When I first read about Bitcoin, the open source peer-to-peer digital currency, I thought it was just another in a long line of attempts to create an online alternative to the dollar that would probably not see wide adoption.
Then I watched "End of the Road: How Money Became Worthless," and started to understand more about fiat currency and the dangers that come with depending on it. After a friend explained a little more about how Bitcoin works and how it was designed to transcend many of our current challenges with fiat money, I went back and took another look.
Continue reading Hello, Bitcoin
If there's any part of you that remains hopeful about what national political systems or government can do for the average resident of this country, I invite you to have your soul crushed by this excellent and compelling hour of reporting from This American Life about the incredible role money plays in U.S. politics and governance today.
Some of the stories and interviews are in and of themselves shocking, but the general theme probably doesn't feel like anything new or surprising: money powers political considerations, political considerations determine who has money. For me, the compelling parts were the simple narratives and examples of just how much time and energy the people who ostensibly represent U.S. citizens spend thinking about and raising money, and what distasteful things they have to do as a part of that.
Continue reading Take the money and run for office
Sometimes, it's important to question the unquestionable. One area where I see that our culture has the most difficult time doing this is in talking about the funding of our military defense and public safety services. At a national/international level, it's the U.S. Military and private security contractors. At the state, county and city level, it's police officers along with firefighters and EMTs.
Lawmakers and executive branch leaders across the political spectrum are acutely aware that they'll never be criticized for "supporting the troops" that serve in these operations. In his recent speech updating the world on the status of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he also acknowledged the tenuous state of the economy, President Obama said that, "as long as I am President, we will maintain the finest fighting force that the world has ever known, and we will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us." The finest in the world. Whatever it takes. These phrases mean something coming from the President of the United States.
Continue reading Hero Worship
We all love to splurge a little once in a while. Save up some money and do something nice with it, really go a little beyond our normal spending - maybe it's a vacation, maybe it's a nice gift for a friend, or maybe it's buying universal healthcare for 300 million Americans.
Oh yeah, universal health care was one of the things I bought on my $3 Trillion Shopping Spree. I did it at the website 3trillion.org, which asks the question: "The occupation of Iraq will cost $3 trillion...can YOU spend that money better?" It's an interesting exercise, and a great way to put the costs of the U.S. presence in Iraq into perspective.
Here is the full list of purchases I put in my cart:
Continue reading A $3 Trillion Shopping Spree