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The Daily Missive

Outboard Motors & Broken Pipes

By August 31, 2023No Comments

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.”

― Eric Hoffer

Last night, by lamp light, we took a breather from thinking about the stock market, Fed policy, Chinese growth domestic product, and the proxy war in the Ukraine to revisit one of America’s working-class thinkers.

We were reading 12 Angry Men, the great hardboiled legal drama that inspired the 1957 film starring Henry Fonda. When something else grabbed our attention. The daring playwright David Mamet wrote the Preface to our copy of 12 Angry Men. In his opening ruminations, Mamet referenced Eric Hoffer.

“Our greatest American Philosopher, to my mind, was Eric Hoffer,” Mamet writes. “He was an immigrant kid. He never spent a day in school. He roamed the country during the Depression as a hobo and migrant worker.”

We took the inch and ran the mile. We followed Mamet’s line of thought, putting down 12 Angry Men for a more worn copy of Hoffer’s True Believer.

Hoffer wrote for people who didn’t have schooling. He doesn’t reference his thoughts. He doesn’t provide backup. When you read him, you feel like you have a hobo’s stick and knapsack on your back. The man provides both a form of escapism and a keen insight into what made America what it was in the 20th Century.

Hopper claimed there was enough talent and know-how on a single WPA truck to have built not only one road, but to have built America itself.

For that, he said, was quite exactly how America was built—“a group of reasonably intelligent workers took a simple plan, formed an ad-hoc group, and used their common sense and group spirit to execute it well.”

In our own knapsack at The Wiggin Sessions we’ve got some good workers. Recently, however, artificial intelligence has entered the scene, turning our group of “reasonably intelligent workers” into 12 angry men (and women).

“By the way,” says our arts director. “I’ve been using MidJourney to generate images for lately. Kind of a game changer… Graphic arts: illustration, photography, painting, drawing… are dead.” Sigh.

“Hey man, get in line. ChatGPT is stealing my job,” one of our writers retorts. He must have read that McDonald’s is replacing human drive-thru attendants with AI. The pilot project is in 10 stores and is 85% accurate.

“Certainly is…” the artist responds. “I use it daily. We’re all screwed! Far more disrupting than anything we’ve ever created. I’ll teach my kids how to fix outboard motors and broken pipes…”

“I’m not,” I responded at the time. “AI should make all our work product better. I’m looking forward to it.”

“Picking grapes is picking grapes,” the writer resigns.


Nobody knows what AI is going to do. But like all innovations it creates flights of fear and fancy. All innovations throughout history inspire the same response: joy, anxiety and fear. “Irrational exuberance,” to quote the great googly-eyed Greenspan from 1996.

It occurs to me it doesn’t matter whether AI is good or bad. Es lo que es. It is what it is.

And in the workplace these are changes happening to real people. How do you trade it? We recorded with Chris Johnson for next week’s Session. He’s a quant trader, so we’ll dig into what that means…

He’s also convinced that AI is a classic bubble in the vein of all bubbles going back to the Tulip Bubble in the mid-1600s. As such, he give some very explicit ideas on how to trade Nvidia, the chipmaker providing the ‘picks and shovels’ for this latest speculative mania.

Trade the winds,

Addison Wiggin
The Wiggin Sessions

P.S. Automation is challenging the way we work every day. It is also changing how people make decisions, in real time. What’s “building America” going to look like when we get the robots involved? The jury is still out. Your thoughts? Write to us here.

Addison Wiggin

Addison Wiggin Addison Wiggin is an American writer, publisher, and filmmaker. He was the founder of Agora Financial and publisher for 18 years. An acclaimed New York Times best-selling author, his books include: Financial Reckoning DayEmpire of DebtThe Demise of the Dollar, and The Little Book of the Shrinking Dollar. Addison is also the writer and executive producer of the documentary I.O.U.S.A., an exposé on the national debt, shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2008. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his family. Addison started his latest project, The Wiggin Sessions, powered by The Essential Investor, in March 2020. He films from a homegrown studio in his basement.