2018: Year of Bitcoin & Alternative Currencies

 Last year I suggested I was going to devote more time to Bitcoin and the Alternative Currencies many of which have been derived from it.  I will in the future introduce individual coins and discuss their relative merits, but today I wanted to go over some basics.

First, why do people place any value on digital coins?  Bitcoin was the first digital coin to gain any notoriety,  and it addresses a libertarian mindset that values community over government. If you want as little government involvement as possible, then one of the more important places to address that problem is in who controls the money. Libertarians like Rand and Ron Paul have complained that the dollar is not linked to Gold, and that the US Federal Reserve cannot be trusted. In other countries a similar mistrust of the government control over money is even more rampant.

To address this problem most digital currencies like bitcoin (and alternative coins), assure that the control of digital coins belongs to the community rather than the government. The bitcoin ledger, where they keep track of each transaction belongs to and can be accessed by anyone who own some of the coin, with the right knowledge and patience. If you own Bitcoin (especially if you mine it)  you could have some say in what happens to it.

While Bitcoin is the best known crypto-currency, close on its heels is Ether and other alternative currencies like Steem. Many of these have improvements like greater functionality, but all of them have advantages over dollars, yen, euros and other centralized currencies.  Whether and/or when to buy them is a different question, but I will discuss those issues later.

 

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Debt Default in America- A Financial Bonanza for Eric Cantor

Politicians are playing chicken with America’s reputation, and if they convince the world that the US is not credit worthy — by deliberately defaulting on our obligations — they will profit while the rest of us suffer. Eric Cantor has a personal profit motive, as well as a reprehensible political agenda.

Recently the Republican leadership walked out of the bipartisan debt talks chaired by Vice President Biden. Eric Cantor, GOP whip said he would not participate if the Republicans were required to bring to the table any discussion of revenues. And yesterday we heard from Republican House Speaker Boehner that the projected default date is not, in his view, a fixed date, but is an arbitrary date put forth by the Secretary of the Treasury.

If the August deadline comes and goes without progress, Mr. Cantor stands to make money while our economy tanks. In his own investments, the Majority Whip apparently has holdings in a fund that “shorts” the U.S. bond market. Mr. Cantor knows that if we welch on our debt this summer — for the first time in US History — the bond market will go off a cliff.

If that happens our economy – and the world’s as well – is likely to be devastated. But Mr. Cantor’s investments will make him a nice sum of money, in a manner more akin to being a vulture than a deal maker. This is a serious conflict of interest, and makes him uniquely unqualified to negotiate our country’s economic future.

But both Mr. Cantor and Speaker Boehner, appear to be following the lead of Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republicans in the Senate, who said his primary goal for this legislative term was to make Mr. Obama a one term president. Whatever happend to thier promise to create jobs? There must be more to governing than scoring points and padding your wallet.

The Republicans and Democrats are both to blame for much of the stalemate, with both sides dug in to their rhetorical excesses. But if the economy tanks, and goes into a double dip recession, the Republican party knows that their efforts will be rewarded at the ballot box, as the incumbents will get the blame, as is always the case.

Politically and financially, the Republicans stand to gain from trashing the economy. Let’s hope that enough of them can put their country and constituents above their own personal and political gain, and instead do the right thing. Surely there are some patriots still in both parties, it is time for them to step up.

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 10:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Deficit Reduction: Comparing Democrats and Republicans

Democrats and Republicans have very different approaches to deficit reduction, but neither are really up to a serious muster. Neither for example go anywhere near as close to a balanced budget as Clinton did, and both take more from the poor and middle class than is warranted.

Before I go any further, I want to refer you to a straightforward comparison of the two approaches to deficit reduction by Reuters. It is much easier on both plans than I would be if I were doing that analysis.

First, the overall savings need to be much bigger than the 4 trillion target. Lets go for 5 trillion instead. Now let’s do defense. Ryan cuts nothing. Obama cuts 600 billion, without getting out of Afghanistan.  However, if we took our troops home next year, we would save, at the current rate of 119 billion a year about 1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. If we add that to Obama’s version it is now 5.2 Billion, but I would take another 800 billion out of defense (again spread over 10 years, that’s more like removing a toe nail than using a scalpel. We are already at 6 billion, see how easy it would be?

But wait! I said that I don’t agree with either side cutting so much from the middle class and poor, so lets surgically remove those savings. What would I replace them with? If we closed the loopholes to big oil that would be 4 billion a year, or 40 billion over 10, but I would double that to 80 billion, by actually taxing them to the amount we currently subsidize them.

Let’s see what else could we do?  How about a requirement for drug companies to bid against one another, rather than their current sweetheart deal? The current system is price-fixing, the opposite of free enterprise, and it was brought to us by George W, and held over by the compromiser in chief Obama.

With that change alone I would think we would make Medicare close to solvent, and we could still afford to have teachers, firefighters and policemen. We just would have to give up huge windfalls for the drug companies….

Am I done? No. I would create a new level of taxes for anyone making over 2 million a year. Their top rate could be 39%, and there is no doubt they could pay it and still amas huge sums at the expense of the rest of us, because they would still own the US congress, lock, stock and barrel.

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Update on the Japan Reactor at Fukushima

Yesterday, in my discussion of the nuclear reactor disaster I was skeptical that the powers that be in Japan were candid as they seemed to be following their established pattern of minimizing the seriousness of the problem in their nuclear reactors. At that time, they were talking about minor problems in 2 of the reactors.

Now they are pulling the last of the workers on site out, because it is getting so bad, in three recators that were active and in the 4th where rods were in storage. The 50 remaining workers are unable to continue to work in a sustained way, and are being evacuated, at least temporarily. Should they it turn out that they are not being replaced, we are talking about a disaster that will rival Chernobyl. Even if they are only out for a short time that means very high levels of radiation.

I guess the poor souls who lived nearby and believed the PR (and stayed in their homes) will eventually be told they should leave too. Many of the Japanese were already evacuating, but now most of them will likely have to do so in the midst of some serious contamination.

I want to hear from my country (USA) what dangers may be possible for Hawaii, the west coast, and for that matter, all the rest of the world, if this becomes a level 7 meltdown. Where can I get good information on what — besides iodine — I should have handy? I suspect that staying indoors and sealing things up tightly will not be adequate, because if it gets as far as Hawaii, it will be a sustained and pervasive exposure.

I guess at this point it is time for some prayer, what else is there, certainly not nuclear science. Pray that not too many people will develop cancer. 70% of the number one reactor is reportedly damaged. They are not sure where the water level is. The fuel is crumpled and capable of melting nearly 100 tons of uranium fuel.

In the MSNBC Ed show, they announced for the first time that Japan was taking out the last of the workers, the 50 that were remaining, and these were the last workers trying to avoid a meltdown. Without them, the best we can hope for is that the reactors will not meltdown completely. The amount of nuclear material possibly at risk in this facility exceeds that of Chernobyl, and now the last best defense (the 50 workers) is gone. They say they are pulling them temporarily, but we shall see how many go back, and how many go to sick bay. If there is a total meltdown, as now seems likely, it would be at least a level 6 emergency and may well be a level 7.

Jobs Lost in the First Two Months of 2009

Caterpillar 20,000 jobs
Sprint Nextel 8,000 jobs
Home Depot 7,000 jobs
Phizer 19,000 jobs
GM 47,000 jobs
ING 7, 000 jobs
Phillips 6, 000 jobs
Chase 12, 000 jobs announced today
Macy’s 7, 000 jobs
Corning 3 ,500 jobs
Intel 6, 000 jobs
Microsoft 5, 000 jobs
Circuit City 34,000 jobs
Bose 1, 000 jobs
Clear Channel 1, 850 jobs
Ericsson 5, 000 jobs
Motorola 4, 000 jobs
Yahoo 2, 000 jobs
PNC Bank 5, 800 jobs
Wamu 9, 200 jobs
Estee Lauder 2, 000 jobs
Eaton 8, 600 jobs (here in Cleveland)
Pepsi 3, 300 jobs
NYC Gov’t 23, 000 jobs
Cisco 2, 000 jobs
Sony 16, 000 jobs
Ford 4, 500 jobs another 5, 000 expected
Chrysler 3, 000 jobs
Honda 3, 100 jobs by March 1st 2009
Mitsubishi 1, 800 jobs by March 1st 2009
Hewlett Packrd 25, 000 jobs
Time Warner 1, 000 jobs
Disney 1, 000 jobs
Huntsman Chem 1, 665 jobs
Harley Davidson 1, 100 jobs
United Air 1, 500 jobs
Boeing 10, 000 jobs
Starbucks 6, 700 jobs
Kodak 4, 500 jobs
Textron 4, 600 jobs
Blk & Decker 1, 200 jobs
Target 1, 000 jobs
TX Instrumnts 3, 400 jobs
IBM 2, 800 jobs
Hertz 4, 000 jobs
General Electric 1, 000 jobs
Delta Air 2, 000 jobs
Walgreens 1, 000 jobs
Cigna 1, 100 jobs
Alcoa 13, 500 jobs

Abercrombie & Fitch 50 jobs

Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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