Legal questions must be met with legal approaches and ethical ones with ethical approaches. Clear differentiation and healthy division of labor between law and ethics are part of the bedrock of civilization and are neglected at such civilization’s peril.Read More
When one hears the words “gold standard,” it is usually either from people who think it was a horrible thing or people who think it was a wonderful thing. However, many in both groups seem to agree that “the” gold standard represents the free market money of the good old days, or the bad old days, or perhaps even the future.
However, the inclusion of the word “standard” could already serve as a warning that this may have been just another convoluted sequence of confused government programs. Looking into this more closely may suggest lessons for cryptocurrencies today.
Several different international monetary orders from 1871–1971 were based on gold: the classical gold standard, the gold exchange standard, and the Bretton Woods system. Yet these came only after a long series of previous legal interventions in money of various types. When such legal measures were absent or weaker, things tended to differ. Professor Guido Hülsmann characterizes it broadly this way on p. 46 of The Ethics of Money Production:
In the Middle Ages, gold, silver, and copper coins, as well as alloys thereof, circulated in overlapping exchange networks. At most times and places in the history of Western Europe, silver coins were most widespread and dominant in daily payments, whereas gold coins were used for larger payments, and copper coins in very small transactions. In ancient times too, this was the normal state of affairs.
One dramatic way that monetary metals were driven out of circulation was the policy of bimetallism. People we might today call “regulators” legally fixed the exchange rate between silver coins and gold coins to make the market more “regular.” The actual result was the rapid loss of a major component of the money supply from circulation. Hülsmann on p. 130:
One famous case in which bimetallism entailed fiat inflation-deflation was the British currency reform of 1717, when Isaac Newton was Master of the Mint. Newton proposed a fiat exchange rate between the (gold) guinea and the (silver) shilling very much equal to the going market rate. Yet parliament, ostensibly to “round up” the exchange rate of gold, decreed a fiat exchange rate that was significantly higher than the market rate. And then some well-positioned men helped the British citizens to replace their silver currency with a gold currency.
Hülsmann then cites similar cases in the US in 1792 and 1834. Not only did price fixing not make the market more “regular” as intended, it caused severe disruptions, with many losers, some winners, and a certain period of monopoly metal circulation.
The parallel circulation of metals may in this way have represented relatively more of a “free market money” situation than government orchestrated gold standards that arrived only after long sequences of legal manipulations—and which just happened to also channel the majority of gold into the vaults of monetary-system orchestrators.
Lessons for parallel cryptocoin circulations?
Such parallel circulation has been used as an analogy to promote parallel cryptocurrencies in a complementary monetary role. How well does this analogy hold up?
Each metal filled a different market role from the others, with some overlap. Likewise, each altcoin advertises different features. How significant will users perceive such differences to be?
The main difference between copper, silver, and gold was a large distinction in a practical characteristic, one unmistakeably clear and important to the end user—exchange value per unit of weight. A single gold coin could do the work of a handful of silver ones or a hefty pile of copper ones, whereas buying a few potatoes with gold instead of copper would have been quite a technical challenge in the opposite way.
However, this particular factor—probably the most important one from the case of metals—does not apply to cryptocurrencies, which can be divided and combined freely and have no weight. Perhaps some other factors will prove significant enough to create a similar degree of differentiation, but the final say goes to the market test, not the engineering imagination. Another significant difference among cryptocurrencies is the amount of hashing power protecting each chain. This is a factor, in contast, for which minimal significant parallel exists in the case of monetary metals (the closest thing would probably be relative differences in forgeability).
In considering a given cryptocoin from a monetary viewpoint, it is important to investigate and consider its actual patterns of use. Having the word “coin” in the name does not make it a monetary unit. What does? One sign is the extent and scale to which users are holding a unit so as to buy goods and services with it. This might contrast, for example, with an income purpose (buying and selling the asset against another monetary unit in pursuit of monetary gains), or social-signaling purposes such as giving out microtips to online commenters. Each altcoin or appcoin might fill different roles and provide different kinds of value to users, perhaps within particular sub-cultures, or perhaps in the context of particular services. Coins can apparently fill some of these functions without having to gain much traction in a more general monetary role.
In contrast to this, a central function of holding cash and other liquid balances is to address the uncertainty of the future and this is a general function—the more general, the better fulfilled. For example, we may know that we will want to buy some things in the future, but not necessarily know exactly which things, when, where, and at precisely what prices. Cash balances, due to their flexibility, enable us to adjust to such constellations of uncertainties. In this sense, a unit that is more widely accepted is likely to come in handy in a wider range of such future situations than one that is less widely accepted (there are also other factors to consider besides generality of acceptance, such as whether the units are expected to tend to gain or lose value while being held in balances).
I suspect that only significant traction in such a general monetary use, such as bitcoin has begun to gain, could sustain a large increase in a given unit’s purchasing power over the longer term through the network-effect process I have termed hyper-monetization.
There is a strong tendency in a trading network toward the use of a single monetary unit. This theoretical insight has sometimes been extended to the historical claim that this is the natural role of gold, or the forward-looking claim that gold should fill this role in an ideal future. However, other factors also push back in the opposite direction toward parallel circulations and multiple options. Such factors could be natural, such as we saw with large practical differences among different monetary metals, or political, such as the legal favoring of some monies in combination with the geographic sectioning off of the total trading universe.
One option is not really an option
Finally, adaptive systems and species that survive for a very long time tend to have some redundancies in critical systems. There is no single more critical system for the functioning of civilization than indirect exchange using money and other monetary units. A repeated theme in the history of money, however, has been actions by rulers that have the effect, whether intended or not in any given case, of removing alternatives and opt-out paths for money users, leaving them highly vulnerable to whatever happens with the remaining monopoly unit.
If a society has a single dominant monetary unit for whatever reason, it would seem favorable from this larger vulnerability assessment or antifragility perspective for its members to have other viable options at least waiting in the wings in parallel operation. Use of a single money certainly has strong advantages, but while network effects and broadness of acceptance are very large factors, they should not be mistaken for being the only ones.
In particular, use of one unit with no alternatives available does not address the need for adaptation to unexpected events. The complete absence of freely chooseable and ready alternatives makes a society more vulnerable to the effects of large-scale shocks. Points often lost on central planners of all schools are that redundancies and parallel options tend to have unexpected very long-term survival value, that more options are often better than fewer, and that having only one “option” is similar to having no option at all.
Recommended related books:
Jörg Guido Hülsmann, The Ethics of Money Production (2008)
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder (2012)
Jeffrey Tucker’s article “Against Libertarian Brutalism” (12 March 2014) describes two broadly drawn ideal types within the libertarian movement. After briefly presenting and discussing these, I will suggest what I think is a more fundamental distinction that might help illuminate the background to the perception of these proposed ideal types.
Tucker’s “humanitarians” are said to be drawn to and consider liberty in a positive context of its role in promoting individual and social flourishing and prosperity. This is above all a constructive and forward-looking appeal to the best of human social possibilities, promoting creative cooperation over both ad-hoc violence and systematic control.
The “brutalists,” in contrast, are said to emphasize a strict application of a few core principles and self-consciously eschew nuances of context, application, and image marketing. Moreover, brutalists are said to not only support, but even proudly embrace, the rights of persons to engage in what are today broadly considered negative and even reprehensible pursuits, such as for example, refusing to associate with certain types or classes of persons based on various demographic characteristics. The brutalist, in this view, not only embraces individual rights because they promote positive social values, but because they can be used to defend the rights of individuals to make what are today generally considered highly backward social choices.
With this stylized typology in mind, it is first of all fascinating to observe that the general public perception and straw-man concept of libertarianism is precisely this “brutalist” picture. In this popular image of libertarianism, it is a position that promotes a few simplistic and unrealistic ideas over any and all other competing values, perhaps due to some mysterious sociopathic refusal to integrate with ordinary society. And yet, it is also true that certain ways of presenting and discussing libertarian positions do help contribute heartily to this “brutalist” image in the popular imagination. Some statements in this genre are positively cringe-worthy by almost any standard.
While the humanitarian versus brutalist model may be of some help in advancing this conversation, I think another way of framing the background could bring additional clarity. I have come to believe that a great weakness in the heart of libertarianism has been the failure to differentiate legal from ethical issues with sufficient and systematic clarity. What are actually strictly legal-theory questions have been at times vaguely identified as “moral” or “ethical” questions when they are nothing of the kind. One origin of this has been the desire to distinguish “ethical” matters of ought from strictly economic-theory treatments of social issues. Yet not all that is non-economic is necessarily ethical in nature. In fact, much of the non-economic in social discourse is specifically legal rather than “ethical.”
The core of the libertarian position on political philosophy is a position on property theory, a topic belonging squarely within the domain of legal theory. Those who have sought to defend libertarian positions on property theory have at times seemingly fallen into the trap of downplaying the importance of authentically moral and ethical issues. The trap is sprung because proponents of alternative positions on property theory (various forms of forced redistribution) often use ethical rhetoric in their attempts to justify their various proposals for institutionalized takings.
In a developing body of work beginning in 2011 that I have labeled under the heading of action-based jurisprudence, I have sought to more carefully differentiate the realms of legal theory and legal practice both from each other and from the realms of ethical and moral theory and practice. One of the simplest ways to get across the kinds of distinctions proposed is to say that legal theory defines what “theft,” for example, is, whereas ethical theory provides advice on, among many other things, whether or not one ought to steal. That is, legal theory is fundamentally a cognitive discipline, whereas it is ethical theory (and aspects of legal practice; what should be done?) that are disciplines properly dealing with oughts and shoulds.
On this basis, the following picture emerges in terms of Tucker’s ideal types: the “humanitarian” libertarians are not willing to neglect or play down the legitimate importance of complex moral questions next to (fundamentally property-theory based) libertarianism. The “brutalists,” meanwhile, on a favorable interpretation, are concerned that misplaced attention to moral and ethical concerns could be used (and very often is used) to justify systematic violations of legal principles, principles that are among the defining characteristics of civilization as such.
My suggested path toward a resolution of this dichotomy has several steps. First, all parties should seek to clearly differentiate a separate scope for legal theory and for ethical theory. They are two quite distinct fields, the confusion of which has led to unending injustice and immorality on a society-wide basis. Second, embrace the insights that are to be gained from each of these quite distinct fields, and apply them each in suitable ways. Either/or must give way to yes/and when it comes to working with multiple fields, each one of which has valuable and distinct insights on offer.
Legal theory provides the definitions of property boundaries, the outermost boundaries within which ethical social action can possibly take place without becoming legal infringement in the process. Within this widest scope for possibly ethical actions, various specific ethical conceptions then seek to inform and advise actors as to which among the many possible ways to live within the sphere of the legal are also morally desirable and laudable in addition to merely not being acts of aggression in the property-theory sense.
[Revised for improved clarity and readability on 30 July 2018].
Philosophers, economists, and psychologists have sought to define the ultimate goal or “end” of human action. Is there something that can characterize, in general, what it is that people seek by acting?
Aristotelians, Objectivists, and other philosophical schools speak of ends in a moral “ought” context. That is the most common context in which such things have been spoken of throughout history. Schools of psychology have proposed central underlying motivations behind human behavior. These vary: power, sex, growth, insight, needs hierarchies, etc. Religious traditions each offer somewhat different accounts of the ultimate role or destiny of humankind, which has been divinely placed.
Against this backdrop, the arrival of Misesian action theory was revolutionary. It defined ends in a way that was free of moral, psychological, or spiritual qualifications. Ends were logically necessary characteristics of what action is. Any moral evaluation of particular ends or accounts of central psychological motivations or spiritual purposes were all separate and additional matters. A level exists at which action can be considered as such, separately from all such add-on differentiations.
The only surprising result would have been controversy not ensuring. Objectivists accused economists of the Austrian school of amoralism due to their anchorless “subjective” theory of value that provided no moral compass.
Well, yes. Providing a moral compass is not the purpose of the analysis. Action theory makes non-moral statements about action. These are must be statements rather than ethical ought statements or empirical maybe/let's check statements. All that Misesian action theory (praxeology) can legitimately claim on this matter is that action consists of employing means in the pursuit of ends—any ends.
Nevertheless, praxeological economists still attempted to comment on ultimate ends, the attempts reflecting their wider philosophical leanings. This crept in in discussions of “labor” and “leisure” in relation to “happiness” or other versions of a purported ultimate end.
Is there some universal end of all human action and if so what? Is it seeking happiness in general, happiness as “rationally understood,” or eudemonia (“human flourishing”)? Is it acting to remove states of dissatisfaction and uneasiness in search of an elusive ultimate state of rest (Ludwig von Mises)? Is it eliminating the root causes of recurring disappointment and suffering (Buddhism)? Or something else?
Each formulation seems to paint the relative value of “labor” and “leisure” in a different light. Yet this raises suspicions. One should not expect to find such differing implications from versions of a supposedly universal definition. Negative definitions of labor seem to favor rest, positive ones activity, and some spiritual ones equanimity regardless of particular conditions of activity versus rest.
This leaves another possibility. Is there any need for praxeology to carry a concept of one ultimate end at all? Actual actions are many and discrete, each consisting of specific means/ends structures in particular contexts. These many ends do not have to all be packageable under a single characterization. A bout of removing uneasiness, for example, could come right after a day of pursuing human flourishing (a Miseseso–Rothbardian tag team), all done by a Zen master unattached to the particular outcomes of any and all such ephemeral pursuits as labor and leisure.
Under what conditions do people actually find themselves either more or less happy? To look into this question, an important article by professor Roderick T. Long on Objectivist ethical theory and Austrian school subjective value theory, taken alongside two books on the psychology of happiness, shed light.
From Mises to Rothbard
In “Praxeology: Who Needs It?” (2005; PDF), Professor Long quotes Murray Rothbard on his differences with Ludwig von Mises’s “removing uneasiness” criteria. This is what Mises set out early in Human Action (1949) as the abstract general end of all action. Mises does also use striving for happiness on the same pages. However, he most often returns to the negative formulation of removing uneasiness. This shows up in his discussions of the relationships among labor, leisure, and (dis)satisfaction.
Long wrote: “Rothbard…describes how, in his economic treatise Man, Economy, and State (1962; MES), he took care to revise precisely this Misesian doctrine (310).” In correspondence quoted in Joseph Stromberg’s introduction to MES (p. xl), Rothbard had written:
The revision purged [Mises’s] original formulation of its definite philosophical pessimism, of the idea that human beings are constantly in a state of dissatisfaction and that man could only be happy in a state of inactive rest, such as in Paradise. Such a philosophical view is contrary to the natural state of man, which is at its happiest precisely when it is engaged in productive activity.
Long explained that:
Rothbard acknowledges the possibility of “satisfaction in the labor itself,” and so grounds the “disutility of labor” not in labor’s being inherently distasteful, but in the fact that “labor always involves the forgoing of leisure,” which is also a value…The fact that leisure has value for us explains why we prefer to economize on labor, thus allowing Rothbard to draw all the essential conclusions for which Mises thought he needed the mistaken Nirvana premise. (311)
Yet Rothbard’s view that people are happiest “precisely when…engaged in productive activity,” as opposed to when idle in paradise, is also an empirical psychological claim. As such, however, it does find support in psychological research on self-reported happiness. One qualification that will emerge, though, is that Rothbard's use of the word “productive” could lead to an unwarranted emphasis on the categorization of activity types, such as work versus hobby.
Get into the flow
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presents the results of research on tens of thousands of participants in different cultures. It found that higher degrees of self-reported happiness were associated with engagement in self-chosen, goal-directed activity structured with an optimal relationship between challenge and capability.
Self-reported happiness was higher the better persons were positioned to 1) select and revise their own goals and 2) dynamically adjust the balance between challenge and capability toward a moving zone the researchers labeled “flow.” Adjusting challenge can be relatively straightforward through choices of goal and performance criteria (quantity, quality, time, outcomes). Raising capabilities might involve taking the time to invest in capital (tools) or human capital (abilities) to increase effectiveness before further task engagement.
For example, cutting down a large tree with a dull hatchet could become frustrating. Taking the time to buy or borrow a chainsaw before cutting may turn into a more enjoyable overall experience. Moving right to managing a major logging operation with no experience in either managing or logging would most likely quickly lead to frustration, if not disaster.
In a hobby context, though hardly ever in a work context, one might lower capabilities in pursuit of the flow zone. Gamers, for example might sometimes choose to play with inferior in-game equipment, which would effectively raise their challenge level compared to selecting the best available equipment.
Golf, bowling, and some games have “handicap” scoring options. This reduces or evens out score gaps, enabling more skilled and less skilled players to more meaningfully compete in the same match, reducing boredom for the more skilled and frustration for the less skilled.
The flow research found that how activities were classified by type, such as labor, work, play, hobby, or leisure, did not impact the degree of happiness reported. Boredom, both at work and on vacation, showed up when capabilities were too far above challenges. One might look forward to finally having “nothing to do” on vacation—and then get bored with nothing to do. Frustration—both at work and in leisure or hobby activities—showed up when challenges were too far above capabilities. The challenge/capability balance influenced happiness. Categorizations of activities, such as labor versus leisure, did not.
Both at work and at leisure, research participants reported higher degrees of happiness when they had set their own goals. Even for goals that had originated elsewhere, such as with organizational leadership or a client, flow effects could still be found if the person made the decision to make those goals their own, as opposed to merely acquiescing and going along with orders.
The common element found to support higher degrees of self-reported happiness was each person having the final say on his or her own activities over both long-term strategic and short-term tactical scales. In my view, this recommends a set of social conditions that support individual-level autonomy, flexibility, and discretion. Individuals should be able to chose their own goals and how to pursue them. This includes minimizing the need to “apply for permission” before taking action, as well as maximizing individual discretion on which groups to join or leave. The only social institution capable of assuring such individual discretion and autonomy is one with consistent respect for rights of first appropriation and mutually consensual transfers of property.
The typical popular counter to such allegedly “atomistic” principles is that people are “social” creatures. However, this claim cannot justify the use of violence to orchestrate non-consensual relationships. It does not explain what is “social” about the advocacy and implementation of such violence. Actually being social entails not advocating, approving of, or implementing initiations of threats or violence.
According to Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (2011) by Jane McGonigal, good games are designed to capture the above dynamics by enabling the player to self-adjust challenge levels and cultivate rising capabilities as challenge levels rise. Even prior to this, the player first selects which game to play, when, and with whom. Gaming entails a wide range of autonomous dynamic decisions that influence the challenge/capability balance. What difficulty level does the player select? How long does the player work on a puzzle before turning to a help clue?
Games themselves are also designed to dynamically adjust this balance. Difficulty and strength of opponents typically rise as the player gains achievements, levels, rank, and equipment. Games also often provide adaptive feedback on progress toward clearly defined goals. These are each elements that modern game designers have raised to high levels.
The popularity of gaming helps illustrate the motivational power of each person being able to seek flow states through dynamic autonomous goal selection and challenge/capability balancing. McGonigal’s central theme is that games have come to be designed to tap into motivation in a way vastly superior to typical (de)motivational structures found in schools and corporations. Lessons for institutional improvement could be derived from the study of game design.
Moreover, if we are concerned with young people being obsessive about gaming and uninterested in school, we should naturally want to examine the extents to which goals are self-selected and the challenge/capability balance is adjustable individually in gaming versus school. The answer is near. Most good games offer high degrees of player autonomy and masterful challenge/capability balancing. Most schools are abysmal in both areas.
Promoting interest in "the real world" could therefore begin by increasing the range of autonomy that young people can practice in that real world, for example, by enabling them to engage in work again.
Why will kids work ingeniously and for unending hours for in-game gold? In gaming, they can work with whom they chose and keep the gold they earn. This contrasts with the more and more artificially constrained real world in modern interventionist economies, which increasingly outlaw young people from working at all. The message to young people is: if you want to work, earn, and create, it must be in the virtual world or not at all. The analysis of action from a praxeological standpoint applies just as well to in-game action as to out-of-game action.
Psychology, ethics, and praxeology: The distinctions revisited
The psychological research from Flow and the analysis of gaming can help remove extraneous implications from past attempts to formulate descriptions of the ultimate ends of action. Relationships among labor, leisure, and happiness do not exist. Happiness is influenced by self-chosen challenge/capability balance without regard to labels such as labor and leisure.
The distinctions between praxeology, ethical philosophy, and psychology should be clearly maintained, yet valid insights from each should not be ignored either. Praxeology says, “it is/must be so by definition.” Ethics says, “one should act this way rather than that way.” Psychology says, “we observe, notice, and hypothesize.”
Meanings of "rationality" also play into this topic and clarifying this is also helpful. Long clarified the nature of “rationality” as used in praxeology, including which claims praxeology can legitimately make regarding it. When a praxeologist claims that all action is rational, it is a claim that actors employ means to the attainment of ends. This only states an implication of what action is.
However, an ethicist’s or psychologist’s definition of “rational” must specify some narrower distinctions or be meaningless for their purposes. Those wearing psychologist or philosopher hats might well be interested in whether people deceive themselves in their judgments or make poor judgments. However, such distinctions must be left behind when donning the praxeologist’s peculiar new hat. Long writes:
In a sense, then, it is true that agents always act rationally; but the only sense of this claim to which Mises is [praxeologists are] entitled is that agents always act, not necessarily in a manner appropriate to their situation in all the ways they actually see it, or even in the most justified of the ways they actually see it, but rather in a manner appropriate to their situation in the way of actually seeing it that is constitutive of their action. (309–310).
This third formulation finally leaves no room for distinctions among “rational” (as contrasted with “irrational”) qualities of particular actions as judged by any narrower ethical or psychological criterion. Instead, the meaning of “rationality” for praxeologists is a universal-definitional one. As such, it is of no use to psychologists or ethicists who require narrower definitions to work with. Indeed, it is not especially useful to praxeologists at all and might be better abandoned as a relic from a time when this distinction was not yet clear enough.
This third formulation helps refine the lines between psychological interpretation, ethical advice and judgment (“this is rational, that is not”), and universalizable statements about action. Only the third formulation is undeniable for all cases of action without further inquiry into motivation, thought processes, or value scales. Only the third statement is/must be so as a logical implication of what action means. The rest is up to the other fields.
I gave a presentation at the wonderfully principle-centered 2nd annual Mises Seminar Australia in Sydney's central business district (CBD) on 2 December 2012. Here is a document version of my presentation, a close transcript arranged with selected content from the slides and rounded out with a list of readings.
Key themes included clarifying the difference between the ethical and the legal and differentiating "law" into five sub-disciplines, each with its own distinct domains and methods, conflating which (as is usually done) leads to serious problems (which we see all around us). It discusses who wins and who loses from contemporary complexity in legal definitions, and argues that the emerging action-based jurisprudence approach offers a better way of addressing the many contingent complexities of real life and culture without undermining fundamental principles of civilization in the process.
With Mises Seminar co-organizer and Liberty Australia co-founder and director Michael ConaghanDeveloping this for me started out as an attempt at a simpler restatement of the arguments in my August 2011 paper, Action-Based Jurisprudence: Praxeological Legal Theory in Relation to Economic Theory, Ethics, and Legal Practice," one that would be more accessible to people less versed in the background literature. As it developed, new territory and reformulations emerged. This included the three theory modules designed to help people grasp some difficult but crucial concepts without having to delve into stacks of academic books and articles to glimpse a solid initial understanding (after which, those stacks of books and articles can more profitably follow, and a strictly select list of them does, on the last two pages).
A substantially expanded and elaborated academic journal version, with more detailed references and footnotes and some additional new angles, especially on the relationship with action-grounded criminology (our understanding of what crime and criminality actually are), is also in the works.
With Professor Walter Block at 2nd Mises Seminar Australia (visiting Yanks!)There and back again
This was my first trip south of the equator. I had a wonderful time in Sydney and got to meet a number of people I had previously encountered only online, including among many others, organizing team members Michael Conaghan, Benjamin Marks, Washington Sanchez, Samuel Marks, and Anthony Coralluzzo. Before this weekend, I had only briefly met the legendary libertarian teacher/promoter and enthusiastic intellectual trouble-maker Professor Walter Block, but this time had the opportunity to speak with him at greater length. My presentation also came just after one of his (now in his 70s, he did five segments in two days and looked ready to do 12 more). I was stepping up right after someone who has been presenting at conferences since I was learning to walk, and I was touched afterwards that he referred back to content from my talk several times in his later segments.
I also got to talk at length with Michael Conaghan, co-founder and director of Liberty Australia, who is quickly becoming legendary himself in online discussion circles for regularly coming up with spot-on quotations from the relevant literature (even with occasional video clips of old Q&A sessions with Rothbard personally addressing the question at hand) and dropping them out of thin air into active discussion threads.
My last day was a solo trip by city bus to Bondi Beach and MacKenzies Bay. I told the waiter at the amazing Hurricane's Grill Bondi Beach that I didn't feel like leaving Sydney to return to the frozen German winter, but would rather send for my family to come down and join me. He just smiled and said this is the kind of feeling a great many people who visit Sydney seem to report. I could believe it. Maybe Hurricane's delivers to Germany?