The more I live, the older I get, and the more the world changes around us, the more I see that our minds are not designed well for the current complexity of life in modern civilizations.
Our minds are built for very slow-moving and almost static environments where the people you know, the tools you use, and the dynamics around you change at a very glacial pace. The pace used to be so slow, that it would take generations for things to change. A ancient person could move back and forward in time 500 years and they'd likely be in a world that's mostly the same - same farming tools, same modes of transport, same deeply-local and family-based existence.
Imagine you went forward 500 in time. You're certain -- as I am -- that whatever world we arrive at 500 years from now, it'll be vastly different from the world today. We'd feel genuine anxiety traveling 500 years into the future because of how unpredictable we know it could be. We know at a deep subconscious level that the world is changing quickly.
This cosmopolitan, global, hyper-dynamic, tech-filled, and complex world we live in today requires that we embrace technology and use it in productive and effective ways. By using tech to offload memory, for example, we'll be making a prudent decision - remembering a few things in ancient times is different than having to remember hundreds of things with each thing in its own category (eg. home, work, car, finances, etc.). Another example might be using finance software or MS Excel to manage your money - living in a world with no money at all and mostly living in a quasi-communist family-oriented society is quite different than having to manage multiple account and making transactions with other humans and organizations on a daily basis.
Newton said there's inertia in the universe, so we now know more about our world and physics is better for it. That's not the inertia we're talking about here. Forget the universe for a second - focus on inertia in your mind.
Mental or spiritual inertia is a real thing. We won't try to define it here, but everyone who has experienced it knows what it is. It's when
Here are some examples of using interim in your own favor and taking quick, small, but intense bursts forward in whatever you'd like to achieve:
Focus on primary news sources when consuming news - don't let others do the filtering and thinking for you
We have come to the point of absurdity in terms of news consumption - far too many people consume news from secondary (or tertiary) sources instead of going directly to primary sources. This is tragic because primary sources are more easily-available today via the internet than ever before.
What are primary news sources?
Primary news sources include the following:
There are implicit (sometimes explicit) biases in secondary and tertiary news source
Secondary and tertiary sources take primary source information and do things to it - this may include analysis, synthesis, etc., but, all secondary and tertiary sources include something extra. That extra stuff can be incredibly useful and interesting, but it is also removed from the primary source in some way.
In today's world, a lot of news-related secondary (and tertiary sources) still provide interpretation, summarization, and synthesis. However, they also very often add in heavy doses of bias. This bias may be implicit or explicit, but it seems to be ever more present as Big Media can leverage Big Data and create far more granular approach; social networks like Facebook and Twitter do this too. Where 25 years ago, everyone tuned in to the same few news channels on TV, today, every single person in the Western world can have a customized/tailored Facebook or Twitter feed. These feeds can become deeply biased as a result of tech firms' attempts to get more eyeballs for longer periods of time.
Watching primary news can seem very strange to a person who only consumes secondary and tertiary news sources. The initial reaction can vary, but it is often one of surprise at how different and "more real" consuming primary news it. People are surprised at how the world really is vs. how they typically see the world presented in heavily-biased secondary and tertiary news sources.
Primary news sources lead to clearer perspectives on what really is happening in the world
To have a clear mind and understand the world, one can't rely only on secondary and tertiary news sources. Especially terrible is relying on free secondary and tertiary news sources - in these cases, the reader is, in fact, the product and the source of the secondary or tertiary news have no real responsibility to the reader (either from a moral, fiduciary, or economic perspective). This, however, is a topic for another time.
in darkness, I see a starkness
a starkness unlike the one I knew before
in gloom, I see a boom
a boom unlike the one I knew before
in pain, I see a gain
a gain unlike the one I knew before
in fierceness, I see a nearness
a nearness unlike the one I knew before
in animals, I see a spirit
a spirit unlike the one I knew before
a spirit not frail nor afraid of hail
the kind that does not fail and will set sail
on waters fierce or dumb
by Pennies and Pounds
Written on May 8, 2017, this poem is under copyright and is the intellectual property of the creator of the poem and this website. Express permission is required to reproduce or distribute it - please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for such approval.
Most people in history created their livelihood -- either by creating income or by actually producing the necessities of life with their own hand and toil -- within family or communal units. The idea of working at a job for a larger entity such as a corporation is extremely new in the grand swath of human history. In effect, almost all of the people who ever lived could in effect be classified as small business owners - this is even true today as most US employment comes still from sole proprietorships or small businesses.
Why is it useful to understand the history of work/labor?
This idea is very important to people living in modern societies because we have a view within our minds that is quite different from reality. Many people believe that:
Going beyond the present day and having at least a basic conception of the things our ancestors did to create substance and value in their ancient worlds will assist in opening up your mind to new opportunities, new ways of combining life with work, and new ways of creating value for others.
Hunting and Gathering - The First Sole Proprietorships
For most of our history, we hunted meat and gathered fruits and vegetables to feed our families and our very tight-knit communities. The lifestyle involved simply waking up with the sun, looking for food during the day, and resting in the evening. Bedtime was when it became dark and no hunter-gatherer had to plan very far ahead.
The first really interesting thing to think about when thinking about how hunter-gatherers provided for themselves is how there were almost never any intermediaries. Besides the possibility of occasional trade within tight-knit communities, hunter-gatherers had what can be considered a two-step method to getting what they wanted. In terms of purity of execution, this was the most basic/fundamental way of obtaining food and water - a hunter gather would literally expend energy in order to obtain the final product he/she sought.
The second interesting thing arises from the first - hunter-gatherers didn't create value for other human beings in order to achieve their goals. Of course, a hunter-gather might want to provide for his family and create value in that pursuit, but that's not what we mean here. What we mean is that hunter-gatherers either went to pick edible growings or killed animals in order to obtain sustenance. In that pursuit they did not serve any other human being in any way - they simply went out into the world and obtained what they needed from it. Contrast that with today's world where we almost exclusively have to earn our livings by creating value for other people, be they your employees or your customers (which are also your employers in a sense). We're not making a normative statement here - we're simply making a descriptive statement.
The third very interesting thing about thinking of the working hunter-gatherers performed is that they had a direct understanding of how their efforts and skills translated into the final product they obtained. Of course, hunter-gatherers likely had some sort of quasi-religious beliefs where they imbued objects, the weather, etc. with spiritualistic aspects and they might have relied on them to provide. However, that doesn't detract from the simple physics of hunting and gathering - every hunter-gatherer must have understood how it was their own physical efforts out in the world that were the proximate cause of their gain. They could have thought the ultimate cause came from the skies or from the tree spirits or elsewhere, but they surely understood that the proximate cause was their own effort - they surely understood that without themselves leaving their cave, picking growing, or killing an animal and dragging it home, their families would not have food to eat. Contrast that with today's modern corporate worker who works in a corporate office or campus and who has
These complex factors can include things such as
Yes, a person's well-being still depends on themselves and everyone must take responsibility for their lives - you must work hard and well so that you're able to do well in your job and in life. However, it is abundantly clear that the level of mental control that a person feels over his or her method of meeting wants/needs should have been far greater in the past than in today's complex and interconnected environment where so much of the economy is not visible or understandable by a single individual.
This understandability of relationship between soil and result could be psychologically beneficial to human beings on many levels. This isn't a psychology website and we're not purporting to have any theoretical or empirical underpinning for these statements, but it does seem to make sense that an individual who has a clear "a leads to b" understanding of the relationship between toil and result -- as opposed of "a to b to c to d to a BLACK BOX to e to f to g" understanding -- would have greater psychological comfort and less psychological stress.
In no way is above supposed to make you envy a hunter-gatherer - we live in a far richer world (both physically and mentally) than our ancestors and anyone who would want to give up today's peace, today's luxury, and today's comfort for a hungry dangerous life of basic subsistence and survival is a quite unusual person.
Agricultural Revolution and Farming
After many centuries of foraging, humans ended up farming. This happened gradually over the course of centuries as well, but the end result was the literal transformation of human life from a nomadic existence to a settled life that would be far more familiar to the modern person.
Although life transformed as well as the approach fro providing for it, humans still operated at a family or communal level - humans still remained in effect small business owners. The business changed, of course humans went from hunting and gathering to
Humans mainly operated as family units after the agricultural revolution according to current historical data with larger family-based communities existing for things that went beyond the family. In effect, each household ran a small farming business that employed the entire household from a relatively young age by today's standards.
Here people had a bit more complexity - their toil no longer immediately translated into value creation (eg. food to eat) but had to go through the intermediate step of waiting for the seeds to grow into plants. The same is true for livestock - farmers and heard had to wait for livestock to grow and spend time and energy on breeding instead of just going out into the wild to kill game.
We can see that from hunting and gathering to farming -- things which make up by far the vast majority of human existence -- we operated in very small-scale communities and were in effect creating our livelihoods within our family units. In effect, all hunter-gatherers and farmers until the Industrial Revolution turned farming into big business can be classified as small business owners in the very broad sense of the world. These individuals worked primarily for themselves and their families. Farmers in certain eras might have had to pay taxes to lords or barons or other elites, but these can be thought of as quasi-taxes. Almost all of humanity did not know the meaning of providing your labor (either in the form of physical or mental exertion) to another individual in return for some sort of payment - this was the case for many reasons, one of which was an economy that was so poor that it could not sustain such interactions in a meaningful way.
Artisans and Craftsmen - Sole Proprietors Throughout History
Beyond farming, there have been at times in history a class or artisans or craftsman. This class developed after the Agricultural Revolution as settled communities were needed in order for this class of people to arise. They mainly operated in larger cities and they ran what can be considered small businesses. The words "artisan" and "craftsman" is too narrow, however, as these individuals operated a large variety of business. These businesses including:
All of the above can also be classified as small businesses. They are more like the small businesses we think of today - instead of directly producing their own livelihoods, these artisans and craftsmen would set up shop and serve their communities. They would very likely have most of their family involved in the business and live either close by or directly above their shops.
The Modern Working World
Although the majority of US jobs still come from small businesses, most people think of work as something you do in a large-scale setting such as a corporation. Most people even aspire to such work.
This work is quite different than operating a small business because it involves providing your labor to a larger entity that you do not control and likely can never fully understand (not even the CEO of a large firm fully understand what's really going on). This creates a sort of "black box" effect where you provide your labor into a "black box" and then some income is given to you. You aren't totally sure about the actual value you're creating for the firm and you don't fully understand how your labor fits into the bigger puzzle.
There are of course many benefits working in jobs - most of these benefits come from a certain stability that is not always present in running a small business. However, there might be some psychological costs that affect a person in the following ways:
Working in a job might make a person blind to other small but very profitable opportunities where their skills might be used. They might not ever consider opening their own business, running their own website, consulting on their own, or providing value on a small scale. This is unfortunate because it is in such small setting where you are able to capture the full value of your efforts (instead of the employer capturing most of the value). This is really how people get rich today - most people will never get rich working for a job and saving a large portion of their income; the vast majority of people in our world get rich in entrepreneurial activities.
Some Examples of Employment Throughout History
Although most people worked for themselves throughout history, there were some interesting examples of employment throughout history. Here are a few:
The Complete History of the Dow: The changing companies that made up the Dow Jones Industrial Average since the prominent stock index's inception
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is one of the longest-running stock market indexes in the world. Its components have changed since inception - they've changed 51 times since the inception of the index by Charles Dow.
Looking at the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (or simply the Dow's) components over time allows us to see how American business (and the world in general) has changed over the last century and a half.
We won't go into all 51 component changes here -- you can find them elsewhere if you'd like -- but we will focus on the most interest and relevant ones and discuss them in a bit more depth than you can find elsewhere on the internet. Instead of giving a cursory overview, we'll dig a bit deeper to see what underlying changes were the root causes of the changes and in the process, we'll gain the following benefits:
The Dow on July 3, 1884 (precursor)
The initial Dow (which wasn't properly the Dow Jones Industrial Average but was instead a creation of Dow called the Dow Transportation Average) consisted of the following:
As the original "Transportation Average" name should indicate, the original Dow components were heavily focused on transportation. We can clearly see that there are a lot of railroad companies represented in the initial Dow mix. In the 1880s, railroads had been around for a few decades, but they still represented the new and happening industry - similar to how technology is today fast growing and focused on thing in business even though computers have been around for a few decades already. Railroads represented Manifest Destiny and a new industrial era where lots of money was being made in the business of moving things from one place to another.
We see that 9 out of the initial 11 firms represented in the 1884 Dow were railroad companies - that's a very large representation and should clearly indicate the importance of transportation generally (and railroads specifically) in the pre-20th Century US economy. As the country moved westward and as more and more goods were in need of rapid transportation in the post-Industrial Revolution era, railroads were able to extract very healthy nominal and real profits.
Basically, a discussion of the early years of the Dow inherently is a discussion of railroads. The first public railways opened up in the US in 1830 using steam engine - by the 1880s, technology had improved as did ridership and a need for transporting goods in a new type of economy where self-reliance was beginning to give way to mass consumption and production.
The equivalent today in terms of industry would be seeing all tech firms dominating the Dow Jones Industrial Average - imagine seeing the Dow today composed of the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Twitter, Apple, HP, Dell, Cisco, etc. An observer would think that the US economy was heavily dominated by tech. Luckily for us, today's economy is far more diverse than the industrial and transportation economy of the late 19th century - we have large industrial firms, firms involved in chemicals, firms involved in telecommunications, firms producing basic products, firms that primarily provide services (eg. consulting firms), etc. Today's economy is as diverse as any has been in human history.
May 26, 1896 (the first proper Dow Jones Industrial Average)
The first proper (non-transportation only) Dow Jones Industrial included the following firms:
This was the first real Dow Jones Industrial Average. Here we see many of the railroad companies replaced - only two of the firms (the Northern American Company and the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company) are firms heavily involved in transportation.
We can see that the list has now moved away from transportation and is focused important necessities for late 19th Century America. Things like cotton, oil, tobacco, cattle feed, coal, iron, leather and rubber are all represented - these basic necessities were key to a life that was moving away from self-reliance on farms and into a mass-produce economy that required energy (in the form of gas, oil, and coal), straps, linens and other fabrics, heavy metal, electricity, etc.
If the Dow had existed 500 years prior in the Middle Ages, things like electricity, leather, cotton, coal, and rubber would not be there - most of life would consist of cattle feed and other types of feed.
Another interesting thing to note is that the names of these firms are quite basic - they are literally are names of what the company produces. Can there be any doubt that the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company is involved in the production of coal, iron, and railroads? Would you be surprised to find out that the United States Rubber Company produces rubber? These firms were the first of their kind - they are representations of commerce and big business in an era that had only recently exited the darkness of the Middle Ages via the Renaissance. The unique names we see that not only don't represent the firm's products or services but sometimes are not even traditional words that humans have used are only possible in a world that understands what firms are - world filled with people used to branding, buying things from companies instead of from friends or family, and have a lot of trust in business and capitalism in general. The ability of firms to market and brand themselves in order to educate the public about their products and services allows firms today to eschew the basic naming conventions of the past and to use innovative and obscure names such as Twitter or Exxon. A Twitter or an Exxon would be strange in the early years of the Dow - no one would have any idea what these firms produced. Without the ability to create an image of the firm through the use of advertising (which requires a lot - print ads, TV, radio, the internet, etc.), firms would who used strange names would find themselves at a deep disadvantage in the past. It was a far smarter idea to make sure people knew what your business did just by reading the name.
October 1, 1928 (Dow expanded to 30 firms)
As the index expanded to contain 30 firms (the size it's been ever since), the Dow was comprised of the following firms:
Here, the index was expanded to the 30 firms we have today. This was an interesting time in the history of the United States and especially its economic history. The Roaring Twenties were coming to a close and little did anyone knows that the Great Depression was right around the corner.
Here we can see the that we have a few automotive firms represented - we've got General Motors, American Car, Mack Trucks, and Nash Motors. Car companies have come on the market and are now some of the largest firms in the country. A car firm at this time would be similar to seeing the edition of technology and internet firms in the 2010s and 2020s - the firms came up over a few decades and finally took their place among the largest in the US by playing in a new and important industry.
We see that the names here are still those basic names that hearken back to an era before sophisticated marketing and advertising and before readily available means of communicated such as radio, TV, and mass color print.
July 3, 1956
This is the first Dow changes after the US entered WWII - the previous Dow adjustment occurred on March 4, 1939. Since we last saw the Dow above (1928), the US had plunged into a decade-long economic downturn called the Great Depression, entered WWII (which helped it recover), and saw droves of new babies being born in post-war America (the Baby Boom). Let's see how the Dow has been affected:
Here in 1956, we can say that we are in a totally different America. The last time we checked in was in 1928 - almost 30 years later the Depression-era youths fought a war abroad and came back home to have a ton of babies. Although key staples remain in the Dow, we can see the addition of many new firms.
We can see a big variety of firms represented here - car companies, companies producing basic materials, food-related companies, retailers, energy firms, and even a photography company in the form of Kodak. In 1950s America, technology has advanced far enough to make consumer products (photography, cars, retailing, toiletries, etc.) major parts of the economy. A Procter & Gamble wouldn't exist just 50 years prior - people didn't have the disposable incomes to shower often and use toiletries nor did they have a desire to in their mostly self-reliant forms of living. In 1950s America, a firm producing household necessities would make a lot of sense. In the same light, in 1950s America, big retailers, big tobacco, and big car companies all make sense - our conception of that era is of one that has now moved way past the agrarian roots of the United States and now is in the realm of post-WWII technology and sophistication. If you had told the people living through the Great Depression that a photography firm (Kodak) would be one of the biggest in the country, they would have scoffed and not understood why - photography was a luxury and the technology was not all there yet. The same can be said about many things represented above.
August 9, 1976
Jumping forward another twenty years, let's see where this journey has brought us:
In these 20 years, surprisingly little has changed. Only a 5 firms were replaced since the last time we checked in in 1956. By comparison, there over 30 changes from 1928 to 1956 (some back and forth). What you have in this period is a stable period of growth, some merging of firms, and a movement away from those classic self-descriptive names to the more unusual firm names we know of today.
Look above to see the firms that remained in the Dow but changed their names - International Nickel became Inco, Texas Incorporated became Texaco, Swift became Esemar, and Standard Oil of NJ became Exxon. These movements are away from names that clearly state what the firm produces to more esoteric and strange names that don't provide any indication whatsoever about the firm - clearly a reliance on marketing, adverting, and branding is required in order to educate the public and create a mental picture of the firm when such strange names are used. This is possible because we are no in a world of color television, radio, print magazines, and other forms of advertising.
This trend has continued today where almost all new and interesting firms have absolutely strange names that give zero indication of what the firm actually does - names such as Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Apple, etc. If you took a person from 1850 and asked him to whet he or she tough a firm named Standard Oil or a firm named American Can do, he or she would very likely guess correctly. If you asked the same person to describe what he or she thought a firm like Exxon does (bear in mind this is Standard Oil with a name change), they would have no clue and rightly so because Exxon is a totally made up term. As stated above, such strange names can only work in a modern world filled with modern telecommunication systems and a general populace that is receptive to advertising and marketing.
March 17, 1997
About two more decades after our last stop, a lot has happened - the Cold War is over and we're at the apex of the 1990s economic boom. Here are the Dow components now:
Here we can see more name changes (eg. Chevron and AT&T), continuing the overall movement away from the simple names to the more strange and esoteric ones that require branding.
We can also see that some of the old components (eg. AT&T, Chevron, Exxon, Union Carbide, General Electric, General Motors, Minnesota Mining, Sears, and Union Carbide) still here - times have changed but these good firms have endured for a variety of reasons. Some endured because of good management (eg. General Electric), some because of early entry and the existence of various barriers to entry (eg. General Motors), and many because of luck.
It's interesting that even though we're in the heart of the proliferation of personal computing and the internet, there are few technology firms. This makes quite a bit of sense - it takes time for these new firms to grow to a size large enough that would put them in the Dow (the top 30 firms in the US). Firms like Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, and others might have been making big moves during this era, but they were still growing. IBM and HP are present because they were around longer - IBM was around for almost a century at this time.
November 1, 1999
About two more decades after our last stop, a lot has happened - the Cold War is over and we're at the apex of the 1990s economic boom. Here are the Dow components now:
With the addition of Intel, Microsoft, and SBC, we can see that in just about 2 years, the Dow has taken on some of the tech firms. These firms have grown in market cap by now (due in part to what would later be called the Tech Bubble) and had market caps large enough to allow placement within the Dow. The Dow here contains many old stalwarts but is filled with new firms that were either started within the last few decades or came to major prominence recently.
March 19, 2015
The last Dow Jones Industrial Average change happened in early 2015 - here is the current makeup of the Dow:
In today's Dow, we see the familiar firms that make up the market share and the mind share of the US economy today. We see an almost complete transition away from the simple self-descriptive business names to esoteric and strange names that require branding - compare this final list with the first list. Firms like National Lead, Tennessee Coal, United States Leather, and others are so clear in their descriptions while firms like Visa, Pfizer, Nike, and Apple would be totally obscure if not for branding and advertising.
Another interesting thing is the rise of big pharmaceutical and healthcare firms - firms such as Merck, Pfizer, and UnitedHealth have come to major prominence due to various large-scale factors. These factors include an aging population (Baby Boomers), a more wealthy economy that can spend more on healthcare, and the success of pharmaceutical research in producing new, innovative, and expensive drugs.
We also see the tech firms playing a bigger role - Cisco, Apple, Microsoft, and Verizon are all part of the overall technology economy, helping to provide hardware, software, and telecommunication services.
Out of the many questions a new investor can ask, this question is by far a ridiculous one:
How much is the stock?
This question wouldn't be so ridiculous if it wasn't followed by statements to the effect of:
These and similar statements, when combined with the first statement above, evince a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to buy a share or a stock. A person who can ask such a question with a straight face and who proceeds to enter the equities market despite his or her lack of knowledge is asking for trouble - they'll likely end up losing over time until they get a better grasp of finance and the financial markets.
The reason the person who asks the above question is deluded is because they don't seem to understand that in purchasing a stock, you are purchasing a piece of a company - in purchasing a stock, you literally become the owner (along with many other owners) of a real business. The price of the stock, therefore, should be somewhat related to the business - specifically, it should be related to the cash flows the business produces.
A seasoned and knowledgeable investor may ask the same question -- he or she might ask how much a stock costs of course -- but the seasoned investor will only do so at the end of a thought process and analysis that will allow him or her to put the price in its appropriate context. The seasoned investor won't just look at the price and arbitrarily decide whether it's cheap or expensive based on how much the stock costs relative to other goods in the market - he or she will think about how much the stock costs relative to the profits of the firm (and/or the momentum of the price if he or she is a technical investor).
The seasoned investor won't care if he or she can only purchase a single share of the stock at it's current price because he or she will understand that the price of the stock is determined by how the firm is divided - if you divide up the firm into more shares each stock (which will now represent a smaller piece of the firm) will be worth less. The seasoned investor instead focuses on the profits (or cash flows) that each stock represents - in a simple sense he or she is focused on how profitable the entire firm is.
A seasoned investor thinks of buying a single share of a stock as equivalent to buying the entire firm - they are one and the same with the only difference being the percentage of the firm that is owned.
Knowing the above, what sort of questions might a seasoned investor ask? He or she might ask something to the effect of:
The Declaration of Independence in Modern English - A line-by-line translation from Revolutionary-era English to modern English
The US Declaration of Independence is one of the greatest documents written by the human mind and hand. Although many people are awed and inspired by simply reading the text, too many Americans (and citizens of the World) don't understand the older and poetic English used on this most elegant of documents. In an attempt to bring the beauty of the Declaration to everyone (school children, non-Native English speakers, etc.), we have translated it into a modern form of English.
Care has been take to keep two goals in mind:
1. Preserve the original meaning
2. Translate into easy-to-underhand verbiage
The "translation" is sentence-by-sentence and no care is taken to preserve original punctuation, sentence structure, or even sentence amount (sometimes single sentences are broken up into multiple sentences). As state above, the key is to make sure the document is understood well - that the meaning is understood. Of course, our translation can never be as eloquent and as beautiful as the Declaration - it was written with economy of language and true poetic erudition.
1. When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
When one group or political entity decides to totally eliminate the political ties which connect them with another group or political entity - and to be free and independent as inherently allowed to be by God's natural law - they should explain the underlying causes if they respect what the world thinks.
2. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We believe that the following are self-evident truths:
- all people are created equal in terms of human worth
- God gives every single person certain rights that are always present and can never be taken away or given up - these rights are derived simply from the existence of the individual and nothing else is required
- among these rights are the right to live, the right to be free, and right to pursue your own well being
3. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
We also believe (another self-evident truth) that governments, having power only because of the consent of those that are governed by it, exist to make sure these rights (see above) are protected
4. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
We also believe (another self-evident truth) that when a government acts in a way that suppresses these natural rights, the people have a right to change the government or get rid of it entirely and to set up a new one which is designed/created in such a way that will seem most likely to promote their happiness and safety.
5. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn, that mankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Being wise we will understand that governments that have been around for a long time shouldn't be changed for small or light reasons. By the same token, human experience has shown that humans are better off tolerating suffering when the suffering is not that great than they are by trying to improve their situations by changing or getting rid of systems or ways of being that have been around for a long time and that they are used to.
6. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
However, when many fits of abuse and power grabs clearly show a desire by a government to put/keep a people in an oppressive and intense tyranny, they have both the right and the duty to throw off such a government and to create new systems or institutions to help them live in security and peace.
7. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
This is basically what has happened to the colonies - because of this they must change their old systems of government.
8. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
The history of the current British King is a history of constant abuses and power grabs that all have attempted to directly contribute to the creation of an absolute tyranny over these states.
9. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
To prove what we are saying, we are presenting our facts to an open world.
10. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
The King of Great Britain has refused to sanction or agree with good laws needed for the good of the public.
11. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has not allowed governors in the Colonies to pass important and pressing laws unless those laws don't go into effect until he himself sanctions them; he has neglected to do anything with such laws that are suspended.
12. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
The King of Great Britain has called law-making groups together at far away and uncomfortable places only in order to force compliance by fatiguing law-makers.
13. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has eliminated representative groups often because they opposed strongly the King's invitations on the people's rights.
14. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
Additionally, after dissolving representative groups, he had not allowed new ones to be elected. This has caused the law-making powers, which still exist, to return to the people and exposing the Colonies to internal and external dangers.
15. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
The King has attempted to curtail the population growth in the Colonies by obstructing naturalization laws, refusing to pass new ones in order to encourage migration to the Colonies, and making land appropriations more difficult.
16. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
The King has stood in the way of the administration of justice within the Colonies by refusing to sanction laws that establish judiciary powers.
17. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
The King has made judges depend only on him for their terms and their salaries.
18. He has erected a multitude of New Offices and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
The King has created many new political or governmental positions in the Colonies and sent various officers and political personnel to the Colonies to harass us and live off of our production.
19. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
The King has kept standing armies within the Colonies and within our communities without the approval of our representatives - in effect, without our approval.
20. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
The King has attempted to make the military power independent of the power of the people and independent of it.
21. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.
The King has acted in unconstitutional ways (that constituion being the British constitution, a constitution that is unwritten but that is believed to exist within the laws and the norms of the British people nonetheless) - and sanctioned unconstitutional laws that do not qualify as true legislation under our laws and jurisdiction.
22. For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.
For keeping large armies among our people and communities.
23. For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.
For protecting those armies by using fake trials - protecting them from any murder which they might coming on the people of these Colonies.
24. For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.
For not allowing the Colonies to trade with other parts of the world.
25. For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.
For taxing us without our consent.
26. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For not giving the people of these Colonies the opportunity to stand on trial by jury.
27. For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses.
For shipping us across the Atlantic sea to stand trial for pretended crimes and offenses.
28. For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies.
For allowing the Quebec Act to extend the territory of Canada to encroach on the land of the Colonies
29. For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
Data vs. Intelligence - How to approach the stunning amount of data in the world to succeed in your business or your career
We live in a world of massive amounts of data. You've likely heard the term "Big Data" many times before, but it's far beyond this and you probably don't have a full grasp of how amazing our modern and connected world (mainly the developed 1st world) is today.
In the year 248 AD, Rome celebrated its 1000th anniversary - it had been 1000 years since the founding of Rome. More data is created in one year today than was created in those 1000 years of the Roman Republic and Empire. This is an astonishing fact that should bring a sense of awe to every intelligent and curious person - humanity is creating absolutely vast amounts of all kinds of data today.
What kind of data?
Here are just a few examples of the kinds of data creation that take place every day - that takes place very second every second:
The list above is meant to be broad in order to demonstrate the broad swath of things from which data is created today. Data can be created by governments or big corporations, but data can just as easily be created by small businesses and individuals during their everyday tasks and processes.
The above list is just a tiny example - almost anything remotely automated or electronic creates some sort of data today.
A Key Question
If we have an exponentially larger amount of data today than in the past, why aren't we exponentially smarter today as a society? Sure, the size of our economy as measured by GDP or GNP is much larger than at any point in history, but we can still see that we haven't moved that far way from past societies and civilizations in terms of the things that are most important to humanity.
Going further, why aren't businesses incredibly smart if we have so many data available? So many small and medium sized businesses today still operate under the same paradigms as businesses of the past. The problem is that even though there are tremendous amounts of data (and easy ways to collect more), the data isn't being productively used. The data is just sitting there. It's easy to collect data - it's hard to use it effectively.
What you really need isn't data - it's intelligence. You don't need a data dump on your hard drive or a stream of data flowing in at many GBs a second - you need to know how to turn whatever data you do have (hopefully it's quality data) into intelligence. This is what the human mind does - it turns raw data from sensory inputs into intelligence via the brain.
To better illustrate the importance of intelligence and the inadequacy fo data alone, let's imagine a fictional scenario. Imagine giving an ancient hunter-gatherer tribe all of the data available today on a giant supercomputer. Of course, they won't be able to access that data, but let's ignore that for a second and imagine that SOMEHOW that ancient tribe could in fact access all of this vast data. Do you think that things would really change for that tribe? It is likely that the tribe would be incapable of utilizing the data in any way and creating any actionable intelligence from it - they wouldn't have either the mathematical/statistical sophistication to extract much meaning from it and they wouldn't have the background landscape required to absorb and process the data in appropriate and meaningful contexts.
The Definition of Data
Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines data as follows:
1. factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation <the data is plentiful and easily available — H. A. Gleason, Jr.> <comprehensive data on economic growth have been published — N. H. Jacoby>
2. information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful
3. information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed
We define data in simpler terms:
Data are discreet units of information that provide some evidence of something in the real world
Data isn't something complicated. Although we might take a technological slant in our mind when thinking about data today, data can come in many forms. Data can be written on a stone tablet, on a piece of papyrus, on a piece of paper, or by tying knots using a string to keep track of things. Data can come in magnetic form as on credit cards. Data can come from CDs and DVDs or data can be stored on a flash drive. Data isn't technological - data is just information but technology has helped us gather and store vast amounts of it.
One of the key features of data is that it gives us some sort of information about the real world. This is due to the fact that data arises from the real world. The only way data can be created is by somehow recording some aspect of the outside world in some sort of storage mechanism. That mechanism might be robust or it might be fragile, it might be high advanced or primitive, but it has to (at least for a time) store some sort of information that is somehow derived from the real world.
Data that has no basis in or relationship to the real world is utterly useless for the purposes of using it to create value and making more effective decisions. Imagine a set of data that is just made up randomly - a random list of customer data that includes totally made up random numbers for purchase amounts, transaction IDs, customer contact information, items or services purchased, customer acquisition methods, discounts applied, and satisfaction surveys. How could a business use this made up data in any meaningful and purposeful way? They couldn't. This data would be of use to no one because no amount of technical knowledge or manipulation would yield anything positive - you cannot derive anything from it. In effect, it's "garbage in, garbage out" with data.
Intelligence, in the sense we're discussing here, is the use of data in effective ways to achieve valuable (whatever that means) goals and objectives in the real world.
What sort of goals are we talking about? They can be any goal that is worthwhile:
Most worthwhile goals are achieved through a combination of effort and intelligence - effort alone is not always enough because you need to put your effort int he right direction. Of course, intelligence alone is useless without the effort to use it also - but intelligence s the seed from which our goals can be productively and effectively achieved.
Intelligence is what sets humans apart in some ways from the other beings that inhabit the world we find ourselves in. Although lots of animals are intelligent in some ways, they're not as intelligent as us. We can use complex models of the world to make decisions - this is why we are the dominant species.
Intelligence is the stuff that builds bridges, building, and apps. Intelligence is what wins battles in war and battles in the boardroom. Intelligence is what allows you to outperform in life and in business - it's what can set you apart in the battlefield of business and make that customer come through your doors or visit your website or download your app instead of your opponents'.
Data vs. Intelligence
Data and intelligence are two different but interrelated things. Data is used in order to obtain intelligence. Or, stated another way, you need data if you're going to have some sort of intelligence.
Intelligence doesn't just arise out of nowhere. The kind of intelligence that is useful (the productive kind of intelligence that helps with making effective decisions int the real world) is based on data. Therefore, intelligence and data are not two different but similar things, they are two very different things with one being required fro the other. It's like water and oxygen - you need oxygen atoms to make water, but water and oxygen are far from the same thing. Just as with oxygen and water, you need data to have intelligence, but intelligence is far more than just data - it's using data to create an understanding of the world.
Intelligence can exist in many forms. It can mean knowing your:
Intelligence can also mean knowing things there aren't specific numbers, but are more comparative in nature - things such as:
Intelligence can also be binary - it can include things like:
Mark Twain's quote "it ain't what you don't know that kills you, it's what you know for sure that just ain't so" epitomizes prudent risk management perfectly
I love the above quote - it's so elegant and so true. What you don't know won't really be the thing that hurts you in life. We all don't know something; we're all foolish in our own ways. However, when we're aware of our own foolishness and of our own weaknesses, we can prevent bad situations by not going too deep into things without taking precautions. When we're sure of something, however, we often act without taking many (or any) precautions - we go all in with confidence. Hopefully that works out, but sometimes it doesn't - and when it doesn't it can be bad because you've likely not put the proper risk management practices and controls in place. Had you not been so confident, however, you might have still been wrong, BUT you likely would be wrong in a much more subdued way.
Options are valuable - that's why you can literally pay for them when you purchase financial options (eg. put options or call options). Options are valuable because they allow you to decide in the future whether to do something or not to do it - you will decide at that future date based on what is going on at that future time. Although you can't know what the future will be like today, options allow you to postpone the decision (in a way) until you actually do know.
For example, when you buy a call option on stock X you are paying a premium for the right to decide in the future whether or not you want to buy stock X at the predetermined strike price. Effectively, you're paying a premium today to lock in the purchase price. You pay that premium (and so do millions of other market participants) because such a thing is inherently valuable. How valuable is it? That's a far more complicated question and beyond the scope of this article - the question of how to value a financial option is a complex one that involves complex mathematics.
Just like a financial options, options in life are valuable too - that's why you should attempt to increase the options in your life. You should attempt to make decisions with attention to the optionality inherent in them. If you have to choose between two different paths, be mindful of any inherent options that are imbedded in the choices. These inherent options can add real value to the decisions and they should be ignored.
Let's discuss one simple hypothetical example to better illustrate the point made above. Let's say you are choosing between two houses that are equal in every respect except...
Now, you might not want to rent out any rooms NOW, but House 1 has imbedded optionality that House 2 doesn't. Should you need the extra money, should your lifestyle change, or should rents go up a lot in your area, you might want to rent out a room or two in your house. House 1 allows you to EXERCISE that option should things unfold in a way to make it desirable to rent out a room or two. Just as you would exercise a financial option if the market price of the underlying is greater than the strike price, you can exercise this embedded option should it be worthwhile for you to do so.
Therefore, all else being equal, House 1 should be more valuable to you and to the market due to the inherent optionality embedded within it - an optionality that doesn't exist in House 2.
The modern world is the epitome of security when taken from a historical perspective. We have taken a rough, difficult, dangerous, and unpredictable existence as human beings and, over many centuries, transformed it into a far more predictable, calm, and secure way of life.
Now, by security and insecurity I don't mean the modern definition of the term - I don't mean confidence or lack of confidence in yourself. I mean something much deeper and more universal when I use these terms in this context. I'm talking about being truly secure and being deeply insecure as a human being in relation to the world around you.
To better illustrate what I mean by these terms I'll provide an example:
Be the Mouse?
So, if a mouse is the epitome of an insecure creature and a lion is the epitome of a secure creature, why would I imply with my title that insecurity is somehow good - why would I imply that you should somehow be insecure? Because you're not a lion.
You're not a lion - you're a fragile human being that has to be concerned with far more than his or her place in the animal kingdom. You have to be concerned not only with your survival today in a physical sense, but with your survival in a financial, career, emotional, and mental sense. Life more difficult for us human beings - we're competing on more playing fields.
Security = Death
Although being too deeply insecure will cause you mental trauma, the only way to truly have security in any of the places where it is important is by being constantly insecure. The moment you are too secure you're dead meat. The moment you're content with your situation or position or the moment you let your guard down you give room to the cold and harsh world and those in it to destroy you. Don't give the world or any person that room - be constantly vigilant and never feel sorry for yourself for it.
Don't feel bad for being insecure - the modern world we live in makes us think that a sense of security is one of the ultimate goals in life. In today's world too many people feel that we should have a constant sense of peace and calm and security - we want to feel like everything is ok and that there's nothing to worry about. Stop wanting that and realize that the game will never end and the struggle will never cease - the moment you overcome something, there is something else waiting for you. The moment you achieve some sense of security, there is something else to be on guard against. You must stop putting so much value on being in a calm state - a calm state means nothing and is nothing. A state of vigilance and security in everything you do is another state and it's not less good - it's the natural state of a creature as fragile as us.
The title is made partly in jest, of course, as we all know that money does in fact exist. What I'm trying to convey, however, is that money as we know it doesn't by itself represent anything useful, valuable, or meaningful to humankind - money is only a means at moving towards useful, valuable, or meaningful things. Money is just a storage system (similar to a battery) where the value we created is "stored" instead of spent.
Imagine a factory that produces electricity. That factory can either:
Now, there really isn't a third way is there? If we don't use it and we don't store it, the electricity will no longer be accessible to us.
In a similar manner, when we earn income by working or creating value in the world, we can either spend the income or we can store it in the form of US Dollars (or another type of currency). We can put these dollars into a checking account, a savings account, under our mattress, or invest in various ways, but either way, what we are doing is storing the purchasing power we created through our productive actions for use at a later time.
Of course, this is a big simplification and there are many gray areas and nuances that are ignored in our very simplified analysis, but it's suffice to say that thinking of money in this manner could prove both interesting and useful.
Now, if we do think of money as a battery, the next question is "What happens when we don't use it?" In general, like electricity stored within a battery, if we don't use the purchasing power stored in our money, the purchasing power will slowly wither away due to inflation. The purchasing power could also very abruptly be eliminated in the case of a some sort of national disaster that leaves the currency worthless (there are countless examples of this throughout history). So, if we are to be wise, we might want to diversify - we might want to store our accumulated wealth in different batteries in different places in an attempt to prevent an unreasonable amount of exposure due to a single point of failure. Additionally, knowing that all batteries degrade over time, we will want to pump the money out once in a while and put it back into productive endeavors (eg. investing in new businesses, purchasing real estate, purchasing education, donating it etc.).
a. an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion
b. a strong and unusual need or desire for something
In today's modern society (modern western society at least) we seem to fetishize consistency. We call politicians who change their minds on issues or change their views "flip-floppers." Who among us hasn't defended an opinion we no longer held simply because we held it before and discussed it with others? Both externally and internally in our own minds, we seem to have this unusual and intense desire to remain consistent with our past thoughts, beliefs, actions, words, and desires - we seem to have an irrational and unfounded fear of admitting that we've changed our minds on something or that we've grown up a bit and now see the parts of the picture that we didn't see before.
It's not clear where this fetishism of consistency comes from. It could arise from without (an external influence on us by the media or the education system) or it could arise organically from within (many individuals valuing consistency and see it as a vital trait). Regardless of where it comes from, today's intense devotion to consistency has likely gone too far - some consistency is important, BUT putting consistency above all else (including growth, education, and flexibility) is a foolish thing for a person to do and a foolish thing for a society to exalt.
If you believed X in the past but now believe Y, you must not be afraid to admit either to yourself or to others that your position has moved. Of course, if you consistently change positions or can never make up your mind on issues, that's a problem of its own, but when you move from X to Y because of personal growth, because of education on the topic, or because of an increased internal flexibility, you are acting in a very human and correct way.
In short, it's ok to change your mind when
But, your mind really hasn't changed if
Don't cry for money, because it doesn't cry for you - a Kevin O'Leary quote that touches on some deeper issues related to personal finance and money
Don't cry about money, it never cries for you. (Kevin O'Leary)
This is an excellent quote I heard on a podcast featuring famous investor and Shark Tank co-host Kevin O'Leary. O'Leary comes off a certain way on Shark Tank (a bit harsh and uncompassionate) but he is not that way at all. I've listened to a few interviews with him and he's a very intelligent, wise, and compassionate individual. I really enjoy watching him and listening to him.
This quote is in true Kevin O'Leary style for me - that's partly why I like it so much. The quote is correct, you shouldn't cry for money. The quote is also deep because there are various reasons why you shouldn't cry for money. You shouldn't cry for money because
Now, the above might seem harsh, but it's really not. Charity, assistance, compassion, and other similar things are all important in life, but in business you have to be tough and single-minded. There just isn't room for crying about money in business. It's too competitive to do that and you'll likely get no compassion from your peers who are in it to improve their own situation, not give you a shoulder to cry on.
And now, given the rise of cyrptocurrencies and crypto assets to quasi-mainstream financial assets, we're dedicated to providing quality, relevant, and interesting material on cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets. Articles on Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Cardano, and many more cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets can be found on Pennies and Pounds - all that in addition to a plethora of information on what cryptoassets are, how the entire crypto industry came to be, blockchain/immutable ledger technology, mining, proof of work, proof of stake, and how to prudently invest in crypto if you are so inclined (based on your risk tolerance and ability to withstand the volatility that will come with a crypto portfolio).