The UK border force demeaning? They're angels compared to the ones in the US!
The UK wasn't like this before. The system has been Americanized. Before 1998, there were no tuition fees for public universities (All top UK Universities are public), but afterwards (apart from Scotland) this was increased first to ~£1000, then ~£3000, and now to variable fees with a £9000 cap.
The government still has to spend similar amounts of money to back these loans, so in the end, the whole reason for introducing this change in policy is because this spending is classified differently in budget. It is a graduate tax in all but name, however, administered in a more complex fashion.
It depends on whether the insurance is a fixed payment, or a payment for damages. If you get a lump-sum payout on an event triggering the payout, it is usually stackable. If it is for damages to property or for cost to remedy a problem, then the policy usually is not stackable.
Yes, I see your point and I agree completely. However, does the small number of benefits that Bitcoin have over gold weighed against the benefits of gold over Bitcoin, justify the use of Bitcoin? Why not just trade in gold instead? (Aside from the obvious fact that the Gold bubble has burst and gold bugs need something else to hype up)
That's the advertised ask/bid prices, but what is actually available on the market? Take a look at the ask/bid volume charts and you see that a lot of the times, there is only 1BTC or less keeping those ask/bid prices that close. When you go above those small volumes, the spread increases dramatically. This is mostly due to the absence of market makers. With market makers you get a more consistent spread, but the spread would also be bigger (market maker profits).
Um no... the 7tps artificial limit can be removed. The real limiting factor is the size of the blocks that records the acutal transactions.
The 10tps limit due to the max size of the blocks (at 1MB). The average tranaction size is 166bytes. 600 seconds in 10 minutes (average time for each block)
1,000,000/166 = 6024.096385542
6024.096385542/600 = 10.040160643
So the end result is roughtly 10tps.
You can increase the 1MB limit, but then the blockchain gets very big very fast. Right now it is nearly 13GB. Due to the interest in Bitcoins in 2013 (or maybe Satoshi dice), 9GB was added to the blockchain in the past year alone.
To get the same 25000tps performance, you would need to increase the max for each block to 2.5GB (2500MB).
If all you're trying to do is to get rid of fiat, then we already have gold (and currencies that can be backed by gold). The gold standard was dropped for good reason.
But is Bitcoin payment processing really that cheap?
Disclaimer: I started mining Bitcoins using the official client with CPUs. However, I don't really buy all of this blue-sky "to the moon" Bitcoin hype. For me it's more of a cool concept to test and mess around with.
Although the Bitcoin concept is revolutionary - if you use it as a payment network - as you can get rid of banking and payment processing industries, with such a peer-to-peer architecture, you have scalability issues that limit the amount of transactions that can be processed. Aside from the elephant-in-the-room technical limits (with the current 1MB blocksize, Bitcoin can process 10tx/s max. The VISA network can process a max of 25000tx/s) , you also have the question of why using Bitcoins is any better than current methods for the customer or merchant.
Fully decentralized peer-to-peer filesharing was hot back in the day because there was no digital content available on the net. It was also very slow on the completely decentralized systems. Now that the content industries have caught on, most people prefer to use those offerings (Youtube, Netflix, Spotify, etc.), due to the convenience and speed of those services.
With Bitcoin, it is the other way around. We have a very well developed retail financial services sector. You can pay people and businesses easily through many different means. The payment processors charges a comparatively small fee for commercial transactions - usually around 3%, and gets lower as volumes increase. Customer don't see this at all as credit card fees are paid by the merchant. From a customers point of view, why would I pay in Bitcoins, if I can much more protection by paying with a credit card? If you don't have any bitcoins, you will have to do a fiat-bitcoin conversion and then the merchant does a bitcoin-fiat conversion back for stabilty? That kills the values proposition of low rates. The spread for the two conversion will already be close to or over the 3% you pay your current payment processor. Not to mention the hassle. You can introduce a processor like Coinbase to optimize the process (and also increase transaction performance by keeping local transactions off-net), but then you've just introduced a middleman that will also charge you fees.
Wiring money overseas will cost customers a bigger fee, but this fee is usually fixed, so batch transfers are usually done. Furthermore, for people with frequent Forex needs, you can open an account with a dedicated Forex company that will give you much better rates and you can probably save on some fees with them as well as they have many local bank accounts in different countries accepting and sending money.
So all-in-all no, I don't think it's all smooth sailing for Bitcoin and once people wake up to the limitation of this particular and novel implementation or decentralized digital currency, it will be better for everybody involved. We will start asking the right questions (eg. is if possible at all to create a decentralized crypto-currency network with similar performance to commercial payment processing networks) and maybe incorporate some of the better ideas from Bitcoins to more practical applications.
In the situation you're describing, all you're getting rid of is SWIFT. Banks processing Bitcoin payments in your situation can still create Bitcoin money through fractional reserve banking. Basically same as the gold system, but Bit-gold. There is nothing really innovative if you use Bitcoin that way.
If retail transactions are actually done on the Bitcoin network however, things get a bit more interesting, but the Bitcoin network will never scale to those transaction volumes.
So what is the alternative? Is it open season for every intelligence agent working for the US to be able to release whatever classified information they want to the world?
Snowden would generate much more support, and fight for lasting change, only if he came back to face the music. Mandela, Ghandi, Aung San Suu Kyi, those are the characters that people look up to. He can argue his case honorably and with authority, which he is not capable of doing now on his makeshift pulpit in far-away Russia.
Is that you Baghdad Bob? Or are you Comical Ali?
Then where else should he be tried fairly?
The state is set up as a framework for a large group of people to live together in civil society. In a representative democracy, this authority is derived from the consent of the populace and the US has a comparatively good track record, more or less, upholding the fundamental rights to ensure this type of government works.
I, for one, can not say what Snowden *should* have done. However, what he should not have done was to run away to an unfriendly country claiming asylum. One that guarantees its citizens with a much lower level of freedoms and rights that the US or most western nations do. And then to use his life in asylum to denounce the lack or rights and protections that those in the US enjoy (although degraded somewhat by the NSA and allied intelligence). It reeks of hypocrisy and does not go down well with the majority of people which aren't anarchists.
Where else would he get a fair trial? If he feels that he will be convicted, and that the laws are wrong, then he should be fighting to change them (ie. for more whistleblower protections). A part of that process is to actually get convicted of such injustice.
The difference between this case and Manning's is that Snowden will be tried in a civilian court rather than a military tribunal. Due to what we know already, there would be immense public pressure conduct the trail in the open, and there is know point sealing what is already public knowledge.
But he didn't give up his life, he opted to create a new one. He went the same way as Assange did by seeking asylum in an unfriendly country. If he really wanted to make a point, he should come back and argue his case in court. Plenty of lawyers would be happy to work for him due to the high-profile nature of the case.
Even if he were convicted, is that any worse than being confined in his current situation? Conversely, it may lend much greater credence to his cause. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years and his incarceration was one of the things that kept support for the anti-apartheid movement strong.