On the Power of Ideas

In the late 1960’s, the late economist and philosopher, Murray N. Rothbard, was asked what the total number of people in the world who were dedicated adherents of the Austrian School of economics was. Rothbard replied and gave a number in the neighborhood of 25. Even though the 1960’s was a low in the history of the Austrian school, and many dismissed this non-mathematical school (thought a  large number of those who made major contributions to it, including Rothbard, either had applied mathematics or engineering degrees) as one whose time had past and was relegated only the history of ideas, the small remnants pushed on against all odds and continued to produce hard hitting critiques of mainstream economics with very little resources and virtual blacklisting by the academic establishment. They understood that even though ideas might not have currency in an era, they could eventually have currency in eras down the road and be rediscovered.

On Tuesday March 28, which was my last day at my place of work before moving Orlando. I encountered my boss as I was coming in. Knowing that I am an adherent of the Austrian school of economics, he asked me if I listen to the Tom Woods Show and I know that Tom Woods lives in Central Florida. I replied, and said that I know about Tom Woods living in Central Florida and I listen to Tom Woods basically everyday. He further asked me if I knew that a certain work colleague follows Tom Woods and the Austrian School to which I said I never had a clue. We all took a picture and had a quick chat about Austrian economics and I informed everyone that I am actually in the middle of reading Ludwig  Von Mises magnum opus, Human Action (via Rothabrds Man, Economy, and State). Obviously all of us have our levels of understand of Austrian school economics. But at its core, we know that mainstream economics has gone off its rails and has little to show for itself almost 10 years after the 2008 financial crisis with basically almost every tool in the box being used up at this point.

Personally, I am an engineer by training who is now a tech entrepreneur. But ever since I have been a kid, as I have said many times, I have been someone to always ask questions and want to know more about how the world around me works. Its through my wide readings that I began hearing about an Austrian school in the late 2010’s even though I never did any deep investigations. But around 2014, I linked up with a childhood friend on Facebook after discovering me who is the Director of African Programs at the libertarian Students for Liberty (SFL). I looked more into what the SFL does I began reading a lot of libertarian socio-economic literature even thought at that point I was already coming from a conservative starting point in which I was already heavily into Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams (I guess the transition and leap was not that hard!). Along the way I began reading text by Austrian economist and theorist beginning with Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and then The Constitution of Liberty and the Law, Legislation, and Liberty trilogy.  It was The Constitution of Liberty which turned me libertarian as it clarified many issues which The Road to Serfdom never covered. After that I began reading more technical economic issues and began reading Rothbard and Mises. The point at which I am right now where I am currently reading Human Action has been years in the making of slowly reading Austrian text.

What this episode has reveled to me in practical terms is the power of ideas and how ideas can change and how ideas which might not have large following in one era can begin having a large following in another. None of us control any leavers of influence or power in society but we do engage in civic life up to one level or another and we interact with other people. In our civic life, an understanding of Austrian economics gives us a very good understanding and better interpretation of current economic and political events and trends and thus better informs our decision making. Furthermore it shows the power of the internet and its unhampered ability to spread ideas everywhere. In many ways, even though the modern revival of the Austrian School already began long before the internet in the 1970’s, in the past 20 years the internet has accelerated the pace massively. In interacting with others, even if we are not able to convince everyone about Austrian economics, bringing a few people over more than does the job. After all, its widely know, that a majority is not needed to change the trajectory of society and the mind of ideas it adheres to!

At a time when it seems like ideas like this are increasingly scorned by the elite mainstream of this country, its comforting to know that among everyday common people these ideas are gaining a following. In many ways, politicians would not change course in economic policy unless its demanded from the bottom. Key in this process is education and spreading the word out.   Furthermore its also comforting to known that these ideas are gaining steam internationally. As we have seen with the anti government corruption protest in Brazil of the past two years one of the chants of Brazilian protesters who lead the action against the ouster of the corrupt Brazilian government has been “Less Marx, More Mises (Mises, being Ludwig Von Mises, the teacher and mentor of Murray N. Rothbard and arguably the most prolific member of the Austrian school ever). Even in China word has it that some members of the Chinese Communist Party know who Murray Rothbard is and give his works thumbs ups. Today’s protesters in Brazil chanting Mises name and members of the Chinese Communist Party giving Rothabrd’s works a thumbs up would not have be possible if a dedicated Austrian remnant did not against all odds withstand giving in to the Keynesian and interventionist revolution which swept the world after the Great Depression.

 

 

On Always Asking if it’s Worth It

Beginning sometime over a week, a video clip began circulating online of two New Jersey teens in the middle of a fight which was broken up by an  adult who appeared to be passing by. In the clip, the adult appeared to help mediate their differences and helped convince the kids as to why the fight was not worth it. In the end, the teens shook hands and parted ways. After the video went viral, Atlantic City, New Jersey honored the Good Samaritan for his acts. At the ceremony, beating back tears, he thanked his mom for instilling in him the character which he displays today which he put to use during that episode.

As kids and people of adolescent age, people tend to be very petty and take grievance at the smallest of slights – real or perceived.  This is not surprising because at this age, humans have not fully developed emotional stability and have not yet fully learnt of their strengths and weaknesses and how to subdue their most destructive tendencies.

Today, many might see me as a person who is very calm and collected and overlooks too many things. But it once was not like that. As a very young child I had anger issues which landed me in trouble a lot and was a weakness which many people spotted. But with time, and through conscious effort it virtually disappeared. Over time, I became a person who always ask “if it is worth it” allowing people to get at me.

Due to a misplaced ego of some, some might see this attitude as one of being a wimp and allowing people to dominate others. But correctly thought through, this egoistical attitude is misplaced. In allowing the slights of others to get at the worst of us, we allow them to control our emotions and actions. In allowing those who do us wrong to get to our emotions and actions, it weighs down on our spirit. In weighing down on our minds and spirit, our minds are not free to think and see things clearly. Furthermore, in the heat of the moment we can be lead to actions which we will deeply regret later on.

If we hope to see a more harmonious world in which maximum cooperation among all people is the social hallmark and each of us is able to achieve our unique God given capabilities to its fullest, adapting this mentality and outlook to life necessary. Its in this mentality that people are able to truly free their minds of the small and petty issues of life which don’t matter. Its in freeing our minds of the small and petty issues which don’t matter in the long run that we can fully free all our mental capabilities for the task of achieving our true potentials in our short time on earth and making the world a better place through our service to our fellow humans.

An Exemplary Family and a Few Observations

In 2010 on Dixie Highway in Palm Bay, Florida opposite the Honda dealership,  a small family run Chinese restaurant was opened. Being  across the road from my fraternity’s house, I frequented the place. During weekend nights on campus when all dinning facilities had closed down and I needed something to eat, I bought take away  from there many times.

Through the years, watching how the business is run and how its expanded has impressed me. The place is  totally family run and operated. This setup is not exactly novel and is quite common among many Chinese communities and businesses in this country. But what impressed me was how from the go, the young child was incorporated into this setup with him being in control of the cash registry and taking calls and orders. Having a child who virtually controls a very sensitive area of the business for about 6-7 years sharpens the numerical and business acumen of the child and also instill a sense of confidence in him.  Furthermore it acts as a spring board on to which the child can go on to do bigger and better things as a grown up.

Today, being probably the last day I will buy food from the place in a very long time to come (I move to Orlando this week), I decided to buy lunch rather than cook. During the wait for my order I noticed a thick chemistry textbook. I got chatting with the kid and asked if the textbook was his and if he was into chemistry and he said yes. Flipping through the textbook, I could estimate that its material covered up undergrad Chemistry II (I met my aerospace engineering Chemistry I requirement and said peace out to chemistry) material. I was kind of taken aback. On the one hand, the kid has had his business acumen sharpened almost everyday for 6-7 years while on the other hand he is into Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

If the kid, is able to successfully combine a business savvy and acumen with a knowledge of any of the STEM subjects the sky is not the limit for him but only the beginning. At the end of the day, whatever the kid makes of him life, which from all appearances probably has promise, all that will back  to the setup in which he grew up. This is a setup which if more people and families emulated, a lot of social ills we see in our society could be healed and our potential as a country could be almost limitless.

 

Supremely Owning Yourself

To many, the concept of ownership or property sounds very out of reach with no practical application in daily life and how they relate with others. Especially the word “property” sounds like something tangible which connotes wealth, power, and status and out of the reach of most. But at the most fundamental level, in a sense, each person  owns property in themselves and is thus a property owner. Logically, when people realize this, they carry themselves in the highest manner, are guided more by their intuitions rather that that of others, take responsibility for their thoughts and action and in all aim to increase their value and vitality.

As a kid on the things I was repeatedly told was that I am in competition with no one but myself and should look less to what others do and look more towards myself and making myself better. I always thought I understood what it meant along with its practical implications, but as I have grown up, I have come to realize that I am still learning what it means.

One of the things I realized as I grew up (this is until very recently) was that too many kids/people were not really guided by themselves and in a way kind of lived fake lives and bothered too much about how they will appear or come off to people. Personally, I am someone who acts freely under most circumstance and at times I say and might do things which looking back I might say “okay, that was not the best things” but I make sure to learn from it and move on. But with many, I see that they don’t give themselves that liberty and are too guarded in how they interact with others. Its in acting freely that people truly get to understand themselves, fully develop their personality and potentials, and learn how people operate.

On another level, and this has pressing practical applications, too many people do things in life which if they acted freely and followed their thought and convictions might never have followed. This leads to people who are less happier, don’t truly understand their capabilities, and not truly free in their actions. Examples include people who follow career paths because of pressures. People who take on destructive habits or addictions because of the fleeting pressure and of the time.

If people want to live up to their maximum potential, they need to supremely own themselves and all facets of their lives. They need to work more on their convictions and intuitions and take risk and try new things where needed. Its in doing that they people will truly reach their potential and the world will immensely benefit from whatever talents they have. But this would not be possible if more and more people don’f take on an ethic in which they take conscious charge of all facets of their lives.

 

Big Business, Regulation, Competition, and Zuckerberg

One of the most common misconceptions is the idea that big and established businesses which dominate large areas of economic life hate regulations and would get rid of such if they had their way. In many ways, this leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of the market economy and market processes.

To many established businesses, nothing is more terrifying that the prospect of small startup businesses discovering inefficiencies in how they operate and capitalizing on such.  With innovations, once customers and the general public have been shown a better way of doing things, they tend to flock to the better.

It  can be argued that  many regulations on the books were lobbied for by established businesses to lock in their market share and hamper small and agile businesses which might threaten their spot. Looking at history, its no secret that many of the so-called “rubber barons” detested “destructive competition” and in fact were crony capitalist who lobbied for devices such as tariffs  and collusion among industry participants. Today similar patterns can be seen in bills like Cap and Trade (climate change) and Obamacare (healthcare) which even though are billed as legislation for the common good, have the finger prints of big businesses lobbying all of them. In this respect -this was something which I never fully understood or grasped until recently- capitalism is can be very disruptive!

Which brings me to Mark Zuckerberg. In a span of a little bit over a decade, Facebook has gone from a simple social media site/company to a  technology company which rivals the likes of Google and Microsoft.  Obviously, for a company of the size and scope of Facebook, the fear of an upstart company challenging it is position is an ever present danger. But unlike big  business since time immemorial, Facebook has not resorted to lobbying in order to reduce competition in its industry.  It simply buys them up (e.g. Instagram, WhatApp, Oculus VR),  and brings them in house to continue perfecting their craft and gives them the most autonomy to do so.

In many ways, Facebook preservers a fundamental but yet overlooked feature of the competitive process. Market competition goes beyond simply offering products and services at cheaper prices and in more abundant quantities. Fundamentally, the competitive market process is one of discovering news ways of doing things and conveying knowledge and information. If instead of buying up all these Startups, and giving them the autonomy to perfect their craft, Facebook instead lobbied for them to have a more difficult operating environment, Facebook will be depriving the public (both consumers and people involved in such industries) of very valuable knowledge and insights.

Some might counter that this might lead to a situation of monopoly if Facebook keeps gobbling up everything in its way. I must add that not at all times does Facebook have its way in buying technology companies and in fact such acquisitions are voluntary. A good example is Snapchat which has resisted being bought by Facebook. Consequently, Facebook has resorted to blatantly trying to clone Snapchat. But in Facebook trying to clone Snapchat, it comes back to the fundamental but yet key insight of market competition which is too often missed. In devising news ways of doing things, competitors are made aware of new possibilities and thus competitors try and imitate or even make better such new ways and methods.

In this regard Zuckerberg should be given kudos and hopefully, CEO’s and boardroom participants will soon begin imitating Zuckerberg.

 

Two Notions of Business Formation

In the past few years,  a  trend, especially among tech startups, has been the emergency of the Business Model Canvas. Though it might appear simplistic at times, the Business Model Canvas is an immensely powerful tool which has helped in highlighting two fundamental paradigms when examining early stage business and business formation in general.  The two paradigms are the traditional Business Plan Paradigm and obviously the Business Model Canvas Paradigm; one is static while the other is dynamic.

One way of looking at the world is one in which things are static, all knowledge is known, and nothing exist to be discovered or improved. The business plan paradigm falls into this category because at best a business plan is simply a snapshot of a discrete point in time and assumes all to be known is known and nothing more exist to be discovered. But as time passes, the information in a traditional business plan loses its value and old assumptions are easily displaced.

Another way of looking at the world is one in which events are dynamic, all knowledge is not know and no one can possibly comprehend or know all knowledge, and a lot is still left to be discovered and improved upon. The Business Model Canvas paradigm falls into this category and fundamentally assumes ignorance and acts as a platform on which to test assumptions and modify till a sustainable business model is discovered.

The promise of the Business Model Canvas is still unfolding before us. In an environment in which a staggering number of businesses fail within the first 4-5 years, wider use of the more agile Business Model Canvas paradigm could help in reducing this number. Even more fundamentally, it could help in bringing about a change in paradigm within the business community from seeing the world in static terms to seeing the world in more dynamic terms.

Tomi Lahren, the Media, and The Art of Filtering

On The View last week, conservative provocateur and former The Blaze Host Tomi Lahren revealed that she is pro-choice. She further went on to call pro-life conservatives who clamor for limited government hypocrites.  Shortly after that she was terminated from The Blaze.  But it must be pointed out that that episode was the final nail in the coffin after a series of events. As The Blaze CEO and owner, Glenn Beck, had indicated in a February exchange on Twitter, he was looking for a way of reigning in her excesses. As he later said a few days after Lahren’s The View appearance, he has top staff who are openly pro-choice and employs people who might not necessarily agree with his worldview. But the issue with Tomi Lahren, which was also becoming an issue with fellow The Blaze employees was her angry and explosive style. The point of this blog is not about the never ending abortion debate. But rather it is about the media and media personalities.

For a while I have been able to see behind Tomi Lahren’s facade. I never saw her as someone with any well defined ideological or philosophical foundation. She further confirmed this when she said she does not read. As much as I will suggest everyone should be a reader and should give a lot of time each day to reading; I realize not everyone will be a veracious reader. But for someone who claims to represent an ideology and speak for people in this country who share such a worldview, being a reader and knowing all the nuances backwards and forwards is not an option!

Last year she had an appearance with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. People characterized the encounter as an encounter between the stereotypical angry, bigoted, and low information conservative and the high information, calm, and rational progressive. But I never bought that for a second. I characterized them both as simply selling a product to a market segment with each simply acting out their roles.

To prove the point that Tomi Lahren  just like many media personalities are simply playing it out, video exist from her time at The Blaze in which she attacked people with pro-choice views like anyone with pro-life views will do. Today, I cam only imagine how her fans who assumed all along that she is pro-life feel. But this only goes to show how much faith people place in media personalities and never critically challenge the information they are fed.

In conclusion, I implore people to carefully control the content they consume without compromising an awareness of current events. Furthermore, people should not accept information without critically questioning what they are presented with and the motives of those delivering it. People must realize that the media is business just like any other business. Just as in any business, in a sense, the consumers are key and are the ones in control. The consumers punish those who fail to deliver on what they want by abstaining. Tomi Lahren and Trevor Noah and other media personalities are simply delivering on what consumers of their content expect.

 

 

How to Get a Job Immediately – Guaranteed

The job application process can be a test in persistence and determination which can be very tedious and tiring with hundreds of applications sent out in many ceases before a first break. Even with a first break, in many instances, hopes can quickly be dashed. After that the process begins all over again till something comes by. In many cases, the first job many get might not be up to expectation especially in this era of sluggish economic growth. But regardless of the era one lives in, there is one route which offers a guaranteed job; that is starting your own business.

Depending on where you live, registering an LLC is quite a straight forward process which can be done online within a few minutes once a fee is paid. The time it takes to register an LLC definitely pales in comparison to the time consuming process which job applications take.

Obviously, being the owner of a business does not immediately guarantee an income and in many cases it takes a while before business owners begin bringing in any income. But consider this. In the time it takes to prepare job applications and supporting material (e.g. different resume formats), send out applications and wait for a reply, business plans can be formulated and validated. Assuming it takes a three month months of applications before the first job, within that time an entrepreneur who moves and works diligently can validate a business model and gain vast insights.

Objections might be raised to this route because of a so-called dearth in business ideas. But from my observations, and even common history, every community through history and through out the world always has a category of immediate pressing services and demands which if superior services are offered at affordable prices can be cash cows. For example, services related to housing care services as basic as lawn mowing would always be in demand. Or for recent graduates having difficulty landing jobs, beginning educational services which tutor and mentor students will always find people in need of such services.

Obviously, the entrepreneurial route is not necessarily easy or one which gives guaranteed results and stability. But in an era in which people are filling out more and more applications before the first interview call, its time that more people consider beginning businesses. From the look of things, the era in which people land jobs straight out of college with that being a stable career  with a pension at retirement seems to be behind us. Most people are increasingly going to change jobs through their working life and also change their skill set. In many ways, and up to an extent, business people would be insulated from this to a great degree.

The Art of Filtering

In scientific experiments, especially those which by their nature involve electronics, “noise” is always an issue. Simply put  “noise” involves the distorting of signals which can end up giving imprecise results which lead to wrong conclusions. To mitigate this phenomenon, algorithms called filers have been deviced to remove noise. In  many ways, different ideas and events we see unfolding around us, are competing for out attention which distort or perception of reality and interpretation of the world around us. Sorting out all this information can be challenging.

One of the most effective ways to cut down on information over load is strictly limiting what kind of information content we consume and allow to enter our minds.  Questions should be asked if in the long run information content we decide to expose ourselves with count and if they add or subtract from us. So for example, a good place to begin with is the consumption of current events and news. Don’t get me wrong, being very informed about how the world around us works is paramount if we are to progress and make sound decisions. But in too many cases, knowledge of current events can be useless and don’t count in the long run. Chasing what the news is can have a massive down side. Lets face it, the media profits more from dispiriting and divisive news than news which uplifts people and brings people together.

Social media is another channel through which people can consume negative content and in many respects is the biggest source of negative content today. Questions should be asked if the next scroll or click is going to count in the long run or add or subtract from us. But on the positive flip side, social media can be a very great tool if utilized well and is many ways is today almost impossible to function without. So, if people exist in your social media circle who post noting but negativity, consider removing them from your news feeds or find ways of making sure you see as little as possible of what they post. On the other hand, if people exist who turn out content which add to you in the long run and are geared towards your interest and career goals, make sure to follow those people have their content appear on your feeds.

Objections might be raised that one risk putting oneself in a bubble. While this might be true up to an extent, if working on the assumption of  everyone aiming to be the most productive they can be and live to their maximum potential, one has to assume that laser beam focus is a prerequisite. Looking at many icons, who exemplified excellence in their fields, their levels of excellence and ultra high performance was a result of relentlessly filtering out many unfolding events around them.