BALTIMORE – We were disappointed to see the pedestal… naked… forlorn… its statue gone… its purpose defunct.
For more than a century, the bronze statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney – gravely pondering the weighty issues of the mid-19th century – graced the park.
Now he is gone.
Justice Taney’s statue in Baltimore has been hauled off
Now, we are so much better people.
Because now we have so many rules, regulations, and protocols, we have no choice in the matter. We no longer have to be wise, clever, or good. No pondering necessary. We just have to obey!
For example, you have thousands of choices about which drugs to take.
Many of them will kill you, but you don’t want to go to the grave after taking an “illegal” drug. Better to take a doctor’s prescription; then your grieving spouse can sue somebody.
No fanny pinching without prior consent! If your wife tells you it’s okay, tell her to put it in writing. And consult a lawyer.
Unless, of course, you are famous or powerful; then, the President of the United States of America says you can do whatever you want.
And no tax avoidance… unless it is specifically authorized in one of the 71,689 pages of the U.S. tax code. Or perhaps in the 459-page Senate tax reform proposal.
That is progress! Everything is carefully laid out for us.
“Take off your shoes… take out your laptops…” The SEC gives us 80 years of rulings to guide our investment morality.
And if the impulse to say something hateful to your neighbor comes over you, you’re saved: It’s against the law. Discrimination is unlawful, too.
And according to a full-page warning in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, it is against the law even to “steer” people to neighborhoods where you think they will be more at home (that is, where other people like them live).
And now, there is no longer any need to separate the deserving poor from the layabouts; the feds are in charge of charity. Old people? Cripples? Half-wits? The feds will take care of them, too.
That’s the great advantage of living in a degenerate civilization; the authorities will make the decisions for you.
If only Roger Taney had had access to the internet. Surely, he would have come down on the right side of that Dred Scott decision, and he’d still have his place in the park.
And now that we have electronic brains in abundance, there will be no more errors. No more moral failures. No more accidents. And no more “Oh, I didn’t know that” replies when you are caught breaking one of the 10,000 commandments that govern our lives.
Our cars will be self-driving. And robot butlers will bring us our clothes in the morning. (No more mixing plaids… no more clashing colors.)
Yes, dear reader, here is where it starts to get interesting.
Back in the summer, Morgan Stanley predicted that quantum computing would soon lead to “exponential acceleration” in the ability of computers to think.
Pretty soon, computers will be smarter than we are. They can decide what pants we wear.
Speaking for ourselves, we are neither surprised nor impressed.
Computers have been getting smarter all the time; humans, on the other hand, have been getting dumber. They were bound to meet somewhere.
Now, according to the experts, these smarter computers will do all the work that used to be done by bipeds.
This thought has delighted both central planners and cabbage people.
The former are busy figuring out how to keep control over the machines… and use them to create the perfect societies they’ve always wanted.
The latter are planning full-time retirement.
Where the two come together is in a Guaranteed Basic Income. From a post at Medium:
As long as we force each other to work for money in order to live, automation will work against us instead of for us. It is a civilizational imperative that we decouple income from work so as to create economic freedom for all.
Without an unconditional basic income, the future is a very dark place. With unconditional basic income, especially one that rises as productivity rises as a rightful share of an increasingly automating economy, the future is finally a place for humanity.
We don’t know where humanity has been all these years! But finally, the future we’ve all be waiting for. A zombie paradise. No work. No thinking.
Which just illustrates why it will be so easy for machine intelligence to overtake the organic kind.
More to come…
By Chris Lowe, Editor at Large, Bonner & Partners
The tech steamroller keeps on rolling…
Today’s chart looks at the increase in the market value of the FAANG tech stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google), plus the Chinese BAT tech stocks (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) since the start of the year.
These are the biggest names in the tech universe right now.
And as you can see, collectively, they’ve added $1.7 trillion in market value since the start of the year.
That’s more than the market value of Germany’s 30 largest companies (as tracked by its DAX index).
It’s also more than the annual Canadian GDP.
– Chris Lowe
Technology Comes to Blue-Collar Jobs
As Bill mentioned above, technology is advancing at an alarming rate. And new studies show that technology is finding its way into previously unconquered territory: blue-collar jobs.
America: The World’s Energy Titan
The shale boom in the U.S. has been good for American energy producers… very good. New projections show that, in ten years, America will be the world’s top oil and gas exporter.
Doug Casey: How I Learned to Love Bitcoin
Legendary speculator, and Bill’s longtime friend, Doug Casey pens this essay to answer an important question: Is bitcoin money?
In the mailbag, conversation turns to the millennial generation…
Thank you for telling it like it is in North America and probably Europe and Australia. I keep wondering what this world will be like when millennials become heads of families, then middle-aged. Thanks for having the guts to write that brief expos… on the state of the world, millennial edition.
– Jeff J.
Thanks for your article on the millennials. All I can say is, “Amen!”
– S. G.
WOW. And I thought the baby boomers were a whacked-out generation!
– George S.
Meanwhile, another reader talks taxes…
A few issues back you wrote: This represents a call on future output… on work that hasn’t been done yet… on products that haven’t been made or sold… on profits that haven’t been earned and taxes that haven’t been collected. Debt doesn’t erase costs… it doesn’t disappear them. It merely puts them off. For a while. Then… who pays?
I would like to offer a different narrative.
Every U.S. bond, bill, or note that you or I carry in our wallets is a DEFAULTED UPON promise to pay. The importance of this can’t be stressed enough in my mind. It is, from that perspective, not a claim upon future production as it is a debt. It is a levy of a current tax by what should be an immediate depreciation on the value of these defaulted securities. However, that only occurs with the passage of time and recognition by the market of what is actually happening.
When someone can’t pay their obligations, we say they are bankrupt. They are obligated to liquidate or they reorganize; they operate at the will and pleasure of the creditors until the debt can be paid. That is to say, until the creditor is satisfied either by operation of law or force.
When a country’s politicians choose to operate under these conditions perpetually, what would you call that? When a country’s government chooses to bind its people under these monetary burdens contrary to the constitution, what do you call that?
Most Americans can’t even begin to understand these issues.
– Mike R.