Liberty Dollars and Postage Stamps

A nameless friend of mine ripped this out awhile back. I found it intriguing enough to ask if I could post it here.


Basically, it seems that people get all bent out of shape when their
assumptions about money are violated. Seeing as you two have mentioned
Liberty Dollars, I thought I’d mention the micro-economic perspective.
It hinges on a theory about the relationship between currency and
wealth, which I will now spend two skipable paragraphs on.

There are dollars, and there are dollar bills. One bill in a million
is fake, which means that a dollar bill is actually worth 99.9999
cents. (Actually, the fake bills are generally larger denominations,
but that’s the idea.) But if all funny money were instantly
recognizable by all and torn up tomorrow, a few people would take a
loss but the bills would again be worth exactly one dollar. That is,
the remaining bills would have slightly more buying power in
accordance with the change in scarcity. The effect is more pronounced
the greater is the local circulation of counterfeit bills.

The underlying problem with counterfeit is that it devalues the
currency. People don’t want their currency devalued, so they arrange
to reject and seize counterfeit bills at key points in the cash cycle
such as banks. As a result, anyone who accepts funny money will
ultimately take an economic loss unless they successfully recirculate
it. (This can happen by accident.) This arrangement causes anyone who
creates and passes a fake bill to be stealing buying power from the
last person to accept the bill before it reaches a currency validation
checkpoint. There is also a great sense of unfairness that some
private party can create money without corresponding wealth. For both
reasons, the penalty for counterfeit is harsh.

Liberty Dollars (and things like them) are a subtle issue. Clearly,
they are not counterfeit, because they make no attempt to masquerade
as standard currency. However, there is still that same appearance (in
some minds) that someone is creating money without wealth, and
furthermore, as zeolots promote the widespread acceptability of these
alternative currencies, the notes take on an economic effect similar
to that of counterfeit. They increase the cash supply artificially,
The banks dishonor them for obvious reasons, and merchants don’t
generally have wherewithal to make the conversion to standard funds.

In truth, the only difference between baseball cards and counterfeit
currency is that nobody tries to buy beer with them. They have almost
no intrinsic value and plenty of speculative value, but most
importantly, they have no face value.

If you really want to muck with the system, see if you can pay for
things using postage stamps. Once you buy your stamp, the postal
service has the use of your original cash. But if you can extract
gains from trade using those stamps as a medium of exchange, then you
retain your use of the face value of the stamps for as long as you
have them. In short, you’ve duplicated money until someone slaps that
bad boy on an envelope, which is the inherent economic value backing
the stamp. Get more than a few people doing this, and you might spawn
an investigation. or at least some serious head-scratching in high
places.


His observations do coincide with some of my experiences trading in ALD. There’s always someone on the sidelines who’s just certain there’s a scam going on here somewhere.

It’s also interesting to note that the US government would have to crack down on stamp usage as ‘current money’ if they were consistent in their interpretation of law. This would put the government in the interesting situation of having to crack down on exchanges of a federal document (stamps) because it cuts into the value of another federal document (dollars).

…Which is just as logical and consistent as outlawing tobacco usage while funding it’s production at the agricultural level. Your federal government at work.

Googlism: the one true religion

Jay Garmon. Again:

the ultimate example of tech industry hero worship: The Church of Google. In what is (probably) an exercise in gleeful snark, this church promotes the notion that not only is Google a god, but that “She” is a more useful object of worship than most competing theological entities. After all, Google queries are prayers that actually get answered, though often mysteriously.

read more | digg story

The ten commandments were a nice touch, but Google cannot be god, because the Flying Spaghetti Monster is god. Get it right, man.

Huge Crater Found in Egypt

The crater is about 19 miles (31 kilometers) wide, more than twice as big as the next largest Saharan crater known. It utterly dwarfs Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is about three-fourths of a mile (1.2 kilometers) in diameter.

read more | digg story

Click and enlarge the photo. Too Cool. Found this image while browsing Killer Space Rock Theory Is Soaking Wet a classically provocative Space.com title for a story about what part of the impact killed the dinosaurs; not whether or not they were killed by a meteor impact. Interesting findings, though.

FFrF Radio: Ernie Harburg & Eleanor Smeal

Podcast Link.

January 26, 2008The Atheist Lyricist Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz

50 members of congress have gotten together, at the behest of (the laughable) ACLJ (founded by Pat Robertson, who has managed to leverage a barely average ability in televangelism into an influential religious based series of businesses. If his followers would just quit giving him money, maybe he’d finally go broke and we’d be finished with him) to respond to the lawsuit requesting the removal of under god from the pledge of allegiance.

As ill founded as I think FFrF vs. Congress is (making children say the pledge is contrary to freedom) I find it hard to believe that an infinite number of congresscritters could find 80,000 Americans who gave a damn one way or the other about the contents of the pledge, let alone 50. I think all 50 of those members should be ashamed of themselves for letting themselves be manipulated like this. This pandering to the Religious Right has to stop.

This is the second appearance for Ernie Harburg on the show, talking about his father Yip Harburg, and the new Biography Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz. His first appearance was on the first episode of the show.


2007 Archive episode.

January 27, 2007The Religious War Against Women: Ellie Smeal

Hard to believe that it’s only been a year since the currently endless road to the White House election cycle started. It feels like it’s been at least 10 years. The show starts with a clip from the Daily show (catch it when I can) lambasting Sam Brownback (who?) for his stance on the importance of religious belief in the selection of government officials.

“I mean, when I picture a zoning board that doesn’t understand that Christ gave His life for our sins, I can’t imagine how it could regulate land use within a mixed residential slash industrial zone.” -John Stewart

But then the progressive political dogma shows up again. I know that Bush, when he’s talking about school choice, thinks he’s talking about giving tax money to private religious schools. But Annie Laurie Gaylor should know better, she’s smarter than he is (a box of hammers is smarter than he is) a simple scan of private schools in your area will probably turn up several schools which are not religious in nature, most of which (if you live in a large city) will produce students of a superior caliber than the more costly government schools.

In Austin there are no less than 10 Montessori schools. And while Maria Montessori was Catholic, the schools that follow her methods are generally progressive in nature; that is, there is no religious teaching in the schools

[it’s funny, the only time I’ve experience a problem with religion in the schools has been when my children have been in the government school system. I’ve had to intervene when the schools have tried to impose silent or lead prayers as well as mandate pledging; or the time when the son’s charter school was actually housed in a Catholic church. The Montessori years, for both of them, were trouble free when it came to religion]

and the Montessori schools are just one type of private school in the average metropolitan area. If we’re going to cast aspersions here, I think the blind insistence that government schools are the only schools free from religion is a dangerously dogmatic opinion, and does a disservice to those parents and teachers who seek to be freed from the restrictions placed on them by heavy handed bureaucrats who have an agenda separate from simply educating children. I could go on, but then I’ve already said what needed to be said either here, or here.

Ellie Smeal was on to talk on the issue of abortion (Blog entries) on the anniversary of Roe. 70,000 women die each year from botched abortions. I wish they had stayed on the subject of family planning, rather than wandering around various issues related to feminism; too much material for a half hour interview. It’s a travesty, what’s been done to limit family planning all over the world, including in the US.

The discussion of the crimes of the Taliban against women was illuminating.

Immigration Officials Detaining, Deporting American Citizens

The guy featured in the article is actually irrelevant to the story. This is the story:

An unpublished study by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York nonprofit organization, in 2006 identified 125 people in immigration detention centers across the nation who immigration lawyers believed had valid U.S. citizenship claims.
Vera initially focused on six facilities where most of the cases surfaced. The organization later broadened its analysis to 12 sites and plans to track the outcome of all cases involving citizens.
Nina Siulc, the lead researcher, said she thinks that many more American citizens probably are being erroneously detained or deported every year because her assessment looked at only a small number of those in custody. Each year, about 280,000 people are held on immigration violations at 15 federal detention centers and more than 400 state and local contract facilities nationwide.

read more | digg story

I’ve often wondered how many Chicanos or Hispanics who are deported each year are actually American citizens. Who carries identification papers around with them every where they go? I don’t. If you just happen to have brown skin, and you’re out without ID, do you have to worry about getting picked up? What a pain in the ass.

I doubt the 125 number even includes those types of cases, and probably only considers the numbers of white people who don’t happen to have the right documentation to back up their claims of citizenship when immigration comes sniffing around during an arrest. People like me.

Perhaps I should start worrying about getting arrested; but then I always did want to visit the homeland. Not that Britain is much better, but at least the scenery is different.

Downsize DC: Wisdom From the Past

I’m just going to quote the Downsize dispatch:

“Mr. Speaker, today the Chief Executive sent to this House of Representatives a . . . bill for immediate enactment. The author of this bill seems to be unknown. No one has told us who drafted the bill. There appears to be a printed copy at the speakers desk, but no printed copies are available for the House Members. The bill has been driven through the House with cyclonic speed after 40 minutes debate, 20 minutes for the minority and 20 minutes for the majority. I have demanded a roll call, but have been unable to get the attention of the Chair. Others have done the same . . .

“I want to put myself on record against procedure of this kind and against the use of such methods in passing legislation affecting millions of lives and billions of dollars. It is safe to say that in normal times. after careful study of a printed copy and after careful debate and consideration, this bill would never have passed this House or any other House. Its passage could be accomplished only by rapid procedure, hurried and hectic debate, and a general rush for voting without roll call.

“I am suspicious of this railroading of bills through our House of Representatives, and I refuse to vote for a measure unseen and unknown. … I want the RECORD to show that I was, and am, against this bill and this method of procedure; and I believe no good will come out of it for America. We must not abdicate our power to exercise judgment. We must not allow ourselves to be swept off our feet by hysteria, and we must not let the power of the Executive paralyze our legislative action. If we do, it would be better for us to resign and go home-and save the people the salary they are paying us.

“I look forward to that day when we shall read the bill we are considering, and see the author of the bill stand before the House and explain it, and then, after calm deliberation and sober judgment- after full and free debate-I hope to see sane and sensible legislation passed which will lift America out of this panic and disaster into which we were plunged.”

Powerful. We couldn’t say it better ourselves. But who said it, and when? Was it Ron Paul on the Patriot Act? Dennis Kucinich on the Iraq Resolution?

Actually, these words were spoken by Rep. Ernest Lundeen from Minnesota in March, 1933 upon passage of the Emergency Banking Relief Act.

This was the act which, among other things, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to steal gold from the American people. The people received the “equivalent” of their gold in paper money, which was later devalued. 75 years later, America is still drowning in inflation, and it’s getting worse. We must restore the freedom of the people to to use gold, or any other commodity they mutually agree to, as money once again. Please tell Congress to pass the Honest Money Act.

But the power of Rep. Lundeen’s words resonate even today. The worst bills Congress passes are the ones they rush through unread with little or no time for debate. And in 2007, that was how virtually every bill was passed. In 2007, Congress was in session for 39 weeks. The figures are imprecise, but on an “average” day the House passed three bills amounting to about 100 pages of legislation.

The Senate’s pace was slower. Sometimes they spent a whole week debating one bill, and then passed dozens of bills the following week. But on an average day in session, the Senate managed to push through 1.4 bills and 70 pages of legislation.

Of course, there are no “average” days and no “average” bills, but it is clear that neither chamber takes the time to read and seriously deliberate the bills they pass. Many sail through the House with “suspend the rules and pass” procedures, while in the Senate many bills pass with “unanimous consent,” without the Senators even knowing what they consented to.

We can’t under-estimate the harm that unread bills have inflicted on the Republic. The Patriot Act was passed in a rush with scant opposition, and Patriot Act II was passed before its supporters discovered shocking provisions in it. The Real ID Act was attached to a bill funding the troops and sailed through the Senate unanimously, giving the people no chance to react or respond. And as we now know, the disastrous 1933 Emergency Banking Act was passed in a similar fashion.

read more | digg story

We can put an end to this. We can tell Congress what Rep. Lundeen said 75 years ago, and demand that they introduce and pass the Read the Bills Act. You can do so here.

Rambo IV – First Blood it isn’t

Caught a sneak of this at the Alamo Drafthouse. I might have found the film mildly entertaining, if it wasn’t for the ridiculous security measures the studio insisted on.

It was bad enough that they had decided to ban all cell phones without informing the audience. I generally just answer questions about recording devices and cell phones with a negative. “No, my phone doesn’t have a camera. No, I don’t have a cell phone.” I know the rules concerning piracy (although how something can be piracy without profit is still a mystery) and if there’s one thing a videophile hates it’s jittery amateur photography. Why anyone would want to record a film on their cell phone is beyond me. So I tell them whatever they want to hear to get them out of my face, but I won’t surrender my phone, sorry. What’s the point of having a mobile phone that you don’t keep with you?

So, when the extremely overdressed trio (black suit and tie. In Austin. Gimme a break) of wanna-be toughs from the studio asked me if I had a cell phone, I said “no”. Then they proceeded to inform the crowd assembled for the sneak that there would be no cell phones of any kind allowed in the theater; and they did this every 10 minutes for the hour that we waited in line. Every time it was mentioned, the wife (her desire to see the film is the only reason I agreed to go. Yes, she wanted to see it, not me. Go figure) would give me the hairy eyeball and gestured towards the car.

I’ve walked this gauntlet before, I figured I had it beat. But when they informed the audience that they would be wanding all attendees and confiscating cell phones, I decided that I would spare the wife the scene and simply hide the Treo in the car.

It ended up making no difference one way or the other. They did indeed wand us as we went through. I had the forethought to hold my keys in my hand, but I forgot that I had my vertigo medication in a metal tin, and consequently was asked to empty my pockets anyway. So I flashed them the tin full of medication, as well as some justly earned anger, and stormed into the theater.

[On the upside, the wife finally agreed that I had the right idea when it comes to taking my next flight; clearly there’s something about me that sets off the status quo types. Might as well make a statement]

When the waitress (yes, waitresses at Alamo Drafthouse. I feel for those poor souls without access to one) came by to ask if I wanted anything, I was still feeling snippy; so I told her that all I wanted was my dignity returned. She didn’t see the humor in that. Being treated as a criminal without engaging in a crime. If that isn’t a theft of ones dignity, I don’t know what is.

And I went through all this to see Rambo IV! A mildly entertaining film from the explosions and gore perspective (the wife and I agreed that they had some of the best exploding dummies we’ve ever seen on film) but not even in the same league with First Blood, a film with a story and a plot as well as decent action. Still, it was better than Rambo II or III (has anybody else made the Al Qaeda connection with Rambo III? That’s good for a laugh) but not by much.

The wife and I were barely on speaking terms by the time we got back to the house; and I was left with the irony of going to see a film in which the lead character goes to extreme measures to defend the rights of the oppressed, while being shown in graphic detail just how few rights any of us have left.

Thank you Lions Gate Entertainment, you’ve definitely hit a new low.

Discover Your Inner Economist & Mind of the Market

A couple of CATO events that struck a cord with me lately.

Tyler Cowen discussed his new Book Discover your Inner Economist in a recent CATO event. I haven’t read the book, but I found the event discussion quite engaging. The objections that I’ve had to beancounters for all of my life were touched on numerous times. They miss the portions of human interaction that can’t be quantified with numbers in a ledger, and consequently make wrong decisions when it comes to directing business expenses.

He’s in a CATO weekly video here discussing incentives within a family setting:


read more | digg story

Then there’s Micheal Shermer’s CATO event where he is discussing his new book The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics. I didn’t find his presentation as compelling, but he presented several observations that I found thought provoking.

[My major beef with Shermer is a common problem that I’ve observed over time. He mistakenly uses the word ‘Altruism’ when he means ‘charity’ (“reciprocal altruism” should be “reciprocal charity”; as in a transaction where there is no profit outside the charitable benefit. Altruism is not charity]

Here’s the CATO video With Shermer:

read more | digg story

They’re both on CATO daily podcasts as well.

This discussion is related to the discussion of health care and private markets, believe it or not. The average American is letting his desire for security override his common sense on this (and other) issues. Just figured I’d point out some resources for those who can’t wrap their heads around the idea of free markets.

The Health care Problem Part 2

A friend of a friend responded to my rant on health care the other day, taking me to task for not being willing to hand over 1/5th of the US economy to the government and allowing those wonderful bureaucrats in Washington to finish the job they started when they first screwed up US health care by granting tax subsidies to employers who offered health insurance, way back in the 50’s. I don’t know, perhaps we should question the veracity of all the promises given by those saintly authors of such lovely things as HMO and PPO regulations (and insurance regulation in general) and all those other constraints put on health care providers as well; they were, after all, supposed to fix the health care problem, rather than make it worse.

Maybe, just maybe, we should probe a little deeper into this problem of health care, and see where the problem originates.

Reading the objections to my rant, I have to say that the problem with health care appears to originate in the opinions of average citizens. I say this because the points that are being made are generally in error; as anything beyond basic research on the ‘net will show. And yet this isn’t the first time I’ve seen these points made, which is why I’m going to take the time to rebut them.

Part of the problem with health care facts is, there aren’t a lot of easily accessible facts to go by. But I will do my best to answer the 6 points brought up by my detractor, and then perhaps pose a few questions of my own.

So here goes:


1) If our system is the best, why does a child born in IRAQ have a better chance of reaching age one than a child born in this country?


Because that isn’t the real statistic: the Wiki List of Countries by Infant Mortality Rate clearly shows that Iraq (27 / 81.5) has a much higher rate than the United States (163 / 6.3). The IMR is higher in the US than in Canada (173 / 4.8) and the other socialized systems, but it’s not that statistically significant; although the variation in rates probably relates to factors within the health care system.


2) If our system is the best, why do we have the highest percentage of our citizens on prescription drugs which treat the symptoms but not the cause?


That sounds like it comes from a “Why the US health care system sucks” brochure. There isn’t any realistic way of measuring prescription drug rates as described. I daresay that if there was, it would be higher in countries where health care is a ‘free’ service, rather than in the US where the user has to pay. There is also a wide array of methods for categorizing what is a prescription (given by a doctor after a visit) and what is simply continued treatment of the same ailment. In the US, a prescription is required for all controlled drugs, whereas in the UK if you’ve been prescribed something once, it continues to be available to you as long as your are treating the same ailment.

I’d rather have a drug that treats a symptom rather than a cause, than to go without treatment for both symptoms and cause and just be allowed to suffer; which is what happens in many countries where medical care is rationed by the state.


3) If our system is the best, why do we rank below so many countries in general health?


Again, we don’t. We rank below much of Europe (and of course, saintly Canada) and not much else. There’s a reason for this (like the IMR statistic) it’s called reallocation of service. There is a refocusing of service towards basic health functions and away from more specialized health services in the socialized systems. They can do this because the doctors work for the state, and the number of specialists is limited by state mandate.

Is this a good thing? Forcing someone to act against his own judgment is never a good thing, from where I’m sitting.


4) If our system is the best, why do most countries people live longer than we do?


Another false statistic. According to the List of Countries by Life Expectancy the US is 45th on the list. Not exactly a stellar showing, but definitely above the halfway mark; and above places like Denmark (the happiest place on earth) Ireland and Cuba (so highly touted in Sicko) We are down the list from the socialized countries of Europe (and, of course, Canada) but they are topped by some other countries that you wouldn’t think had long life expectancies, like Japan.

This is also not the defining characteristic of good medicine; it has more to do with genes and climate than it does with free medical service.


5) If our system is the best, why is the rest of the free world on another system?


Because the rest of the free world isn’t as free as the name implies. Do I have to use the same argument your mother used when you were five?

If Jimmy jumped off a cliff, would you want to jump off too?

It’s a bad idea to give government that much control over our lives; and the lack luster performance of the socialized systems (which I did notice he didn’t bother to try and refute) proves the skeptics right; that rationing of available services, re-allocation of assets (doctors and nurses) from one specialty to another, and denial of service though long wait times (about 34% of Canadians complain of this) and limited areas of availability (I pointed this out in Sick(o) in America) does occur, this is the nature of single-payer managed socialized systems.

And those who can afford to come here (the US) do come here to get treatment (including Micheal Moore, as Stossel pointed out) at private institutions. If the rest of the free world is better, why would that ever happen?


6) If you are POSITIVE this is the best system, come down with a long term issue and see how well you are treated when your health provider decides you are no longer a viable “asset”.


I have a long term issue. No health insurance, no job; but I do have a clear conscience. I’ve never asked someone else to sacrifice themselves for my benefit; I’ve never taken out of the pot more than what I put into it. Which is what any socialized system (all of which should be ended; school, Social Security, whatever) does; it allows the socialist maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” to play out. Nowhere is this more clear than in the field of medicine. We can’t abide the idea of rich doctors and fat cat pharmaceutical companies taking more than their fair share. Therefore we will take these men of ability, and sacrifice them to the greater good, the need of the many. And since we needy can’t be bothered to pay anything for their services, we’ll draft the wealthy amongst us to pay even more taxes (and add more sacrifices to the pile) so that we can have free health care. No more do we have to worry about engaging in risky behavior…

[like objector who offered the list above. He received ‘free’ treatment for a motorcycle injury. An injury which probably could have been avoided had he chosen an alternate form of transportation. Perhaps Canada should outlaw motorcycles, it might save them a few tax dollars. I know that the US gov’t will do far more than that. Say hello to mandated diet plans and compulsory risk assessment surveys. No more cheese burgers for you, and no bungee jumping or snow boarding either. Ah, what fun it will be living in the land of the free, and the home of the federally insured]

…the all-caring nanny state will be there to pick up the tab for all those years of smoking, all those trips to Burgerhaven; whatever your poison of choice is.

Except there’s a fly in this ointment. It’s not sustainable. Like the Ponzi scheme of Social Security, There’s not enough money to pay out all the eventual claims for health care. So the state will simply decide who will get health care and who won’t, with rationing. And those without political connection will do without health care in the same way that those without money do without it now. Perhaps even more so, since the state can compel it’s servants (the doctors) not to provide service to whomever they deem unfit, even if that service is for free.

This is already happening with medicare, with doctors and patients being forbidden to come to a mutual agreement concerning services that the state has determined are not necessary. It’s happening in Canada, where citizens have been brought up on charges for trying to pay for services, and clinics have been shut down for attempting to sell services outside of the socialized system.

Obviously, Canada’s health care system is not the best; none of the metrics that can be used to measure it come to that conclusion. The US system is the best, when it comes to quality of treatment for certain illnesses; and falls on it’s face when it comes to efficiency and cost; and efficiency and cost will not be positively addressed by simply handing the system over to government. Look at the efficiency of the DMV if you doubt that.

The solution to the health care problem is educating the average citizen. It’s robbing your insurance company. It’s taking control of your health care expenditures and asking the providers hard questions. Do I really need this test? What is this going to cost? Until we know what we are paying for services, we’re never going to get a handle on the real problem, the cost of health care. And that cost will either be paid now, in person; or later, by some state official who’ll make your health care decisions for you.

Which option sounds better to you?

FFrF Radio: Katha Pollitt & FFrF’s political Dogma?

Podcast link.

Examples of why Huckabee is indeed the true religious fruitcake. He wants to change the constitution to bring it more in line with god’s teachings. You get the award Mr. Huckabee. (at least he’s now trailing in the polls. That’s a relief) Discussion of who and what Gideons are, and the latest decision against giving bibles to school children (I have one of those bibles myself. I prefer the Catholic version; more books) Gideon warning label. The former Cardinal Ratzenberger’s continuing war on science. The Misogynist nature of the Bible.

Kata Pollitt‘s third (?) appearance on the show, discussing her latest book Learning to Drive. Always entertaining.



2006 Archive episode.

January 20, 2007 –

The least interesting interview to date, Matthew Rothschild. One of the favorite phrases on Freethought Radio is “Beware of Dogma”; and if there is one thing that qualifies as dogma, it’s progressives embracing policies and practices that have been proven to harm those they are intended to help.

Such is Mr. Rothschild’s allegiance to the minimum wage, and his shocked condemnation of those who are opposed to it as conservatives. There are many people who are opposed to stealing jobs and money from the poor in order to aid those middle class workers who are union members (the true benefactors of a minimum wage hike) Fiscal conservatives are just part of that group, and very few of them are in evidence in the legislature these days.

That they let him rant on about the lack of ethics of those who would oppose the minimum wage is suspect here, but I’ll let it slide this once. I’ll not be paying much heed to what Mr. Rothschild has to say in future.