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I was shocked - truly shocked - in comments the other day, to discover that the M-Pesa monetary system currently overtaking Africa isn't known to everyone here.  I had mentioned it, and was asked what it was.  I then did a site search, to discover that there have been three(!) references to M-Pesa in the past six months or so; and those of only an inconsequential, drive-by nature.  Maybe I don't get how the search function works...

And while bitcoin has more traction, it too suffers from a lack of exposure here on Dkos.

These two, new monetary systems are becoming economically and politically important in the world:  and politically important for mostly all the right reasons.  Without a basic understanding of what they are, why they exist and how they work, it will become more and more difficult to understand how they impact political activism - and, indeed, to conduct successful activist campaigns at all.  Because money is the lifeblood of politics.  And while money has generally been used as a tool against the poorest of the world, that can change:  it is, in fact, changing.  And now, with the introduction of Kipochi - which integrates the two - the network effects are coming like a tidal wave.

I don't know a lot about M-Pesa - I'm not a user - but one really doesn't need to.  It is instinctively impossible not to get it - it's a beautiful thing.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, I know a lot about.  I've been involved with bitcoin for a little over two years - and it is, in the main, the reason I haven't been around here much.  I've been heavily invested in pushing the Overton Window to the Left, at various bitcoin sites; and have met with varying degrees of success.  I haven't been alone in that effort.  The death-grip of the Randian libertarians on bitcoin has loosened considerably,

Kipochi is a brand new player - but will have an enormous impact on both of these monetary systems.

The venture capitalists, the lawyers, the Winklevii, and the Foundations are here:  and they are not revolutionaries.

M-Pesa:

In one easy sentence:  M-Pesa is money based on the value of cell-phone minutes, that is transferred from person to person via text messaging.  If ten minutes have a value equivalent to a loaf of bread, you text ten of your minutes to the baker and he gives you a loaf of bread.  Does it get any simpler?

80% of the population of Africa - the entire continent! - is unbanked.  Why?  Basically, because to be poor in Africa outside the big cities (and even in them) is to be really poor.  What a poor person in the U.S. pays per month in charges on one of those scummy debit-card payroll schemes - $40-50/month - is a living wage in most of Africa.  Kenya, for example - where M-Pesa first took off - has a per capita income of roughly $1,500/year:  but if you take the wealthy out of that averaged number...

The banks haven't seen a way to extract what they consider to be enough money from the general population - so they just don't bother.  Outside of the big cities (where banks need to be attentive to the money-laundering needs of the average tin-pot dictator) there are no banks, to speak of.  That's changing slightly, as those dying behemoths realize their strategic error, and are frantically playing catch-up - but they're looking pretty late to the party.  To which I say:  good.

What is there in Africa, anyway?  Some of the best cell-phone coverage on earth.  And so, once the cell-phone providers decided that it would be in their best competitive interest to allow people to swap their minutes back and forth (beginning in 2005, with full cross-adoption by 2010), the M-Pesa system took off.

Adoption has been ferocious.  This is what it looks like.

Pay attention to M-Pesa.  There will be no successful activist projects in Africa that don't take it into consideration.

Bitcoin:

Bitcoin is both a currency and a commodity.  It has value for the same reason that gold, or any other primary form of money, has value:  because people agree on that value and exchange goods and services based on their mutual acceptance of it.

I think most people here have been exposed to bitcoin, and understand a little about how it works.  I'm not going to go into that much.  Frankly, I'm kind of burned out on it.  I've spent the past couple of years in bitcoin wars around the 'net that make our little Snowden tiff look like a mutual admiration society meeting that begins and ends with a stirring rendition of Kumbayah in four-part harmony.  So I'll just offer a quick precis, try to forestall the usual bullshit FUD, and leave it at that.  If you have rational questions, I'll do my best to answer them in-thread.  I'm not a crypto geek - I'll mention it, but do your own research on that, OK?

Bitcoin is a person-to-person, completely decentralized, and highly secure form of money.  It is available to anyone, without identification or credit checks.  Bitcoins can be sent anywhere in the world with no, or very small, fees.  The transfer of bitcoins from person to person anywhere in the world where the internet is available cannot be interfered with by any government or bank.  You can get it here.  The best introduction to the concept and use of bitcoin is at WeUseCoins:  watch it, if you don't already have a basic working understanding of what bitcoin is.  If you would like to see how big bitcoin is in various places around the world, there's this WebGL Globe thingie.

Is bitcoin risky?  It depends.  As a commodity-type investment, yes - it is somewhat risky:  less so than a penny stock, but more so than some basket vehicle of Dow Jones stocks.  Is there counterparty risk to using bitcoin as a currency:  i.e., for transacting business or buying stuff?  No - there isn't.  The risk that the value of a bitcoin will fluctuate so much that you'll lose purchasing power (or lose income) in the time a transaction takes is nicely taken care of by the various companies that provide merchant services for bitcoin:  conversion pricing is guaranteed, second-by-second.  Is there a risk of hackers stealing my bitcoin wallet?  Yes, there is.  You are responsible for your own security:  don't do stupid things on the internet with the computer your wallet is on.  That said, there are many solutions to this problem, of varying degrees of complexity - they are getting better and easier all the time.

Is bitcoin anonymous?  It most certainly is not.  There are complicated ways to get close to anonymity - but it's almost impossible to make a bitcoin as anonymous as a hundred dollar bill.

But you can't really buy anything with bitcoin, right?  Wrong.  You can buy houses around the world, cars, get pizza delivered, buy any geek toy there is, buy the gift cards of almost anyplace that offers them, pay for your phone and its charges, buy computer and internet services (including VPNs - and you're crazy if you pay for your VPN any other way),  Here's a partial list of bitcoin merchants.  Settle in.  Get some coffee.  It's long...

But seriously, it's really only good for drugs and money laundering and kiddie porn, right?  You're an idiot.  I'll give you a simple choice:  you can have one-hundredth of one percent of the money that is spent on that stuff, just in US dollars - or you can have what's spent on that stuff in bitcoin.  I'm waiting on your so-obviously informed decision.  I have zero patience at all anymore, with that.  Don't even ask.

As I pointed out in the sub-thread that sparked this diary:

There's a lot of bank trolls on the bitcoin blogs that try to spread that stuff.  Don't buy it.
You're shocked, I'm sure.  The idea of folks trolling for organizations inimical to the blog they're on is a strange concept, I'll grant you.  But it does happen.
But I've heard that it's a Ponzi scheme.  Sigh.  Doubling down, are we?

But they could ban bitcoin - and the NSA can hack it anyway, right?  Wrong.  I see no way to 'ban' what is essentially a file transfer over an open P2P network; and I'll point out that this is a major purpose behind the design of the bitcoin protocol.  And no, the NSA can't crack bitcoin's encryption.  But quantum computers will crack bitcoin, right?  Wrong.  Bitcoin has many layers of encryption:  some are vulnerable to quantum computing, some aren't.  If you really want to worry about quantum vulnerabilities that aren't going to exist (as a matter of practicality) for many years, worry about your bank account.  Banks use fewer encryption layers than bitcoin, and the encryption used is less strong.  Also, the bitcoin software is purposefully designed to be able to plug various encryption pieces in and out.  If the need should arise to strengthen bitcoin's encryption, it's trivial to do so.

That's enough.  Just ask.  I'll stick around for awhile.

Kipochi:

Swahili: wallet (a flat case, often made of leather, for keeping money).

This is truly fantastic.  I know almost nothing about Kipochi.  But I see what it does.  It accepts bitcoin and spits out equivalent value in cell-phone minutes on the African network providers.  Memeburn has a decent article on it.

Kipochi just launched its Bitcoin transfer service in Kenya using M-Pesa as its running platform. This service would allow people across Kenya to send and receive funds abroad with extremely low transaction fees using the crypto online currency — Bitcoin.

A few months ago, we heard rumours about Bitcoin ATMs in Africa. Although sounding disruptive, it doesn’t really take advantage of Africa’s unique market and has been implemented before. According to Quartz, M-Pesa accounts for as much as 31% of Kenya’s GDP. This is Kipochi’s main focus.

The company recently ran a Q&A thread on Reddit which showed much of the users’ appreciation as well as some talk of expansion to the rest of Africa including South Africa and Tanzania.

Think about that.  Today, if you want to help out with a donation, what happens?  Well, you send money to the Red Cross or some similar organization, they take their cut and the money is passed on to some company that sells stuff that is needed in Africa.  They take their cut, and send the stuff on through some transport service, who takes their cut.  It reaches port and then corruption takes its cut:  dockworkers, local warlords or governments, national government...  So your donation finally gets to its intended recipients as... what?  Certainly less than 10% of the value you donated.  Whoopee.  And of course you had absolutely no choice at all in where your donation went, or what items were purchased with your money.

But now?  Oh my!  Got a village you'd like to help out?  Maybe you passed through, once upon a time - they were kind, and they're having some needs unmet at the moment.  Maybe you were in the Peace Corps, and you worked there?  Maybe you just know a guy who knows a guy who's from there?  Maybe you are from there, and you send money back regularly?

Well... send some bitcoin.  How much of it do they get?  All of it.

So what's the leverage here?  It's enormous.  At the very least, you're getting ten times more into the hands you actually wanted to help out, than if you donated through some 'normal' organization like the Red Cross.  At the least.  If you're floating a loan, you can do it directly through a trusted - but local - party:  nobody  gets a rake.

I wish I knew more about Kipochi.  I will.  Soon.

But in the meantime, I thought I'd pass on what I've got.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

    by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 05:21:41 AM PDT

  •  M-Pesa is money tied to your cell phone account (6+ / 0-)

    I have lived in Tanzania and used M-Pesa.  It is a separate money account tied to your cell phone and different from phone minutes or phone credit.  You can transfer money from that account to buy cell phone credit, you can transfer money from your account to other phone numbers, you can pay bills directly to certain businesses, and importantly, you can withdraw money from the MPesa account.  This is a very convenient service, especially for the unbanked.  My electric meter ran on a voucher credit and if I ran out of power, I could buy credit from my phone using my M-Pesa account and would quickly receive a text message with a voucher number to punch into my meter to restore power.  Pesa is swahili for money and I believe this started in Kenya.

    •  Thanks for the clarification. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      One Pissed Off Liberal, CroneWit

      Like I said - I haven't used it.  Going on what I've seen - especially the initial acceptance of the African cell-phone providers to allow the transfer of minutes - I did the best I could.

      Do you think I should edit?  Or is it good enough to get the idea?

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:10:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your decision (4+ / 0-)

        You can transfer phone credit also, which is stored as money value but not withdrawable like the mpesa account.  You buy a phone voucher for say 5000 shillings and then spend it as you use it, 60 shillings for a text message and 60 shillings per minute for an incountry call.  Because we do not have mpesa like banking here, the bitcoin service is allowing someone from here to send money to a MPesa account in East Africa.  This is a very valuable service for family members working in the US that want to send money home.  The recipient will pay a commission to withdraw the money so you need to send a little more than what you want them to receive.  It is an interesting system and I just wanted to fill in details for the MPesa side of it.

  •  Bitcoin puzzles me... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jaime Frontero, CroneWit

    ...from what I've seen, many of it's champions rail against the evils of "fiat money", but isn't Bitcoin even more fiat that government fiat money?  Please, indulge me, as I only seek knowledge, and I know you have little patience for fools and haters; I just stumbled in here.  We all know, from the ubiquitous line on any printed US currency note, that the US Dollar is backed by the full faith and credit of the US government.  Maybe that's meaningless to some people, but seeing as the US government has more military might than every other country on earth combined, it certainly means one hell of a lot more than any promise the Facebook-losing Winkle Twins can promise!  So I searched the phrase "Isn't Bitcoin fiat money?" and this is what popped up:

    Bitcoin as fiat

    What's your take on the substance of the article?  (And please, something more than, "Of course FT hates it!  They have a vested interest in the current system!"-type argument...)

    •  'Fiat' is money by decree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit

      The USD is fiat, yes.  And I don't see anything wrong with that.  You need the stuff to pay your taxes, for example - that's required.

      And yeah, military power certainly has an impact on the value of a fiat currency - because none of them are actually 'backed' by anything any more.

      But like I say, I don't have any problem with that.  If we all agree that the USD is as stable as it's declared to be, and we accept that (as we mostly do), it's money.

      Bitcoin is money by agreement.  We agree among ourselves that bitcoin has X value (at the moment, equivalent to about $97.00 US) and exchange goods and services at that rate.  That's why I defined it as primary money - similar to gold.  Nothing backs it but the agreement of  those who use it.

      So I guess I disagree that bitcoin is, as you say, "even more fiat that government fiat money".  If simply because - definitionally - nobody has decreed that it's money.  But I don't think that matters, y'know?

      There's room for a lot of different kinds of money in the world.  And having non-government options is kind of nice, for a change.

      Forgive me for not responding directly to the FT article - it requires registration.

      And I have plenty of patience.  There's just a couple things I really can't take much of, after all the time I've put into it.  Seemed fair to mention it.

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:30:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jaime Frontero

      Fiat money can be arbitrarily created.  Bitcoin is based on a limited "resource" (albeit not a physical resource).

      Mind you, I don't agree with the people who rail against fiat currency.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:37:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't understand that railage either. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CroneWit, jrooth

        And it certainly hasn't made my time among the bitcoin savages particularly pleasant in many cases.  Eh.

        But yeah - my moment of zen with bitcoin was two-fold:  firstly, that there will never be more than 21 million of them.  And secondly, how elegantly the double-spending problem was solved.

        It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

        by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:43:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Won't forced scarcity eventually lead... (0+ / 0-)

          ...to competition, and ultimately the abandonment of Bitcoin once it's only real value (usefulness) evaporates?

          •  There really isn't any scarcity. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CroneWit

            Bitcoin is divisible to eight decimal places.  Why would it be abandoned?

            There are those who think its best use-case is as a settlement vehicle - so, large transactions behind the scene.

            I see more usefulness for it as a way for people to move their money at will, just like the 1% does.  I mean seriously - have you seen the currency restrictions that are being placed on people around the world?  The EU has gotten terrible.  In Argentina you have to go through a couple weeks of paperwork and inquisition to get 100 dollars a day (equivalent) approved, to take a vacation outside the country.

            It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

            by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:04:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Then isn't subject to the same limitations... (0+ / 0-)

        ...as the gold-backed dollar had:  Financial crisis followed by more financial crisis.  (See, Depression, Great...)

      •  Fiat has nothing to do with being a limited (0+ / 0-)

        resource.

        It only has to do with not being convertible to, say, gold, or grain, or anything else.

        If you take your dollar to the gov to exchange it, you'll get another dollar.

        Unless you do the same during tax time.  Then you might get a tax credit.

        Congress is stupidly restricting how many dollars are made, but we still have a fiat currency.

        Bitcoin is also a fiat form of money.  Or soft currency.  You can't take your Bitcoin to a Bitcoin central exchange an get back gold, grain, or what have you.

        It's a fiat money, the amount of which will be limited.

        •  But the point of being backed by a commodity (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          katiec

          is that (at least theoretically) it externally imposes a limit on the supply. The government can't just "print money" in unlimited supply, because it doesn't have the capacity to convert it to the backing commodity.  At least, as I understand it, that's the point so far as people who rail about the evils of fiat money are concerned.

          There are of course other views, like this Forbes article arguing All Money Is Fiat Money which make more sense to me.

          “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

          by jrooth on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:25:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's all an endless argument. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jrooth, katiec

            I don't think it really matters.

            The G prints as many dollars as it dares.  Bitcoin will never reach more than a certain number.

            It's one of the few, real-world and non-theoretical economic experiments ever conducted.  Mostly, economics is a field of theory and interpretation and intuition.

            And bitcoin is fascinating if for no other reason than that.

            It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

            by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:48:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for explaining Bitcoin etc to me, Jaime (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jaime Frontero

    The fact that there are working alternate currencies in existence is intriguing.

    The value and use of 'money' is a social construct, and the manipulation of that social construct rules the world.  Just the existence of an alternative social construct that can also be used to buy goods and services holds revolutionary potential.

    •  Revolutionary - yes. In its own way. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit

      The hope is that it will cut into the banks' bottom line enough that the financial life we're all involved in will become less burdensome and much less expensive.

      Bitcoin is great - but frankly, on a world-wide level, I'm much more pumped about how the integration of it with these other systems is going.

      Heh.  One nice thing about bitcoin though - it has effectively ended the US ban on internet gambling.  The only enforcement tool was action against payment processors, like VISA; and it was very effective.  But now the bitcoin poker (and other types of gambling) sites are popping up all over the place...

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:23:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't really understand (0+ / 0-)

    any of this. My concept of 'money' is too fixed. And despite that, I find it fascinating.

    I'd heard of bitcoins, of course, but I'd always imagined that you paid for them in real--erm, 'traditional?'--currency. Which obviously, upon reflection, defeats the entire purpose. I watched the video, and you 'mine' them via a software program? That's the part I still don't understand: computing power = $?

    (I guess that's not necessarily more ridiculous than 'central bank = $', hence the 'fiat money' question above, but ouch, my head.)

    If Goldman Sachs or someone devoted a few of their market-manipulation millisecond supercomputers to bitcoins, couldn't they just create gazillions for themselves?  (I'm sure this is the most basic and ignorant question, but ... )

    M-Pesa looks amazing.

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:42:31 AM PDT

    •  Nope - no need to worry. Goldman... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GussieFN

      ...can't do that.  Firstly, the protocol is designed to adjust to whatever mining power is used - so that a certain number of coins are created every two-week period.

      Secondly, it's doubtful Goldman (or some other bad actor) could either afford to out-mine the rest of the network, or that anyone could find enough hardware to do so.

      Right now, there is more processing power devoted to bitcoin mining than the top ten supercomputers in the world could match.  And computers are outdated for that purpose anyway.  Everything is moving to custom ASIC chips that are insanely faster than any computer could be.

      Yeah - M-Pesa is amazing, even if I didn't quite get it right...

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:42:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bitcoin totally inappropriate as a currency (0+ / 0-)

    Several bitcoin exchanges have been shut down by the government and others have gone bankrupt.  People who were owed money by these exchanges got screwed.

    The value has fluctuated wildly, both up and down, and mostly down since April http://blockchain.info/...

    If you are a geek that wants to play with bitcoin mining that's one thing, but as a store of value, nix.

    •  Alas, no. (0+ / 0-)

      No bitcoin exchanges have been shut down by the government.  The government has shut down some payment processors for failure to adhere to various laws - most notably the KYC laws.  It's true that several have gone bankrupt.  Some people got screwed, some didn't.  It's early days yet, and you're safer with bitcoin than you were with US banks in the 18th century.

      Interestingly enough, as much focus as is placed on the instability of these businesses, few mention how much better they're doing than the average small business startup.  The numbers for a typical small business failure are somewhere around an 80% failure rate after two years, and over 90% after five.  So far, bitcoin businesses are doing much better than that.

      Saying that the value has fluctuated since this April is a massive cherry pick.  Please.  Bitcoin varies quite a bit - but since it first broke parity with the dollar around April of 2011, it has tended up, continuously.  Just a couple minutes of playing with bitcoin charts show that easily.  You are spreading bad information, when you obviously have the resources available to be objective.  Why?

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:35:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  Then don't hate. Your comment was... (0+ / 0-)

          ...filled with acrimony and disdain.

          Was my response?

          It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

          by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:57:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  pointing out the downside (0+ / 0-)

            to bitcoin does not qualify as hate in my book. You were the one that engaged in misquotation and false accusations.

            •  I'm sorry you see it that way. Really. (0+ / 0-)

              My reaction to using statistics on bitcoin starting this April - honestly - is no different than to the climate change deniers who pick out the past sixteen years of climate information and say: "See!  There isn't anywhere near as much warming as these loopy scientists are predicting!"

              Forgive me please - and I appreciate the rec on my bottom comment.  Thank you for reading it, and hopefully understanding it.

              And note this - you were warned. ;-)  Like I said in the diary, I've spent two years of my life pushing and prodding this thing, and I'm pretty burned out on it.  My patience is thinner than it ought to be - I know that:  that's why I made a point of mentioning it.

              In any case, coming back to Dkos has been like a breath of air.  How pleasant it all is - how easily understood...

              Try to look at bitcoin with fresh eyes.  You won't regret it.

              Have a good afternoon.

              It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

              by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:44:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  don't put your words in my mouth (0+ / 0-)

    you misquoted me when you had the text of my comment available right in front of you.  Why?  What I said was:

    The value has fluctuated wildly, both up and down, and mostly down since April
    That is an easily verified fact. I stand by my conclusion that bitcoin is not appropriate store of value. I cite in support of that, your comments:
    you're safer with bitcoin than you were with US banks in the 18th century... the instability of these businesses, few mention how much better they're doing than the average small business startup
    Do you really think it wise to guide people to put serious money into something safer than "18th century banks"? Recommending investments for others is a very serious responsibility, one that I am familiar with. That is why I comment.  Indeed: You are spreading bad information, irresponsibly, when you obviously have the resources available to be objective. Why?  
    •  OK. Try to hear me... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      Firstly, I have not recommended an investment.  I said, in the diary:

      Is bitcoin risky?  It depends.  As a commodity-type investment, yes - it is somewhat risky:  less so than a penny stock, but more so than some basket vehicle of Dow Jones stocks.
      But much more importantly...

      I think bitcoin is important.  Very important.  Or rather, it is the idea behind it that will likely have a very significant impact on the world of money as we know it now.  It may not be bitcoin itself - perhaps some other thing along the same lines - but the idea of an egalitarian money, outside the political control of government is a powerful thing.

      The desire for such a thing has been part of our speculation about our future for a long time.  It is deeply embedded in how we actually think about the future.

      It is curious that when the idea has finally borne fruit, it is so opposed.  Or - human nature being what it is - perhaps not.

      But whatever you may think of the cultural inputs we are all subject to, as regards this thing, it is here.  You may think the cultural speculation we indulge in by reading William Gibson or Neal Stephenson is irrelevant.  I don't.  Perhaps the space-busting epics we all waited for every month in our youth are to be retired now, as the playthings of children.  I don't think that either.

      And the central monetary idea of our cultural speculation about what awaits us in our future has always been the idea of the "credit".  That planet (or galaxy) -wide unit of currency that is good everywhere, regardless of local currencies.  That has no politics attached to it.  That is not controllable by any powerful cadre of inimical one percenters.

      Well, it's here.  And in some form or another, it will never go away again.  Take another look or not, as you like - but it isn't going away.

      It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

      by Jaime Frontero on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:20:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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