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Comment: Re:What an opportunity! (Score 2) 289 289

by FooAtWFU (#50013527) Attached to: Greek Financial Crisis Is an Opportunity For Bitcoin

The historical evidence shows that Austerity causes demand contraction and often demand spiral, it has never in global history solved a budget crisis.

Austerity does cause demand contraction, but Greece is going to have to deal with it one way or another: there's no resources available for everyone to retire on a nice fat pension at age 55 anymore. It doesn't matter whether that comes out as a cut in euro-denominated pensions, or if that happens when people get drachma-denominated pensions: Greeks reliant on government funds must rely on less, because they're spending more than they take in, and it's pretty clear that lending money to Greece is less like lending and more like donating.

Now put a truckload of economic disruption on top of that mess.

The real way out for Greece was always securing a modicum of debt forgiveness and debt forbearance, plus enacting some economic reforms. The Greek economy is well-known as a sclerotic, over-regulated disaster area where you need to bribe corrupt bureaucrats to do anything and small-time rent-seeking plutocrats effectively own not just businesses but the right to operate important sectors of the economy. And the reforms were even going okay for a short while - real economic growth! - but the economic reforms proved unpopular with the leftists, and so this is what we get instead.

Glad it's not my country going through this.

Comment: Re:What an opportunity! (Score 1, Insightful) 289 289

by FooAtWFU (#50011765) Attached to: Greek Financial Crisis Is an Opportunity For Bitcoin

To replace one deflationary currency they can't print (Euro) for another (Bitcoin). No my dear friend. It's fiat currency they need right now.

It's a completely arbitrary distinction in many ways. Forget the money: the problem is about stuff (goods, services, etc). The Greek government has been borrowing so that its people can have more stuff, and at this point It's not even about paying what they've borrowed so far, there's a substantial ongoing deficit that they need to deal with. As such, the people are poorer than they thought, and they're going to have to cope with it somehow. They can do that by accepting the poverty and choosing austerity: cutting benefits, raising taxes. Or they can respond to that with reforms in the labor market and other markets (working harder/smarter).

All you get by replacing the currency and then paying people in the new currency that's worth less is austerity by stealth, with a side of chaos and disruption. Which is what the leftists in charge of Greece will pick, since they ideologically reject the reforms and can blame evil outside influences for the chaos and disruption.

Comment: Re: You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 5, Interesting) 289 289

by FooAtWFU (#50011637) Attached to: Greek Financial Crisis Is an Opportunity For Bitcoin

Gold fluctuates pretty wildly with mass hysteria, compete with massive deflation and inflation. Much like bitcoin. Prior to the 20th century, when communication wasn't quite so instant and pervasive, gold did a pretty good job because it was rare for *everyone* to panic more or be more confident all at once.

Eh. Don't oversell the old gold standard. For starters, a gold standard was typically a steady and persistent malaise of deflation, as economic output increased more steadily than the money supply. Second, this was punctuated by Fun Fun Fun bouts of inflation when something like a gold rush happened or someone colonizing the new world discovered new mines overseas. Third, the metallic standards' troubles were amplified when regimes inevitably tried to do something stupid like have currency in both gold and silver with the price ratio fixed, invariably leading to a straightforward application of Gresham's law where the overvalued money drove out the good (sometimes merely hoarding the good money, other times trading it out of the country for a better deal).

Comment: Re: You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 2) 289 289

by FooAtWFU (#50011551) Attached to: Greek Financial Crisis Is an Opportunity For Bitcoin

But if you have just a few ounces of gold, how would you spend it? Shave it to buy a loaf of bread?

You take it to a dealer and they "make change" buy turning it back into normal-person money. There are well-known gold coins out there of regulated weight and purity. For instance, the US mint has issued 1oz gold eagle and buffalo coins. They're in the neighborhood of ~$1300 and $1100 each right now, respectively. You can look up the price up on the Internet ahead of time and not get scammed by the dealer like you would with jewelry.

Comment: Re:Stability (Score 1) 289 289

by FooAtWFU (#50011515) Attached to: Greek Financial Crisis Is an Opportunity For Bitcoin

Something doesn't make sense.

The Euro is the go-to safe haven currency.

The problem is that any Euros stored in a bank are liable to be seized and replaced with drachmas (greece leaves the euro, "grexit"), or possibly legislatively forbidden to leave the nation ("capital controls" - likely to lead to grexit). As you can imagine, these threats has led to lots of people withdrawing real Euros while they still can, depleting Greek banks of deposits, requiring emergency bailout/loans from the IMF and ECB. Now that line of credit has been maxed, they're not being offered any more, so as of last weekend or so the banks are closed and won't let anyone withdraw money.

So one pitch for bitcoin here is that it's more stable than a euro contained in a Greek bank. Of course, that's not going to do you much good if you can't get the euros out of the bank to buy the bitcoins. I guess the other is that it could help you either circumvent (legally) or violate (illegally) any future capital controls (good old-fashioned black-market currency dealing, also popular in China sometimes). We'll see about that.

Comment: Re:You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 1) 289 289

by FooAtWFU (#50011391) Attached to: Greek Financial Crisis Is an Opportunity For Bitcoin

Yes, you can. It's called derivatives. Sell silver you don't have, buy gold that nobody has, eat your heart out. They can send the price pretty much anywhere they like.

Poppycock. Even the legendary Jay Gould found that he couldn't corner the gold market.

Comment: Re:You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 4, Interesting) 289 289

by FooAtWFU (#50011109) Attached to: Greek Financial Crisis Is an Opportunity For Bitcoin

Because the value of gold and silver is somehow less arbitrary than electronic bank balances.

Depends on who's running the bank, doesn't it? The value of gold and silver fluctuate with supply and demand worldwide. They have industrial and decorative uses and a widespread base of people willing to own them. In the absence of large-scale deep-space asteroid mining technology flooding the market with excess supplies, they're going to remain fairly valuable.

A well-run bank can do much better (the value of its currency remaining approximately constant over time) but once you start instituting capital controls and swapping out the nice currency for shitty drachmas then it's another matter.

Comment: Re:I'm surprised this made the front page (Score 1) 232 232

Citizens United is a very popular decision here on slashdot (even though the vast overwhelming majority of slashdot readers will never be helped by it).

Incumbents of any party in any political office hold massive advantages in winning re-election. Very few Americans think that this is a good thing, let alone say that the incumbent advantage should be strengthened.

The real question is why so many people wish to confer additional advantages upon incumbents by neutralizing their political opponents. You'd think that one would have to be some sort of Congressman to support the various campaign-financing measures that come through (*cough* McCain *cough* Feingold *cough cough*).

Comment: Re:Love the idea (Score 1) 163 163

by FooAtWFU (#49961953) Attached to: 3D Printing Might Save the Rhinoceros

The solution to this problem, if we could institute it, would be to fine the living fuck out of anyone buying rhino horn that they believe to be real... and vaporizing poachers

Good idea, sir. We'll be sure to get the World Police right onto that, right after we consolidate our New World Order by quashing the outbreak of ungoodthink in Eurasia. As for vaporizing the poachers themselves... What do you think of drones with M-388 rounds? Make a real pretty little crater.

Comment: Re:WSJ is owned by NewsCorp now, right? (Score 1) 231 231

by FooAtWFU (#49760161) Attached to: WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails

No, of course FDR didn't cause the Depression (just extended it).

He was a commie in the 30s and early 40s, despite the fact he never sent anyone to the Gulag (kinda the defining aspect of Communism in the 30s and early 40s)

If you want to be pedantic about what is and what isn't Communism, you could at least break out the Manifesto because I can think of a lot of ideological nitpicks that you could put in advance of "did not establish a gulag".

the business community fought him tooth and nail the whole way ... but he enriched his friends in business, etc.

Yeah, go read about the National Recovery Administration. Essentially they suspended antitrust law if you adopted a certain minimum wage. Clarence Darrow (of Scopes Monkey Trial fame) briefly headed up the National Recovery Review Board, a body which issued a few nice reports on how effectively this crushed smaller businesses, and was then promptly dissolved. You could try reading one or two. (Of course the Supreme Court found the act establishing the administration unconstitutional, leading to the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, an utterly transparent attempt to pack the Supreme Court.) The Montgomery Ward incident, incidentally, was much much later, in 1944, during the war.

but then it was never sold as a way to reduce overall costs.

Hahahhahahahahahahhaha... let's see what Google can say on the topic in the next 15 seconds... Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and the deficit and instead stressing a promise to "improve it." -- Politico, 8/9/2010. (I'm sure I could find more coverage in the event that you don't think Politico's worth the paper it's printed on.)

Comment: Re:WSJ is owned by NewsCorp now, right? (Score 1) 231 231

by FooAtWFU (#49758241) Attached to: WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails

they were the ones beating the "FDR is a Commie" drum when he created Social Security, etc.

FDR was a Commie, though. We only see Social Security seven or eight decades after the fact, but the FDR administration completely overhauled the nation's economy, especially the agricultural sector, placing enormous swaths under extensive government control, with explicit production targets and price targets. The administration actively disbelieved in competition and a free market, and thought it could restore the nation to prosperity by paying people to fallow their land and by burning crops. By "disbelieved in a free market", I don't mean that they had a bunch of Regulators out there keeping Rich and Powerful People from doing Bad Things. I mean that they kept the Rich and Powerful People in business because they were rich and powerful friends of the FDR administration, and they did a lot to help them.

The FDR administration's interventions are a primary reason that the Great Depression was so Great. Fortunately, most of them were disassembled after World War II, resulting in an impressive game of catch-up as the nation returned to economic growth and prosperity (and unfortunately convincing some people that war is an economic catalyst instead of an exercise in spending valuable effort blowing stuff up, including some of the most economically valuable stuff out there, human lives).

Anyway. If you hate Big Agriculture, factory farms, and crop monocultures, then you should despise FDR, who erected the system which brought them upon us.

As for the rest, Social Security was the icing on the cake. It's an out-and-out wealth transfer in a way that the other programs, but at least it's an honest wealth transfer -- a generational wealth transfer, and future generations are likely to be richer. It makes a ton of economic sense as a transfer program (by tying your retirement pay to actually working it avoids the worst negative incentives of transfer programs, among other things). You just need to make sure the demographics and economic growth work out relative to the benefits -- easily doable. From an economic standpoint, it's wildly superior to the current health-care reform effort, which... let's just say it hasn't been a wild success at delivering its headline promise of cheaper health care for all.

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