Thursday, May 16, 2013

A call for private currency

Modern governments are gung ho to privatize just about everything they can lay their hands on these days.  In the '80s, the Thatcher government was busy selling the utilities.  Her successor sold the railways. Here in Canada we've begun to open up the phone services to competition and have sold the national airline.  And in the states there are experiments to privatize the prisons, the police force and much of the military.

One thing that has remained stubbornly in the public domain is the currency. And by this, I don't mean the creation of money, which now too, is largely in the private sector.  I mean the currency itself.  If we are not happy with our dollar and what it buys and its value (which, after all, is nothing--it's just a piece of paper, or in these times a blip in some computer data bank somewhere), why shouldn't we exchange it for another one, or for that matter for a Canadian Franc, or Dragma or Schekel or Pound or Ob or Guinea or whatever it is that the backer decides to call it?

Lets face it, competition for the bank conglomerates is sorely needed.  These days, because of fees, abysimally low interest rates and other factors, if your net worth isn't close to a cool million, you're better off keeping your money in your shoe.  And as the WikiLeaks debacle proves (in addition to the fact that freedom of the press is a convenient myth) the banks now wield an excessive amount of power.

What we need is a new standard of value.  If the "Occupy" Movement is really serious about achieving its goals, two things need to be done.

The first thing that we need to do is organize a general strike.  Nobody does any work, and by work I mean any revenue-generating activity. I'm not saying we need to go hungry.  You can do anything you want to, as long as it doesn't involve cash.  So for instance, you can bring your neighbours food or fix their cars for them and so on.

It is now well understood how fiat currency created primarily through debt helps concentrate wealth in the hands of the few--primarily those who already have control over a considerable amount of wealth.  The more the wealth is concentrated, the more control the global elite ultimately possess.  This paper shows just how concentrated that power has now become. So the second thing the Occupy Movement needs--and this compliments the first--is a new standard of value. Not necessarily currency since any new currency will be in immanent danger of being usurped for the purposes of control by an elite few just like what has happened to the existing currency.

My own vision for a better society and a better system of distribution ("market") is simple. We just need a clearing-house or bulletin board for work that needs to be done and goods that need to be distributed, whether for ourselves or for our neighbours. Sort of like Craigslist except everything in the want-ads is free. If I am free and I possess the skills, then I can do one of the tasks. Likewise, if my neighbour is free, he can come do one of the tasks I've posted on the board.  If I have some spare bread that I need to get rid of, I just post it on the board.

Here is a book that discusses strategies for alternative currency.  I think it is one of the most important books written in recent times.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Celebrations are in order

I stated in the previous post that all of the work from the past year-and-a-half was done for free.  This is not entirely true.  First, I did received 1500 Euros for a stale contract.  Two of the papers on arxiv are offshoots of that work.  But more importantly, I received a $10 donation quite recently.  This is actually my first donation, and it's still sitting in my Paypal acount--or at least what's left of it after the fees.  Once a few more donations start rolling in I intend to divert them to a dedicated account. 

Why did I not announce it sooner?  First of all, and I don't know if this says something about me or about society in general or perhaps both, but when I first received the e-mail, I assumed it was a scammer.  I even filled out an electronic report to the RCMP about it!  It turns out my Paypal account hadn't been verified.  Second, after almost two years of dedicated work as an independent research scientist this is all I have to show for it, at least monetarily.  I realize the necessity, passed down to us from all the great moral teachers, of gratitude.  But I am somewhat embarassed about this.

Anyway, thanks very much to William Oquendo for your generous donation to the libAGF project!

Jumping on the crowd-funding bandwagon--again

Recently I've become interested in "men's issues" because I believe that modern feminism has gone too far.  This is particularly true in academia where intellectual freedom (assuming it ever existed at all) has practically disappeared.  A Harvard president is asked to resign after he merely suggests that men and women may have different abilities, meanwhile, academic feminists can write the most blatant hate-speech against men and other, so-called, "privileged" groups without fear of repercussion.

One of the characters I've encountered through men's rights activists is Anita Sarkeesian.  She is a feminist "vlogger" who submitted a project to for the purpose of examining female stereotypes in video games.  She collected over $158 000.

That's a lot of money for something so trivial.  Women are stereotyped in videogames?  Get over yourself.  As if men aren't stereotyped as well.  It seems inevitable in a medium where the characters are composed of pixels that a certain amount of cartoonishness is going to creep in.  Yes, your female avatar may have an unnaturally large chest and be rather scantily dressed, but so too, in all probability, will your male avatar.  Big deal.

Anyway, this has inspired me to try my hand once again at collecting donations using crowdfunding.  This time, however, I'm going to use generic sites, rather than science specific ones.  I'm also going to focus on those that use a "keep-it-all" funding model.

In the past year-and-a-half alone, I have made over 250 code commits to free software projects, have submitted a total of five articles to the database, as well as dozens of contributions to Wikipedia.  These activities represent advances in diverse fields including statistics, machine-learning, numerical computation, atmospheric physics, remote sensing and environmental science.  Little of which has yet been paid for.  If something as frivolous as tropes in video games can raise over six figures, surely real science deserves at least a small nugget.

So give me money.  You owe it to me.  Or at least somebody does...