Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Water Cooler

The Ban on Cash Is Coming. Soon. (sovereignman.com). There've been a ton of stories lately about this. The meta-theme is: As negative interest rates overtake the bond market (and the money market, mortgage markets, etc.), banks will have no choice but to charge you hefty fees to hold your deposits. Depositors will then withdraw a lot of money; but there's not enough currency in existence to sustain even a moderate run on cash; therefore, why not mitigate the problem, ahead of time, by banning currency. (Insert additional "central banks are nefarious" side-plots here.) I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but there does seem to be an eerie amount of momentum behind the call for a cash ban. And some of the arguments advanced are hilariously vapid. (E.g.: Criminal activities involve cash. Therefore ban cash!) When you see former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers writing an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for an end to the $100 bill (which is 78% of all U.S. currency), it makes you wonder.

The latest Monopoly game eliminates
Monopoly money
. It uses debit cards.
But also remember: Cash is effectively almost banned already. Many U.S. businesses won't accept $100 bills, and you have to fill out paperwork to withdraw $10,000 or more in cash from a bank (in many countries, the limit is much smaller). But it also varies by bank: Many U.S. banks have a daily limit on ATM withdrawals of $300, for example, and there are other disincentives to the use of cash throughout the economy. (Ever tried to rent a car with cash?) We're pretty much a non-cash economy as it is.

Still, bear in mind: We can't even get rid of the penny. (Think how many calls there've been to retire the U.S. penny!) Cash has been here for thousands of years. If it goes away, it will be reinvented. It's too handy. For small purchases, at least.

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty (WaPo). Richest nation on earth? Rich by what standards?

Victoria Woodhull
America's Scandalous, Psychic, Forgotten First Female Presidential Candidate (broadly.vice.com). In 1872, Victoria Woodhull ran for president, even though she herself could not vote.

How the United States built a welfare state for the wealthy (WaPo). Terrific interview with Syracuse University political scientist Chris Faricy.

Texas Police Fatally Shoot Naked, Unarmed Teen (theroot.com). Kind of hard to plant a gun on a suspect who's naked.

This Is The World's Best Country for Working Women (bloomberg.com). Scandinavia again.

America's Next Top Polluter (environmentamerica.org). New reality show? No. Just reality.

Facebook Colonialism (boingboing.net). Not welcome in India.

Hillary Clinton finally found her argument against Bernie Sanders (vox.com). As close to a fair and balanced critique of the Democratic candidates as we're likely to see. Food for thought, for both sides (Sanders, Clinton).

Clinton Camp Laboring to Stop Sanders From Siphoning Latino Support (nbcnews.com). Clinton is counting on Latino support in Nevada, but she faces two formidable problems: First, Latino turnout is typically not very high in caucus states, and second, Latino voters tend to be younger than the general population (and Clinton fares horribly with young voters).

The world can't afford another financial crash – it could destroy capitalism as we know it (telegraph.co.uk). Maybe that's just what we need, though.

Scientists have found that smoking weed does not make you stupid after all (WaPo). See also:

What happens when you get stoned every single day for five years (WaPo). What's humorous is that this particular study was obviously designed (by Very Serious Scientists) to prove that longterm marijuana use renders you cognitively incompetent, and yet it found "you can smoke weed every single day for five years, and not have it impact your problem-solving abilities or your ability to focus at all."

Titanic II set to sail in 2018, says Aussie billionaire (belfasttelegraph.co.uk). Yes, a crazy billionaire is building an exact replica of the Titanic. The maiden voyage will be from Jiangsu, China, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders (theatlantic.com). "Change is not, as Clinton has claimed, a matter of 'magical' thinking or waving a 'wand'—it is about pushing ideas, building movements, and challenging the status quo. Even before the general election, Clinton is campaigning on a deflating and defeatist politics of half-a-loaf 'pragmatism,' aiming lower on minimum wage, opposing free college, opposing single-payer health care." Clinton cuts off any possibility of change by warning us, in essence, that dramatic change simply isn't practical. Vote for me, I know how to compromise! You get things done by lowering the bar, not raising it!

Stow your dreams. They're impractical. A great lesson for our children. (Not.)

Thanks for visiting. Be sure to check out prior weeks' Water Coolers (see links at right).



Many, many thanks to the fine folks (below) who retweeted me recently on "the Twitter." I love you all. In a non-sexual way. Mostly. Somewhat.



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