I’ve been watching a lot of online chess recently. It has me thinking about the fairness (or injustice) of capitalism: What we earn, what we create, what we individually deserve, and what we think governments ought to do with the profits, gains and wealth that emerge from our work.
Article by Joakim Book from AIER.
Playing chess online has long been a thing on platforms like chess.com or lichess.org, and learning resources like Chess24 and Chessable – just to name a few. Learning chess has never really been hard, with plenty of clubs, books, courses, online resources, or knowledgeable instructors to learn from. It’s the quintessential ancient game of minds – the philosopher’s game. Beginning with the year 2020, nobody knew what the world had in store, let alone the chess insiders simmering along as they had before.
Magnus Carlsen, the reigning world champion, earned his grandmaster title at the age of 13 and has been a dominant name in the world of chess for well over a decade. Winning everything that can be won, including the championship in chess’ three main types (classical, rapid, and blitz), Carlsen has now been looking to expand the game through several high-prize tournaments and public outreach (the company he co-founded, Play Magnus, even IPOed on the Norwegian stock exchange in October last year).
Then the pandemic happened, and everything changed. In the spring of 2020, every chess platform saw its subscriber numbers skyrocket. Playing chess online, while stuck at home, became one of the few hobbies that people could actually engage in. Similarly, with almost all other sports on hold, chess rose to the top of the e-sport world, through a vigorous supply response and following an even greater demand. Its shining online stars – Carlsen and his American nemesis Hikaru Nakamura – overtook many of the high earners in Counterstrike, Dota or Rainbow Six Siege. Games played on most chess sites doubled or tripled in the span of a few months. YouTubers and streamers talking about chess had long had their nerdy clique of followers, but nothing prepared them for the avalanche of hundreds of thousands and millions of new viewers, eagerly lapping up their content.
In the fall, Netflix released The Queen’s Gambit, its most-viewed miniseries, artistically and captivatingly delivering the wonders of chess to an even wider audience. While fictional, the gameplay element of the series was thoroughly researched, with old grandmasters and chess experts on Netflix’s payroll. The obsession with online chess exploded yet again, with millions of new players, games, viewers, and countless streamers thrown into the spotlight. Tournaments with ever-higher prize money, and sponsorship deals left and right. The world of chess had come alive – so much so that most resellers of chess-related stuff like boards, decorative sets, clocks, and learning material completely sold out for months at a time.
In any sport, devotion, discipline, or interest, there are always people at the top able to monetize their work: win tournaments, acquire sponsorship, or sell merchandise or learning material. There’s also often another tranche just below that, of people who train or support the professionals, or inform and entertain the wider audience.
When a sports industry like that suddenly explodes into fame, way above its regular secular growth or decline, lots of people are well-positioned to take advantage of it. Financially, we may say that these people suddenly hold scarce assets and privileged information the value of which rose along with the interest in the field.
All these people – former players, the elites just below the champions, instructors, event organizers, and facilitators – suddenly get their hard-earned skills, talents, and experiences “upvalued;” the opportunities for them to monetize these assets (through streaming, games, consulting, commentating on live events etc) multiply.
Everyone in those positions spent decades of their life on this one obscure part of the world, with little prospect of wide-scale recognition or financial gains. They couldn’t possibly have foreseen how valuable their talents would become, and rarely did they go into the game with the lure of mammon lurking at the horizon.
Sometimes things just happen
Progressives sometimes argue as if the economic and financial world is a stagnant place of predictable gains: capital just earns its steady returns; rich people enrich themselves; higher education just mechanically warrants higher wages. In that mythical world, their claims for redistribution and the rich paying their fair share makes some sense. The rich or the privileged had the opportunity to grab these gains, while the rest of us – through no fault of our own – didn’t. Now, pay up, for cashing in on the privilege that the world gave you.
The world of finance, globalization, markets, or entrepreneurship is very far from that predictable and stable view. It’s incredibly more dynamic and risky: quite often, things just happen (those black swans we hadn’t foreseen), which shuffles around the returns and the valuation of others’ skills and assets. Malcolm Gladwell has an entire book on how this happens, Outliers: The Story of Success. Bill Gates happened to have the requisite experience, talent, and knowledge when the world suddenly upvalued programming skills; Joe Flom, the New York lawyer in the then-unprestigious field of litigation, became its foremost lawyer through ostracism by the established law firms – until the world suddenly upvalued litigation in the 1970s and 1980s. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Zlatan Ibrahimović became as financially successful as they did because their talents bloomed at a time when the world massively upvalued extraordinary football players.
When football turned from a support-your-local-club to a global billion-dollar industry, plenty of players, agents, support staff, trainers, club managers, and merchandise retailers benefited. They worked to create value along the supply chain that ultimately satisfied fans’ unquenching desire to be part of Liverpool’s fantastic 2018/19 season, Bayern München’s spectacular treble in 2019/20 (winning the Bundesliga, DFB cup, and the Champions League in the same year), or the long dominance of Messi’s Barcelona.
It’s not clear that any one of these thousands and thousands of people deserved their newfound windfall gains: they have extraordinary talent, and sure did put awe-inspiring amounts of work into perfecting it, but they couldn’t have known how richly the future world would reward their toil. Reflecting on Gladwell’s book last year, I wrote
perhaps chance has a little more role [than we usually think]. A lot of success stories are chance occurrences where the world suddenly up-valued the skills you possessed or the services you were supplying. That’s nobody’s hard-earned “gain”; you didn’t work for that to happen; “You didn’t build that!” [The infamous Obama line]
Nobody controls the outcome of a lottery: it’s the ultimate chance event – yet governments still (unfairly) claim a piece of the pie. When economists are awarded the highest recognition of their work, the Nobel Prize, many tax authorities grab a piece of that too, though the gain is completely unpredictable and inevitably accrues to somebody. Redistributing it on fairness grounds makes no sense.
Maybe, as the progressive would say, it’s not clear that those suddenly successful deserve their newfound gains, but here’s the thing: it’s even less clear that others do.
Congrats to all the hard-working chess-producers out there: you deserve every cent you earn – even the ones that governments steal from you. You provide the skills and the commentary and the knowledge that the rest of us suddenly wanted and were willing to pay top dollar for. In any counterfactual world, we’d want somebody’s skills and work and knowledge, in which case they would deserve that wealth. It had to be someone, and it happened to be you. Congrats!
I wish this wave lasts a long time and that its sudden valuation hype can give us a more sensible conversation about the just rewards of capitalism’s mutual gains.
‘The Purge’ by Big Tech targets conservatives, including us
Just when we thought the Covid-19 lockdowns were ending and our ability to stay afloat was improving, censorship reared its ugly head.
For the last few months, NOQ Report, Conservative Playbook, and the American Conservative Movement have appealed to our readers for assistance in staying afloat through Covid-19 lockdowns. The downturn in the economy has limited our ability to generate proper ad revenue just as our traffic was skyrocketing. We had our first sustained stretch of three months with over a million visitors in November, December, and January, but February saw a dip.
It wasn’t just the shortened month. We expected that. We also expected the continuation of dropping traffic from “woke” Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but it has actually been much worse than anticipated. Our Twitter account was banned. Both of our YouTube accounts were banned. Facebook “fact-checks” everything we post. Spotify canceled us. Medium canceled us. Apple canceled us. Why? Because we believe in the truth prevailing, and that means we will continue to discuss “taboo” topics.
The 2020 presidential election was stolen. You can’t say that on Big Tech platforms without risking cancellation, but we’d rather get cancelled for telling the truth rather than staying around to repeat mainstream media’s lies. They have been covering it up since before the election and they’ve convinced the vast majority of conservative news outlets that they will be harmed if they continue to discuss voter fraud. We refuse to back down. The truth is the truth.
The lies associated with Covid-19 are only slightly more prevalent than the suppression of valid scientific information that runs counter to the prescribed narrative. We should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccines, for example, as there is ample evidence for concern. One does not have to be an “anti-vaxxer” in order to want answers about vaccines that are still considered experimental and that have a track record in a short period of time of having side-effects, including death. One of our stories about the Johnson & Johnson “vaccine” causing blood clots was “fact-checked” and removed one day before the government hit the brakes on it. These questions and news items are not allowed on Big Tech which is just another reason we are getting canceled.
There are more topics that they refuse to allow. In turn, we refuse to stop discussing them. This is why we desperately need your help. The best way NOQ, CP, and ACM readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We are on track to be short by about $4100 per month in order to maintain operations.
The second way to help is to become a partner. We’ve strongly considered seeking angel investors in the past but because we were paying the bills, it didn’t seem necessary. Now, we’re struggling to pay the bills. We had 5,657,724 sessions on our website from November, 2020, through February, 2021. Our intention is to elevate that to higher levels this year by focusing on a strategy that relies on free speech rather than being beholden to progressive Big Tech companies.
During that four-month stretch, Twitter and Facebook accounted for about 20% of our traffic. We are actively working on operating as if that traffic is zero, replacing it with platforms that operate more freely such as Gab, Parler, and others. While we were never as dependent on Big Tech as most conservative sites, we’d like to be completely free from them. That doesn’t mean we will block them, but we refuse to be beholden to companies that absolutely despise us simply because of our political ideology.
We’re heading in the right direction and we believe we’re ready talk to patriotic investors who want to not only “get in on the action” but more importantly who want to help America hear the truth. Interested investors should contact me directly with the contact button above.
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Most “Conservative” News Outlets Are on the Big Tech Teat
Not long ago, conservative media was not beholden to anyone. Today, most sites are stuck on the Big Tech gravy train.
I’ll keep this short. The rise of Pandemic Panic Theater, massive voter fraud, and other “taboo” topics have neutered a majority of conservative news sites. You’ll notice they are very careful about what topics they tackle. Sure, they’ll attack Critical Race Theory, Antifa, and the Biden-Harris regime, but you won’t see them going after George Soros, Bill Gates, the World Economic Forum, or the Deep State, among others.
The reason is simple. They are beholden to Big Tech, and Big Tech doesn’t allow certain topics to be discussed or they’ll cut you off. Far too many conservative news outlets rely on Google, Facebook, and Twitter for the bulk of their traffic. They depend on big checks from Google ads to keep the sites running. I don’t necessarily hold it against them. We all do what we need to do to survive. I just wish more would do like we have, which is to cut out Big Tech altogether.
We don’t get Google checks. We don’t have Facebook or Twitter buttons on our stories. We don’t have a YouTube Channel (banned), an Instagram profile (never made one), or a TikTok (no thanks, CCP). We’re not perfect, but we’re doing everything we can to not owe anything to anyone… other than our readers. We owe YOU the truth. We owe YOU the facts that others won’t reveal about topics that others won’t tackle. And we owe America, this great land that allows us to take hold of these opportunities.
Like I said, I don’t hold other conservative sites under too much scrutiny over their choices. It’s easy for people to point fingers when we’re not the ones paying their bills or supporting their families. I just wish there were more who would make the bold move. Today, only a handful of other major conservative news outlets have broken free from the Big Tech teat. Of course, we need help.
The best way you can help us grow and continue to bring proper news and opinions to the people is by donating. We appreciate everything, whether a dollar or $10,000. Anything brings us closer to a point of stability when we can hire writers, editors, and support staff to make the America First message louder. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal or Bitcoin as well. Bitcoin: 3A1ELVhGgrwrypwTJhPwnaTVGmuqyQrMB8
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We know we could make a lot more money if we sold out like so many “conservative” publications out there. You won’t find Google ads on our site for a reason. Yes, they’re lucrative, but I don’t like getting paid by minions of Satan (I don’t like Google very much if you couldn’t tell).
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Thank you and God Bless,