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Jon Ogden
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A look at torture and self-justification.
Why People Still Justify Torture in the 21st Century
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Church Sanctioned😉
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Jon Ogden

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From time to time when I can’t figure out what to say about a topic, I write out my ideas in a dialog — a form I stole from ancient thinkers like Plato and Cicero. Here is one such dialog.
What does it take to be generous? I’ve started a dialogue with J1 (me) and J2 (also me) to find out…
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A series on gratitude, a universal virtue.
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Every day in October I've written a short post about how reflecting on death brings a needed sense of urgency to life. Yesterday I wrote a short and perhaps strange essay on how Elon Musk and Shay Carl inspire me because they each play to their individual strengths.
Yesterday I wrote about Elon Musk, a man who thinks big. Today I want to write about a man who is successful because he …
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Seriously, this is it.
 
Heh:

All Of The Financial Advice You're Ever Going To Need Is Written Down On This Index Card

http://www.businessinsider.com/financial-advice-written-on-an-index-card-2013-9
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Team politics! Via Glenn Greenwald
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+Jeff Swift I am over here shopping in +Jon Ogden 's home page and found your post. I am adding you to my progressive heroes circle without even reading your profile because of this contribution.
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I could be wrong, but I’ve always assumed that the best way to be grateful is to have as many near-death experiences as …
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My response to a writing prompt on Medium, "What Are You Thankful For?"
Ten years ago, Zach Duchesney made the worst mistake of his life. He pulled a knife in a street fight and stabbed a guy …
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In an era where the news shouts about ebola, terrorists, and sensational violence it might be hard to remember that in a…
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Thoughts on how to navigate through the socialism/capitalism binary.
 
If I could give a TED talk today, my topic would be "massively distributed capitalism," a phrase I think I coined about 3 weeks ago. It doesn't appear in the Google index yet. But it will be in a minute when I press Share.

The Google link below that references "distributed capitalism" appears to be mostly about distributed consumerism. I'm less interested in that than I am in finding a way to get millions of people an ownership interest in hundreds of companies that could turn out to be the next big thing--to encourage them in Berkshire Hathaway fashion to be long-term investors.

I keep wondering whether Google, Apple, Facebook or Berkshire Hathaway will be the first trillion dollar company. In any case, the ownership of the first trillion dollar corporation will be concentrated in the hands of very few people. Someone will be the first hundred billionaire. Someone will be the first two hundred billionaire.

A trillion dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A trillion dollar investment fund -- let's call it Berkshire Hathaway 2.0 -- owned by a million shareholders. A million millionaires--with no billionaires, no concentration of wealth among them. I keep wondering if it might be possible to set up such a fund.

I don't believe in socialism and redistribution of wealth. But I also don't believe in crony capitalism, where industry incumbents lobby government and change the rules making it harder and harder for innovative startups to compete in fields like finance/banking, health care, energy, transportation, education. There are many onerous regulations. Compliance is too expensive for all except the biggest players or best funded companies. Entrepreneurship is declining when we need it the most. 

I do believe in innovation. I do believe that technological innovations have the potential to benefit the entire world. As the Whatsapp founders have figured out, in an era of massive connectedness, a service can be created that spreads to hundreds of millions of people and creates enormous value and wealth in just a few years.

The pace of billionaire creation is going to accelerate. When 5 billion people have smartphones and tablets and someone invents a medical device that attaches to these mobile supercomputers that diagnoses illnesses better than doctors and replaces 80% of doctor visits--someone is going to make billions. When robots and 3-D printers enable homes to be built with very little labor cost, for a fraction of the price of a modern home, someone is going to make billions. I can think of so many inventions that are coming that will displace millions of workers but create enormous value for their inventors. What I don't know is what the overall social impact will be. Will the recent widening of the gap between rich and poor continue to worsen?

When inventions can spread to the world with virtually no advertising or marketing costs, inventors and the corporations they work for will make hundreds of billions of dollars. 

I'm a fan of innovation--even of disruption--but I fear the long term consequences if the ownership of the means of production isn't distributed more widely. But it can't be done after the wealth is created. That creates resentment and conflict. It needs to be done in advance.

So what I'd like to believe in is that millions of people could find a way to come together, pool small funds, invest in the next big thing, over and over and over again, and turn a small fund into a massive fund--over decades--with massively distributed ownership.

If the worldwide market for lottery tickets is really $260 billion per year (the US market is reportedly $60-70 billion), what if we could get 1% of those funds to be redirected into a pooled fund that might--in 30 or 40 years--provide its investors with enough capital to actually retire on.

What if investment opportunities from Angelist, Y Combinator, Techstars, IndieGoGo and hundreds of incubators, accelerators, and equity crowdfunding platforms worldwide could be sourced by a large group of investors--investors who want to build wealth over the long term and share it with others--and somehow, the wisdom of the crowd, or the power of predictive markets, or expert networks could be tapped so that this fund could made good to great investment decisions week after week, month after month, year after year.

Maybe the motto could be E Pluribus Plenum.
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Right?! Actually I thought of this in the context of the new crowdfunding law, which is supposed to create exchanges where small/new firms can sell equity. Get some money together, write an algorithm that invests little bits in lots of firms with the target of matching the broader industry/age composition of the market, and wait. It would require a pretty large pool of money to achieve the diversification it needs, and it would have a long initial period of no returns, but after that it should be reasonably steady with returns roughly matching the returns to young firms in the aggregate, which are volatile but higher than public markets.

I talked to some securities lawyers and VC people about this, and they basically told me that the current law makes transaction costs very high for the firms that want to sell equity, so it's not even clear if the exchanges will ever be populated. Also current law makes it hard for institutions to invest, and it limits the size of investments from individuals. In any case, if those aspects of the law are fixed, incumbent VC or mutual fund firms or i-banks will probably do this anyway, and they'd have a large advantage over a new fund that tries to do this.
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I keep reading about index funds, and I keep thinking—over and over and over—that what I'm reading can't be right because if it's right then it means: 1) That most wealthy Americans are poor investors 2) That investment bankers and hedge fund managers are even more worthless than I'd previously thought.

Here's an excerpt from just one of the many things I've been researching:

"The index fund’s average after-expense return was 8.5 percent a year, versus 8 percent for the actively managed fund and 7.7 percent for the hedge fund."

In other words, people are paying fund managers to return less money to them. It's a fabulous scam for Wall Street (which profits from the liquidity that comes with actively managed accounts), and it's amazing that so many people fall for it in the face of the data I'm seeing.
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Surely all such funds actually amount to nothing better than gambling. 

At least, that must surely be the case if it be true that nowadays even the up to the moment, split second current, worldwide well informed info about the investment to be made (or not) be rather akin to 50,000 year old info in the face of the fact that the trading done has long since been given over into the "hands" of scrupleless computers and their programs. 

Those are said to decide within microseconds what is to be invested or not, whereby more telling than the actual current stand info be the prognosis for coming change  based upon algorithmen, which can at best only be influenced by inputting resp. modifying the one or another of their parameters. 

Where oh where did I see that online again?

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/David-R.-Francis/2010/0916/Stock-market-trading-Computers-1-Investors-0
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Jon Ogden

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h/t +Chris Barry 
Interesting chart about public and private debt per country. I'm not sure what to make of all of it (the Netherlands has private debt outstanding equal to 680% of GDP?), but I think it's useful to compare these numbers for context.

Source: http://www.switzer.com.au/the-experts/shane-oliver/debt---how-does-australia-compare/
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