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Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the CEO of Crash, the career launch platform, and the founder of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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The Birth of an Idea


Just because something is inevitable doesn't mean it's easy.

I used to think having an idea I believed in was the hard part, and once I had it, acting on it would be easy.  When you get an idea that you know you must act on - a thought you must put into words, an expression you must create - and you know there is no choice but to bring it into being, the real challenge starts.  It's a process not dissimilar to pregnancy.

If you have been trying to get pregnant for some time, it is a relief when you do.  But things don't get easier just because the eventual child is all but inevitable.  You have the knowledge that birth is coming.  You also realize how much has to be done between here and there.  There are moments of panic when you consider you have no nursery, no diapers, no baby clothes, no stroller, no idea what challenges may come, no knowledge of all the things you might have to do to care for the child.  There are other times when you feel completely at ease, resting in the knowledge that what you have created will come to fruition in due course.  You have a vision of life with a child, and you know that vision will be fulfilled and somehow everything you need to get done will get done.  Of course, you still have to do it.

The seed of an idea that moves you, once planted, will - must - grow.  You know it must be created, expressed, brought into the light.  But how many things are there to do first!  How can you handle them all?  How can you fill that space between now and then with the things that must precede the birth of the idea?  How can you prepare to raise and nurture it once it emerges?  Yet you know you will, because the idea is going to happen, just as the child is going to come.  Nature must run its course.

The mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges of pregnancy reveal the unique process of moving from potency to act; from knowledge of a new life, through gestation, to birth and beyond.  The near inevitability of the outcome is joyous and overwhelming.  Being 'pregnant' with an idea has many similarities.  It's right to experience the tension between complete relief that the new creation is coming, and uneasiness with the knowledge of all that must happen first.  Your job is to do two contradictory things at once: relax and let it happen, and actively ensure the process and preparations move forward.

Creativity = Hard Work and Ignoring Everyone


A few links to get you thinking about creativity:

Marketer and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod's great booklet, "How to be Creative"

Designer Jonathan Adler's presentation on keeping other people's opinions out of your creative process.

Bad Arguments Against Immigration


Originally posted here.

The Economic Argument
Arguments against immigration on economic grounds basically boil down to “They took our jobs!”. Some feel that allowing people to freely cross borders will result in a flood of low-wage labor that will “steal” jobs from natural born citizens. Labor is a factor of production, just like raw materials or financial capital. Restricting the flow of capital and labor will always decrease economic prosperity. Access to more resources – human or otherwise – always increases wealth and opportunity. If this does not make sense to you, I recommend Frederic Bastiat’s “What is Seen and What is Unseen”, chapter 7, as well as his brilliantly satirical “Candle Maker's Petition

The Culture Argument
Others argue that immigration must be restricted in order to protect the nation’s unique cultural heritage. I submit to you that any culture which must be maintained by force is not an authentic culture and is probably a bad one. Cultures freely arise because they provide benefits to those who participate in them. Cultures are always changing. Getting government in the business of protecting culture is dangerous and counter-productive. First, who gets to define what constitutes culture? Bureaucrats don’t have the best track record in such matters. Second, do we really want to live in a culture that is forced upon us by government prohibitions, restrictions and mandates?

The Welfare Argument
Advocates of limited government sometimes argue against immigration on the grounds that immigrants make use of the welfare state and increase the cost of government. State-sponsored welfare programs are a problem. Stopping immigration because immigrants might use welfare programs treats one tiny symptom, not the problem itself. If you routinely tossed open cans of tuna on your front lawn and found the neighbor's cats hanging around your property, would you try to ban cats or would you clean the up the fish?

Though I think the vast majority of immigrants immigrate for jobs, freedom and opportunity, I’m sure some come and make use of government handouts (though less than U.S. Citizens, and likely less than they pay in taxes). The handouts are an attractive nuisance and should be addressed on their own merits, not by attempting to ban the free movement of people.

The Safety Argument
Some argue that allowing easy immigration will bring bands of criminals into their country and make them less safe. First, if something is a crime it is already, by definition, illegal. Threats to life and property are already supposed to be addressed via the existing police and justice system. Putting up a wall and stopping anyone from crossing it on the grounds that some of them may be criminals is ludicrous. By this logic, governments should perpetually engage in random home searches because they might discover criminal activity.

Closed borders probably don’t stop criminals, but let’s pretend that they could; if we could keep foreign criminals out by keeping out anyone foreign, what would we gain? We’d have spent tons of resources keeping out foreigners, most of whom aren't criminals, and we’d have that many fewer resources to fight domestic crime. Banning people from movement because some of them may be criminals is even dumber than banning gun ownership because some people may use them for crime.

A Better Argument
Freedom to immigrate can be defended from several angles, but I believe the most important argument is based on rights. Imagine you and I have pieces of property that share a border. You wish to traverse my property and I wish to let you, but lawmakers prohibit it. What business do they have dictating whether we can make decisions about our own property? Sure, they were democratically elected, but what business do others have of voting to determine how you and I peacefully use our property?

What if government issued a decree that business owners were prohibited from hiring anyone born on a Tuesday? It’s no different when they prohibit hiring anyone born in another country. Shouldn't the business owner be free to hire whom he wishes? If an individual wishes to travel, work, buy, or sell peacefully and all other parties involved agree, why should government prohibit it?

When you think up other arguments against immigration, ask yourself why they should not also be applied in state to state immigration? City to city? Home to home?

At bottom, I think much anti-immigration sentiment comes from a fear of people unlike us. I support anyone’s right to be prejudiced, or to associate only with those of like culture. But putting that attitude into public policy not only hampers wealth and progress, it violates my right to associate peacefully with whom I choose.

Interview with a Decamom: Heather Hinkle


IMG_8390How many people know a mother of nine with a tenth in the womb? I’m related to one. Don’t hold that against her. She’s got children between the ages 2 and 12, with one set of twins in there.

IMM: I guess the obvious question to ask a mother of (nearly) ten is, why? Are you trying to field a baseball team?

HH: No, I hate sports. I love children and so does John and we always wanted a large family. We (obviously) have left our family planning to God!

IMM: Did the experience of growing up with such an angelic and genius younger brother cause you to desire tons of kids?

HH: Quite the contrary...it really made me doubt the wisdom of humanity propagating. I'm always fearful of my children displaying 'Isaac-like' behaviors.

IMM: Do you ever worry that each individual child won’t get enough attention with so many in the house? How to you try to remedy that?

HH: It's definitely something both John and I contemplate and my full thoughts on the issue would take up more time than your readers would want to give. However, ways in which we try to combat it are by taking the older children to a special store they like, such as a bookstore, or taking the younger ones to the play-land at the mall. It can also be something as simple as one of us playing board-games with them once the smaller ones are in bed.

IMM: Are people generally kind and happy for you when they see you with all your kids, or do you get dirty looks? What’s the most surprising comment you’ve gotten?

HH: It's interesting, but we've found in the south that people seem the least accepting of our large brood. This manifests itself by complete disinterest/ignoring of us. I'm not sure why this is, but we were approached/asked questions a lot more whilst living in the midwest. Once a lady at a store basically forced me to take a twenty dollar bill from her, to buy something for the family and another time an individual asked John how much money he made!

IMM: OK, you’re a homeschooling mom with a massive family. The picture most people have in their mind is of a giant farmhouse and a bunch of kids churning butter, wearing bowties, and giving each other violin lessons. Does that describe your home life?

HH: Nothing you listed describes us...except the bowties, which we don religiously. I think most people would be surprised to see that we live in a neighborhood, have a relatively small yard and our house is decorated really well!

IMM: Hardest and most rewarding parts of having such a big family?

HH: My pregnancies are definitely the hardest part for our family to endure; I wish I felt well and enjoyed them, but it is the exact opposite. It's a sacrifice for all of us to endure eight months of me feeling sickly. And the weight...ugh! I look like Martin Short's character, 'Glick' for my last two or three months. It's hard to pinpoint what is the most rewarding aspect, but one would definitely be watching the kids interact with each other and how much they enjoy it...when they're not arguing, of course!

IMM: Do you ever feel constrained by the fact that you are primarily defined by the size of your family? Do you feel held back from going after other things you want in life?

HH: Not especially; I feel I have plenty of other interests, etc. that define me. There are definitely times where I feel held back from pursuing other things I enjoy, but on the whole I feel that motherhood has propelled me to be more creative, organized and good with managing my time.

IMM: How long does it take you to get everyone ready and out of the house?

HH: You'll find out in a few weeks, when you and your lovely bride come to watch them! If we are talking Sunday morning, it's about an hour-and-a-half to two hours from awakening to pulling out of the driveway. If it's a normal day where we are just getting in the car to run an errand, it's actually fairly quick, maybe 10-20 minutes.

IMM: How many loaves of bread do you go through in a week?

HH: Nine. I really have to keep my eyes out for good prices on bread, because we don't care for Wonderbread and the like...though I'm not trying to besmirch their fine name. Buy-one-get-one deals are the best!

IMM: Do your kids seem to like being in a big family? Do any of them ever complain about it?

HH: Well, judging from the strained looks on several of their faces in the accompanying picture, I think it may be a hardship for them! They all really like it; they generally start praying for a new baby shortly after I have given birth! I encourage them to delay that prayer for awhile, so I have some time to recover and enjoy feeling well. In conversation you will hear them say, "They only have five children in their family"!

IMM: How many kids do you plan on having?

HH: As I said earlier, we leave family planning to God. But I hate vague answers such as that; my feeling is we will end up somewhere around sixteen.

IMM: Do you recommend having a big family to others? Are there some people you think would be better with a small family, or do you think it can work for anyone willing to try?

HH: I do think having a big family is extremely rewarding and I try to be encouraging to people about it, while still being real. I think most people would benefit from having a large (or larger) family, but the reality is you have to be extremely dedicated with your time, resources and emotional energy. People very rarely say they regret having another child, but more often regret not having had more.

IMM: If you could go back to just before you started having kids and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say?

HH: This is a tough one, but I think it would have to be 'Everything is a phase that will end, but will move into another phase'. I know that wasn't very sage; I wish I could say something that made me look smarter and others would consider hanging on their fridge.

IMM: In the midst of raising and homeschooling all these kids, you've launched a business. What was the inspiration? Can you tell me about it?

HH: My business is called Bliss and Brahm and it is a clothing line specifically for twins which will carry coordinating items for boy/girl multiples. It is in the very rudimentary stages, but is really exciting in the sense that I am doing this from start-to-finish, from helping to design the sketches for the pieces to getting them shipped out to the buyers. My inspiration came eight years ago when I was searching for matching outfits for my own boy/girl twins and could not easily find items. The name came from my twins' middle names!

IMM: Do you have a website or Facebook page? When will products be available?

HH: I do have a Facebook page called Bliss and Brahm. I wish I had an incentive to offer your readers to 'like' my page, but I'm going to count on the fact that you have been pounding into them the positives of free-market and entrepreneurial business ventures and hope that will compel them! My website is slated to be up in early July and we are actually launching our first line of clothing in March of 2014. I realize that seems a long way off, but the world of fashion runs on its own timeline. In the meantime, my website will allow browsers to see our progress and weigh in with their own thoughts and ideas.

IMM: Thank you!

College: A One Sided Sorting Mechanism


I recently listened to an excellent EconTalk podcast with Arnold Kling discussing technological changes in higher education.  Kling pointed out the main role universities play is sorting, not forming.

There is a somewhat romantic idea among the populace that education molds and shapes young lumps of clay into the men and women they ought to be.  In this view, what school you attend is very important, because they have the power to mold you for better or worse.  Kling combats this notion by reference to studies that have tracked students accepted to Ivy League schools: They achieve the same level of success whether they attend the Ivy League school or choose instead to go to a lower ranked college.  In other words, it's the type of student that goes to Harvard, not the type of student Harvard creates, that makes for success.

For employers, this sorting mechanism significantly reduces their hiring cost.  Kling described the process as a coin sorting machine, where you dump in a pile of loose change and is sorts all the quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies.  An employer looking for a certain skill level would be at great pains to sort all the applicants, but the type of institution from which they have a degree does a lot of the work for them.  What a student majors in also play a part in the sorting process.

Though this works reasonably well for many employers, it's pretty inefficient.  Does it have to take four years and a few hundred thousand dollars to sort out who excels at what and who's worth interviewing for which roles?  The signal sent by many degrees is getting weaker as more and more students flood into schools.  With the exception of the top schools, many middle of the road universities have turned into massive degree mills.  The printing of more degrees makes those already in circulation worth less to employers.

But there seems to me a worse problem.  Even if college serves as an effective sorting mechanism for employers, it is seriously deficient as a sorting mechanism for employees.  After all, a career is a two sided affair.  It's not a matter of businesses finding out what you're good at and allocating you there; it's primarily about you finding what you love and what helps you get the most of what you want for the least of what you don't.  The student needs a sorting mechanism to discover what industries, what kinds of work, and what companies they like.  College doesn't have a lot to offer here.

Most degrees do not entail any kind of on the ground experience in the business world.  In fact, most classes don't even talk about what different kinds of work are like.  You may enjoy learning philosophy, but that fact alone doesn't do a lot to tell you which career paths are your quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies.  Students spend tens of thousands and a good chunk of their time tumbling through a system that gives employers some valuable info about who they are, but it provides the student with little info about who these employers are.  It's like a dating service where only one side gets to view the profile.  It's not uncommon for graduates to spend the first five or ten years of their career discovering what kind of career they want to have.

There are a lot of things students can do to remedy this problem.  They can seek knowledge, ask people with experience, take a wide range of courses, and explore different majors.  But at the end of the day, nothing beats genuine experience in the world of commerce.  As it is, most students are expected to cram that in an internship for a semester or two.  That's a lot of time and money to burn if you don't walk away with a good idea of what makes you come alive.

Isaac Morehouse


Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis, a startup apprenticeship program making degrees irrelevant for careers. Isaac is dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. He’s written some books, done some podcasting, and is always experimenting with self-directed living and learning.

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