The Republic of Cospaia: An Anarchist Renaissance City

The Republic of Cospaia: An Anarchist Renaissance City

04/22/2020Ellie McFarland

When in search of an example of libertarianism or so-called right-wing anarchism, many antistatists are quick to reference practical plans based on systems we already have, such voluntary insurance companies or security firms' replacement of the role of the state. But this usually doesn’t satisfy the the other side. They want a historical, material example of anarchism or radical libertarianism in practice in a specific place and time. It can be hard to name a place like that.  Most "anarchist" polities have been coercive, such as the Paris Commune. Most of them have also been communistic, like Puerto Real. Those examples don't exactly lend themselves to the point that extreme free-market capitalism and volunteerism are practical or peaceful.

But a place that well illustrates a long-lasting polity that also lacked the trappings of a state is the Republic of Cospaia, a little-known Italian city-state.

The Republic of Cospaia existed between 1440 and 1826. That's nearly four hundred years. For comparison, the Republic of Cospaia existed for fifty-two years longer than Europe has known about the Americas. It is the longest-lived, most modern, most capitalist, and most Western anarchist society to ever exist. "Western" is important because often it is not enough to site anarchic native civilizations of the Americas and Oceania. Some argue that their anarchism was a result of their ill-advanced technology or their relative isolation. This bypasses all of that. Cospaia was as developed as any other mid-rural hamlet at the time of its conception. It continued to advance at a comparable rate to surrounding areas until its death in the early 1800s. Unless one argues that all of the Mediterranean was primitive well into the nineteenth century, the argument of ill advancement holds no water.

An anarchic region does not mean a chaotic region. It also does not mean a region without a system to enact order or the enforcement of general morality. All that qualifies a place as anarchic is it lacks an entity that holds a monopoly on force. Although Cospaia did not have a state—the entity in a region that holds a monopoly on force—it had what could be called a sort of deliberative body concerned with matters of the local church, morality, and how to handle outside aggressors (of which there were surprisingly few). This body took the form of the "Council of Elders and Family Heads," and perhaps is only called a republic for that inclusion of "family heads." This body decided with whom the members of the families would associate personally and in business. That was not done through force, but through familial pressure. Despite the fact that this council was nonviolent and, importantly, not a state, Cospaia seems to have been as stable as any other region of the time. There were no taxes in Cospaia, except for the disputed existence of a "council membership" fee. But if it did exist, this fee cannot be called a tax, because inclusion in the council was voluntary. Excommunication of a family due to refusal to pay this fee would also not have been a "negative force," considering that this region was not under the control of Italy and that there was a wide escape zone for exiles around Cospaia. Not only was Cospaia technologically comparable to surrounding regions, but in the 1500s it was the key tobacco-manufacturing region in Italy.

Thanks to the Pope's policy of excommunicating anyone found smoking and Italy's tobacco ban, Cospaia (which was not Italian) was the only place in Italy able to easily manufacture it. Their economy boomed. Cospaia lacked prisons and police, and this was compensated by a robust culture of self-defense and what seems to have been a general attitude of nonaggression. This attitude was likely created by the closeness of the community (the population was between three and six hundred) and the involvement of families in governance.

What is most inspiring about the existence and history of Cospaia is that it came into existence by accident. A territorial dispute between the papal states and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany left out a small region between two rivers known as Cospaia. When Cospaia noticed that it had been overlooked, it quickly declared independence and neither the Duchy of Tuscany nor the papal states bothered to take it over. Its people paid no taxes on the outside and no internal taxes. They felt no need to have any jails, police, military, or bureaucratic nightmares to dilute their industry. Cospaia was not the result of a revolution or incrementalism to destroy the local Italian state from the inside. They were not too-late clones of the organized and planned communes of medieval Europe. Cospaia was simply the result of a community with one desire: to be left alone. Cospaia was such an astonishing accident that its "military," which amounted to nothing more than a comparably anemic Mediterranean minuteman force, never faced an outside conflict significant enough to be written about. Cospaia was so peaceful, so small, and provided so many resources to her neighbors that no one ever bothered to invade or attack.

The end of Cospaia came with its inclusion in the papal states in the early 1800s. Its motto, Perpetua et firma libertas, or "Perpetual and secure freedom," did not quite disappear. It maintained its industry and sold tobacco to foreign regions while expanding the trade to neighboring Tuscan regions, improving those economies along with its own. It remained nearly tax-free and was one of the lowest-taxed areas in Italy well into the twentieth century. With the burial of Cospaia's motto, the most robust example of practical volunteerism was buried. But Cospaia's history is not forgotten. It is the most tangible and modern example of a truly liberated society. One could say that it was the wealth and homogeneity of 1960s American communes that made them livable, and that the rurality and isolation of natives makes their relative anarchism a byproduct of "primitivism." But no one can say the same of Cospaia, a tiny nation on a hill, as advanced as any other Renaissance nation and the most profitable tobacco market in Italy.

Cospaia was not successful despite its freedom, lawlessness, and wide-open markets, but was successful because of those things. A voluntary coalition of community figureheads led Cospaia past its status as a mild and forgotten region to become the biggest tobacco producer in Italy for almost three centuries. Its existence was the natural result of the state leaving the region behind. This state of nature, contrary to Hobbes, was peaceful and more prosperous than the condition of its prohibition-stricken neighbors. Cospaia is by far the best example in favor of the practicality of libertarianism, capitalism, and anarchism. It is a place someone could travel to, touch, and experience. It is a utopia made real, because libertarianism is not utopian; it is perpetual and secure freedom.

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Henry Kissinger and the First Gulf War

Editors Note: Much of Murray Rothbard's historical work was grounded upon power elite analysis. Justin Raimondo noted the value of this work, "Theoreticians of the Left and Right are constantly referring to abstract "forces" when they examine and attempt to explain historical patterns. Applying the principle of methodological individualism — which attributes all human action to individual actors — and the economic principles of the Austrian School, Rothbard formulated a trenchant overview of the American elite and the history of the modern era. The following is an example of this work: a 1991 article originally published in the Rothbard Rockwell Report titled "Why the War? The Kuwait Connection", identifying the various factors leading into the first Gulf War, in particular Henry Kissinger's role in the matter.

For more on Rothbard's views on Henry Kissinger and another example of his power elite analysis, read Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy.

Why the War? The Kuwait Connection

Why, exactly, did we go to war in the Gulf? The answer remains murky, but perhaps we can find one explanation by examining the strong and ominous Kuwait Connection in our government. (I am indebted to an excellent article in an obscure New York tabloid, Downtown, by Bob Feldman, “The Kissinger Affair,” March 27.) The Sabahklatura that runs the Kuwait government is immensely wealthy, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, derived from tax/”royalty” loot extracted from oil producers simply because the Sabah tribe claims “sovereignty” over that valuable chunk of desert real estate. The Sabah tribe has no legitimate claim to the oil revenue; it did nothing to homestead or mix its labor or any other resource with the crude oil.

It is reasonable to assume that the Sabah family stands ready to use a modest portion of that ill-gotten wealth to purchase defenders and advocates in the powerful United States. We now focus our attention on the sinister but almost universally Beloved figure of Dr. Henry Kissinger, a lifelong spokesman, counselor, and servitor of the Rockefeller World Empire. Kissinger is so Beloved, in fact, that whenever he appears on Nightline or Crossfire he appears alone, since it seems to be lese majest (or even blasphemy) for anyone to contradict the Great One’s banal and ponderous Teutonic pronouncements. Only a handful of grumblers and malcontents on the extreme right and extreme left disturb this cozy consensus.

In 1954, the 31-year-old Kissinger, a Harvard political scientist and admirer of Metternich, was plucked out of his academic obscurity to become lifelong foreign policy advisor to New York Governor Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. Doctor K continued in that august role until he assumed the mastery of foreign policy throughout the Nixon and Ford administrations. In that role, Kissinger played a major part in prolonging and extending the Vietnam War, and in the mass murder of civilians entailed by the terror bombings of Vietnam, the secret bombing of Cambodia, and the invasion of Laos.

Since leaving office in 1977, Dr. Kissinger has continued to play a highly influential role in U.S. politics, in the U.S. media, and in the Rockefeller world empire. It was Kissinger, along with David Rockefeller, who was decisive in the disastrous decision of President Carter to admit the recently toppled Shah of Iran, old friend and ally of the Rockefellers, into the United States, a decision that led directly to the Iranian hostage crisis and to Carter’s downfall. Today, Kissinger still continues to serve as a trustee of the powerful Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as a counselor to Rockefellers’ Chase Manhattan Bank, and as a member of Chase’s International Advisory Committee. Kissinger’s media influence is evident from his having served on the board of CBS, Inc., and having been a paid consultant to both NBC News and ABC News. That takes care of all three networks.

But Kissinger’s major, and most lucrative role, has come as head of Kissinger Associates in New York City, founded on a loan obtained in 1982 from the international banking firm of E.M. Warburg, Pincus and Company. Nominally, Kissinger Associates (KA) is an “international consulting firm” but “consultant” covers many sins, and in KA’s case, this means international political influence-peddling for its two dozen or so important corporate clients. In the fullest report on KA, Leslie Gelb in the New York Times Magazine for April 20, 1986, reveals that, in that year, 25 to 30 corporations paid KA between $150,000 and $420,000 each per annum for political influence and access. As Gelb blandly puts it: “The superstar international consultants [at KA] were certainly people who would get their telephone calls returned from high American government officials and who would also be able to get executives in to see foreign leaders.” I dare say a lot more than mere access could be gained thereby. KA’s offices in New York and Washington are small, but they pack a powerful punch. (Is it mere coincidence that KA’s Park Avenue headquarters is in the same building as the local office of Chase Manhattan Bank’s subsidiary, the Commercial Bank of Kuwait?)

Who were these “superstar international consultants?” One of them, who in 1986 was the vice chairman of KA, is none other than General Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor under President Ford, and, playing the exact same role under George Bush, serving as the chief architect of the Gulf War. One of the General’s top clients was Kuwait’s government-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, who paid Scowcroft for his services at least from 1984 through 1986. In addition, Scowcroft became a director of Santa Fe International (SFI) in the early 1980s, not long after SFI was purchased by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation in 1981. Joining Scowcroft on the SFI board was Scowcroft’s old boss, Gerald Ford. One of SFI’s activities is drilling oil wells in Kuwait, an operation which, of course, had to be suspended after the Iraq invasion.

Brent Scowcroft, it is clear, has enjoyed a long-standing and lucrative Kuwait connection. Is it a coincidence that it was Scowcroft’s National Security Council presentation on August 3, 1990, which according to the New York Times (February 21) “crystallized people’s thinking and galvanized support” for a “strong response” to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait?

Scowcroft, by the way, does not exhaust the Republican administrations’ revolving door among Kissinger Associates. Another top KA official, Lawrence Eagleburger, undersecretary of state under Reagan, has returned to high office after a stint at KA as deputy secretary of state under George Bush.

Also vitally important at KA are the members of its board of directors. One director is T. Jefferson Cunningham III, who is also a director of the Midland Bank of Britain, which has also been a KA client. The fascinating point here is that 10.5 percent of this $4 billion bank is owned by the Kuwait government. And Kissinger, as head of KA, is of course concerned to advance the interests of his clients – which include the Midland Bank and therefore the government of Kuwait. Does this connection have anything to do with Kissinger’s ultra-hawkish views on the Gulf War? In the meantime, Kissinger continues to serve on President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which gives Kissinger not only a channel for giving advice but also gives him access to national security information which could prove useful to KA’s corporate clients.

Another KA client is the Fluor Corporation, which has a special interest in Saudi Arabia. Shortly before the August 2 invasion, Saudi Arabia decided to launch a $30 to $40 billion project to expand oil production, and granted two huge oil contracts to the Parson and Fluor corporations. (New York Times, August 21)

One member of KA’s board of directors is ARCO Chairman Robert O. Anderson; ARCO, also one of KA’s clients, is engaged in joint oil-exploration and oil-drilling in offshore China with Santa Fe International, the subsidiary of the Kuwait government.

Other KA board members are William D. Rogers, undersecretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, and long-time leading Dewey-Rockefeller Republican in New York; former Citibank (Rockefeller) Chairman Edward Palmer; and Eric Lord Roll, economist and chairman of the board of the London international banking house of S.F. Warburg.

Perhaps the most interesting KA board member is one of the most Beloved figures in the conservative movement, William E. Simon, secretary of treasury in the Nixon and Ford administrations. When Simon left office in 1977, he became a consultant to the Bechtel Corporation, which has had the major massive construction contracts to build oil refineries and cities in Saudi Arabia. In addition, Simon became a consultant to Suliman Olayan, one of the wealthiest and most powerful businessmen in Saudi Arabia. Long a close associate of the oil-rich Saudi royal family, Olayan had served Bechtel well by getting it the multi-billion contract to build the oil city of Jubail. In 1980, furthermore, Olayan hired William Simon to be chairman of two investment firms owned jointly by himself and the influential Saudi Prince Khaled al Saud.

Bechtel, the Rockefellers, and the Saudi royal family have long had an intimate connection. After the Saudis granted the Rockefeller-dominated Aramco oil consortium the monopoly of oil in Saudi Arabia, the Rockefellers brought their pals at Bechtel in on the construction contracts. The Bechtel Corporation, of course, has also contributed George Shultz and Cap Weinberger to high office in Republican administrations. To complete the circle, KA director Simon’s former boss Suliman Olayan was, in 1988, the largest shareholder in the Chase Manhattan Bank after David Rockefeller himself.

The pattern is clear. An old New Left slogan held that “you don’t need a weatherman to tell you how the wind is blowing.” In the same way, you don’t need to be a “conspiracy theorist” to see what’s going on here. All you have to do is be willing to use your eyes.

Separate Tech and State

11/29/2023Ron Paul

Some libertarians dismiss concerns over social media companies’ suppression of news and opinions that contradict select agendas by pointing out that these platforms are private companies, not part of the government. There are two problems with this argument. First, there is nothing unlibertarian about criticizing private businesses or using peaceful and voluntary means, such as boycotts, to persuade businesses to change their practices.

The second and most significant reason the “they are private companies” argument does not hold water is the tech companies’ censorship has often been done at the “request” of government officials. The extent of government involvement with online censorship was revealed in emails between government and employees of various tech companies. In these emails the government officials addressed employees of these “private companies” as though these employees were the government officials’ subordinates.

Government officials using their authority to silence American citizens is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. Yet some conservative elected officials and writers think the solution to the problem of big tech censorship is giving government more power over technology companies. These pro-regulation conservatives ignore the fact that it would be just as unconstitutional if a conservative administration was telling tech companies who they must allow to access their platforms as it is when progressives order social media companies to deplatform certain individuals. Furthermore, since the average government official’s political views are closer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than to Marjorie Taylor Greene, giving government more power over social media companies is likely to lead to more online censorship of conservatives.

Instead of giving government more power over social media, defenders of free speech should work to separate tech and state. An excellent place to start is pushing for passage of the Free Speech Protection Act. Unlike other legislation, such as the PATRIOT Act and the Affordable Care Act, this bill is accurately named. Introduced by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, this bill makes it a crime for any federal employee or employee of a federal contractor to use his position to communicate with a social media company to interfere with any American’s exercise of First Amendment protected rights. Violators of this law would face fines of at least 10,000 dollars as well as suspension, demotion, or even termination and a lifetime ban from working with the federal government.

In addition to working to pass the Free Speech Protection Act, those who object to the big technology companies’ “content moderation” policies should abandon big tech for more free speech friendly platforms. Many of the newer social media companies were started to meet the demand for a “content moderation”-free alternative to the dominant companies. Senator Paul himself stopped posting videos on YouTube because of its suppression of free speech. While my Liberty Report still airs on YouTube, its main platform is Rumble. It is wonderful to do a show on any topic I choose without worrying about being canceled.

Big tech censorship is a problem created by big government. The solution lies not with giving government more power but with separating tech and state. Passing the Free Speech Protection Act and making big tech pay a price for cooperating with big government by leaving to use sites like Rumble are two excellent places to start.

Originally published by the Ron Paul Institute. 

The Truth About JFK’s Assassination

November 22 was the sixtieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. It was obvious in 1963 that the “official” story that a ‘lone nut,“ Lee Harvey Oswald, had gunned down the president was a lie.

Here is what the great Murray Rothbard wrote about the assassination in 1992, in a review of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK:

“The most fascinating thing about JFK, as exciting and well-done as it is, is not the movie itself but the hysterical attempt to marginalize, if not to suppress it. How many movies can you remember where the entire Establishment, in serried ranks, from left (The Nation) through Center to Right, joined together as one in a frantic orgy of calumny and denunciation. Time and Newsweek actually doing so before the movie came out? Apparently, so fearful was the Establishment that the Oliver Stone movie might prove convincing that the public had to be thoroughly inoculated in advance. It was a remarkable performance by the media, and it demonstrates, as nothing else, the enormous and growing gap between Respectable Media opinion and what the public Knows in its Heart.

You would think from the shock of the Respectable Media, that Stone’s JFK was totally outlandish, off-the-wall, monstrous and fanciful in its accusations against the American power structure. And you would think that historical films never engaged in dramatic license, as if such solemnly hailed garbage as Wilson and Sunrise at Campobello had been models of scholarly precision. Hey, come off it guys! Despite the fuss and feathers, to veteran Kennedy Assassination buffs, there was nothing new in JFK. What Stone does is to summarize admirably the best of a veritable industry of assassination revisionism – of literally scores of books, articles, tapes, annual conventions, and archival research. Stone himself is quite knowledgeable in the area, as shown by his devastating answer in the Washington Post, to the smears of the last surviving Warren Commission member, Gerald Ford, and the old Commission hack, David W. Belin. Despite the smears in the press, there was nothing outlandish in the movie. Interestingly enough, JFK has been lambasted much more furiously than was the first revisionist movie, Don Freed’s Executive Action (1973), an exciting film with Robert Ryan and Will Geer, which actually did go way beyond the evidence, and beyond plausibility, by trying to make an H.L. Hunt figure the main conspirator.

The evidence is now overwhelming that the orthodox Warren legend, that Oswald did it and did it alone, is pure fabrication. It now seems clear that Kennedy died in a classic military triangulation hit, that, as Parkland Memorial autopsy pathologist Dr. Charles Crenshaw has very recently affirmed, the fatal shots were fired from in front, from the grassy knoll, and that the conspirators were, at the very least, the right-wing of the CIA, joined by its long-time associates and employees, the Mafia. It is less well established that President Johnson himself was in on the original hit, though he obviously conducted the coordinated cover-up, but certainly his involvement is highly plausible.

The last-ditch defenders of the Warren view cannot refute the details, so they always fall back on generalized vaporings, such as: “How could all the government be in on it?” But since Watergate, we have all become familiar with the basic fact: only a few key people need be in on the original crime, while lots of high and low government officials can be in on the subsequent cover-up, which can always be justified as “patriotic,” on “national security” grounds, or simply because the president ordered it. The fact that the highest levels of the U.S. government are all-too capable of lying to the public, should have been clear since Watergate and Iran-Contra. The final fallback argument, getting less plausible all the time is: if the Warren case isn’t true, why hasn’t the truth come out by this time? The fact is, however, that the truth has largely come out, in the assassination industry, from books – some of them best-sellers – by Mark Lane, David Lifton, Peter Dale ScottJim Marrs, and many others, but the Respectable Media pay no attention. With that sort of mindset, that stubborn refusal to face reality, no truth can ever come out. And yet, despite this blackout, because books, local TV and radio, magazine articles, supermarket tabloids, etc. can’t be suppressed – but only ignored – by the Respectable Media, we have the remarkable result that the great majority of the public, in all the polls, strongly disbelieve the Warren legend. Hence, the frantic attempts of the Establishment to suppress as gripping and convincing a film as Stone’s JFK.

Read the full article at

Explaining 2020

11/27/2023Robert Aro

In the not-too-distant future, during the next economic bust, recession, or stock market crash, many people will naturally examine the most immediate events and wonder what led to the latest catastrophe. When this occurs, remind them it's an ongoing boom/bust cycle, where the boom leads to the bust, followed by another boom in a vicious circle caused by intervention in the free market.

The question then becomes: "What did the government do in 2020?" The complete answer would be loaded, to say the least. However, regarding the official economic response to the question, Governor Lisa D. Cook provided a succinct detail in a speech titled Global Linkages: Supply, Spillovers, and Common Challenges.

As explained:

Policymakers around the world faced the common challenge of supporting incomes and limiting the scarring from temporary shutdowns in activity. The response was similar across countries: fiscal support, particularly to help those most in need, although the magnitude differed, in part because of differences in fiscal space. Initially aimed at preventing sharp financial and economic deterioration, monetary policy easing was later extended to support the nascent economic recovery. Policy rates were cut to or held near zero in both advanced and emerging market economies. A wide range of central banks also bought assets to support market functioning and provide stimulus once overnight policy rates hit their effective lower bounds.

For those unfamiliar with the Austrian school, it might appear to offer a robust explanation of how politicians and central bankers stepped in to fix the economy in times of crisis. However, we know this is not the case, as policymakers cannot fix that which they are responsible for breaking.

The idea that policymakers around the world took on a very similar response speaks to the global-socialist world of the 21st century.

Beginning with fiscal support, the inherent problem lies in the fact that for the government to provide funds to certain members of society, it must either take or borrow money from other members. Determining who is most in need becomes an impossible task for politicians. It leads to a system where the government has the power to determine who is most worthy of a bailout, making it prone to abuse and corruption.

The reliance on monetary policy to support a "nascent economic recovery" underscores the ineffectiveness of fiscal policy in alleviating economic downturns. Like governments worldwide, central bankers similarly coordinated their intervention effort.

By cutting or maintaining rates around zero percent, along with buying assets like government debt, stocks, and bonds, central banks revealed themselves as more powerful than governments. Without the support of their central banks, governments would be much less powerful than they are today, if they could even exist at all.

That these interventionist activities could prevent a "sharp financial and economic deterioration" cannot be reasonably explained, as trillions of dollars were essentially counterfeited and circulated across the globe. This act of inflation (the boom) led to widespread currency debasement and set in motion the next worldwide economic downturn (the bust).

Coupled with forced economic shutdowns, these interventions resulted in numerous negative consequences still felt today. As for the Fed’s shrinking of the balance sheet between 2018 to 2019, it’s possible this wasn’t forgotten as much as it was never known by most people. And as far as the long-term effects of this entire economic experiment, we’ll find out… eventually.

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Of Turkeys and Turduckens

11/25/2023Robert Aro

As millions of Americans recover from their Thanksgiving indulgence, an intriguing question arises: How much did your Thanksgiving dinner cost?

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 38th annual survey:

…the average cost of this year’s classic holiday feast for 10 … is $61.17 or less than $6.20 per person.

They also mention that:

This is a 4.5% decrease from last year’s record-high average of $64.05, but a Thanksgiving meal is still 25% higher than it was in 2019, which highlights the impact high supply costs and inflation have had on food prices since before the pandemic.

Anyone who hosted dinner this week will immediately know their proximity from the $61.17 average.

According to the data, the average meal for 10 people looked like this (comparison to last year in brackets):

16-pound turkey: $27.35 or $1.71 per pound (down 5.6%)

14-ounces of cubed stuffing mix: $3.77 (down 2.8%)

2 frozen pie crusts: $3.50 (down 4.9%)

Half pint of whipping cream: $1.73 (down 22.8%)

1 pound of frozen peas: $1.88 (down 1.1%)

1 dozen dinner rolls: $3.84 (up 2.9%)

Misc. ingredients to prepare the meal: $3.95 (down 4.4%)

30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix: $4.44 (up 3.7%)

1 gallon of whole milk: $3.74 (down 2.6%)

3 pounds of sweet potatoes: $3.97 (up .3%)

1-pound veggie tray (carrots & celery): $.90 (up 2.3%)

12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries: $2.10 (down 18.3%)

While not everyone consumes alcohol, many average people do, so it's immediately noticeable that it's not included as part of the meal plan. And those in the South might feel a bit slighted as there is no mention of peach cobbler, collard greens, or sweet tea, but the list of omissions is long.

This is one of the challenges with averages. Similar to the concept of inclusiveness, which inherently involves exclusiveness, arriving at an average number certainly gives us a number, but its relevance becomes questionable. Who exactly is it relevant for, and how does this number help inform us of anything useful?

A closer look at t Wal-Mart’s website should raise more eyebrows:

The Turkey on the left from Shady Brook Farms approximates the average Turkey price we’ve been given, but the Perdue Farms (for two Turkeys) is considerably higher.

And these are just two brands in a country with many Turkeys. Of course, this leads to an additional problem: the existence of the Turducken:

Those fortunate enough to pay north of $100 to serve the famous Turkey/Duck/Chicken combination have been entirely excluded from the analysis. If the market price of Turduckens were $300, it would have no impact on the $61.17 average; we must wonder how this data could be considered representative.

There exists no magic or secretive technique behind this; the sample method is described as follows:

This year’s national average cost was calculated using 245 surveys completed with pricing data from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers checked prices in person and online using grocery store apps and websites. They looked for the best possible prices without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

Statistical sampling and averages may sound convincing to some, but this should be compared against one's own perception and anecdotal evidence. Not only are we informed that the average dinner costs only $61.17, but we're also being told that Thanksgiving dinner this year is less expensive than last year. While one may lack statistical survey data to support this, the idea of Thanksgiving deflation this year seems more like wishful thinking than anything else.

This is not to say the data was compiled maliciously in any way; however, when compiling data, a malicious person can compile it in any way.

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Napoleon's Silver Lining

11/24/2023Ryan McMaken

The great David M. Hart writes: 


I was thinking about the impact Napoleon had on Europe as reviews began to appear of the new film about Napoleon by Ridley Scott. As Smith noted in TMS [Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments] people admire and defer to people of higher rank and authority and Napoleon is a classic example. He was a monster in so many ways and was a powerful force in the destruction of the lives, liberty and property of millions of people. 

However, there is a silver lining to this very dark cloud. As the Austrian economists like to point out there are always “unintended consequences” (usually bad) of government policies. In the case of Napoleon, his actions led to the efflorescence of liberalism in France, with so many great classical liberals rising up to oppose him: JB Say, Destutt de Tracy, Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, Benjamin Constant, Madame de Stael - the list goes on.

As a scholar of these people I can only say “Thank you Boney”!


11/23/2023Doug French

The Formula One Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix is on for next year and scheduled for November 21-23. This despite reporting from SFGate’s screaming headline, “Las Vegas’ biggest event in years was a disaster.” According to The Messenger's Arash Markazi, "Tickets for Thursday’s practice sessions were selling for around $100 on Wednesday night and tickets for Friday’s qualifying were going for around $250 on the secondary market. Both events were selling for around $1,000 originally," Markazi reported. "A ticket to Saturday’s race is still over $800 but they were over $1,600 just last month."

Markazi reports that his hotel room cost him $18

The race’s sore winner, Max Verstappen, viewed the event as a joke and couldn’t wait to get out of town. “For me, you can skip this,” he said. “It’s not about the singers. We are just standing up there, looking like a clown.” (whatever that means) However, the reigning F1 champ and race winner sang “Viva Las Vegas” over the radio as part of a new tradition he agreed to with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, reports the Athletic.

Driver Lewis Hamilton was more diplomatic, “For all those that were so negative about the weekend, saying it’s all about show, blah, blah, blah… I think Vegas proved them wrong.” 

Strip workers will be happy to see the lifesize erector set defacing the Strip being dismantled around the clock and the cocky drivers in onesies out of town.

For all the belly aching about the event, corporate Vegas looks to have made out fine. 

The local paper reports “Southern Nevada appears to have had the best week financially in its history, thanks to the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.”

Caesars Entertainment’s regional boss Sean McBurney said their properties were completely full. He spent four days at the race and noted, ”I don’t know if I’ve been to an event where the feedback was so unanimously positive.” 

MGM’s VP of citywide events, Andrew Lanzino, said all properties, close to the track or not, “performed as if it was New Year’s Eve.”

MGM president and CEO Bill Hornbuckle told the LVRJ, “The average [room] rate at Bellagio was $2,200.

The gushing by casino execs is confirmed by Jacob Orth, who wrote on X,

After the race at Bellagio between 1am-2am:

  • About 70-80% of all tables had action
  • One guy won $40,000 on high limit Top Dollar
  • Of 10 craps tables on the main floor, 2 were $25 min, the rest were either $50 or $100 (all had action)
  • $300 min for 3:2 BJ on main floor (4 tables, 2 vacant)
  • $1,000 min 0 roulette in high limit
  • $1,000 or $5,000 min high limit BJ
  • One $5,000 BJ table had 3 people playing, another had a couple playing
  • Two $1,000 BJ tables had 2-3 people playing
  • The casino floor was busy, not necessarily crowded, but there was no shortage of people willing to gamble with the higher minimums.

The drain cover incident which postponed Thursday night practice until 2:30 am (Friday) will be long forgotten other than by those kicked out of viewing areas who have ramped up a class-action lawsuit.

@VitalVegas who posts on X (formerly Twitter) about all things Vegas is not an F1 fan “F1, LVCVA and Clark Co. Commissioners—with fingers in ears and heads lodged deeply up asses—announce another year of insanity before even assessing the failure or success of this year’s financial and P.R. disaster, so there’s that.” 

But, a guy who is by now an old Vegas wiseman, Donny Osmond, probably has it right about the Grand Prix, "The traffic has been horrendous...But the locals, eventually, are going to embrace this thing completely."

And most importantly, Joe Pompliano posted on X,

“Dealers at the Wynn in Las Vegas split $700,000 in tips on Saturday, per @LasVegasLocally. That means each dealer went home with ~$2,000 in tips — 5-6 times more than their $350-$400 average and the highest amount in Wynn's 18-year history. “I guess F1 wasn't so bad after all.”

F1 is likely something Las Vegas residents will love to hate, for many years.


Ready for Some Funflation!

11/22/2023Robert Aro

Just when you thought every inflation related economic term was used up, CNBC headlines:

‘Funflation’ drives sporting event ticket prices up a whopping 25%

One might assume terms such as transitory, creeping, galloping, and entrenched inflation, along with shrinkflation and foodflation, would suffice. Nonetheless, we can now include "funflation" to the array of consequences resulting from the expansion of the supply of money and credit, also called inflation.

Funflation is characterized as:

…a term used by economists to explain the increasing price tags of live events as consumers hanker for the experiences they lost during the pandemic.

The economists who coined this term remain unmentioned.

In the October Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) reading of 3.2%, sporting events experienced the most significant increase among the few hundred categories comprising the index. One economist from the College of the Holy Cross attempted to explain the reason:

People are getting back to things that they enjoy doing and are willing to pay a bunch.

Despite both fun and inflation coexisting for quite some time, we’ve never seen a mashup between the two until now, yet CNBC tries to explain:

Much of the upward pressure on admission costs has come this year, underscoring the role of funflation as consumers shift their attention from Taylor Swift and Beyoncé concerts to NFL and Major League Baseball games.

Funflation has even spread as far north as Canada, where the government owned news channel CBC offers four possible causes for this growing phenomenon:

1. It's a natural response to existential dread

2. Concerts provide a sacred experience that's priceless

3. The post-pandemic effect is greater than a potential recession

4. Concerts are a long-term investment in your soul 

It's important to scrutinize the sources of the information we are fed. In the case of the responses from a mainstream economist, a mainstream news source, and a government-owned news channel, it seems that the explanations provided are more about filling a knowledge gap, which they may not even be aware of. It becomes a matter of explaining for the sake of providing one, rather than genuinely delving into the underlying causes.

Even if we were to accept the data showing an increase in attendance in ticket sales this year compared to the previous, or a shift from Taylor Swift to the NFL, this merely indicates changes in behavior without explaining the underlying cause of the change.

No one can definitively attribute the change to lockdowns or clarify why more people are watching the NFL this year. However, what is barely, if ever, considered by a mainstream news source is a discussion of changes in the demand and supply factors of money itself: Specifically, the demand to hold onto the money you have vis-à-vis fluctuations in the supply of money largely due to the Federal Reserve’s inflationary monetary policies.

Given a society still grappling with the repercussions of a multi-trillion-dollar monetary binge from several years ago and the threat of a continuously depreciating dollar, it's plausible that people are allocating more funds towards leisure and enjoyment this year compared to the last. That said and oddly enough, the notion of the "natural response to existential dread" may not be too far off the mark after all!

Image source:

Short Memories in Crypto

11/22/2023Doug French

Nowhere are memories shorter than in finance and speculation. Yield farming is back in the crypto market, meaning the “ lending of cryptocurrency which gets you interest and sometimes fees, with the kicker being new cryptocurrency is paid on top of the interest. “The real payoff comes if that coin appreciates rapidly. It’s as if banks were luring new depositors with the gift of a tulip -- during the Dutch tulip craze,” wrote Olga Kharif for Bloomberg back in 2020. 

The Sam Bankman-Fried trial should have jogged everyone’s memory of the crypto crash and the dangers of leverage. Muyao Shen reminds us that just a year and a half ago Terra algorithmic stablecoin triggered an industry-wide meltdown. Upwards of 70% are being offered by “exchanges ranging from GMX to Binance are offering double-digit incentives as a way to jumpstart trading activity after months of stagnation.” 

“It’s always gonna be this” way, said Zaheer Ebtikar, founder of crypto fund Split Capital. “People can’t help it. [Crypto] is literally the most FOMO [fear of missing out] industry ever.” Ever? Ebtikar wasn’t around for tulipmania. Shen writes, 

GMX, a DeFi derivatives exchange that allows users to trade Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with up to 50 times in leverage, started an incentives program on Wednesday with Arbitrum DAO. The decentralized autonomous organization is behind Arbitrum, a so-called layer 2 blockchain that seeks to ease congestion on Ethereum network. Through the program, users can earn annual yields of up to 70% for trading, providing liquidity and other activities on a version of GMX. About 12 million, or $12 million of ARB tokens, the governance token of Arbitrum, will be used to pay the extra returns.

Okay. The only thing I know about what is being described in that paragraph is that absolutely, positively nothing can go wrong at 50x leverage. 

“With animal spirits starting to pick back up, projects may feel that now is a good time to spend token emissions to gather some momentum,” Keone Hon co-founder and chief executive officer at Monad Labs told Bloomberg. 

John Law thought the same thing over 300 years ago. 

Remembering the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy 60 Years Ago

Sixty years ago today, I was in Mrs. Isles’ fifth-grade class on Friday afternoon at Boothwyn Elementary School in Pennsylvania when we got the news: President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. They sent us home immediately and the next several days were consumed with the killing and its aftermath.

First, there was the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, who was accused of shooting the president from a sniper’s perch on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, which was located by the presidential motorcade route. Two days later, Oswald himself was shot to death by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner who managed to slip into police headquarters with a gun when authorities were transferring him from the Dallas city jail to the county jail.

Finally, on Monday, there was the funeral, which I watched with one of my friends on his black and white TV at his house on Meetinghouse Road. I was only 10 years old but knew that something momentous had happened. I didn’t realize that it would be a watershed event.

Much has been written about the events of November 22, 1963, and six decades later, there is much disagreement with the government’s official story that Oswald was the lone shooter. Most people, to be honest, don’t buy the government’s account, which is summed up by the Warren Commission Report.

There is a veritable industry of writing and speculation about the assassination, and perhaps no one has been more dogged than Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation. With each major anniversary of the assassination, new information seems to come out about the case, and the FFF site has linked two accounts, one involving medical professionals who saw the president’s fatal wounds, and one from the Kennedy Beacon blog. They make for compelling reading.

According to Hornberger, the Kennedy assassination was an inside job with the CIA taking out the president because he wanted to end American involvement in Vietnam and pursue a more vigorous course of détente with the Soviet Union, as well as dismantling at least part of the developing national security state. Certainly, others who closely follow the various conspiracy theories associated with the assassination have different variations, but most agree that it is unlikely that the angry loner Oswald did all of the killing himself – or was even directly involved.

I see myself as unqualified to make a judgment on these theories, although there is nothing implausible with the account that Hornberger has created these past several years. Too many things happened after the shooting with too many witnesses to debunk them. If Hornberger’s viewpoints are correct – and I, for one, believe they are plausible – then America as we have known it died that day at Dealy Plaza.

The government’s actions after Kennedy’s assassination from the US escalation of the Vietnam War to the development of the vast national security state has eroded liberty and empowered the American state. Whatever hopes there were to preserve the constitutional republic known as the United States of America ended with the death of John F. Kennedy.