Thursday, January 16, 2003

ho hum

So, Yahoo! is profitable, according to its accountants. They have singlehandedly breathed life enough for another lap into the hope (or rather, the dream) of the 'new economy.' As a trader, I find that to be interesting news.

As a consumer and a citizen, the story is even less exciting. Yahoo! has apparently pulled some black ink out of its hat, in part by selling popup ads. Ads that popup anytime I check my email, which I do frequently. Ads that are so annoying, and so interfere with the function of my computer, that I'm considering abandoning my Yahoo! email accounts altogether.

So put off am I, that, no, I wouldn't pay $9.95 a year to stop the ads. Paying that anecdotal extortion fee won't stop all the unsolicited garbage that Yahoo! allows into my email boxes. And who knows what other clever ways they'll find to stick ads in our faces, since it seems to pay them to do so? Not to mention what sort of data they are gathering and selling.

Those with vested interest, like corporate insiders, and the poor souls who bought the stock for more than a hundred dollars per share, might think a popup ad deluge is a small price to pay for the sight of some daylight on the monthly statement. But, my cable ISP email account is marvelously efficient, works with Microsoft Windows seamlessy, allowing me to send just about any file to anyone I'd like to in the simplest way possible. This is paid for anyway by the cable service charge. I have never received an obscene or mass marketing piece in that account. Competition is a marvelous thing for the consumer.

I doubt that I am the only one who had hoped that there was much more to the new economy than obnoxious ads aimed at base motives. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

"da doo doo doo"*

There are many different ways that the government can take your money. It can take it all at once, or a little at a time. It can let you keep a little bit and live like a pauper or it can let you keep most of it and sit back and allow you do productive things that improve everyone's existence, including your own, thereby giving you and others more money to take a little less from.

So what does this have to do with doo doo? That can be summed up in the headline that appears on Yahoo! news which reads, "Bush's Economic Plan Could Cost $600B Over 10 Years." This dire warning was suspended over an AP story with like theme. Dear, that sounds horrible when put like that, doesn't it? But whom will it cost? And what will happen to all that money? (We can assume, for the sake of discussion, that the size of the number is in the ballpark. But let's say up front that the assumption is certainly questionable).

It will cost the government, in the short run, in terms of reduced income. And all that money will remain under the control of the people who earned it in the first place. Is that bad news?

It might be, if one happens to be the beneficiary of a government largesse that is, under the scrutiny of what is best kept a tight budget, done away with. We could do with fewer government subsidized vats of urine with certain religious symbols submerged in them, for example.

Imagine, leaving all that wealth in the hands of those who's blood, sweat and tears produced it. Why, they might get out of debt. Or invest in their businesses. Or support their favorite charities. You know, charities are best policed by their donors, not by Central Command and Control zombies.

Whatever the wealth producers do with their wealth, it will find its way back into the economy. The money will circulate. It will become income for others, which will be taxed. It will support state and local income and sales taxes. It will do so more frequently, if those who earn it are allowed to keep it. They will spread it around, creating more earners, who will spread it around, creating still more earners, and so on, and so on. You see, free people are a phenomenon to behold -- they reverse entropy. Free markets allow human productivity to prosper. And then there's more, more, more income available to generate tax receipts. Frankly, the economy could use an extra $600 billion the way a faithful workhorse could use some good hot mash on a cold day.

So, is a tax cut really going to 'cost' anyone anything? No, no more than your best investments 'cost' you anything. When you have a good, productive investment, you want to put more of your available funds into it. You do better that way. Wouldn't it sound ridiculous if your sour-pussed Auntie started screeching about how much that investment was going to cost you, how much it was going to deprive your children of their goodies, how much less say she might have in what you do with it? Of course it would. You might want to invest double just to teach her a lesson.

Let's put it this way. Suppose you grow corn. A single kernel will yield a stalk, from which one or two ears will yield an average of 800 more kernels per ear. Corn makes more than 1,000 products that can be bought at the grocery store. Praytell, with that kind of math, wouldn't it make sense to put as many kernels in the ground as possible, as often as possible? Or should you put most of the kernels in Auntie's silo? Plant more, and Auntie comes out with more, in spite of herself. But then, she depends on you, and not the other way round. The way she whines about it, one might think that giving up control of your kernels is something that Auntie dreads.

Corn is good. But people are even more productive than corn. How else can it be explained that so few support such a large beaurocracy, and so many other deprived people the world over? There is no greater investment than in the prosperity and morality of free people. Cutting their taxes costs nothing. It's an investment that pays incalculable returns to everyone in the vicinity and many who aren't.

Wealth is not a finite quantity -- it's created all the time, by free people; more so when their right to manage the fruit of their own labors is not out-legislated. As for Yahoo!, AP, and all the other rhetoric-generators and thought-shapers, one can't help but wonder what cause of theirs is really at stake, buried under all that slung mud. Why do they use their influential pulpits to shout with Auntie about harvesting more and more of your corn?

"Their eloquence escapes me*."

*Da Doo Doo Doo -- The Police

Note: Ironically, minutes after this was published, the headline quoted was replaced. It would be presumptuous to attribute causation to this piece. I am remiss for not linking to it immediately.