Tom Brady and FTX

Tom Brady and FTX

I don’t like Tom Brady. I’m convinced he and his teammates cheated the Rams out of a Super Bowl. I’m certain he was heavily involved in Deflategate. He left his pregnant wife for a super model. I don’t think he’s a good person. I think he’s a liar and a cheat.

There are now news stories he and his super model ex-wife were heavily invested in FTX and they might well face financial ruin. Am I happy about that? Does it make me feel good to see someone I dislike so intensely suffer? It’s a good question and I think it goes to the heart of a lot animosity we see in world today, particularly with politics.

Is the Tom Brady and FTX Misery my Joy?

The real question becomes, should I take joy in the misfortune of others if I don’t like them? I totally understand why people feel this way. If I don’t like a person then their misfortune makes me feel good. I’m guessing to feel this way is human, normal.

Then I start thinking about it a little more. Do I really want to be the person who cheers in joy when someone else is suffering? There is not only Tom Brady to think about. What about all those other investors in FTX who are suffering? People I don’t hate, probably people I like.

Then there is Brady’s family, his children, his friends. They also count on the money Brady provides to enjoy their life.

Should I feet bad about Tom Brady and FTX?

Taking into account the general misery of the entire situation and the total number of people affected, should I feel bad? I’ve spoken about the nature of Cryptocurrency scams. How the lure of easy money causes people to lose sight of their better judgement. How scammers steal from people with false promises.

Now Tom Brady is a victim, just like any other. I’ve written that I feel bad for people who are taken in by such scams but I also don’t excuse their greed. Tom Brady, like a lot of other people, got greedy. Maybe it was his financial advisors, maybe it was all Brady, I don’t know. Someone got greedy and is paying the price.

I feel bad for Brady and others, I do. It’s a terrible blow to lose your fortune like Kevin Bacon and so many others did in trusting Bernie Madoff. This disaster might well have played a role in Brady’s divorce, his decision to return to the football field and risk his health. Lack of money, or the pursuit of it, makes people do things they don’t want to do, sometimes dangerous things.

I really do feel bad for Brady.

The Bigger Picture

It’s my opinion this wishing ill upon people we don’t like his problematic in the United States these days. Every time I see thousands of likes on stories where a Democrat or a Republican figure suffers misfortune I think about it. Thousands of people relishing the horrific car crash that killed Anne Heche. Why are so many people happy to see those they dislike suffer, die? Suffering is terrible. I wish we lived in a world where no one suffered.

I’m not the most empathetic person in the world. I don’t feel the suffering of others. I’m far more intellectually inclined. Still, I do feel bad for Brady. I don’t like him, never will, but I get that his suffering isn’t my happiness. Anyone’s suffering is not my happiness.

Conclusion

Does this all make me a better person? I actually think so. I think people who relish in the suffering of those they dislike are not doing themselves or anyone else any good. I certainly understand it’s human nature. Believe me, when I first heard Brady may have lost his fortune, it made me smile. “Good,” I said. “No one deserves it more.”

Then I started to think about it and changed my mind. Maybe you can do the same when you see the misfortune of someone from the opposite side of the political spectrum. Maybe you can admonish friends who do the same. Maybe you can’t.

Tom Liberman

Gambling is a Problem for a Libertarian

Gambling

I’ve written on the topic of gambling numerous times over the years and generally from the perspective of a Libertarian. That is to say, it’s your money and how you choose to spend it is up to you.

That being said, I’ve seen the destructive potential inherent in gambling from when I worked in the golf industry. Even then I thought the problem so wide-spread and influential on young golfers that I made a point not to gamble just to be a possible role-model.

Gambling in the United States is now easily accessible to just about everyone. Casinos are everywhere. Video games have Loot Boxes. Smart phones give access to betting games at all times of the day and night. Problem Gambling is an incredibly destructive addiction and, with greater access to gambling, more people are affected.

What’s a Libertarian to say about Gambling?

In various blogs on the subject my position is fairly clear. The government should not be in the business of enforcing gambling bans and putting people in prison for gambling. If people want to gamble, they will find a way and the prohibitions only create black markets and misery.

I also think government shouldn’t be facilitating gambling. Government should tax gambling houses in the same way it collects revenue from any other store. The rational being the government provides roads, utilities, and other things necessary for the operation of the store. The only special tax on gambling should be used to fund treatment facilities.

State run lotteries are antithetical to my understanding of how government should operate. They should not exist.

Problem Gambling

The reason I’m writing this article is the increase in problem gambling. It’s a serious problem. Gambling addiction is real and it destroys lives. The greater access we have to gambling, the more lives are destroyed.

Prior to 1979, gambling was largely in the hands of the states and quite restricted. With the advent of Native American Gaming, that all changed. Soon lotteries followed, video poker, sports gambling, and more.

As a child, I remember reading the raffle games rules on the back of cereal boxes. Not valid in Missouri was often in the footer text. Such games were illegal in my state. Not anymore, not by a long-shot.

I’m not going to try to pretend because I’m a Libertarian and support legal gambling that it’s all wine and roses. It’s not. It’s a big problem and growing fast. It’s likely you know a problem gambler, I’ve known a few over the years.

What’s a Libertarian to do?

Where does that leave me? Should I change my mind and support prohibitions on gambling? Can I just pretend the people who suffer terribly in part because I advocated for gambling don’t exist? That their problems are not my fault, not my business?

My position is not simple or easy. As I’ve mentioned before, I think Critical Thinking skills must be taught to children starting at the earliest levels of education and reinforced every year thereafter. These lessons must include the basic principles of gambling. How it affects the human mind, the methods used to entice gamblers.

Biology classes should discuss the release of Serotonin and Dopamine into the human brain and why some people are much more likely to become addicts.

Treatment

Facilities for treating gambling addiction are on the rise, as can be expected, and that’s a good thing. As I mentioned above, I don’t think it unreasonable to have added taxes on gambling to fund these places.

Conclusion

I don’t think banning gambling works and I’m strongly opposed to the government funding itself from gambling. Banning gambling means those who are capable of doing it responsibly cannot do something they enjoy.

The only real solution is not a complete solution at all. It relies on educating people to the potential dangers, giving them the information they need, and then trusting those individuals to make good decisions.

Will this solve problem gambling? No. People will still make bad decisions. Brain chemistry will still bring on addictions. People will suffer and partially because I advocate legal gambling. I bear some responsibility for this enormous problem and that’s why I say gambling is a problem for a Libertarian.

Tom Liberman

The Twitter lesson: Workers and Management

Twitter Lesson

There’s a Twitter lesson to learned and it involves both workers and management. A lot of my friends find delight in the apparent demise of Twitter and I can’t say I blame them. I find it an interesting opportunity to examine the relationship of workers and management to the success of a business endeavor.

It seems to me; most people are not learning the correct Twitter lesson. A large group of people blame Musk for the ongoing situation. A second group blames lazy workers not willing to put forth enormous effort to save the company. What’s the reality? Let this Libertarian answer all your questions.

Twitter’s Problems

In order to determine the appropriate Twitter lesson, we need to fully understand the difficulties the company faces. Twitter was never immensely profitable. It had a couple of good years where income exceeded expenses but it largely lost money. Now, add the enormous loans new owner Elon Musk must pay back and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the company is in deep trouble.

This being the case, the simplest solution in these situations is always to cut payroll. That means firing people. So many people the platform is barreling toward destruction. This solution means Musk must hope his remaining employees will do the jobs of two or more people while still earning their current salary.

I wrote about when this sort of expectation can work in an article about Reciprocity if you’d like to read that. I’m not going to discuss it further here.

What is the Twitter Lesson?

With one side calling workers lazy and the other blaming Musk for his business decision it seems like one of those two things must be the Twitter lesson, right? Wrong.

So many people want to blame lazy workers and so many people want to blame bad management. It’s the same when a business succeeds. Half the people want to give the credit to management for financing the operation, hiring the people, creating the business. A second group of people claim it is the workers who achieve the success. It is their efforts that build value.

The problem is both groups are right and wrong at the same time. The business owner who comes up with an idea, hires people, takes out loans, and builds a company should be lauded for this effort. It’s dangerous from a financial point of view and she or he should be praised. Meanwhile, the workers who buy into the vision and perform the day-to-day tasks are absolutely vital to success. Without them there is nothing.

This seems very obvious to me and I think most people, after reading this, will agree. Yet, before reading this, people eagerly and vocally assign all the credit to the owner or to the workers, ignoring the cooperation between the two groups required.

That’s the Twitter lesson. It’s workers and management that lead to success and to failure. Sure, in this case, Musk badly overvalued Twitter and took out a big enough loan that success became a near-impossible task.

Crony Capitalism

The entire situation is further complicated by the fact politicians now pass laws and extend financial aid to favor one company or attack another. This Crony Capitalism is something I’ve talked about elsewhere but it is part of the equation.

The reality is Musk’s previous ventures were largely financed by taxpayers. Government agencies gave him direct money and tax breaks. That fact plays no small part in what is happening today but is, perhaps, a topic for another day.

Conclusion

My conclusion is pretty simple. A business does not succeed or fail solely because of workers or management. Good managers and good executives value their employees’ contributions. Good employees recognize that management and executives want the business to succeed and often have to make difficult decisions.

Tom Liberman

Hard Work without Reciprocity at Twitter

Reciprocity

The fallout from the Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is all over the news and a story about Musk demanding hardcore work from his employees brought to my mind the concept of reciprocity.

The idea of reciprocity is fairly simple. If you do me a favor, I feel an obligation to return that favor. It’s sort of like a personal version of the Social Contract I wrote about a while back. In this case, Musk is asking his employees to work considerably harder, whatever that means, in order to save the company.

The Reactions

While reading comments, I found that reactions largely come in two flavors. The majority of people argue hard work is expected and if the employees don’t like it, tough. Get out. On the other hand, some argue that overworking your employees is not a recipe for a successful company.

Does Musk ask for Reciprocity without Giving it?

My thoughts are probably closer to the second group but my real problem with Musk’s ultimatum is simply the expectation of reciprocity. I’m of the opinion Musk has a long record of working his employees hard and taking more than the lion’s share of the profits for himself.

He fired nearly four thousand Twitter employees largely without bothering to even look at the work they do. He fired people without notice. He implemented policies that ended doing far more harm than good.

I see no evidence Musk will reward hard-working employees who work enormous hours of overtime. If, by some miracle, Twitter begins to turn a profit, Musk will take most of the money for himself.

Working Hard with Reciprocity

Don’t get me wrong. If you work for a struggling company and have confidence the owner will work with you, reward you for your efforts, pay you when profits return; I’m all for working extra hard. If you don’t believe your boss will do so, all you’re doing is giving the boss your money. Your time is money, your money, not the boss’s money. Yours. A boss who tells you that you must work extra hours without pay and doesn’t plan on giving you a reward at the end of the day is stealing from you.

Working Hard without Reciprocity

It’s hard for me to imagine anyone thinking Musk is the sort of person who gives reciprocity. He threatened the same work hard or go bankrupt scenario with SpaceX not long ago. He ran SolarCity into bankruptcy. The much-famed Hyperloop is now abandoned along with all the people who poured their hard work into it.

The Boring company is a mess. The Gigafactory in Germany is largely unable to start because of water issues of which he was warned, long in advance. I could go on.

Conclusion

I am not telling Twitter employees how to react to this offer. That’s their business. If they believe Musk will eventually reward them for working long hours, if they think said work can somehow save Twitter, have at it. They have families, obligations, quitting is not an easy thing to do.

I’m just saying, if you give something, the other party isn’t obligated to reciprocity. In this case, I wouldn’t expect it.

Tom Liberman

The Pump and Dump Suicide of Gustavo Arnal

Gustavo Arnal

An alleged Pump and Dump scheme led the Chief Financial Officer of Bed, Bath & Beyond, Gustavo Arnal, to kill himself by leaping from a New York Skyscraper. This suicide is a symptom of an untrustworthy market environment destroying lives all across this country, and not just for CFOs like Gustavo Arnal.

Heavily involved in the death of Gustavo Arnal is GameStop Corp. Chairman Ryan Cohen who allegedly convinced Gustavo Arnal to engage in the pump and dump scheme, only to sell out his shares for a massive profit.

I don’t much care about Gustavo Arnal or Ryan Cohen to be honest. If what is said about them is true, they are thieves and, frankly, murderers. What I do care about is the complete bankruptcy of ethics in the stock market that destroys the lives of many citizens of this country.

What Happened

Gustavo Arnal and Ryan Cohen reportedly created an artificial interest in purchasing Bed, Bath & Beyond shares. The did this in a number of ways but the important thing here isn’t the details, but the result. They hoped to make millions of dollars by selling their own shares of the stock at inflated prices. The stock went from $4.38 per share to over $30 per share over the course of about a month.

The Result

The result of all of this is quite predictable. Cohen, who sold his shares, made a huge amount of money. Now, I’m a big believer in capitalism so you’d think I’d say, good for him. Well done. Not in this case. In this case the price of the stock went up not because the company showed any signs of being more valuable, but simply because people were manipulated into thinking they could get rich.

The problem is not that Cohen got richer, it’s this money came largely from average investors who trusted the false information they were fed. Many people lost money they cannot afford to lose. This money was, for all practical purposes, stolen from them.

Caveat Emptor

Let the buyer beware. I agree. The people who bought into the Bed, Bath & Beyond stock manipulation should have known better. My financial advisors were not fooled. I lost no money. That being said, stupidity does not excuse fraud and theft. What Gustavo Arnal and Ryan Cohen are accused of doing was not only illegal but it was highly unethical and extremely harmful.

Pump and Dump is Rampant

This sort of stock manipulation is rampant in the market. People are losing their life savings in cryptocurrency scams, penny stock manipulations, and more. Celebrities, influencers, politicians, and more are leaping at the chance to steal from you to enrich themselves. It’s working.

Prison

Now, finally, law enforcement is catching up to those who engage in this behavior. Charges are being filed, lawsuits are pending, and people are going to jail. That doesn’t help someone who lost their child’s college fund or their retirement nest egg. That money is largely gone and will never, ever come back to anyone except a few law firms who successfully sue the thieves.

Solutions

One of the things I try to avoid here is simply laying blame without providing solutions. The solution here is multilayered. Law enforcement stepping in is a good thing but there will always be scammers when people can be scammed. There will always be drug dealers when people want drugs. The enforcement and interdiction side of the equation is the smaller part of the battle.

What must happen to stop this is people learning and applying critical thinking skills. I’ve written a number of articles touching on the topic which I’d encourage you to peruse.

We cannot stop people from stealing when millions of dollars are available for the taking. For everyone we arrest, five more will take their place. Cutting the head off the snake does no good. It is only when people learn to think critical and not let the allure of riches cloud their judgment that we will leave this scourge behind.

It is a scourge, of that there is no doubt. The suffering engendered by pump and dump schemes cuts a wide swathe across this country. From urban to rural. From farmers to fast food workers. People lose more than their money, they lose hope. They lose faith in the system.

Tom Liberman

The Government funds itself like a Loan Shark

Loan Shark

I just read an interesting article about five million dollars in late fees that sums up why the government is largely nothing more than a mobbed-up loan shark, bleeding citizens for all their money. In Branson, Missouri, there are four customers who have an outstanding sewage bill of $19,000. With the late fee tacked on top of this, they now owe over five million dollars.

The government has no incentive to make you pay your bills, they want you to rack up fees. It’s not only for utilities, as in the story in question, but it’s driving the Student Loan Crisis. It’s the main reason law enforcement issues as many fines as possible. It’s rampant in private business as well. It largely caused the housing bubble crisis.

How a Loan Shark makes Money

It’s pretty easy to be a loan shark and the methodology isn’t difficult to understand. Basically, get someone to owe you money for whatever reason. Then allow them to pay in installments with an interest fee tacked on. Then simply let your client pay the minimum amount so that the principle never gets paid down.

This is called a predatory loan and the reason loan sharks used them is because government, banks, and established businesses, at one point, refused to loan to someone who could not eventually pay it back. Times have changed.

Envy of the Loan Shark

In modern times the government, in the form of utilities, city fees, penalties, traffic and parking violations, student loans, licensing, and anything else they can think of; uses the loan shark methodology. Why? Because it works.

Sure, a lot of your loans will never be repaid but that’s the cost of doing business and business is booming. Once you’ve bled your mark for more than the principle loaned it’s all gravy at that point. This is how government survives. Penalties, over-due fees, escalating and leading you to bankruptcy. At the end of it all, in the case of this article, they simple turn off your water, having collected far more than was owed. Win!

The Causes

The cause of all this is complicated to be sure but a big part of it is increasing government expenditures largely related to infrastructure and lowering of taxes as a political win. The government simply doesn’t have enough revenue from taxes to pay their bills. Government’s innovative solution was to become a loan shark. They might claim there is a surplus, as here in my home state of Missouri, but this is just an excuse to lower principle taxes for wealthy people, while sticking it to poor people with increased fees.

The Solution

Good luck, there isn’t a solution. Almost every level of government, local, state, and federal; is leveraged up to their ears in loans. Just keeping up with infrastructure maintenance takes up the entire yearly budget. It is never going to be able to pay back the principle. Government takes money from citizens to pay off their own masters, the banks.

Meanwhile, they create misery for an increasing percentage of the population that lives month to month. Is it any wonder people are angry? Their anger is, of course, completely misdirected. They want to blame the politicians on the other side of the aisle.

The job of government is to improve the lives of citizens. Our government has failed.

Tom Liberman

Can you Ban your Cake and Eat it Too?

Cake

I just read an interesting article about a restaurant that charges a fee to bring your own cake. It’s tearing up the internet and it gives me a chance to focus on my Libertarian ideology for the first time in a while.

The question is fairly basic. A restaurant doesn’t want you bringing your own cake, food, or beverages to consume. Almost all restaurants have a corkage fee for bringing in your own wine and no one really has a problem with this. The fee in question at the unnamed London restaurant was £10 per person at the table. It was a birthday celebration with a dozen people and I’ll leave the math to you.

In any case, my question today is if the fee is justified.

£120 for a Cake

The sticking point largely seems to be the high price for the cake. Most people seem to agree that some fee is in order but a great deal of debate on the amount is raging. The price does seem rather high to me but, that being said, it is replacing twelve desserts. I can easily see each dessert running around that individual price.

In other words, I absolutely see both sides of the argument. I do understand the restaurant is out the price of all those desserts but, on the other hand, they’ve made a tidy profit on the rest of the dinner. A table of twelve at a celebration is certainly going to eat a lot of food with appetizers, mains, and drinks. Is it worth it to alienate good customers with such a policy?

The Internet is Divided

Based on the comments I read, the internet seems fairly divided on the topic. I certainly understand both points of view as I mentioned. However, this is where my Libertarian ideology turns such conundrums from difficult to simple.

While most of the commenters put forward various arguments in support of the restaurant and against it, my answer is easy and came to me even before I finished the article. I’m sure most of you loyal readers already know exactly what I’m going to write.

The Libertarian Cake Answer

The restaurant is well within their rights to charge an extra fee for bringing a cake onto the premises and substituting it for desserts ordered on site. The customer is equally within their rights to resent the fee and refuse to eat at the restaurant again, cake or not.

That’s where life gets pretty simple for a Libertarian. It’s clearly not a situation in which the government should intervene although I suspect a bi-partisan panel of “conservatives” and “liberals” will introduce legislation to ban charges for bringing your own cake. They will tout the legislation as common sense and good for the children who get to eat the cake. Afterall, we must protect the children!

Conclusion

Putting aside the sarcasm for a moment, though it pains me; if the restaurant wants to charge whatever amount for bringing your own cake, that’s their business. If the customers decide they’d rather eat somewhere else, that’s their prerogative as well.

That is all. Continue with your daily lives and don’t forget to stop and taste the cake.

Tom Liberman

My Story with Imperia Vodka

Imperia Vodka

With the disgusting invasion of the Ukraine by Russia, a number of politicians ordered banning the sale of vodka produced in Russia. I’d like to talk about that today. I’m more of a whiskey and gin drinker but before covid one of my favorite neighborhood hangouts was Sub-Zero Vodka bar.

The thing I’d like to address today is if banning the sale of Russian Vodka is an appropriate response by various parties, the government, a tavern, my friends, and myself. It’s an interesting question for a Libertarian from the perspective of its legality and usefulness.

How I met Imperia and Hammer and Sickle Vodka

Ah, the good old days of Sub-Zero. My favorite bartender, Cailyn, introduced me to two premium vodkas, Imperia and Hammer and Sickle. Both are produced by Russian Standard. They accurately belong in the category of actual Russian vodka, unlike many of the brands being boycotted.

I spent many a pleasant hour snuggled up to the second bar sipping on icy-cold Imperia, or Hammer and Sickle when the aforementioned wasn’t in stock. The second bar because the ice top to the main bar proved more of a nuisance than a benefit, and the side bar was generally Cailyn’s station.

What if Sub-Zero was Still Open?

Sadly, Sub-Zero closed but what if I could still walk over? Would I order an Imperia? Do I think the mayor of St. Louis or the governor of Missouri should ban Russian vodka? Should the owners of Sub-Zero refuse to sell the vodka?

As complex as the question might be, my answer is pretty simple. I’d find a Ukrainian vodka to drink. That being said, if the owner continued to sell Imperia and Hammer and Sickle, I’d still patronize that establishment. I suspect, knowing what I know, they would likely stop selling it but that’s their business. I also wouldn’t give anyone else a dirty look or yell at them if they chose to order Imperia or Hammer and Sickle.

One of the important lessons I learned in my four years at the University of Idaho was not to criticize the way someone else goes about their business.

On the other hand, there is no way local, state, or federal government needs to get their sticky hands involved in the situation. It’s just not the business of government to tell me which vodka to drink or a business owner which vodka to sell.

This is what small government means. Sub-Zero can refuse to sell a brand of vodka or refuse to let me in if I’m not wearing a mask. They are a private business and the government has no business telling them what they can or cannot sell or telling them how to enforce a dress code.

What if Russian Standard hates Putin?

This is an important question. What if the owners of Russian Standard oppose Vladimir Putin and his amoral war? What if by not drinking their vodka, I actually help Putin by bankrupting those who oppose him?

This is the general problem with feel-good boycotts. When a boycott becomes some Cause Célèbre it ends up hurting many of the people it is designed to help. Meanwhile the self-righteous boycotters pat themselves on the back for a job well done. It’s a false sense of doing good when often you’re doing harm and it’s prevalent on both the Republican and Democrat sides of the aisle.

Conclusion

It’s entirely possible by not drinking Imperia or Hammer and Sickle I might be hurting a manufacturer that doesn’t support Putin. It’s also possible they are ardent Putin backers. I don’t know and I don’t care. I find what’s happening to be disgusting and wrong and I’m not drinking Russian vodka because of it.

Maybe I’ll never drink another glass of Imperia or Hammer and Sickle. That’s my business, not yours and not the government’s.

Tom Liberman

Sweet Drinks Advertised Deceptively

Sweet Drinks

I just read an interesting article about how beverage manufacturers advertise sweet drinks directly to children. This advertising, along with lower prices, steers consumers to those products. This is aided by deceptive labeling on bottles that confuse parents.

When children consume sweet drinks, they become unhealthier. There is no question about the link between poor diet and health. There is also no question that advertising works. Advertising designed to make a product appealing to a child does so. Labeling designed to fool people does so.

The question the article poses is if government has any role in all of this. I’ve certainly written about the role of government in sweet drinks in the past. Taxes were my topic of discussion at that time but today I want to talk more about regulation.

Regulating Sweet Drinks

As a Libertarian I’m not as opposed to regulation as you might think. I think false and misleading advertising definitely fall under the purview of criminality and the government. The problem is that we have laws to prevent false labeling and false advertising and, as usual, manufacturers find ways to bypass those laws.

It’s incredibly difficult to create an effective law to modify human behavior. We often see a law designed with the best intentions ending up being more harmful than that which it purports to stop. We need go no further than the War on Drugs to see this.

Deceptive Advertising and Labeling

If we examine the picture included in this blog you see Glaceau vitamin water with a label clearly reading Naturally Sweetened. We also see a wonderful reference to electrolytes which any fan of Idiocracy will appreciate. A perusal of the nutritional content on the back reveals a large amount of sugar in the drinks.

What is naturally anyway? If companies are not allowed to use the world naturally or electrolytes, they will find other deceptive words, it’s an endless cat and mouse game. That’s the problem with trying to regulate human behavior, be it through the War on Drugs or buzzwords like Organic and Naturally.

Companies will find ways around your rules.

The Goal

What we want is people to have healthier diets. If people have healthier diets, it is good for our society. Our healthcare system is largely broken. In part because of the enormous number of unhealthy people in this country. People, particularly poor people in rural areas, need the services of Doctors without Borders as if we were a Third World Country. I hesitate to use the words “as if” but I don’t want to get into that debate today.

The Solution

The manufacturer loves obfuscating the product and does so with misleading labels and advertising that comes right to the edge of legality. No matter how much we try to regulate this, companies will find a way.

I’m convinced the most helpful remedies to the problem lie with us, with the store owner. Don’t stock sweet drinks on the same shelf as unsweetened drinks is one that comes to my mind. One shelf is marked Sweetened and the other marked Unsweetened. If the store owner refuses, if the manufacturer pays extra to be on a certain shelf, there’s not much to be done, unfortunately.

I don’t think there are magical solutions to these problems but I also think individuals can focus on both informing the consumer and making the world a better place. Go to your local grocer and ask if they’ll separate the sweet drinks onto their own shelf, the worst that can happen is you’re told no.

Tom Liberman

Comments on Trucking Capacity Article

Trucking capacity

I saw an interesting headline about long haul trucking capacity. I then read the article about long-haul truck drivers being seriously under-utilized. After reading the article I got to the comments section. That’s what I want to talk about today, the comments on the article.

The comments seemed largely based on the headline rather than the article. The headline indicated some 40% of trucking capacity is not used on any given day. The part of the headline that seemed triggering for many was the person proclaiming this is an MIT expert.

What you talking about, Willis? Some MIT expert thinks he knows better than blue-collar, hard-working, good old boy trucking industry people how to run their company! Damn liberal, educated no-nothing! I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!

Overview

I admit I immediately jumped to the same conclusions as a lot of the commenters. Did the MIT expert want the truck drivers to drive more hours? Were the schedules that badly messed up? Wouldn’t the industry experts know how to properly schedule? Aren’t there laws about how much a long-haul trucker is allowed to drive in a day?

My confusion was cleared up once I took the time to read the article. A point many of the commenters failed to do. The MIT expert explains the biggest problem in trucking capacity under-utilization is loading and unloading the trucks early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Apparently getting a truck fully loaded in a timely fashion at any other time than 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday is a serious problem. This is particularly detrimental in the morning because it throws off delivery times and pick up times for loads the rest of the day.

The Comments

The comments, as you might expect, went after the MIT expert as an educated elite who didn’t have a clue about what he spoke. I read a lot of ad-hominem attacks, working-man indignation, and general you don’t know what you’re talking about comments.

Then I started to come across comments from actual long-haul truckers. These comments showed unanimous support for the MIT expert. They all confirmed the problem of loading in a timely fashion causing trucking capacity shortfalls on a massive scale. The truckers provided anecdotal evidence that rang true to my ears. They not only confirmed the MIT expert but indicated their complaints about this problem were long standing and
largely unaddressed.

Congress

The article then went on to explain what Congress planned to do about the problem. None of the solutions presented addressed the actual issue. Most of the solutions being pursued involved more drivers and more women drivers.

This is a bang for your buck issue. I’m not saying we don’t need more drivers or more women drivers. I’m saying listen to the expert and listen to the actual long-haul truckers. If you want to solve your trucking capacity problem, go after the largest issue first.

In addition, government might consider getting out of the way in regards to automated cars and trucks. Our online society is moving away from the brick-and-mortar store model. We want to order goods and have them delivered to our door. If we don’t address the capacity issue in a pragmatic and realistic way this problem is only going to get worse.

Conclusion

While the problem of trucking capacity is real, my actual goal today is to shame you armchair experts, unlike the MIT expert. You made an assumption based on a headline and didn’t bother to do any research into the actual issue.

Why didn’t you bother to read the article? You spouted off without knowing what you were talking about. Exactly what you accuse the MIT expert of doing.

My verdict? You, pompous commenter, are guilty!

Tom Liberman

Video Game Development and Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency, blockchain, and NFT technologies are in the news a great deal these days. It’s invaded the video gaming community in a big way with major gaming platforms embracing the technology. I’m not going to get into a lengthy discussion about what cryptocurrency is or is not. Nor am I interested in discussing its long-term viability as a medium of exchange.

What I will discuss today is crowd sourcing and in-game purchases used to fleece people of their money.

I’ve learned a great deal about this from various YouTube gamers like KiraTV and Callum Upton. I suggest you watch some channels dedicate to exposing this sort of scam and learn more for yourself.

What is Crowd Sourcing

Crowd sourcing is a way to generate revenue from people in order to create a product. In this case, the product is a purported video game which uses cryptocurrency, NFTs, blockchain and other buzzword technologies. The developer and associates spread information on various social media platforms touting the video game as a way to make a lot of money. People then send money to the developers in hopes of a large return.

In modern times, the developer pays influencers to promote the video game which creates a buzz and more people invest.

In-Game Purchases

Another way the developers make money in this scheme is to sell virtual product in the game. It might be plots of land, vehicles, mounts, outfits, weapons, or anything else a crafty developer purchases from an asset store. People pay money for these things.

Often times a resale market is established where one investor can sell purchased items to a second investor with the game developers taking a small percentage of each sale. All these virtual markets are established long before any game is created.

The people who jump in early hope to see a massive profit later when others pay them a premium for these items. These early investors then use social media to promote the game itself and the in-game purchases as a way to make money. This is often called Pump and Dump which I’ve written about elsewhere.

The problem is only the early purchasers take a profit because, as it becomes clear the game will fail, the market plunges and all items become worthless.

Game Fails

The windfall comes when the game fails. The developer took millions from crowd sourcing, millions more from in-game sales but after trying to create a game for any number of years, they fail. Off they sail into the sunset with your money.

The reason this is generally legal is developers spend just enough money and time to make a case they tried to develop the game in good faith. Naturally, they had no intention of creating a finished product but they only must prove in court they tried.

Conclusion

I don’t want to tell you how to invest your money. It’s your decision. I get the idea if one of these games actually comes to fruition you might make a lot of money. You won’t, even though you believe differently. Only people in on the scheme from the start or the early days will make money. Everyone else, that’s you, will lose.

I understand it’s only a few thousand dollars that you can afford to lose. Still, don’t you want to spend that money on something you’ll enjoy? A good whisky? A nice meal? A cute girl or guy? Even a long-term, low-risk investment?

Tom Liberman

Anti-vaxxers are as Monolithic as Big Pharma

Monolithic

Conclusion

I’ll get to the conclusion right away. Both anti-vaxxers and Big Pharma are equally monolithic, that is to say, neither one is monolithic at all.

Does everyone who won’t take a vaccine have the same motivation for not doing so? Does every employee of a pharmaceutical company have the same motivation? Is there any group of people, anywhere, anytime, who share perfectly in their ideology and motivation? Simply put, no. Categorically no. From the top of the mountain I say, no! No, no, no. We are individuals.

What’s most disturbing for me is those who cry out when portrayed as monolithic, eagerly and enthusiastically shout out that everyone and everything else is monolithic.

The Easy Way Out of Monolithic Blame

The large pharmaceutical companies do want to make a profit. So do you. So do I. Does that mean I’d willingly murder people in order to get them to purchase my novels and stories? Does that mean you’d eagerly murder people, put them in danger, risk their future health, to make some money?

When you suggest your reason for not taking is a vaccine is because you don’t trust pharmaceutical companies to put out a safe product, you are saying the people who helped in the creation of that vaccine are willing to murder for profit.

You’re saying there is a monolithic group of scientists, biologists, chemist, software developers, nurses, doctors, and many others who took part in this massive deception. The scientist knew the vaccine was dangerous and created it anyway. The doctors and nurses who performed the double-blind studies knew it. The software developers who coded the applications to tally the information knew it. All of those people are complicit in the deception, they are monolithic in their desire for money, so much so that murdering and maiming millions of people doesn’t bother them.

The same can be said for anything. A seatbelt design, a cancer cure, a heating and cooling unit. Whatever it is that you do.

It’s simple to look at Big Pharma as a villain and it’s simple to look at anti-vaxxers as a villain. When you categorize either as such, you are the villain.

Political

Now I’m going to get political and piss off most of you. Are all Democrats something or another? Are all Republicans something or another? If you’ve said anything to that affect in the last year, you are a fool. You bought into the sales pitch of someone else, someone who isn’t interested in what’s best for you, but what is best for them.

When we create monolithic categories for those we dislike, we destroy ourselves. It is only when we see others as individuals that we can hope to unite as a nation, as a world. When we categorize and dehumanize people, we become evil ourselves. Stop doing it.

Tom Liberman

Facebook Advertisements are the Opposite of Socialism

Facebook Advertisement

The Rage

I recently placed several Facebook advertisements for my new serial stories on Amazon and was surprised by the backlash from some who saw the ads. The general thoughts indicated to me that these folks hated that my Facebook advertisements were on their wall.

I’m quite interested in what I found when tracking back to the people expressing their rage, usually in the form of, shall we say, colorful images posted on the wall of The Adventures of Stultafor Milbegrew. Almost all of them seemed to be opponents of Socialism with a large majority supporting one particular political party.

Facebook is Capitalism

The problem, for the ragers, is that Facebook Advertisements are the embodiment of capitalism. If you want to remove all the ads then you remove all revenue. Without revenue Facebook either must go to a pay model or become a government run business that relies on tax dollars to provide you with an ad free experience.

The very people railing with those aforementioned colorful images are actually espousing against capitalism, if not outright supporting of socialism.

Why My Ads

Another area of great confusion seemed to be in the placement of Facebook advertisements on the wall of those expressing outrage. The general sentiment indicated the person complaining imagined my advertisement took up space on their wall.

The problem with this line of thought is the spot on the wall is a placeholder for an advertisement, if not mine then someone else’s. There will always be Facebook Advertisements taking up those position on your wall, on my wall, on all walls. Having said that, none of your friends see ads on your wall. Which is another common point of confusion among those who express themselves so forcefully to me.

The only way to get rid of those ads is to convince Facebook to change to a pay portal model. Or simply ask the government to take it over and run it with tax dollars.

Why Such Rage?

I find the confusion about the issue of Facebook Advertisements to be quite interesting. I suspect the complainers are not bothered by television advertisements. That thirty second spot on your favorite show will always be an advertisement, it will never contain content. It’s simply a placeholder for whichever advertiser spends funds on it.

There is something personal about my wall on Facebook. It is mine, even though at some level I think even the most vociferous complainer understands it really isn’t mine at all, but Facebook’s. That they allow me to use that space in order to sell advertising revenue.

Conclusion

It’s a choice you have, my friends. Either the advertisement of a little guy, that’s me, simply trying to get people to read three free serial stories and hopefully purchase more or a big company with something larger to sell.

And, seriously, the stories are short, easy to read, and funny. Try the first three for free and if you think I’m wrong, I can take criticism!

Tom Liberman

The Great Quartz Rush in KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu

Diamonds and Quartz Look Similar

The harm a lack of education and poverty can cause was on display in South Africa when a cattle herder found a mineral that looked like it might be a diamond. This set off a diamond rush to the KwaZulu-Natal region of that country.

The problem is that another mineral, quartz, looks an awful lot like a diamond to the naked eye. In fact, it generally takes a laboratory examination to tell the difference between the two minerals.

Diamond Rush Ensues

Many people rushed to the KwaZulu-Natal region in order to start digging for diamonds. These treasure hunters then proceeded to destroy over fifty hectares of land, that’s over a hundred and twenty acres to those of us in the United States.

This happened despite overwhelming geologic evidence the region is extremely unlikely to contain diamonds. It is a region composed dolerite, a predominately volcanic rock. We find Diamonds universally in rocks called kimberlites and lamproites.

Quartz is extremely common in dolerite regions.

Why did this Happen?

I finally get to the point of this blog. The incredible damage that often results from the terrible combination of poverty and lack of education. It is fairly clearly established that greater wealth goes hand-in-hand with higher education. This in itself is useful but I want to look at the dangers uneducated and poor populations present to the rest of society and the world.

People who do not have money have less to lose. I can understand why someone from the poverty-stricken region of KwaZulu-Natal gave into the temptation of this diamond rush. What do they have to lose? Their lives are already miserable and the futures for their children are just as bleak.

Throw into this mix a lack of education. The people in the KwaZulu-Natal region might not even know the mineral composition of the soil and the impossibility of the discovered minerals being diamonds. They just don’t know any better.

The Terrible Results

In this case, the result is the destruction of a large chunk of land, that happily enough was not of great value. The potential damage is far, far greater. It seems to me the negative results of anti-education policies right here in the United States and around the world are manifesting themselves every day.

People who are desperately poor and without a solid educational foundation are significantly more likely to make poor, desperate decisions. Those decisions lead to negative outcomes not only for the people in question but for everyone around them. That’s the problem.

As a Libertarian, I strongly think people should make their own decisions in life. That being said, it’s undeniable poor people, desperate people, and uneducated people tend to make worse decisions than their counterparts.

I know some people will laugh at this situation and think of South Africa as a poor nation. Such people will think to themselves this could never happen here. I beg to differ. I put no stupidity beyond people, even here in the United States.

If a supposed diamond was found in my backyard, I’d immediately fear for my life from the hordes of people immediately descending upon my property with violence in their eyes, greed in their hearts, and nothing at all in their minds.

The United States is not as far removed from South Africa as you might imagine. People are the same everywhere.

Tom Liberman

The Bleating of a Conservative about Taxes Funding Our Communities

Taxes Funding Our Communities

The other day on Social Media one of my self-proclaimed Conservative friends posted a missive about taxes funding our communities. After I cleaned the vomit from my mouth, I decided to write an article about why this is utter insanity rather than berate said bleating Republican in a scathing reply.

You see, loyal readers, my social media friend can certainly call himself a Conservative but his attitude about taxes funding our communities shows his true colors as nothing more than an odious Republican who long ago gave up on all but the word Conservative.

The post in question was in regards to a mall that had long ago lost most of their stores through natural economic forces, a process I discuss in other blogs. The space was being used as a sporting venue for citizens to play games. My self-proclaimed Conservative friend wrote: It is a frequent re-purpose but sad for the economy. The drop in property value, lower property taxes, and less sales taxes to fund our communities.

The mere idea that it should be taxes funding our communities, let alone the delusion they are actually funding our communities is the worst sort of liberalism. Taxes do not fund our communities. They are collected by the government in order to provide services for the citizens. The community funds the government not the other way around.

Government does not build the roads. Roads, pipes, electric lines, green spaces, security, and fire protection is built because of our needs. Yes, the government uses funds collected through taxes to pay construction companies, police officers, and others but that is not funding our communities that is merely streamlining from a central point.

Let me illustrate with the example of the original social media post. My self-proclaimed conservative friend laments the loss of tax revenue from giant malls that no one has an interest in going to anymore. Doesn’t that say it all. Darn it, I can’t steal your money to prop up a business endeavor no one wants while paying myself a hefty salary to do so. Why should we pay taxes for utilities, roads, parking lots, emergency services, and a myriad of other things that go to a place no one uses anymore? Hint, we shouldn’t.

That’s the misguided role of government in a declining nation. To prop itself up with money stolen from citizens for things they don’t even want and certainly don’t need.

We want roads that go places useful to us. When a sales tax isn’t collected because no one is going to the store, that’s not a bad thing. That’s not a loss to the community. It’s a natural economic impact and the idea government is responsible for that store in the first place is misguided at the least. We were responsible for the store’s existence and now we don’t need it anymore. Good riddance.

It’s ass-backwards what my so-called Conservative friend advocates. It is not taxes funding our communities. It is our communities funding government and we should only fund what we need, not its bloated and endlessly empty belly.

Tom Liberman

Everything Wrong with a Bigfoot Hunting Season

Bigfoot Hunting Season

Oklahoma state representative Justin Humphrey filed a bill to open a Bigfoot Hunting season and people are apparently angry about it. Why are they angry? Because Bigfoot might be killed in the Bigfoot Hunting season. Well, there are quite a few things wrong here and I’m the fellow to tell you about it.

It’s fairly difficult trying to pick a place to start. Shall I succumb to my Libertarian outrage and focus on government involvement in something it has no justification? Perhaps I should start with the stupidity that are people concerned with disrupting the non-existent lifestyle of a mythical creature.

I don’t want to bog down in a debunking article talking about fossil evidence, climate, food source, genetic stability in a small population, or other common arguments about why Bigfoot cannot exist. I’ve already written about why people are prone to believing such nonsense.

Anyone who is outraged that Humphrey wants to institute a Bigfoot Hunting season because they are worried about the safety and well-being of such creatures is an idiot.

Then there is Humphrey and those who think this is a good idea to generate tourism and revenue to the state of Oklahoma. This group of people are completely wrong but in a different way. Humphrey is a representative of the state of Oklahoma and a government official. He should not be generating revenue for the state by selling hunting licenses for a mythical creature. That’s something private industry should be doing.

What, what, what? You ask. That’s right, I have no problem with the scheme as a whole, if people want spend their money on hunting licenses for a mythical creature, that’s their business. If some private entrepreneur wants to cash in on this myth, great, have at it. I approve wholeheartedly. People spend their money on a lot of stupid things and my role-playing games and video games certainly strike many as a waste of money. I enjoy it, I’ll keep spending my money as I see fit.

Obviously, the company so involved needs to make sure they use private property for their fun, ensure no one is using a working firearm, and pay for insurance in the inevitable eventuality that some idiot trips over a log and breaks their neck. That’s all part and parcel of living in a free society.

When government is the one to institute such activities, it has gone far beyond its intended role. Humphrey completely misunderstands the role of government in society and he is not alone. Government officials think they are in the business of generating revenue rather than serving citizens. Most of their schemes involve getting money and if they happen to help the citizens, well, that’s a nice bonus.

It’s a government run Disney Land, nothing more and nothing less.

Tom Liberman

Government Money Well Spent for the SS United States?

SS United States

Back in 1952 U.S. taxpayers footed a $50 million dollar bill to build the SS United States and it gives me an opportunity to examine the value of government spending. Was it worth it to taxpayers to get the SS United States or was it a giant boondoggle with no value?

At the time of construction there was a competition called the Blue Riband for the fastest passenger liner to regularly cross the Atlantic Ocean and the SS United States was built with this award at least partially in mind. Aluminium was used extensively in the design lightening the weight and it was equipped with extremely powerful engines, making it almost certain to receive the award. Upon completion it did so, as expected, in both the eastbound and westbound directions.

However, with the advent of air travel, the financial feasibility of luxury liners diminished to almost nothing and the SS United States was soon unprofitable and eventually pulled from duty in 1969. Since then, the ship has cost various owners enormous sums of money; thankfully not tax-payers although such money was requested on multiple occasions.

For $50 million dollars the United States got a couple of awards that soon drifted into obscurity and seventeen years of presumably moderately profitable service for the owners, who provided the remaining $28 million in financing.

Was it worth it? That’s my question today. The only reason the United States government got involved in the project was for the prestige. Yes, they made noise about it being able to be converted into a troop ship but I’m interested in reality, not government gibberish designed to fabricate a reason for the way they do business.

Was a couple of awards worth $50 million? This question goes to the heart of a great deal of expenditures made by the U.S. government. The entirety of the manned space program as it currently exists is justified by the same logic.

It’s quite clear to me this money was wasted on a project that had little value to the tax-payers who footed the bill. Was it a source of pride? Sure. Did it help the ship workers at Newport News understand how to work with aluminium? Yes. These are not reasons enough, in my opinion; although I’d like to hear what you think as well.

Did tax-payers get value for their $50 in building the SS United States?

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Tom Liberman

Jared Kushner and Black People wanting Success

Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner recently implied one of the reasons black people have struggled in the United States is they don’t want to be successful. His exact words were … but he (Trump) can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful. The question this Libertarian asks is: how do we define success?

I’m sure Jared Kushner and others will be spinning his comments one way or the other and that’s fine. However, there is no doubt in my mind Jared Kushner was simply repeating a line I’ve oft heard before. Black people have only themselves to blame for their lack of success in the United States. It’s a refrain that ignores a great deal of reality and, conveniently, absolves white people from any blame in the matter.

Now, I’m a white guy. Let’s get that out of the way. I don’t know what it’s like to be a black person nor can I speak for them on this subject. I’m merely giving my thoughts on it and I have at least the background of a racially mixed primary and secondary education to support me.

When Jared Kushner talks about black people having to want to succeed, he’s talking about himself, not black people. How he defines success, how his wealthy New Jersey father defines success, how his culturally Jewish heritage defines success. This is not the same as many other people and cultures.

The inherent problem with this attitude is it makes huge assumptions about the personal desires of other people and the cultural mores they value.

I think it’s safe to say black people have compelling reasons for not wanting to seek success the way a largely white America and Jared Kushner define such. We don’t even need to bring up the subject of slavery. Black people today are oppressed by white people overtly and covertly. One of the hidden oppressions is on full demonstration when Jared Kushner speaks on the subject. You must succeed the way I define it, otherwise it isn’t success. That’s his inference and black people have been hearing that for a long, long time. Many of them aren’t buying it and who can blame them?

Recently a person whose own background and culture strongly resemble that of Jared Kushner, Ben Shapiro, wrote that rap isn’t music. Presumably people who make great rap songs that others enjoy are not successful in his imagination. That’s the problem with trying to define how other people should view success.

For some people having a country house with a big yard to mow and some chickens is success. For others going billions of dollars into debt to purchase real-estate holdings and not paying any taxes is their version of success. For me success is defined by writing books that few people purchase. There is no one path to success and when we try to force our version of it on others, we are being presumptuous.

The fact Jared Kushner thinks he knows how black people should view success is part and parcel of the entire problem. People resent such a patronizing attitude.

It is impossible for irony to be more on display when Kushner goes on to blame black people for protesting the murder of George Floyd by crying on Instagram but not offering solutions. Kushner says you solve problems with solutions. Jared Kushner, instead of telling black people they just need to want to have success, maybe you should offer a practical and pragmatic solution, instead of crying to Fox News.

Tom Liberman

Jacksonville Strippers and the Case Justice Ginsburg will Never Hear

Jacksonville Strippers

There’s an interesting legal case involving Jacksonville Strippers and I thought with the news of Justice Ginsburg’s passing it would be something that might interest her and certainly does me. In Florida a new law prevents Jacksonville strippers from being under the age of 21 in clubs that do not serve alcohol. This city ordinance is being challenged as unconstitutional and might, if pursued diligently, end up in the Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg spent her life championing the cause of women and Jacksonville strippers are in that category. The justification for the law is that women under twenty-one are closer in age to the current limit of eighteen, that the closer a woman is to eighteen, the more likely she is to be unduly influenced into a career she does not want.

In Jacksonville the city representatives decided all strippers must be fingerprinted and licensed before they can pursue their profession. They also came to the conclusion they would not issue such licenses to anyone under twenty-one. They do this in the name of stopping “sex trafficking”.

The reality is relatively simple, for whatever reason we’ve established eighteen is the age when citizens are legally adults and can largely make their own decisions. If someone is eighteen, they can have sex with whomever they want, they can take their clothes off for money, they can model in a skimpy swimsuit, they can do anything any other adult can do and the government should not get involved, no matter how repugnant we, personally, might find the situation.

You’ll notice the do-gooder city hall members in Jacksonville have not asked to fingerprint and license members of the University of North Florida Osprey Division I football team. These young men are playing a violent game and run an enormous risk of personal injury but no one seems all that concerned about their welfare, despite them being under twenty-one. I’m sure you find that as surprising as me, as in not at all.

Today’s question is What Would Ruth Do? Justice Ginsburg lived a life actively and vigorously fighting for women to have the same rights as men in this world of ours, that includes Jacksonville Strippers. Once we’ve decided the legal age of adulthood is eighteen, we must not start picking and choosing particular professions and genders to protect from their own decisions. This is Big Brother at his worst, picking on adult women because Big Brother knows better how to lead their life than they do themselves.

Big Brother says young women are too weak of mind, too easily preyed upon, and we must protect them. Big Brother is, as usual, wrong.

The question is easily answered for me. What about you?

What would Justice Ginsburg Decide in this case?

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Tom Liberman

Comrade Trump does not Compute for Either Party

Comrade Trump

Comrade Trump made a statement the other day that was so outlandishly Communistic and Socialistic that neither party wants to talk about it at all. This pretty much sums up the state of the Democratic and Republican parties completely. Let me explain.

Apparently, Comrade Trump is angry at TikTok and there is speculation it is because one of its prominent members makes fun of Comrade Trump on a regular basis or that apparently users duped his campaign into overstating attendance at a rally. In any case, the fact that Comrade Trump is angry is indisputable. He is trying to force the Chinese owners of TikTok, ByteDance, to sell their U.S. operations to a company based in this country or he threatens to ban their services entirely, which is only the first part of the insanity.

If ByteDance manages to sell TikTok, Comrade Trump thinks that a significant percentage of the sale should be paid directly into the United States Treasury. His reasoning being that U.S. citizens by the tens of millions use TikTok and contribute to its profits and therefore its eventual sale price. Comrade Trump uses the wholly misguided National Emergencies Act to suggest almost anything he does is in the name of national security.

Here is where it gets, to use a term favorited by said president, pathetic. What Comrade Trump is suggesting is nothing short of communism. The all-powerful state can force a private company to sell its assets and take a portion of the price paid for that sale.

If Bernie Sanders was making this suggestion his many Socialist and Democratic supporters would cheer loudly and praise him for funneling corporate profits to the people upon whose backs those profits were reportedly earned. CNN would be trying to justify the madness in some sort of Constitutional twisting that makes a pretzel look like an arrow.

Likewise, if Sanders were to make said statement, my Republican, supposed business loving, friends would likely have some sort of apoplectic fit their screaming, ranting, and shouting would be so virulent as to cause dogs to flee and seek shelter under the bed. Fox news would be declaring the end of the world and you’d see pictures of the Constitution burning on their sensationalistic newscasts.

None of this is, of course, happening. Comrade Trump pretends to be a Republican so those aligned with him dare not express the outrage his turn to communism fully deserves. Meanwhile, those who support such misguided policies cannot, under any circumstances, suggest that he has at least one aim in alignment with their own goals.

Welcome to our failing country. Enjoy the comedy.

Tom Liberman