Category Archives: Money and risk

Humpty Dumpty words: socialism and capitalism – part 1

I wrote in a post back in March about the concept of “Humpty Dumpty words,” a reference to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, where Humpty Dumpty engages Alice (of Wonderland fame) in a “war of words” in which he gets to define the meanings. [1] This is what I see in the voluminous writing happening as we speak on… Read more »

Money is choice

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Several recent posts in this blog have been focused on the idea of human volition (or “choice,” or “free will”). [1] While there is more ground to cover on the biological foundations of this perception, we can say at this point that we all (including the most strict of “determinists” who philosophically deny that free will exists) live our lives… Read more »

Non-profit organizations and expanded political power

I wrote recently about how “creative accounting shenanigans” can enable people to get rich while avoiding taxes using 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations in ways outside of their intended purpose. Now we learn that the IRS has decided to reduce regulations on a related form of not-for-profit entity called a 501(c)(4), making it much easier to hide millions of dollars of “dark… Read more »

Non-profit accounting for fun and profit

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I had an accounting professor many years ago who would teach the various “creative accounting” shenanigans that clever accountants could use to cover up nefarious business practices. However, he would always precede the lecture with the disclaimer, “Only those of you planning to become auditors should listen to this. The rest of you, close your ears.” I hereby give you… Read more »

Is Iowa government decentralization a fantasy?

Note: This is a cross-post of a story that first ran yesterday in the great Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. I have lived in Iowa for almost 20 years of my life in total, over several tenures, and for the life of me, I still can’t understand why the voters of the state allow the degree of governmental centralization that exists… Read more »

Four economic “games” and higher employee wages

There is a lot of talk this summer about why wages in many industries seem stubbornly resistant to rising, even though we are nearly at full employment, and especially in places like central Iowa. [1] In this post, I will take a different whack at the problem through the lens of economic game theory and probability. In short, we appear… Read more »

The math of changing your mind – part 2

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A recent post looked at the concept of Markov chains to help us see the process by which people change allegiance from one restaurant to another, or one political position to another. This post follows up with some of the math behind Markov chains and gives you access to a spreadsheet to let you experiment with the concept. If any… Read more »

The math of changing your mind – part 1

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Markov Change

In a recent post I explored the idea of collective delusion, where our self-concept of things like our susceptibility to advertising or the under-estimates of our gambling losses are betrayed by the total size of the advertising and gambling markets. In this post, I will look at how collective delusion can extend to our most fervently-held political convictions and the… Read more »

Las Vegas, internet advertising and collective delusions

This blog started out looking at how fragile probabilistic randomness often affects our collective and individual fates as a society. The next few posts work toward exploring some of the mathematics behind how half of America found itself embracing a collective political delusion which is objectively 180 degrees from its own long-held conservative religious and political norms. That math may… Read more »

“Wink and a nod” contract consideration – part 2

The first part of this series of posts looked at the growing inability to prosecute political bribery because the courts and legislatures have enabled layers of opaque legal entities to hide the delivery of the political favors from the receipt of the “consideration.” As I noted in that part, no official “contract” exists other than a “wink and a nod”… Read more »