NYC Junto Newsletter – January 27, 2016

January 27, 2016

NYC Junto Newsletter

written by Iris Bell on January 27, 2016


  • NEW Junto meeting Thursday, February 4, 2016
  • Junto speakers through July 2016
  • NEW Letters to Junto attendees, Niederhoffer, Hanson, Epstein
  • NYC Ayn Rand Meetup, Sunday, January 31, 3:00pm
  • NEW Objectivist seminar Feb. 25-26, Students for Liberty
  • NEW Three conferences about freedom, March and July
  • NEW Cato’s Friedman Prize, Advancing Liberty, May 25
  • NEW “The Big Short” film and the housing bubble of 2008
  • NEW Fred Cookinham’s second book, about cities, plus tours
  • NEW Johnson’s “The Need to Validate Musical Emotion”
  • NEW Experience “Hamilton” the Broadway musical, now!
  • NEW Supreme Court on forcing teacher union membership
  • NEW The freedoms children enjoyed in the 1890s
  • NEW PJ Media, Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights answers Rubio
  • NEW “Star Wars” heroes and humor
  • NEW Global Poverty’s Defeat is Capitalism’s Triumph
  • Free market and Objectivist local meetings, sites, podcasts
  • Read and post to Junto sites
  • About Junto and this Junto newsletter


Junto focuses on free markets, Objectivism and investing. It’s a group that shares information, discusses current issues and presents speakers.

February 4, 2016, Thursday
Charles Murray
By the People: Rebuilding liberty without permission

Admission free — no reservation necessary
We’ll socialize from 7:00pm to 7:30pm
7:30pm moderator, Gene Epstein calls first for announcements of things happening before the next Junto. Then he asks for other announcements and for people to introduce themselves.
The speaker begins promptly at 8:00pm.
Epstein will interview Murray in sections, with audience questions, discussions and rebuttal of the speaker’s points.
Discussions are intense but polite.
The meeting will continue to 10:00pm or later.

General Society Library
20 West 44 Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, NYC
near the Grand Central Terminal

  • Junto meets on the first Thursday of every month
  • Participation by all attendees is highly encouraged.
  • 70 to 150 people attend most Junto meetings.

The American way of life, built on individual liberty and limited government, is on life support. Whether trying to run a business, practice a vocation, raise families, cooperate with neighbors or follow religious beliefs, we run afoul of the government, because the government decided it knows better. When we object, that government tells us, “Try to fight this and we’ll ruin you.”

Murray shows us why we can’t hope to roll back government power through normal political process. The legislative process is systemically corrupt no matter which party is in control. The good news is that technology is siphoning power from government agencies, making local freedom attractive to liberals and conservatives, alienated from a regulatory state.

The federal government has a fatal weakness: It gets away with laws and regulations only if the overwhelming majority of Americans voluntarily comply. Murray describes how civil disobedience backstopped by legal defense funds can make large portions of the 180,000-page Federal Code of Regulations unenforceable with a targeted program. We have it within our power to once again be free to live our lives as we see fit.

His message is that we don’t need to elect a right-thinking Congress or president, nor five right-thinking Supreme Court justices. It can be done, using America’s unique civil society.

Murray’s an American Enterprise Institute senior fellow. He came to national attention in 1984 with “Losing Ground: American social policy, 1950-1980,” credited as the intellectual foundation for Welfare Reform Act of 1996. He coauthored the 1994 Times bestseller, “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life,” controversial for analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure.

His books include “What It Means to Be a Libertarian: A personal interpretation,” “Human Accomplishment: The pursuit of excellence in the arts and sciences, 800BC to 1950” he spoke on it at Junto December 2003, “In Our Hands: A plan to replace the welfare state,” “Real Education: Four simple truths for bringing America’s schools back to reality” and “Coming Apart: The state of white America, 1960-2010.” Follow Murray on Twitter. His essays and videos are here.

  • Gene Epstein will moderate.

We’ll also be celebrating Ayn Rand’s 111th birthday.

Junto’s audio podcasts since May 2014 are here.

* Visit Junto’s site for information on current and past speakers, listen to podcasts, read previous newsletters and to sign up for the Junto e-newsletter here. Junto’s Twitter is here.

Junto’s founder and host is Victor Niederhoffer. Visit his site here. His Twitter is here.


Feel free to use the above text to promote Junto among free marketers, Objectivists and investors.


Come to Junto, meet these upcoming speakers:

March 3, 2016, Greg Rehmke, Economic freedom and its benefits. Learn about him here.

* Victor Niederhoffer will moderate.

April 7, 2016, Oxford-style debate: Paul Helmke and John Lott “In order to reduce its murder-rate, the U.S. needs more stringent gun-control laws”

* Helmke takes affirmative. Former president DC-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. His site is here.

* Lott is author of “More Guns, Less Crime.” He spoke about it at Junto November 1999. His blog is here.

* Gene Epstein will moderate.

May 5, 2016, Marty Lewinter, PhD Mathematics, MFA Music. The Joy and Utility of Mathematics. His book on math here.

* Victor Niederhoffer will moderate.

June 2, 2016, to be announced

* Gene Epstein will moderate.

July 7, 2016, Adrian Bejan, “The Physics of Life: The evolution of everything.” Read about this book here.

* Victor Niederhoffer will moderate.


An open letter to prospective and past attendees of the Junto

To Junto attendees by Victor Niederhoffer, January 9, 2016

During several Juntos over the past 40 years, a contingent of followers and acolytes of the speaker attended. On those rare occasions that I, as moderator, don’t believe that the speaker is carrying his point, and building a foundation for his talk, I interrupt.

I interrupted Robin Hanson in this way at the last meeting of January 7 because I felt his charts were very misleading. It wasn’t clear that his scenario was not one that he predicted, that he claimed that all economic theories corroborated that his world of robots would look like his vision, that his idea that there would be quantum jumps in the future was based on two or three data points over a thousand years, and his failure to note (which he later agreed to be the case) that the size, existence or timing of the jumps was completely uncertain.

Thus we were dealing with a hypothetical situation that had uncertainty upon uncertainty in it, and a hypothetical scenario among 100s of others that might accompany same when and if it occurred. In probabilistic or predictive terms, we were dealing with a one in a trillion hypothesis. Many of our attendees are not versed in economics or computer science, and I felt an obligation to our attendees to clarify that issue in the first 15 minutes by getting some feedback from the audience before the talk wound even more improbable science fiction.

When I asked for questions I was met by vociferous “let him continue” by several in the audience, including those who play an important part in he running of the Junto when I don’t run it (Mr. Epstein and I will be splitting the odd and even Junto months with our own particular style of moderating the Junto this year).

I would ask that all who attend the Junto when I moderate in the future to realize that when I as moderator believe that a lecturer isn’t carrying his point that they refrain from raucous, bellicose and impolite reactions.

I have often stressed that the Junto is like a dinner party — one that Franklin created and considered his most important motivator to do good in life.

I have been host for this dinner party for more than 40 years, month after month never missing a meeting and supporting the meeting with millions of dollars of actual expense and great quantities of time and effort.

It is an elementary rule of a dinner party not to be discourteous to the host, as well as not to proselytize views about religion or mistresses.

Please anyone considering attending the Junto in the future, do not attend if you wish to hear a lecturer give a talk (as is the English way) without interruption or guidance from the floor.

I would like to continue the Junto into its 41st year, and I am happy to say we still have regular attendees from all these years, and your understanding the spirit of the Junto will enable it to endure.


A letter from Victor Niederhoffer to Robin Hanson

Dear Robin,

Thanks for your note. Everything you did was very appropriate and invigorating. The only thing I would change is the scale of some of the charts which tend to violate statistical rules for presenting information. You are a teacher with many followers and it was good for them to attend. Many of them had not been to the Junto before and it was natural for them to wish to hear you speak uninterrupted. They had no way of knowing that the reason that the Junto has survived with many disparate audience members who are not expert in the subjects talked about is that the moderator tries to illumine the issues so that the audience can follow it. Indeed, we usually have a few experts in the audience (I am reminded of the time we had a discussion of Japanese growth versus U.S., and 5 people from the audience who had written books about it came up). I wrote the following note after your talk, and please feel free to comment upon it, and to defend your theses, especially the size, duration, timing, and likelihood of the quantum jumps.


A reply from Robin Hanson to Victor Niederhoffer

Well if you will give me a chance to say a few after yours in whatever context they will appear, I’d say:


I am grateful to Victor Niederhoffer for allowing me to speak at Junto, especially given his strong reservations about the plausibility of my theses. I enjoyed the experience, including the refreshingly different format. I support Victor’s stance; since he has long and consistently supported the group in maintaining its unusual format, then once he has made that point clear audience members should accept that format or leave.

On the plausibility of my claim of faster future growth, I offer two lines of evidence. First, the long term history of economic growth clearly shows a huge overall increase in growth rates, clearly broken into a handful of eras of nearly constant growth punctuated by jumps to faster rates. We can project this pattern forward to a new jump to a faster era, though this inference can’t be made with much confidence given how few are the data points. Second, many observers find it plausible that we will eventually make machines that do almost all jobs cheaper than humans. Economic theory clearly predicts that our economic doubling time would then be less than the time for a factory to make a mass of product equal to its own mass. Today that is typically a few months.

Robin Hanson

A letter from Gene Epstein

Vic, I repeat again my promise that I will not join others in objecting publicly to the way you run Junto meetings of which you are in charge. Again, I am sorry I did not follow that rule the other night.

I do think, as stated, that if you tell the speaker in advance to structure the talk in chapters — with the first running no more than 30 minutes, or even 25 if you prefer — then you can take notes on points you wish to make and questions you wish to pose once the initial chapter is over.

Advantages of this approach include: a) you may find your question or objection has been anticipated and adequately addressed within the 25 minutes, b) you may find your question or objection has not been addressed, but refers to a matter of small importance in light of the speaker’s main points, c) you will avoid rattling the speaker.

Of course, that’s when the format is a talk. I gave Charles Murray the choice between a talk and a one-on-one interview with me, and he chose the latter option. I’ll be following the usual pattern of breaking up the interview into chapters, with questions and comments from the audience. Yours are always appreciated, so please take notes.

Cordially, Gene


NYC Ayn Rand Meetup, Sunday, January 31, 3:00pm

As always, we’ll talk about Ayn Rand, her works, challenges, Objectivist life, options, associations and knowledge. Give and take, open to all, no charge, no reservations. It’s on the last Sunday of each month.

It’s at The Midtown Restaurant, 155 East 55 Street, between 3rd and Lexington Avenues, mid-block on the north side of 55th Street, in Manhattan, free.

There are one to two dozen people at each Meetup. Benny Pollack, Ayn Rand Meetup organizer, says: “Join our group of regular Objectivists for a lively discussion on topics related to Ayn Rand and Objectivist philosophy in general.

“Please join us. If you are already versed in the topic, want to learn or just want to spend an intellectually stimulating afternoon, please come. I hope to see you all there.” Get up-to-date information here.


Objectivist seminar February 25-26, Students for Liberty conference

In DC, February 26 to 28, over 1,800 students from all over the globe will learn more about the free society. But many of these libertarians haven’t examined the ethical and philosophical arguments for a free society from Ayn Rand.

In a 1-1/2 day seminar before ISFLC some students will consider Ayn Rand’s ethical defense of the free society. They’ll examine Rand’s essays The Objectivist Ethics, Man’s Rights and What Is Capitalism? lead by Marsha Familaro Enright and Ray Raad. Sign up here. For information email Ray Raad rayraad(at) Donate toward hotel, bus and/or plane for a student here. Learn about the ISFLC conference here.


Three conferences about freedom, March and July

Global Financial Summit, March 16-19, the Bahamas. Financial, economic and geo-political experts, Steve Moore – Heritage Foundation, Grover Norquist – Americans for Tax Reform, Dan Mitchell – Cato, Alexander Green – Oxford Club, Ziad Abdelnour – Financial Policy Council. Limit of 200 attendees, register here.

Atlas Summit, July 11-13, Las Vegas. David Kelley’s open Objectivism group. FreedomFest starts when Atlas Summit ends, Atlas registrants will be FreedomFest registrants, too. Sign up here.

FreedomFest, July 13-16, Las Vegas. “Freedom Rising” Over 250 speakers: Glenn Beck, David Boaz, Yaron Brook, Doug Casey, Dinesh D’Souza, Steve Forbes, John Fund, George Gilder, Nick Gillespie, Paul Krugman, John Mackey, Stephen Moore, Charles Murray, Grover Norquist, Star Parker, Robert Poole, Marco Rubio, Peter Schiff, Michael Shermer, Mark Skousen, John Stossel, Peter Thiel, Donald Trump, Allen West, John Aglialoro, Randy Barnett, Bob Bowdon, Naomi Brockwell, Aaron Day, Edward Hudgins, Gary Johnson, David Kelley, Alan Charles Kors, Leon Louw. $100 off per person, $200 per couple, discount ends January 31, here.


Cato’s Milton Friedman Prize, Advancing Liberty, NYC, May 25

Every other year a quarter million dollars is awarded to an individual who’s made a significant contribution to advance human freedom. Waldorf Astoria, Park Avenue, learn more about this grand dinner here.


“The Big Short” film and the housing bubble of 2008

…popular film “The Big Short,” based on the Michael Lewis best seller of the same name, about traders who shorted the mortgage market leading up to the bursting of the housing bubble of 2008. Anyone who confuses this entertaining film with valid history should resolve to read “Missing the Point: Lessons from ‘The Big Short, ‘ ” by American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Peter Wallison, an essay published in June 2010 when the book came out [here]. And for a real perspective on what actually happened, read Wallison’s recently published “Hidden in Plain Sight” [here].

This is from Gene Epstein’s Barron’s column.


Fred Cookinham’s second book, about cities, plus his tours

Fred’s been giving Ayn Rand in New York tours for years. His new book is “Man in the Place of the Gods: What cities mean.” It’s expected to be on sale on Amazon this February and Fred will be selling it at Junto.

These are his five Ayn Rand walking tours: Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s Park Avenue, Ayn Rand’s Fifth Avenue, Skyscrapers of The Fountainhead and Ayn Rand on Broadway. Private tours $30 per person. Arrange tour or information, call Fred at home: 718-397-9019, on cell: 917-607-9019, email: fcookinham(at) His site’s here. His first book is here.


Zachary Johnson’s “The Need to Validate Musical Emotion”

You can read this chapter from his book, “Emotion in Life & Music: A new science,” His book is in progress, this chapter’s free. In it’s Comments section there’s something Frank O’Connor probably said. I knew Frank, Ayn Rand’s husband, and this sounds like something he’d say. I agree with the idea in Frank’s quote. Read it here.


Experience “Hamilton” the Broadway musical, now!

The debate subject at the December Junto was “Alexander Hamilton was a hero for the cause of liberty.” There was little mention of “Hamilton: An American musical” which is on Broadway. One way to learn about this complex Founding Father is to get the show’s CD, where you can hear his story and read the words of the songs.

The musical’s based on historian Ron Chernow’s “Alexander Hamilton.” To ensure historical accuracy Chernow was the play’s consultant. The story is told with contemporary music and stage techniques. Seeing the show would give you the maximum impact but isn’t easy to get tickets. You can watch parts on Youtube, my two favorites are here and here.

The same star/composer/lyricist of “Hamilton” created the 2007 musical “In the Heights.” You can watch its documentary here. The people who made this documentary have been working on their “Hamilton” documentary since 2013. It will be on PBS this fall.


Supreme Court on forcing teacher union membership

At the January Junto Bob Bowdon, founder ChoiceMedia.TV, announced that on the following Monday his site would live report the Supreme Court arguments about teachers’ unions. You can read their oral arguments transcript here.

Bowdon often attends Junto. This news service covers K-12 education policy and news, real-time analysis of developing stories and interviews people making waves in education. Bowdon’s a TV host/documentary filmmaker who’s eager for your news tips or ideas. If you’re a teacher, parent or student with a first-hand story, send a video. Chronicling what happens in schools will help bring reform closer. Lots to read and see here.


The freedoms children enjoyed in the 1890s

From book review of “The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill. “…1860 advertisement…for the newly established Pony Express: ‘Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.’ …Billy Cody was no orphan, but at 14 he otherwise fit the bill….discovering that his relief rider had been killed, [Billy Cody] completed a distance of 322 miles over rough, dangerous terrain in less than 22 hours, changing horses 21 times — a record in Pony Express history.’ At the age of 8 the boy could already operate an ox-wagon single-handedly; at 9, he earned a man’s wage as a cattle herder.” From Wall Street Journal review here.


PJ Media tells of Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights, answers Rubio

Walter Hudson wrote …Rubio was asked…how he plans to represent those without religious belief…. ‘This nation was founded on the principle that your rights come for your creator,’ Rubio told the crowd. “If there’s no creator, where do your rights come from?” In answer…The Objective Standard posted an article on their Facebook page: “Glad you asked.” The article “Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights,” provides an overview of the Objectivist case for political rights sans God. Author Craig Biddle begins by challenging the notion of God-given rights, here.


“Star Wars” heroes and humor

Review by Edward Hudgins, Atlas Society. “The Force Awakens” recycles plot elements, scenarios, reveals, bar scenes, Death Stars, and surviving characters from the original trilogy created by George Lucas. Thus you’ll have a feeling star wars force awakens review of familiarity…

Fortunately, he includes most of the spirit and humor from the originals in the sequel, and it’s great to see Han Solo and Chewbacca in action again. The two new good guys…aren’t initially fighting for high ideals….[they] rise to the occasion when faced with the conflicts of a wider world. Read the rest here.


Global Poverty’s Defeat is Capitalism’s Triumph

By Marian L. Tupy, Cato. Despite the recent recession in the West, absolute poverty is continuing to retreat in fast-growing developing countries. The escape from poverty that was once limited to the industrialized countries of the West is also happening in “the rest.”

Unfortunately, many people remain unaware of the dramatic decline in global poverty, let alone the reasons for it. According to an announcement released this week by the World Bank, “less than 10% of the world’s population will be living in extreme poverty by the end of 2015.”

…Grinding poverty was the norm for most ordinary people throughout human history. As recently as 1980, the World Bank estimated that 50% of the global population lived in absolute poverty. Even in the most economically advanced parts of the world, life used to be miserable until relatively recently.

Before the industrial revolution, people on farms, including children, spent their lives engaged in back-breaking manual labor and consumed most of the calories they produced. There was little time or energy for learning and relaxation. Few people ever left their native villages and visited the nearest town. The life in the cities was not much better.

Before mechanization, jobs were scarce and children were a burden. Returning to late 18th century France, of the 30,000 babies who were born in Paris in 1780, up to 8,000 were abandoned by their mothers. Many died. Thanks to the industrial revolution and global trade, economic growth in the West accelerated to historically unprecedented levels.

Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, real incomes in the West increased 15-fold. A huge chasm had opened up between the West and the rest… Read all of this in Investors Business Daily.


Free market and Objectivist local meetings, sites and podcasts

Groups which meet in Manhattan

Sites to visit

*** Internet podcasts, all free ***

These are mainly weekly “radio” shows you can hear online, on your computer, phone, pad, etc. Listen to shows live or at any time. Most are on iTunes. If you’re listening live, join by commenting or asking questions by phone, email, in a chat room, tweeting, etc.

* “The Yaron Brook Show” two shows weekly.

This radical for capitalism discusses news, culture and politics from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. Each show ends with suggestions of movies, music and/or novels. Your questions or comments welcome in chat room, tweet or phone. Listen to any show any time, they began January 2015.

Live Saturday, 2:30pm to 4:00pm eastern here.

Live Saturday, on Chicago radio AM560 The Answer and online, 5:00pm to 6:00pm eastern here.

* “Philosophy in action” Diana Heish Brickell answered questions from listeners, applying rational principles to challenges of real life. There are no new shows but plenty of the old ones to enjoy. Listen any time here.

* Hillsdale Dialogues, a survey of great books, great men and great ideas. Larry Arnn, president Hillsdale College, on Hugh Hewitt Show. Arnn is a teacher who enjoys teaching and his subjects, he makes learning fun and memorable. On radio in NYC he’s often on Fridays, a short segment during 9:00pm to 10:00pm eastern, on AM970 The Answer. Listen online any time here.

* “Don’t let it go…unheard” Amy Peikoff is a radical for capitalism and free speech, hosting a show discussing news, politics, law and culture from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy Objectivism.

Live Tuesday and Friday, 11:00pm to 1:00am eastern

Listen live or any time here.

* “The Peikoff podcasts” Alternate weeks have Leonard Peikoff, philosopher, Ayn Rand’s intellectual heir or Yaron Brook, president Ayn Rand Institute.

Leonard answers questions on Rand’s philosophy Objectivism, human relationships, career, moral issues — not technical philosophy or practical politics. Yaron answers questions on politics, economics, foreign policy. Podcasts are available by topic, single questions, full episodes, here.

Read and post to Junto sites

  • Read and post to the Forum here.
  • Read and post to Junto-discuss list: Discuss Junto speakers and other topics. To post you need to be a member. Sign up or read here.
  • Visit Junto Facebook here.
  • Follow Junto Twitter here.

About Junto and this Junto newsletter

  • Our founder, host and moderator of odd numbered Juntos is Victor Niederhoffer. His site is dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, deflating ballyhoo, creating value and laughter; a forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place. Visit his site here.
  • Gene Epstein moderates even numbered Juntos. He’s economics editor and books editor Barron’s, weekly business magazine, author “Econospinning: How to read between the lines when the media manipulate the numbers.”
  • Iris Bell writes this e-newsletter, designs Junto handouts and is a freelance graphic designer. She was Ayn Rand’s and Nathaniel Branden Institute’s graphic designer.
  • Oleg Atbashian created, sends e-newsletter, does email list, moderates discussions. His own famous site, The People’s Cube, presents important political issues with humor and satire.
  • This is a twice a month e-newsletter. Maybe an occasional extra about a timely event.
  • To subscribe to this newsletter put “Junto list” in the subject line, email your name and preferred email address to:


Previous post:

Next post: