Skip to main content

The Impact of Philosophy

I had breakfast with my wife Marisol today and as usual got some good ideas and insights from my time with her.  She mentioned to me that her sister Francis had decided to finally pack it in and move from Venezuela, her home country and one that she has always been passionate about.  Francis is a force of nature and is something of a celebrity in Venezuela having served in the late President Chavez’ original cabinet as the Minister of Sports and Culture.  For her to give up on her country is a big deal, but a country that is out of toilet paper and short on drinkable water seems to have met that criterion. 
Marisol wondered aloud how a country so rich with natural resources as Venezuela could have hit such a low point, whilst a country like Chile, that doesn’t have the oil wealth of her home country, has managed to prosper.  The only answer we could come up with was that one had a system that worked and the other did not. 

As I continued to ponder this on the subway ride into work I thought about the path of the U.S. and where we fit in on the spectrum of nations, and what similarities we had with Venezuela or Chile.  I remembered back when I first got to know Francis, during her Chavez years, and recalled her characterization of anyone who had money as being corrupt.  I used to fight with her about this because I knew so many Americans who had achieved serious financial success and who had done so honestly and through ingenuity and hard work (ok, not always ingenuity but almost always hard work).  I remembered thinking back then how sad it was that a country could become as cynical as to broadly hold the achievement of wealth in such contempt.  I realized then that Venezuela was in deep trouble, because none of its youth would aspire to achieve.  Today, I began to think about what led to this sad state of affairs, and realized that it could only be crony capitalism, whereby government has taken control of a large stake of the economy and has the power to dictate winners and losers.  In such a system, wealth is not gained by merit but by connections and ultimately corruption.  Today, Venezuelan society is representative of an advanced state of decay, and it would seem to be a crystal clear example that government-directed economies, and demonizing the achievement of wealth lead to terrible outcomes.  As a New York city resident, I wonder about the fact that it seems we’re about to elect a mayor who may not understand these things too well based upon his policies, and I fear for where our city, and our nation may be heading.

Popular posts from this blog

"No, Not You. You Are Fake News."

"No, not you. You are fake news."  These were the words chosen by our president-elect to shut down a CNN reporter seeking to question him at his recent press conference. Many hearing those words surely recoiled, interpreting them as an affront to freedom and a form of censuring. I reacted quite differently, instead celebrating the moment that a strong leader decided to hold people accountable in a public manner for their actions.

Taxes and Hyperbole

There is a new tax code in the U.S., and this is indeed a “Yuuuge” deal. As far as I can tell, it is as close to an unmitigated home run for America as can be. Is it perfect? Of course, it’s not. The code retains its unwieldy size and complexity, largely as a result of compromises made in order to bribe congressmen and senators for their votes. Until we get term limits, it seems we’re stuck with a tax code that is big and complex. However, it does hit the mark on a few key issues: most every taxpayer will now pay less to the federal government (except those in states with ridiculously mismanaged economies who now will be forced to hold their state politicians more accountable); and our businesses, large and small alike, will remit less of their profits to the federal government and will be liberated to invest that savings into growth – which will surely create job and wage growth in the productive private sector.

James Harden - A Classic Case of Misunderstood Value

The last time I wrote on hoops was December 2013 when I presciently trashed Carmelo Anthony. The time has come to take out my poison pen once again to decry James Harden as a fraud. I know that Harden has amazing stats - third in scoring, first in assists, and that his team the Rockets have far exceeded expectations as they are currently the 3rd seed out west. But, I still maintain that he is an awful player.