Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Several years ago, I was turned on to Thomas Kuhn’s revolutionary book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It is a book whose author took a similar path to knowledge as I did, from engineer/scientist to philosopher (junior grade) and back again, creating a more balanced, hearty and happy ME. Along the way, after taking a year off from college to finally graduate at the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius (1969), I became an Air Force officer stationed in Florida, then the Republic of Turkey, California, and finally at Denver’s Lowry Air Force base into 1973.

I began my careers... first in space systems as an orbital analyst. Then, after moving to Denver and leaving the Air Force, I got a Master's Degree in civil engineering (water resources and water rights consulting) forming the bulk of my career from which I retired last year (2014). Like Kuhn, I was profoundly impacted by a History of Science course in college; what began as a serendipitous elective produced some of the most profound AH HA! insights of my life.

I was extremely lucky to fall in love with science, philosophy – and the opportunity to dabble in law (expert testimony more than 70 times as a Professional Engineer working with more than 130 different lawyers). I overcame obstacles like inadequate high school preparation for these rewarding careers. In 1963, I graduated from Highland High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ranked 463rd in my class of about 500. Growing up working in my Dad’s auto wrecking yard and reading hot rod magazines, I had a D average, failing to qualify with the C average required to enter the University of New Mexico (UNM) in my hometown. But, after a year off from college working at various jobs, I began again at the College of St. Joseph (now the University of Albuquerque) to get my grades up and finally qualify for the engineering curriculum at UNM.

As the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Apparently, it can also make you more successful and happy, if you allow it. Even today, at age 70, I look back with fondness to attribute both the bad and good decisions I made in my early adult development. The good things I did were obvious, but after-the-fact, I also came to realize how certain challenges and temporary failures of mine led to a more balanced, battle-tested personal constitution that including a variety of sports, hobbies and diverse skills. Along the way, I visited at least 45 states and enjoyed trips to England, Germany and the middle east, spending a year in the Bronze Age (3500 year-old) city of Diyarbakir, Turkey before leaving the Air Force. I have owned and trained more than 30 dogs, and have judged more than 100 others in the vigorous outdoor sport of tracking (like search and rescue). I ran marathons and other distance running and did scuba diving in Fiji, off Cozumel Island and the Dos Ojos (two eyes) springs connected by a scary underground traverse north of Cancun, Mexico, as well as other sites in California and Florida (from the panhandle to many springs mid-state down to and including Key Largo). For the last four decades, I have lived in the Denver, Colorado area.

Speaking of challenges making you stronger - about a decade ago, I was diagnosed with a tumor in one of my kidneys. After a few hours of online research, it became obvious to me that the best course of action was to remove the entire kidney, rather than cut it up and possibly spread cancer cells throughout my abdomen. As it turned out, I have been cancer free for a decade now, and choose to attribute at least some of my good luck heatlhwise to my body’s reaction to these stresses, which must have improved my immune system and ability to fight off disease. Without the early detection of my kidney cancer from a routine checkup, I may not have made the best decisions for my health, which I now call the blessing of a curable cancer.

As my rambling here comes to a close, let me heartily recommend Kuhn’s attached book which so elegantly integrates the rationality of logic (simple, easy, predictable) with the irrational, difficult and unpredictable – the essential essence of creativity and the underrated bad twin of science and health.

Here are the first two paragraphs from Kuhn’s preface - a profound addition to my life from the attached pdf copy of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:


The essay that follows is the first full published report on a project
originally conceived almost fifteen years ago. At that time I was a
graduate student in theoretical physics already within sight of the end
of my dissertation. A fortunate involvement with an experimental
college course treating physical science for the non-scientist provided
my first exposure to the history of science. To my complete surprise, that
exposure to out-of-date scientific theory and practice radically
undermined some of my basic conceptions about the nature of science
and the reasons for its special success.

Those conceptions were ones I had previously drawn partly from
scientific training itself and partly from a long-standing avocational
interest in the philosophy of science. Somehow, whatever their
pedagogic utility and their abstract plausibility, those notions did not at
all fit the enterprise that historical study displayed. Yet they were and
are fundamental to many discussions of science, and their failures of
verisimilitude therefore seemed thoroughly worth pursuing. The result
was a drastic shift in my career plans, a shift from physics to history of
science and then, gradually, from relatively straightforward historical
problems back to the more philosophical concerns that had initially led
me to history. Except for a few articles, this essay is the first of my
published works in which these early concerns are dominant. In some
part it is an attempt to explain to myself and to friends how I happened
to be drawn from science to its history in the first place….

Sunday, March 13, 2016


I have always liked PJ O’Rourke’s unashamed, radical writing, combining both humor and criticizing the most serious duplicity of ALL politicians and other government criminals, including their minions and protected hangers-on. He has produced some of the best anti-establishment writing that panders to freedom – NOT the insane politics of today’s thoroughly corrupt American welfare/warfare state, while so many people (politely called public servants) manage to keep straight faces after taking oaths to protect and defend the Constitution. Even after 27 amendments, that magnificent (though flawed) historical document still describes a government mostly limited to the tasks of small government listed in its elegant Article I, Sections 7-10, plus the following never-changed amendments:

Consider Amendment IX (nine) - The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people

...and Amendment X (ten) - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people.

These and the other first ten amendments to the US Constitution (called the Bill of Rights) have remained unchanged since their adoption in 1791 – and STILL limit the US government to a much, much smaller one than the Federal behemoth with whom we struggle and so often glorify today. As usual, the US military’s primary purpose is war, not defense (Astronaut Jack Swigert quote, 1982). It’s good for military contractors’ businesses, but creates hell to pay for the economies participating in this wealth-destroying charade.

Here is PJ’s excellent article, with which I wholeheartedly agree, though I don’t risk much in going farther than him after I present it:

It took me several years AFTER I ran for Congress in 1982 and 1984 to finally conclude that politics is - by far - the most dangerous, dishonest and destructive profession by which any human ever soiled himself. Every “free lunch” it provides is funded by forcing innocents to pay for the insane, unaccountable lists of wet dreams promoted by politicians for their own aggrandizement, limited prosecutable liability and glorification as heroes. As you will see – the apparently legal, political theft built up over the last century has now shifted from a minority to a majority of voters in our overblown, “don’t stop the presses” economy. It has thoroughly shifted the balance of power in the US by giving American politicians a 60% to 40% incentive to vote for more government, as I describe in Chapter 14 of my pending book, Lasting Liberty Lost, attached. This can, and will, have only one outcome, and it’s not good. As I have written before, the US has gone from the world’s largest creditor to the world’s largest debtor in the last four decades.

No private burglar, bully, child molester, rapist or murderer - not even those organized into mafias, crime syndicates and other criminal organizations NOT protected and/or subsidized by government - has ever come close to the unsavory escalation of crime, war, destruction and tyranny that is the modern welfare/warfare state. In other words, most - perhaps all - governments and their minions murder many, many times more than private parties and organizations not subsidized or otherwise protected by government. The twentieth century included the murder, torture, rape and/or death by starvation of more than 100 million people, by just three countries (Soviet Union, Communist China and Hitler’s Germany). Bernie Madoff’s well-publicized multi-BILLION dollar fraud to his investors was a drop in the bucket compared to tens of thousands of American governments who LEGALLY enjoy this plunder, protected from legal liability in most cases. The US alone suffered more than 400,000 casualties in the WW II.

That is why you might be surprised, even shocked, by my last two paragraphs.

Steven Pinker’s magnificent book The Better Angels of our Nature documents the following claim in painstaking detail. Surprisingly (contrary to all media reporting), today’s Planet Earth (including America) is by far the LEAST violent period of human history, after World War II (1941-45) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). The destructive policies of the twentieth century were well-established long before top-of-the-world 20th-century dictators like US President Franklin Roosevelt and his cohorts Stalin and Mao took up the task. My friend Jerry recently turned me onto Pinker’s wonderful book, which shattered my long-held illusions about how today’s human societies have been the least violent. Ironically, the ongoing and insistent overreach of modern welfare/warfare states has wreaked havoc in every corner of our lives for political (i.e., ever-fraudulent and coercive) goals, including taxing and regulating us into lifetimes of tyranny, taxes and too-early deaths. Randolph Bourne (quoted below) and General von Clausewitz understood why, but you may not.

Mankind will find, as it has found in our lifetimes and long before we were born, a better way to “govern”, “regulate” or “help” its unfortunate victims than to torture, starve and bludgeon them into slavery, death, wealth destruction and economic collapse. Ironically, the detonation of two terrible atomic bombs in Japan a month before I was born was the LAST time the Grand Old US of A followed its Constitution by declaring war before dropping troops, bombs and inflated currencies into every backwater tyrant’s backyard.

War is the Health of the State – Randolph Bourne (1918)

War is politics carried on by other means – Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz (1812)

Saturday, January 2, 2016


by James Craig Green

How Free Trade Increases Value
My friends and colleagues Paul Prentice and Penn Pfiffner are professional economists. They were both Senior Fellows at Colorado's Independence Institute when they developed their Free People, Free Markets courses several years ago. Paul, still a senior fellow in Colorado Springs, teaches a three hour version of the course, and Penn, in the Denver metro area (no longer affiliated with II) teaches a longer version.

I have taken both courses twice now, and learned something new each time. I last took Penn's course on two consecutive Saturdays in Longmont, Colorado in 2011, and originally took his 4-week course in 2007. I have also gone to Colorado Springs twice now to see Paul's "Three Hour Tour" (Independence Institute President Jon Caldara calls it the "One Night Stand").

One of the most interesting features of their courses is a segment called the Demand Wizard. It reveals an elegant insight into market economics most people never think about, even longtime advocates of free market economics. It can be a struggle to explain how markets work, especially to those who think government should heavily regulate them. The Demand Wizard makes it easier to understand.

As shown in the following YouTube video, Penn Pfiffner plays the part of the omniscient (all-knowing) Demand Wizard who attempts to allocate wealth to improve the economy. The demonstration begins with four food products (coke, chips, cookies and yogurt), each of which sells in stores for about the same price. The Wizard hands out one of these things to each student in the class. This unique demonstration illustrates the variation and importance of each person's subjective opinion of value and its contribution to an objective market value (about which too many economists haven't got a clue). If the links have changed, or otherwise don’t work, enter either Penn Pfiffner Demand Wizard into your search engine, or for Paul’s video (next page), Paul Prentice Demand Wizard.

(Penn Pfiffner 4 minutes)

As the famous Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out in Human Action, each person places a subjective value on everything he wants or uses, which is unique to him and varies with time, place and conditions. For example, when you are at home, a glass of water costs you practically nothing, because your monthly water bill may be less than a penny per gallon. However, if you are at a sporting event or concert, you may pay two or three dollars for a small bottle of water. If you were extremely thirsty and a store was not convenient, you would gladly pay more. This concept is at the heart of millions of sales and purchases each day that comprise the American - and World – economies when prices are allowed to change with variable supplies and demands, as previously discussed in Chapters 2, 4 and 6.

Demand Wizard Results

As you can see from Penn's video, when the Demand Wizard selects which products each member of the class received, the total value of this mini-economy was 25 units, based on each class member assigning a relative value from 1 (least preferable) to 4 (most preferable) for each of the four products handed out. This ranking is done prior to the re-allocation of the same products based on free trade among class members (representing the dynamics of market economies) according to their different (subjective) individual preferences.

After class members were allowed to trade the items, the total value of the class economy almost doubled to 47 units. This is but a small, simple example of the awesome power of markets to satisfy people's desires without forcing other people to pay for them. It is important that this overall increase in total (subjective) value occurred without any new production of goods and services; only their more-efficient distribution by a voluntary market process from the Win-Win transactions between traders acting in their own self-interest.

Paul Prentice also presents the Demand Wizard exercise in his classes, with similar results, though the numbers vary from class to class. Please note this simple example involves only four products, contrasted with the large number of economic decisions people make every day. It was Paul who first brought the Demand Wizard concept to the FPFM classes. Also, the increased wealth from this example does not consider increased production and innovation from profit incentives and the freedom to pursue them – further market benefits not shown here.

In this three minute video…
(Paul Prentice 3 minutes)
…from a presentation at the Independence Institute, Dr. Prentice explains the connection between property rights and human liberty, which counters popular arguments that they are contrary to each other.
Objective (Market) Value from Individual Subjective Values
The Demand Wizard demonstrates an important principle that few people understand, including a lot of economists. From the subjective, individual, whimsical choices made by many people, a market develops - a voluntary collective in which each person trades by his own whims and temporary choices. But, the collective action of many such choices produces an objective value that is measurable and produces a permanent record that can be seen by anyone. That is the "market price" of any given product, service or commodity at any given time. The stock market is an example. So is a store that sells anything. When demand falls off, the store owner may lower the price, even below his cost if necessary to get rid of inventory that is not selling. When demand picks up, he may raise prices again. These prices are the objective value of something or things in a market, integrating hundreds or thousands of subjective individual decisions. They may remain constant for long periods of time, or they may vary each hour or day, depending on the changing supplies and demands that produce changing prices. Ebay auctions are excellent examples of rapidly-changing prices among many different bidders.

This is something no Commissar or other pretend Demand Wizard can possibly do, because no one has the complete knowledge necessary to make timely, self-interested decisions for someone else. However, politicians, lobbyists, regulatory agencies and other special interest groups daily make deals, supposedly in your interest, but always in their own. This process cannot possibly produce a better outcome than having individuals or voluntary groups make their own decisions each day about what to buy and what not to buy or trade with their own money or other resources.

Simply stated, the complex dynamics of individual economic choices cannot be modeled in all its complexity and uncertainty. This is why, though some economists have better track records than others, no one can predict future prices, supplies or demands without some error, due to the subjective nature of individual opinions of value. Although the collective results of these individual subjective opinions of value can be recorded and expressed as historical data, their repetition cannot be accurately predicted with reliable certainty. This is why the most successful investors, buyers and sellers of all goods and services must hedge their bets with contingency plans for altering projections based on comparing recorded historical results with actual performance, which may change rapidly. Businessmen and other free traders produce net positive wealth by making timely changes to their plans in response to market fluctuations.  Businessmen who fail to respond to these responses are more likely to fail.

Unfortunately, these choices are denied by government for its services, imposed on society by force of law and the threat of jail for non-compliance. It almost always results in less overall value than the individuals whose personal assets are at risk, such that they have an incentive for changing their opinions of value frequently to conform to post-transaction realities.

It is the denial of individual choices and the lack of personal involvement (risk of loss) in goods and services that creates the oppressive damage government does to economies in the name of the nebulous public interest”. It is naive to believe that 1) politicians have your best interest as their primary goal and 2) that they and their so-called "experts" armed with Keynesian economics or other collective fantasies can know how to allocate goods and services with any precision, timeliness or accuracy. A lifetime of applied Keynesian theory by government has resulted in unprecedented, unsustainable public debt (including unfunded liabilities) between 50 and 120 Trillion Dollars, as discussed in Chapters 1-3.