Author Archive for Brian Nygaard

Mr. Nygaard is a Managing Director with Atticus Advisers, a marketing consulting firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Universality of Greed

A fine line exists between the seemingly simple notions of greed and self-interest. It might be concluded that greed is a subset of the broader concept of self-interest. Alternatively, some may say that there is no difference between the two. Irrespective of the choice of definition, it is universally observable that human beings are driven by WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”). With a very few noteworthy exceptions, we all seek, as the Austrian School economist Ludwig Von Mises summarized, the “elimination of personal discomfort.”

At a recent trip to the local high school track, I had occasion to observe an interesting set of father and son scenes. Both dads were teaching their sons to hit a baseball. The differences in the results could not …


A Half-Truth is (still) a Whole-Lie

“We’re going to work with federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4 percent,” Obama said in his speech last week to announce the $450 billion jobs package. The plan would put “more than $2,000 a year in a family’s pocket and give a lift to an economy still burdened by the drop in housing prices.” Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s (and a self described liberal), immediately announced that the new jobs program would add two percent to GDP and 1.9 million jobs to the economy next year. Kevin Ungar of Mother Jones piled on with: “Currently, the federal government can borrow at an astonishingly low 2 percent interest rate. If we can …


FUD 101

It is now official. The semester is over, and the grades have been posted. Not only has the Obama Administration flunked ECON 101; they have now also summarily flunked FUD 101.

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial entitled ‘Bumps in the Road,” quoted the chief White House economist Austin Goolsbee as saying “there are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the last two years.” The WSJ goes on to conclude that “The real ‘bumps on the road’ to recovery are these policies and the larger climate of hostility towards job creators that still prevails in Washington.” They compare the massively positive trajectory of the post-recession Reagan administration recovery with the current economic …


9.7 On The Bizarre Scale

It was a steamy 98 degrees in Atlanta. It was clearly too hot for me to be out running at the local high school track…but there I was. I was not alone, however. Occupying Lane 4 was a guy who I would guess was born somewhere immediately after WWII. But my track-mates age was not the interesting part of the story. The interesting fact was that the man was clad in a long-sleeved sweatshirt. Yes, and it even had a Nike SWOOSH on it. I thought to sweaty self, “This has to be the most bizarre thing I have seen all week!” However, upon a few moments of reflection, I concluded it wasn’t even close to the top of the Week’s-Most-Bizarre List.

My first …


Coexistence and a Christian Buddha

While living in San Francisco, I was always a little concerned that I may have been in non-compliance with a California State Department of Transportation regulation. It appeared to me that it might have been mandatory to display both a state-issued license plate on the back of my car, along with a “COEXIST” bumper sticker.

The message of COEXIST is, I suppose, interesting in terms of its banal universality. Almost all of us earnestly desire to live peacefully with one another. There is, however, the ever-present and small group of people who would wish the rest of us dead. While I am not at all certain of this, I suppose (at least in theory) the COEXIST bumper stickers could potentially wear on the psyches of …


The New Obama Concoction: Fairness and Protection

How is it possible to resist the charms of any elected official offering the dual benefits of fairness and protection? After all, is not being treated equitably, while simultaneously being spared the pain of those who would seek to harm us, not of ultimate worth? Fairness must certainly be the quintessential American value, right? And our entire system of justice; is it not specifically designed to bring both fairness and protection?

Over the next year and a half we will hear the word fairness as if the word encapsulates the complete and final animation of the American ideal. We will also be offered a basket overflowing with governmental “protections” from rapacious bogeymen, both known and unknown. This little “benefits package” will come neatly wrapped in …


Spewage

Harry ReidWith the long overdue federal budget negotiations continuing to, well — continue — the vitriol spewing out of every crevasse of Washington is stunning in both its scope and in the absolute levels of personal animus that is on display. Even more stunning than the differences of opinion are the even more spectacular distortions of both the facts and the pertinent arguments attached to elements of the debate. It is one thing to have a contrary set of opinions. It is yet another to deploy a confrontation strategy of “justifiable-deception” (what used to be called “lies”) into that debate. The proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood that was announced last week (for their use in providing abortions) brought out vast quantities of this type of pernicious …


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Doctor Feelgood

Leave it to Mötley Crüe to be the prophets of the age.  In 1989 they recorded their high-test Doctor Feelgood disc that contained the lead single by the same name.  Besides being a musical treat, the song foretells (or retells) a very old story.  Living amongst us, in the pit of our deepest worries, is the man that can make it all go away.  We aren’t necessarily certain as to how he actually does it, but we really want to believe that he can do it.  Even if it’s a hoax, that is just fine.  We need a visit, every once-in-awhile, from the good Doctor Feelgood.  It is the messianic story.  And he is the …


Levin v. Goldman: Big Solution For a Big Problem?

Crisis On Wall StreetWhen Senator Levin says “Goldman made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market” what do we think he might have meant? Knowing some of the political philosophy of the esteemed senator from Michigan, it is obvious that his inference was that Goldman was acting in a fashion that was either illegal or immoral. How could any American institution bet against motherhood, apple pie or the American dream of universal home ownership? And certainly the notion of ”making a lot of money” is of dubious quality on its face. The Senator is literally screaming “These people are the enemy of the state, and they need to be leashed, or chained, or imprisoned, or tortured…all for the good of the system of the people.”…


The Tea Party Movement: The New Civil Rights?

Man with bullhornThe Civil Rights Movement that culminated in the 1960’s was an important movement towards the advancement of equality for all Americans.  While artificial and fundamental hatreds will likely always exist between disparate people groups, the relative harmony that has been experienced in this country over the last forty years is likely unprecedented in the history of the world.  To create equality of opportunity for all of a society’s individuals and to simultaneously provide an environment free of the expression of abusive power of one group of people over another is a seldom seen accomplishment.  America has been a place where these goals are thought by many to actually be within reach.

Last week, the former President, Bill Clinton, made comments linking the Tea Party Movement …


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