AERC Reflection #1

One of the underlying themes that I have picked up on during the last few days at the Mises AERC– not merely from the various lecturers– is the desperate need for libertarians, if the label still fits in the age of a crash-and-burn Libertarian Party, to move beyond politics as a means toward social influence.

Such a demeanor has been communicated more implicitly than explicitly, but in any case what is being noticed and hinted at is the need to be well-rounded participants in society. Being good people, being good husbands and wives, being good fathers and mothers, being good businessmen and women, being leaders that reach horizontally toward colleagues, and vertically to the rising generation.

These are things that libertarians in general have tended to be quite bad at. Living quality lives as human beings is itself a means toward a better world. And for the most part, having grandiose visions of making the world a better place or engaging in efforts toward “cosmic justice” is much less impactful than living well. Of course, living well has implications at a deeper level than the materialism suggested by the colloquial use of the phrase– it implies a quality of social demeanor, the way in which one carries oneself and interacts with the people and institutions around him. Who better exemplifies such heroism than Ludwig von Mises himself?

In this way, the best libertarian is never the one that follows the crowd, but the one who stands “ever so boldly against it.” In the age of an agitating leftism, libertarianism as a movement is disintegrating and slipping away to the extent that it focuses solely on social-trend chasing and appeals to some of the worst elements of the anti-social revolutionaries of our time. Bob Luddy spoke today on the vitality of having a long-term mindset in regards to running a business. Of course, this applies equally to social movements. How immediate-term minded are so many “libertarians?” It’s quite disturbing.

All this of course is said with deep appreciation for the Mises Institute and all that it stands for– it is a bulwark not only in it’s uniqueness as an institution in the world in general, but its uniqueness as an institution in the libertarian world, such as it is, specifically.


What I Do

Online, people know me generally in 3 capacities: admin and head honcho of everything related to the Reformed Libertarian facebook group, writer at Mises.org and, more recently, creator of AustroLibertarian.com. The first group has produced for me a very loyal and committed, though inherently limited, audience. The other two I am now turning my attention to.

But that’s online. My offline life is quite different. This is how I have made my living, of course– though more recently, due to successes in the offline world I am interested in developing my presence and name on the internet as well.

Here is what I do for a living:

First, I run a referral only strategic consulting company that specializes in two things: 1, project revamps– wherein we as a team go into a corporate setting in which there is a stalled project with zero progress being made (but hundreds of thousands of dollars being poured down the drain) and we revamp it and push it forward so that it leaves its dangerous plateau state– there’s a lot of reasons for plateauing in corporate settings, it’s common. 2, we take all the progressive and trending online technologies that so many people who spend time online are aware of (zendesk, slack, asana, trello, stripe, etc– could go on for days), and we introduce them to paper and pen businesses who are shocked at what’s available to them. Then we charge them 50% of their savings for 3-5 years following our efforts.

Second, I am the cofounder and co-owner of a startup (Onyx) that is on the receiving end of a nice chunk of capital investment. This startup is on the final legs of producing a private equity financial technology company that seeks to replicate all the cloud based investment platforms that are out there (Wealthfront, Betterment, RobinHood, etc), but focus on the private equity, early stage capital formation– our claim to fame (or our unique service offering) is that we integrate with Self-Directed IRA accounts for private equity investments.

Third, I, just last month, became a sort of business manager for someone I personally   very much revere. I proposed my services after he needed a new assistant, but I hate (argh!) the word assistant– mostly because I have my own assistants and in any case am more of a take-control of the situation and solve problems person than a give me some tasks and I’ll do them if you give me an hourly wage kind of guy. 

Finally, I have poured my late nights and very early mornings into the production of a premier, premium, and luxurious Austro Libertarian magazine/journal that I someday hope can be as elegant and rich as the socialist publication Jacobin, which I am obsessed with (not as a sympathizer, of course). I have hired a trustworthy friend of mine, named Mitch Thompson, and Hannah Sproul (an artist and designer) and am utilizing two other great individuals as editors to help me make this happen.

Those who have known me online more than five years know I lost 110 pounds in the span of 8 months in 2018. The weight was a symptom, a reaction, of general bodily and physiological unhealthiness that, as soon as I pinpointed and rectified, healed both body and brain. The weight is gone, but the brain energy and activity is alive like never before. I have done well in the private sector and am even on an exit path from the first consulting company as I am transitioning out due to a very beneficial sale.

That’s how I handle everything, and 3 kids (plus one more on the way)– but of course my wife stays at home and homeschools and manages the household and all that, so my life wouldn’t be possible without her.

In any case, I have of course been answering questions nonstop about my weight loss and how I was able to accomplish it, so I am looking forward to getting into detail on this blog here in the next few weeks. 

And for those asking. I generally wake up at 4:30-5, answer emails, take care of whatever hit my inbox overnight, make breakfast for the kids and my own super special butter coffee at 6:30 and then get up to my office around 7:30. I do magazine stuff until 8:30 and then do the fintech business with my brother until about noon. All the while keeping an eye on my email and tasks related to both business manager needs, as well as employees and coworkers and their various needs. Interspersed throughout this timeframe I am taking short spurt breaks to write a flood of emails to all sorts of people related to any number of things.

At noon I quickly shift to consulting stuff (unless there was some important onsite meeting and I had to be there in the morning), and then back again to magazine/emails until about 2:30, when I have some more daily tasks coming due with the business manager stuff. At 3:30/4:00 I take a break to be with the kids and family in general (but sometimes I’m working in 5 minute increments until 7, when I put the two older kids to bed while my wife puts the baby to sleep. Then my wife reads with me in my office while I answer emails, prepare my to-do list for the next day, read, write, etc. Then she goes to bed around 9:30 and I’m up until midnight doing magazine stuff, answering more emails, writing, reading, watching things from the day, etc. Interspersed in this timeframe, I’m preparing a bottle for the baby around 11:30 (my wife needs way more sleep than I do) and then I get her back down again and I am in bed by 12:00.

There’s three very important components of my daily life: diet (my brain really is in the best shape of my life, because of what I am feeding it– I’m no expert, but I’ve paid close attention over the past 12 months to this aspect of my life); technology (everything I do is organized to the T, which means technology has to be leveraged perfectly, so as not to be a distraction, but an asset– more on this lateR); lack of decision fatigue. I don’t dwell on anything. It’s either all pre-figured out, or I just go with my instinct and with confidence if its not a huge deal. Most things aren’t a huge deal. Most people overthink the wrong things and underthink the things they should be more strategic with.

I have, for whatever reason, mastered the ability of determining what is worth in depth thought and what is not. I never spend more time than needed on anything. I hate waiting, drawing things out.

I’m learning, I’m flawed, I make mistakes. But I’m self-aware and objective. I know my strengths, and seek to identify and improve my weaknesses (or just hire out).


Does AOC want Power?

At Target Liberty, Robert Wenzel writes:

The more I see of her, the more I am convinced she is a skilled Leninist. She wants power, that is what drives her. She is not seeking truth in any fashion. She is using policy issues and alliances in a very skilled manner to advance the only cause she is really interested in: Power to AOC and the greater the power the better, That agenda doesn’t sit too well with a live and let live philosophy.

I disagree. I think that’s a little sloppy. I think she’s just some kid from New York who knows nothing about how the real world works, about what economic theory teaches about the nature of capitalism and exchange, and zero interest in understanding property rights and the liberties that depend on them. She’s simply a loon perfectly suited for massive following in the social media age. She’s goofy, she knows how to play victim to her advantage (every time someone offered legitimate criticism, she dismisses it as “because I’m female), and therefore can’t argue intellectually.

But of course, her know-nothingness is not the primary problem. Most congresspeople know nothing. It’s that the ideas she thinks are great, are, in fact, devastating. And the system she thinks she loathes– capitalism– is not in actuality the problem of our age; state interventionism is.


Capitalists and the Lowest Price

In Jacobin’s series “The ABCs of Capitalism,” which I was browsing this morning after just receiving them in the mail, I came across this statement:

If a capitalist doesn’t produce at the lowest price, she knows that she will lose customers, if that continues, her firm will start bleeding money.

This is almost striking in its ignorance of the real world. The series purports to explain as simply as possible “how the system works” so that socialism can therefore be seen as the alternative. But in the real world, in the system as it exists, consumers weigh hundreds of factors in their patronage of businesses. Price is definitely one of them. But if the lowest price was the only standard, we wouldn’t have Whole Foods, Apple, Nordstrom, mansions, Bulletproof coffee, Hardback books, First Class flying, Mercedes, etc.

People buy things, not because they are the lowest cost, but because various other factors have added into the equation including quality, customers service, durability, name recognition, social status, price, style, accessibility, unique features, and on and on.

The capitalist profits to the extent that he arranges resources in a way that satisfies consumers, not merely in the potential price differential between costs and whatever the sales price is. This shows a shocking lack of understanding of how prices are formed across time and backward through the stages of production.


Jacobin Skewers Mises

Remember how I’m really reading a lot of Jacobin right now as I work to create this magazine? The jerks just barfed up this gem, Happy New Year:

So it’s less surprising than it might initially appear that Ludwig von Mises has joined Nietzsche and Heidegger in the pantheon of today’s alt-right. Richard Spencer has recommended that his acolytes read von Mises and his American student Murray Rothbard. Mencius Moldbug, the preferred brand of pseudo-highbrow neofascist leaders, agrees: “Mises is a titan; Rothbard is a giant,” he has written. The chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LVMI) in Auburn, Alabama, is Lew Rockwell, whom you might remember for ghostwriting all those racist Ron Paul newsletters. The LVMI’s most notorious affiliate is Hans-Hermann Hoppe, whose 2001 screed Democracy: The God That Failed has become something of a bible for the alt-right movement.

The Moldbug thing is the most hysterical, both in the colloquial and literal sense. It’s the low brow smear of century: someone recommended someone else, therefore the one being recommended is associated with the recommender. 

I suppose the Richard Spencer thing could be categorized as such as well, but there’s nuance here: Spencer used to be a better libertarian, but is self-admittedly no longer. 

At any rate, the idea that the alt-right, which has no actual definition and is just a mindless accusation against anyone to the “right” of Mitt Romney, finds the classical liberalism of Mises as their crowning inspiration immensely lacks credibility.


AL MAG: Soft Announcement

While there’s still work to be done, I feel like we are far enough in the process of this to do a soft announcement of sorts: there is a premium, physical (about 90% sure on the physical, but digital is certain, though less enticing) magazine in the works. Tentatively called “Austro Libertarian Magazine,” or to shorten it, we have with brilliant creativity dubbed it AL Mag– which is what Very Cool peeps are calling it. 

How do I succinctly describe this project? Readers (in my various groups and sites) are aware that I have immersed myself in the world of socialist content as of late– most specifically by handing over my money to that socialist rag Jacobin in order to receive propaganda in my mailbox once a quarter (don’t worry, I keep it away from the impressionable toddlers). In any case, this well-funded, well-capitalized, Marxist outlet offers a publication that is stunning in its quality of content and presentation. I was hoping to compete with it– but given that we don’t yet have a Friedrich Engels to bankroll it, we are bootstrapping it, so to speak– like true capitalists preparing for war with our lined-pocketed communist foes.

But we will talk money later. For now, I am quite impressed with the Jacobin magazine and think there are enough resources at our disposal to attempt something similar. Right now, I’m taking advantage of my good friends Trey Smith and Ben Lewis and they are helping me with content formulation and editing. And look what our friend Hannah Sproul made (subject to change):

Jacobin Mags are almost 100 pages– I was thinking ours would be around 60-75 probably, published quarterly. I want this to be premium, beautiful, special, and well-done, not just in the editing and content, but also in the aesthetics and presentation.

A working example of our first issue Table of Contents (subject to alteration, though most of it is by now ready for press, so to speak):

We even had fun brainstorming potential columns of humor.

  • “The State of the Union, with ________________________” (A first person satirical piece)
    • Hillary Clinton
    • Ayn Rand
    • Gary Johnson (LOL)
  • The Skeletons in Gary Johnson’s Closet, an exclusive interview (obviously this Magazine leans toward Mises/Alabama libertarianism, don’t @ us.)
  • How to Find a Libertarian Soul Mate
    • ie. Step 1: Open Reddit Account
  • From the Comments: humorous comments from the pages of Robert Reich and Bernie Sanders and Rick Santorum
  • Libertarian Stereotype of the Month Column
    • ie. The Fed is Illuminati Plot Guy
    • Ruins Thanksgiving Dinner Conversation Guy
    • Fiscally Conservative but Socially Liberal Guy??

Call for Submissions and Ideas

If you would like to offer content in any of the above italicized categories, please send submissions to ALMag [at] cjayengel.com 


The 97% Statistic on Climate Change

If you aren’t reacting like this to climate reports, are you even woke?

I always hear the alleged statistic that 97% of scientists believe in man made global warming– which is now “climate change” because the experts couldn’t predict the temperature trends, the financial crisis, Hillary’s defeat…. Anyways, I am summarizing the problems with that statistic for my own future reference, and for yours. You’re welcome.

I will quote from John Kerry, as he summarizes the claim succinctly: “97 percent of climate scientists have confirmed that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible… they agree that, if we continue to go down the same path that we are going down today, the world as we know if will change– and it will change dramatically for the worse.”

The 97% statistic originally came from a 2013 study led by John Cook.

First of all, as Alex Epstein clearly explains in his book the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (highly recommended), there is so often a bait and switch going on in discussions regarding the 97%. Regardless of the actual number (which we will get to), Cook’s study said absolutely nothing about going down the current path, the world as we know it changing, and, especially, the world changing for the worse. That’s just typical fear mongering: taking a single statistic and exaggerating and broadening its application for political gain.

Now, here is how Cook got to the 97%. He first surveyed 11,944 abstracts– just the abstracts, not the papers themselves (much less getting a statement from the authors)– from papers that had to do with global warming, based on a simple search for the matched topics “global warming” or “global climate change.” 

The results of the abstracts (got this from here):

Then he took categories 1 and 2 (those who had a strong opinion that man is causing global warming) and compared it to categories 6 and 7 (those who had a strong opinion against the claim that man is causing global warming). The ratio here is 986 papers vs. 24; or 97%. 

Okay… so does this mean 97% of climate scientists agree?; that is, there is a solid consensus? Sure, if you leave out the fact that there are about 8,000 (!!) without an opinion/uncertain. If you account for them (and why shouldn’t we?), the new percentage comes in closer too… 10%. Hard to get the crowds going with that.

And of course, to be more than fair, if you could also stretch the thesis by looking at the ratio of categories 1-3 compared to those 4-7, which is around 33%. Still, not worth bragging about that’s for sure.

There’s also some other highly relevant bits of information. First, as Neil Frank mentions here, the reason why there were only 24 papers published by those who strongly disagree with the “consensus” (lol) in the first place was because literally thousands of papers were denied entry into the very database of papers that Cook et al were searching! Frank refers both to this book of published emails relating to this academic scandal and one Kenneth Richard who documented many papers over 2014-2016 that “challenge[d] the hypothesis that CO2 has been the primary driver of recent global warming.”

However, you don’t have believe there was a cover up (I do, for the record), to realize that regardless, there were 1000’s of papers that did not enter into Cook’s math at all, all of which were likely in categories 6 and 7.

Thus, it is profoundly unscientific to state “97% of climate scientists agree that….” It is more honest and accurate to say “97% of 1,010 papers, taken from a set of 11,944, which was a politically limited set to begin with, agree or mostly agree with the “consensus.” In which case, “consensus” here is like saying there is a consensus that John Mcafee should be elected President. 

Thus, here’s how to respond to Barack Obama (btw, has Russell Moore criticized him for this lie yet?)’s following Tweet.

Besides the above refutation of the 97%, “scientists” is the broadest description of the authors of these papers anyways. Think of all the science professionals who research outside the bounds of climate-related science. The 97% is a completely made up number. And, most importantly, zero percent (ZERO!!!) of the paper abstracts were considered in terms of their “danger” or threat to human life, civilization, or the economy. 

Lies! Anyways, here’s a dog picture with a clever caption.

A Suggested HuffPo article: “How to talk to your puppy about climate catastrophe.”

The Nature of Thought Control in the 21st Century

When we think of the most gruesome totalitarian regimes in the 20th century, we think of actual gulags, imprisonments, and mass slaughter. The nature of totalitarianism in our time will not look like that. It will rather be a soft authoritarianism– it will take two primary forms.

First is what Michael Malice refers to: the highly publicized skewering of a single person (or handful of people) to make an example out of him. They loudly proclaim this “enemy of society” as a proponent of “hate” and as a bigot and they produce a sort of circus trial with cameras and news segments and protestors to be streamed to our devices. That way the rest of us “get the point.” We will behave because we can’t afford to get skewered. We will live in constant fear of saying the wrong thing, having the wrong opinion, criticizing the wrong politically protected group.

It’s too difficult and expensive and time consuming to put all dissenters into prison camps– and it goes against the creepy and Orwellian narrative of “love” as the single motivating factor of all socio-political action. The Regime doesn’t need to send all dissenters to Prison in order to dominate– it just needs to leave a few heads on spikes so that people understand the message.

But second, as we move into a world of increased digital socialization– where our very lives and identities are found online– there is also another means of authoritarian control that is equally as concerning: the complete removal of one’s presence from the internet for saying the wrong thing. If anyone has seen Black Mirror, the episode on social credit comes to mind. One can imagine a scenario where your credit worthiness or your “background checks” for jobs, education, and social groups are considered via your history of expressed approved opinion– in China they are already doing this and vocal disagreement with the regime constitutes damage to your social credit.

In the west, the “regime” also includes various politically protected and especially coddled classes of people (classes that are created and defined by the government of course) that might include non-white groups, LGBT members, immigrants in general, or loudly expressed dissent of government policy and trends.

In this case, the major tech corporations are the gatekeepers to acceptable society and their discretion reigns supreme– at their whim and prerogative, they have the ability to make one’s entire life disappear. And if in the future the “real” is the “digital,” if one’s social identity is defined by his online presence and expression of thought, then to be removed from The Platform is to be, for all intents and purposes, removed from society. The ultimate ostracism.

This sound dystopian, but is it really all that different to what is currently happening to the many YouTubers, Twitter users, Patreon users, and so forth who wake up to an email indicating that their entire library of work (which they have depended on for income) has been deleted from the internet? Tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of supporters and followers and audience bases; gone. Content, gone. All that hard work? Forever forgotten. Their own digital libraries of thoughts, social contributions, input, reflections on current events? Lost, not to history, but to the Internet’s Thought Controllers.

I know some of these people. They are good people– but they said the wrong thing in the wrong way and The Great Algorithm has brought them down.

This cannot be reversed except by the gatekeepers. Some of these people have everything they’ve ever done on these platforms– they are defined by it and consider it their contribution to society and their means of making a living.

Gone. Down the deep dark hole of the internet, never to return.

This is a staggering thought.

This second means of thought control via making people disappear is a remarkable prospect. If society itself exists online in a meaningful way that replicates or replaces the physical world of the pre-internet age (and we are certainly in this transition– many people born before 1985 or so don’t truly understand this), then to be removed from your platform is to exist without permission to participate in the New Society.

What do you tell a potential boss, a social group, a creditor, or some other entity, when they inquire as to your non-existence? Or perhaps, when they investigate to put together their reports, it comes up as “suspended for hate speech.”

Hate speech as a legal category has always been a means of stifling dissent by first loudly going after the groups of people no one cares about anyways, but then using that as a means to control those whose speech can be redefined to fit the whims of the controllers.

But now the logic of this dubious phrase is reaching its fruition as the narrative of “oppressed vs. oppressor” reaches new heights of hysteria. People’s lives are being ruined, not by people who refuse to endorse traditionally deranged behavior, but by the teaming up of the alleged victims and the techno-state masters who cling to the victims as a launch pad toward Total Power.