Bubble Barbershop: Here We Go Again

Thursday, July 16, 2015
Posted in category Boom-Bubble Phenomenon

The Hipster Barbershop came and went. Five months ago the headline read, “Hipster Barbershop Trend Arrives in Detroit.” Now the headline predictably reads, “High-End Detroit Barbershop Closes After 5 Months.” The business was built on $40 cuts and $50 straight razor shaves and this was considered to be “breaking new ground for a basic men’s cut in Detroit.”

This kind of frivolity may work in New York and San Francisco, but there are not enough moneyed hipsters here in this rustic-industrial, midwestern resurgence to support east and west coast-style novelty.

Guns, Wedding Gowns, and Cold Beer

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Posted in category Market Anarchism

This General Store in Maine needs a sister ship here in Michigan. What could be more American than this combo? From Boston.com:

Behind the gas pumps, a tall marquee sign rises up from the asphalt. GUNS, WEDDING GOWNS, COLD BEER, it says—everything you’d need for a shotgun wedding.

The sign outside seems too good to be true, but inside, the story checks out.

Here in Michigan, in my community, we have the Reindel True Value Hardware Store – still family owned and located in a building at least twice as old as I am. I love Reindel not only for its small-box retro charm, but because I can pick up .45 ACP hollow point ammo, get my window screens repaired, and purchase lawn fertilizer all in one trip. When I walked in and saw the gun shop that had just opened, I was thrilled to see the old family business take yet another step back toward old-fashioned customer service. Except I can’t get my wedding dress there, so I’ll have to keep looking.

Thanks to Charles Everett for the article tip.

 

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Cato Person Secedes From Boaz?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Posted in category History

Walter Williams. Economist, historian, syndicated columnist, author of ten books, Professor of Economics at George Mason. And yes, black. Thank you Tom DiLorenzo for posting Walter’s no-nonsense column. To quote:

The victors of war write its history in order to cast themselves in the most favorable light. That explains the considerable historical ignorance about our war of 1861 and panic over the Confederate flag. To create better understanding, we have to start a bit before the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

…The War of 1861 brutally established that states could not secede. We are still living with its effects. Because states cannot secede, the federal government can run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution’s limitations of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

I can almost see Cato’s next David Boaz piece: “George Mason Should Secede From Walter Williams.”

But remember, give someone at Cato credit when and where it is due, as this Cato fella writes an excellent piece on the newfound quasi-religion of “being offended” and how state enforcement of anti-offensive codes is not consistent with a free society.

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Another Hate Crime Going Unnoticed

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Posted in category Race Wars

File this under “Racist Hate Crime,” please. A mob of blacks attacked a white woman while hurling racial slurs at her, as she was in her car at a stop light with her two children.

Watch the news video before you opine. A cop apparently arrived on the scene and saw the mob scatter. Two “juveniles” were subsequently arrested. Yet all stories still point to the “alleged”* attackers. Seriously.

These thugs were charged with …get this… a “misdemeanor criminal damage to property.” A gangbang of criminals trashed her car, smashed it, rocked it, broke the glass, and attempted to get at her and her two children, and this is a property misdemeanor?
Switch the races of the attackers and victim and you have an entirely different media stream and set of criminal charges, and you would have an immediate federal involvement, followed by a full federal prosecution. And perhaps a riot or two.

Yet the only thing the masses can hone in on is some nutjob, Dylann Roof, and those oh-so-conveniently posed photos of him with Confederate flags. That is how easily people are hoodwinked by their overlords.

Lastly, why did this woman not nail that accelerator and mow down the would-be murderers to escape the mob? I would have taken every last one of them for a very rough ride to save my life, and the lives of my kids.

*Note you will often see a lack of the use of the word “alleged” in the mainstream media when the race crime is in reverse.

Bicycle Bubble?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Posted in category Detroit

I am as big a booster as anyone when it comes to anything Detroit, especially as it involves bicycles (I have 8 of them) and commerce. And I wouldn’t mind the Detroit Bikes “B-Type” bicycle for myself, perhaps someday. But I have an egg or two to throw at this article on the expansion plans for a local company, Detroit Bikes.

First, to backpedal. In 2010 I published an article, “Is Detroit a Bicyclist’s Paradise?,” and I wrote that article to piggyback on the New York Times piece about “biking among the ruins” in Detroit because I already knew that Detroit was going to quickly become one of the finest cycling cities on American land mass. And it is, and that’s because of its sheer size and space; lack of crowded roads; friendly folks welcoming bikers; glorious architecture; and endless eye candy. I’ve been riding the famed Minneapolis-St. Paul bicycling trails and lanes for 20+ years, and I think Detroit was got far better bling all-around.

I spent several years publishing commentary during the unsustainable bubble years, leading up to the very predictable economic and financial market bust. The over-expansion of commerce – especially in food & beverage and discretionary consumer goods – was one of the most visible casualties, as retailers and franchisers went hog wild, only to turn around and scale back operations and expansion significantly, or otherwise, go bankrupt.

The financial markets and oncoming economic “boom” the media keeps gushing over is built on the same rickety platform that led to the 2007-2008 collapse, including the most obvious – a federal funds rate of zero-ish, making credit cheap and easy and addicting. Household debt profile statistics show that, once again, consumers debt is holding steady as compared to the pre-bust years and most falling indebtedness has been heavily linked to default rather than repayment.

Corporate executives are hired to grow business and market share, not to be good economists. That said, some things from the article are worth pointing out for a reality check. I’ll start with this quote from the article:”There are 160 million American who don’t ride a bike but could,” Manthe says. “We want to build a bike for them.” Manthe is the newly-hired Sales Director who came from Electra Bicycle Company, which built a significant footprint in the bicycle world. Brands like Electra brought forth wonderful options for the non-lycra crowd that includes folks who just want to ride a quality bike – not from Dunham’s – that looks good and makes them feel good. I salute what that company has done for the bicycle consumer.

Whatever the number of potential cyclists, it’s worth noting that Detroit Bikes currently has only two models, both in the $600+ price range, with accessories such as baskets costing $50 & up. That doesn’t jibe with the other quote that states, “Detroit Bikes specializes in building accessible, quality bicycles for everyday cruising.”

Quality, yes – Detroit Bikes offers outstanding attention to detail, hence the price point. But what does “accessible” mean here? Bikes are “accessible” everywhere, especially the sub-par bikes found in big box retail stores. In fact, they are far more “accessible” than any Detroit Bike model. Accessible, as it is used here, refers to being economically attainable for the general populace.

I can afford a Detroit Bike, but as an objective economist my thought is that Detroit Bikes are too nichey for the broader expansion for which the company may be hashing out plans. The price point is currently too high for pedestrian bicycle riders; the quality can’t or won’t be appreciated by large numbers of potential bicycle purchasers; and the “Detroit” label may not have the broader appeal it has here for those of us who are enamored with our special home.

I hope this company does grow organically, and not because of the distorted market signals that arise due to the manipulation and intervention in the economic system. These misleading signals are latched onto by entrepreneurs and managers who don’t have the ability to foresee future market conditions. Product blitzes such as this are often a classic case of malinvestment as described by Ludwig von Mises. It’s important to quote the Mises Wiki for those folks who are not aware of the terminology:

Malinvestment is a mistaken investment in wrong lines of production, which inevitably lead to wasted capital and economic losses, subsequently requiring the reallocation of resources to more productive uses. “Wrong” in this sense means incorrect or mistaken from the point of view of the real long-term needs and demands of the economy, if those needs and demands were expressed with the correct price signals in the free market. Random, isolated entrepreneurial miscalculations and mistaken investments occur in any market (resulting in standard bankruptcies and business failures) but systematic, simultaneous and widespread investment mistakes can only occur through systematically distorted price signals, and these result in depressions or recessions. Austrians believe systemic malinvestments occur because of unnecessary and counterproductive intervention in the free market, distorting price signals and misleading investors and entrepreneurs. For Austrians, prices are an essential information channel through which market participants communicate their demands and cause resources to be allocated to satisfy those demands appropriately. If the government or banks distort, confuse or mislead investors and market participants by not permitting the price mechanism to work appropriately, unsustainable malinvestment will be the inevitable result.

High Time Preference Serfs: Chocolate vs Silver?

Monday, July 13, 2015
Posted in category Economics

Mark Dice is at it again, asking the question of, “who needs a 10 oz silver bar for later when you can have a candy bar right now?”

One woman’s plight: “It doesn’t seem real.” And no, she was talking about the candy bar and not the silver. And these jackasses are coaxed into voting booths so they can eradicate your freedom in return for the immediate bread & circus.

FDA: Protecting & Promoting Outdated Science and Corporate Influence

Monday, July 13, 2015
Posted in category Food Politics

I wish I could give proper attribution (it’s not mine), but this has just been floating around FaceBook, and it’s worth a plug. I’d argue that corporate influence needs to be at the top, and the science is more intentionally falsified than it is outdated. I’d also get rid of the “Facts Facts” typo, but otherwise, this is a fun way of conveying the right message.

 

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Sycophantic Catoist and the Greater of Two Evils

Monday, July 13, 2015
Posted in category secession

The always-chipper David Gordon churns out a nice mini-analysis of an analysis of an article by one of the Cato folks, Jason Kuznicki. To quote David in whole:

The Bionic Mosquito has once more earned our gratitude with an incisive post. He responds to Jason Kuznicki of the Cato Institute, who condemned libertarians who admire the Confederacy: How can a libertarian support a government that defended slavery? The Mosquito asks a pertinent question: who are these libertarians? In fact, Kuznicki’s presumed targets do not admire the Confederacy. They have instead defended the right of secession and opposed Lincoln’s efforts to subdue the seceding states through war. In representing his opponents as admirers of the Confederacy, Kuznicki is attacking a straw man, or, in the British phrase, an “Aunt Sally.”

The Mosquito goes further. He wonders whether it is right, as Kuznicki says, that the Union was on libertarian grounds better than the Confederacy. The Mosquito responds: “Comparing evils: Hitler v. Stalin, Yankees v. Red Sox, Barcelona v. Real Madrid, Jason Voorhees v. Freddie Krueger. How does one decide? I will suggest that the Confederacy did nothing more than attempt to perpetuate an already existing evil; slavery existed in the South both before and after Jason’s dreaded Confederate Constitution. No new evil was introduced. Lincoln introduced many new evils, not the least of which was the war that killed more than 700,000 and wounded perhaps a like amount.”

I do like this quote from the Bionic Mosquito on Cato’s Jason Kuznicki and his penchant for error in his article, “Rand Paul, the Confederacy, and Liberty“:

University courses on logical fallacies can be structured around the next several paragraphs of his post.

Logical fallacies and emotional pleas tend to make a very poor cocktail, as they don’t mix well or taste good going down. A few sound bites:

Any affinity for the Confederacy marks one very clearly as an enemy of liberty.  

and

….as if all but the exceptionally punctilious members of my little tribe

and

bad, old, racist, secessionist nonsense. 

Mr. Kuznicki can’t see past the slavery question, as that may be his only path to a clear conscience. Not once does he broach the topic of the economic strife leading up the secessionist era.

Here’s more “bad, old, racist, secessionist nonsense” from Thomas Jefferson, who preferred a voluntary union but who supported the right to secession, and who stated in his first inaugural address in 1801, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” There’s plenty more on Jefferson and secession, but in spite of his passion and hope for a strong, voluntary unity, he recognized that a state shall be able to peacefully secede if the interests of the union put that state’s interests in harm’s way.

Practicing Economics Without a License

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Posted in category Regulatory State

I just came back from Cleveland where I spent a couple of days loitering around Little Italy and making some new friends over some good wine. I love to engage in conversations with the small entrepreneurs, wherever I travel, because they are always teeming with stories of how they beat the regulatory state, time after time, in order to fulfill a dream and open a peaceful establishment that serves customers with desired goods and services.

This young Sicilian gentleman I talked to on a couple of occasions grew up participating in the family tradition of making wine. As with the Italians and Sicilians here in southeastern Michigan, it is a big family affair to ship grapes in from out of state, crush them by hand, and have the entire family involved in the winemaking process. He said he had always dreamed of owning his own restaurant because all he knew was food, wine, and making people happy.

Upon trying to open his restaurant he discovered he’d have to cough up about $50k to buy the liquor license, or, in the alternative, if he made wine, he could be a “manufacturer” and he could therefore purchase a permit for a few thousand bucks. And so he did, and he crushes the grapes in the basement of the restaurant and makes the most fantastic ‘homegrown’ wine I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. So I bought a few bottles. That young man is making money, keeping his debt low, and expanding his restaurant to a more “upscale” place in downtown Cleveland this August.

A different turn of events took place just a couple of weeks ago, in Pittsfield Township near Ann Arbor, Michigan. A band of authoritarians admittedly practiced bad economics without ever having to apply for, or receive, a license to practice economics. Zingerman’s Creamery, which is a hugely popular gourmet food company, was trying to expand with a new building across from its current location.

Zingerman’s Creamery, which makes the brand’s dairy products, is hatching plans for a new 3,200-square-foot building with a 3,000-square-foot mezzanine across the street from its current location, according to township records.

As part of its expansion plan, Zingerman’s Creamery wants to add a tasting area with about 20 seats where customers could sample beer, wine and mixed drinks.

The business was denied its liquor license because Pittsfield Township only has five liquor licenses left to grant through 2021, and Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal said that “the township must guard its liquor licenses prudently, viewing them as an economic development tool.” Now the states regulate and micromanage political favors and rent-seeking opportunities liquor licenses, and then, when that hurdle is cleared, the local bureaucrats take over the “economic development” aspect of regulation. The article ends with that same Township bureaucrat noting that she and her fellow unlicensed economist colleagues are grateful for Zingerman’s presence in the community and the Township “will continue to work with them to make sure they continue to stay grow and thrive in our community.” I bet most readers of this Detroit Free Press article did not note the irony in this story.

Six Degrees of the Confederacy

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Posted in category political correctness

Here’s where the nonsense becomes impossible to ignore. I guess I didn’t know that Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis was named after *the* John Calhoun, even though I’ve skirted this lake a zillion times on my bicycle. And now, it shall potentially be renamed upon decree by the masses of knee-jerk asses who hold those superpower political positions at the, ahem, “Park Board.” It is rather amusing that the lake, if renamed, could possibly go back to its Dakota name, “Lake of the Loons.” How fitting. I propose that it be renamed ‘Redskin Lake’ so we can continue the debate and keep the media mobs in full employment.