or bypassed:

But in an effort to cut down on the drunken mayhem, the town imposed a public drinking ban over the holiday—a law that apparently didn’t stop a few crafty, determined drinkers from setting up their own boozy sanctuary off the coast.

According to the BBC, the group spent Sunday building a makeshift private island off the Coromandel Peninsula, constructed out of sand, seashells, and a few wooden planks. The revelers set it up at low tide, and dragged out a picnic table and a cooler so they could get blasted out on “international waters,” see some fireworks, and stay away from the cops.

Sometimes I think nobody learned from Prohibition. The government of the United States went so far as to amend its constitution to prohibit alcohol throughout the country and yet people continued to manufacturer, trade, and consume alcohol. The United States’ War on (Some) Drugs is yet another example of undesirable laws being ignored. In fact the desire to ignore drug prohibitions is so strong that many individual states have announced that they’re no longer bothering to enforce them for cannabis. And why should they? While cannabis may be illegal people are still using it.

Prohibiting an activity doesn’t make that activity go away. At most it pushes that activity underground. But oftentimes a prohibition is blatantly ignored as is the case with these heroes who went so far as to construct a small sandbar in international waters.

I’m Putting Myself on The Blockchain™

I am formally announced that I’m putting myself on The Blockchain™. Please throw money at me:

The stock market loves blockchains. Last month, the Long Island Iced Tea Company rebranded itself as Long Blockchain and saw its stock price triple. On Tuesday, restaurant company Chanticleer Holdings saw its stock soar by 50 percent after the company announced that it would be moving its reward programs to the blockchain. The company owns several burger brands and operates a number of Hooters restaurants. It also holds a minority stake in Hooters of America, the parent company of Hooters.

Government Subsidized Murder

What happens when you combine trigger happy law enforcers and pranksters who are either oblivious to the consequences of involving law enforcers or simply don’t care? The phenomenon known as swatting:

Here’s what seems to have gone down. Two individuals were playing Call of Duty and got into an argument online over a game with a $1.50 wager. One of them, a person with the Twitter handle @SWauTistic, threatened to swat user @7aLeNT. The latter then provided an address that wasn’t actually their own in response to the threat. Shortly thereafter, @SWauTistic allegedly called in the false report, which led to a police response at the provided address. Andrew Finch, who lived at the address, reportedly went to the front door in response to the commotion and was shot. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon,” said Livingston. The police haven’t said whether Finch had a weapon at the time, but his family has said there were no guns in the house. The officer who fired the shot is a seven-year department veteran who will be put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

The individual who called in the false report was arrested but I’m betting that the trigger happy officer will be found innocent of any wrongdoing because he has a magic badge.

Swatting isn’t new but this story received more attention than most because somebody ended up dead. Sadly this was a question of when, not if. Law enforcers in this country kill a lot of people, oftentimes under very questionable circumstances. With a few very rare exceptions, officers who kill people are found innocent of wrongdoing. The lack of consequences certainly isn’t helping make law enforcers less dangerous. In addition to being trigger happy law enforcers in this country also like to respond with shock and awe. If you call in a hostage situation, there’s a good chance that a SWAT team will be kicking in a door instead of trying to make contact with the reported hostage taker in order to open negotiations. Of course, if they tried to make contact with the hostage taker instead, they would discover that the report was false and not have to go in guns blazing.

What this story ultimately illustrates is that if you want somebody dead, the government will happily do it for you.

The Cure to Inflation Must Be More Inflation

What happens when you give dictatorial powers to somebody who is entirely ignorant of economics? Socialism:

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a 40 percent increase to the minimum wage as of January, a move that will foment what many economists already consider hyperinflation in the oil-rich but crisis-stricken nation.

Inflation is getting out of hand, what should we do? I know! We’ll increase the minimum wage! That’ll fix it!

Every proponent of a minimum wage is ignorant of the fact that mandating a minimum wage doesn’t actually increase anybody’s purchasing power. When you mandate a minimum wage you guarantee that any work that isn’t worth that minimum wage is eliminated. Teenagers bagging groceries may be worth $2.00 an hour but not $3.00. If the minimum wage is set to $3.00 an hour, those teenagers suddenly find themselves unemployed. The higher the minimum wage is set, the more jobs are eliminated.

In addition to eliminating jobs, minimum wage laws also increase inflation. Some jobs simply can’t be eliminated by a business, which is something many proponents of minimum wage bring up when the above point is brought to their attention. A restaurant can’t operate without cooks (At least not yet. But cost decreases in automation will make such restaurants feasible very soon). If a minimum wage is set to, say, $15.00 an hour but a cook is only worth $10.00, then the restaurant owner has to either close shop or increase their prices. Most restaurant owners will opt for the latter, which means the cost of a meal goes up. Suddenly an $8.00 mean becomes a $10.00 meal and everybody who eats out finds themselves with less purchasing power.

By increasing the minimum wage 40 percent, the Venezuelan government guaranteed the elimination of many jobs and major increases in prices. These two things will only cause the average Venezuelan more misery. But dictators are seldom concerned with the amount of pain the average person has to suffer. Dictators are concerned with enriching themselves.

Dedicate the Year to Personal Greatness

Welcome to 2018. America seems to be starting off the year the same as it starts off most years. Law enforcers continue to act without accountability, the endless wars in the Middle East continue to be waged, and the dollar continues to fall in purchasing power. However, you can’t control any of those things. What you can control is yourself so why not dedicate this year to personal greatness?

Have you always told yourself that you’re going to start working out? Start working out today. Have you been thinking about reading a particular book? Start reading it today. Have you been thinking about learning that new skill so you can make more money? Start learning it today.

While you can’t control the actions of others, you can control your own so why not make yourself superior to everybody else?