Aggregating the best in libertarian news daily from a number of leading sites:
The Beacon, FEE, Laissez-Faire, Lew Rockwell, Personal Liberty,
Reason, Scott Adams & Sex & The State. See our Sources

Win Bigly Bonus Chapter

Readers who pre-ordered my new book, Win Bigly, already got a copy of the bonus chapter that I offered with the pre-order. Now that the book is out, I thought I would include it here for the rest of you. The context is that I’m a trained hypnotist and people often ask me about the […]

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Persuading Terrorist Cowards

After the tragic terrorist attack yesterday in NYC (where I am now), leaders were quick to say it was an act of terror and the perpetrator was a coward. Both terms are persuasion mistakes. I’ll tell you why. Terror is what the bad guys want. If we label the outcome as terror, we give them […]

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WhenHub SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens)

Today might be one of the biggest days of my life, and it will be impossible to explain why that is so unless you know at least a little bit about blockchain, dAPPS, cryptocurrencies, Ethereum, and the legal distinction between a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) and an ICO. If those words look unfamiliar, one […]

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How to Know President Trump is in Your Head

President Trump tweeted this morning:

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And that causes Business Insider to run this headline:

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But within minutes the publication pivoted to this headline:

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Now the headline no longer says “crooked,” as in “Crooked Hillary.”

And that’s how you know President Trump is in your head.

Also, Win Bigly because of all the things.

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The North Korea Reframe

North Korea is building nukes and ICBMs to prevent the United States from attacking. Meanwhile, the United States does not want to attack North Korea. And yet we find ourselves at the brink of nuclear war while not actually having a root problem on which we disagree. They don’t want to be attacked and we […]

The post The North Korea Reframe appeared first on Dilbert Blog.

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Affirmations, Positive Thinking, Trump, and Norman Vincent Peale

For your Friday reading, first check out Politico’s excellent article by Michael Kruse on how the “Power of Positive Thinking” guru, Norman Vincent Peale, influenced President Trump’s approach to rewriting reality. Then see my Periscope where I tie together those thoughts and more. People on Twitter are saying it’s my best yet. You be the judge. […]

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How Many Lives Did Gun Control Laws Save in Las Vegas? (Answer: Probably Lots)

I’m pro-gun. I say that up front because your beliefs about my intentions will color how you see this post. My intention is to be objective. You can be the judge.

The Vegas gunman used bump stocks on semi-automatic rifles. Those were totally legal. They are also a poor choice of weapons, or so I am told by gun experts. In fact, they are so inaccurate at the distance involved in the Vegas incident that professional snipers say Paddock could have done more damage with a single-shot weapon and some aiming. 

The gun experts I talked to (informally) also agree that the shooter would have killed more than a hundred additional people had he used a fully-automatic weapon. You can legally buy an automatic weapon that was made prior to 1986, for about $15-20K. The shooter was a millionaire, and he seemed to know a lot about guns. He would have known a fully-automatic rifle is designed to not jam the way his bump stock rifles did. He would have known they fire more bullets per second and more accurately. The death toll would have been much higher had the Vegas gunman used the right weapon.

He knew a fully automatic rifle would be more lethal than a bump stock rifle.

He was rich enough to afford the fully automatic weapon.

He had months to plan and prepare.

He was smart.

And yet he didn’t use a fully-automatic weapon in the attack.

The probable reason is that a fully-automatic weapon is harder obtain and it raises some flags. I believe even private transactions with those weapons require some government paperwork. 

I’m speculating, of course, but it seems to me that the ban on fully-automatic weapons did, over time, create enough friction for the Vegas gunman that he decided to settle for relatively worse weapons.

Ask a gun expert how many more people would be dead if automatic weapons were as easy to procure as bump stocks. My estimate of a hundred extra dead in Vegas is probably low. 

Gun control apparently worked in this case, at least to an important degree. The tragedy could have been far bigger. A little bit of friction for obtaining a fully automatic weapon probably saved lives. We can’t know for sure what was in the mind of a madman, but we do know that any kind of friction causes some people to change plans. That’s probably what happened here. 

My hypothesis is that crazy people will use whatever weapon is the most effective killing device they can obtain at acceptable cost (friction). Gun laws introduce friction. They are not intended to stop every type of crime or to deter every type of criminal. But it looks like they helped a bit in Vegas. Had there been no friction to procuring fully automatic weapons, it is likely the Vegas gunman would have used them. Why wouldn’t he?

If you want to ready my argument for why I am pro-gun, see the end of this prior post.

It might be a good idea to pre-order my new book, Win Bigly, at this special page, because you get a bonus chapter by email. You’ll like it.

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The Worst Gun Control Arguments

I’m pro-gun, but mostly for selfish reasons. Some people (such as celebrities) are probably safer with defensive weapons nearby. But I acknowledge the reality that guns make people less safe in other situations. No two situations are alike. That’s partly why the issue can never be fully resolved. Both sides pretend they are arguing on principle, but neither side is. Both sides are arguing from their personal risk profiles, and those are simply different. Our risk profiles will never be the same across the entire population, so we will never agree on gun control.

That said, I want to call out the worst arguments I have seen on the issue of banning bump stocks. If you are new to the conversation, a bump stock is a $99 add-on to an AR rifle that turns it into an automatic-like weapon for greater kill power. The Vegas gunman used bump stocks. They are legal, whereas a fully automatic rifle is not.

Many pro-gun people in the debate seem to be confused about the purpose of laws in general. Laws are not designed to eliminate crime. Laws are designed to reduce crime. The most motivated criminals will always find a way, and law-abiding citizens will avoid causing trouble in the first place. Laws are only for the people in the middle who might – under certain situations – commit a crime. Any friction you introduce to that crowd has a statistical chance of making a difference. 

Humans are lazy and stupid, on average. If you make something 20% harder to do, a lot of humans will pass. It doesn’t matter what topic you are discussing; if you introduce friction, fewer people do it. With that in mind, let’s look at the least-rational gun control arguments I am seeing lately.

Chicago Example

Gun advocates like to point out that Chicago has strict gun control laws yet high murder rates. This is an irrational argument. The only valid comparison would be Chicago with gun laws in 2017 versus Chicago without gun laws in 2017. Any comparison to other cities, or to other time frames, is pure nonsense. Nothing is a rational comparison to Chicago. There is only one Chicago. And because Chicagoans can easily buy guns from nearby places, the gun ban is probably useless in that case.

Gun opponents use a similarly irrational argument. For example, anti-gun folks might point out that London bans guns and has fewer gun crimes. That’s as irrational as the Chicago argument. There is only one London in 2017. You can’t compare it to anything.

In general, any argument that says, “Look at that one city” is irrational, anecdotal thinking. It has no place in policy decisions.

Criminals Will Break Gun Laws Anyway

As I explained up front, laws are not designed to stop the most motivated criminals. We’ve never seen a law in any realm that stopped all crime. At best, laws discourage the people on the margin. Gun control is no different. The objective is to add some friction and reduce the risk that someone angry enough to pick up an AR doesn’t also have a bump stock in the house.

The Vegas gunman had over 40 guns yet he used bump stocks on his weapons instead of buying illegal fully-automatic weapons in the first place. He also did not purchase grenade launchers, which would have been ideal for his purposes. The reason in both cases is that there was more friction for acquiring the illegal weapons. It wasn’t impossible. It was just harder.

You can Make a Bump Stock on a 3D Printer

No, I can’t. I don’t own a 3D printer. Neither do most criminals. What you mean is that the few people who own 3D printers and have the skill to use them can print bump stocks. Chances are, you’re not one of those people. Again, laws are not designed to stop the most motivated super-criminals. They have lots of ways to get weapons. A 3D printer might be an ideal solution for a few super-criminals. But it won’t have much impact for a number of years on the average person who flips out and wants to start shooting today.

Rubber Bands and other Bump Stock Workarounds

Yes, I know you saw on Youtube a video in which someone rigged an AR with a rubber band on the trigger, or some other clever device that increased the firing speed. I’m no weapons engineer, but I’m fairly certain the rubber band method is less reliable than the bump stock method. And the other workarounds have either more friction (it takes some talent and tools to make anything of that nature) or they are less reliable. I remind you that the goal is not to stop all crime; we’re just trying to add friction to discourage the lazy and less-resourceful types, of which there are many. And perhaps we can add some unreliability to their choice of weapons.

Yes, clever people can create bump stock workarounds that function well enough for making a Youtube video. But most people are not clever, and not terribly resourceful, and they probably haven’t personally tested the rubber band trick. Even a dumb mass murderer wants more reliability than a rubber band suggests. Personally, if I flipped out and decided to kill everyone in my workplace, and I had never tested the rubber band trick, I wouldn’t even consider using it for a real crime, no matter how cool it looked on Youtube.

That’s friction.

Hardly Anyone Has Ever Been Killed by Bump Stock Guns

True. Even if you include the Vegas tragedy, the total percentage of people killed by bump stock-modified guns is tiny. But many people apparently don’t realize that laws are not designed to change the past. Laws are forward-looking devices. And after the Vegas tragedy, 100% of adults have been trained by news organizations on how to procure and use a bump stock. We even know we need multiple rifles because they jam. Compared to last week, the friction for modifying a semi-automatic to an automatic just went from “some” to non-existent. The idea of passing a law banning bump stocks is to add friction to reduce future crimes, not to change the past.

Keep in mind that North Korea might nuke us in the future even though they have no record of nuking us in the past. Policies and laws are not designed to address past risks, only future risks. And our future risk from bump stocks just went through the roof because they are now universally known and also top of mind.

And before you say you already knew how to get a bump stock, just imagine me laughing at you for saying it. I know you already knew how to do that. You are not representative of the entire population of potential killers. No one is suggesting passing laws directed at you personally.

A Guy in Japan Once Killed 30 People With a Knife

The argument here is that motivated killers will find a way to do damage with or without a gun. But does anyone think the guy in Japan killed more people with a knife than he could have with an armory of automatic weapons? And I remind you (again and again) that laws are not designed to stop the most motivated criminals, such as the Japanese stabber. Laws are designed to add friction to the less-clever and less-motivated.

A week ago, a potential killer with low skills and motivation might not figure out how to turn an AR into an automatic rifle. Today – thanks to the news – almost every adult knows how to do it. The existing friction disappeared. You would need to make bump stocks illegal to reintroduce some friction.

Slippery Slope

Gun owners sometimes say banning any weapon leads to banning all of them. In general, the slippery slope argument is nonsense no matter what topic you are discussing. Things do lead to other things, but every decision stands on its own, and should. Banning personal use of grenade launchers did not lead to confiscation of hunting knives, and probably never will. The slippery slope idea inspires fear in gun lovers – because creeping regulations feel like a risk – but in the real world, each decision stands alone. The slippery slope is an irrational fear, not a reasonable factor in policy-making.

The President Can’t Ban Gun Stocks by Executive Order

Sure he can, but it might not be legal. Does that matter?

You think it matters, but it doesn’t. When the Commander-in-Chief makes a thoughtful military decision, and the decision is clearly in the interest of temporarily plugging a security hole during a time of war (with ISIS), that’s defensible no matter what the Constitution says. And you want it that way.

The Constitution grants the Commander-in-Chief a lot of power to make quick decisions on homeland security because speed often matters in such things. As time allows, Congress can do its work. Banning bump stocks until Congress can look into it would be pure Commander-in-Chiefing. It would be public and temporary. Would the Supreme Court overturn the illegal ban? Maybe, but not right away. Remember that the Constitution gives real power to We the People. As long as We the People see our Commander-in-Chief acting responsibly, we’re going to give him a pass, especially for something temporary until Congress gets going.

I acknowledge that the President has no legal authority to ban the sale of legal items. But he could do it anyway. And We the People would largely back him on it so long as it was temporary and clearly intended to give Congress time to address the question.

That’s how Thomas Jefferson would have played it. But he might have looked for a technical way to make his executive order seem legal. I’m sure such an argument exists because lawyers.

Update: The Vegas Killer Would Have Been MORE Deadly Without Bump Stocks

The argument here is that bump stocks make the weapon harder to aim, therefore less lethal. That probably makes sense in some instances, such as a sniper situation. It does not make sense when spraying a dense crowd from above, at long distance. In that case, speed beats accuracy every time. 

In summary, I have genuine respect for both sides of the gun control debate. But the arguments I listed above should not be part of the conversation if we are trying to be rational about it.

I usually plug a product here. It doesn’t feel right today.

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How a Silicon Valley Investor Does Leadership

Lately I have been describing my personal political views as “left of Bernie, but with a preference for plans that can work.” In other words, I would love universal healthcare and free college. I just don’t know how to get there in any practical way. I don’t think anyone else does either.

This indirectly brings me to Sam Altman, CEO of Y-Combinator, and a billionaire investor. He’s embarking on an experiment to see what happens when you give citizens free money, no strings attached. This is important because our robot-centric future will mean the end of most forms of human labor. And that means one of two things, in all likelihood: 1) 90% of the world starves to death while the robot-owners thrive, or 2) 90% of the world receives some sort of “free money” from the rich, with no strings attached. Sam is testing option two.

Stop right there. I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking it is far too soon to be thinking about a robot takeover of labor. But you might not know that Sam is heavily invested in robot startups. He’s seen things you haven’t seen. If he’s planning for a robot takeover of labor, get worried. He’s not guessing.

This is the sort of experiment your government should be doing but doesn’t know how to do. So Sam is doing it. And his results could easily inform government decisions when the robot revolution kicks into high gear.

I’ve said before in this blog, and on Periscope, that our old system of government – the republic – has already been replaced by citizen influencers. Thanks to social media, the best ideas go viral, and our elected representatives end up being more like followers of good ideas than leaders with their own plans. If Sam’s experiment shows us something we didn’t know, and the results can be reproduced, it will inform public policy on one of humanity’s greatest inflection points.

A smart investor always insists on small-scale tests of big ideas before committing big dollars. In the world of business, this is standard practice. Compare that to the current GOP healthcare plan that involves granting all the federal money for that cause to the states so they can work it out.

Dumb.

The responsible approach would be to test some healthcare ideas in a few states or counties and then work with what we learned. A wholesale change such as transferring responsibility to the states is reckless and, in my opinion, unethical. The unethical part is that moving funding to the states is little more than a political trick to protect Republicans in the 2018 election. It has nothing to do with helping citizens.

Regular readers of this blog know I am forgiving of politicians who intentionally exaggerate and ignore facts, so long as their intentions appear to be directed at the greater good. But shifting money for healthcare to the states is for the benefit of Congress, not the greater good. 

My bottom line is that I can support a government plan that involves testing small before going big. But going big on an untested idea is not leadership. It is just bad management, or worse.

I don’t know if Sam Altman’s test of free money will tell us something important or not. But I do know it is a sensible and responsible approach to leading. Maybe someday our elected officials will learn how it’s done.

Speaking of leading, you might enjoy pre-ordering my book, Win Bigly, because it is filled with pages.

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Your Monday Morning Laugh (Mine Too)

In case you missed it, you might enjoy a good laugh with me on this Periscope.

Topics:

1. President Trump’s tweet about “Rocket Man”

2. President Trump’s golf ball tweet

3. My list of magical thinking arguments on Twitter

4. I add a few words to the list of insults that should never be uttered in public.

My book, Win Bigly, is available for pre-order now. It’s your path to the third dimension (persuasion).

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