Category: Weird thoughts about inflation

Let’s talk about inflation a bit, shall we?

People talk about inflation like they talk about the weather, or a volcanic eruption, or an earthquake. Like nobody has control over it. That is just plain nonsense.

The government has control over inflation. It always did. If inflation is going up, it is because the government is making it go up. Why are they doing that?

It’s simple. To spend more of your money. If the government spends money it brings in, no big deal. No inflation. If the government spends more money than it has coming in, it can either borrow it or print it. If the government prints new money to pay its bills, you get inflation.

It’s simple enough. There’s only so much value in the world. Things you can buy. If there’s more money, the amount of money it takes to buy some portion of that value goes up. The price, that is, goes up, on everything. This is macroeconomics 101, folks.

Now, people like Bernie always talk about raising taxes on the rich to pay for extra spending. That ain’t gonna happen, for two good reasons. One: Who do you think makes the decisions, eh? Two: The rich don’t have that much money.

The government is planning on spending $6,000,000,000,000 in 2022. Six trillion dollars. There are 724 billionaires in the United States, most of them just over the line of a billion. If you taxed them each a BILLION dollars, reducing most of them to poverty, you would get enough money to run the government until Valentines Day or so.

And that’s just this year. What do you do next year?

No, to increase taxes, you have to tax the middle class. That’s where most of the taxes come from, because that’s where most of the money is. But politicians have to pretend they’re the friends of the working man, because that is also where the votes are.

Back to inflation. Plain and simple, inflation is a tax on the middle class. The government creates inflation as a way of taxing the middle class while pretending it isn’t their fault. This is so they can spend vast amounts of money without taxing it directly. If they tried to tax it directly, they would get voted out, and all their favorite spending projects would go away.

Why is inflation a tax on the middle class? Consider first the poor. The lower class. They don’t have savings. They spend money when they get it or soon after. They don’t hold on to money long enough for it to devalue due to inflation while it’s in their hands.

The upper classes don’t have savings in dollars, either. They have assets. If inflation knocks the dollar down to half its previous value, they don’t care. Their stock, their property, their yacht – whatever – will double in dollars even as the dollar goes to one-half its prior value. The overall value, however, is the same.

It’s the middle class that has savings. In retirement accounts. In bank accounts. Inflation allows the government to just reach in there and take some of it so they can spend big and still claim not to have raised taxes.

It’s a giant scam. It always was. Under Jimmy Carter. Under Joe Biden. Just a giant scam.

Federal revenue from all sources is an almost constant 20% of GDP over the last seventy years. No matter how you change the tax code, that’s about what people are willing to pay without cheating or changing their taxable behavior.

So if you want more revenues, raise GDP. Get the economy humming, and revenues will go up. Duh. That’s what Trump did. That’s what Reagan did. That’s even what Bill Clinton (“It’s the economy, stupid.”) did.

But some Democrats just can’t seem to get that concept.

Including most of the ones in charge today.

Category: Weird thoughts about employment

There’s a lot of talk lately – even among intelligent people who really ought to know better – that a Universal Basic Income will be a requirement in the future because of robotics and AI.

It’s an easy argument to understand. We can clearly see the kinds of jobs that will be lost. “All these people will be without jobs! They’ll starve! We have to have UBI!”

Uh, no.

Consider the following graphic.

There’s some interesting stuff here. Farmers, farm laborers, and private domestics were 40% of the total employment in the United States in 1910. By 2000, they were barely 2%. Oh my gosh! 38% of the population will be unemployed! We need a Universal Basic Income or people will starve!

But that’s not what happened. Not only was unemployment the historically lowest it’s ever been last year, before the COVID hit, that’s after increasing the workforce (in percentages – of course it increased in numbers with population growth) by most women working outside the home, unlike in 1910.

Where were all those people employed in 2000? From the graphic, we can see it was in professional, technical, service, clerical, and office jobs. Medicine, engineering, transportation, all made great strides, employing millions more people than the percentages of 1910 would predict.

Think about it. Where do all those people work now? On computers and the internet, on television and radio, in professional sports, in music and movies, in the automobile industry, in the aviation industry. Could a person in 1910 have predicted any of that? No. Not a prayer.

In medicine, unlike in 1910, we now routinely replumb the arteries of the heart, install pacemakers, and replace knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders. In 1910, you either suffered with those problems or died from them. All that takes manpower, too, compared to the ‘medicine’ of 1910.

The other thing that happened is that people got more leisure time. In 1910, the average work week was 70 hours a week, while in 2000 it was 40 hours a week. But wages went down, right? Nope. People made more money, in real terms, in 2000 working 40 hours a week than they did in 1910 working 70 hours a week.

So what can we predict about where those people replaced by robotics and AI over the next fifty years will work in 2070? I don’t know and couldn’t guess, and neither can you.

What I can predict is that people will work fewer hours – perhaps four six-hour days a week – and make more money in real terms than they do now.

And a Universal Basic Income will not be required.

Category: Weird thoughts about civilization

Watching lots of history documentaries lately, and I had a sudden realization.

If you took an ancient Egyptian from, say, 3000 BC, and a Roman from 100 BC, and a German from 1500 AD, and you popped them all down in Kentucky in 1815, they would do fine. Using axes to clear the land and build a cabin, using animals to plow the fields, farming, raising livestock. Everything. Nothing had changed enough to discomfit any of them.

But from 1815 to 1915, the world changed. The steam engine, then the internal combustion engine. Railroads, cars, planes. Electric lights and streetcars and subways. Telegram and telephone and radio. From muzzle-loading muskets to rifles to cartridge guns to machine guns. Everything changed.

And if you follow it back, it was James Watt’s improved steam engine of 1775 that really started it all off.

But did you know that Watt had a real problem with making his steam engine efficient? He couldn’t make a smooth enough bore and piston set to seal against the steam, to get the full potential of the engine. He enlisted the help of Henry Maudslay.

Maudslay revolutionized industry by inventing the screw-cutting lathe, which allowed the pitch of threads to be accurately reproduced. Before Maudslay, every nut and bolt were a matched set. After Maudslay, you could take any bolt out of the box and screw it into any nut from the box.

He also invented standardized measuring techniques, which allowed interchangeable parts on machinery. Prior to that, parts had to be fitted to the machine. After Maudslay, you could swap one part for another. This was a really big deal in gunsmithing as well as with Mr. Watt’s steam engine and all the rest of the machinery introduced in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Yes, the whole world changed between 1815 and 1915, and Henry Maudslay was the biggest reason.

And you never heard of him before.

Henry Maudslay bio.

In Search of Doc Holliday

I saw a documentary on Doc Holliday last night. They didn’t mention what sort of guns he used, but they got several things right in a critical way.

The guns used in the West were almost exclusively single-action revolvers. You had to manually cock them before shooting them. The Colt Lightning of 1877 (and the later Model 1878) were not. They were self-cockers, which rotated the cylinder, cocked the hammer, and fired when you pulled the trigger.

By October of 1881, Doc Holliday carried a self-cocker in a holster on his chest on the right side, and a single-action revolver on the left side. As a gambler, this was important. If you wore your revolver in the typical holster we think of most often when we think of the West, down on your thigh, you couldn’t draw the weapon when seated in a chair with arms. You had to stand first, which is why all those bar shoot-outs have the belligerents stand first.

But Doc Holliday could draw and fire while seated, and he didn’t have to cock the weapon first. Stand up at the card table to clear your holsters and Doc Holliday would shoot you while still seated, before you could even get your gun out of the holster. Holliday had a reputation of being “good with a gun” (a quote about him from Wyatt Earp, no less), and the Colt self-cocker was likely part of the reason why.

When the documentary showed a recreation of Holliday seated at the table playing cards, he had a Colt self-cocker in a chest holster on his right side, and a Colt .45 revolver on his left side, both accessible while seated. The self-cocker is easily identifiable by it’s “birds’ head” (rounded) grip. The Colt .45 had a ‘standard’ grip. Both of Holliday’s guns in the documentary had white grips — an extra-cost option — which would have been Holliday’s choice. Having people know he had them while playing cards was better than having to use them.

The documentary also got the gunfight at the OK Corral right. The scenes showing people firing pistols all showed them manually cocking the hammer with their right thumb between rounds. Doc had a shotgun at the OK Corral, and also was the only person there with a self-cocker.

Contrast the grip of the self-cocker to the grip of the Colt .45 Peacemaker.


The movie Tombstone, in which Val Kilmer gave the definitive portrayal of Doc Holliday, also got it right. Spot the self-cocker and the single-action revolvers, both with white (very visible — ‘Don’t screw with me’ — grips), both worn in a position to be accessible while seated. Doc was known to be quick with a gun, and to be able to switch from an amiable Southern manner to a brutal temper in seconds. In the movie Tombstone, John Ringo is portrayed as being afraid of him, and not without reason.


The documentary had one difference to the movie Tombstone. In the documentary, the two guns were also at different heights on Doc’s torso, but the heights were reversed, with the self-cocker higher on his right side than the Peacemaker on his left side. The documentary was likely right. The Peacemaker — which was a very simple mechanism with only four moving parts — was an extremely reliable back-up gun, while the self-cocker would have been much faster, but could be more finicky. Both guns were in a cross-draw position — grips oriented for the hand on the other side — which is faster, especially with your hands already in front of you on the card table. Reporting of the gunfight at the OK Corral is that Doc was grazed on his left hip, which had a pistol ‘scabbard’ (not a hanging holster), which also argues for the Peacemaker being lower on that side.

I grabbed this screen shot from the documentary’s trailer, of Holliday seated at the card table. Spot the self-cocker and the Peacemaker, both guns accessible while seated. It was a quick scene, only a couple of seconds in the documentary, but I was looking for it. I like it when people get the details right.


By the way, if you wonder whether an 1877 or 1878 model pistol would be available in the West by 1881, don’t kid yourself. Tombstone had a gun store that kept current with new models. Founded in 1877, by 1879 Tombstone had a bowling alley, four churches, an ice house, a school, two banks, three newspapers, and an ice cream parlor, alongside 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls, and numerous dance halls and brothels.

The documentary is “In Search of Doc Holliday” and is available on Amazon.

Watch it here.


Category: Weird thoughts about hats

A prediction, and a story

Story first. Up through 1960, any adult male going out wore a hat. All classes. You just did. Other than at the beach, say, men wore hats. The shelf behind the rear seat in a car, under the rear window, was a hat shelf.

From 1961 onward, men didn’t wear hats. Oh, some ball caps and the occasional geezer wearing a cowboy hat (ahem), but generally no hat. The hat shelf in most cars is gone.

Why? Because JFK never wore a hat. And men still don’t wear a hat now, sixty years later. You can tell whether a movie was made before January 1961 or after, based on whether the men wear hats when going out

Now a prediction. You will be able to tell, decades from now, whether a movie or TV show was made before COVID-19 or after by whether people shake hands.

Category: Weird thoughts about Game Theory

In Game Theory, a Nash equilibrium exists when, for each player, no change in strategy will result in a positive outcome as long as all other players continue to play their current strategy. It is a form of non-optimal equilibrium — a local optimum.

In US foreign policy, NATO, NAFTA, and relations with China, N. Korea, and Iran had settled into long-standing Nash equilibria. No US politicians changed our strategies for decades, despite the non-optimal state, because there was no path to a positive outcome for the US if the other side continued playing their current strategy.

However, you can disrupt a Nash equilibrium by making moves that make their position substantially worse, which forces them to change their strategy to seek a better outcome.

This is what Trump has done in all five of these scenarios. It is also the reason that the Washington establishment screams bloody murder when he does it. The potential negative outcome for the US is apparent. But the other players change their strategies, because the disruption is planned to make their situations much worse.

With China, Trump imposed tariffs. “He’s going to start a trade war that will be disastrous for the US!” Well, it would be even more disastrous for China. So China is having to modify their policies to avoid it.

Same with Canada and Mexico, Trump threatened or imposed tariffs. He actually threatened to close the Mexican border to imports. The DC crowd was screaming about trade wars again, but Canada and Mexico changed their strategies because the situation would have gotten much worse for them. And we got the USMCA trade deal to replace the stupid NAFTA.

With NATO, Trump threatened to withdraw. The DC crowd was in hysterics. But the US withdrawing from NATO would be much worse for our European allies, so they are modifying their strategy by increasing their defense spending as the treaty requires.

With North Korea, Trump agreed to meet with Kim Jung Un without any concessions. The foreign policy crowd complained that Trump was giving Kim a big propaganda coup without anything in return. But Kim changed his strategy, and some positive things are happening there.

Again and again, Trump disrupts Nash equilibria in a specific way, forcing others to change their strategies and finding a more optimum solution than the impasse of the equilibrium. And every time, the know-it-alls see disaster ahead.

What about Iran? On January 13, 2020, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “In the current conditions, we must all cooperate with each other to establish peace and stability and ease tensions.”

“The current conditions” being the disruption of the Nash equilibrium that’s existed for forty years.

Category: Weird thoughts about high crimes and misdemeanors

Sir William Blackstone, the authority on the English law on which the Constitution is based, defines “crimes and misdemeanors” (“Commentaries on the Laws of England”) Book IV Chapter 1, as follows:

“A CRIME, or misdemeanor, is an act committed, or omitted, in violation of a public law, either forbidding or commanding it. This general definition comprehends both crimes and misdemeanors; which, properly speaking, are mere synonymous terms: though, in common usage, the word, “crimes,” is made to denote such offences as are of a deeper and more atrocious dye; while smaller faults, and omissions of less consequence, are comprised under the gentler name of “misdemeanors” only.”

Those who argue for a broader meaning usually point to Blackstone at Book IV, Chapter 9:

“II. MISPRISIONS, which are merely positive, are generally denominated contempts or high misdemeanors; of which

“1. THE first and principal is the mal-administration of such high officers, as are in public trust and employment. This is usually punished by the method of parliamentary impeachment: wherein such penalties, short of death, are inflicted, as to the wisdom of the house of peers shall seem proper….”

So how is Blackstone to be squared with itself? The first thing to realize is that the laws of England are not the laws of the United States. Further, the laws of England at the time included a large body of Common Law. Federal law in the United States is (almost) exclusively statutory law. Thus the idea that Blackstone apparently considers mal-administration a violation of law need not be surprising. The law in Parliament is whatever Parliament says it is, including — at the time, at least — ex post facto laws and bills of attainder, which the US Constitution strictly disallows.

We need to look further to make sure we have reconciled these passages properly. Consider Blackstone once more, at Book IV, Chapter 19:

“But an impeachment before the lords by the commons of Great Britain, in parliament, is a prosecution of the already known and established law, and has been frequently put in practice; being a presentment to the most high and supreme court of criminal jurisdiction by the most solemn grand inquest of the whole kingdom.”

And so Blackstone circles around again and makes the point clear: “impeachment … is a prosecution of the already known and established law….” In the United States, at the federal level, that means statutory law.

This is an important point. Fundamental to the law is that it can be understood, that an offender have the means to know an act is unlawful before it is committed. The idea that the President can be impeached — and an election overturned — for some offense which he cannot know ahead of time is wrongful, is ludicrous and contrary to the basic principles of law, fairness, and democracy.

Arguers against this position often bring up Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Paper No. 65, and quote it, but only in part, and out of context:

“those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

In the greater context, however, one can see that Hamilton was complaining about the inherent political nature of impeachment, and that was why he argued that the Senate, a more deliberative body, was the proper place for neutral consideration of the charges:

“A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.

“The delicacy and magnitude of a trust which so deeply concerns the political reputation and existence of every man engaged in the administration of public affairs, speak for themselves. The difficulty of placing it rightly, in a government resting entirely on the basis of periodical elections, will as readily be perceived, when it is considered that the most conspicuous characters in it will, from that circumstance, be too often the leaders or the tools of the most cunning or the most numerous faction, and on this account, can hardly be expected to possess the requisite neutrality towards those whose conduct may be the subject of scrutiny.

“The convention, it appears, thought the Senate the most fit depositary of this important trust. Those who can best discern the intrinsic difficulty of the thing, will be least hasty in condemning that opinion, and will be most inclined to allow due weight to the arguments which may be supposed to have produced it.”

So impeachment requires a violation of law, and not the political decision Hamilton declaimed against. In the US, that means a violation of statute, and a failure to cite the statute violated in any charge of a bill of impeachment renders that charge meritless.

Category: Weird thoughts about fairness

Marguis of Queensbury rules and similar concepts of fairness apply when two people decide to fight each other. For boxing, and WWE, and martial arts, there are rules.

A fight that results from one person attacking another is a different matter altogether. No rules of fairness apply. One person is minding their own business when the other attacks him. Fairness went out the window when one party decided to unilaterally initiate violence.

Three teenaged toughs armed with knives and brass knuckles broke into a man’s home, and he killed all three of them with an AR-15. The uncle of one of the deceased complained that, “It wasn’t fair. He had an AR-15.” No, moron. It wasn’t fair that they initiated violence against someone minding their own business.

If somebody walks into a bar and sucker punches some guy, and it turns out that guy is Chuck Norris and he breaks every bone in the attacker’s body, that’s just tough shit. The attacker threw fairness out the window when he initiated violence.

That’s why, when people get all upset about August 6th or August 9th, I just say, “December 7th.”

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Category: Weird thoughts about impeachment

OK, so the Dems want to impeach Trump because he beat Hillary and is dismantling a lot of their pet programs, many of which are on shaky legal ground. Understood. But what is going on with the CIA, the FBI and the State Department? Why are George Kent, Bill Taylor, John Brennan, James Comey, Marie Yovanovich, Susan Rice, and so many others opposing the president, whose job it is to set foreign policy? What is it with the FISA warrants and the unmaskings and the whistleblower and all that?

Simple. It’s all about Russia and China.

Russia has been treated as an enemy of the Unites States since the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The CIA was founded by Truman to keep an eye on the Soviets. The FBI made many of its most famous busts (after Al Capone) of Russian spies. The State Department has coordinated US policy against the Russians for over seventy years. Every senior diplomat in the US cut their teeth on opposition to the Soviets and Russia. It’s what they know. It’s ALL they know.

China, in contrast, has been a friend of the United States since 1972, when Henry Kissinger negotiated a trip by Richard Nixon to visit Mao Tse-Dong. China had been an ally of the United States against Japan in the Second Word War, but there was tension — and the Korean War — from the rise of the communists in China. The theory was that, if we were friends with China, and they become more capitalist, then surely political freedom would follow. We let them into the WTO, and they ate our lunch. Former State Department officials like Henry Kissinger and Madeline Albright have made millions consulting for US companies relocating manufacturing to China. Meanwhile, China is actually cracking down on freedoms, with the Uighurs, with Falun Gong, with Hong Kong.

When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, there was an opportunity to be friends with Russia. We had been friends before, in allying against the Nazis, and that was with Stalin. We certainly don’t have problems being friendly with people who aren’t exactly saints. The big fly in the ointment? George H. W. Bush, who had been head of the CIA and ambassador to China. Do you see it now?

So what’s the current kerfuffle all about? What the hell is it with Ukraine, anyway? And Syria, too, for that matter? Simple. Naval bases.

Russia has six major naval bases. St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Murmansk, Vladivostok, Tartus, and Sebastopol. St. Petersburg is iced in over the winter. Kaliningrad isn’t iced in, but it isn’t contiguous to Russia. Poland and the Baltics are in between, much as Canada is between the main part of the US and Alaska. Murmansk is iced in much of the year, and it is primarily a submarine base. Vladivostok is north of Korea, and the Russians actually have to heat the harbor to keep it open all winter.

Which leaves Tartus and Sebastopol. Tartus is in Syria, a base Bashar al Assad leases to the Russians. Do you see now why Russia will support the Assad regime against all comers? Tartus is a warm-water base on the Mediterranean, where Russian ships can be serviced without transitting the Dardanelles and the Bosporus Strait through Turkey.

As for Sebastopol, in the Crimea, the naval base there was founded by the Russians in 1783, before the US even had the Constitution. The city of Sebastopol was actually founded to support the naval base, because if you’re going to have a naval base, you need a place for all the hookers and bartenders to live, as well as a railhead for supplies.

So how the hell did the Crimea end up with Ukraine?

In the 1930s, there was a movement in Ukraine to break off from the USSR. Stalin starved Ukraine, and millions died. When Stalin died in 1953, Khrushchev took over. Whereas Stalin had been from Georgia, a neighbor and rival of Ukraine, Khrushchev had been born near the Russian-Ukraine border. He made nice with the Ukrainians, transferring Crimea and the Donbass to the Ukrainian SSR. This was all still within the USSR, so, no problem.

When the Soviet Union broke up, however, the Ukraine split off, and took Crimea and the Donbass — which are completely ethnically Russian; no Ukrainians there at all — with them, including the naval base at Sebastopol. This was still not a problem, because the Ukrainian government was pro-Russian.

Enter our heroes, the CIA and the State Department. Yes, that’s sarcasm. US stated policy was “regime change” in Syria. What does that mean to Russia? No more Tartus naval base. Oops. And we actively worked to support pro-Western politicians in Ukraine, and pushed for Ukraine membership in the EU and NATO. This would put the Russians’ naval base in Sebastopol — which has been theirs for 236 years — in NATO, an organization formed to oppose the Russians. Oops.

Why the hell would we do that? These aren’t in our national interest. No, but they are directly opposed to the Russians’ national interest in a major way. We’ll show those guys. So Putin continues to support Bashar al Assad, and he took the Crimea and the Donbass back from the Ukraine in 2014, after the election of a pro-Western government. We’ve made Putin out to be the huge big bad guy over this, but ANY Russian leader, even the most enlightened, would have done the exact same thing.

Meanwhile, we continue to be friends with China, while they steal our technology, round up the Uighurs into concentration camps, practice religious oppression against the Falun Gong, welch on their treaty obligations over Hong Kong, and cheat on WTO rules.


So Trump, when campaigning, said China was the problem, and wondered aloud why we couldn’t be friends with Russia. This was a huge threat to the established order in the CIA, FBI, and the State Department. All these people have been fighting the Russians for decades. It’s all they know. If Trump made friends with the Russians, all their Russia-fighting credentials — and funding — are gone. Can you imagine the interview questions? “So, uh, what else do you know? Anything?” All their clout, all their experience, all their influence depends on the US being enemies with Russia.

The reason we’re on the side of the Ukraine, which is the most corrupt country in Europe, is because they’re fighting with the Russians. Ukraine should just give Crimea and the Donbass back to Russia. Problem solved. But you heard George Kent testify on Wednesday that the cornerstone of US policy on Ukraine is the “security of an intact Ukraine.” Notice that key phrase, “intact Ukraine.” Meaning, taking Crimea and the naval base from the Russians.

The reason we’re in favor of regime change in Syria is because that would deny the Russians the naval base in Tartus. It has nothing to do with Bashar al Assad being a bad ruler. There’s a ton of those guys around. Why is this guy so important? Because we can cost the Russians another naval base. Bwahahahaha.

We continue to have troubles with Russia — expensive troubles, over issues important enough to Russia to go to war over — because we have a bunch of career people in Washington whose whole career is worthless without troubles with Russia.

And that’s why the foreign policy establishment hates Trump. He would remake US foreign policy to reflect current realities, which would make them irrelevant.

Category: Weird thoughts about systemic racism

Oh, I’ll probably get in trouble for this one. What the hell, here goes.

There’s a lot of talk about systemic racism among the Democratic presidential candidates lately. America is a racist country, etc. I want to agree in part and disagree in part.

First, let’s face it, most of the wealth, power, and cool shit in this country is in the possession and control of white people. That is, I think, not realistically contestable.

But there are a lot of black people and Asian people who have also made a lot of money, wield a lot of power, or have a lot of cool shit. And there are a lot — the vast majority — of white people who don’t have any of it. So it’s clearly not race, or not just race, that determines those outcomes.

I’ve also heard about young black people being excoriated by their friends for “acting white” when they study, speak proper English, or eschew drugs and dressing like a gangbanger.

The confluence of those facts led me to a stunning realization. The people with money and power and cool shit in this country don’t have it because they *are* white, they have it because they *act* white.

So what is “acting white”? How does one do that? I think it’s pretty simple.

– Be well-spoken. Lose the ghetto slang.

– Be well-read, especially about history and economics.

– Don’t commit crime. No shoplifting or theft or breaking into cars or running stop signs or driving like a nut case.

– Don’t do drugs, and use alcohol moderately if at all.

– Don’t get pregnant — or get somebody else pregnant — until you finish school.

– Work at school. Graduate. Go to college. Graduate.

– Don’t hang out with, or dress like, gangbangers.

– Unless you have a carry permit, leave the guns at home.

And realize that people who tell young blacks that they’re acting white don’t want those young blacks to have money, wield power, or have cool shit, because so-called “acting white,” whether you’re white or not, is the way to get them.

There are a ton of examples. Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, Ben Carson, Tim Scott, Larry Elder, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, Mia Love, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Herman Cain, Robert Johnson, John Johnson, Charles Payne, Bob Woodson — and that’s just off the top of my head as I write this.

It doesn’t depend on your starting circumstances. Ben Carson, for example, was raised in the projects by a single mother who could not read, and he became a brain surgeon and head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins before becoming HUD secretary.

That’s just blacks. Asians are better at “acting white” than white people are. In fact, it might better be called “acting Asian.” And there are a lot of whites who don’t “act white.” They also end up without money, power, or cool shit. Southern cracker culture in particular is antithetical to “acting white.”

I bounced this idea off a black friend the other night. “It’s not because they are white, but because they act white. Wow.” They thought about it, then slowly nodded their head and said it was a powerful insight.

It does explain a lot. And it means that, in this country at least, people’s futures are largely in their own hands.

It also means that no attempts to ‘correct injustice’ that don’t address personal behaviors can ever succeed.