Author Archives: M. Ragazzo

The Better Currency: Bitcoin or Pie?

Dear Harry (and Harry),

I just read a book about Bitcoin. I was fascinated. My wife was repelled.  That’s another story.

The decentralized, public ledger, idea behind Bitcoin seems brilliant to me. But the fact that there is a cap on the number of bitcoins that will ever exist seems like a problem. Am I wrong? Help me. It seems that this would encourage saving, which is good, but discourage any sort of investing in actual goods, such as homemade pies. Here is my thinking:

Let’s say that, right now, a home-made pie is worth one bitcoin. Next year, if the pie economy grows at all, a pie will be worth less than one bitcoin. So, if I have bitcoins, I’m never going to buy that pie because next year, I’ll be able to get a better deal on pies. Also, if I am a pie maker, I’m never going to spend bitcoins on the ingredients to make pies, for the same reason.

I see that some pies must still be made because bitcoins are not edible and humans have a basic need for pies that can’t be completely eliminated (I’m not counting paleo-dieters as human, for the purposes of this article.) Is this enough to balance things out? Perhaps this will result in the perfect amount of growth in the pie economy?

It seems like it would be better if bitcoin creation was tied to the creation of pies, instead of vice versa. If every time a pie was baked, a bitcoin was created, things would work much better.

So, Mr. Harry Tuttle and Mr. Harry Dexter White, help me out here. I need some basic economics lessons and I want pies (meat pies too) to go on being made.

Best regards,

M. Ragazzo

Should I Refuse My Tax Refund?

Should I refuse to accept my tax “refund”, yes or no?

It is not really a refund.  Since I have children, I get the Earned Income Credit.  Free money.

Harry Dexter White suggested that I take my refund and then give it to the richest person I know, since the money is coming from the taxes that rich people pay.  This is a novel idea.  Do you have a better one?

You may think I am joking, but I am genuinely having a little moral dilemma here.  I can use the money.  There is no one who can’t use the money.  But should I use it? (I am constantly asking myself what I should do.)  I’ve taken the refund before, but after a certain number of conversations with Mr. Harry Tuttle, I have begun to feel a bit like a leech for doing so. (Not that Mr. Tuttle called me a leech.) Continue reading

How to Catch a Baby and Save Ten Thousand Dollars

Is it reasonable to pay a doctor $10,000 to catch a baby?  The mother does all the work, after all.  And many mothers work better without a doctor in the way.  My wife is one of them.

We have had three children and all three were delivered at home.  We went to a licensed midwife for all prenatal care and postnatal care and she delivered our first baby.  She was good.  We intended to have her deliver our second and third babies as well – but my wife is a champ.  She went through labor so quickly that the midwife could not get there in time and my wife’s untrained, but able-bodied, husband had to step in and catch.

I can tell you that catching a baby is not difficult.  It is probably less difficult than catching a football.  The baby is not moving very quickly when it arrives.  I did not plan to do it and I would not plan to do it again, but it was not as scary as I thought it would be.  In fact, it was wonderful.  It was very special for my wife and I to have two of our children with no one else around.  (Our midwife did arrive shortly after both of these unassisted births and we were glad to have her.)

You don’t have to have your baby in a hospital.  Most mothers do and one third of them end up in surgery.  One third.  I find it hard to believe that one third of mothers are truly unable to deliver a baby without surgery.  I give women more credit than that.

Good doctors say that the least medicine is the best medicine.  You don’t need medicine to have a baby and you don’t have to have your baby in a hospital.  I found out that for us, having a baby was not an emergency.  And even though I would not plan on delivering another baby myself – it’s a very liberating thing to realize that, like building a house or fixing a car or growing a bean, you don’t absolutely need a professional.

– M. Ragazzo

Focus – It’s Hard To Do

It’s impossible to get anything done without focus.  This is a real problem for a jack of several trades like myself.  

It’s easy to be mediocre at a dozen trades.  If you are a functioning human being you can probably walk into that many low-level jobs and get by.  A body can learn to wash dishes, run a cash register, take inventory or  answer phone calls in a day.  But I get the impression that most people who make a lot of money are specialists.  Doctors, lawyers, airline pilots etc.   

But I don’t want to be specialist.  I don’t want to spend six years in college learning how to do one thing really well.  So…

Is it possible to get really good at lots of different things?  

Leonardo DaVinci did it.  He did so many different things it might seem he must have been a scatter-brain.  But I bet the opposite is true.  Focus is even more important for a generalist than for a specialist.   Continue reading

We All Deserve Nothing

I don’t know about you, but I am not inspired to devote my heart, soul and muscles to the task of achieving “an equitable and non-violent world.”  I’m sorry, I just can’t get excited about it.  I’m not sure what that world would look like, but it sounds dead.  It doesn’t sound like the paradise I am after.

Not that there will be violence and wars in my paradise.  But describing paradise by listing the broken things it doesn’t have is like describing a beautiful new house by saying that the roof doesn’t leak and the doors aren’t rusted shut.  It’s like describing a delicious feast by saying that it won’t make you sick.     Continue reading

Technology Is Not Evil (But, It’s Dangerous)

Humans can’t help but invent things.  But, to paraphrase G. K. Chesterton, just because something has been invented, it does not mean we have to use it.  However more efficient and productive a chainsaw is, we have no moral obligation to use one rather than an axe if the axe makes us happier.  That’s what technology is for isn’t it?  To make us happier?  Or maybe I have got it backwards.  Maybe humans were put on this earth to improve technology.     

I sometimes feel guilty for walking to the store when I could drive instead and save fifteen minutes.  But if I turn a fifteen minute walk that I would have enjoyed into a three minute drive that I don’t enjoy, I’m not really saving fifteen minutes – I’m losing three minutes. Continue reading