Tag: Business

Do Subscription Boxes Hurt Socialization?

Nickolas Roberson | United States

We all enjoy and love the subscription box services and products that we pay for and receive every month. Shaving products, popular culture merchandise, or even food and water; these services deliver easy-to-access, quality goods straight to our homes. However, how do these amenity providers affect our socialization?

Subscription Boxes: An Introduction

Companies provide boxes that are filled with niche products for the consumers they are targeting. These boxes are known as subscription boxes. Routinely fulfilled payments pay for the shipped goods. 

In the United States, there are an estimated 400 to 600 companies offering these subscription boxes. BlueApron (a meal kit service), Stitch fix (a personal styling service), Dollar Shave Club (a personal grooming product service), and Loot Crate (a pop culture product service) are some of the more popular services offered. This constantly innovating industry has grown from 4.7 visitors to their websites in 2014 to 41.7 million in 2018. This demonstrates increasing demand for these easy to access quality products. Additionally, a majority of the consumers of subscription boxes are 18 to 24 years old, and “prefer the convenience of online shopping.”  However, while online shopping and subscription boxes are extremely easy to purchase and are high in quality, this massive increase in popularity of them may have some negatives.

Marketplace Socialization

The physical marketplace has been the locality for much of humanity’s socialization. It’s where we learned the social skills that were vital for trading and general communication. However, the adoption of mass consumerism and the development of subscription services and boxes could harm socialization.

The vast majority of the aforementioned subscription box services are provided through online shopping. Now, this makes goods incredibly easy to access and purchase. This is tremendous, but there is no social interaction taking place. This, practiced en masse, would have a negative impact on the socialization of individuals.

New Technologies

This occurs through the immense increase in technological advancement taking place today. Cell phones read your face, voice commands control TVs, and personal computers contain alternate realities. With these new, innovative technologies and subscription boxes is a matter of time before individuals have total access to goods and services without leaving their homes. As a result, the death of socialization. 

Subscription services are an amazing product of capitalism. They provide cheaper and more convenient high-quality products. But everything in life has a tradeoff, and the loss of socialization is the tradeoff for subscription boxes.


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The Government Shutdown: Rough Seas for Investors

Nickolas Roberson | United States

“NOTICE: Due to a lapse in federal funding this website is not being updated.” That’s the large, menacingly red statement that one reads as they access portions of the websites for the United States Census Bureau (USCB) or Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Investors, entrepreneurs, and economists all rely on government data to make market decisions. Yet with the government shutdown, this data is unavailable.

Continue reading “The Government Shutdown: Rough Seas for Investors”

Decentralizing Business: How Less Government, Not More, Will Help the Workers

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Business is bad – or at least that’s the contemporary cultural outlook. To the disdain of the Randian acolytes, society really hates businessmen. They are seen as gross, mean, and evil cheaters that act for nothing but profit. They would see the world burn for the fattening of their checkbooks. This seems to primarily be the product of the modern film and television industry. The mantra “it’s just business” has infected our entertainment and shows no signs of going away.

Continue reading “Decentralizing Business: How Less Government, Not More, Will Help the Workers”

The Importance of Voluntary Hierarchies

By Jack Parkos | United States

The basis of leftist movement has been an anti-hierarchy mentality. That all hierarchies are evil and should be abolished to obtain a state of egalitarianism. Far leftists use words like “patriarchy” or “class struggle” to get their point across. The leftist view is that all hierarchies are authoritarian. These include capitalism, the nuclear family, and sometimes the government.

While it is true, that hierarchies can be tyrannical, this certainly does not mean all hierarchies are such the case. Hierarchies are, in fact, natural and do much good.

The wolf pack is a great example of why the hierarchy is naturally occurring. Wolves are very social creatures and form packs to work together to survive. Every wolf plays its role in the pack. In the wolf pack, the leader is the Alpha. The Alpha is in charge of the hunts and makes group decisions to benefit the pack. Below him is the Beta, and at the end is the Omega, the last in line. Such a system allows wolves to survive and work together. Many other social creatures use similar systems.

Humans too are social creatures, and thus require interaction with people. Groups can form from people with common goals and belief not only just to survive, but to thrive. Humans also maintain the idea of rights that can prevent a hierarchy from being tyrannical.  Let’s take a farming community for example.

The community needs to plan what crops and livestock will grow and where it will grow. Amongst all the debate, a natural leader will rise and take charge, allowing groups to compromise and figure out a plan as to what to do. He leads the community through the harsh winter with his leadership ability. As the work expands, he must have people below him, but above the average man. This new group may manage certain areas of the land.

This is the common business model. There’s the CEO of the business. Below him may be managers, and below them is the average worker. This works best for business. Without such a leader, the average workers would all have to run the business equally. This could not be done. Suppose there are disputes, which are common in the workplace. How would they be solved? One may say a vote would be a good resolution. But democracy (voting) creates a hierarchy of the majority over the minority, which can be dangerous.

Thus, natural rulers must take charge and run things. They should not be tyrannical as no one would follow them. Such hierarchies, like in the business world, should be voluntary. The leader should not disregard the rights of people. If so, the people can leave. Each man should be in charge of his own property. But, if they choose to form a group based on common defense and beliefs and have a leader, then this is not authoritarianism.

Natural and Unnatural Hierarchies

One may observe the wolf packs can be vicious, the Omega being “bullied” by the higher ranking groups. Such is a tragedy. But in human hierarchies, this can be protected. Humans, again, have greater thinking abilities. Only humans truly grasp the idea of property.  As long as a leader respects the people’s property, they cannot be tyrannical. The modern state does not respect private property.

The unnatural hierarchy rises from elites attempting to rule over the people.  Through force and violation of rights. The natural hierarchy rises by the will of people to have order and protect property. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe puts it:

Natural order defends these basic property principles. Locations were selected by defensibility. Leaders of small communities were able to act as courts by shunning wrong-doers and directing compensation to the victim. Law was discovered, not created. Taxes in the modern sense did not exist. The king, lords and nobles established protection villages against invaders.

People, having property rights, will need a defense for their property. If they agree to join a group of property owners and establish law, is it authoritarian? Certainly not. Law is necessary for any society, and law can create hierarchies (Reminder: these laws are not forced on the people).  Law should be local, decentralized, and non-tyrannical. Law should serve to protect life, liberty, and property. These rules could be established via a contract, perhaps a constitution of sorts. If laws go beyond these intended uses, property owners should have the right to leave such a contract.

A Non-Hierarchal Society

The common myth that hierarchy is anti-libertarian or anti-freedom is a lie from Marxists. Not only is it ineffective, but it’s also a lie about libertarianism. Libertarianism is not about chaos. Libertarianism is about peace and voluntarism. Libertarians aren’t against rules, but rather cohesive violent rules.

Assume all hierarchies were abolished. Unless we ignore human nature, humans will still require interaction. With interaction comes disputes. If two people cannot agree on something, how can it be solved? Removal of the hierarchy is the removal of the law. Without any sort of law, there is no way to solve disputes without violence.

Moreover, without hierarchies, there is no private property. If people cannot keep what they own, there is no incentive to work. Without an incentive to work, there can be no production. Without production, no food, technology, etc.

Assuming people would work for the betterment of the group, how is it decided what gets done? Who decides what is done? Suppose we use the farming example again. Say there is a dispute over whether land should be used for crops or livestock. How would this be solved? Again, the only way would be through either violence or democracy. However, as stated above, democracy is a hierarchy of the majority. This hierarchy gains its power simply from the majority, not from any natural leading ability.

The hierarchy is a natural part of human nature. Capitalism is not tyranny. The tyrannical hierarchy is not part of this. While the tyrants who use the law for personal gain should be overthrown, there must be a replacement with leaders. These leaders must only have authority based on consent from individuals. These leaders must be decentralized and have their only purpose to protect their property, as well as the people who they have engaged in a contract with.


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How I Became An Austrian Economist

Jozef Martiniak | Slovakia

In March of 2018, I attended a seminar on Austrian economics in Slovakia that was organized by an institute whose statements I had been following for a long time. The event lasted four days with lectures on economics, money, and business cycle theory among other things, and the statements made seemed consistent to me. The rhetoric remained the same – what was said ten years ago was still relevant to today.

Moreover, these views have somehow all given awareness to me, a man with common sense. Suddenly you find out that something that you feel intuitively has a 150-years-old historical tradition and that there is a school that studies and develops this tradition.

Surprisingly, the majority of the attendees ended the seminar with a conviction against Austrian economics, but I experienced a change. Out of the blue, I became an Austrian. My ideas were synthesized and I found out it all makes sense. I used to talk about this moment like the story of St. Paul’s fall off of his horse. It was a moment after which you start looking at the world through different eyes and you know it will never change, you will never get back. You start to realize the connections in everyday situations. Not long ago, you have not seen them, but now you can clearly. Tom Palmer says that suddenly you look at the world through the lenses of freedom, through a filter that the majority of people do not have.

You start to become aware that this change is not so obvious like you feel it is. You have a feeling that everybody must see it, so you control yourself, you dose your knowledge to people around you just in bits. Then you find out that people around you do not care about you at all and most of them have not noticed any change in you, they are preoccupied by their own problems.

The impression that you understand the world better is followed by the impression that people will not understand you anymore. Suddenly, it is clear to you how some things will end up, because you distinguish responsibility from irresponsibility. And that is what really irritates the eminent experts who somehow see the change happening in you, though they do not know what has happened, they just see that you can say something responsibly and hold your ground, because you simply know it is true. They do not like debating with you because instead of trying to understand your point of view, they focus on trying to humiliate you in rhetorical competition.

A side-effect of the “conversion” is that you suddenly start to understand the Idealists whom you did not understand before.

Hazlittian awareness of invisible consequences of the events that already happened is another consequence of the ‘conversion’. Only few people realize it. Most people simply analyze their lives and only see the closest area of consequence of the acts that happened and that are related to their past.

In the summer of 2018, I completed a course at Mises University and henceforth joined a sect of people with an Austrian point of view in economics. I have used the word “sect” on purpose since we fit into the characteristics of the word ‘sect’ – we are in minority, we look at the others like those who do not understand yet, but if they are insistent, they will find out where the truth is. The lecturers at the Mises Institute say we belong to the two percent of the population who understands economics better than the majority. Even if it is said as a joke, it seems to me inappropriate since those who really understand the nature of Austrian economics know that they really belong to that small percentage. And those who do not understand are uselessly given a false feeling of exceptionalism, because they do not know why and in what they should be exceptional.

I like working in a world where your steps have meaning. Since we are homo sapiens, we should stop and think about future consequences of our present actions. The economists of the mainstream cannot explain how debt of countries will impact their future. They cannot explain how long the FED and ECB control will work and the public will trust it. In these aspects, they have adopted Austrian rhetoric of “laissez faire” – let it be, it is working somehow.

The Austrians are not satisfied with an explanation that it will work out somehow, because everything has always ended up working somehow. They want to change this system – even though it is very corrupted – so that it is the furthest possible from disaster. I do not know how other Austrian economists came into existence, perhaps they were born like this (at least Carl Menger, as he was nobody’s pupil and he was quintessential to the marginal revolution), but I am for sure a convert.


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