Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The More Things Change . . .

The comic strip Boondocks has been in reruns for the last few years.  This is today's strip, originally form 2004.

Boondocks for 11/30/2011

Funny that it will probably be true no matter who's president.  Though I think it will be hard to top the absurdity of awarding the million dollar Nobel Peace Prize to a neo-con warmonger.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Some of you may recall my exchange with Dr. Walter Block regarding fractional reserve banking being fraudulent.  Block equivocated his way through all sorts of verbal gymnastics, basically stating I was correct, but refusing to back away from his original statement.
Seems Dr. Gary North has the same inability to see his most simple of errors.
Today's email "Tip of the Week" was to be careful when canceling an order.  He doesn't yet have the tip posted on his website:
Gary North's Tip of the Week - November 26, 2011 Amazon's Refunds

  I ordered an Amazon Kindle last week. Then I canceled the order five minutes later. I then ordered a more expensive unit.
  Yesterday, I received two units. I was charged for both. I will return the one I did not order.
  The units came with no packing slips.
  I will have to pay for UPS shipping to send it back.
  But wait! There's more! Read all about it!
  Warning: If you order something from Amazon and then cancel, maybe you did not really cancel . . . according to Amazon's software. You only think you did. As they say, things are easier to get into than out of.

Gary "Burnt by a Kindle" North
In the article linked, he complains about having to pay shipping to send the item back.  The article includes a screen shot of the Amazon return process.  He had nine options to pick why he was returning the item.  He choose one that admitted he was 100% at fault even though out of the nine options there are at least six where Amazon at least partially admits fault and two of the nine fit his description much better than the one he choose.
Ignoring the fact that he probably didn't click and receive confirmation that the order was canceled, I sent North the following message:
Dr. North,

Just in case someone hasn't already pointed it out, "Arrived in addition to what was ordered" fits your description of events.  Your canceled an order, you ordered something else, you received the item you ordered, you also received "in addition to" your order something you didn't order.  Not only does that fit your description of what occurred, it also admits fault on Amazon's part.

I believe you're letting your irritation with the situation block you ability to be objective.  Your screen shot shows nine reasons to choose from for the reason for the return.  Out of those nine, in addition to the "in addition to" option, the following five show some acceptance of responsibility on Amazon's part for the error:

 - Missed estimated delivery date
 - Missing parts or accessories
 - Different from what was ordered
 - Defective/Does not work properly
 - Different from website description

Not trying to be overly harsh, but your statement, "In short, 'we don't make no stinking mistakes'" is just wrong.  66.6% of the options available have Amazon accepting at least partial responsibility for the error.

Now if you had chosen the correct option, "Arrived in addition to what was ordered", Amazon may have argued that you didn't cancel your order.  At that point you would have been able to write a weekly tip about good or bad customer service (depending upon Amazon's handling of the situation) and bad website design (lack of clear indication that the order was not yet canceled).

Instead of admitting he picked a poor choice, he sent me this reply:


Then I guess I am also imagining this:

It's all my fault.
Instead of addressing the issue at hand, he changes topics.  So I replied:
Yes, really.  "Arrived in addition to what was ordered" exactly fits your description of events.  If your description isn't accurate causing that option to not fit, then that's a different issue.  Amazon gave nine options to choose for why the item was being returned.  Six of those accept responsibility on Amazon's part - contrary to your claim that they state, "We Don't Make No Stinking Mistakes!". 

Nowhere did I state the problem was your fault, much less "all your fault".  Nowhere did I claim Amazon doesn't need more testing of their site.  Nowhere did I state you were imagining things.  Unlike Amazon, you seem to be the one claiming "I Don't Make No Stinking Mistakes!".  Instead of getting defensive, maybe you should learn from a simple mistake and examine the choices and pick a better one next time.
Shockingly, since I wasn't even expecting the first reply much less a second, he emailed:
I see.
I canceled the order.  I explained why I canceled the order when I did so. The software placed the order.
My fault?
I warned people that their orders might not be canceled. I got a letter from a subscriber who said she had experienced the same thing.
They have software problems. They should fix the software problems.
Well, no shit.  They should fix the bugs in their software.  Just like he shouldn't have admitted he was at fault if he wants them to accept responsibility.  For one who complains about individuals repeating themselves instead of actually coming up with a rational argument, I have three words - Pot Kettle Black.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Next Meeting - Thursday November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011
5:30 to 8:00 pm

Panera Bread
28551 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, Michigan

Our podcast discussion will be Scott Horton's interview of Charles Goyette.  We will also be continuing with Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty discussing chapters 24, 25 & 26.  There are three free versions of the book online: html, pdf, and audio.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Next Meeting - Thursday October 27, 2011

While the sidebar has been kept up to date regarding upcoming meetings, I haven't posted meeting info to the blog in a while.  The next meeting will be:

Thursday, October 13, 2011
5:30 to 8:00 pm

Panera Bread
28551 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, Michigan

Our podcast discussion will be Jeffrey Rogers Hummel's speech at's Young Scholars Colloquim titled The Constitution as Counter-Revolution.  For those who prefer, there is a article version of the speech.  

We are continuing are discussion of Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty.  We are reviewing chapters 20 & 21, discussed briefly at the last meeting and chapters 22 & 23.

20. Lifeboat Situations
21. The "Rights" of Animals  22. The Nature of the State
23. The Inner Contradictions of the State

There is both a html and pdf version of the book free online.

If you prefer, there's also an audio version of the book.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Government caters to those who want to micro-manage your life

A woman in Florida uses the government to exert her will on school-children:

"Peanut Allergy Stirs Controversy at Florida School."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Another installment of "we R doomed"

It's just another day in paradise (I mean, Detroit). Here is a news story about-- you guessed it-- a drug-addicted, single mother, "living" with two toddlers, two cats, a dog, drug needles, a TV (gotta have one of those), and a space heater... in a SHED in the middle of winter.

It fills me with great sadness that a mother puts drugs ahead of her kids, and that the kids are born with little hope of a viable future.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Detroit Public Schools (DPS)

It's amazing how slow government organizations work.

January 1st I posted about assisting a financial analyst from the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) on a report on how to solve the bankrupt Detroit Public Schools (DPS) financial problems.

The financial analyst was excited about the ideas we came up with. He presented the report to the union president who embraced many of the ideas. On January 7th the DFT presented the report to Robert Bobb, the state trustee placed in charge of the DPS. While he liked many of the ideas, Mr. Bobb was determined to stick with his original plan of having the state pay off the DPS debt. This man is paid six figures a year and his big plan is to have the state pay off the debt; an idea that has been rejected more than once. Unfortunately this type of waste is typical of the DPS. The financial analyst informed me:
At one point, several years ago, the District was using at least eight different law firms as well as maintaining their own legal department. It has been a District tradition to spend millions of dollars yearly on outside consultants and attorneys.

During the last three rounds of contract talks, the District utilized numerous attorneys and consultants. The last round of talks that ended in 2009 had more consultants than ever. They put together fancy presentations and were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars even though, in the end, nearly all of the $60 to $70 million in savings to the District came from ideas generated by the DFT at no cost to the District. This past summer, the District paid several million dollars to two consulting companies that made a complete shambles of the hiring and assigning of new teachers and the revamping of the special education program.
January 18, the plan was presented to the president of AFT-MI (the state teachers union).  The plan was well received, but the AFT thought they should continue to try to get Mr. Bobb on board.

The plan was to be presented to the DFT membership at their monthly meeting on January 20.  However,

The meeting never officially started.  The newly elected officers were sworn in to the sound of shouts and boos. Then chaos ruled for the next two hours as Steve Conn and his followers denounced the results of the recount and demanded that either all of the ballots be recounted again by hand, or that there be a new election.  The situation could have gotten even more ugly than it did, but there were three police officers in the back of the auditorium.  Still, it was quite disheartening to realize how thug-like some of our Detroit teachers could act.  Some of those folks are really scary.
The plan was finally presented to the DFT membership February 11.  The financial analyst told me that in spite of the first hour of the meeting consisting of people insulting and shouting at each other, there was complete silence when he got up to address the financial problems.  He stated our plan was well received and actually received a round of applause.

Next week (almost two months later), the DFT finally plans on presenting our plan to the governor.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2011 Predictions


Gold 1,420
Silver 32

DJIA 12,000




Oil - Brent Crude

Bank Failures 187

CPI inflation


Unemployment  7


Alltime High

Gold 1,442.60
Silver 49.45
DJIA 14,279.96
S&P 1,576.09
Nasdaq 5,132.52
Oil - Brent Crude 147.27

"This year I will beat everyone, and even DW will have to admit that he was beaten by a girl... and not only that, but a Justin Bieber fan!"
Dow - low 10000 // high 14500 //  end 12,000
Gold - falls in first quarter to 1265 // summer 1475 // end 1420
Silver - 32
Bank failures - 187   
Unemployment (government-reported value) - 7%           
Housing - falls to new lows
Detroit schools - they fail to take DW's suggestions and they suffer the consequences   
DAAG solves the problem of property rights and becomes world-famous. Carrie abhors being a celebrity and uses her new-found riches to buy a secluded forest in mid-Michigan.

Gold           1470       
Silver            38   
Dow          12650   
S&P            1330       
Nasdaq        2900       
Oil               122           
Bank Failures  142       
Inflation (CPI)   6%
Unemployment  9.2%       
DAAG Becomes a temporary political party. Wins every election; then disbands the government... The result? Everyone is SUPER happy and wants to live in the former USA. They end up calling it Real Utopia of America.

Dow: high 13,500  low 10000s           
S&P: high 1450   low in 1000s           
Gold will correct to around $1200 during the year
Japanese stocks will do well this decade
Natural gas will do well in 2011
Interest rates will increase.  US Treasurys will drop.
Detroit will declare bankruptcy   
Housing will offer good buys
Euro tanks   

Gold $1500, Silver $32, Oil $80  Euro at 1.10
Dow 11500 and Nasdaq 2650
I expect a general asset correction in next month or two in gold but especially industrial commodities.  China slow down keeps oil low.
US equity markets fall in 2011 but still out perform on a relative basis most other countries with possible exception of Japan.

Bank closings: 140
Gold: $1700/toz
Silver: $25/toz
Oil: $110, but will reach $135 during the year.
U-3 unemployment: 7%
U-6: 17%
IF: CPI-U (includes all items) stays < 5%
DOW: 13,000
SP500: 1400
NASDAQ: 3000
CPI-U will reach 9% this year.  The Fed will stop pumping.
DOW: 9,000
SP500: 950
NASDAQ: 1500

Dow     9500
Russel   650
S&P     1150
Gold     1500
Bank Failures   200

1/3/11 Jim Cramer "I predict Alcoa will be the best performer in the S&P 500 in 2011."
I'd like to add to my predictions that Alcoa's stock (N:AA) will not have a good year.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

2011 Predictions

Dave - high 13500, low 10000, end 12400
Carrie - high 14500, low 10000, end 12000
Richard - 9500
Eric - 11500
Dan - 12650
Ken - 9000

Dave - high 1450, low 1000, end 1420
Richard - 1150
Dan - 1330
Ken - 950

Dave - 2900
Eric - 2650
Dan - 2900
Ken - 1500

Richard - 650

Dave - corrects to 1200, end 1710
Carrie - falls in first quarter to 1265, summer 1475, end 1420
Richard - 1500
Eric - 1500
Dan - 1470
Ken - 1700

Dave - 42
Carrie - 32
Eric - 32
Dan - 38
Ken - 25

Dave - 130
Eric - 80
Dan - 122
Ken - will reach 135 during 2011, but will end at 110

Eric - 1.10

Dave - 98
Carrie - 187
Richard - 200
Dan - 142
Ken - 140

Dave - 7%
Dan - 6%
Ken - CPI-U 9%

Dave - 9%
Carrie - 7%
Dan - 9.2%
Ken - U3 7%
Ken - U6 17%

Carrie - DAAG solves the problem of property rights and becomes world-famous.
Dan - DAAG becomes a temporary political party, wins every election, and disbands the government.

Dave - Japanese stocks and natural gas will do well this decade. Interest rates will increase. US Treasurys will drop. Detroit will declare bankruptcy. Housing will start to offer good buys. Euro tanks.
Carrie - housing falls to new lows
Richard - stagflation
Eric - general asset correction in next month or two in gold but especially industrial commodities. China slow down keeps oil low. US equity markets fall in 2011 but still out perform on a relative basis most other countries with possible exception of Japan.

Ken - My predictions are based on the assumption that the Fed will stop pumping based on inflation concerns. If inflation stays low, I think we will see QE III, and the markets will end higher (Dow 13,000, S&P500 1400, NASDAQ 3000). But that is not what I am predicting for years end 2011.

Note: If inflation becomes a concern for the Fed, I see no reason why the Federal Reserve will allow debt to be inflated away. They serve the big banks, not us, or the treasury. The long T-bond will continue it's decline (disclosure - Ken has a large position in TBT).


Because we are a warm and tolerant bunch, we will accept late predictions up until the next meeting. Those who fail to make predictions by that time agree that they fail at life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Is there anything good about red tape?"

Fox 2 local news has a segment called "Job Shop with Murray Feldman" that features companies (or government agencies) that have job openings. Today, the lead-in to this segment was:
"Is there anything good about red tape? YES! It creates jobs." The story went on to say that some branch of government was hiring 300 call center agents to "help enforce compliance" with Obamacare. Unfortunately I couldn't find the clip on channel 2's website.
Should we tell them about the broken window fallacy?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2010 Predictions

Predictions from a year ago:


DJIA 14000
S&P 1200



Gold 1200
Oil  125
Unemployment 10%


The year end actual:

DJIA 11577.51
S&P 1257.64
Nasdaq 2652.87
Gold 1420.85
Oil  93.31
Craig & Dave 
Unemployment 9.4

Taking three categories, the winner - Dave.

Tied for 2nd - Craig & Xorp.

Followed by NewEdit and coming in last (of those brave enough to make predictions) Eric.

One may argue that my 2000 prediction on the Nasdaq was way off.  However my full prediction was that the Nasdaq would rise to 2500 then fall to 2000.  The Nasdaq closed above 2500 on 4/14/10, hit 2530 on 4/23/10, then proceeded to drop to 2091 on 7/2/10.  After nailing my prediction, the Nasdaq went on a 500 point rampage the last four months of the year.  The Dow & S&P acted similarly, coming very close to hitting my predictions of 12000 & 1300 for highs and 9000s & 1000 for lows.

Though they weren't included in our predictions, there were 157 bank failures in 2010 compared to 140 in 2009 and 25 in 2008.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Best & Brightest continued

The genius psych major deleted her FB posts. For a good laugh I cut & pasted them below.

She reminds me of Laurence Vance's axiom, "If [govt proponents] could spell correctly, use punctuation, and write worth a darn then maybe we would take them a little more seriously." Honestly, I feel sorry for her.

Forwarded conversation
Subject: Helga B. commented on Daniel W. Livingston's status.
From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 7:43 PM

Helga wrote: "David-you are the prototype of someone who is headed for danger. The anxiety/depression sufferer who juggles numbers all day; stuck in a monotonous life so he fills it with grandiose imaginings. nothin incoherent about my post, even if it was filled with errors, the message is quite clear to you I'm sure. you need a good therapist. STAT. I have a degree in Psychology and 10+ yrs working with ppl of all abilities and limitations. your kind, the most dangerous because their is an imflated ego that is tough to get past. I hope you do. Peace be with you."

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 7:47 PM

Helga wrote: "I killing at a time would not be as big a news, but if it were to this scale with non-politicians...YES IT WOULD BE...the college capmus shooting did not involve politicans and they were covered just as much. when large numbers of ppl are involved in things,they make the news ....even the miners being resuced did...and it wasn't even in the US. I watched every one of them lifted up. Anyhow need help. your thinking way way out; don't hold yourself in higher esteem because of it. you know darn well gov is you'd call the cops (gov funded and run) if you needed know your fantasy anarchy world can not exist. get yourself straightened out."

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 7:54 PM

Helga wrote: "so funny...a guy who makes his living processing papers to be turned into the gov (taxes)...with anti-gov rhetoric. how ironic."

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Helga wrote: ""govt is legalized violence" yes, police may shoot back if threatened...everything else about gov is aimed at stopping violence. Domestic violence laws; elder abuse laws; Adult Protective Services. I am anti-war because I beleive in this day and age there are other ways to deal (stop trading with enemies; stop buying their products) with enemies that sending our young to die...aside from war....I do not see how gov is legalized violence. you are way out there David and it is that kind of BS that makes someone who is probably intelligent a waste...A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE. Put your efforts to good use if you claim to be a Christian. There are laws upheld throughout the bible. Why be another loose cannon in society?"

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Helga wrote: "what a crock of sht"

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 8:10 PM

Helga wrote: "read Walden Two David...or perhaps you have already...and then close the book and be doen with the fantasy, because such a place will never exist. it did not in biblical times, it will never. Gov regulates everything; if a doctor ever saves you life or that of a loved one, thabk your gov because it set standards for that doctor to get his license...stop with the mindless anarchy crap. put effort into good governing rather than the idea of no governing. or are you going to just handle the entire country for everyone (good grief)"

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 9:02 PM

Helga wrote: "The media covered the college campus shootings and no gov employees were harmed there. The media covers things when they are on such a grand scale. The anti-gov stance is BS. Gov is not legalized violence; it sets domestic violence laws; elder abuse laws; police may only use force as a last resort; it serves and protects. Don't be a nutbag; a mind is a terrible thing to waste. What a waste of Walden Two (a governmentless utopia) I studied it extensively when I studied Social Psychology (my BA is in Psych), infact I kept the book bcs I enjoyed it and still have the A paper I wrote on it....but then close the book David; close the book on the fantasy because such a place has never existed and never will."

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 9:44 PM

Helga wrote: "I'm not a psychologist; I work with adults with disabilites and have for over ten yrs. I deleted those post, but am glad you read them. Why delete them? bcs it saddens me that ppl like you exist and I have realized it is near impossible to get through to your type. Your issues are clear and I certainly hope you get help for them...such an incredbile waste of a mind. The number cruncher type like you often see thing in balck and white and can't see shades of grey. The best thing for you would probably to volunteer in some sort of social service organization funded by the gov so you can see the other side of the coin. I have no need to defend myself to you and ...if you know psychologists, I wish you would have opened yourself to their services....very inflated ego for you to suggest psychs are "messed up" what capacity have you encountered them? Or are you just trying to insult me...I dedicate my life to the wellbeing of ppl with disabilites David. I'm muber cruncher can penetrate that on some fb posts. Get help. It is obvious you suffer w anxiety and depression issues, but your success wil be didcated by your willingness to be trreated; highly unlikely from what I can tell."

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Helga wrote: ""muber cruncher"....hahaha yeah, I type very fast so typos abound.. I'm sure it's legible though. Ppl anti-authority are the most dangerous type in any and all societies."

From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Helga wrote: ""Proving once again that govt work attracts the best and brightest of society is this Facebook post. Internet forums, especially one like Facebook, aren't the best media for in-depth rational discourse, but still." SO THIS IS WHAT YOU DO HUH DAVID...YOU TAKE PPLS comments out of context on fb and post them to your anarchy blog page? I'm not a gov employee you a**..I work for a nonprofit that helps ppl who are living with severe limitations. You think you have me pegged somehow huh? You are a disgrace to America."


From: Facebook
Date: Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Helga wrote: "You certainly are a " Slippery Pencil" alright David. If you want to post something post a link to this entire ppl can read YOUR how you posted "The shooting of a few govt employees is far from a national tragedy, it's blowback.""


Hey genius, I did post a link to the entire dialog. However, since you deleted your 11 idiotic posts, it's not really the entire dialog you desire.

Govt Employees - The Best & Brightest of Society

Proving once again that govt work attracts the best and brightest of society is this Facebook post.  Internet forums, especially one like Facebook, aren't the best media for in-depth rational discourse, but still. 
Helga B.: wtf??? The is no utopia like in Walden Two...I SURE AM GLAD I LIVE IN A LAND WITH GOV AND LAWS. ppl need boudaries. "force and coercion" whatever the F you want to call it. visit a prison and learn what kind of heinous crimes go on even wit...h boundaries. consider places with less of them..nations in Africa, for ex, where women are mutilated because their are no laws protecting them..who wants to think of their mother, sister, daughter's parts sewn shut by some crazy villagers...anarchy. that is some wicked twisted thinking. noting more immoral than someone who knows nothing about the human psyche preaching F'in anarchy. sick sick sick. FIND WHERE ON EARTH THAT TWISTED SHIT WORKS AND MOVE THERE PLEASE. I've been in social work for 10+ yrs and known parents to beat their mentally ill childen thinking they can BEAT mental illness out of their child...until DYFS stepped law boundaries...Social Workers like me ALL A VITAL NECESSITY.....see a therapist please..before you go wacko on us. (
 These people are scary.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Detroit Public Schools (DPS)

Three weeks ago, Mish predicted that the city of Detroit and the DPS system would both file bankruptcy in 2011 (

In the three weeks since Mish's article, The Detroit Federation of Teachers (the local teachers union) has prepared a report to present to the DPS titled "The Detroit Federation of Teachers Proposals for Paying Off the Detroit Public Schools Legacy Deficit coauthored by P. F., Financial Analyst and David Weigel, CPA."  Yes, in what could possibly be the most shocking event in my life, a teachers union requested my input on averting a financial crisis. 

While it may be too late no matter what they do, my most beneficial suggestions - abolish the whole system, make the parents responsible for the children, let the free market provide solutions, declare bankruptcy - are not included in the report.  Suggestions of mine were: competition/school choice, charter schools, cutting bureaucracy, pay cuts, teacher accountability, embracing Teach for America, and revamping health insurance benefits.

Sadly, due to bureaucracy and union politics, I doubt any of the suggestions will see light of day.  We'll have to wait and see.