Tag Archives | Money

Pope Francis Calls Money the ‘Devil’s Dung’

Pope Francis. Photo: Korean Culture and Information Service (CC)

Pope Francis. Photo: Korean Culture and Information Service (CC)

Pope Francis describes money as “the devil’s dung” in a speech carried by Vatican Radio. “When money becomes an idol, it controls man’s choices,” he said. “It makes him a slave”:

First, the Pope said, co-operatives must continue to be “the motor that uplifts and develops the weakest parts of our local communities and civil society.”

The first priority is to establish new co-operatives, while developing existing ones, so as to create new employment opportunities, especially among youth, he said.

Second, the Pope urged the co-op movement to be a “protagonist” in proposing new welfare solutions, particularly in the area of healthcare.

As a third point, he spoke of the economy and its relationship with social justice and human dignity. Speaking of the need to “globalize solidarity,” he urged the confederation to bring co-operatives to the “existential peripheries” and to continue to be “prophetic” by “inventing new forms of co-operation.”

The Pope spoke of “a certain liberalism,” which “believes it is first necessary to produce wealth—and it does not matter how—to then promote some state redistribution policy.”…

[continues at Vatican Radio, which has audio of the speech]

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Bitcoin, the Digital Deluge and the Seeds of an Open Source Society

IMG_6496It’s all been swept up by the digital deluge: the way we create, consume, socialize, learn, all of it. Yet no matter how much of the analog world seeps into the digital realm, the almighty dollar continues to resist the pixel-y tide. The act of currency creation remains an esoteric, behind-the-scenes process controlled by a few privileged, monocle-clad, suit-wearers with fancy titles and special permissions.

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Actually, we do have digital money and it’s called bitcoin. It does work, it’s safe and it’s easy to use. On top of that, for the first time ever, no government, corporation or human being can claim dominion over, control, destroy or create a currency. Bitcoin is decentralized, open source, peer-to-peer, lives completely online and created through a programmatic process.

Practicality wise, you can already buy basically anything using bitcoin and a growing number of merchants, services and corporations are accepting it every day.Read the rest

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Politicians or central bankers: who runs the world?

401(K) 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

401(K) 2012 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Mark Beeson, University of Western Australia

Global governance sounds like a good idea. Solving the sorts of “collective action problems” that are an inescapable part of geographically dispersed activities – especially economic ones – is something only some sort of supranational authority can do.

Until relatively recently we looked primarily to states to provide the institutional and legal infrastructure that allowed people to conduct commercial relationships with strangers. Now, when economic activities and relationships are increasingly transnational, states cannot provide such a regulatory framework – or they can’t on their own, at least.

Not all states are alike, of course, and some have a much greater capacity to influence the way economic activities are conducted, especially within national borders, than others. But even the most powerful states are now subjected to pressures and constraints that they’ve never faced before.

True, the US still exerts more influence over the structure and practices of the international economic system than anyone else, but even the world’s current hegemon finds its power constrained.… Read the rest

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Anal Goblins, Randian Dweebs and Crude Middle-manager Types: Thinking about Nietzsche’s Ubermensch

Mitch Hell CC BY-ND 2.0)

Mitch Hell (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Occasionally–the first time being about 10 years ago, or so– I’ll attempt to read Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It’s a book any self-respecting intellectual or radical thinker or simple-minded liberal or Un-American is supposed to read. If you don’t read it, your membership to any of the aforementioned labels/clubs gets revoked. Therefore, every couple of years,  I start to get antsy and I begin to feel nervous that if I don’t read the book, others will recognize that I’m just a “Poser,” a “Fake,” a “Sell Out,” or even an “American” and so I dig through a much-too-big pile of unread books that I have in a closet and pluck out Zinn’s opus, and the same thing happens every goddamned time.

I can’t make it past the first two chapters.

Each and every time I start from the beginning, as any worthwhile book should be read, and I make it through the first two chapters and… I just can’t do it.… Read the rest

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The Devil of Abundance on the Toilet

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I’ve always grown up hating money. The idea that “money is the root of all evil” crept in to my head at a young age and stood in place. This idea solidified when I entered the workplace. I’ve worked every kind of entry-level job out there. Warehouses, stocking shelves, hotels, call-centers. Everyone around me seemed to have this mindset that, “Yes, you have to work a job that you hate, but keep working, because you have to survive, and it’s awful.”

I thought I could escape this if I did compassionate work. I started working at a psychiatric hospital. I was just an orderly, or what they call a “psychiatric technician” in modern terms. I had been to hell and back again with a good friend who has the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder I, and figured that if I can put up with the many episodes of his mental illness, I could handle the distress of patients in a psychiatric setting — and hopefully shine a little light in hell.… Read the rest

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What Wealth Does To Your Soul

A poor doctor takes the pulse of a rich, corpulent patient; Wellcome V0011750.jpg

“Getting rich won’t make you happy. But it will make you more selfish and dishonest,” says Michael Lewis at New Republic via The Week:

…What is clear about rich people and their money — and becoming ever clearer — is how it changes them. A body of quirky but persuasive research has sought to understand the effects of wealth and privilege on human behavior — and any future book about the nature of billionaires would do well to consult it.

One especially fertile source is the University of California at Berkeley psychology department lab overseen by a professor named Dacher Keltner. In one study, Keltner and his colleague Paul Piff installed note takers and cameras at city street intersections with four-way Stop signs. The people driving expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers than drivers of cheap cars. The researchers then followed the drivers to the city’s crosswalks and positioned themselves as pedestrians, waiting to cross the street.

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The Proposal to Redesign the Dollar That’s Weirdly Blowing Up the Internet

So what do you think of this proposed redesign of American paper currency, disinfonauts? From Foreign Policy:

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When Travis Purrington, an Idaho-born designer, embarked in 2011 on a project to redesign the dollar as part of his master’s degree, he paid a visit to the Swiss designer Roger Pfund, a legend in the industry and the winner of a competition in the 1970s to redesign the Swiss franc. Pfund’s design was eventually passed over for another but his ideas live on in Switzerland’s national brand, including in its passport, another Pfund creation. “A bank note,” Pfund told Purrington, “is an ambassador for a country.”

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That idea is certainly one way to understand Purrington’s ideas about how to redesign the moribund American banknote. Purrington’s 2011 master’s thesis at the Basel School of Design presents that proposal, and it’s blown up online in recent weeks. Wired marveled at the idea of having our money redesigned to celebrate science instead of presidents. Gizmodo called the design better than the real thing. Mashable argued it was what dollars should look like. Slate wrote that recent stories on the subject have stirred up feelings of design envy among readers. Designboom wrote something without punctuation.

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What Comes After Money?

In a straight to camera monologue, Daniel Pinchbeck asks “A recent article in Foreign Affairs proposes that Central Banks could just print money and give it to the people – particularly the bottom 80%. This is a startling idea, and it points to the need for a broader discussion around money as an instrument humans have created for exchanging and storing value. Do we need different tools for this, going forward?”

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The police are spending thousands of dollars to distribute spyware to parents

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Vox:

It’s standard advice that parents should monitor what their young children do online. For many parents, that means having the computer in a public area so they can see what’s on the screen as their kids surf the web. But some police departments are pushing a far more intrusive option: installing spyware on your computer to monitor every single keystroke your children make.

An investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation has found that dozens of police departments around the country are distributing software called ComputerCOP. The software has two features. One is a search engine that lets parents search a computer’s hard drive for pornographic images as well as files relating to sensitive subjects such as drugs and violence. But the other is a keylogger, a program that records every key typed and sends it to a third-party server.

Police departments pay a few dollars per copy to ComputerCOP, and in return they get the software in customized packaging that prominently features the department that paid for the software.

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Man who ate napkins to conceal insider trading pleads guilty

By Ged Carroll via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Ged Carroll via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Reuters:

A Brooklyn, New York mortgage broker, who would scribble secret stock tips on napkins and pass them to an accomplice in Grand Central station before eating them, pleaded guilty to insider trading on Friday, federal prosecutors said.

Frank Tamayo, 41, was the middleman in what prosecutors called a three-man scheme that generated $5.6 million in illegal profits over five years, based on tips about a dozen transactions being negotiated by a prestigious New York law firm.

Tamayo, who had been cooperating with authorities, pleaded guilty to securities fraud, tender offer fraud, and conspiracy charges in the federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey.

The defendant also agreed to forfeit more than $1 million, the contents of two brokerage accounts, and a 2008 Audi Q7. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the fraud counts.

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