Monthly Archives: December 2015

Millennials Losing Faith in Democracy

This is great news for the ‘alt right’ cause: Are Americans losing faith in democracy?

Most millennials don’t think it’s essential to live in a democracy:

If you wonder why I write to much about Reddit and Millennials – this is why. There is a huge demographic here of people who are potentially repetitive to alternative, non-mainstream political ideas, be it NRx, HBD, Rationalism, Techno Libertarianism, Red Pill, and so on, as I discuss here.

Because millennials are so smart, the good news is this heightened intellectual curiosity makes them more receptive to unique/niche ideologies, like Red Pill, libertarianism, rationalism, effective altruism and MGTOW, that don’t fit squarely into a left/right dichotomy. We’re seeing millennials, especially on sites like Reddit and 4chan, take a keen interest in human biodiversity, as well as other perspectives and interests that could be deemed taboo by the antiquated liberal establishment.

And also, the post-2008 dissatisfaction with Obama, who made grandiose promises to his millennial base to get elected, few of which materialized.

Maybe millennials tend to hold views that are more ‘extreme’ or unconventional, either on the far-right or the far-left. The SJW movement represents the latter, and the ‘alt right’ the former, but I hesitate to call it ‘far right’ more so than just common sense, which is what it really is. To quote Kristol, being ‘mugged’ by reality is what turns a liberal into a conservative.

And even more importantly, millennials are more favorable to non-democratic rule than earlier generations:

Gamergate, for example, is a millennial-driven movement, as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash. Such millennials tend to be meritocratic, supporting a system where the best and the brightest rise to the top and keep what is rightfully theirs, but democracy is a system where the unproductive, unintelligent masses can take from the productive class, not by force, but by ballot. As part of the millennial mindset, individualism is celebrated over collectivism – to be a self-made man, intellectually and or financially, who calls the shots and lives life on his own terms either by embracing MGTOW or minimalism. Empiricism and rationalism are guiding principles, with consequentialism and maybe some machiavellianism, too. Democracy ultimately conflicts with human nature – rational wants, needs, and manifest observations – by incorrectly assuming people are irrational, or requiring people to suspend disbelief. People don’t rationally want to support a parasitic class. People don’t rationally believe individuals are equal when HBD renders some possibly better than others, with these differences manifested in real time in individual economic outcomes. Democracy, in effect, is just a false god that we are goaded into believing due to peer pressure and propaganda. To many millennials, the belief that wealth can be created by spreading it around from the most productive to the least is just as irrational as the belief in some omnipotent spirit.

One could argue that millennials are unhappy with democracy because it’s not liberal enough. It would have been nice if millennials were polled for their opinions for alternatives to democracy. But there is reason for hope. If just five percent of disaffected millennials are far to the right, that’s still millions of people.

Related: Could Millennials Be More Conservative Than Previously Thought?

INTP people rule the world

From Anti-Dem Playboy After Dark

Another possibility is that the ‘Playboy lifestyle’ is no longer ‘cool’, as millennials eschew ostentatious materialism for intellectualism and minimalism. Millennials want to be rich, but prefer saving or investing the money instead of squandering it on positional goods. They want to be like Zuck, Musk, Buffett or Gates, not some washed up playboy who blows all his money on drugs and alimony. These aforementioned individuals exemplify individualism, intelligence, and competence – all traits highly valued in today’s society and economy. In other words, INTP people rule the world, and will likely continue to do so.

It seems like INTP & INTJ people are wired for success in the super-competitive post-2008 economy. In our new era of Social Darwinism 2.0 where coding is the new literacy, they, the INTP & INTJ people, have a biological advantage in an economy and society that increasingly rewards creativity, authenticity, introspectiveness, wealth, financial independence and analytical skill versus the obsolete, old-economy liberal ideal of collectivism, social skills, and equality.

In the past few years, Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Tesla stock have surged, along with the QQQ tech index and S&P 500. Web 2.0 valuations keep going up, with Uber, Snapchat, and AirBNB worth $50 billion, $15 billion, and $25 billion, respectively, gains of 200-300% since 2013. Bay Area real estate is up 50-100% since 2012. Who’s getting rich from all of this? INTP people, mostly.

The irony is that people who are the most reticent, introverted are the most sought after, the highest paid – in effect becoming today’s new ‘rock stars‘. Competence, again and again, overrides people skills and extraversion. Warren Buffet, for example, projects the public image of fuddy-duddy, yet everyone can’t get enough of him, and his shareholder meetings are like ‘Woodstock’ as thousands of his ‘fans’ from all over the world descend to Omaha for his wisdom, and choruses in the media sing his praise. Elon Musk’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ was perhaps the most popular in the history of Reddit, getting over 11,000 laudatory comments. Like Buffet, Musk lives in his head, not among the crowds, but the crowds online keeps flocking to him because he’s so brilliant.

In an era of gig jobs and temp work, people are getting paid for the economic value they create, both directly and indirectly. The reason why Uber, Air BNB, and Snapchat are worth so much and their employees are paid so much is because these companies harness ‘network effects’ to create billions of dollars of indirect economic value through the millions of users that use these services. Snapchat doesn’t produce anything, but it’s valuable because it harnesses a network of hundreds of millions of eyeballs that you can put ads in front of. It’s like TV, but even a step further, since Snapchap doesn’t have to make content.

Having a lot of money and being smart is optimal, but being smart (especially in a science field, but economics and philosophy also count) also makes you a valued person in today’s economy, with throngs of ‘digital’ fans and followers, along with karma, links, reputation and other accouterments – digital ‘flare’ – that signify one’s worth and prestige. This is part of the rise of ‘expert culture’ – a culture that rewards being an expert. Carl Segen was among the first, in his hugely popular 1980 Cosmos series, but now we’re seeing this online, with hundreds of smaller ‘Segens’ – popular YouTube channels like Thunderf00t, who mixes science with criticism of feminism. Another is Scott Alexander, a blogger who uses his expert status on psychology and internet subcultures to poke holes at the more radical elements of liberalism to his audience of tens of thousands.

on Reddit just yesterday a ‘TIL’ about Manhattan Project mathematician Richard Hamming got over 5,000 upvotes, landing a spot on the ‘front page’. Not an athlete, actor, or musical artist – but a mathematician. This is further evidence of how STEM ‘culture’, particularly the INTP personality sub-type, is becoming ‘mainstream’. Mathematicians, scientists, and other STEM people are today’s ‘rock stars‘ for millions of young people. The rise of STEM is party related to the post-2103 SJW backlash. Whether it’s stock trading, biotechnology, math, or coding, people in STEM get ahead through individualism, intellectualism, competence, and value-creation – traits that are highly valued in a post-2008 economy – as opposed to connections, collectivism, quotas, and nepotism, all of which characterized the ‘old economy’. Perhaps there is a backlash, both in the economy and in popular culture, against overpaid people who produce little economic value. STEM is seen as an ‘ally’ in the ‘war’ against SJWs, as STEM is empirical and rigorous, with facts and logic overriding leftist emotions and opinions.

Even Martin Shkreli, the son of poor Albanian and Croatian immigrants, is seen a STEM ‘hero’ to many – a self-made American success story who used his intellect (his parents were janitors, so he had no special connections to get ahead) to conquer the drug industry and get rich – until it fell apart. But even in light of these fraud allegations, many are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, arguing that perhaps his good qualities (intellect, ambitiousness, biotech knowledge, and tenacity) are enough to overlook the potential fraud, similar to how Theodore Kaczynski has many ‘fans’ for his writings and mathematical contributions in spite of being a domestic terrorist. But on the other hand, Martin Shkreli’s Reddit AMA went badly over the predictable outrage over the 5,000% price hike of Daraprim, so there are limits to how much slack the public will give its STEM celebrities.

Playboy is pretty much defunct, having filed bankruptcy in 2012. Because Playboy is owned by creditors, Hugh’s net worth is probably zero. The mansion is a facade. Meanwhile, INTP ‘empires’ like Microsoft, Google, Tesla, and Facebook are thriving.

Related: Authenticity and Masculinity In the New Era

What isn’t being taught in schools that should be?

This ‘Ask Reddit’ question What isn’t being taught in schools that should be? is going viral.

This was the most upvoted answer, getting over 3,000 upvotes:

HOW TO

Pay taxes
Vote
Find a job
Buy a house
Buy a car

LESSONS

Current Events
What laws there are
Financial Advice
Trading stocks
Mental disorders
Politics

As evidenced by the thousands of comments and upvotes, both for the answer above and for the question, a lot of millennials agree that there is a problem with the education system we have now; specifically, what is being taught in school may be obsolete in today’s economy. School and education is still stuck in a pre-2008 mindset, where good-paying jobs for all skill levels were abundant and everything was less competitive and efficient. Obviously, that has all changed.

The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs stipulates that before you can indulge your worldly intellectual curiosities, you must first have food and shelter, and that requires knowing marketable skills, whether it be stock trading, investing, web design, coding, or STEM, etc. The landlord doesn’t care if you know Chinese history; he wants your check or you’re getting evicted. Neither does the electric or water company. But that doesn’t mean that millennials don’t care about History or disparage those subjects; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Based on my observation of social media voting patterns, there is a great deal of respect for people who peruse careers and hobbies where intellectualism takes precedence over making money. But, the thing is, the liberals arts can be pursued on one’s own time and leisure for free due to the information being readily online. Since there are only a finite number of hours of schooling and hands-on instruction, and teachers are being paid with taxpayer dollars, why not teach things that may have a greater ROI for students, that cannot be answered with a Wikipedia search?

But also, millennials see their baby boomers parents (as well as the headlines since 2008 of people losing everything, of being unemployed,) frittering away cash on useless purchases, and other bad financial decisions. Millennials, who are surprisingly savvy about personal finance, value self-sufficiency and financial independence, but schools typically don’t teach personal finance – things as debt, mortgages vs. renting, taxes, budgeting, credit scores, index funds vs. individual stocks vs. bonds, credit cards, or even how to balance a checkbook. That’s where the dissatisfaction with today’s educational system comes from – that fact schools are not teaching these pertinent, actionable skills.

Related to skills, the problem is schools teach skills (reading, writing, algebra, etc) that are merely ‘good enough’ to be functional and educated, but that alone won’t cut it in the hyper-competitive post-2008 economy. Even college skills are falling into the category of ‘good enough’. Unlike 100 years ago, there are too many people with these ‘good enough’ skills, depressing their value. Nowadays, to get a good job, you can’t just be ‘good enough’ – you must be exceptional. Average is over. You can’t just be a good writer; you must be Proust. You can’t just be good with numbers; you must be Neumann or Nash. Due to the limitations imposed by IQ and the Bell Curve, few will ever attain that level of mastery, which means that that everyone else has to settle for mediocre-paying jobs that they are intellectually overqualified for, ironically enough. It you’re smart, but not a super-genius, you’re often stuck with a job that can be performed by a high school graduate or less. For the 40% of the population with IQs between 100 and 125, that leaves low-tech entrepreneurship and gig jobs as alternatives to the the drudgery of low-paying, intellectually un-stimulating work. But schools don’t teach entrepreneurship or how to land gig jobs.

Some say the ‘HBD-sphere’ is too obsessed with IQ, but perhaps it seems that way only because IQ is so important. For certain fields, IQ gives one the capacity to succeed. Hard work will get you past the finish line, but a high IQ is still necessary to compete. In today’s competitive economy, IQ is becoming more and more important of a determinant of whether one succeeds or falls between the cracks. There are other factors, but IQ is still important.

Stock trading (buying and holding Facebook, Amazon, and Google stock), home ownership (especially in the Bay Area), STEM (coding apps), venture capital (investing in web 2.0 companies like Uber), and apps (web 2.0) is how people are getting rich in a post-2008 world. Schools don’t teach any of these things, but, again, the Bell Curve renders a lot of these aforementioned skills unattainable for many. To code a decent app generally requires a >125 IQ. Stock trading is hard and typically requires an above-average IQ to be successful, but buy and hold is easier if you choose the stocks I recommend. Venture capitalism is off-limits to most of the population, and as part of the post-2008 trend of bifurcation (which I discuss in the capitalism essay), unless you invest one of a dozen or so web 2.0 ‘unicorns’, VC is probably a waste of time and money. The VC game has changed from one that rewards investing in uncharted waters to one that rewards investing in things that are already large and successful like Snapchat and Uber.

Schools don’t set realistic expectations for students, instead filling them with false hope that abundance and good-paying jobs await upon graduation.

Times are also changing, as people shun the arts, which typically don’t pay well, for endeavors that do – such as stock trading, real estate, coding, and so on. This is driven by social factors (the celebritization of STEM) and economics (STEM pays better).

An Army of Fact Checkers: How Reddit (and social media) is Destroying the SJW Narrative

Scott ponders how online reporting of science can be improved.

Maybe a solution is to ‘crowdsource’ the peer review through social media such as Reddit, putting all these smart users to use to do the fact-checking the mainstream media is otherwise too lazy or incompetent to do – in fact, that already is happening. Pretty much every major study or press release has a Reddit discussion about it.

Of all social media, the Reddit community is perhaps the best ‘fact-checker’. Without fail, a ‘Redditor’ will find a flaw in the original article, or at least re-frame it differently than the headline, which is often intentionally misleading and sensationalist. These corrections are up-voted and algorithmatically promoted to the top of the comments, readily visible. Given Reddit’s huge traffic and high-IQ demographic, there will always be an expert or sleuth to pounce, even for the most esoteric of subjects. Karma and expert status, which confers with the trait valued most by millennials: high IQ, is a very effective motivator. Reddit provides near-expert peer review that would normally cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in man hours – for free.

Reddit is kinda like the world’s biggest Mensa meetup or gifted education class…The result: a digital army of empiricists and rationalists in refutation to the ‘manufactured consensus’ promulgated by the slowly dying liberal mainstream media. Whether it’s global warming pseudoscience, fake rape accusations, or race and gender blindness, they (the Reddit community) see through the lies and deceptions of the media as everyone else just nods their heads.

Of course, Reddit, like all large online communities, has its fair share of SJW lemmings, but they are not the majority, as I discuss in an earlier post SJW Narrative Collapse:

As I predicted in 2014, there is definitely evidence of SJW narrative collapse, especially on Reddit and elsewhere, with the rise of Red Pill, Dark Enlightenment, and other anti-SJW movements and ideologies. Online, whenever a story breaks out about the public school war on boys or about false rape accusations, the overwhelming majority of comments are against the SJWs, and we’re not talking about conservative websites, but sites like Reddit that have a broad appeal. For example, I was on Reddit in early August following the Ferguson melee, and I estimate at least 3/4 of the users were on the side of the police and against ‘black lives matter’. Anti-police comments were summarily down-voted.

Based on my observation of comment and voting patterns for popular subs (excluding subs that are obviously partisan), I estimate at least 75% of Reddit users are against SJWs, and I’m sure that percentage also includes some liberals, but being anti-SJW is good enough – at least for me.

Furthermore, anti-SJW memes and hashtags frequently go viral on Imgur, a site owned by Reddit and used by Reddit users, with significant overlap between the two sites.

On Youtube, a site with a very similar demographic as Reddit, videos by the right-leaning think tank AEI, which endorses free market capitalism, get many upvotes and comments in agreement. An example is an excellent video by AEI scholar Christina Hoff Sommers debunking inflated rape statistics. Her video is rated very favorably, with over three thousand upvotes and just 122 downvotes. Meanwhile, Anita Sarkeesian’s video received such a strong negative response that comments and ratings were disabled.

Same for 4chan, with their piss4equality prank.

A common criticism of Reddit is that it promotes groupthink, but based on my experience, the alleged ‘hive mind’ is not as big of a problem as often purported. Unless the sub is highly polarized or there is little room for ambiguity, insightful and well-researched comments supporting or opposing an argument are often both promoted, leaving the reader to choose. Discussions involving games or movies may be more prone to groupthink, but you don’t see as much cliquish behavior in the smarter subs; instead, research, accuracy, and impartiality is valued; ideologues, tin foil hat wearers, reduction/oversimplification of complicated matters, and unfunny trolls tend to be down-voted. Pandering is also frowned upon; better to be honest, even if it means being a Conservative on a liberal-leaning sub, than inauthentic or preaching to the choir.

False victimization, too, is also punished, which is probably why – as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash – virtually all Reddit users agreed with the WSJ article about college cry bullies and how students are being coddled – even liberals professors agree ‘social justice’ has gone too far. Whether it’s false rape accusations (Amherst rape hoax), professors being forced to apologize or resign for merely observing and reporting biological reality, ‘mansplaining’ and ‘manspreading’, or ‘safe spaces’ – if it weren’t for social media and fact-checking on sites like 4chan and Reddit, these SJW zealots would have no one to challenge them.

In 1987, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine allowed right-wing talk radio to flourish, which was the first major blow against decades of unchallenged post-WW2 liberalism. Now it’s social media – sites like Reddit and Twitter – that is finishing where talk radio left off, exposing the insanity and mendacity of the left to a new generation.

Related:

Why Social Networking Threatens the Liberal Media
The New Mainstream Media
Why The Left Wants Reddit To Fail

2016 Predictions

It’s that time of the year again, my predictions for 2016. First, after eight years, the fed did what everyone thought was impossible: they finally raised interest rates, and the market surged. The pundits predicted that the hike would be bearish for equities, but obviously that was not the case as the rate hike was already priced in, and a quarter point isn’t a big deal. The media is almost always wrong. Just remember that.

Predictions:

GOP nominee? Don’t know. It’s either going to be Trump, Carson, or Rubio. Not much of a prediction, I know, but political predictions tend to be harder than economics and finance ones.

Democratic nominee: Hillary, pretty obvious.

2016 US presidential election winner? Tossup. Like prior elections, it will come down to these dozen coveted ‘swing states’. Some sources say Trump can win the swing states; others say he will have difficulty. Hard to know.

Russia and Turkey relations stable. No major geopolitical events, besides the ongoing mess in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

There will be another major spree shooting in the US; dems push for gun control predictably goes nowhere.

Continued deterioration of SJW narrative (Measuring this is an inexact science. I will go by Imgur posts and Reddit comments to take the ‘pulse’ of the SJW narrative.)

Oil prices rangebound between $30-45/barrel.

US GDP growth, job growth, profits & earnings, consumer spending, employment, etc remains steady. US Economy keeps chugging along without any major problems. Same slow growth and tame inflation that we’ve seen since 2009.

Europe and other foreign markets continue to lag US equities.

Much of Western Europe remains in a borderline recession. Foreign economies remain weak relative to America.

US dollar remains strong and inflation low; no hyperinflation or dollar collapse, sorry zeorhedge.

China bull market resumes.

The 2009 bull market, the second biggest of all time, continues for its 7th consecutive year; posts modest gains for 2016.

My investing strategy, up 27% for 2015, continues to outperform in 2016.

Home prices rise, with Bay Area prices up >5% YOY for 2016.

Valuations for major web 2.0 companies (Snapchat, Uber, Air BNB, etc) keep rising, no ‘bubble’ bursting, sorry libs.

Predictions a housing market crash, web 2.0 crash, or stock market crash will continue to be wrong.

Microsoft stock continues to rally. Same for Facebook, Google, and Amazon stock. Large cap tech and consumer discretionary continue to outperform other sectors.

Treasuries rise despite rising interest rates.

Overall, 2016 will play out much like 2015, which was also similar to 2014. Newton’s first law is applicable to forecasting: a trend will prevail unless an external force acts upon it. In the absence of a catalyst, odds are the trend will continue.

Why Interest Rates Are Unlikely to Rise Much, If at all

The first rate hike in almost a decade is expected this week. Historically speaking, rate hikes are not always bearish for stocks, provided rates don’t go up too much too quickly. But because the fed has been dovish for the past three decades, not hawkish, that should be a concern. In the 90′s, the S&P 500 rose 400% despite high interest rates. Same for the 2002-2007 bull market, which was undeterred by rising rates:

A cursory observation of the chart above shows that in 2000 and in 2007, stocks entered a bear market after interest rates exceeded 5%, but 5% is a long way from now. There are plenty of reasons for the fed to raise rates very slowly, or not at all, such as:

1. A labor market that, while improving, is far from overheated. Labor force participation still very low, wage growth is also sluggish.

2. Low CPI-based inflation:

(Yes, I’m aware of other types of inflation and the potential flaws of the index, but the CPI index is among the most important indexes used by the fed in determining policy.)

CPI hasn’t budged much despite record high stock prices.

3. Oil prices keep falling, acting as a deflationary force.

4. Weakness in foreign markets, particularly Western Europe, Russia, Australia, China, and South America.

5. Strong US dollar, which is also deflationary.

6. Monetary velocity still at rock-bottom levels:

7. Private residential construction spending is well off the 2006 highs

8. US GDP growth is below the historical average

I would not be surprised if the fed does not raise rates this week, choosing to delay rate hikes yet again to the dismay of many.

The Student Loan Charade

From Bloomberg: Who’s Profiting from $1.2 Trillion of Federal Student Loans?

For-profit colleges profit, so does the higher-ed bureaucracy.

The issue is while student loan debt and tuition is high, the amount paid out of pocket by the student is low relative to the sticker price and only modestly exceeds the CPI. After taking into account debt forbearance and other options, it’s probably not as bad as the media makes it seem. There is evidence of a feedback loop of more aid and then higher tuition, which leads to more aid.

Another problem is that high school graduates who are not intellectually suited for college are prodded to enroll, subsequently dropping out with little show for their efforts but a mountain of debt that they will never pay off. The newest iteration of SAT has been dumbed-down to such an extent that it’s ineffective at screening for college suitability for all but the highest of scores, and grade inflation renders high school GPAs nearly worthless, too. If the financial aid application process took into account IQ to weed out the students who are most likely to fail, as the military already does to screen eligibility of recruits, maybe we would stop going in circles in this unproductive finger pointing about student loans.

Not to make this too partisan, but liberals are the problem, again and again. Liberals like Sanders whine about student loan debt, despite the fact that it’s their policies that are making life hard for millennials.

Too many bureaucrats jobs depend on the student loan charade continuing, as summarized by Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

…in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

From Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

That’s the situation we have now with financial aid.

Then there is the issue of credentialism, contributing to the tuition feedback loop. With the exception of certain degrees (medicine, biology, engineering, computer sci, etc), a degree is more of a signal of ‘baseline’ general competence rather than competence of a specific skill. But the thing is, there are much cheaper and better * ways to signal general competence, such as with IQ tests or the SAT, than with expensive, time-consuming degrees. Political correctness and fear of disparate impact litigation can explain creeping credentialism.

An finally, the student bears some responsibility for: 1, not dropping out due to laziness or other factors within his control (dropping out eliminates all of the hypothetical income gains from going to college); 2, understanding the terms and conditions of the student loan instead of whining about being exploited; 3, majoring in a field that is likely to pay enough to cover the loans; 4. understanding his limitations, in declining to apply if not smart enough to benefit from college.

* Grade inflation is making GPAs less effective at signalling competence, contributing to creeping credentialism. If a 3.0-4.0 GPA bachelors of arts doesn’t mean much, then the next step is a Masters. Then it’s PHD, and so on.

There is also tendency for things to become harder and more efficient as time goes on, due to competition, evolution through trial and error making people smarter and savvier, and the low-hanging fruit being picked. This is observed in the investing world, with the majority of active management failing to beat the indexes whereas in the past active management was more successful at generating ‘alpha’.

Consider Contraception

From iSteve: The Economist: Free Contraception for Africa Would be a Great Investment

This an example how HBD-based policy can help curb social problems, be it entitlement spending, overpopulation of at-risk groups, or crime. Republicans need to get over this belief that every unborn life is sacred or is worth saving and instead consider HBD-based solutions, as everything else has been tried with little or no success. Too many Republicans believe family values and good intentions will solve everything; obviously it hasn’t as evidenced by the prison population overflowing, at great cost to taxpayers. Same for the expansion of the police and FBI. If Republicans care about stopping crime and entitlement spending, as well as protecting tax payers, as do I, they should be more receptive to policy that over the long-run would do just that – instead of what we already have, which isn’t really working that well.

Related: Eugenics Summary, and HBD-Based Policy

Post-2008 Capitalism: A Guide

From n+1 magazine, After Capitalism:

HOW WILL IT END? For centuries even the most sanguine of capitalism’s theorists have thought it not long for this world. Smith, Ricardo, and Mill pointed to a “falling rate of profit” linked to inevitable declines in agricultural productivity. Marx applied the same concept to industrial production, suggesting that the tendency to replace workers with machines would lead to a chronic and insurmountable lack of demand.

The only thing that has as good of track record as capitalism are predictions of capitalism’s demise.

Fiscal austerity is general, taxes remain low, and debt levels continue to rise—which means that Western countries, by selling treasury bonds to the rich through capital markets, are actually paying their elites in bond yields to avoid having to go through the politically impossible process of taxing them. Absent any political recourse to countercyclical fiscal policy, central banks in the US, the Eurozone, and Japan have kept interest rates low and pumped trillions of dollars of fiat money into the financial system, keeping banks and dot-com companies liquid and driving the rich to put their money into the condos now flooding Manhattan, all while leaving median wages pleasantly low.

That is similar to the process I describe in an earlier article, Post-Labor Capitalism. But instead of post-capitalism, it’s more like post-labor capitalism; capitalism remains intact. As well as other factors like the petrodollar, the ‘flight to safety‘ is keeping yields low and the dollar high. The author seems cynical about how money is flowing into tech companies, but tech companies offer among the best growth prospects of all sectors. * Amazon stock, up 200% in the past few years, has been a great place to put your money; Diamond Offshore, a drilling company whose stock is down 50% this year, has not, because of weakness in emerging markets, depressing commodity prices. In a post-2008 era of slow growth, Web 2.0 is where the growth is.

Getting less work seems unlikely to come about without the fight for solidarity, the chief intellectual achievement of the workers’ movement, and one that none of the accelerationists see fit to mention as an ideal worth preserving or even renovating. This is despite the fact that automation—or, more broadly, the increasing precariousness of labor through technologically assisted means—has always been dialectically connected with it.

The Luddite Fallacy will likely remain a fallacy, but the composition of the labor force is changing to one of more lower-paying service sector jobs, as well as the rise of gig, freelancer, and temp jobs. The result is a bifurcated workforce: lots of low-paying jobs and a handful of good-paying jobs occupied by the cognitive elite and creative class. This is an example of how technology and automation provides a deflationary force through lower wages.

But overall, when pundits proclaim ‘capitalism is dead/dying’, they may be referring to an antiquated meaning or idealization of capitalism that does not take into account how capitalism is changing, but this does not mean capitalism is dead -hardly by any stretch of the imagination – instead, it’s evolving to a more efficient, technological, network-driven, ad-based, winner-take-all version of capitalism that we have now. Capitalism, like much of the post-2008 economy, has become bifurcated, with winners being high-IQ capitalists and ‘high-IQ’ capitalist endeavors, and less intelligent people and ‘low-IQ’ businesses are struggling.

Perhaps post-2008 capitalism is characterized by the following ‘themes’:

1. high-IQ favoritism – both in the business/investing world and individually, with smarter people and smarter businesses succeeding over their less intelligent peers

2. winner-take-all/bigger-is-better (small business failure at record highs, expensive real estate regions keep getting more expensive, web 2.0 valuations at record highs for a handful of companies, etc)

3. flight to quality (similar to #2) – observed in the investing world, venture capitalism, Bay Area real estate, and strength of the treasury bond market & US dollar vs. weakness of foreign peers

4. capitalism is getting smarter, choosier and pickier (** *) Lending standards are more stringent than ever, despite profits & earnings for multinationals at record highs, whereas in the pre-2008 era it was much easier to obtain financing for home or business. This is good because it reduces the likelihood of a crisis like in 2008, but perhaps frustrating for many who are unable to get financing at competitive rates. But this should not be confused for total risk aversion. Valuations for Silicon Valley tech firms keep going up, so money is flowing into the sectors and regions where the quality is perceived to be the highest, resulting in a bifurcation of very high valuations for quality and very low valuations for everything else.

5. capitalism is confusing, partly due to the new rules and trends that many don’t understand. That’s why I wrote this guide to help readers better understand how the landscape of capitalism has changed.

This high-IQ favoritism is also evident in the stock market since 2008, with the best performing sectors being information technolgy, pharma/bio/healthcare, payment processing, investment banking, and consumer discretionary. The biggest losers, have been ‘blue collar’ sectors like mining, shipping, commodities, energy, etc. The only ‘blue collar’ sector that has thrived since 2008 is …auto parts, because consumers, squeezed by a weak labor market and other lingering effects of the recession, are not replacing their cars as often. Maybe also housing, catering, daycare, and landscaping in the Bay Area to cater to the new tech rich.

Besides IQ, the ‘bigger is better‘ theme also dominates in our post-2008 world. The failure rate for small business is higher than ever, party due to low interest rates and plunging treasury yields, making it easier for large companies with access to cheap capital to expand, thus crowding out small businesses. The most valuable web 2.0 companies keep going up in value. In late 2013 Uber and Snapchat were worth $30 billion combined. Now it’s over $100 billion or so, depending on the source.

This bigger is better/IQ favoritism trend is also observed in Bay Area real estate, which keeps going up long after other regions have stagnated. Bay Area home prices are well-above the 2006-2007 highs, yet the national average still well-below the old highs. Expensive homes in high-IQ regions keep getting more expensive, year after year, with calamitous events such as the 2006 housing bubble resembling merely speedbumps in an otherwise uninterrupted trajectory of higher prices.

San Jose home prices, which were already expensive, are higher than their 2006 highs, while the less-expensive national average is still 10% below the old highs.

This is all part of America’s meritocracy, which while intact, is harder to understand. A lot of people are finding themselves left behind, either because they are not smart enough or because they don’t understand how the post-2008 economy works, they don’t understand how to get rich in our new era:

That’s the way you get rich in the smartist era – with stocks, Bay Area real estate, web 2.0…stuff like that. Overpaid, low-IQ, redundant salaried jobs are becoming obsolete, replaced by automation, temp-workers, outsourcing, or eliminated altogether. Due to the supply of labor vastly exceeding demand, employers not only have the luxury of choosing the cream of the crop out of a huge pool of applicants, but to save money and avoid bad PR, employers are becoming increasingly trigger-happy, thus no one’s job is safe.

The rug has been pulled…but all too many people are stuck in a pre-2008 mindset, thinking that the old rules of business and life still apply. They don’t.

The fact 20 and 30-somethings are becoming millionaires or even billionaires in Silicon Valley, with apps and other technologies, while coders strait out of college are making six-figure salaries – is evidence capitalism is thriving, or at least thriving in high-IQ sectors and regions. Anyone with some coding and a good idea can become rich, almost overnight, and if that is not the epitome of capitalism, what is? Some call it a bubble, but assuming it is one (I don’t think it is), technologies are borne out of boom bust cycles, examples being the 90′s dotcom boom and the 80′s personal computer & video game console boom. After the dust settles, what was considered speculative becomes commonplace.

Since 2008, trillions of dollars of wealth has been created in stocks, real estate, and tech. The mobile and video advertising market, linking advertisers with social media platforms, is projected to be worth $100 billion by 2016. The new Star Wars movie is projected to earn over $2 billion, setting a box office record. That is capitalism. You can’t tell me capitalism is dead when you have all this activity going on – but – Capitalism may seem dead if you’re doing it wrong ** or if you’re looking at it through an old lens.

* Capitalism is getting smarter, as part of the post-2008 ‘flight to quality’ trend. In the pre-2008 world, money flow was careless (such as to subprime borrowers, energy companies with poor prospects, emerging markets, etc), but now it’s much more focused, and that’s why the most successful and valuable web 2.0 companies like Snapchat, Air BNB, Uber, and Dropbox keep getting more valuable with every passing year. The same ‘flight to quality’ trend observed in the stock market, which is why only a handful of companies (Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon) accounted for all of the gains of the S&P 500 in 2015. As explained earlier in the article, a similar flight to quality/’winner take all’ pattern is observed in the real estate market. After many decades of trial and error, boom and busts, capitalism may have reached the pinnacle of refinement.

** The types of business endeavors that seem to be succeeding in the post-2008 era harness network effects or act as a middlemen, are scalable, have market dominance, and have low operating costs. Some examples include Uber and AirBNB, neither of which cost much to operate, are readily scalable, and act as middlemen by linking people with rooms or people with cars. There are millions of rooms and millions of routes for Air BNB and Uber, respectively. Facebook and Snapchat are scalable and harness network effects to generate billions of impressions for advertisers, making these companies very valuable even if they don’t produce any content. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google’s profit margins are among the highest on Wall St. All these companies do is host a social media platform and an ad platform, and just sit back and watch the money flow in. None of these companies have viable competitors; over a decade later, despite many efforts, no one has been unable to unseat the dominance of Facebook and Google, and I predict nothing will.

They’re defecting, Mortimer: The rise of Trump and the fall of the ‘Cuck’ empire

It’s so funny how the NYT’s readers, in the comments, are disparaging the multiculturalism that the newspaper espouses. Either these readers represent a vocal minority or the NYT is going to lose a lot of readers, if it hasn’t already. Same with the post-2014 decline of conservative media ‘strongholds’ like National Review Online and World Net Daily, both which are bastions for ‘cucks’, and their readers, particularly in the comments, are defecting, turning to edgier ‘new media’ such as Vox Day, Breitbart, Twitter, and Danger and Play. And then you have the meteoric assent of Trump, catapulted to front-runner status by the France and San Bernardino terrorist attacks, both perpetrated by Muslims, contributing to a deserved anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment that helps Trump. People are concerned, rightfully so, about who is coming into the country, which groups.

Trump is the ‘internet’s’ own politician, sorta like Ron Paul in 2008 but with much bigger balls to say what people really want to hear, with an assertiveness and boldness that for a generation has been missing from US politics. And that’s why, by my estimate, 60-70% of the internet supports Trump.

Because of his charisma and mass appeal, Trump is leading despite spending very little on advertising:

Trump has galvanized millions of people who are otherwise apathetic about politics, as well as emboldening the GOP after a decade of lackluster candidates, with a rallying cry that is 2015′s ‘word of the year’, cuckservative. In 2013 and 2014, we saw the sjw-narrative collapse, which is still imploding to this day, but now we’re seeing the collapse of the ‘cuckservative’ narrative, too, as evidenced by the ignominious end of the Jeb Bush, once presumed to be the front-runner, now just a tall shadow of his former self.

Mike summarizes the Trump phenomenon better than probably anyone else.