Ireland’s Best Export

  • With Elon Musk calling Twitter “the public square,” I go brick and mortar.
  • Irish pubs in Europe are where much conversation happens.
  • Talking to travelers gives one perspective – especially travelers with unexpected views.

Happy Tuesday from Rome, where it’s still pretty cold.

I chased Micah up the Spanish Steps yesterday – where do these kids get the energy? – and walked up to St. Peter’s Basilica.

It got warmer as the day went on, so we could take in the views more comfortably.

Rome is stunning, and the cafes are a must.

But when it comes to getting the lowdown, I always find the Irish pub.

Yes, even in Italy.

If there’s one unwritten rule, it’s this: heading to the Irish pub gets you the best conversation in town.

Sure, it’ll be more Anglosized banter, but that’s fine with me.

So let me tell you about my chat with the boys on Saturday.

But before I do, I’ve changed their names, as I didn’t get their permission to write about them.

Strolling Towards Piazza Navona

The reason we picked this Airbnb is its location.

We’re a short walk from the Vatican, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon.

The Pantheon may be my favorite building in the world.

There are two routes to walk from our place to get there, and I decided to stroll.

Luckily, on the second route, I found a fantastic Irish pub on the way called the Abbey Theatre.

So I decided to step in and have a pint of Guinness, something I hadn’t drunk in years.

The bartender, Don, is a tatted-up heap of hilarity, and we got on from the get-go.

I was wary of that, as a pint of Guinness in Rome is 7 euros, or about $7.70.

If you’re reading this from New York or London, you’re probably thinking, “Big deal!”

But when you’re used to paying $1.50 for a bottle of San Mig in Cebu, there’s certainly a bit of sticker shock.

I’ll write about Europe’s inflation issue tomorrow.

Watching Football in a Normal Time Zone

I got the next happy impression from watching football – soccer, to you Yanks! – during the afternoon.

When I lived in London, it was a rite of passage to go out with the lads and watch the football matches in a pub on the weekend afternoons and evenings.

But as Asia is 7 or 8 hours ahead of London, everyone watches the matches in a pub from 7 pm onwards.

It took me years to get used to that while living in Singapore and Hong Kong.

In the Philippines, soccer isn’t nearly as big as they love basketball.

So here I was, in Europe, drinking Guinness with Don and watching Liverpool play Watford.

It didn’t matter what teams were playing, for I was in heaven.

A Professor From Oklahoma

A regular popped in for a glass, and Don introduced me to him.

Sonny is an architecture professor and as stereotypically friendly as you’d expect from an Oklahoman.

We shook hands and started talking about all the usual stuff.

Where we were from, what we were doing in Rome, and the general state of the world.

I knew we’d get along when he said, “I love Rome and its culture, but sometimes, you just need a place to hold up the bar.”

I was thoroughly enjoying myself when Joe Biden inevitably came up.

Then, Sonny said something that caught me off guard.

“Well, anything’s better than the last four years…”

Subjective Value

I don’t play poker because anyone can read my face from miles away.

And I suppose the sound of my jaw hitting the floor didn’t help.

This was not a raging feminist with a beef against the patriarchy.

This was an intelligent, friendly guy with a view utterly contrary to my own.

The last thing we wanted was an argument, so we quickly changed the subject and enjoyed the rest of our time together.

But here I am on Tuesday morning, and I still can’t believe it.

Luckily I can fall back on subjective value, something Austrian Economists discovered over a century ago.

From mises.org:

There is no way to measure an increase or decrease in happiness or satisfaction; not only between different people, it is not possible to measure change in the happiness of one given person.

In order for any measure­ment to be possible, there must be an eternally fixed and objec­tively given unit with which other units may be compared.

There is no such objective unit in the field of human valuation.

The in­dividual must determine subjectively for himself whether he is better or worse off as a result of any change.

His preference can only be expressed in terms of simple choice, or rank.

So the professor has determined that he’s better off due to the change from Trump to Biden.

There’s really nothing to argue about.

Of course, why he thinks that is beyond my comprehension.

Perhaps it’s some excellent reasons.

For example, some of Trump’s mistakes were a botched lockdown that never should have happened, a reversal of his rate-hiking policy, and his approval of Powell exploding the money supply.

They’re all fair calls in my book.

But I’ve also given numerous examples of the disasters the Biden administration has either initiated or made worse – and that we’re now far worse off than any time in the last 50 years.

Some of those examples include supply chain woes, the huge inflation issue, and Russia.

But are we really better off now than two years ago?

I don’t think so.  Not by a long shot.

What’s Next?

It’s easy to dismiss this by saying, “Well, he is at a university,” or “He watches too much mainstream media.”

But here’s the thing: we don’t even agree on what’s valuable anymore.

As a result, I wonder where this goes.

The Declaration of Independence opens with:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Where do we get to before it’s time to pack up?

Even a friendly, amicable divorce has costs.

The divorced men I know say they’d rather die than get divorced again!

Wrap Up

Does one pub conversation mean an existential crisis?

No, but it’s anecdotal evidence that we’re not on the same page.

And it’s a sample size of one, which is essential to note.

However, I think we’re on the verge of a massive change.

And the catalyst for change may be inflation.

Things are getting so expensive that people might start questioning much of The Narrative.

Such as:

“Does investing in ESG stocks add value?”

“Are the Paris Accords worth it?”

“Do sanctions work, or are they just driving up costs?”

“If no one is dying anymore, why do I need booster shots?”

“Why the heck does my pint of Guinness cost 7 euros?”

But really, one question would suffice, and that is, “At what cost?”

In the meantime, head to your local Irish pub for a pint and some banter… while you can still afford it!

Until tomorrow.

All the best,

Sean

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