Joel’s Personal Philosophy

My personal philosophy is a compendium of ideas.

The more effort you put into life, the easier and happier life gets.

Here is a simple list of what I think will most impact your life happiness and success. I think you should avoid being envious of others people’s supposedly fabulous lives, and focus on improving your own.

A good marriage is a superpower. You merge with your partner to an extent and both of you become more than you were individually.

Daily blender drinks are a key to good health.

We live in a winner take all world, so accumulative advantages are hugely important for each of us to move ahead.

Modern life is very good, light years better than any other human time period. Life is good for all of us now.

I believe in pursuing self improvement. It makes me much happier. I don’t like the drug store style self improvement, rather I focus on fitness, business, mental, etc.

Work is vital to life satisfaction.

How daily tracking of my life goals helped me rocket ahead.

How to prevent burn out when working 7 days a week.

I think college is a bad decision for most people now that we have the internet.

Caffeine is dangerous, but not as dangerous as alcohol.

Watching football is unethical, but I do enjoy it. I think humans love watching all forms of competition.

Behaviors that improve productivity.

Routine is good.

Build your life so you don’t need to use an alarm to wake up.

I wish there were self ban registries  for addiction. It would be much easier to stop behaviors that are hard to control with something like this.

Running extends your lifespan and makes you happier.

I am a fan of BEING in new places, but not transporting myself there.

We should not sell tomorrow for today, nor today for tomorrow.

Death is a terrible tragedy and if we can find ways to fight cell decomposition, that would be good. However, until we do that, I like this surgeon’s view on death.

Some good life advice from Sam Altman.

My investment principles.

How early poverty affected my mindset in business.

Regularly make time to reflect on your own personal history.

Joel’s Business Philosophy

My philosophy on business is that each company needs to take care of its stakeholders. Stakeholders include team members, customers, shareholders, and the world at large. A business must profitable and be very careful about debt and cash flow issues or it will not be able to take care of stakeholders.

The four levels of employee productivity – try to reach level 4.

Systematization of business processes is required for any business to scale. Internal tool building adds efficiency and makes for great improvements.

Motivation is key to monitor, maintain, and grow for team members.

I have written previously on basic business advice.

How to tackle hard tasks.

A CEO who can program has superpowers over those who don’t.

Recruiting is an absolutely critical component of business and the top managers need to understand it thoroughly. And no, you are not a good judge of people.

I am happy my business Coalition has helped bring people together.

Some of my reflections on the differences between owner and manager mindsets.

I think I could provide a lot of value by being an Independent Director who sits on a board of directors for a public company.

Be willing to try lots of business ideas, some have unexpectedly been profitable.

Marketing is a force multiplier.

I love Dale Carnegie’s advice for handling people.

How to prevent burn out when working 7 days a week.

I think CEO pay packages today are simply theft from shareholders.

Old processes need periodic updating.

My investment principles.

How I built and sold a dropship business for $16,100.

I am opposed to patents, but that is more of a political issue. Same thing with copyright law. I think we could have limited patents (either they only last 7 years or abusive patents open the company who obtained it to damages lawsuits). Limited copyright would also be good (perhaps 10 years). After that, anyone can republish something as long as they link to / cite the original source. Both of these reforms would greatly encourage competition which would bring lower prices and better technologies faster.

Another issue that is a bit more politics than business is that I believe wealth should be taxed, not income.

Companies behaving badly need harsh organizational punishments in order to shift their incentives.

Business mergers should not happen nearly as frequently as they do. A lot of private equity in my opinion is destructive rather than constructive.

An interesting business measure I invented is Cost Per Unit of Productivity.

A historical business idea I had was that capitalism and oil may have actually ended slavery. Oil is a huge concern for the environment though.

Negative and positive reviews of my performance as CEO.

Managers, Directors, and Shareholders should be liable for company-scale fraud.

Why I think a cofounder could have sunk my business (although Jordan was pretty darn close to a cofounder).

Licensing boards should be shut down.

Avoid shady businesses. Also, here’s how to beat an East Texas patent troll.

Understanding business owners as clients.


Behaviors & Habits to Improve Productivity

I have tracked for five years a number of behaviors on a day to day basis. These range from what I am grateful for to what I worked on, how many hours I worked, how productive I was, how happy I was, what exercise I did, how happy I was, and other factors. I recently looked back upon this data to see what I could learn.

When I was running several miles a day, I had my highest work productivity and output levels. This correlates with a lot of recent research that shows that high intensity training and cardio does wonders for your brain.

Another big part of my successful periods was when I reduced my alcohol consumption or eliminated it entirely. This generally allowed for more high intensity workouts and more clear and focused work time.


Joel’s Political Philosophy

I want to try to summarize my political philosophy overall in one place with links to the subjects. I have thought about this for a long time from a lot of angles. Currently this is only a partial list.

All government should be guided by First Principles for Human Rights. We should also recognize that the world is becoming a much better place.

The less government tries to do, the better. Government should be responsible to protect the people’s rights mentioned above and not to do much more.

The most important issue of our time and possibly the scariest issue ever faced by humanity is the rise of Superintelligence. We need to be very, very careful here. Our world is rushing headlong towards this minefield as people fight their petty battles.

Free people all over the world owe it to their ancestors to fight to free the enslaved billions.

Your source of trustworthy  vs fake news and who you trust in large part determines where your politics end up. Choose wisely.

I do believe in America’s general system of government – checks and balances between legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government. I think these should have some fine tuning, but the basic mechanisms are good.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant and government should default to making all information easy and publicly accessible.

Boomers and Generation X need to stop stealing the future from Millennials.

Scammy businesses need some sort of penalty. Perhaps the get-rich-quick types can be sued by a class of their customers or something. Stop predatory businesses.

Shut down unnecessary government regulations and agencies like TSA.

Our education system is badly in need of reform to modernize learning.

Pension reform for government employees is badly needed. People should not be able to just give themselves more and more benefits taken from their fellow citizens. Government unions should be disallowed for this reason.

Government should not create monopolies by issues licenses, such as those issued to doctors or lawyers or attorneys or many types of contractors to practice.

Healthcare needs to be set free of our insurance system. Doctors should be paid on outcomes, not procedures.

Borders should eventually be eliminated, as this would make for a vastly richer world. Global trade is very good. Immigration is good as it allows for labor to go where it is most needed.

Government should not restrict rents artificially, as this creates homelessness and shortages.

Taxation should be based on total property, not income. This makes sure that the most capable people control the flow of investment. We need to remove America’s oligarchy. Taxes should be as easy as possible for people to understand and file. Inheritance is generally an evil as it directs investment resources into the hands of people not capable of managing it.

We have a problem of taxation without representation.

Tax and voting records should be public to avoid fraud.

Companies should face harsh penalties for misbehavior. A bad company will quickly be replaced by a better company in a free market if it is dissolved. Corporations need limits.

Free market capitalism is a good thing for societies and gives more freedom to citizens.

We need reform for Social Security.

Patents, trade secrets, and copyright need to be dramatically rolled back or even eliminated altogether. Intellectual property rights are generally not a great idea.

CEOs and board members of public companies should be personally liable for performance of their companies.

Politicians should have a significantly higher standard for ethics and should face stiff prison sentences. There should be an independent agency that handles this.

White collar criminal penalties should be enforced. Thousands of people should be in prison for scams such as the 2008 financial crisis, essential oils, and other MLMs with false promises. Prisons should only be paid based on how well they rehabilitate prisoners and reduce recidivism. These probably should not be private. I think we need to be creative with prison alternatives.

Net neutrality is important to fight the natural monopoly that rises through internet connection companies.

The standing military should be limited to no more than 0.5% of GDP as our current situation creates a giant corrupt and ineffective military industrial complex.

Close the military academies as they are not cost effective.

Corporations over a certain size should not be allowed to merge. This just removes competition and lines of the pockets of fat cat financiers at the expense of investors.

Not as relevant in 2018’s high flying economy, but you are not unemployed if you refuse to accept a job you consider beneath you.

Personal finance should be mandatory to learn in high schools.

Gun control should be done intelligently based on data and clear principles.

First Principles For Human Interaction

Worldwide oppression is rising. The old dictatorship in North Korea is gaining new acceptance by other governments, harsh new dictatorships are rising in Venezuela, Turkey, and elsewhere. Americans are losing their freedoms to monolithic government agencies like Homeland Security and TSA. Human rights are now more important to think about than ever before.

I would like to try to lay out an ordering of what principles in order of priority should be followed by humans in order to reduce conflict and increase human quality of life. The rights higher on this list should trump the right below them.

  1. Just treatment. Every person should be able to expect that they will be treated fairly in accordance with the principles below. This includes the right to a fair trial. Governments need to provide competent police and courts.
  2. Life – every humans has a right to not be killed.
  3. Physical Freedom– no human should be enslaved.  This right includes the right not to be tortured or otherwise physically abused.
  4. Speech Freedom – you should be able to state or write your opinions without fear of state interference including the freedom of speech, thought, conscience, religion.
  5. Freedom of Movement – if a person does not intend harm to others, they should be free to move to any nation they wish. I have skills tested and worked with hundreds of people worldwide and it is unjust that many of these good people are trapped under bad regimes.
  6. Safe and clean environment. Governments and companies cannot dump harsh chemicals into heavily populated areas or take actions that put others at risk without fair and full compensation.
  7. Public information. Voting records, tax records, criminal and civil court records, government contracts, etc should all be free and easy for the public to view. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. This will help prevent voter fraud like dead people voting, tax fraud or unfair taxation, hidden settlements, or government contracts going to people’s relatives.
  8. Free Trade. People should have a right to hire or fire who they please, work for whom they please (no non-competes), start businesses, work in any industry (no government issued licenses / monopolies restricting competition). People should be able to spend their money or not spend their money as they wish. Misbehaving companies and individuals should face harsh penalties though.
  9. Small and local government. Local governments are much more responsive to their constituents and small governments are easier to prevent from becoming oppressive. Most power in government should reside in the smallest possible units of government. Towns should have the most power, followed by regions with less authority (basically just to protect against abuse by towns), then nations (just preventing abuse by regions), then globally (just preventing abuse by nations).
  10. Pursuit of Happiness. People should be able to take up hobbies or marry or do anything else they wish that does not interfere with the rights above.
  11. Property Rights. Trademarks (brand names such as Coca Cola or Walt Disney) can be owned. Patents and copyright and trade secrets are built upon an avalanche of human genius and prior ideas, therefore allowed for ownership of these ideas enormously slows the growth of that avalanche. Ownership of these should either be disallowed entirely or strictly limited to a maximum of three years.


Remove Limits on New Doctors

Insurance companies are often used as the punching bag for healthcare costs. In reality, insurance companies are just a payment method for the true cost – enormously expensive doctors. Insurance companies are portrayed as having crazy profits, but in reality the insurance company Cigna has a profit margin of 6%.

The American Medical Association realized a century ago that medical care demand is inelastic… Basically if you need medical care, you will pay any price to get it. Doctors took advantage of the situation by passing laws and regulations limiting the number of new doctors allowed each year, who can practice medicine, and the types of businesses that can compete. This greatly limited the supply of doctors. There are not enough doctors to fully meet demand. The basic laws of economics say that when you have strong and inelastic demand, and a limited supply then prices will go through the roof.

I propose we remove these artificial limits that are grossly enriching doctors. If you allow anyone to practice medicine, just like we allow anyone to prepare and serve food or distribute goods then you will end up with a lot more competition. This will result in far better patient outcomes at a far lower price.

The AMA will argue that without limits on who can practice medicine huge numbers of people will die. This is false. Our lives rely on many businesses that if they screw up would kill us. Everything from farming to distribution to food prep to construction needs to perform and deliver for us to survive. The AMA is self serving and greedy. There is no reason an individual surgeon should make hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is no reason certain business types should be legally prevented from competing. Imagine if you had the efficiencies of a business like Amazon or Google in healthcare.

Imagine if you could see statistics on the performance of every doctor and hospital in the country, then decide where you wanted to get treated.

Allow competition in healthcare by removing limits on the number of doctors each year and by allowing new business types that can take advantage of scale and specialization. This will drive down healthcare costs a hundredfold and allow everyone in America access to top healthcare at reasonable prices.

I do believe most individual doctors are very good people, it is the system itself I disagree with.

I don’t think it should require $320k in student debt to become a doctor. I think that traps people who may switch careers later into a career they dislike. The only reason the prices are that high is that a limited number of schools control a monopoly on healthcare education.

I am curious – you said you only receive 11% of the payment for the cost of the surgery? Where do the other percentages go? Is this just for you personally or is this a statistic for all doctors?

I saw that insurance companies are legally capped to only keep 20% of each dollar spent on healthcare. A competitive insurance company could keep less of course. I also saw that out of each dollar spent on healthcare, 23% goes to prescription drugs, 22% to doctors, 20% to office and clinic visits, 16% to hospitals.

Prescription drugs should not be as expensive as they are either. This is due to overly strong patent laws preventing competition and stifling innovation. Each new drug is the end result of an avalanche of human work through centuries and the one little idea that advances things slightly should not be long term locked up by a patent. This greatly slows the creative avalanche. I think we would see far more new drugs at a far lower cost if we did away with patents. Science should not be owned by any individual or group.

The cost of healthcare is ballooning and is out of reach of many people and bankrupts many more. The number one cause of bankruptcy in America is medical bills. Healthcare costs as a share of GDP have grown from 5% in 1960 to 18% in 2018. This shows that the cost itself is the problem, not just insurance companies.

How can we solve healthcare’s cost while improving outcomes and getting face time with medical professionals for patients? I am proposing we allow many more people to enter the field by removing artificial regulations preventing competition. This is a standard approach suggested by economists…

As an entrepreneur, I would like to see doctors innovate with new business models in healthcare… Unfortunately business models are strictly regulated in this industry just as supply of medical professionals is regulated.

What are your thoughts on how to solve the problem of the very high cost of healthcare?

Rent Control Is Severely Misguided

I own no rental properties and have long been a tenant myself.

The main driver of high rents is simple supply and demand. If you have lots of people who need to rent apartments, and only a few apartments then prices will rise.

The solution to high rents is to build lots more apartments… Then landlords have to compete on price and the average rents will come way down.

If you try to keep rents down artificially with rent control, then you discourage developers from building new apartments. The result of this is homelessness even for those who could afford it.