Head Thumping Commentary

More on the High Cost of Free Speech

Victor C. Bolles

May 20, 2022


Tragedy follows upon tragedy and the cause is linked to hate speech, disinformation or fake news. It is a natural instinct to want to suppress these sick ideas and hateful concepts. But these evils thrive in the darkness. Their weakness is exposure to light. Free speech carries a high price, but the lack of free speech has an unbearable cost. In this commentary we continue our investigation into the continual high cost of free speech.


Quote from the Commentary:

“Mass murders of black people, nightly protests with no apparent objective and blocking police from dangerous neighborhoods are unlikely to achieve the results these extremists seek. Their purpose does not appear to be specific results or outcomes but chaos and disruption. As if they want all of society to suffer the pain of their disturbed thoughts.”

The Continual High Cost of Free Speech 

Victor C. Bolles

May 17, 2022


I am quite certain that as we get closer to the November off-year elections abortion, inflation and the war in Europe will dominate the campaign rhetoric and the issue of freedom of speech will be pushed to the sidelines (again). But as Elon Musk recently tweeted, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.” We are already being inundated with hackers, trolls, bots, foreign actors, fake news, conspiracy theories and all sorts of nonsense. And now the Biden Administration wants to create a Disinformation Governance Board. In this commentary we look at the assault on free speech being perpetrated by these malevolent characters and now our own government.


Quote from the Commentary
“There is a reason why the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law (which must also include administrative actions or executive orders) abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Government must stay out of speech just as it must stay out of religion. And Elon Musk is right as well. Fact checkers, content moderators and their ilk should keep their hands off free speech.”

Abortion – A 23rd Century Perspective

Victor C. Bolles

May 10, 2022


A stolen draft Supreme court opinion that might overturn Roe v. Wade has set off a firestorm of tweets, op-eds and protests across the country. The Republicans and Democrats are facing off for a Battle of the Century. However, the American public has held a very durable consensus for many years that would allow abortion in the first trimester with increasing restrictions, thereafter. The political parties ignore this consensus that would be a viable basis for policy in favor of divisive politics. In this commentary we take a look at why partisan politics is blocking a compromise solution that would allow us to redirect our energies to addressing the consequences of these policies.


Quote from the Commentary:

Gallup poll reports that about 60% of Americans support abortion in the first trimester, but that support falls to only 28% in the second trimester and collapses to only 13% in the third trimester. And these ratios are virtually unchanged over more than twenty years of Gallup surveys. And Politico cites poll results that show 50% of American oppose overturning Roe v. Wade while only 28% support such action (the remaining 22% are undecided).


Joe Biden didn’t Cause Our Inflation

But he did make it worse

Victor C. Bolles

April 25, 2022


President Biden’s poll numbers are in the tank and a lot of people are blaming record high inflation for the poor numbers. But inflation pressures began building long before he became president, only awaiting a trigger to set them off. We got multiple triggers with the Covid pandemic, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and supply chain problems. But instead of changing course to address inflationary pressures, the Biden administration is doubling down on its imprudent progressive spending plans. In this commentary, we look at the underlying causes of inflation and why it will not be easy to tame this beast.


Quote from the Commentary:

“With stock market price/earnings ratios in the stratosphere, Bitcoin at over $40,000 a coin and nonfungible tokens selling for tens of millions of dollars anyone with even a marginal grasp of financial literacy would realize that we were sitting on top of a volcano.”

Slanted Society

Victor C. Bolles

April 18, 2022


What if the differences between between central planning, social justice loving progressives and free market, liberty loving conservatives were not ideological but biological? There is mounting evidence that there may be such a link, which means that rational discussion has little chance of changing the minds of those in these two camps. In this commentary we investigate some of the evidence pointing in this direction and discuss some of the implications of this revelation.


Quote from the Commentary:

“But while the Chinese reversal to a more vertical society places their future in doubt, the Chinese example also shows that liberty loving individuals exist in all societies and that more than two thousand years of vertical Chinese empires could not wipe them out. But all societies also include order loving communitarians, as well. So, a just and prosperous society must adjust to accommodate both the communitarians and libertarians within society.”

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What Happened to the Party of JFK?

Victor C. Bolles

April 5, 2022


President Biden has just released his proposed budget for 2023, projecting trillion dollar deficits and mounting public debt far into the future. The rapidly expanding welfare schemes are a far cry from the sentiments President John F. Kennedy expressed in his inaugural address. And to pay for even more entitlements of dubious value, President Biden is proposing a wealth tax on greedy billionaires. In this commentary we look at how far the progressive left has taken the Democratic Party from the values expressed by JFK.


Quote from the Commentary:

“If all of these trillions of dollars actually helped poor people to escape poverty and to become productive citizens contributing to the general welfare of the country, it might be a worthy endeavor. But the fact is that they don’t. The proof of this is President Biden’s assertion that so much more assistance is needed.”

The New Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

Victor C. Bolles

March 18, 2022


Eight days after Hitler’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joachim von Ribbentrop, signed the infamous pact that bears his name along with his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov, Germany invaded Poland, starting World War Two. Twenty days after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued, along with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, a Joint Statement declaring a new era of international relations, he invaded Ukraine. The new era promised by Putin and Xi does not bode well for free people around the world. In this commentary, we look at the implications and challenges raised by this new version of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. 


Quote from the Commentary:

‘The document mentions democracy 12 times and asserts that “Russia and China as world powers with rich cultural and historical heritage have long-standing traditions of democracy, which rely on thousand-years of experience of development.” They are obviously thinking about a different kind of democracy than the one commonly understood by people who are actually free.’

Vertical War

Horizontal Resistance

Victor C. Bolles

March 15, 2022


Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t going as planned. The reason may lie in the fact the invasion was planned and implemented vertically, from the mind of a single person, Vladimir Putin. The defense of the nation, although inspired by the leadership of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is being fought by everyone from grandmothers giving sunflower seeds to Russian troops (so flowers will grow where their bodies are buried) to students and office workers heaving Molotov cocktails at tanks. In this commentary we look at the strengths and weaknesses of the different forms of social organization in Russia and Ukraine.


Quote from the Commentary:

“The great conflict of the twenty-first century will be between autocratic unidimensional societies such as Russia and China and democratic multidimensional societies such as the United States and Europe, just like it was in the twentieth century. And I believe that, like in the twentieth century, the horizontal multidimensional societies will prevail, but it will not be easy or painless.” 

Putin Has Done Us a Favor

Victor C. Bolles

March 7, 2022


Just as America was wallowing in woke divisiveness and populist conspiracies, and while the other countries of the West sank into self-indulgent complacency, Vladimir Putin has sent a wake-up call. Europe in their desire to save the planet, had put their future in the hands of Russia. Americans, focused on rancorous partisan politics hardly had the time to concentrate on anything outside its borders. Putin has changed all that. In this commentary, we look at the reinvigorated solidarity of the West and discuss the leadership that will be needed to survive the coming difficult decades. 


Quote from the Commentary:

“NATO members are also sending troops and equipment to frontline NATO states to bolster their defenses against further Russian aggression. Germany has agreed to abandon the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for Russian gas and even the environmental Green Party partners in the ruling coalition have agreed to continue the use of coal fired power plants, to build two new LPG terminals and maybe even extend the deadline for shutting down the country’s remaining nuclear power plants.”

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Victor C. Bolles

March 1, 2022


I never thought Vladimir Putin would invade Ukraine. It didn’t make any sense. It was irrational. I was wrong – but right. He did invade. But I was right because he has not achieved any of his strategic goals and he (and Russia) are in a much worse situation than before the invasion. In this commentary, I analyze Putin’s disastrous military misadventure and look at its implications for the future.


Quote from the Commentary:

“Putin has totally failed in achieving his strategic objectives: Ukraine is still independent and fighting fiercely, NATO has been reinvigorated, instead of being feared and respected as a powerful leader he is now a global pariah, and even his own people are rejecting his mad adventure. His grand plan has backfired.”


My Primary Predicament

Victor C. Bolles

February 21, 2022


Primary elections were intended to improve democracy in America. So was the inclusion of administrative positions such as attorney general or railroad commissioner on the ballot. However, as it often is with good intentions, the unintended consequences are often worse than the problem and increasing democracy has resulted in increasing divisiveness. In this commentary, we examine some of the problems presented by upcoming primary elections and make some recommendations on how to reduce the divisiveness that confronts us.


Quote from the Commentary:

“Who the heck are these people and, more importantly, why the heck are we voting for them? We don’t vote for the Attorney General of United States or the Secretary of the Treasury. The president selects them. We don’t vote for Supreme Court justices; the president selects them. This is a case of excessive democracy. There really can be too much of a good thing, and too much democracy is not a good thing.”

In Vlad’s Shoes

Victor C. Bolles

February 14, 2022


To our Western eyes, the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin are not just dangerous, they are incomprehensible, which only makes them more dangerous. But he is not a madman. There are reasons behind his recent provocative actions. In this commentary we engage in some thought experiments to try and better understand Mr. Putin’s motives and use those insights to guide future measures to preserve our security. 


Quote from the Commentary:

“So, the Ukraine is not just another country that was under the domination of the Soviet Union just as they were under Tsarist Russia for many centuries – what the Russians call the “near abroad.” It is part of the Motherland. By turning toward the West, the Ukrainians are turning their backs on their ancestral relations who share a common culture and history.”

Five Questions for Stephen Kotkin

Excellent interview from the Hoover Institute. Well worth your time.

The Algorithm of Decline

Victor C. Bolles

February 2, 2022


Ray Dalio, billionaire hedge fund manager and author, has written a new book describing his theory of why nations succeed and fail. He has used artificial intelligence and big data to identify the key determinants in the rise and fall of great powers and his theory reveals why the United States is a declining power and China is a rising one. But the real utility of his theory is as a roadmap of how America can avoid, or at least delay, such a fate. In this commentary, we examine Mr. Dalio’s theory and identify the determinants essential to block America’s decline.


Quote from the Commentary:

“(Mr. Dalio’s) eight determinants of power are mostly trending downward. Especially troubling are lagging excellence in education and a weary military with obsolete equipment. Internal conflict, partisanship and perceived inequality are tilting us toward violence and possibly even revolution or civil war. As the American era begins to decline, the rise of China as the next world order seems almost inevitable.”

The Real RINO

Victor C. Bolles

January 17, 2022


In a recent letter, former president Trump implies that Democrats are not real Americans and urges fellow patriots (his words) to elect Trump Republicans. Not Republicans but Trump Republicans whose loyalty is to Donald Trump and not the Republican Party. Not to be out done, President Biden accuses those opposed to his (actually Nancy Pelosi’s) voting rights legislation of being on the side of rebels and slavers like Jefferson Davis. In this commentary we examine the reasons for this hyperbolic divisiveness and suggest some alternative approaches to resolve differences.


Quote from the Commentary:

Fascist populism built around personality cults, crony capitalism and militarism must be rejected. Socialist populism built on government power, enforced equality and cultural relativism must be rejected. These systems have been proven failures that have only resulted in misery and death. It is these extremists that have gained control of the Republican and Democratic parties that have shattered the unity of the American people, thrown political discourse into the gutter and incited increasing violence and reduced public safety.


Plessy v. Progressives

Victor C. Bolles

January 12, 2022


On January 5, 2022, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards pardoned Homer Plessy for committing the crime of riding in a whites-only railcar in 1892. The U.S. Supreme Court had rejected Plessy’s appeal of his conviction in the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson decision that set the stage for “separate but equal” treatment under Jim Crow laws. But that decision had placed public opinion over the intent of the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The progressive left objects to an originalist interpretation of the Constitution by justices that impedes their efforts to make sweeping changes to the form and function of the federal government. In this commentary, we look at the issues being raised by vaccine mandate cases currently under review by the Court.


Quote from the Commentary:

“But a Supreme Court untethered to the Constitution, or a Senate not bound to developing a consensus will be no different from the popular opinion as expressed in the House and will provide no check on rash policies and no balance to protect minority opinions.”

Urgent Priorities

Victor C. Bolles

December 30, 2021


In the year 2022 the United States will be challenged to address urgent priorities of national importance, but our political leaders will be distracted by political priorities as we approach the upcoming off-year elections. As citizens, we need to make sure that our elected representatives focus on issues of national importance and not on ideological agendas or the egos of political leaders. In this commentary, we identify some of these urgent national priorities as well as the distracting political priorities that we need to put behind us.


Quote from the Commentary:

“There are priorities that affect all Americans, rich and poor, black and white, young and old, whatever. We live in a complex and dangerous world. While our country is rich and powerful, it is not invulnerable. We cannot ignore the events happening around us and we need to be able to influence those events or be prepared to suffer the consequences.”


Thanks for Nothing, Joe

Victor C. Bolles

December 23, 2021


Joe Manchin’s decision to vote no on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan has earned him the enmity of progressives across the country who are calling him every sort of vile and hateful name they can think of. They accuse him of endangering American democracy by his disloyalty to their progressive agenda. But in a democracy, unlike a totalitarian state, a person can vote their conscience and not be held in contempt. In this commentary, we look at the reaction to Joe Manchin’s decision and what we should learn from those that vilify him. 


Quote for the Commentary:

“But the American democracy, for all its acknowledged flaws, has endured for over 230 years, the most enduring and durable democratic republic the world has ever known. For all the hyperbole about Senator Manchin’s no vote on the Build Back Better bill being a threat to democracy, the American democracy functioned just as the Founders intended.”

Ethical Gymnastics

Victor C. Bolles

December 10, 2021


Proponents and opponents of a Mississippi law banning abortion after fifteen weeks recently argued before the Supreme Court. Many fear, or alternatively hope, that the Court will overturn the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that has governed abortions since 1973. The court will not announce its decision until the middle of 2022. But whatever the Court decides will not end the controversy surrounding abortion. In this commentary, we look at the ethical issues that dominate this controversy and discuss what steps are necessary to make progress on this issue.


Quote from the Commentary:

“I imagine that our descendants a hundred years from now will look back at the carnage of hundreds of thousands of abortions with horror and disgust, much as many of our contemporaries look back with anger at the moral and ethical lapses of our eighteenth and nineteenth century ancestors.”


The Political Petroleum Reserve

Victor C. Bolles

November 26, 2021


Because his pleas to OPEC to increase oil production fell on deaf ears, President Biden recently authorized the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with the hope of curbing the rising price of gasoline. But the purpose of the SPR is to give the United States strategic options in the face of foreign policy challenges around the globe, not to be used for political purposes so that the Biden Administration can be seen as doing something to fight rising inflation, inflation that has been exacerbated by the administration’s exorbitant spending plans. In this commentary we look at some of the consequences of this action. 


Quote from the Commentary: 

“The Biden administration’s policies regarding energy are increasing our vulnerability to other nations at a time when authoritarian powers are on the rise. Pleading with OPEC countries to increase production to offset political problems of Western leaders is an admission of weakness, not of leadership. Depleting the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (as feeble a policy tool as it is) for partisan political advantage is criminal.”

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The 0.1% Solution

Victor C. Bolles

November 17, 2021


Ibram X. Kendi asserts that all humans share 99.9% of their DNA and that, because we are so alike, racial disparities in social and economic outcomes would not exist except for racism. But the 0.1% that we do not have in common must then account for all the wide variations of the human species we see around the world. Charles Murray asserts that based on evidence from intelligence tests there is a cognitive gap between the races that explains much of the differences in social and economic outcomes. In this commentary we examine the possibility that both Kendi and Murray might be wrong. 


Quote from the Commentary:

“Genes are more potentiality than fate. The environment can, not only affect how a gene is realized in an individual, it can trigger sets of genes to create a wide variety of traits and characteristics. This means that socio-economic status and cultural factors can determine how a gene affects a human being’s development.”


The End of Wokeism

Victor C. Bolles

November 5, 2021


Democrats are still reeling from the disastrous election results from the 2021 off-year elections. They lost the governorship and the state house in blue Virginia. They almost lost the governorship in very blue New Jersey, however, a neophyte Republican with a shoe-string budget took down the second most powerful Democrat in the state. Progressive initiatives failed while conservatives were ousting progressives from school boards across the country. In response, Democrats seem intent to keep pushing their progressive agenda. In this commentary we take a look at the Democrat reaction while offering some advice to Republicans on how to win in 2022.


Quote from the Commentary:

“Terry McAuliffe tried to portray Youngkin as a White supremacist Trump clone, as noted by CNN. But Youngkin dodged that characterization by sticking to issues that most affected Virginia voters, education, crime and the economy. He didn’t trash Trump, but he didn’t engage in conspiracy theories either. In addition, his running mates for Lt. Governor and Attorney General were a woman of color and a Latino proving McAuliffe’s charges were ludicrous.” 


Corporate Taxes in the Real World

Victor C. Bolles

October 25, 2021

Progressive Democrats and the Biden White House continue to work on hashing out the details of the American Families Plan along with increases in the tax rates for corporations and wealthy individuals to pay for it. But in the real world (compared to the ideal but unattainable world envisioned by progressives) most corporations pass on the increased costs of higher taxes to consumers and workers while corporations that cannot pass on such increased costs will suffer from reduced competitiveness against other companies around the world. In this commentary, we look at how corporations are likely to react to the progressives' plans in the real world.


Quote from Commentary:

“I am pretty sure the polls influencing the policy decisions of the Biden Administration do not include a question about how much the American people would support the American Families Plan if they were told the cost would come out of their own pocket.”


Modern Monetary Nonsense

Victor C. Bolles

October 14, 2021


The progressive left continues to push for passage of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion (which in reality is more than $5.0 trillion) spending plan and Socialist Bernie Sanders touts the bill as a “compromise” insisting that the real amount should be more than six trillion. How can the left justify such massive spending since no one believes that the proposed tax hikes to accompany the spending will cover more than a fraction? Conveniently, economists of the progressive left have a theory (they have a lot of theories in lieu of facts) that says government can spend all they want. In this commentary, we investigate the rationale behind Modern Monetary Theory and some of the dangers application of this unproven theory would create.


Quote from the Commentary:

“Modern Monetary Theory subjects a currency to political goals, regardless of the economic situation or how it affects the users of the currency. Stability of the currency is not the goal; a specific social justice outcome is the goal. People’s trust in the currency is lost and inflation begins to surge.”


Is a Better Life Worth Slower Growth?

Victor C. Bolles

October 8, 2021

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial (The Entitlements of U.S. Decline, October 7, 2021) remarked that the Biden Administration’s claim that higher taxes and more social welfare spending were “the path to national revival” was startling and audacious “especially when the global evidence is the opposite.” The assertion flies in the face of reason just as the President’s claim the cost of his programs is “zero” because of his tax hikes. Europe’s social welfare system has dragged down the continent’s economic growth for decades. But excessive social welfare spending can cause even greater harm than just slower economic growth. In this commentary, we look at the impact that cradle to grave entitlements can cause.


Quote from the Commentary:

“And transfer payments can create unintended consequences that often negate the benefits the transfers provide. The War of Poverty might well have been named the War on the Black Community as the result of the many benefit programs has broken up black families and created a plethora of single parent families and fatherless children. Without stable families, efforts to educate poor children so that they can escape grinding poverty have been an utter failure.” 

Cautiously Optimistic

Victor C. Bolles

September 29, 2021


Many of the Founders had grave doubts about the long-term viability of the American experiment in democracy, as documented in a recent book by Dennis Rasmussen, Fears of a Setting Sun, The Disillusionment of America’s Founders. Democracies did not have a very good reputation in 1776. But here we are. And as fractious as our twenty-first century politics are, Dr. Rasmussen’s book shows that many of the vicious disputes that wracked those first years of our country are eerily similar to the division and rancor we face now. In this commentary we discuss some of the origins of those disputes and why, even after two centuries of fighting, there is cause for optimism.


Quote from the Commentary:

“So, Americans have been going after each other for over two hundred years and, apparently, for much the same reasons. Hoover Institution Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy, Thomas Sowell wrote in his book, A Conflict of Visions, Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, that the world can be divided between two mega-groups that have two very different views of humanity.”


The Future of Tennis (and the World)

Victor C. Bolles

September 16, 2021


The modern era has ended the geographic isolation that created different characteristics among people that were classified as different races. As a result, people from different parts of the globe are meeting and eventually intermarrying with each other, blurring the concept of race beyond any measure. This trend was highlighted in the recent U.S. tennis Open which featured rising young stars that were a mix of people from around the world. In this commentary, we look at this trend and its implications in America.


Quote from the Commentary:

“These young tennis players are representative of a growing trend in America and around the world. None of these tennis stars are Americans but they are in the same mold as golfers Tiger Woods (American and Thai) and Xander Schauffele (German father and Taiwanese mother). Even Joanna Gaines, an Americana fashion icon from Waco, Texas, has a Korean mother.”


Closing the Real Achievement Gap

Victor C. Bolles

September 10, 2021


Closing the black-white academic achievement gap is an important problem that America needs to solve. But the way to solve this problem is not to lower academic standards to the lowest common denominator. This would be a disservice to black kids and to the nation. We need to raise the academic achievement of black kids, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it will also help us to close the real achievement gap, the one between American kids and Chinese kids. In this commentary we look at the achievement gap that will most affect the liberty of our kids and grandkids.


Quote from the Commentary:

“This is all part of Xi Jinping’s plan to inculcate Chinese kids in party lore and history, infuse them with patriotism and even chauvinistic nationalism, and to prepare them to be the future soldiers and scientists that China needs to become the dominant power in the world. While the PISA ranking of US students is in the doldrums, China’s ranking is superb, number one across the board. While Chinese students are drilled with stories about how great China is, US students are told that America is an irredeemably racist country and that all Americans are either racist white supremacists or oppressed victims.”

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Systemic Enlightenment

Victor C. Bolles

August 27, 2021


The Enlightenment based Western Civilization that we live in did not arrive in this world in full bloom the moment John Locke put down his pen. It has evolved slowly and sometimes painfully over the centuries. The greatest achievement of this civilization has been the liberation of human capital through the participation of millions and millions of people in our Western systems of governance, economics and knowledge. In the twenty-first century, these great systems have come under attack. In this commentary we analyze the source of Western power and the nature of the attacks against it.


Quote from the Commentary:

“As Americans we believe these natural rights are obvious and normal and should be understood and accepted by everyone. But this was not the case historically, as we have seen. Nor are these rights understood and accepted by everyone around the world even today. Only in the Western world, and most prominently in the United States, have these rights been understood and accepted. And not only understood but raised up as the founding principles of our society.”

The New Order of the Ages


The End of Enlightenment

Victor C. Bolles

August 9, 2021


A new woke ideology of egalitarian idealism is spreading out from academia and into our public schools, corporations and government institutions like a lab-leaked virus. This ideology rejects the Enlightenment principles and ideals on which America was founded. It rejects universally accepted concepts like reasoned discussion and rational discourse believing that they make up part of a socially constructed web of power meant to oppress minorities. This makes debate that could lead to an acceptable compromise impossible. In this commentary we take a look at this mutated ideology and discuss methods to preserve our American heritage.


Quote from the Commentary:

“The woke ideologists don’t hate America because it doesn’t live up to its principles and ideals, they hate those principles and ideals and want to throw them in the rubbish.”

The Piketty Solution

Victor C. Bolles

August 3, 2021


Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announced last week a continuation of the Fed’s policy of purchasing government bonds in order to stimulate economic growth and reduce unemployment despite an uptick of inflation above the Fed’s target. This move prompted the Wall Street Journal to speculate that the Fed might also view inflation as a mechanism to cut the enormous size of the public debt; a mechanism recommended by the Marxist economist Thomas Piketty and other progressives. In this commentary we look at the efficacy of this strategy and the dangers it breeds.


Quote from the Commentary:

Maybe the fact that the stock market is up over 20% above its pre-pandemic levels, bitcoin is up over 450% and that someone awash in cash was willing to fork over $69 million for an NFT (non-fungible token) collage by a virtually unknown artist who goes by the name Beeple will give you an idea where all the cash the Fed is spewing out is going.