Sunday, July 31, 2016

Upcoming Posts

I am going to try to get my protectionist post (see below) done soon, perhaps tonight, but I doubt I will get many others written, so, for the moment, I will have to make do with listing a few upcoming posts, in hopes that describing them will inspire me to finish them soon.

I hope to write the following in the near future:
1. A Comprehensive Refutation of Protectionism - Which is precisely what it says, a comprehensive look at Protectionism. 
2. Let Slip the Lambs of War - A look at national defense and foreign policy in general, with a special focus on why we have become so reluctant to engage in aggressive foreign actions, and why so many believe military action is immoral unless the Russians are in Cleveland. 
3. A Summary of Approaches to Taxation - A look at various approaches to taxation, along with an analysis of each, and an explanation of why I would support or oppose each. I intend to explain what I see as the best possible solution, not just overall, but also what would be best if we must have a an income tax, what would be best if we must have federal level taxation and so on. 
4. Untitled - A summary of issues related to money and banking. I have written a huge amount on this topic, so in this case it is not so much filing in missing information as in other essay, but rather  paring down the mass of writing to create a concise review of the issue. 
5. Untitled - I intend to look at all the many issues surrounding immigration, not just economic, but cultural, social, health and so on, and ask what approach would be best to immigration, both in an ideal world and in our present circumstances, as well as ask what changes in government would result in a change in the best immigration policy. 
6. Competition Revisited - I plan to review what I wrote in my original essay "Competition" as well as "Third Best Economy", "The Free Market Solution", "Greed Versus Evil", "There are Other Solutions" and "The Basics" and come up with a more thorough explanation of why the free market is the ideal answer to our economic needs. 
7. The Benefits of Religion - Started as a refutation of those who claim religion as an institution is harmful to society, I want to to both look at the benefits and costs of religion as a social institution, as well as look at how religion as an institution, and as a concept, have shaped individual behavior. I will do so without reference to the veracity of religion, or any specifically spiritual aspects, I just want to examine the social construct itself. 
8. Zoning and Freedom - A look at the arguments for zoning laws, and my arguments that such laws can be eliminated without doing harm. 
9. Government and Singular Decisions - A look at the consequences, good and bad, centralizing decisions into one place, and applying one decision upon all citizens. 
10. The Nonsense of a Clinton Surplus or Bush Recession - An examination of our habit of ascribing economic ups and downs to a given president, or even a specific government, and why it makes so little sense, both because of the limited power of government to produce the economic outcomes attributed to them, and also because the significant lag in economic outcomes make for regular mistaken attributions.
11. Untitled - A look at federalism, the benefits of decentralized versus centralized power, what steps we need to take to establish a more federalist system, what costs will be involved along the way as well as what benefits we shall experience.
There will probably be others, but for now these eleven essays are the ones I intend to complete first.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Odds and Ends

I am afraid my posting has been pretty inconsistent, and for that I apologize, but I want to put up a few bits and pieces that came to mind today. Once I do that, perhaps I will find some time to actually finish one of my planned more substantive posts.

First, I know I generally avoid current events and thus have not written a lot on the Trump campaign (aka The Cult of the Orange God with the Albino Roadkill Hat), but I made a post today on another site that I thought worth reposting here.
He's a third world dictator of our very own. Look at the traits:

1. He trusts only his family
2. He would do anything to avenge himself for any slight
3. He is convinced he is smarter than everyone else
4. He resents any restraint on his power
5. Money is the measure of influence, if they pay, he supports them.
6. He has established a cult of personality
7. He will not hesitate to ask his followers to exert extra-judicial force to get his way
8. He makes confused and bizarre pronouncements and expect others to praise their brilliance
9. He has a terribly shallow understanding of politics, economics, diplomacy and so on, yet will not trust others to give him advice
10. He feels the need to build up himself and all associated with him as the best, greatest, most wonderful ever, etc
11. He pretends to be diplomatic and magnanimous, but can't help including a few jabs at enemies while doing so, ruining the masquerade
12. He changes position constantly, yet pretends he has always believed whatever the current position is

He is our Marcos, our Ceausescu, our Amin, our Pol Pot. Hurrah! Thank you Trumpkins!
Of course, it is nothing new, and I am sure someone else preceded me with a similar thought, but, since one day this will be far enough back in memory that we will have forgotten how bad Trump was, I want to record it as a reminder should we even again plan to nominate another populist type.

Second, I would like to record, just for the records, my thoughts on the Republican party, voting and the future.

As I recorded before, I am no longer a member of the Republican party. After 28 years I have left thanks to the Trump campaign. As I wrote elsewhere, I believe this is, among other things, a power play by the paleocon, nativist, nationalist wing of the party to redefine the party agenda and reassert their version of conservatism over the small government, free market, largely libertarian version that has held sway overt he party since Reagan

Given that, I do not hold out much hope for the Republicans. Since the convention has certainly alienated a lot of conservatives, it seems likely, even if Trump loses, the party is not going back to a more conservative position. They will not blame the loss on the Trump faction, but on the NeverTrump movement and conservatives in general. So there is no reason to imagine returning to the party, as it will not be the same party I once joined.

The publci will also be more unfriendly to conservatism in general, and Republicans in particular. Since Trump confirms in the public mind all those charges liberals made -- that conservatives are racist, sexist, hateful bullies -- conservatism will have a hard time winning over converts in the future.

Thus, I see our only hope to be both creating a viable third party and renaming our movement. If we present ourselves as federalists, or minimalists or anything other than conservative, and keep our distance from the Republicans, maybe be can avoid the stigma of Trump. Even if we keep the conservative label, but push away from the Republicans, maybe that will be enough.

Finally, the touchy subject of elections. I know a lot of conservatives are either writing in Cruz or just leaving the top slot blank and voting Republican down ticket, or maybe voting for conservative Republicans only. I oppose such a policy. I am refusing to vote for any Republican ever again, for two reasons. First, to make it perfectly clear to all that Trump lost, not because of "traitorous NeverTrump" but because the Republicans alienated their most loyal, largest contributing and most politically supportive faction. Second, so long as being a Republican pays off in financial support and votes, there is no reason for the remaining real conservatives to leave the party. I want to make being a Republican uncomfortable to help speed a third party's creation. And so, though it pains me to let the Democrats walk into office, I am going to avoid all Republicans like the plague.

Lastly, on a more silly note, I am going to  revive an old topic. It is a really small gripe, but one I feel I must make from time to time. Why do we still have daylight savings time? We no longer operate on a strict 9 to 5 schedule, we have more than enough artificial light, A lot of us have flexibility in scheduling, and, if we really see a benefit in doing things an hour earlier or later, we could just change schedules and not clocks.

There are good reasons to stop this absurd ritual. First, it is a nightmare for computer professionals. When the starting date changed int he 90s, we had to patch every single computer in a data center housing several thousand, all so we would have the "right" time. It also means anything that logs in local time will have at least two times a year when the logs are garbage. And, quite honestly, many of us suffer for several days after the shift. It is only an hour, but it is enough that some of us feel like we have jet lag for a while after.

And last, but not least, I have a very personal reason. The government is already arrogant enough. They believe the average person cannot run his life on his own, but being elected suddenly makes them not just competent to run all our lives, but experts in economics, military, foreign affairs, science, art and education, among other fields. But that is just not enough for them. It is not enough that they live like royalty in a supposed egalitarian state, that they exempt themselves from many of the burdensome laws they force on us. No, not content with all that, they invent daylight savings time, claiming it "creates more daylight". In other words, despite all evidence, they want to claim they can control time itself. And, in the end, allowing them to believe that is just too much for me.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Protectionist Prologue

I am going to write a comprehensive look at protectionism very soon (as I also hope to write a comprehensive look at immigration, and others on money and banking, taxation, free trade and national defense), but before doing so, I want to offer an argument that just came to me, which may, in certain circumstances be useful in disputing claims of protectionists. In a way, it is akin to Bastiat's proposal to make a railway made entirely of gaps to maximize income, in that it is a reductio ad absurdam (though to a lesser degree than Bastiat's), but, though that type of argument can sometimes produce misleading arguments, in this case I think it is quite obvious once the argument has been made, that there is something wrong with the protectionist position.

My usual argument against protectionism is a more blatant reductio ad absurdam). Taking the basic premise of protectionism that jobs are all that matters, and we are better off when foreigners buy from us, rather than when we buy from them, and that we are best served by high prices for foreign goods, I made my previous argument as follows:
Let us look at the most extreme forms of the two positions. My position, that free trade is good, even when foreign lands subsidize their sales, and that cheap foreign goods are beneficial, and the protectionist argument, that it is best when we sell to foreigners and do not buy, when high foreign prices keep us from making purchases*.
Now, let us take those two to their logical conclusions. In the ultimate expression of my world view, foreign lands would send all of their produce to us at no cost, and ask for nothing in return, buying nothing from us. We would be effectively swimming in a sea of free foreign goods.
On the other hand, let us look at the protectionist ideal. We would produce as much as humanly possible, and send it to foreign lands, taking nothing in exchange. In short, we would be toiling day and night, working as much as possible, and have nothing to show for it.
Which of those two sound like prosperity to you?

Of course, the point of this is to highlight the main problem of protectionism, which I described as seeing the world backwards, or, as I also put it protectionists imagine we buy goods to give us a reason to work, while free traders see us working in order to provide us the means to consume. And that is the primary problem of protectionism, and many other faulty economic theories, seeing jobs as an end, rather than a means, and forgetting that we are both producers and consumers, and consumption has primacy.

Which is why I came up with my more recent argument, to make this point much more clear.
Again, we start with the basic dichotomy. Protectionists see jobs as the ends of economics, while I see consumption. So, to see if we can figure out which is true, let deprive ourselves of one, but not the other.

If the protectionists are right, the ultimate horror would be to be deprived of the ability to labor, while being given all the consumables you could want. If jobs are the ultimate end, this would represent deprivation.

On the other hand, if I am right, and consumption is the end, then it would be the ultimate misfortune to be forced to labor nonstop while being deprived of all consumables.
Since, in reality, the latter is called slavery, and is considered an inhumane treatment,  not to mention that being deprived of food and water would result in death, I think I have made my case. While, in practical terms we may need to work to earn our keep, the fact remains that work is not an end in itself, and is not our ultimate goal. We work to consume, we do not consume to justify our work.

And thus, I would argue, are defeated all the premises underlying the arguments for protectionism. But, if this fails to satisfy you, please come back, as I will be offering a more comprehensive view of the subject in the very near future.

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* In reality, it is impossible to have unbalanced trade, as goods trade against goods. Thus, even if China buys more from us than we do from them, that means they must trade those US dollars to another nation which uses them to buy more from us than we do from them. Only if a nation chooses to hoard currency, can there be a true trade imbalance. On the other hand, on the books they can exist, as some purchases are not counted as trade, such as hiring services, investing in foreign firms, land purchases in other nations and so on. There is one other exception. If Nation A devalues their currency while nation B is holding a substantial amount, the reduced value of Nation A's currency can result in a real trade imbalance, but that means, effectively, nation A is robbing nation B via inflation.



A Quick Check In

I am afraid I have fallen behind on my planned posts, but I do still intend to write those I promised in "Update". Until then, I would like to reproduce a comment I made on "The Right Scoop" in response to a discussion about the similarities between the Trump campaign and that of Obama in 2008 and 2012. Here is what I wrote:
They both had a campaign based upon what I called in 2008, "The Candidate as Inkblot". Obama made nebulous statements and his fans read into them whatever they wished, so he could be all things to all people, even have supporters who believed he held completely opposing views. His second trick, when he had to take a stand, was to take every stand -- say when he said he would and would not attempt military action in Iraq -- allowing followers to hear whichever one they liked, and either ignore the other, or dismiss it as "politicking".
Trump does less of the first than Obama, and more of the second, but the campaign is otherwise very similar. He is offering up a range of positions, and followers believe the one with which they agree is the "real" position, and the rest are just tactical statements.
Or else he uses supporters such as Carson and Christie and Newt to float trial balloons, so he can later denounce the position if it proves too uncomfortable. In this way he can even flirt with white nationalists, socialist Bernie supporters, the GOP establishment and others while still claiming to be a middle of the road conservative, and, at the same time, an outsider pragmatist.
Sadly, I worry this is going to be the trend of the future, and going forward we will see more and more of these candidates without platforms. In a way, we already did see it. Clinton's triangulation, and --to a lesser degree-- Bush's "compassionate conservatism" were attempts to take conflicting positions, to be bother liberal and conservative at the same time. But Obama perfected it, and Trump is doing the same with slightly different tactics.
I worry this is how politics will be for a number of years to come.
Obviously, not a lot new, as it is essentially what I said in "The Candidate as Inkblot" and later essays, including "A Brief Thought on Trump" and "Predictability and Pragmatism - Why I Oppose Trump", but I still think it bears repeating, as far too many have fallen for this tactic, and, as I wrote, I fear it will continue to be successful, and, as a result, will continue to be used for a long time to come.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Short Question

Since when did conservatives and Republicans use phrases like "corrupt corporate globalists" and "corrupt banking syndicates"? Weren't those once the words of the left? Of the anti-WTO anarchists? But now, at least for the Trump boosters, those are the words of the day, apparently.

Well, if this does not convince you there is more of the left than right about Trump and his followers, I suppose nothing will. Then again, no one imagined the "socialist" in "national socialist"  was serious either. But it was. Oddly, nationalists always think they are the "real conservatives", but except for being national rather than international and favoring racial bias over class bias, there is often little to distinguish a nationalist from a communist. They may talk of being for freedom, but once you mention business, they suddenly want to impose this restriction and that, from heavy tariffs to nationalizing banks, and, in the end, except for rhetoric and method, very little separates nationalists and communists.

But, I doubt mere words will convince a dedicated Trump booster, and the rest of us can already see this for ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, this will do one bit of good. Those who argue they support Trump because he will be better than Hillary might understand why so many of us do not agree.

Look Out It's the End Times!

Recently, there has been a lot of noise on conservative sites about the "need" to vote for Donald Trump. It goes without saying, this has come, for the most part, from those who supported him all along -- though many have taken to claiming otherwise -- but it seems, of late, even a few who did not support him, and even recognize his failings, have taken to arguing that our only hope is to vote for Trump.

The reasoning is well known to any who follow conservative blogs, or conservative sites that allow user comments. Basically, the substantive argument takes three forms. First, because of the current opening on the Supreme Court, as well as the age of various justices, we need to oppose Hillary lest she get as many as three Supreme Court seats. Second, because of the move to grant immigrants amnesty, we need to oppose Hillary lest she allow in enough immigrants -- and grant them the vote -- that Democrats cannot lose future elections. Finally, we need to oppose Hillary for somewhat more nebulous reasons, as a Hillary Clinton presidency would, in the most dramatic form of the argument "equal the death of America".

One problem with this argument is that I heard the exact same thing eight years ago. Obama was going to let in so many immigrants the Republicans would hold no seats in congress, and never win another election. Obama was going to declare martial law and stop the 2012 election. Obama was going to establish a personal paramilitary force. Obama would seize all guns. And so on.

Now, I am not saying I am happy with the events of past eight years, nor would I be happy with the next four under Clinton (or under Trump, for that matter), but my point is this: We have a tendency, when seeing something we dislike, to make absurd exaggerations of the harm it will do. Our reaction to the election of Democrats is akin to getting ready to amputate your arm because you got a paper cut on a finger. We have become so used to hyperventilating over any victory of the left, that the minute they win, we prepare for disaster.

Of course, the left is just as bad, in fact they did it first. They used to predict every conservative elected would "roll back civil rights" and establish a theocracy. But we used to laugh at them for doing this, now we have joined them. We have become just as juvenile as they are.

And juvenile it is. As I describe in "Catastrophic Thinking, The Political, Economic and Social Impact of Seeing History in the Superlative" and "All Life in a Day, or, How Our Mistaken View of History Distorts Our Understanding of Events" the entire belief that our own times must be the best or worst even comes from an arrogant, childish belief that we are so special, we must live in special times. It is a very modern philosophy, yet again a result of our underlying Romantic philosophy that sees in self-centeredness a virtue.

Look at the past. Most of our ancestors had a very definite view of history. For much of history, it was a pretty pessimistic one, seeing the past as a golden age, with the present one step in the slow decline of the world. But, it was a slow decline. Except for the periodic apocalyptic hysteria, almost all of the past was inhabited by people who expected the next century to be much like the present one. They did not expect a sudden collapse.

Of course, modern times changed that. First, for a very real and good reason. With the age of reason, the industrial revolution and the explosion of technology, people came to reverse that thinking and see the present as a golden age, with progress being irresistible and the future surely better than the present. But, they still held a sensible view. They may have been optimistic, and seen progress and change as the certain outcome of time passing, but they still saw much of the future as like today. People would still be there, life would go on, just in an incomparably better world.

And those same people, when things turned south, and progress seemed to slow or stop, they generally adopted a resigned belief that things would turn around, or else would decide to struggle to make sure they did, they did not sit and bemoan the end of the world. That was left for the juvenile thinkers of our modern age to do.

Only in modern times have we adopted this belief, have we come to see every setback as the beginning of the end. As I said, it was first a trait of the left, especially of the more radical elements of the left, that saw in all opposition a conspiracy and every failure impending doom. Sadly, the right has now followed suit.

I can understand frustration, I can understand worry, but I cannot understand why we insist on joining the left in assuming every single setback is not just a loss but the harbinger of doom. We used to claim the left was ruled by the heart, the right by the head. Since when did we give that up and emulate the left in letting our emotions rule us? I cannot understand why we think this is a good idea.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Counter-Strike and Currency

I doubt many of my readers are familiar with CSGO (Counter-Strike Global Offensive) and the phenomenon of "skins" and gambling with them, but this topic actually has a surprising applicability to one of my favorite topics, currency.

I won't go into too much detail but here is the basic situation. CSGO is a "First Person Shooter", a game where you see things through the eyes of your character, and try to shoot rivals. In this specific game, the characters are normally terrorists or counter-terrorists, and in most cases, the game is played online between teams of humans.

In the game, you can win "cases", which are basically electronic boxes. You then have to pay around $2 each to buy "keys" to open these cases. Inside there are various "skins", which are bits of computer code that change the way things look. Some are for guns, some for knives. These skins are of varying rarity, with some being quite common and some quite unusual. Players who want to find especially uncommon skins can also buy packages for higher prices (such as $20) which are supposed to give a higher probability of having more rare skins.

What makes these skins interesting are two phenomena. First, because Steam maintains a marketplace where users can trade or sell these skins, they have taken on a monetary value, and in some cases one rivaling the Dutch tulip craze for absurd price inflation. It is not uncommon to hear of uncommon skins selling for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Now, to a degree this price inflation has been driven by the second phenomenon, but even before the second existed, prices were rising to absurd heights.

And what is the second phenomenon? Simple, gambling. There have arisen sites where teens and others who play CSGO can place skins into a pool. Based on the relative value of their skins, they are given a number of chances to win*. After a set period, the pool is closed, and the winner is selected, getting the entire contents of the pool. As these are run by for profit enterprises, I assume some sort of cut is taken by the "house" (unless, of course, as it is completely unregulated, they simply cheat to turn a profit**), but in general it is a simple winner-takes-all game. In part, it was obviously inspired by the absurd prices being paid for skins, as kids unable to afford to buy them see these games as a chance to win skins they could not otherwise obtain. But, since it is making those skins even more valuable, it is also driving the prices even higher as well, creating a minor price inflation.

But none of those phenomena is what inspired me tot write about this. Instead it was a thought that struck me while I was talking to my son about this issue.

I pointed out to him how absolutely absurd the price being paid were. After all, these "skins" were nothing more than a few image files, a little bit of computer code, and code you did not even hold on your own machine. They were code loaned to you by a company, for a game that could stop tomorrow, with a value based on a rarity the same company could alter in an instant by issuing the same skins more frequently. In short, they were completely arbitrary in value, and the value was completely out of individual control.

Which reminded me of our currency.

When money is gold, or just redeemable in gold, you can convert your dollars into something tangible. Yes, the value of gold may fluctuate, but only because the quantity of gold changes, or people in general found more or less need for gold. It will not suddenly change because someone magically made more gold out of thin air. And, even if the value of gold does change, there is still one truth, if you have an ounce of gold, even if the value of it changes, you still have an ounce of gold. And if you can exchange a certain number of dollars for an ounce of gold, then you can, if you wish, never have to hold dollars, you can hold something of tangible value.

On the other hand, our fiat currency is like these skins. The value depends solely upon our mutual agreement it is worth something, and the Federal Reserve could change that value tomorrow by printing more, or retiring bills. As there is nothing restricting the number of dollars in circulation, since a dollar is no longer defined as anything other than "a dollar is a unit of currency worth a dollar", there is no way to say we are printing too few or too many dollars. There is no risk of exhausting gold reserves, as there are no links to gold. The dollar is just Monopoly money, and the Fed can do what it wants, there is no objective restriction on it.

Which is precisely why I insist the gold standard -- or any commodity standard -- is the only sensible solution to all our monetary woes. Right now, we have a currency redeemable in nothing, with a unit defined in terms of itself, with money having no more intrinsic value than play money in a child's toy cash register. And, because the government thinks this fiat currency allows them to "manage the currency", we also have constant inflation, ranging from 3% to 16% or more. Now, some say low level inflation is acceptable, but think about it. In 24 years, even "very low" 3% inflation will cut the value of savings in half. And that assumes inflation is applied evenly across the economy, which is never true. Inflation eats at our wealth, makes long term planning difficult, if not impossible, forces retirees to save more and more, and even then they often end up too poor to truly retire. Is this what we want in a currency?

And for what reason?

The supposed purpose of leaving the gold standard was that a managed currency and central bank would insure continuous growth and end the supposed "boom-bust cycle"***. Of course, European central banks had done nothing of the kind, but our money managers were arrogant enough to think they knew better. And so, base don the premise that bankers and individuals could not manage money, but government bureaucrats could, we created our managed currency.

The first result? In less than 15 years from the creation of the Federal Reserve, the worst depression in our history, one made worse and prolonged by continual government meddling. And since? An ever accelerating cycle of boom and bust, made worse once we completely left the gold standard. As well as inflation often rising into double digits. And yet, supposedly, if we abandon this system to return to the "anachronism" of gold, it will be a disaster.

But I ask those who make such a claim, exactly what could be worse?

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* I am not sure of all the specifics, as I never visited one of these sites. I have seen a lot of discussion of them, but I am not sure how those managing the games extract a profit.

** I am not meaning to suggest there is corruption, simply pointing out that a game run by computers, with winners determined by an opaque algorithm, with all participants visible to one another only by aliases visible on screen, it would be easy enough to have every few games award the pot to a non-existent individual, allowing the company to sell off the winnings for a healthy return.

*** The "boom-bust cycle" is actually a phenomenon of centralized banking, rather than the free market. Banks run individually do not inflate at a single rate, and thus this cycle could not occur. By under the post-Civil War "state banking system" local banks had to have deposits in certain "reserve banks" in New York City, which then had to put part of their reserves in one of a few top tier banks. This allow banks to issue currency several times using the same gold reserves, and also created a system which favored a single rate of inflation. Unlike private banks, where some reckless actions by a few would not take down the whole system, the state banking system was custom made to create general panics, and it did. And it only got worse when we went tot he Federal Reserve and later left the gold standard.

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POSTSCRIPT

For those who are interested, my earlier writing on currency can be found at  "Monetary Issues Made Simple Part I", "Monetary Issues Made Simple Part II", "Inflation and Uncertainty", "Bad Economics Part 7", "Bad Economics Part 8", "What Is Money? ", "What Is A Dollar?", "The Gold Question, Not "Why?" But "When?"", "Bad Economics Part 19","Fiscal Discipline", "Putting the Bull in Bull Market" and "Why Gold?". The history of banks is included (along with many other topics) in my more historical essays "A Timeline Part One" ,"A Timeline Part Two", "A Timeline Part Three", "The Political Spectrum", "Mistaken Perceptions of the Industrial Age", "Four Elections", "A Passing Thought", "The Best Historical Example", "Ordered Liberty and Our Modern Mindset", "Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution" and "Rethinking the Scopes Trial".




Saturday, July 2, 2016

Update

As I have not written for several days, I decided it is time to mention my upcoming posts, if for no other reason than to tell my few readers I am still alive and writing. I am presently taking some time off work, and thus have been doing much less writing as I spend time away from the computer. But I will be back at work on July 5, and plan on posting at least one, maybe two, posts by that date.

First, I am working on a post offering a comprehensive analysis of protectionism. As the Trump campaign has revived interest in the topic, I decided it is time to bring together all my earlier arguments from a number of old essays and demonstrate the underlying rationale that argues against protectionism in all its forms.

Second, I am also working on an essay looking at the argument that the present election represents a particular, unique threat to our country.

Finally, if I find the time, I want to offer a third essay discussing the topic of zoning laws, and what I see as both the futility of such laws, and the serious potential for harm, both intentional and unintentional.

I may not get all three posted in the next three days, or even two, but I shall do my best.