Bitcoin, that digital ‘crypto’ currency that we have blogged about several times over the years, by default provides an automated public ledger – a techno-currency that provides trading value instantaneously without the added ‘friction’ and third-party (banking) profiteering. Bitcoin is impossible to counterfeit and promises many amazingly apparent uses, including government openness and transparency.
In principle, such crypto-currency could finally bring transparency to governments.
Bitcoin transactions are ‘anonymous’ because senders and receivers are represented by long sequences of code (Bitcoin wallet addresses) in lieu of personal data, but its public ledger logs every single transaction to provide the ultimate transparency.
“[But] don’t confuse anonymity with privacy,” writes Eric Blair at Activist Post. “Anonymity means ‘we know what you’re doing but we don’t know who you are’, while privacy means ‘we know who you are but we don’t know what you’re doing’. The U.S. government seems to be increasingly outlawing both anonymity and privacy for citizens while it simultaneously becomes more secretive. This path is truly the antithesis of a free society. Yet, this lack of transparency for government and privacy for average citizens can be reversed if the government embraced bitcoin technology.”
Adds Blair: “For example, imagine paying at the gas pump and the funds are immediately dispersed to the proper accounts; to the gas station’s wallet, $.20 per gallon to the federal government roads’ wallet, and about $.30 per gallon to your state’s road wallet (exact fuel taxes here). Not only is this far more efficient than current systems, but let’s follow this through a bit more. Now imagine that the government’s wallets are public where anyone can view income and expenditures in real time.”
On Wednesday, The US Department of Homeland Security seized a payment processing account belonging to Mt. Gox, the largest international Bitcoin trader over claims the monetary exchange service had falsified financial documents, as reported at Ars Technica.
Bitcoin threatens both the financial elite’s monopoly over the economy and the online web of payment systems which have been used as a tool to crack down on free speech on the Internet, Amir Taaki, a bitcoin software developer, told RT.com in this interview.
Bitcoin, the virtual peer-to-peer currency that was launched in 2009 (see CAT blog June: Barter P2P Currency Gains Traction), had a meteoric rise in April-June of this year—but after a hacking attack on the premier bitcoin exchange, the currency plummeted, then rose again. Today it traded at $2.40, down from a peak of $30, but still way up from the pennies it priced at 18 months ago.
In a recent WIRED article Benjamin Wallace reports that -
In the public’s imagination, overnight the bitcoin went from being the currency of tomorrow to a dystopian joke. The Electronic Frontier Foundation quietly stopped accepting bitcoin donations. Two Irish scholars specializing in network analysis demonstrated that bitcoin wasn’t nearly as anonymous as many had assumed: They were able to identify the handles of a number of people who had donated bitcoins to Wikileaks. (The organization announced in June 2011 that it was accepting such donations.) Nontechnical newcomers to the currency, expecting it to be easy to use, were disappointed to find that an extraordinary amount of effort was required to obtain, hold, and spend bitcoins. For a time, one of the easier ways to buy them was to first use Paypal to buy Linden dollars, the virtual currency in Second Life, then trade them within that make-believe universe for bitcoins. As the tone of media coverage shifted from gee-whiz to skeptical, attention that had once been thrilling became a source of resentment.
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“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is a catchphrase and proverb, frequently used (with variations in wording) in discussing economic inequality. Its most common use is as a synopsis of socialist criticism of the free market system (or “Capitalism”), implying the inevitability of what Marx called the Law of Increasing Poverty.
Andrew Jackson, in his 1832 bank veto, said that
“When the laws undertake… to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society… have a right to complain of the injustice to their Government.”
William Henry Harrison said, in an October 1, 1840 speech,
“I believe and I say it is true Democratic feeling, that all the measures of the government are directed to the purpose of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.”
In 1821, Percy Bysshe Shelley argued, in A Defence of Poetry (not published until 1840), that in his England, “the promoters of utility” had managed
“To exasperate at once the extremes of luxury and want. They have exemplified the saying, “To him that hath, more shall be given; and from him that hath not, the little that he hath shall be taken away.” The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer; and the vessel of the State is driven between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism. Such are the effects which must ever flow from an unmitigated exercise of the calculating faculty.”
The phrase resembles the Bible verse
“For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”
Did you know? …
• 90% of the worlds wealth is held by 1% of the population
• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
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|Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz on U.S. economic policy -
“It’s doing nothing for the American economy, but it’s causing chaos over the rest of the world. It’s a very strange policy that they are pursuing.”
Ed. note: A fascinating account of the way it just might be, behind all the pomp and propaganda. One might liken the leading nations and their currencies to dying elephants thrashing about, struggling for ‘sustenance.’
|From: Breaking All The Rules / Sartre -|
A new documentary currently being completed by Katie Teague, called, “Money & Life” (Trailer 3:40 min.). Here Katie talks about her documentary –
“Inspired by the possibility of generating real transformative social change from the opportunity of the current economic and financial crisis, I have been on a two year odyssey studying the money system and interviewing cutting edge thinkers and leaders on the issue of the day.
“The film proposes that money, like other social technologies, is a reflection of our consciousness as individuals and as a society. If we are indeed in the midst of a planetary evolutionary shift, then money is one of the most important aspects of the postmodern world to grapple with, given its pervasiveness in our lives and throughout the world. The film’s basic inquiry is: can our understanding of money and how we relate to it be transformed to serve our highest capacities and values?”
September 12 – 18, 2010
Praxis Peace Institute is organizing a 5-day workshop/seminar with the Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque country of Spain. The purpose of the seminar is to learn about worker owned and managed cooperative businesses from the leading consortium of cooperatives in the world.
|Basic Cooperative Principles
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The Mondragon Cooperatives were founded in 1955 and now encompass 120 businesses and employ nearly 100,000 worker-owners. Mondragon is a highly successful cooperative model with over 50 years of proven success. They have established research centers, bank and credit unions, a university, youth cooperatives, and small to large businesses
In June 2007, the Educational Director of the Mondragon Cooperatives, Mikel Lezamiz, spoke at the Praxis Peace Institute conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Due to the interest generated at the conference, we decided to collaborate with Mondragon in offering an in-depth educational opportunity for those who want more information on how to create cooperatives in their businesses and communities.