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Comment Precious metals are kind of like fiat currency (Score 1) 100

They only have value above their utilitarian value because people say they do.

Two major differences between precious metals and fiat currencies are:
* The utility value for fiat currencies is zero for book-entry money, almost zero for paper/plastic currency, and that of base metals for coinage ("melt-down value"). The utility value for gold, silver, and most other precious metals is at least as much as base metals, there's just a lot less of it to go around.

* precious metals have a known, reasonably-predictable caps on long-term future supply based on active mines and known deposits (subject to technology disruptions such as what aluminum went through in the 19th century). The "future supply" of fiat currencies is about as predictable as politics. That is to say, it may be reasonably predictable in the short- or even medium-term but for anything longer than a decade or two, the political risk can become significant even in countries that currently enjoy stable govermnents, stable banking systems, and stable currencies.

I'm leaving out the difference that fiat currencies are typically legal tender in their country of origin. Precious metals might have been legal tender in the past, but I can't think of any major country where they are legal tender in any practical sense of the word (that is, the are legal tender, AND when you pay your debts with them you are credited with the current spot price of the metal in your local currency, or at least something very close to it).

Comment Re: Underpaid? Vote with your feet (Score 1) 490

If something is being done to undermine your value in a market then you are being underpaid.

One could argue that if something is being done to lessen - or raise - your value in the market, then that's just the market at work.

One could also argue that the "baseline" with regards to immigration would be "free borders" and anything else is an artificial deviation from that "baseline." In other words, if NOT allowing anyone and everyone on the planet to move about freely and compete in your industry in your city causes your wages to be higher than they would be if there were no such limits, then your wages are "artificially high."

Likewise, one could argue a complete protectionist labor force, where any labor from outside the country would be taxed enough so that the company hiring them would automatically be paying more than they would for even the most expensive domestic applicant and the "baseline" would be "set" by supply-and-demand accordingly. If you are being paid less than this amount due to a less-protectionist legal regime, you could argue that your wages are "artificially low."

I'm not going to claim that either argument is more logical than the other.

Comment Underpaid? Vote with your feet (Score 1) 490

Most tech workers in American earn at least the median income for their local region, or at least they could do so easily if they wanted to.

Those workers shouldn't complain about being underpaid - they should either "vote with their feet" or admit that they like their current job even with their current pay and stop complaining.


Yes, I realize there really are some tech workers in American who are underpaid and, for whatever reason, don't have the freedom to look for work elsewhere. I'm talking about 90% who aren't in such situations.

Comment Re: Use a POTS-simulating phone at riots (Score 1) 226

My implied point was to only take what you absolutely need when you go to someplace where you might be searched, e.g. a demonstration, an airport, etc.

You need a phone call to make outgoing calls.

You may need an incoming number that you can leave with friends.

If you need a camera, take a stand-alone camera with a blank memory card.

If you need a smart phone, buy a burner phone. But most people don't want to spend $50 on a burner smart-phone for each rally they go to.

Comment Use a POTS-simulating phone at riots (Score 1) 226

There are companies that make "plain" cell phones that do nothing but send and receive calls.

They are mostly marketed to people who want "a land line in their pocket." One even advertises "it has dial tone!" (oooh, ahhh, shiney!).

If the feds seize a phone like this, all they will get is the electronic serial number an, consequently, your phone number and whatever they can get with that information. They won't get anything else useful of the phone itself.

Comment Won't stop the analog hole, and other holes (Score 1) 252

This does nothing to keep me from pointing a high-speed, high-resolution camera at my screen.

It also does nothing to stop me from doing a "tear-down" of my high-resolution, HDMI, DRM-compliant monitor and monitoring the electrical signals that make the pixels light up.

Sure, this is awkward and expensive, but I, er, I mean people like me in other countries, only have to do this once (per video) then put the results up on the Interwebs for everyone to download.

Comment It won't matter (Score 1) 242

If the Supreme Court rules against the patent-holder, they will still be allowed to use contract law to get what they want.

So, instead of selling ink cartridges at a 20% discount to customers who agree to "no reuse" terms, they will rent the cartridges and sell the ink, essentially offering a "cartridge and ink supply only" service contract.

Comment currency trading: speculation vs hedge (Score 2) 270

If you treat Bitcoins as currency, you spend them. Thus, you're not holding on to them long enough for them to accrue value. If you treat them as an investment, you're not spending them, and there's no Bitcoin economy to make them worth anything.

That's why Bitcoin trading is pure speculation.

There are two good reasons to "invest" in a currency:

1) Utility: It's a "safe, convenient, and easy to use" currency. For most people in countries with relatively stable currencies, their country's fiat currency fits this bill. I for one keep at least a month's worth of expenses "in cash" in a bank account, knowing I will lose very little to inflation, that I have a very low risk of the money suddenly becoming temporarily inaccessible, and knowing that I can pay any domestic debt with it without having to pay a middleman to convert it.

2) Hedge: If I know I'm going to need a certain amount of Euros, Yen, or BTC six months from now but I'm not willing to accept the risk of currency flucutations, I can "lock in" the price now, either by buying a futures contract or by buying the actual Euros, Yen, or BTC.

But I agree with you, buying BCT, or for that matter, any currency that isn't known to be very stable (low inflation now and for the forseeable future) as an "investment" is pretty speculative.

Comment Re:Ask Slashdot: How Do I Avoid My Taxes? (Score 1) 270

Your question boils down to, "How do I avoid capital gains taxes on my Bitcoin earnings?" That's problematic, as you can imagine

Not probematic at all. There are easy, legal ways to avoid capital gains taxes that don't require learning the intricacies of the tax code or hiring an accountant:

* If you were going to give money to charity anyways, give them the appreciated asset.
* If you won't need the money for the rest of your life, leave the asset to your heirs.
* If you paid more for the asset than it's worth today, sell and declare a capital loss.

Comment Re:Pay your taxes (Score 4, Informative) 270

He had x bitcoin 5 years ago, he has x bitcoin today

He had X BC 5 years ago. His basis was either what he paid for them, the money invested in mining them, or in certain cases (such as a if he received them as an inheritance), the fair market value at the time he came to possess them.

His capital gain or loss is the dollar value of any proceeds from any sale or trade minus his basis, subject to "wash sale" and other rules that would make hte sale a "non-taxable" event.

In any case, as long as he continues to hold the BC, he doesn't owe any taxes. If he holds them until they are worth no more than his basis then sells them, then he won't owe any taxes. If he holds them until he dies, the tax basis is "reset" to the fair market value at the time of his death, likely saving his heirs a boatload of capital-gains taxes.

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