Category : inflation

Remember when Bitcoin was $100? You know, like 2 months ago? Well now it has leaped up $100 in just 4 hours, rising from $500 to $600 USD before retreating slightly.

Bitcoin on Nov 18, 2013

It seems the Little Currency That Could is making a run at $1000. We’ll soon see if it can make it before the bubble bursts again.

But why  are people investing in this crazy “virtual currency” anyway?
When I first stumbled across Bitcoin back in 2011, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It seemed a pretty quixotic goal, making a new currency just for the internet. I knew the network effect was critical for gaining any traction, and at the time it was just the province of a few cypherpunks, led by a mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto who hasn’t been heard from since 2010. This person or group started the whole thing with a white paper laying out how it would work. Soon the system was up and running. There were a few bumps along the way but this resilient idea has since caught on and now there are a flurry of competing crypto-currencies — that is, digital money that’s secured by lots of complex math.

There’s more to Bitcoin than just another internet scam or tulip craze. The underlying technology that makes Bitcoin work is not smoke and mirrors. You can see it working every day as money is transferred all over the world, nearly insantly. All you need is an internet connection, which of course is needed for any sort of online banking you do with traditional money. Bitcoin’s genius is making large-scale, distributed cryptography work for the masses.

That’s the important point: Bitcoin works for the masses, unlike traditional fiat currencies like the US Dollar. Despite our democratic ideals, American money policy is decided behind closed doors by a secretive agency that fiddles with interest rates and makes huge bond purchases with money it creates from nothing. Transparency is not the Federal Reserve’s style.

Money for the masses
With Bitcoin, the code is open source and there is no central authority or bank — the job of verifying transactions is distributed across the globe. Don’t trust Bitcoin? Review the source code yourself and suggest changes if the security is not up to snuff. Let there be no mistake — Bitcoin is not yet out of “beta” and is not financed by a huge corporation with a strict delivery timeline. Nope, this is a bunch of self-appointed Guardian Nerds who mostly have day jobs not related to Bitcoin (except lead developer Gavin Andresen, who is paid by the nascent Bitcoin Foundation).

With that in mind, it’s best to think of Bitcoin as something that will be really cool and world-changing…

But it isn’t yet. Not until an easier payment system is deployed (it’s being developed now) and a stronger ecosystem of merchants accepting the currency emerges. What we’re witnessing now is a speculative landgrab because smart folks know that Bitcoin’s current market cap of 5 or 6 billion is chump change compared to what a fully mature, global digital currency would have if it were successful. To put it in comparison, Bill Gates could buy the whole Bitcoin economy nearly 10 times over, even in this midst of this bubble.

But is this a bubble or merely staggered massive growth?

Bitcoin versus traditional forms of money
Many valuations have been tossed about for Bitcoin. Most are probably overly optimistic, but the naysayers ignore the fact that Bitcoin was cleverly designed to be a store of value first and a currency second. It’s been derided as a “deflationary currency” even though it’s presently inflating at over 10% as new bitcoins are mined and put into circulation. Though misunderstood, Bitcoin is just on a somewhat-flexible schedule of inflation that will limit it to at most 21 million coins. It will take nearly 100 years for it to inflate from the present total of 12 million to its final total of 21 million. That’s not a bad thing — you can plan your life around that, whereas the Fed could change course tomorrow and you’d have no recourse except to try and compensate for what you think might be their new strategy.

Make no mistake: Bitcoin threatens inflationary currencies because it offers a release valve available to regular folks if the government and/or central bank decides to inflate your currency (as they inevitably do). That’s a good thing because competition among currencies can only help consumers and merchants. Central banks won’t be able to inflate secretly without the price of Bitcoin being affected.

Bitcoin is still pretty clumsy as a currency, but it works well as a store of value as long as you follow proper security procedures and principles. Does your password contain your name or birthday or even the word “password” in it? Does it have the string “12345″ in it? Perhaps you should not buy any bitcoin until “Bitcoin Banks” emerge to offer security to the security-impaired. The bad thing about a global, distributed currency is that it can be stolen remotely too. Don’t skimp on the passwords and don’t keep everything all in one place, like your email account which could itself be hacked. Enable 2 factor authentication where available.

Soon, major merchants will start accepting Bitcoin because they want to save money on credit card transaction fees and/or Paypal charges. Bitcoin is close to free (currently around 3 cents, regardless of the size of the transaction) versus the 2 or 3% fee associated with credit cards.

China: the sleeping giant awakens
Much of the current boom has been driven by enthusiasm in China. During the last huge bubble in April China was barely a participant. This time they are driving the whole market and are responsible for more than half of all exchange trades which consistently outweighs the USD. The Chinese seem to like Bitcoin. A lot.

That means we’re in uncharted waters. Who knows the depths of their desire for bitcoin? Their proclivities could change the world because the Chinese and westerners have different philosophies of money. The Chinese are savers whereas the West has encouraged spending and investment through inflationary currencies that need to be earning you money or solving a problem, or else they are losing value. Much of western civilization is predicated on this quirk of our monetary system. Before, the only way to opt out was to buy gold and silver, but Bitcoin offers a new way to preserve value over time, but has the advantage that it can be sent anywhere in the world cheaply and in about an hour.

That’s why people have taken to calling Bitcoin things like Digital Gold and Gold 2.0. It could become a whole new asset class.

Bitcoin is a blessing and a curse for the Obama Administration
That’s been a problem for the US Government  – it doesn’t know how to classify Bitcoin for tax and regulation purposes. Is it a currency? A store of value? An asset? A security? A collectible? A stock in some hippy/libertarian enterprise? All of the above?

While many observers thought that the US regime would quickly make Bitcoin illegal because of its threat to the US Dollar, it now appears Washington is going to take a more wait & see approach, partly because the Chinese boom seems certain to incubate a new wave of start-ups and millionaires just like the early PC revolution did in the 80s and the internet boom did during the late 90s. Lawmakers face a stark choice: Do you want this new round of innovation to happen in Silicon Valley… or Shanghai?

Besides, Obama/Congress making Bitcoin illegal would only apply to the US and would only serve to drive it underground.  The Feds could try to eradicate it on the internet (at the cost of our liberties), but they would ultimately succeed only restricting commerce. Bitcoin is easy enough to hold offline as a paper wallet. I’m not sure if the US government even still bothers to feign interest in the plight of oppressed peoples living under dictatorships unless there happens to be some oil nearby, but if they did care, Bitcoin is a great way to effect commerce outside the grip of a despot. The obvious early candidates for Bitcoin merchants is any business involving the internet so buying a web domain with bitcoin is already possible. Soon other anti-censorship tools could become available with a digital currency that is difficult for authorities to track if you use appropriate anonymizing tools.

Is Bitcoin anonymous? Sort of.
It should be noted that Bitcoin is not fully anonymous. In fact, every transaction ever made is stored in a huge public ledger (the “Blockchain”) that is hosted and shared by anybody running a Bitcoin node. This helps verify that coins aren’t spent twice and ensures that only the person with the private key can access them. However, you can take steps to make sure no one knows you have that address. Bitcoin addresses are called “wallets” and they are basically both the wallet and bank account of Bitcoin. You can create a new one with a click of a button. No identifying information is required, but the NSA will still be spying on all your activities on the internet (as I’ve been saying for years, but we’re all supposed to be shocked) so tread with caution.

Golden Future: What does the future hold for Bitcoin?
So what does the future hold for Bitcoin? No one knows for sure, but I think we are watching history unfold. People scoffed at the idea of a personal computer. They scoffed at the internet and at mobile phones too. Yet the tide of history flows onward like the River Nile, demolishing our preconceptions and old ideas that no longer serve us in its inexorable ebb and flow.

In the wake of the financial disaster of 2008 and the lingering malaise (even as the Dow breaks 16,000), we have to wonder if our current concept of money is still working. In the old days, money was gold. Or silver. But we banished that idea to the distant past when paper money (which were originally certificates redeemable for gold or silver) caught on. But in the age of derivatives and CDOs and quantitative easing, perhaps it’s time to reassess if paper money — which somehow transformed into digital money in the last few decades — is really helping us.

So the idea of digital money isn’t even new. And neither is Bitcoin’s slow, steady inflation level because it mimics how gold is mined. But the idea of a currency created through cryptographic equations and run on normal PCs is radically new and revolutionary. Could it be that Bitcoin is the best of both worlds, the best of the old and the new?

Time will tell. But Bitcoin is just the first of what promises to be many cryptocurrencies. If Bitcoin doesn’t get it right, it’s likely that some other crypto-coin will.

Learn more about Bitcoin at WeUseCoins.com. Bitcoin has a significant learning curve and it’s worthwhile to invest some time into understanding it before you dive in. And if you’re going to buy in, wait until this current bubble pops. And pop it will, but I bet it will still be higher than it was 2 months ago.

You might be telling your grandkids about way back in your day when a bitcoin was only worth 600 dollars. And your grandkids will ask, “What’s a dollar?”

The pyramid scheme that is our economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. The subprime loan disaster is looking more and more like the detanator that will nuke the dollar, the banking industry and our economy as a whole.

When US homeowners default on their mortgages en-mass, they destroy money faster than the Fed can replace it through normal channels. The result is a liquidity crisis which deflates asset prices and reduces monetized wealth, says economist Henry Liu.

The debt-securitization process is in a state of collapse. The market for structured investments, MBSs, CDOs, and Commercial Paper—has evaporated leaving the banks with astronomical losses. They are incapable of rolling over their their short-term debt or finding new revenue streams to buoy them through the hard times ahead. As the foreclosure-avalanche intensifies; bank collateral continues to be down-graded which is likely to trigger a wave of bank failures.

Henry Liu sums it up like this: Proposed government plans to bail out distressed home owners can slow down the destruction of money, but it would shift the destruction of money as expressed by falling home prices to the destruction of wealth through inflation masking falling home value. (The Road to Hyperinflation, Henry Liu, Asia Times) It’s a vicious cycle. The Fed is caught between the dual millstones of hyperinflation and mass defaults. There’s no way out.

We are so fucked.

Unless somebody has a new economic system waiting in the wings I’ll have to start learning how to survive on rats, rabbits, squirrels … and probably human flesh at this rate. And that is not my idea of a good time.

The worst part is the feeling of helplessness. I can only watch these “financial experts” make one stupid decision after another. They’re only really experts at making themselves massive short-term profits. They don’t care about the damage they’ve done to the economy, which affects all of us.

The whole affair is depressing and maddening, but if you want to learn more, visit the Market Oracle.

As for me, I’ll be learning to hunt small suburban mammals.

I’ve been thinking about music a lot lately. Okay, I always do that, since I’m obsessed with music, but you wouldn’t know it from this blog. I don’t know why, but I don’t usually like to write about music (it’s like “dancing about architecture” or so says Frank Zappa).

There’s an article over on Slashdot that got me thinking. It’s about the decline of the CD as a medium. Yeah, an article on that subject comes out every couple weeks, but I didn’t even read it. More important, I thought, was the ensuing discussion. It seems everybody has a different take on the state of the music industry. For me, no, CDs are not dead. I prefer my music uncompressed and pre-backed-up before I put it on my iPod. Plus, if you count CD-Rs, CDs are more popular than ever. I burn CDs all the time, whether its a copy of a CD a friend gave me or mixes from my band’s recording sessions.

Band Update – finally
Speaking of the band, I know I haven’t posted about us in awhile, probably because I didn’t want to jinx anything. People have been asking me when our album’s coming out for years and I keep telling them, “pretty soon. It’s right around the corner!” For the last few months I’ve been saying, “in a few months!” Well, it’s been a few months and it’s not out yet, but not for lack of effort. To be honest, we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing, but whatever we’re doing is shaping up pretty nice. We’ve got about 7 songs pretty much in the can — which is to say 90% or more recorded. They all need some mixing, but we’re going to try to bust out 2 more tracks before mixing begins in earnest. The songs are heavy but not punishing. They are melodic, but not sappy. They are all fairly unique but I think they will sound pretty cohesive together on an album (except for maybe one oddball).

We’ve learned so much about recording over the last 7 months, I don’t know where to begin. But we’ve also had some setbacks. I’m not blaming anybody (*coughMattcough*), but my Digi 001 suddenly went from an 8 track recorder to 6 tracks. Not good. But we’ll pull through. We’re recording all of the instruments separately for maximum flexibility (and it just sounds better in my opinion), so this shouldn’t cause too many problems. After all of the overdubs are added on we typically end up with over 20 tracks anyway, now we’re just limited to recording 6 tracks at a time.

So anyway, the band: I haven’t even told you the name yet. We’re Darkfold. We’re on UnderUtopia Records, which is our own independent net-based label and our album is yet to be named. Darkfold consists of me, Matthew R. Coon (esquire) and Andy Riedinger (esquilax). We trade off instruments. Matt does much of our singing, but I do a bunch, too. We play heavy rock music, at least that’s what we’re focusing on at the moment. The second album could be totally different; who knows?

Anyway, I’ll try to keep y’all better informed as the album nears completion. We hope to start gigging soon, but we want to get this album done before Armageddon (which could be any day now… in fact… we’d better hurry!). This making an album thing is fucking difficult, especially with 3 fulltime jobs between us. Of course, it would be impossible without money coming in. I really respect anybody who can start a band, even a shitty one, because there’s so much that goes into making it work.

Music, Money & Class
I’ve been thinking about music and money — more specifically, music and class. A question to ponder: How much music is the world being robbed of because the would-be musicians are too poor to start a band? I mean, becoming a professional musician is basically like taking a vow of poverty to begin with (unless your name is “Paul McCartney”), but you have to have a certain level of wealth before you can even take that plunge. Buying guitars, drums, amps and assorted gear is expensive. So is buying recording equipment and practice space and a van for touring. Then, after doing that you need to find time to practice — but how can you do that if you’re working all the time to afford food, clothing and shelter, let alone the aforementioned gear/space?

So needless to say, I’m kinda shocked anybody can afford to start a rock band these days. That’s why I wasn’t too surprised to find out that many successful rock musicians were wealthy before they hit the top of the charts. Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, for instance, had rich parents to help him out when he was just getting started:

Conor: Dark? Not really. Actually I had a great childhood. My parents were wonderful. I went to a Catholic school. They have, I had money, so it was all easy. I basically had everything that I wanted anytime

Gee, wouldn’t that be nice. If my parents were bankrolling my musical endeavors I think we would’ve released 5 albums by now. Curse my middle-class upbringing! (j/k) It seems like every other star is the child of someone famous, from Norah Jones to Jakob Dylan. Rock and roll music was sparked by working class kids like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Elvis. Would those same kids have a chance in today’s cut-throat economy with all its barriers to entry?

America’s Famous Poverty Machine
So my question is: Do you have to be upper-class or at least well-off to have a good chance of making it in music these days? Do the rich people in America make the rules? Music has evolved and the bar for “good” music has been raised and if you don’t want to sign your soul away to a near-extinct dinosaur of a record label what choice do you have?

Personally, I get the feeling that we’re being fucked. The economy seems to be devised to deprive of us our hard-earned money. After inflation, college loans, housing bubbles, gas prices and the fucked up healthcare system, most people are barely scraping by. I have several friends who are still living with their parents because moving out just doesn’t make economic sense. Rent is sky-high and wages are down (even as productivity is up!). Most of my other friends have massive debt (myself included) and no easy way out.

This is the richest, most prosperous nation on earth?! Bullshit. We are being fucked by the rich. The fascist/capitalist oligarchy that controls our government is all about extracting ever more money from the poor and the middle class, not because the rich need another yacht (they don’t) but because the whole system is set up this way. It all needs to come crashing down. And at the rate the dollar is falling, it might just do exactly that. And we’ll have Bush to blame. The “legacy” they keep talking about will be one of fascism, terrorism, poverty and incompetence.

Music and class is not something most people like to talk about. It’s fair to ask, “does it matter? If the music is good, so what?” I would argue that it does matter, and we miss their unique perspectives. If you need a lot of equipment or players (like rock
and classical, respectively) the poor simply can’t play that game. And music education is already cut to the bone in inner city schools.

We’d be condemned to hearing only music created by the offspring of rich people if it wasn’t for hip-hop. Hip-hop, thankfully, can be made on the cheap if you know your way around the software (and if you have a computer) or mixer. But not everybody wants to be (or can be) a rapper. And what is the manifest goal of almost every single rapper on the radio — that’s right; getting filthy rich. (not every rapper is like that)

I don’t wanna be rich; I just want to make some music. I would love to do it for a living, but that just doesn’t seem possible these days. Signing a record contract is a great way to feel rich for a couple years before you discover the terms of the contract have impoverished you and stolen the most valuable thing you have — the copyright to your own songs. So we’re going the indie route, even if it kills us (and it might). In the meantime, I urge you to give some thought to the idea that lower and middle class folks are being shut out of the music game. Just like the other games.

I should make it clear that the most valuable commodity the rich have is time; specifically the time that comes from not having to work.

If only rich people are able to make popular, radio-friendly music we’d lose about 90% of all potential music, and we’d be subjected to endless songs about Jacuzzis, Mercedes Benz’s and Courvoisier. Thankfully, there are a lot bands out there struggling against impossible odds and making songs about real shit, like trying to pay the rent, finding their way in the world and dealing with relationships. Shit, music used to be the province of poor folks — look at all those old blues albums. Leadbelly was poor as piss, but now people think there’s a lot of money in the music game so the rich’s kids have invaded… and conquered.

Shit, the music business ain’t even worth that much, monetarily. But its cultural and entertainment value is immense! I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m whining, but I certainly have a new respect for musicians of modest means who have managed to carve out a good living for themselves without signing to a major label. I just don’t know who those bands are… -

Oh yeah — The Goodyear Pimps!

And WookieFoot! Represent, bliss junkies!

Do you know any others? Give me a shout-out!

I noticed this little tidbit on Slashdot, which is explained in more detail at the San Fran Chronicle:

Analog TVs will no longer receive a signal come Feb. 19, 2009, unless users update their hardware to receive a digital signal.

Federal officials announced details Monday about how that transition will work, saying the government will help consumers buy the necessary equipment to upgrade to digital — a converter box that attaches to the TV set.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said it is setting aside $990 million to pay for the boxes. Each home can request up to two $40 coupons for a digital-to-analog converter box, which consumer electronics makers such as RCA and LG plan to produce. Prices for the box have not been determined, but industry and consumer groups have estimated they will run $50 to $75 each. [emphasis added]

Yes, that’s right. The government is going to pay you to keep watching that boobtube. The government is subsidizing mind control devices in order to ensure the passivity of the populace.

As a person who hates TV and doesn’t own one, it really pisses me off that my tax dollars are being spent on this boondoggle. I’ve long had a nagging suspicion that TVs have always been subsidized to some extent because the powers that be wanted a window into the lives of their subjects. It’s worth noting that in 1984 the TV’s watch you.

TV is bad for you. It’s bad for your mind, your body and your soul. Why is the government subsidizing something that, by almost all accounts, is detrimental to our health? Children spend 44.5 hours per week in front of screens — as much time as I spend at my job — and the government is not only unconcerned they’re funding this? Don’t you see something wrong here?

The Romans had their bread & circuses and Americans have their TV. This is about pacifying the population. If we didn’t have TV to numb our brains people might start to wake up to all the nefarious shit going on around us. Ideally, TV would be an excellent medium to tackle these social ills, but the mega-media-corps rarely seem to do so, especially when their own bottom line is at risk.

Instead, we will all continue working all day, going home to veg for a few hours and then waking up and doing it again… and with our softened brains we’ll never have time to ponder why a highly-advanced country like ours works so much, yet has so little to show for it (besides bigscreen TVs). With American Idol on we’ll never deduce that the rich are stealing from us through inflation, real-estate boom & busts, taxes and other financial trickery that make it possible for the middle classes’ earning power to actually decline over the last 30 years despite the rich getting fantastically richer.

We are being FUCKED. But most people are too hypnotized to notice.

There’s a discussion over at Slashdot concerning the income disparity we face today. I expect it to be modded into oblivion by fascists, capitalists and morons, so I’m reposting it here:

So, who got a check from the government last year to make up for all the money you lost to inflation? Anyone?

Whenever topics like this come up all the libertarians, fascist/corporatists and foaming-at-the-mouth capitalists come out of the woodwork to say that “anybody can make it in America!” even though none of them have been poor, black, suffering from disease and fleeing from hurricanes while still succeeding in business. Hey, I like kool-aid, too, but this is total horseshit. Let me be absolutely clear:

THE RICH “CREATE” POVERTY. Clear enough? Without rich people actively trying to fuck over poor people we wouldn’t have the income disparity that we presently have. To see it in action, all you have to do is look at the Republican party and their collaborators in big business. They try their best to cut taxes for the rich and slash spending on social programs, no matter what the human cost. The Democrats help by increasing federal spending to obscene levels thereby necessitating increased taxation. We get fucked from both ends, like a double-sided dildo.

As amusing as it is to read white-bread, middle-class slashdotters talking about how easy it is for anybody in America to become a captain of industry, I feel compelled to take a shit on your Capitalism Cake. Fascism is alive and well in this country, which should be no surprise to anyone who knows what Fascism is: Corporatism. Basically, it’s the merger of the state and big business. Fascism is the governmental system that is most favorable to business, bar none. Big Business is fascist not because they believe in Hitler’s aryan fantasies but because they stand to gain from a government hopelessly devoted to improving market conditions for greedy multinationals.

The income gap is not a new thing because greed is as old as humanity. There is no such thing as being “rich enough.” There is only MORE. More money, more power, more disparity. And how do you really know that you’re rich unless somebody else is poor? How can you really enjoy being wealthy unless you have servants? The rich mindset is dead set on creating inequity because the rich benefit from it, and like I said, there is no limit to their desires.

This is aided, abetted and made possible by the Federal Reserve System. Each year the Fed increases the money supply, and each year money becomes worth less and less. That’s the problem with fiat currency. Since it’s not backed by gold the dollar bill has no intrinsic worth. It is just paper. Since it’s just paper/electrons it can be created with a flick of the wrist. And so it is. When that money is created, who gets it? You? Does the government/private industry send you a check each year to account for inflation? No, the money is simply stolen from you by those who create it: The bankers. Bankers are the Kings of Capitalism. They are the new aristocracy, the ruling class that maintains control with an iron fist. They control the corporations and our government.

But this system, which appears impossibly strong from the outside, is actually rotting from within. Things are falling apart. If there was a run on the banks our economy would collapse into a pit that would make the Great Depression look like a tea party. That’s because of the deposits vs. cash-on-hand ratio. Banks are able to create money simply by making loans. How? Well, they don’t really have your money in the vault, you know. For each dollar you put in your savings account the bank is able to lend 10 dollars out because bankers have figured out that they only need to keep 10% of their total deposits on hand at any given time. (I’d like to have a 9x or 10x multiplier on my wealth. Maybe I should start a bank and screw you people over! It’s the American way!) The Fed backs them in case of a run, but they don’t have the money either. The money doesn’t exist. It’s imaginary. It’s not backed by anything like gold and it is only accessible during normal business climates. In the event of a nationwide run on all banks the first 10% might get their money out. The other 90% are totally and completely fucked.

Our economy is based on smoke and mirrors. The Federal Reserve is a privately owned corporation that loans our government money at interest, even though the money is completely fake. This is why we have a 9 trillion dollar federal debt (well, that and profligate spending by Congress). It’s a total scam. And most importantly, it’s a system of control, courtesy of the ultra-rich. They know that money is worthless; it’s only a means to an end: Power.

So does income inequality matter? Of course it does. It matters to the rich, who count on poor people for cheap labor (thus, the love affair with illegal immigration — would you rather pay $2.50 an hour for a Mexican gardener, or $10.50 for a citizen gardener?), and it matters to the poor, who can’t afford to go back to school to get more skills and get a better job… working for a rich guy who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, went to Harvard’s kindergarten, etc.

So please, spare me the platitudes about how anybody can make it in America. If you do make it you’ll have to spend the rest of your life looking after your money, investing it properly and being successful at it or inflation will turn your wealth into a big pile of nothing. This should be nothing new to anybody who’s familiar with the ruling class. It’s the same in this country as it was 2,000 years ago during the Roman Empire. One of my favorite scenes from Mel Brook’s History of the World: Part 1 is the one in the Roman Senate:

Leader of Senate: All fellow members of the Roman senate hear me. Shall we continue to build palace after palace for the rich? Or shall we aspire to a more noble purpose and build decent housing for the poor? How does the senate vote?

Entire Senate: FUCK THE POOR!

Shitty day.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

What a shitty day. Nothing too horrible, just left me wondering: When’s Timmy-time? When do I get time for me? It seems like I’m working my life away… and I am. Is this really what I want to do with my life? It’s so short, and it’s slipping away… Is this it?

Why does it seem like we get busier and busier every year? Why don’t Americans use their supposed wealth to stretch out their leisure time? Isn’t that the definition of freedom? But I bet most of you are stuck with whatever PTO time the company gives you… and the rest of you can only wish you had PTO time.

Is this freedom? Is this wealth? How come I feel so poor in the time department? I’d gladly trade some money for some more time… but I don’t have enough money either.

They keep telling me that Americans are rich, richer than most of the rest of the world. Is that so? Then how come we have to work so much? After cost of living expenses and inflation are factored in it seems to me that we’re just like everybody else. Just trying to get by, day by day. Working more than we should because we can’t control our own hours. We can’t get the job we really want, we can’t spend as much time with friends and family as we’d like and if we complain too much we’re out on the streets. You call this freedom? I call it economic bondage.

So this is what it feels like to be a wealthy slave.

It now sounds like the NSA approached AT&T about setting up a domestic spying ring well before 9/11. Bush previously claimed that 9/11 was the impetus behind the decision, but it sounds like he’s just a fascist by nature:

The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation’s largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

“The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,” plaintiff’s lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. “This undermines that assertion.”

The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.

Well, this probably comes as a surprise to anyone who thinks Bush is a real conservative. The neocons are called neo-conservatives because they’re not really conservative. They’re actually quite a radical bunch and they came into office with a very forward-looking plan to reshape the world and America’s place in it. While you certainly can’t call them liberals, the conservative label doesn’t fit either. That’s why I like to call them neo-fascists. It describes their intent and their methods so much better than the other, more conventional terms.

So let there be no doubt: Spying on us and taking away our liberties was the plan from day one. They didn’t suddenly become radicalized by 9/11 — they claim that continually and that’s bullshit. They hope that we were changed by 9/11, but it didn’t affect them in the same way. Shit, the neocons probably threw a party after 9/11 because suddenly everything they’ve ever wanted was within reach. They can continue building their American Empire without a lot of whiny opposition (or so they thought! Bloggers can whine better than anyone!) and they no longer had to pretend to care about the Constitution. When you look at who benefited most from 9/11 the neocons are on the top of the list. They certainly faired better than the mythical Al Qaeda (which is CIA anyway).
We live in dark times. Can’t trust our own government. Our government has been stolen out from under our noses and most people have no idea why or how. I can answer that quite easily. Why? Power. How? The Federal Reserve System. That’s a gross oversimplification, but the fact remains that the Fed enabled the private banking class to control our government from afar. Just think about it: A private institution, in the middle of our government (inaccurately named “Federal”) that controls our money supply. The government depends on the Fed for it’s power because in the capitalist system the bankers are king. Shit, you’d be king too if you could take a dollar and turn it into ten dollars just by loaning it out ten times. That’s the way banks work; fractional reserve banking is a huge scam:

Banks make money by literally creating money out of thin air, nowadays exclusively deposits rather than bank notes. This sort of swindling or counterfeiting is dignified by the term “fractional-reserve banking,” which means that bank deposits are backed by only a small fraction of the cash they promise to have at hand and redeem. (Right now, in the United States, this minimum fraction is fixed by the Federal Reserve System at 10 percent.)

Fractional Reserve Banking

Let’s see how the fractional reserve process works, in the absence of a central bank. I set up a Rothbard Bank, and invest $1,000 of cash (whether gold or government paper does not matter here). Then I “lend out” $10,000 to someone, either for consumer spending or to invest in his business. How can I “lend out” far more than I have? Ahh, that’s the magic of the “fraction” in the fractional reserve. I simply open up a checking account of $10,000 which I am happy to lend to Mr. Jones. Why does Jones borrow from me? Well, for one thing, I can charge a lower rate of interest than savers would. I don’t have to save up the money myself, but simply can counterfeit it out of thin air. (In the nineteenth century, I would have been able to issue bank notes, but the Federal Reserve now monopolizes note issues.) Since demand deposits at the Rothbard Bank function as equivalent to cash, the nation’s money supply has just, by magic, increased by $10,000. The inflationary, counterfeiting process is under way.

The nineteenth-century English economist Thomas Tooke correctly stated that “free trade in banking is tantamount to free trade in swindling.”

Read the whole article. It’s a great primer on how inflated and fake our whole economy is. Anytime there’s inflation your money is suddenly worth less. But whoever created that new money just got a sweet deal. He just swindled you and it’s all completely legal. He can swindle you again and again and you’ll never know his name or look him in the eye. You’ll never get a chance to get your money back either. Our entire economy is one big scam.

So, who benefits from all of this? Bankers and criminals, of course (is there a difference?). Over the years they have grown powerful and they are getting extremely tired of the constitutional roadblocks in place and they would very much like to be rid of our pesky civil liberties. So it should come as no surprise that Bush has been a tyrannical, fascist, wanna-be dictator from day one — he is very much a scion of the criminal banking class (he was born in Connecticut, not Texas) and his goal has always been to increase the power of the Shadow Government that sprung up after the creation of the Fed. The Shadow Government includes the military-industrial-complex (which itself includes the NSA, CIA, the Pentagon as a whole and Congress) along with the Fed, the FBI, the ATF and various other tentacles of contr
ol (like the media). Not everyone who works at the NSA is part of this Shadow Government, but the problem is that most people don’t even know it exists — so how can they fight against it?

Spread the word. The Shadow Government is basically a takeover attempt by the banking cartel and their criminal buddies. Events like 9/11 will continue to happen until they are removed from power.

JustOneMinute links to the latest Krugman article, but I think Kruggers is better at bashing Bush than figuring out why we are in such a hellish situation. We’re controlled by creditors. I posted thusly over there:

This is a decent article, but Krugman has to recognize that inflation is basically government theft. The Fed controls how much inflation there is by printing cash and making loans. The fact that there’s usually money to be had keeps us out of trouble, but political and economic forces can also cause inflation (oil prices, for example). Even the moderate amount (small by Fed standards) of inflation we’ve experienced lately is too much because it’s so continuous. A few deflationary periods ever now and then wouldn’t hurt. There would be less money in circulation, but the cash you did have would become more valuable.

The Fed’s insistance of constant boom times has created a boom-bust cycle when we should have a normal up and down cycle. I think it’s time we take a look at where the Fed is leading us and ask whether they have people’s interest at heart. After all, they are not elected, yet they control our encomony, which is arguably even more important (read: more powerful) than our democracy (such as it is). I think we need to take a long, hard look at the Fed and wonder if we really need it.

Some quotes about the Federal Reserve System:

“From now on, depressions will be scientifically created.”
Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Sr. , 1913

“The financial system has been turned over to the Federal Reserve Board. That Board administers the finance system by authority of a purely profiteering group. The system is Private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other people’s money”Charles A. Lindbergh Sr., 1923

“When you or I write a check there must be sufficient funds in our account to cover the check, but when the Federal Reserve writes a check there is no bank deposit on which that check is drawn. When the Federal Reserve writes a check, it is creating money.”Boston Federal Reserve Bank

“I have never seen more Senators express discontent with their jobs….I think the major cause is that, deep down in our hearts, we have been accomplices in doing something terrible and unforgivable to our wonderful country. Deep down in our heart, we know that we have given our children a legacy of bankruptcy. We have defrauded our country to get ourselves elected.”John Danforth (R-Mo)

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President.

“If Congress has the right [it doesn't] to issue paper money [currency], it was given to them to be used by…[the government] and not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.”President Andrew Jackson, Vetoed Bank Bill of 1836

“History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it’s issuance.”James Madison

“The few who understand the system, will either be so interested from it’s profits or so dependant on it’s favors, that there will be no opposition from that class.”Rothschild Brothers of London, 1863

“Most Americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international money lenders. The accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited. It operates outside the control of Congress and manipulates the credit of the United States.”Sen. Barry Goldwater (Rep. AR)

“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.”James A. Garfield, President of the United States

“Banks lend by creating credit. (ledger-entry credit, monetized debt) They create the means of payment out of nothing.”Ralph M. Hawtrey, Secretary of the British Treasury

“To expose a 15 trillion dollar ripoff of the American people by the stockholders of the 1000 largest corporations over the last 100 years will be a tall order of business.”Buckminster Fuller

“Every Congressman, every Senator knows precisely what causes inflation…but can’t, [won't] support the drastic reforms to stop it [repeal of the Federal Reserve Act] because it could cost him his job.”Robert A. Heinlein, Expanded Universe

“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”Henry Ford

“The regional Federal Reserve banks are not government agencies. …but are independent, privately owned and locally controlled corporations.”Lewis vs. United States, 680 F. 2d 1239 9th Circuit 1982

“We have, in this country, one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board. This evil institution has impoverished the people of the United States and has practically bankrupted our government. It has done this through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.”Congressman Louis T. McFadden in 1932 (Rep. Pa)

“The Federal Reserve banks are one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever seen. There is not a man within the sound of my voice who does not know that this nation is run by the International bankers.”Congressman Louis T. McFadden (Rep. Pa)