The Best of the Internet 5-20-07

What Marshmallows teach us about success at World Wide Success. I tried my own variation of this test on my 4-year-old today. I put 5 M&Ms in front of him and told him he could eat them right away, but if he waited five minutes I’d give him 5 more so he’d get 10 M&Ms. He waited and when I brought him the additional 5, he asked, “If I wait five more minutes will you bring me five more?”

A simple 5 point formula for success at the Politically Incorrect Blogger. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

This is simply an excellent financial blog I discovered this week written from a GEN X perspective.

The Unconventional Thinking Blog makes a post about Wal-Mart and makes some good points. I don’t have a problem with their low prices or employment model, the place just makes me feel sick so I’m never shopping there again. They treat their customers, suppliers, and employees like crap and it shows in the atmosphere of their stores. They are also the largest recipient of corporate welfare in the US. I have no problem when they cut taxes…as long as they cut them for all of us… not just Wal-Mart. Some of my free-market libertarian friends love Wal-Mart, but they fail to acknowledge what a government subsidized pig Wal-Mart is. When my wife and I open a retail store, the city makes us pay full tax rates. Property taxes are our single largest expense renting retail space. $12 a sq ft is dirt cheap in our area – $8 of which are taxes. Eliminating them would cut rental expense by two thirds, allowing many more small retailers into the marketplace. But if Wal-Mart did have to pay these oppressive tax rates, they wouldn’t beat all the mom and pops (who do pay these taxes) on price.

Timothy Leary debating G. Gordon Liddy.

An excellent math resource for autodidacts or home schoolers.

Calvin and Hobbes on Entrepreneurship.

All these psychotropic drugs they prescribe for kids nowadays scares me. I’m going to do everything I can to keep my kids away from shrinks.

Seth Godin answers my question about dips at The Personal MBA. Thanks Seth! Thanks Josh!

8 thoughts on “The Best of the Internet 5-20-07”

  1. Steve, thanks for the mention and kind words about my site. I subscribe to your feed and was shocked when I noticed this post. Love the site, keep it up!

  2. Yep, whatever you do – don’t trust a physician. Just because they have a 4-year baccalaureate, 4 years of medical school, a year’s internship and up to 5 years of residency training and are admitted to practice by your state board of healing arts after passing their exams (and, they may well be board certified as well) – well, what the hell could they know? Take your kid to the local GNC and pick out the meds the proprietor recommends – there is no clearer choice between competency and snake-oil.

    Why can you see the effect of corporate welfare in a Wal-Mart but not in Big Pharma?

    While you we at it, tell me again about that tax you pay – it subsidizes Wal-Mart as well as your local police (in case you need help in a robbery), the fire department (kind of necessary when FIRE happens), the roads your customers, suppliers and waste haulers all use. Oh, and your taxes support the government that is responsible for all of those electrons you use – power, phone and Internet.

    You are all for paying less tax – I’m all for leaving your untaxed store in the middle of a muddy field with no roads, power, police, fire, phone, heating or cooling – you would be entitled to all the profits you earned.

    Geez Louise – you can see the 1000 lb gorilla of Wal-Mart but you can’t see that taxing Wal-Mart according to its size and market share would equalize the tax burden on your business.

    Tell me, do you believe that your employees should be paid according to a minimum wage? Would you argue that 940, 941 & FICA/FUTA are unnecessary burdens on employers? Is a living wage a right or a privilege? If is is a privilege, where do your customers get the money to spend at your retail outlet?

    Is it a fair deal that the oil companies are tax subsidized, make record profits and have set an all-time-high for their product? How does an oil cartel fit in the free market/enterprise picture? How much more do YOUR products cost because of this, unregulated, fuel industry?

    There are regulatory abuses – but unregulated business quickly descends into cartels and monopolies — and slowly destroys its client base.

  3. Grolaw,

    Who are you? What’s your point? Are you just trying to antagonize?

    Is there no way to have security, roads, and other services without oppressive taxation? Is it the only way? Isn’t that a bit of mental laziness? Are there only the extremes of oppressive taxes and orderly society vs. muddy fields filled with criminal mobs?

    About doctors… they make mistakes all the time and diagnosing 2 year olds with bi-polar is nuts. The kids aren’t nuts, these doctors are. Just because they’ve been to medical school doesn’t mean they know what is best for you or your kids… It isn’t just your right to questions doctors… when it comes to your children; it is your duty to question the doctor. Hell, I believe it’s your duty to question everything.

    I don’t know what GNC or snake oil has to do with any of this.

    We’ve never had a true free market in the US… we’ve had mercantilism to one degree or another. It is Big Govt + Big Business via mercantilism that creates the monopolies and cartels you describe. Even the railroad and oil cartels of the early 20th century were government subsidized, much the same as Wal-Mart and Big Pharm are today.

  4. The first thing you ought to know about me is that I hold six (6) post-secondary degrees and three are post baccalaureate in endocrine physiology, medicine and law.

    Two-year olds:

    You are parroting the BS that runs through the loony echo chamber. No two-year old can be diagnosed as “bi-polar.” The DSM-IV, the American Psychiatric Association, all US Medical Schools and the Insurance Companies all agree that a mind cannot be “diagnosed” with a bipolar disorder at that age.

    Questioning the source:

    You should question your physicians but the number of errors in medicine are far, far fewer than almost any other profession. The practice of medicine is vastly more complex than you can imagine (and Vets have it worse).

    Business and taxes:

    Wal-Mart is a massive cluster f**k and it should be broken up. If for no other reason than that it couldn’t survive without government subsidies. And I count denying their employees a living wage and affordable health insurance as part of the government subsidy – Wal-Mart has a massive number of employees who qualify for both Medicaid and Food-Stamps. No, not everybody has the brains to earn a six or seven figure income – but everybody who works for a living ought to be able to afford to eat and have a physician, a roof over their head and be able to save some money. Wal-Mart’s business plan is to spread those costs to the community.

    You whine about taxes, yet you expect there to be adequate infrastructure to support your business. Tell me: how do you measure success? Is it merely bean counting? What does a tax have to do with your success if EVERYBODY pays the same tax? Your beans will be counted the same as Wal-Mart’s and Bill – the trash hauler’s.

    OH, the taxes aren’t fair – we agree. We have a broken revenue system – but Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. More than one hundred other nations have a higher standard of living than the majority of US Citizens. More than 35 other nations have citizens with much longer life spans and lower health care costs than does the US – and all but Dubai and the UAE – accomplish those ends with taxes.

    Turning to your “personal responsibility” schtick:

    Some things are not negotiable. You admitted to having, and observing, a manager who presumably engaged in the crime of statutory rape and you did not state that you called the police.

    Why not? Is is your position that the victim must take personal responsibility for the crime? That argument makes murder legal because the victim cannot report the crime. These are crimes against the social compact (the “state” if you will) and everybody has a duty to report them. Rape is one of those crimes. You told us you knew and that you didn’t act. Why? Was it only valuable to you as a learning experience?

    Markets:

    You describe taxation as “oppressive” – is there ever a tax that isn’t oppressive in your world view? When does government have a role in the market?

    What happens when the BFIs of the world come into your business world and sell your services/goods below their (and, your) cost? Does your view of the business world include regulation of unfair competition?

    What about the cost of doing business? How do you measure your costs? Are all employees just red ink?

    What I bring to the table:

    I’ve run a number of successful businesses in my 61 years – including a stat medical laboratory; and, a contract service for the placement of nurse anesthetists; and, a law practice; and, a medical practice. I teach and consult today.

    I deal extensively with issues of medical-legal ethics and I am deeply involved in several programs to rewrite the laws in the field.

    The nature of my posts:

    I’m not here to attack – I’m here to take you up on your own topics and ask you how you support your positions. Have you actually thought your positions through or are you just parroting the common wisdom (which is neither common nor wise: it is merely applied marketing)?

    So, do you want a dialog?

  5. I don’t have anything to add. I just wanted to say that I hold 12 Master’s degrees and 5 PhD’s and I still can’t explain just where and when I signed a so-called “social contract.”

    (Just joshing about all those degrees.)

  6. grolaw,

    I barely graduated from High School, but I hold no shame over that. In fact, a successful CEO I know and consider a mentor, sat down with me one day when I was feeling inferior about my lack of education and told me that he’d never spent a day in a college classroom and considered it his greatest strength. You may think he is a fool, but I think he is one of the greatest leaders I know. Would you prefer the 80 plus percent of kids that will fail to get a degree to become self-sufficient and productive or would you prefer that they become dependent on you and other elite socialists to provide the answer to their problems?


    2 year-olds certainly are diagnosed with bi-polar

    I am from a working class plebian background. My ancestors and many of the people in my extended family and were taught to obey authorities unquestioningly – preachers, doctors, teachers, police, etc. I’ve been in many situations where the authorities were wrong, sometime technically wrong and sometimes morally wrong. So yes I tell people on this site to question authority. Authority is an illusion. The only authority anyone has over another is through kidnapping, torture, or murder, all other authority is granted to the leader by the led… voluntarily.

    About taxes… I find income taxes and property taxes to be the most oppressive, but I am not an anarcho capitalist like some. I believe that security (police) could be paid for with fees, fines, and licenses and the cost would be far less without the war on drugs. The road and infrastructure should be paid for with use taxes on gasoline, sewer, electricity, and water. However I believe there may be even better ways to pay for these things – we just haven’t invented them yet.

    The worst taxes are property taxes, it is like paying rent to the government, even if you own your property and fail to pay, they will evict you and sell your property.

    Minnesota retail property taxes are the highest in the nation, and serve as the greatest barrier to entry for many retail startups.

    The best taxes are use taxes – like the gasoline tax. The more you consume the more you pay.

    About personal responsibility…
    I write about my life on this blog. Personal anecdotes that I hope some people may be able to glean some value from. The story about pervert restaurant managers comes from the 1980s when I was between the ages of 14-19. I am now 38. Most people in my peer group worked in restaurants and most restaurants had pervert managers like I describe. My wife tells every parent she meets not to allow their daughter to work in restaurants because of this problem. In the city I lived in, when I was young, it was common for girls as young as 15 to date college age men, they had fake IDs, they cruised frat parties, and those were the rich ones. Many of the working class girls dated men as old as 25… I even knew one who dated a 28 year old. At the time I just accepted this twisted set of circumstances as the way things were… my guess is they are still this way in many communities. It was many years later when I realized how effed up it was. Today I would report any manager who was abusing his power… But the 1980s were a different time and I had a completely different set of beliefs. Personal responsibility wasn’t one of them.

    I don’t mind dialogue. But I don’t want to spend inordinate amounts of time discussing the merits of small limited government vs. large central government. That is one thing I have made up my mind about. I’ve read Marx, Engels, Keynes and Freidmann and Norberg, and I clearly see history on the side of the later. So if you want to tell us how great socialized medicine or whatever will be for us poor plebes, don’t waste your breath, I don’t believe it and I doubt anything will change my mind. I believe the greatest disservice ever done to the poor and working class is trying to convince them that the answers to their problems lie with an elite intelligencia and the poor proletariats are just hopeless morons. Wrong! The answer to our problems is within each of us, and we must be responsible for ourselves if we are to realize the answers. And for crissake! Quit empowering government!

    If you want a dialogue, go ahead and start your own blog retorting my posts. But I need to continue to post the stuff I think about and not spend too much time beating a dead horse, it cuts into my productivity.

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