A Hard-Hitting Soft Paywall

Snapchat announced in a blog post Tuesday morning that they will be offering replays to users who are willing to pay out a little cash. The popular smartphone app can be downloaded for free, and it allows users to send temporary photos and videos to each other. Once a snapchatter has viewed an image and it has disappeared, the picture can no longer be accessed. At least that was until a couple of years ago when a feature allowing users one replay each day was added to the app. The new update will allow users to purchase additional replays at a rate of 3 replays for $0.99.

 This move could turn out to be controversial because the temporal nature of the app content is probably one of its most attractive features. Snapchat appeared on the scene as a last vestige of

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Women, Free Markets and Liberty: Hadley Manning

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As the director of health policy at the Independent Women’s Forum, Hadley Heath Manning is someone who is constantly in motion. I had the pleasure of meeting her, shortly after watching a panel she moderated early this year on emerging health care issues. As luck would have it, we recently reconnected at Denver Liberty On The Rocks discussion forum on Feminism and Liberty.

To say that Hadley is a busy professional is an understatement. She is a frequent guest on radio and TV outlets across the country, exploring the intersection between women, free markets, personal liberty and health care. She has appeared on Fox Business’ Cavuto on Business, The John Stossel Show and Fox News’ Hannity Show. In addition, her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Politico, National Review Online and many others media.

Hadley was kind enough to slow down for 29 minutes for a few questions from me about the intersection between women, free markets and personal liberty. Here are some brief excerpts from our discussion:

On her interest in Free Enterprise

What a lot of people don’t know is that my grandfather was a big champion of the free enterprise system. He actually wrote five books about free enterprise and political philosophy. So no doubt I inherited some of his passion for these principles, even though he lived during a very different time.

These books talk a lot about how free enterprise allows all of us the dignity of working for ourselves; a key element to achieving an enhanced quality of life. Ronald Reagan once said something to the effect that “Freedom isn’t passed along in the blood stream. It has to be defended, generation by generation.” Yet I do think that some of my love for freedom was passed through to me via DNA.

On her Philosophy

While I was in college, I literally questioned everything. It led me to wonder whether my family somehow brainwashed me into believing certain things. So I really went through a hard time in terms of what I believed. A major turning point for me during college was a trip to India’s West Bengal where I witnessed poverty first-hand like I’d never seen before. It’s a region that had been burdened by socialist programs for quite some time. This trip made me really appreciate how free enterprise has benefitted the U.S. and allowed us to create so much wealth as a nation.  Keep reading…

Host of NOLA Invesment Conference Recounts Past Keynotes

Brien Lundin has been the head of the most notable gold conference in the world since the early 1980’s. He’s seen some of the biggest names like Margaret Thatcher and Alan Greenspan take the stage at this intimate event in New Orleans. Lundin took some time to talk to me about past guests and what’s to come at this year’s spectacular event (Oct 28-31st).

Register for the event to see Marc Faber, Anthem Blanchard, Peter Schiff, and more at this year’s event. Discounts apply for a short time! Click here to register.

Don’t Shed a Tear for Chicago Public Schools

bus-878697_1920Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have started the new school year without having the money to last the full academic year. Even though the school system has taken care of more than half of the budget shortfall, through cuts and more borrowing, they still face a $480 million gaping hole for the current school year. Yes, that’s right, the hole was previously $1.1 billion. Instead of getting their finances in order, CPS is running to the State of Illinois and expecting to be bailed out.

There is just one problem with this plan – the State is also broke and facing their own budget gap of $5 billion. While the Illinois Senate has passed legislation in an effort to patch the hole, by using state dollars and lowering the required payments to pensions, the House hasn’t yet passed the Bill, and it is unclear how it will be funded, according to the WSJ.

If the money doesn’t come through, the school system will be forced to make additional cuts, mid-year. Adding to the turmoil is the fact that the Chicago Teachers Union is operating under an expired contract. While a strike is not on the table yet, a mediator has been enlisted for help which means that negotiations cannot be going well.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest drivers of the CPS budget shortfall is their pension obligations. While the teacher’s pension fund is the highest-funded in Chicago at 49%, (the other city pension funds are around 40% funded or less!), it is also the largest pension fund and therefore carries the largest pension unfunded liability at $9.6 billion.

Chicago politicians and pundits would have you believe the shortfall is because city finance managers had to choose between funding the pensions or paying for teachers and school expenses, but a recent study by Illinois Policy has found that was not the case. Rather, it is because pensions have been treated as a political slush fund.

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Uh-Oh Canada

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“Oh Canada, my home and native land….”

This opening refrain of the Canadian national anthem is a melody which is indelibly etched in my mind as an earworm (defined as a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind, after it finishes playing). It’s a song I unconsciously memorized while watching live hockey games featuring my two favorite teams: the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadians.

My love for our northern neighbor began when I was in college. It all started with a road trip with some good friends back in 1983; a journey from Columbus, Ohio, up and across the Ohio Turnpike, around Buffalo, New York, and then across the U.S./Canadian border to the Queen Elizabeth Way. Our destination was Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a cosmopolitan and culturally diverse city that reminds me a great deal of Chicago. I’ve also visited Vancouver, a city in western Canada that is annually listed as one of the top places to live in the world.

So are you impressed by all of this? Well, don’t be. That is, unless you are Canadian.

Recession in Canada?

Canada is currently experiencing a fascinating time, an era that has become fodder for lively neighborhood conversations over Molson beers. Amid what some economists are calling a recession, questions are now being raised about the country’s long dependence on natural resources extraction as its economic underpinning. Boom towns are a relatively recent Canadian phenomenon, attracting miners and builders to build expensive pipelines and terminals. With this development, the country subsequently became what one might describe as a dig-and-deliver producer of pricey raw materials in a world flush with inexpensive commodities. ” Keep reading…

5 Ways to Create an Extra $500 a Month

Piggy BankIt’s becoming increasingly popular for Millennials to save their money instead of increasing their debt. This generation, while engendering the start-up boom, is simultaneously spending and saving wisely. This powerful shift in financial consciousness is partly a response to the devastating burden of student loans. With projected retirement at 65 becoming increasingly unattainable for Baby Boomers, Millenials understand this caution and know that a key factor here is one’s early creation of a meaningful personal savings account. I know, because I’m a Millennial myself and my entire financial strategy revolves around how much I can save each month.

I read about a younger couple who have cut their spending down so they can put away 71% of their income each month. I’m proud to say I’ve created a savings plan of about 55% a month, and it’s VERY do-able. Can you imagine saving an extra $500 a month? What would that mean for your overall savings plan? Here are a handful of ways to save/earn an extra $500 a month – or more – and increase your overall savings.

1. Don’t buy a drink at dinner. I won’t tell you to not go out to eat, although I can advise that getting food delivered or ordering take-out can save 15-20% off the price of a sit-down restaurant bill. Buying a drink at dinner can cost you close to the price of your meal. Most sit-down restaurants offer a cocktail menu ranging from $7-12 a drink, except during Happy Hour. So after two beers or two glasses of wine, you have run up a $14 pre-tax beverage bill, yet you hardly even have a buzz on Read More…