we don’t trust; we verify

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photo by Leo Manjarrez, via Unsplash

Tumbling down the rabbit hole is hard. It’s disorienting. It’s uncomfortable. It requires genuine humility as you realize all the things you never really understood properly in the first place.

But it’s also fun. It’s a highly effective filter for the truly open-minded, curious, and disciplined. There is a good amount of arrogance and disagreeableness too, but that’s trade-offs for you. Nothing is perfect.

Economics and engineering alike give rise to hard choices and opportunity costs. If you don’t like the choices that have been made, that’s absolutely fine. Nobody is forcing you to be…


or, how to check your fiat privilege

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Lenz’s Law states that a current induced by a changing magnetic field flows in the direction such that the magnetic field created by the current opposes the change in the flux of the magnetic field that induced it. One could dive into all kinds of fun electrodynamics to explore its importance; that it explains the negative sign in Faraday’s Law, for example. But we needn’t do so here. …


What it is and how to fight it

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Fiat privilege is a concept that highlights the unfair societal advantages that people with proximity to the money printer have over people of savings. With roots in the physics envy prevalent in twentieth-century macroeconomics and the widespread financialization made possible by the severing of the dollar’s peg to gold, fiat privilege has developed in circumstances that have broadly sought to protect the interests of those who most directly benefit from unconscious inflationism.

Fiat privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that people of proximity may not recognize they have, which…


Part XIV and Finale of the Bitgenstein Serialization

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“Of the various centres in which republican ideas continued to be discussed and celebrated throughout the later Renaissance, the one with the most enduring commitment to the traditional values of independence and self-government was Venice. While the rest of Italy succumbed to the rule of the signori, the Venetians never relinquished their traditional liberties.”

- Quentin Skinner

I tend to find Bitcoin analogies that aren’t transparently rhetorical to inevitably have some fatal flaw that ultimately makes them more confusing than they are helpful. And yet, Venice has an enigmatic appeal that I…


Part XIII of the Bitgenstein Serialization

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photo by Aaron Burden, via Unsplash

“To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.”

- Ludwig Wittgenstein

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman infamously said on the Tim Ferris podcast that Bitcoin is like a Wittgenstein language game, with no elaboration whatsoever! Were I to pick up the baton, I would refer to Philosophical Investigations and the dictum that, “the meaning of a word is its use in the language.” …


Part XII of the Bitgenstein Serialization

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picture by Wikilmages, via Pixabay

“An amount of money lent to a government, and the interest amount charged, is assumed to be risk-free because it is in turn assumed that a government can tax, borrow, or print further amounts of money to pay its debt. These three options are indeed available to a modern government, but one must not ignore the fact that the government has no access to risk-free rates of return when investing the borrowed money. …


Part XI of the Bitgenstein Serialization

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photo by Abdullah Faraz, via Unsplash

“An individual can be arrested for ‘manufacturing’ money in his own home but the commercial banking system is given the full protection of law in doing what amounts to the same thing. There is no justice in this … There are those who say that we must develop an Islamic alternative to modern commercial banking. But why must we do so? …


Part X of the Bitgenstein Serialization

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Anyone who accumulated large amounts of wealth while remaining independent of military-political command structures faced the problem of safeguarding what he had gained. Unless a merchant could count on the protection of some formidable man of power, there was nothing to restrain local potentates from seizing his property any time his goods came within reach. To gain effective protection was likely to be costly — so costly as to inhibit large-scale accumulation of private capital.

- William McNeill

Bitcoin is often framed as “competing” with fiat currency. This is true in a sense but…


Part IX of the Bitgenstein Serialization

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photo via Pixabay

Quentin Skinner’s monumental overview of the development of early modern political philosophy, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, begins with the following lines,

As early as the middle of the twelfth century the German historian Otto of Freising recognised that a new and remarkable form of social and political organisation had arisen in Northern Italy. One peculiarity he noted was that Italian society had apparently ceased to be feudal in character.

While Skinner’s concern is political philosophy and not economic history, it is easy enough to identify that these social changes were made possible…


Part VIII of the Bitgenstein Serialization

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photo by Gary Bendig, via Unsplash

“It is harder to ignore the enormous increase in indebtedness and overhead that has accompanied the enlargement of farm technology. Mr Billard quotes an Iowa banker: “In 1920 … $5,000 was a big loan, and people hesitated to borrow. Now a $40,000 loan is commonplace, and having mortgage after mortgage is an accepted thing. I occasionally wonder whether the average farmer will ever get out of debt.” …

… The Iowa banker’s statement, doubtful as it may seem out of context, is made in praise of credit. Nowhere is there a question of the…

allen farrington

maybe a squirrel. maybe not. views my own, not my employer’s.

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