We were all supposed to go vote on Tuesday. It’s our civic duty, we’re told. If you want change, your vote is more important than anyone else’s. What a crock.

Technology has replaced politics as the way toward a freer, more prosperous world.

The easiest example is one everyone understands: once upon a time, communications were controlled by employees in blue suits. The post office had everyone over a barrel. There was a problem, and government wasn’t going to fix it because the postal service was the government.

Then came FedEx and the like, along with fax machines. Now everyone gets their utility bills via email. Why send letters when you find out everything you wanted know—and lots of things you didn’t—about friends and family via Facebook?

Government has continued to grow, mucking up commerce where it can. But did you ever think you’d see the post office delivering packages on Sunday? Thank you, Amazon.


The Federal Reserve’s stewardship of the dollar has been atrocious. The once-proud currency has fallen in value by 95% since the Fed opened for business 100 years ago… and Ben Bernanke—and now Janet Yellen—believe it should buy even less.

When Nixon snipped the last remaining string between gold and the dollar, Ron Paul was inspired to run for office, thinking politics made a difference. He spent decades scrapping with Federal Reserve Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke about central bank policies.

These exchanges gained Paul millions of followers and helped him raise millions in campaign contributions. He was able to get an “Audit the Fed” bill passed in the House. However, politics—in the form of Harry Reid—stopped it in its tracks.

Of course auditing the Fed would not make the dollar sounder. It wouldn’t give citizens a choice in what currency to transact business with or store wealth in. Auditing would only be a political charade, providing the appearance of something being done when in fact it would simply be the government checking on the government.

As Paul tilted at windmills, the Fed’s money supply inflation continued. In 2008, a person or group of people decided to take matters into their own hands, brains, and keyboards, developing the cybercurrency Bitcoin under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. It was entrepreneurship to fix a problem instead of politics.

He, she, or they designed and created the original Bitcoin software, currently known as Bitcoin-Qt. This brilliant and anonymous work is—after only a few years—providing a sound alternative to debauched government currencies, and has inspired dozens of competitors.

No political grandstanding. No interviews from Capitol Hill. No ghost-written rants in the Wall Street Journal. No horse trading or sausage making. This is the simple creation of a product to satisfy human desires. A product people trade with voluntarily, not through the force of legal tender laws.

Lending and Borrowing

Regulators have had banks under their thumb. Rates are low, but just try to borrow the money. This is where the market steps in with wonderful innovations. Among the most impressive is a model of borrowing and lending much closer to what we might see in a real market economy. It is called peer-to-peer, or P2P, and it means that those who want to borrow work directly with those who want to lend, bypassing the intermediary role that banks have traditionally played.

The market is providing solutions that permit all of us to participate in a system that’s effectively freer than the banking system of the past.

For this reason, the peer-to-peer lending business is on the verge of disrupting the banking business in a big way. Through companies like Lending Club, customers can borrow directly from savers who wish to lend. There’s no army of bank vice presidents or their country club memberships to pay for in between them.

The P2P model can work for lenders looking to earn a decent return on their money as well, while banks pay little or nothing for interest in this brave new Federal Reserve zero-interest-rate-policy world.

P2P was all the buzz at a recent conference sponsored by American Banker. When asked about the conference, Prosper Marketplace President Ron Suber stated:

Today’s event was proof that banking has collided with Silicon Valley. The combined size of Prosper and Lending Club has proven that borrowing and lending are now changed forever. Traditional banks are now forming relationships with us so they are not left behind. The proliferation of platform diversification is further evidence of the permanency of the industry.

So how can investors earn high returns while borrowers pay competitive rates? “It is a more direct funding process between the investors and the borrowers,” Renaud Laplanche, the CEO of Lending Club, says. “There’s no branch network. Everything happens online and it is really powered by technology and the Internet. And we use technology to lower cost.”

Catching a Ride

Also lowering costs are ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lift. While taxicab companies are politically powerful, ride sharing is making inroads. “It’s been a great run for New York City’s taxi medallion speculators, but the party could be coming to an end,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported in July. “The average price fell by $5 in June.” The price of medallions (licenses) had rocketed upward for years to over $1 million apiece.

The City of New York keeps medallions in short supply to keep the price up and cabdrivers happy. But Uber is operating in the Big Apple, and according to the Washington Post, “the median wage for an UberX driver working at least 40 hours a week in New York City is $90,766 a year.”

The Washington Post also reports that in San Francisco, the median wage for an UberX driver working at least 40 hours a week is $74,191. In the tech-savvy Bay area, “Uber has pretty much destroyed regular taxis in San Francisco,” a headline for Time stated. After Uber began in 2012, regular cab rides fell 65%.

But it’s not easy for Uber everywhere. Any city that depends upon tourist dollars kowtows to cabbies. The threat of a cabdrivers’ strike in Las Vegas will make a Nevada governor fold before any cards are dealt.

Uber has set up shop in Las Vegas but is staying off the resort corridor, where about 95% of cab rides begin around the airport, convention center, or strip. I can attest that the residential neighborhoods are underserved. It’s a dicey proposition, for instance, to call a cab to take you to the airport. You never know if one will show up.

Next City reports: “In Vegas, the industry is perhaps more impermeable. With only 16 companies employing around 9,000 drivers in Clark County, it’s both centralized and highly regulated; a state board oversees everything from fares to the number of vehicles authorized per company.” Last year taxis provided 26 million rides in Sin City alone.

Vegas cab companies and their union drivers won’t go down without a fight, but serving the residential areas is a great start for ride sharing.

Buying Drugs Safely

The War on Drugs was declared in the 1970s and has been ongoing ever since, putting millions behind bars for victimless crimes and subjecting countless more to needless harm. Since 2006, more people have died in drug-related violence than have died in the Iraq or Afghanistan war.

Why don’t the people just elect lawmakers who will call off the drug war? It will never happen. It’s not even a subject of debate. Besides, law enforcement is getting rich using asset forfeiture laws to steal large amounts of cash under the guise that all cash is used for drug transactions.

With illegal drugs, there are no ways to settle disputes, and people risk their lives to buy and sell. Drug production isn’t going to stop, and neither is the demand. Enter Silk Road in 2011. “It was Amazon.com except for products and services that are frowned upon by political elites,” writes Jeffrey Tucker in his forthcoming book Bit by Bit: How P2P is Liberating the World. “It brought peace to the drug markets.”

Tucker believes that Silk Road’s administrator “Dread Pirate Roberts” should get the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. The authorities think differently, shutting down Silk Road after three years of operation and jailing the alleged mastermind, Ross Ulbricht.

But the market aided by technology is a game of whack-a-mole, frustrating government officials and bureaucrats. They took down one Silk Road, and another popped up. According to Tucker, “There are more products than ever before. The volume of trade is higher than before. There are safe measures for escrow and for encrypted contact between trading partners.”

What Else Can Technology Fix?

There are apps under development to do most everything. Imagine if you’re stopped by a cop: you touch an app on your phone and an available lawyer is hired instantly to speak on your behalf. Looking for a parking place? An app will direct you to one. The applications are endless.

In a scathing article criticizing the sharing economy, Avi Asher-Schapiro writes, “The premise is seductive in its simplicity: people have skills, and customers want services. Silicon Valley plays matchmaker, churning out apps that pair workers with work.”

Of course Asher-Schapiro is exactly right, but he hates this idea because he’s writing for Jacobin, “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture.” He believes capitalists are evil and thinks all labor should be unionized.

Asher-Schapiro hits the nail on the head with his conclusion: “There’s nothing innovative or new about this business model. Uber is just capitalism, in its most naked form.”

Yes, exactly. And it is capitalism (the more naked, the better) that creates prosperity, not politics.


This article originally appeared at Casey Research