Saturday, April 10, 2010

Health - We Are Water

I can sum up this video in one word: wow...

Responsible for the Most Deaths in the Bible?

Wow, I did NOT see that one let loose one flood and kill a bunch of first borns and all of a sudden, you're a mass murderer...

Death Toll in Bangkok Rises as Martial Law Declared to Quell Protests

(OK, in Thailand, their "finance minister" (similar to our Secretary of the Treasury) did the same thing Geithner did here: bailed out the banksters who were responsible for this mess to begin with rather than the people who get hit the hardest. Look how the people of Thailand responded...they obviously don't feel the need to gel in front of the TV. I don't know, I find that very inspiring that they rose up in protest against the same rich douchebags who screwed things up here while we bitch on our blogs or on Facebook...the deaths are are worrisome, but I figure they planned for that, too.-jef)


Death Toll Rises as Thai Protesters Battle Troops in Bangkok
Live rounds, teargas and grenades used in Thai capital
by Ben Doherty in Bangkok

Thai troops fired rubber bullets and teargas at thousands of demonstrators, who fought back with guns, grenades and petrol bombs in riots that killed at least 15 people in Bangkok's worst political violence in 18 years. At least 521 people, including 64 soldiers and police, were wounded in the fighting near the Phan Fah bridge and Rajdumnoen Road in Bangkok's old quarter, a protest base near government buildings, and the regional UN headquarters.

After hours of violence, army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said troops would pull back in the old quarter as the riot spread into Khao San Road, an area popular with back-packing tourists. "If this continues, if the army responds to the red shirts, violence will expand," Sansern said. He urged the protesters to do the same as they pelted soldiers with petrol bombs and M79 grenades. He said some protesters were armed with guns.

A red shirt leader later called on supporters to pull back to the main protest sites. The protesters, meanwhile, were upping the stakes in their public statements against the prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. "We are changing our demand from dissolving parliament in 15 days to dissolving parliament immediately," one leader, Veera Musikapong, told demonstrators. "And we call for Abhisit to leave the country immediately."

Hundreds of red shirts forced their way into government offices in two northern cities. The protesters said they would besiege governors' offices in the provinces if there was a crackdown in the capital.

The protesters, mostly coming from Thailand's rural poor in the north and north-east of the country, oppose the current government, arguing that it is illegitimate and in effect a puppet regime for the wealthy Bangkok elite which has long controlled Thai politics. Many are supporters of the exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but their movement has also been gaining increasing support among Bangkok's middle class.

A state of emergency was declared in Bangkok on Wednesday, after red shirts broke into the grounds of parliament, forcing the deputy prime minister to flee by helicopter.

The worst clashes appeared to have occurred from around 3pm near Phan Fah Bridge in the city's old area as the army tried to "reclaim" the area. While the stand-off was initially peaceful, as soldiers advanced towards a line of protesters who stood with arms interlocked, the confrontation became heated, witnesses told the Observer. As warning shots were fired, protesters rushed at troops. The army initially claimed it used only teargas and rubber bullets, later saying live rounds were fired but only into the air.

After nearly a month of protests, the government has proved unable to counter the growing confidence of the red shirts. Initially praised for his cool, Vejjajiva, holed up in an army barracks, is now being criticised as ineffective. There are doubts he has the army's full support, with many soldiers, in particular those from the north-east, said to favour the protesters.

Near-Death Experiences Explained?

Bright lights, angelic visions products of too much CO2 in the blood, study says.

James Owen
for National Geographic News
Published April 8, 2010

Near-death experiences are tricks of the mind triggered by an overload of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, a new study suggests.

Many people who have recovered from life-threatening injuries have said they experienced their lives flashing before their eyes, saw bright lights, left their bodies, or encountered angels or dead loved ones.

In the new study, researchers investigated whether different levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide—the main blood gases—play a role in the mysterious phenomenon.

The team studied 52 heart attack patients who had been admitted to three major hospitals and were eventually resuscitated. Eleven of the patients reported near-death experiences.

During cardiac arrest and resuscitation, blood gases such as CO2 rise or fall because of the lack of circulation and breathing.

"We found that in those patients who experienced the phenomenon, blood carbon-dioxide levels were significantly higher than in those who did not," said team member Zalika Klemenc-Ketis, of the University of Maribor in Slovenia.

(Related: "Creepy 'Shadow Person' Effect Conjured by Brain Shocks.")

CO2 Only Common Factor in Near-Death Experiences

Other factors, such a patient's sex, age, or religious beliefs—or the time it took to revive them—had no bearing on whether the patients reported near-death experiences.

The drugs used during initial treatment—a suggested explanation for near-death experiences after heart attacks—also didn't seem to correlate with the sensations, according to the study authors.

(Related: "Ancient Death-Smile Potion Decoded?")

How carbon dioxide might actually interact with the brain to produce near-death sensations was beyond the scope of the study, so for now "the exact pathophysiological mechanism for this is not known," Klemenc-Ketis said.

However, people who have inhaled excess carbon dioxide or have been at high altitudes, which can raise the blood's CO2 concentrations, have been known to have sensations similar to near-death experiences, she said. (Related: "High-Altitude Suits Keep Pressure on Pilots.")

A Glimpse of the Afterlife?

The study is among the first to find a direct link between carbon dioxide in the blood and near-death experiences, or NDEs, said Christopher French, a psychologist at the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit of the University of London, who was not involved in the new research.

The hospital study bolsters previous lab work done in the 1950s that found "the effects of hypercarbia [abnormally high levels of CO2 in the blood] were very similar to what we would now recognise as NDEs," French said in an email.

The research also supports the argument that anything that disinhibits the brain—damages the brain's ability to manage impulses—can produce near-death sensations, he said. Physical brain injury, drugs, and delirium have all been associated with a disinhibited state, and CO2 overload is another potential trigger.

Still, not all scientists are convinced: "The one difficulty in arguing that CO2 is the cause is that in cardiac arrests, everybody has high CO2 but only 10 percent have NDEs," said neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.

What's more, in heart attack patients, Fenwick said, "there is no coherent cerebral activity which could support consciousness, let alone an experience with the clarity of an NDE."

The main alternative is that near-death experiences are "evidence of consciousness becoming separated from the physical substrate of the brain, possibly even a glimpse of an afterlife," the University of London's French noted.

But for him, at least, "the latest results argue strongly against such a hypothesis."

What's in Batman's Utility Belt..? What Does the Batcave Look Like?

Let Them Eat Work! -- David brooks says...

Brooks: Let Them Eat Work

Unlike 90 percent of America, I was rooting for Duke last night. This was widely cast as a class conflict — the upper crust Dukies against the humble Midwestern farm boys. If this had been a movie, Butler’s last second heave would have gone in instead of clanging off the rim, and the country would still be weeping with joy.

But this is why life is not a movie. The rich are not always spoiled. Their success does not always derive from privilege. The Duke players — to the extent that they are paragons of privilege, which I dispute — won through hard work on defense.

via Redefining What It Means to Work Hard – Opinionator Blog –

I know, I know, I was supposed to lay off David Brooks for a while. But how can this latest gem of his possibly be ignored? I’m beginning to absolutely love this guy — for sheer comedy value, he really doesn’t have any peers at this point, especially with Thomas Friedman seeming more subdued and gloomy than ever. In fact I’m beginning to worry that Friedman might take himself out of the comedy game for good by shaving his porno mustache, thereby eliminating the Boogie Nights factor from his work and leaving Brooks the runaway clubhouse leader.

Anyway Brooks in the above column — a sort of running conversation he has with Gail Collins — manages to take the experience of watching the recent Duke-Butler NCAA championship game and turn his impressions into the missing last chapter of Atlas Shrugged. He starts with the above observation that the reviled Dukies, who are often painted as college basketball’s spoiled children of privilege, won because they simply worked harder than those poor mid-major farm boys from Butler. Then he has a remarkably funny exchange with Collins in which he expands this observation to the rest of society. The whole passage reads as follows:

David Brooks: A few hours after that atrocity of opening day, Duke went on to beat Butler the national championship. You should know that Duke is one of my alma maters. I am very generous in my definition of alma maters. I claim that affiliation with any school I went to, taught at, lived near (Villanova and St. Johns) or parked at.

Unlike 90 percent of America, I was rooting for Duke last night. This was widely cast as a class conflict — the upper crust Dukies against the humble Midwestern farm boys. If this had been a movie, Butler’s last second heave would have gone in instead of clanging off the rim, and the country would still be weeping with joy.

But this is why life is not a movie. The rich are not always spoiled. Their success does not always derive from privilege. The Duke players — to the extent that they are paragons of privilege, which I dispute — won through hard work on defense.

Gail Collins: I’m sorry, when the difference is one weensy basket, I’d say Duke won neither by privilege nor hard work but by sheer luck. But don’t let me interrupt your thought here. I detect the subtle and skillful transition to a larger non-sport point.

David Brooks: Yes. I was going to say that for the first time in human history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people. How do you construct a rich versus poor narrative when the rich are more industrious?

I had to read this thing twice before it registered that Brooks was actually saying that he was rooting for the rich against the poor. If he keeps this up, he’s going to make his way into the Guinness Book for having extended his tongue at least a foot and a half farther up the ass of the Times’s Upper East Side readership than any previous pundit in journalistic history. But then you come to this last line of his, in which he claims that “for the first time in history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people,” and you find yourself almost speechless.

I would give just about anything to sit David Brooks down in front of some single mother somewhere who’s pulling two shitty minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford a pair of $19 Mossimo sneakers at Target for her kid, and have him tell her, with a straight face, that her main problem is that she doesn’t work as hard as Jamie Dimon.

Only a person who has never actually held a real job could say something like this. There is, of course, a huge difference between working 80 hours a week in a profession that you love and which promises you vast financial rewards, and working 80 hours a week digging ditches for a septic-tank company, or listening to impatient assholes scream at you at some airport ticket counter all day long, or even teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids in some crappy school district with metal detectors on every door.

Most of the work in this world completely sucks balls and the only reward most people get for their work is just barely enough money to survive, if that. The 95% of people out there who spend all day long shoveling the dogshit of life for subsistence wages are basically keeping things running just well enough so that David Brooks, me and the rest of that lucky 5% of mostly college-educated yuppies can live embarrassingly rewarding and interesting lives in which society throws gobs of money at us for pushing ideas around on paper (frequently, not even good ideas) and taking mutual-admiration-society business lunches in London and Paris and Las Vegas with our overpaid peers.

Brooks is right that most of the people in that 5% bracket log heavy hours, but where he’s wrong is in failing to recognize that most of us have enough shame to know that what we do for a living isn’t really working. I pull absolutely insane hours in my current profession, to the point of having almost no social life at all, but I know better than to call what I do for a living work. I was on a demolition crew when I was much younger, the kind of job where you have to wear a dust mask all day long, carry buckets full of concrete, and then spend all night picking fiberglass shards out of your forearms from ripping insulation out of the wall.

If I had to do even five hours of that work today I’d bawl my fucking eyes out for a month straight. I’m not complaining about my current good luck at all, but I would wet myself with shame if I ever heard it said that I work even half as hard as the average diner waitress.

Then again, maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong perspective. Would I rather clean army latrines with my tongue, or would I rather do what Brooks does for a living, working as a professional groveler and flatterer who three times a week has to come up with new ways to elucidate for his rich readers how cosmically just their lifestyles are? If sucking up to upper-crust yabos was my actual job and I had to do it to keep the electricity on in my house, then yes, I might look at that as work.

But it strikes me that David Brooks actually enjoys his chosen profession. In fact, he strikes me as the kind of person who even in his spare time would pay a Leona Helmsley lookalike a thousand dollars to take a shit on his back. And here he is saying that the reason the poor and the middle classes are struggling is because they don’t work hard enough. Is this guy the best, or what? Does it get any better than this?

Bad Publicity Forces Lawyers Out of Anti File-Sharing Cases

Bad Publicity Forces Lawyers Out of Anti File-Sharing Cases
Written by enigmax on April 10, 2010

A British law firm, which only recently entered the file-sharing settlement letters business, has withdrawn due to masses of bad publicity. Tilly Bailey & Irvine, who tried to rewrite history on its Wikipedia page to remove its connection to this work, say that they fear the rest of their business could be damaged.

Following the likes of Davenport Lyons and more recently ACS:Law, lawyers Tilly Bailey & Irvine (TBI) made their first steps into the file-sharing settlements market this year.

Since TBI has been around for some 170 years, appeared to be a traditional law firm with previously good reputation, but was now publicly representing porn-industry clients in a controversial practice, TorrentFreak earlier asked the company the following question:

“Taking into consideration that when operating almost identical schemes both ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons became the subject of SRA investigations, coupled with the Lords labeling this type of scheme “legal blackmail“, are Tilly Bailey & Irvine concerned about tarnishing their hard-earned reputation?”

TBI declined to answer this and the rest of our questions but were quickly labeled by the UK Lords discussing the Digital Economy Bill as “new entrants to the hall of infamy” and their activities labeled “an embarrassment to the rest of the creative rights industry”.

The pressure continued to build when settlement letter recipients wrote complaints to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) so it didn’t really come as a surprise when we discovered TBI had been trying to re-write history by modifying their Wikipedia page recently.

At the time we wondered if this meant the company had abandoned its action against file-sharers. That question has now been answered by UK consumer group Which?

In a letter sent to the SRA on April 1, TBI wrote: “We have been surprised and disappointed at the amount of adverse publicity that our firm has attracted in relation to this work and the extra time and resources that have been required to deal solely with this issue.

We are concerned that the adverse publicity could affect other areas of our practice and therefore following discussions with our clients, we have reluctantly agreed that we will cease sending out further letters of claim.”

Deborah Prince, head of in-house legal at Which? said that she is really pleased that TBI has seen sense and left this arena.

“Hopefully, other law firms thinking of going down a similar route will begin to realise that although this work can generate vast financial rewards for law firms and their clients, it can also bring a lot of adverse publicity simply because the practice is inherently unfair and unethical.”

Consumer group, who have worked relentlessly to assist those sent letters by TBI, ACS:Law and Davenport Lyons, also welcome the news, but want TBI to go further.

“We are cautiously optimistic that it marks the end for the innocent people who have been in touch with us to complain of the accusations. However, we believe that an apology is owed to those individuals, and would encourage TBI to come forward and say sorry,” they told TorrentFreak

“They’ve already taken the difficult step of admitting to their error, this extra step would serve to restore some confidence that the legal system is not merely there to be abused for making money through volume litigation against the innocent and unaware.”

With this announcement by TBI, only ACS:Law remain in this type of business in the UK, so are they concerned about damage to their reputation? Absolutely not. We’ll go into more details in our report next week.

15 Things You Should Know About Breasts

DMCA takedowns

Trampling on free speech rights?
This provision of the law means that the DMCA can be used to silence speech, even in cases where the material has not been found by a judge to be infringing. This was an issue with John McCain's presidential campaign, where news organizations filed takedowns with YouTube about several McCain clips which used their footage. Despite the urgency of the issue (the election was only weeks away), YouTube publicly refused to put the clips back up before the counter-notice window expired; it had the legal right to do so, but the company refused to expose itself to the liability.
According to a letter from YouTube lawyer Zahavah Levine, "The real problem here is individuals and entities that abuse the DMCA takedown process."

The fact that the law can so easily be used to shut down commentary and criticism without judicial oversight raises freedom-of-speech questions, and courts have generally looked askance on anything that slaps "prior restraint" on speech. Copyright scholar Wendy Seltzer, who runs the Chilling Effects clearinghouse  and has targeted the NFL over its wide-ranging copyright notice, has been working on a paper (PDF) that makes this exact free speech argument. The draft paper has already been making the rounds of the copyright Twitterers and sites like Techdirt, so it's already being read in unpublished form.
In the paper, Seltzer argues that "federal law, through copyright and the DMCA, bears direct responsibility for the chilling restriction on online speech... Depriving speakers of opportunities for publication and dissemination can be tantamount to banning speech; pressuring distribution points can cut them off."

One of her key points is that the law gives rightsholders the power to demand takedowns, but copyright infringement is often unclear. "Copyright law and its fair use provisions, of course, are far from a bright line," she writes. "Many of the cases ISPs are called in to adjudicate pursuant to DMCA notices are fact-specific disputes even courts would be unable to decide on summary judgment."

Given the notorious difficulty of making such judgments, Seltzer believes that the DMCA gives too much power to those making the takedown requests. Through the safe harbor rules, ISPs and companies like YouTube have every incentive to remove content immediately, and most targets of takedowns don't bother to file counter-notices. The result: a cheap and easy way for companies (and even groups like Scientology) to have material removed from the Internet.

"The takedowns resulting from DMCA notifications bear many of the hallmarks of prior restraints on speech," she writes. "They are imposed to limit speech before any adjudication on the merits of the copyright claims. While takedowns are defected by private actors, the ISPs are acting 'in the shadow of the law,' motivated by the state action that established the DMCA. Government cannot insulate itself from responsibility for this abridgment of free speech by routing its influence through third-party ISPs."

Seltzer does admit that most takedown notices are not purposely designed to stifle criticism. "It is likely that many people posting copyrighted music or movie files in their entirety had no objective other than avoiding payment for commercially available work," she writes. "Some posters of others' images and text will have no fair use or other defenses... [but] the argument here does not depend on proportions; the volume of infringement does not excuse a regime systematically vulnerable to speech-stifling errors."

The law could be tweaked to fix some of these problems. Takedown notices could be limited to "claim commercial appropriation of entire works, requiring proof to be submitted along with the notification so ISPs could make informed determinations." Eliminating the 10 to 14 day takedown period could help, as could boosting penalties against those who purposely misuse DMCA takedowns.

But Seltzer's preference would be a wholesale revamp of the law, one that corrects "the fundamental flaw that targets of notifications are presumed guilty, and punished with the loss of speech, before they can contest the charges."

Digital Economy bill passes in the UK

As England goes, so go we. Look for similar legislation with the same sorts of penalties here in the US very soon because in the US, corporations get what they want all the time without ever having to compromise...or pay taxes.


Screw you, Internet?
By Nate Anderson

The UK's Labour government, partnering with the Conservatives, yesterday pushed through the controversial Digital Economy bill over opposition from Liberal Democrats and some in its own party. The bill allows the UK courts to order complete blocks on websites, it requires ISPs to start sending P2P warning letters from copyright holders, and it opens the door to throttling and Internet disconnection for repeat infringement.

As we discussed yesterday, the bill was moved quickly through the "wash-up" process that occurs at the end of a Parliamentary session. Opponents and critics of the bill argued that such changes to the UK's Internet were too important to head through Commons after a couple hours of debate; surely they could wait until after the election?

Conservatives have been promising that, should they win the May 6 election, they will patch up any problem areas in the hastily passed bill. This argument was blasted yesterday during the bill's third reading, when one MP said (read the debate transcript):

"I was rather taken aback yesterday to hear someone—I think it was the Conservative Front Bencher—say, 'Let's just get this Bill through and if there's anything wrong with it, we can put it right.' Ten years into being here, I know that if we do things in a hurry and get them wrong, the law of unintended consequences always kicks in. It would be far better to remove [controversial] clauses 11 to 18 and have a period of reflection."

No such reflection was allowed. The bill was voted on for the second time in two days, it passed Commons (and previously passed the Lords), and now waits only for the automatic Royal Assent to become law.

The bill has at least prompted both Labour and Conservatives to pledge support for 2Mbps minimum broadband everywhere in the UK. There is also a robust appeals process for those who want to contest copyright infringement notices (though at their own expense).

That didn't appease the Open Rights Group, which today replaced its homepage with this:

Giving FCC authority to set policy on net neutrality

Congress should give the FCC specific authority over broadband to keep traffic flowing freely.

5:01 PM PDT, April 8, 2010

A federal appeals court reined in the Federal Communications Commission this week, ruling that it overstepped its authority when it penalized Comcast for surreptitiously disabling a popular technology that let people share files online. But the ruling did not quell the commission's interest in regulating the way Internet service providers such as Comcast manage their networks. Instead, it set up a potential fight over whether the commission's regulatory authority should be expanded, either by Congress or the commission itself. We think the best course is for lawmakers to give the FCC clear but limited power to preserve the openness that has made the Internet not just a hotbed for innovation but also the most important communications medium of our time.

At issue is "net neutrality," which is the idea that companies selling high-speed Internet connections should treat all legal websites and online offerings equally. These companies take an essentially neutral approach today, discriminating only against malicious content and spam. But with their customers sending and receiving increasing amounts of data, Internet service providers warn that they won't be able to keep pace with the demand for bandwidth unless they can generate more revenue -- possibly by letting online companies pay extra to make their sites and services more accessible than their competitors' (the so-called Internet "fast lane"). Such a shift could help well-financed companies with established audiences cement their advantage over smaller and newer contenders.

Both sides of the neutrality debate agree that the free and open nature of the Internet is crucial to spurring innovation. What divides them are the questions of whether the government should try to protect those qualities and whether the possibility of a fast lane constitutes a threat or an upgrade. We'd prefer to rely on the market, but that would require more competition among broadband service providers. Today, most homes have at best two options for high-speed service: a cable modem from the local cable TV operator or a DSL connection from the local phone company. Wireless companies are emerging as a third option in some areas, but they may never be able to match the capacity of wired connections.

Because consumers have few real alternatives, broadband providers could abuse their position as gatekeepers to steer traffic to affiliated websites or away from competitors, and to manage congestion in a way that handicaps rival phone and video services. There's little evidence that they're doing such things; the FCC has taken action against only two companies for interfering with their customers' activities online. One was Madison River Communications, a North Carolina-based telephone and DSL provider accused in 2005 of blocking customers’ access to an Internet phone service. The other was Comcast, which secretly prevented customers from using BitTorrent software to share files in 2008. But the decision Tuesday by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals called into question not just the Comcast ruling but the FCC's power to stop any Internet provider from interfering with its customers' access to the websites and services of their choice, no matter how blatantly.

The FCC gave up much of its authority over Internet providers as broadband services proliferated. Back in the dial-up modem days, it classified Internet access as a communications service subject to extensive federal regulation, similar to long-distance phone plans. But in 2002 and 2005, it reclassified cable modems and DSL connections as information services -- a deregulatory move that left the commission with little clear rule-making power over them. Instead, the FCC called on broadband providers to grant their customers four freedoms online: to access any legal content, run any application, use any compatible device and be fully informed about their service plans.

Those principles were simply declared, not adopted as rules, which contributed to the FCC's problem before the D.C. Circuit. Last year the commission's new chairman, Julius Genachowski, launched a formal process to adopt the four principles as rules, along with two additional ones: broadband providers should not discriminate against any legal sites or applications, nor should they conceal how they manage traffic on their networks. That's a better approach, but the D.C. Circuit's ruling suggests that information services simply cannot be regulated that way.

One option is for the FCC to reverse its previous decisions and classify broadband as a communications service. It wouldn't be far-fetched -- the Internet is a more sophisticated and powerful communications medium than traditional telephony. In fact, phone service is just one of many communications applications the Internet supports. Considering how much has changed since Congress overhauled telecommunications law in 1996, however, it would be better to have lawmakers give the FCC specific powers to safeguard the Net than to have the commission stuff broadband providers into the same regulatory category as last century's Bell system.

Congress has dodged this issue for several years, with at least three net neutrality bills foundering in House or Senate committees since 2006. Not only is the issue complex, but there's no consensus even within the usual political and ideological alliances. For example, some social conservatives support neutrality rules on free-speech grounds, while fiscal conservatives oppose them as a regulatory intrusion. The major Hollywood studios fear the rules might impede their efforts to fight piracy, but the Independent Film & Television Alliance favors them as a way to protect their members' access to viewers. Nevertheless, this week's ruling leaves Congress little choice. At the very least, it should give the FCC the power to stop the kinds of abuses that Madison River and Comcast engaged in. Otherwise, the commission may well give itself the power to do even more.

Ill Fares the Land

Ill Fares the Land

By Tony Judt

Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today. For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them.

The materialistic and selfish quality of contemporary life is not inherent in the human condition. Much of what appears "natural" today dates from the 1980s: the obsession with wealth creation, the cult of privatization and the private sector, the growing disparities of rich and poor. And above all, the rhetoric that accompanies these: uncritical admiration for unfettered markets, disdain for the public sector, the delusion of endless growth.

We cannot go on living like this. The little crash of 2008 was a reminder that unregulated capitalism is its own worst enemy: sooner or later it must fall prey to its own excesses and turn again to the state for rescue. But if we do no more than pick up the pieces and carry on as before, we can look forward to greater upheavals in years to come.

And yet we seem unable to conceive of alternatives. This too is something new. Until quite recently, public life in liberal societies was conducted in the shadow of a debate between defenders of "capitalism" and its critics: usually identified with one or another form of "socialism." By the 1970s this debate had lost much of its meaning for both sides; all the same, the "left–right" distinction served a useful purpose. It provided a peg on which to hang critical commentary about contemporary affairs.

On the left, Marxism was attractive to generations of young people if only because it offered a way to take one's distance from the status quo. Much the same was true of classical conservatism: a well-grounded distaste for over-hasty change gave a home to those reluctant to abandon long-established routines. Today, neither left nor right can find their footing.

For thirty years students have been complaining to me that "it was easy for you": your generation had ideals and ideas, you believed in something, you were able to change things. "We" (the children of the Eighties, the Nineties, the "Aughts") have nothing. In many respects my students are right. It was easy for us—just as it was easy, at least in this sense, for the generations who came before us. The last time a cohort of young people expressed comparable frustration at the emptiness of their lives and the dispiriting purposelessness of their world was in the 1920s: it is not by chance that historians speak of a "lost generation."

If young people today are at a loss, it is not for want of targets. Any conversation with students or schoolchildren will produce a startling checklist of anxieties. Indeed, the rising generation is acutely worried about the world it is to inherit. But accompanying these fears there is a general sentiment of frustration: "we" know something is wrong and there are many things we don't like. But what can we believe in? What should we do?

This is an ironic reversal of the attitudes of an earlier age. Back in the era of self-assured radical dogma, young people were far from uncertain. The characteristic tone of the 1960s was that of overweening confidence: we knew just how to fix the world. It was this note of unmerited arrogance that partly accounts for the reactionary backlash that followed; if the left is to recover its fortunes, some modesty will be in order. All the same, you must be able to name a problem if you wish to solve it.

I wrote my book Ill Fares the Land for young people on both sides of the Atlantic. American readers may be struck by the frequent references to social democracy. Here in the United States, such references are uncommon. When journalists and commentators advocate public expenditure on social objectives, they are more likely to describe themselves—and be described by their critics—as "liberals." But this is confusing. "Liberal" is a venerable and respectable label and we should all be proud to wear it. But like a well-designed outer coat, it conceals more than it displays.

A liberal is someone who opposes interference in the affairs of others: who is tolerant of dissenting attitudes and unconventional behavior. Liberals have historically favored keeping other people out of our lives, leaving individuals the maximum space in which to live and flourish as they choose. In their extreme form, such attitudes are associated today with self-styled "libertarians," but the term is largely redundant. Most genuine liberals remain disposed to leave other people alone.

Social democrats, on the other hand, are something of a hybrid. They share with liberals a commitment to cultural and religious tolerance. But in public policy social democrats believe in the possibility and virtue of collective action for the collective good. Like most liberals, social democrats favor progressive taxation in order to pay for public services and other social goods that individuals cannot provide themselves; but whereas many liberals might see such taxation or public provision as a necessary evil, a social democratic vision of the good society entails from the outset a greater role for the state and the public sector.

Understandably, social democracy is a hard sell in the United States. One of my goals is to suggest that government can play an enhanced role in our lives without threatening our liberties—and to argue that, since the state is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, we would do well to think about what sort of a state we want. In any case, much that was best in American legislation and social policy over the course of the twentieth century—and that we are now urged to dismantle in the name of efficiency and "less government"—corresponds in practice to what Europeans have called "social democracy." Our problem is not what to do; it is how to talk about it.

The European dilemma is somewhat different. Many European countries have long practiced something resembling social democracy: but they have forgotten how to preach it. Social democrats today are defensive and apologetic. Critics who claim that the European model is too expensive or economically inefficient have been allowed to pass unchallenged. And yet, the welfare state is as popular as ever with its beneficiaries: nowhere in Europe is there a constituency for abolishing public health services, ending free or subsidized education, or reducing public provision of transport and other essential services.

I want to challenge conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic. To be sure, the target has softened considerably. In the early years of this century, the "Washington consensus" held the field. Everywhere you went there was an economist or "expert" expounding the virtues of deregulation, the minimal state, and low taxation. Anything, it seemed, that the public sector could do, private individuals could do better.

The Washington doctrine was everywhere greeted by ideological cheerleaders: from the profiteers of the "Irish miracle" (the property-bubble boom of the "Celtic Tiger") to the doctrinaire ultra-capitalists of former Communist Europe. Even "old Europeans" were swept up in the wake. The EU's free- market project (the so-called "Lisbon agenda"); the enthusiastic privatization plans of the French and German governments: all bore witness to what its French critics described as the new " pensée unique."

Today there has been a partial awakening. To avert national bankruptcies and wholesale banking collapse, governments and central bankers have performed remarkable policy reversals, liberally dispersing public money in pursuit of economic stability and taking failed companies into public control without a second thought. A striking number of free-market economists, worshipers at the feet of Milton Friedman and his Chicago colleagues, have lined up to don sackcloth and ashes and swear allegiance to the memory of John Maynard Keynes.

This is all very gratifying. But it hardly constitutes an intellectual revolution. Quite the contrary: as the response of the Obama administration suggests, the reversion to Keynesian economics is but a tactical retreat. Much the same may be said of New Labour, as committed as ever to the private sector in general and the London financial markets in particular. To be sure, one effect of the crisis has been to dampen the ardor of continental Europeans for the "Anglo-American model"; but the chief beneficiaries have been those same center-right parties once so keen to emulate Washington.

In short, the practical need for strong states and interventionist governments is beyond dispute. But no one is "re-thinking" the state. There remains a marked reluctance to defend the public sector on grounds of collective interest or principle. It is striking that in a series of European elections following the financial meltdown, social democratic parties consistently did badly; notwithstanding the collapse of the market, they proved conspicuously unable to rise to the occasion.

If it is to be taken seriously again, the left must find its voice. There is much to be angry about: growing inequalities of wealth and opportunity; injustices of class and caste; economic exploitation at home and abroad; corruption and money and privilege occluding the arteries of democracy. But it will no longer suffice to identify the shortcomings of "the system" and then retreat, Pilate-like, indifferent to consequences. The irresponsible rhetorical grandstanding of decades past did not serve the left well.

We have entered an age of insecurity—economic insecurity, physical insecurity, political insecurity. The fact that we are largely unaware of this is small comfort: few in 1914 predicted the utter collapse of their world and the economic and political catastrophes that followed. Insecurity breeds fear. And fear—fear of change, fear of decline, fear of strangers and an unfamiliar world—is corroding the trust and interdependence on which civil societies rest.

All change is disruptive. We have seen that the specter of terrorism is enough to cast stable democracies into turmoil. Climate change will have even more dramatic consequences. Men and women will be thrown back upon the resources of the state. They will look to their political leaders and representatives to protect them: open societies will once again be urged to close in upon themselves, sacrificing freedom for "security." The choice will no longer be between the state and the market, but between two sorts of state. It is thus incumbent upon us to reconceive the role of government. If we do not, others will.

The Way We Live Now

All around us, even in a recession, we see a level of individual wealth unequaled since the early years of the twentieth century. Conspicuous consumption of redundant consumer goods—houses, jewelry, cars, clothing, tech toys—has greatly expanded over the past generation. In the US, the UK, and a handful of other countries, financial transactions have largely displaced the production of goods or services as the source of private fortunes, distorting the value we place upon different kinds of economic activity. The wealthy, like the poor, have always been with us. But relative to everyone else, they are today wealthier and more conspicuous than at any time in living memory. Private privilege is easy to understand and describe. It is rather harder to convey the depths of public squalor into which we have fallen.

Private Affluence, Public Squalor

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.
—Adam Smith

Poverty is an abstraction, even for the poor. But the symptoms of collective impoverishment are all about us. Broken highways, bankrupt cities, collapsing bridges, failed schools, the unemployed, the underpaid, and the uninsured: all suggest a collective failure of will. These shortcomings are so endemic that we no longer know how to talk about what is wrong, much less set about repairing it. And yet something is seriously amiss. Even as the US budgets tens of billions of dollars on a futile military campaign in Afghanistan, we fret nervously at the implications of any increase in public spending on social services or infrastructure.

To understand the depths to which we have fallen, we must first appreciate the scale of the changes that have overtaken us. From the late nineteenth century until the 1970s, the advanced societies of the West were all becoming less unequal. Thanks to progressive taxation, government subsidies for the poor, the provision of social services, and guarantees against acute misfortune, modern democracies were shedding extremes of wealth and poverty.

To be sure, great differences remained. The essentially egalitarian countries of Scandinavia and the considerably more diverse societies of southern Europe remained distinctive; and the English-speaking lands of the Atlantic world and the British Empire continued to reflect long-standing class distinctions. But each in its own way was affected by the growing intolerance of immoderate inequality, initiating public provision to compensate for private inadequacy.

Over the past thirty years we have thrown all this away. To be sure, "we" varies with country. The greatest extremes of private privilege and public indifference have resurfaced in the US and the UK: epicenters of enthusiasm for deregulated market capitalism. Although countries as far apart as New Zealand and Denmark, France and Brazil have expressed periodic interest in deregulation, none has matched Britain or the United States in their unwavering thirty-year commitment to the unraveling of decades of social legislation and economic oversight.

In 2005, 21.2 percent of US national income accrued to just 1 percent of earners. Contrast 1968, when the CEO of General Motors took home, in pay and benefits, about sixty-six times the amount paid to a typical GM worker. Today the CEO of Wal-Mart earns nine hundred times the wages of his average employee. Indeed, the wealth of the Wal-Mart founder's family in 2005 was estimated at about the same ($90 billion) as that of the bottom 40 percent of the US population: 120 million people.

The UK too is now more unequal—in incomes, wealth, health, education, and life chances—than at any time since the 1920s. There are more poor children in the UK than in any other country of the European Union. Since 1973, inequality in take-home pay increased more in the UK than anywhere except the US. Most of the new jobs created in Britain in the years 1977–2007 were at either the very high or the very low end of the pay scale.

The consequences are clear. There has been a collapse in intergenerational mobility: in contrast to their parents and grandparents, children today in the UK as in the US have very little expectation of improving upon the condition into which they were born. The poor stay poor. Economic disadvantage for the overwhelming majority translates into ill health, missed educational opportunity, and—increasingly—the familiar symptoms of depression: alcoholism, obesity, gambling, and minor criminality. The unemployed or underemployed lose such skills as they have acquired and become chronically superfluous to the economy. Anxiety and stress, not to mention illness and early death, frequently follow.

Income disparity exacerbates the problems. Thus the incidence of mental illness correlates closely to income in the US and the UK, whereas the two indices are quite unrelated in all continental European countries. Even trust, the faith we have in our fellow citizens, corresponds negatively with differences in income: between 1983 and 2001, mistrustfulness increased markedly in the US, the UK, and Ireland—three countries in which the dogma of unregulated individual self-interest was most assiduously applied to public policy. In no other country was a comparable increase in mutual mistrust to be found.

Even within individual countries, inequality plays a crucial role in shaping peoples' lives. In the United States, for example, your chances of living a long and healthy life closely track your income: residents of wealthy districts can expect to live longer and better. Young women in poorer states of the US are more likely to become pregnant in their teenage years—and their babies are less likely to survive—than their peers in wealthier states. In the same way, a child from a disfavored district has a higher chance of dropping out of high school than if his parents have a steady mid-range income and live in a prosperous part of the country. As for the children of the poor who remain in school: they will do worse, achieve lower scores, and obtain less fulfilling and lower-paid employment.

Inequality, then, is not just unattractive in itself; it clearly corresponds to pathological social problems that we cannot hope to address unless we attend to their underlying cause. There is a reason why infant mortality, life expectancy, criminality, the prison population, mental illness, unemployment, obesity, malnutrition, teenage pregnancy, illegal drug use, economic insecurity, personal indebtedness, and anxiety are so much more marked in the US and the UK than they are in continental Europe.

The wider the spread between the wealthy few and the impoverished many, the worse the social problems: a statement that appears to be true for rich and poor countries alike. What matters is not how affluent a country is but how unequal it is. Thus Sweden and Finland, two of the world's wealthiest countries by per capita income or GDP, have a very narrow gap separating their richest from their poorest citizens—and they consistently lead the world in indices of measurable well-being. Conversely, the United States, despite its huge aggregate wealth, always comes low on such measures. We spend vast sums on health care, but life expectancy in the US remains below Bosnia and just above Albania.

Inequality is corrosive. It rots societies from within. The impact of material differences takes a while to show up: but in due course competition for status and goods increases; people feel a growing sense of superiority (or inferiority) based on their possessions; prejudice toward those on the lower rungs of the social ladder hardens; crime spikes and the pathologies of social disadvantage become ever more marked. The legacy of unregulated wealth creation is bitter indeed.[1]

As recently as the 1970s, the idea that the point of life was to get rich and that governments existed to facilitate this would have been ridiculed: not only by capitalism's traditional critics but also by many of its staunchest defenders. Relative indifference to wealth for its own sake was widespread in the postwar decades. In a survey of English schoolboys taken in 1949, it was discovered that the more intelligent the boy the more likely he was to choose an interesting career at a reasonable wage over a job that would merely pay well.[2] Today's schoolchildren and college students can imagine little else but the search for a lucrative job.

How should we begin to make amends for raising a generation obsessed with the pursuit of material wealth and indifferent to so much else? Perhaps we might start by reminding ourselves and our children that it wasn't always thus. Thinking "economistically," as we have done now for thirty years, is not intrinsic to humans. There was a time when we ordered our lives differently.

—This essay is drawn from the opening chapter of Tony Judt's newly published book, Ill Fares the Land (Penguin).

[1]The best recent statement of this argument comes in Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (Bloomsbury Press, 2010). I am indebted to them for much of the material in this excerpt.

[2]See T.H. Marshall and Tom Bottomore, Citizenship and Social Class (London: Pluto, 1992), p. 48.

Infographic: Lets say you're the first human ever to make alien contact

Hell the Game

This is such genius hell, I had to share.

Go ahead, PLAY IT!

Near-Earth Object 2010 AL30

Near-Earth Object 2010 AL30

Photographer: Patrick Wiggins; Patrick's Web Site
Summary Author: Kurt Fisher; Patrick Wiggins
March 2010 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

Most North Americans slept through the morning of January 13, 2010 as near-Earth object (NEO) 2010 AL30 silently moved across the night sky. Its path brought it to an altitude of about 122,000 km, which is one third of the distance to the Moon. 2010 AL30 is an asteroid approximately 10 to 15 m across. As shown above, Patrick Wiggins followed its passage using a 35 cm telescope and CCD camera. 2010 AL30 is estimated to be part of a NEO population of several thousand similar objects. On average, one 10-15 m diameter asteroid passes within one lunar distance of the Earth about once a week. If 2010 AL30 had entered the Earth's atmosphere, it would have created an air burst equivalent to between 50 kT and 100 kT (kilotons of TNT). The Nagasaki "Fat Man" atom bomb had a yield between 13-18kT.

On January 22, 2010, the National Research Council of the National Academy of the Sciences released its final report as requested by the United States Congress. This report recommended an optimal approach to complete the census of NEOs larger than about 140 m as well as an optimal approach for deflecting a NEO that threatens impact with the Earth. The report recommended that the census of NEOs be expanded to include NEOs between 30 and 50 m in diameter. NASA's NEO program estimates that "with an average interval of about 100 years, rocky or iron asteroids larger than about 164 ft (50 m) would be expected to reach the Earth's surface and cause local disasters or produce the tidal waves that can inundate low lying coastal areas." A NEO with a diameter of 50 m can create a blast equivalent to one megaton of TNT.

There have not been a significant number of deaths caused by asteroids in historical times due to the infrequency of the major events. When such events do occur they are more likely to happen over unpopulated regions such as oceans. Noting that without better surveys, accurate estimates of the risk of NEO impacts cannot be made, the report made best current estimates for the global risk of death by shark at 3-7 persons per year, death by asteroid at 91 persons per year and death by automobile at 1,200,000 persons per year.

Studies on Triclosan, Used in Sanitizers and Soaps, Raise Concerns

FDA says Studies on Triclosan, Used in Sanitizers and Soaps, Raise Concerns

by Lyndsey Layton

The Food and Drug Administration said recent research raises "valid concerns" about the possible health effects of triclosan, an antibacterial chemical found in a growing number of liquid soaps, hand sanitizers, dishwashing liquids, shaving gels and even socks, workout clothes and toys.

The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency say they are taking a fresh look at triclosan, which is so ubiquitous that is found in the urine of 75 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The reassessment is the latest signal that the Obama administration is willing to reevaluate the possible health impacts of chemicals that have been in widespread use.

In a letter to a congressman that was obtained by The Washington Post, the FDA said that recent scientific studies raise questions about whether triclosan disrupts the body's endocrine system and whether it helps to create bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. An advisory panel to the FDA said in 2005 that there was no evidence the antibacterial soaps work better than regular soap and water.

The FDA was responding to inquiries from Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who has been pushing federal regulators to take stronger action to restrict the use of triclosan and other chemicals that have been shown in laboratory tests to interfere with the delicate endocrine system, which regulates growth and development.

"The proliferation of triclosan in everyday consumer products is so enormous, it is literally in almost every type of product -- most soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, clothes and toys," Markey said. "It's in our drinking water, it's in our rivers and as a result, it's in our bodies. . . . I don't think a lot of additional data has to be collected in order to make the simple decisions about children's toys and soaps that people use. It clearly is something that creates a danger."

Markey wants triclosan banned from all products designed for children and any product that comes into contact with food, such as cutting boards. Other countries, including the members of European Union, have banned or restricted use of the chemical.

Brian Sansoni of the Soap and Detergent Association, which represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products industry, said concerns about triclosan are unfounded.

"These products and ingredients have been reviewed, regulated and researched for decades," he said. "We believe the science strongly supports the safety and efficacy of these products. It's more important than ever that consumers continue to have access to these products. It's a time of increased threats from disease and germs."

Triclosan was developed as a surgical scrub for medical professionals. It is also used in pesticides. In recent years, it has been added to a host of consumer products to kill bacteria and fungus and prevent odors. It can be found in everything from kitchen cutting boards to shoes, often packaged with labels that tout "antibacterial" properties.

Most hand sanitizers, such as Purell, use alcohol and do not contain triclosan.

Sarah Janssen, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which joined with several other environmental groups last year to petition the FDA to restrict the use of triclosan, said the soap industry was taking advantage of consumer fears. "Especially with the H1N1 outbreak, people get really scared and think they need to take extra precautions without thinking that soap and water works just as well," Janssen said.

Because it is found in so many different types of products, triclosan is regulated by three different federal agencies: the FDA, the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But the FDA, which oversees its use in personal-care products, medical devices and products that come into contact with food, has been working for 38 years to establish the rules for the use of triclosan but has not completed that task.

The FDA is committed to issuing the rules quickly and is working with EPA to review the most recent data on triclosan, said Doug Throckmorton, deputy director of the agency's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. He said the FDA is also revisiting the 1997 approval it gave for the use of triclosan in Colgate Total toothpaste because at the time, scientists had not yet raised concerns that triclosan can disrupt the endocrine system.

"For triclosan, the science is changing," Throckmorton said. "Based on what we know, we don't have evidence to suggest this chemical is a threat to human health. However, we have to understand better the health effects and we have to work with other agencies to collect that information and then decide whether or not we need to change how it's regulated."

More Banker Outrage at the Evil Protesters, We the People

You know what? If the poor yiddle banksters are getting upset at all the protests and rage coming at them, then obviously we are doing the right thing! If you become aware of any bank protest in your area, go to it, if only for a few minutes to make a louder unified voice. Screw those corrupt greedy bastards. If we're getting to them, keep at it!-jp


More Banker Outrage: Protesters Plan Marches on Wall Street Banks
Activists, Union Members Will Take to the Streets Again, but Are They Having any Impact?

by Alice Gomstyn and Rachel Humphries

Outrage over bonuses, bailouts and home foreclosures have prompted angry demonstrations at bank office buildings, bank conferences and even bankers' homes since the financial crisis began. With Wall Street reform proposals up for debate in Congress and bank shareholder meetings taking place later this month, protest organizers say they're getting ready to rally the troops again with several new demonstrations expected to draw thousands.

"There's something fundamentally wrong with an economic and political system that allows the big banks to rewrite all the rules to stay afloat while allowing entire communities to collapse in the wake of the disaster caused by Wall Street," Anna Burger, the secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. "That's why we're escalating and expanding this campaign."

The SEIU, one of the most vocal critics of Wall Street and big U.S. banks, is part of a coalition of at least six groups -- including the AFL-CIO; the National People's Action, a racial and economic justice advocacy group; PICO National Network, a faith-based group; and North Carolina United Power, an organization of religious and community groups -- planning demonstrations across the country later this month.

Organizers are calling on banks to help people stay in their homes, offer more small business loans, stop offering financing to payday lenders and stop attempts to block financial reforms. They say they're targeting their demands at the country's biggest banks: Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

The American Bankers Association, one of the banking industry's top lobbying groups, declined to comment on the planned protests. Last October, an ABA conference in Chicago drew 5,000 protesters, organizers say.

A spokeswoman for Bank of America, which will be the target of at least two demonstrations scheduled for later this month, said of the protesters: "While we understand their passion on the issue, we don't necessarily agree with some of their statements and approaches."

On Wall Street itself, news of the planned protests was met with disdain by some of the street's rank and file.

"I mean, there is a lot of excess on Wall Street, you know, with the bonuses, but there are people that deserve it," said Michael Maresca, an information technology employee at JPMorgan Chase. "People down here work very, very hard ... I think there's also a lot to blame outside of Wall Street, with the Federal Reserve, politicians, the Federal Reserve, all those guys that have been involved -- there's a lot of blame to go around, I think. It's directed at the wrong place."

Wall Street Workers Weary of Bank Protests

Alan Valdes, a trader with DMC Securities, said he didn't think bank protests help anyone and have kept people from taking advantage of a lucrative rebound in the stock market.

"We've still got problems, and we've still got a lot of headwinds ahead -- there's no question about it. But (for the market) to be up 75 percent in a year -- that's a great market," he said. "To keep bashing Wall Street, I think, is wrong. It sends the wrong message to the public ... With all this bashing that's going on, a lot of people, I think have stayed away from the market."

Jerry, an employee at a Wall Street law firm who did not want his last name used, said he didn't see the new protests accomplishing much.

"They protest down there all the time," he said, "but it's not going to do nothing."

How effective previous protests have been remains in question.

When it comes to changing public policy, behind-the-scenes moves, including lobbying politicians and bureaucrats , typically work better than "outsider tactics" like demonstrations, said Dean Lacy, a professor of government at Dartmouth College.

While much attention is paid to the massive amounts of cash that banks and lobbying groups pump into political campaigns, Lacy said lobbyists also have an advantage over grassroots protesters because they can make more targeted moves, such as urging a Congressional committee to block a specific provision in a bill or influencing an agency to change its enforcement of an existing policy.

"Protests tend to not have precise targets but seek broad-based change," Lacy said.

Single protests, he said, tend not to be effective. A series of demonstrations like those of the civil rights movement, however, can successfully draw media attention and raise public awareness, which may ultimately lead to policy changes, he said.

Bank protests thus far, he said, "have probably raised public awareness about executive pay and the bailouts of banks and other financial institutions."

Protests are planned for the last week of the month at the Wells Fargo shareholder meeting in San Francisco; at the Bank of America shareholders' meeting in Charlotte, N.C.; outside a Bank of America building in Kansas City; and on Wall Street. Next month, the groups will also converge on K Street in Washington D.C. to protest banks' lobbying of elected officials.

PR Campaign by JPMorgan's Dimon?

When asked about the expected protests at their bank buildings, both Wells Fargo and Bank of America representatives cited their banks' track records in addressing some of the issues raised by activists.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said the bank recognizes that "Americans are demanding more from their financial institutions during these difficult economic times" and that it is "committed to serving the financial needs of businesses and individuals, keeping credit flowing, and working to help those in financial distress find solutions."

The bank, she said in an e-mail, provided $711 billion in loans and lines of credit last year.

A Bank of America spokeswoman said that BofA last year extended $758 billion in credit in both the consumer and commercial sectors, more than any other bank, and that it has invested more than $8 million in grants to tackle hunger and housing needs. Information about the Bank of America's work in these areas, she said, is available in its quarterly impact statement on the bank's Web site.

In Thursday's call, Burger singled out JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon as "leading the PR campaign to rebrand Wall Street," noting that the bank spent $6.2 million on lobbying last year.

"The American people aren't buying Jamie's PR campaign," she said.

A JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman declined to comment.

JPMorgan Chase is known, along with Goldman Sachs, for avoiding many of the pitfalls of the financial crisis.

In his annual letter to shareholders earlier this month, Dimon said "punitive efforts" against banks hurts ordinary shareholders and that"vilify(ing) whole industries" denigrates "much of what made this country successful."

"When we reduce the debate over responsibility and regulation to simplistic and inaccurate notions, such as Main Street vs. Wall Street, big business vs. small business or big banks vs. small banks, we are indiscriminately blaming the good and the bad ? this is simply another form of ignorance and prejudice," Dimon wrote.

Let's Take a Look at Unemployment Numbers, Shall we?

To get to the bottom of the discrepancy between the govt's unemployment figures vs actual statistics for the number of people unemployed in this country, let's take a look at how the govt gets to their number of 10% (or thereabout).

True US unemployment rate

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 10.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell in construction, manufacturing, and wholesale trade, while temporary help services and health care added jobs.

This is the official line. Take at a look at some of the statistical manipulation needed to come up with a 10% headline unemployment number.

Civilian Labor Force

The civilian labor force participation rate fell to 64.6 percent. The employment-population ratio declined to 58.2 percent. (See table A-1.) The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged at 9.2 million in December and has been relatively flat since March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

The civilian labor force participation rate continues on its remarkable and historic downward trajectory. In order to appreciate the significance of such a contraction, it is critical to understand what the civilian labor force participation rate represents.

The civilian labor force participation rate represents the percentage of eligible, working-age individuals actively seeking work- which means looking for work in the past 4 weeks. If you haven't looked for work in the past 4 weeks, you are no longer considered unemployed in the government's land of make-believe.

To get a sense of how bad the unemployment situation is in what the average person would call reality, and not the land of government statistical make-believe, curious minds will be asking why the civilian labor participation rate is declining at such a rapid pace. The answer lies in the protracted nature of the current economic downturn. From the BLS:

Among the unemployed, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up, reaching 6.1 million. 4 in 10 unemployed workers were jobless for 27 weeks or longer.

It's pretty clear that when 4 out of 10 individuals are unemployed for more than 6 months, we are talking about an environment where employers are simply not hiring. When employers stop hiring, people give up looking for work, which means they are no longer part of the civilian labor force. This individual is not considered by the government as unemployed, but as a 'marginally attached worker'.

About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, an increase of 578,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Below is a graph of 'discouraged workers', a subset of marginally attached workers, which represents those who want work, but are not actively seeking work due to perceived weak economic conditions. I like to think of the 'discouraged worker' as an indicator of current hiring conditions. If employers are really hiring, the discouraged worker should disappear rather quickly; instead we are experiencing a continued and relentless upward trend in this category of worker.

True Unemployment Rate

The 2.8 million 'marginally attached' workers are in fact, unemployed. If we add the 2.8 million marginally attached workers to the labor force and consider them as unemployed, we get a 11.6% unemployment rate.

Now let's incorporate what we know about marginally attached workers and the civilian labor force to come to a truer unemployment rate. Let's assume for a second that the labor participation rate is at the 67% level we saw in the beginning of the decade and see the effect this has on the unemployment rate.

This will require some simple mathematics.

The current labor force is 236,933,000. An increase from the current 64.6% labor force participation rate to 67% would be met by an attendant rise in labor participants from 153,059,000 to 158,745,000. So about 5.7 million people would be added to the labor force. If we assume the labor force participation rate declined because of an increase in marginally attached workers (unemployed for less than 12 months) and other forgotten individuals (unemployed for more than 12 months), we come up with an effective unemployment rate of 13.2% .

So, the true unemployment rate -which is defined as ALL people who want work but just can't find it- probably lies somewhere between 11.6% and 13.2%. If you consider individuals working part-time for economic reasons as unemployed, you get an unemployment rate north of 17.4%.

In short, the unemployment situation is a lot worse than government statistics would suggest.


If something isn't done about unemployment soon--something that is meaningful and lasting--then when the commercial real estate crash hits, and/or the credit crash hits, we will reach a point we never even reached during the last great depression. We're at or past critical mass--meaning we are unprepared for what's coming. Everyone seems to be breathing a sigh of relief and believing the big network newsies blowing "recovery" up our skirts, as they proclaim lies to our faces while whispering truths to one another.

Friday, April 9, 2010





THE great battle in Ohio for more money, - by which is here meant the political canvass for the year 1875, - in which the whole country participated, is still worthy of notice, not only because there is doubtless a widespread determination to fight it over again, but also because it affords a ludicrous, but much needed, illustration, as well as an irrefutable proof, of the prevailing ignorance on the subject of money.

That that violent, but ridiculous, contest may serve as a cau tion to the people against being drawn into the same, or any similar one, in future, is one purpose of this article. Its other purposes are to expose the usurpations and frauds by which the people are deprived of money, and to vindicate, as far as its lim its will permit, the right of the people, by the use of their own property and credit, to supply themselves with such money as they can, and as much of it as they please, free of all dictation or interference from the government.

The question at issue in Ohio, in 1875, was the 3.65 intercon vertible bond scheme; a scheme, of the practical operation of which the writers and speakers, on neither side, seemed to have the least real knowledge whatever. It would have had neither the good effects which its friends expected, nor the bad effects which its enemies predicted. That is to say, it would neither have provided “a currency equal to the wants of trade,” as claimed by its friends, nor would it have flooded the country with a depreciated currency, as predicted by its opposers. As a system for furnishing a permanent currency, either good or bad, it would have fallen utterly dead. Worse than that, instead of furnishing a permanent currency in place of that we now have, [*4] it would have deprived us of the one we now have, without fur. fishing any substitute at all.

That such would have been its effect is evident from these considerations, namely: -

It is a settled principle that a paper currency depends, for its true and natural market value, wholly upon the redemption that is provided for it. It has, and it can have, no more true or natural market value than the property with which it is to be redeemed. A paper currency, therefore, that has no other re demption than that of being convertible into interest-bearing bonds, can be worth no more in the market than are the bonds themselves, and, consequently, no more than it is worth for con version into the bonds. And it is worth nothing for conversion into bonds, unless there are some one or more persons who wish thus to convert it. In other words, it is this demand for the bonds, as investments, that alone gives the currency any value in the market. A convertible note of this kind, therefore, circu­lates as money only because some one or more persons want it for conversion. And it circulates only until it falls into the hands of such a person. When it falls into his hands, he converts it, and thus takes it out of circulation.

The destiny, therefore, of all such convertible paper, that is in circulation as money, is finally to be converted into bonds, and I/ins taken out of circulation. And there is then an end of it, so far as its being currency is concerned.

We saw the operation of this principle so long as the green backs were convertible into bonds. The conversion went on so rapidly that we should soon have had no greenbacks at all in cir culation, had not the conversion of them into bonds been stopped by law. And our greenbacks now remain in circulation only be cause they are not convertible into bonds.

For the reasons now given, if our whole national debt were to day in circulation as currency, having no other redemption than that of being convertible into 3.65 bonds, it would be worth for cir culation no more than it would be worth for such conversion; and, as a natural consequence, it would rapidly, though not in stantly, be converted, and thus taken out of circulation; and we should then have entirely lost it as a currency. And, as the scheme [*5] proposes to prohibit all other currency, we should then be left with no currency at all.

The 3.65 bond scheme, therefore, instead of being a scheme for providing the country with a currency, is perfectly suicidal, so far as furnishing a currency is concerned. It is simply a scheme for providing a paper currency for circulation by with drawing all sue/i currency from circulation! It is absurdity run mad.


But the advocates of the scheme will say that it provides that these bonds may be reconverted into currency. Yes, it does indeed provide that they may, but not that they must, be thus re converted. And it offers no inducements whatever for such recon version; because, if reconverted, the currency will then be worth no more in the market than the bonds are worth as invest ments; Since all that will give the currency any value at all in the market will then, as before, be the simple fact that it (the currency) is convertible back into the same bonds from which it has just been reconverted

The bonds are to be holden by men who preferred the bonds to the currency, when both had the same value in the market. And now the scheme contemplates that the country will go without any currency at all, until these same bondholders shall change their minds, and prefer the currency to the bonds, when boils have still the same value in the market! Who can tell when the bondholders will do that? The bonds are their estates, their investments, on which they rely for their daily bread. They arc the estates which they have preferred to all others, as a means of living. To presume that they will reconvert them in to currency is just as absurd as it would be to presume that a man who has just bought a farm, and relies upon it for his liv ing; will sell it for money that will enable him to do nothing else so good for himself as to buy back the same farm that he parts with.


But General Butler, who, I believe, claims to have been the author of this scheme, says that, “in case of a scarcity of money,” [*6] “a demand for money by a high rate of interest will call forth these bonds.”

He means by this that, in times of “scarcity of money,” “a high rate of interest”- that is, a higher rate than the bonds themselves bear-will induce a holder of these bonds to recon vert them into legal tender notes, in order to lend them!

This is certainly furnishing “more money” with a vengeance. The real value of the notes corresponds precisely to the value of a 3.65 interest-bearing bond, and General Butler would allow the people to have no money at all, except in some rare emer gency, when the “scarcity” is so great as to induce them to give a higher rate of interest than the money is really worth, - enough higher to induce the bondholder to surrender his investments, and ‘become a money lender instead.

This is equivalent to saying that nobody shall be permitted to borrow money, except in those emergencies when he will sub mit to be fleeced for the sake of getting it!

And to make it impossible for any body to borrow money, except at this extortionate rate, he would “prohibit by the se verest penalties every other person, corporation, or institution from issuing any thing that might appear in the semblance of money!”

And this proposition comes from a man who proposes to fur nish the people with “more money,” and thus save them from the extortions of the present money dealers!

However such an extortion might occasionally relieve an indi vidual, who was so sorely pressed as to consent to be fleeced, it would do nothing towards supplying the people at large with money; because the money thus issued to an individual would not continue in circulation, unless it should constantly pass from hand to hand at a price beyond its true value; that is, at a price beyond its value for conversion. The result would be that the people could have no money at all, except upon the condi tion of their constantly giving more for the money than it was worth! [*7]


Another device of General Butler, by which he appears to think he could keep at least some of the currency in circulation, is this: He would make it “the legal tender of the United States for all debts due to or by the government or individuals.”

But this would add nothing at all to its real value ; and it would have no appreciable, or certainly no important, effect in preventing the conversion of the currency into bonds; or, what is the same thing, in preventing a withdrawal of the currency from circulation; for the currency would still have no more real or true value for circulation than it would for conversion.

General Butler’s plan, therefore, amounts practically to this:

He would allow the people no money at all, except on rare occa sions, when, as he thinks, the “scarcity” would be so severe as to induce them to pay an extortionate price for it!

But, under such a system, there would really be no such thing as a rare and occasional “scarcity ;” there would be nothing but constant, perpetual, and utter destitution. At least such would be the case, so soon as all the notes should have been converted into bonds.

The idea of allowing the people no money at all, except occa sionally in times of “scarcity,” corresponds to one that should forbid the people to have any food at all, except occasionally in times of famine. Under such a system, it is plain there would never be a rare or occasional famine; but there would be, in stead of it, a constant and perpetual one. So, under Butler’s scheme, there would never be any rare or occasional “scarcity of money ;” but there would be a constant and perpetual desti tution of it.

Yet lie calls it a scheme for providing the people with more money! In reality, it is merely a scheme for depriving them of money altogether.


Such being the real character of this 3.65 scheme, we are enabled to see the true character of the late battle in Ohio for and against it. And it is important to consider that, although the [*8] battle was nominally fought in Ohio, the whole country took part in it. The whole country took part in it, because it was considered that the result in Ohio would very likely decide the result in the whole country.

Thus we had the ludicrous and humiliating spectacle of forty millions of people fighting a fierce and bitter contest for and against a scheme, of the real nature of which neither party knew any thing! One party thought it was a scheme for furnishing the money really needed for industry and trade. The other party thought it was a scheme for overwhelming the country with a depreciated currency. In reality, it was a scheme to de prive the country of money altogether!

If any body had any thing to fear from this system, it was the very party that advocated it; for they wanted more money and not less. And if any body had any thing to hope from the sys tem, it was the party that opposed it; for they wanted less money and not more.

Here, then, were two opposing armies, each fighting with all fury against itself, under the belief that it was fighting its antagonist!


The question now arises: If all the statesmen (so-called), all the financiers and bankers, all the editors, all the violent writers and speakers, who took part in this contest, know no more about finance than to take such parts as they did either for or against this ridiculous and absurd scheme, how much do they know about the system which the industry and prosperity of the country really require?

And if we shall conclude that they do not know any thing, perhaps we may conclude that they should not quite so arro gantly assume to dictate to us what, or how much, money we shall, or shall not, have; nor, consequently, to decide (as it is their purpose to do) what, or how much, money all other prop erty shall be sold for.

Perhaps we may even conclude that men who have demon strated their ignorance beyond all cavil or controversy, as they have, and who, by their ignorance, or something worse, have brought upon forty millions of people such ruin and misery as [*9] they have, ought to be exceedingly modest for the rest of their lives, especially on the subject of money.

Perhaps we may conclude that to paralyze the industry of the country for four, five, or six years together, at a loss of three, four, or five thousand millions of dollars per annum, -say, twenty thousand millions in all,- under pretence that it is necessary in order to raise, by five, ten, or fifteen per cent., the market value of eight hundred millions, - that is, to raise their value, say, one hundred millions in all, - perhaps, I say, we may conclude that to thus impoverish a people to the extent of twenty thousand millions, under pretence of saving or giving to somebody one hundred millions, is neither good financiering, good morals, nor good government; and that it indicates that there is something a great deal worse than sheer ignorance at work in the plans of the government.

Perhaps we may conclude that a dollar, in order to be a stan dard of value, must have something like a fixed value itself, which it will maintain against all competition; that, if it has any thing like such a fixed value, then ten, a hundred, a thousand, or a million of dollars must necessarily have ten, a hundred, a thousand, or a million times more value than one dollar has; and to say that, by the prohibition of all other money, one dollar can be made to have as much “purchasing power” as ten, a hundred, a thousand, or a million dollars, is only to say that, by the prohibition of all other money, the holder of the one dollar will be enabled to extort, in exchange for it, ten, a hundred, a thou sand, or a million times more of other men’s property than the money is worth.

Perhaps we may conclude that the holders of the present stock of money, whose cardinal financial principle is that, by the prohibition of all other money, any small amount becomes invested with a “purchasing power” indefinitely greater than its true and natural market value, and who openly avow that that is their reason for insisting that all money shall be suppressed, except that small amount which they themselves hold, thereby virtually proclaim their purpose to be to so use their money as to extort, in exchange for it, an indefinite amount more of other men’s property than the money is worth. And perhaps we may conclude that a government which, on this [*10] ground, as avowed by its most conspicuous members and partisans, maintains a hard monopoly of money, thereby virtually acknowledges itself to be a mere instrument in the hands of these extortioners, for accomplishing the purposes they have in view.

Perhaps we may conclude that it is indispensable to all honest and equitable traffic that the money that is paid for any other property should have the same amount of true and natural market value as the property that is given in exchange for it; and that the moment this principle is acknowledged, all justification for the interference of the government ceases; since it is the sole right of the parties to contracts to decide for themselves, in each case, what money, and what amount of money, is, and is not, a bonafide equivalent for the property that is to be given in exchange for it.

Perhaps, also, we may conclude that the notes of private persons or private companies, who have property with which to pay their notes, and who can be sued and compelled to pay them, with interest and costs from the time of demand, are quite as likely to give us a specie-paying currency, and are quite as de serving of the name of “honest money,” as are the notes of a government that has no property to pay with; that cannot be sued or compelled to pay; and that has no intention of paying, unless, or until, it can do so without relaxing the monopoly it is determined to maintain.

Perhaps we may conclude that a government, which, for ten years together, prohibits, by a ten per cent. tax, all specie-paying notes, and at the same time, by the grossest usurpation, makes its own irredeemable, depreciated, non-specie-paying notes a legal tender in payment of all private debts, cannot reasonably be cred ited (however loud may be its professions) with any burning desire either for “specie payments,” or for “honest money.”

Perhaps we may conclude that any privileged money whatever, whether issued by a government or by individuals, is necessarily a dishonest money; just as a privileged man is necessarily a dishonest man; and just as any other privileged thing is neces sarily a dishonest thing. For this reason we may perhaps con clude that a government that constantly cries out for “honest money,” when it all the while means and maintains, and insists [*11] upon maintaining, a privileged money, acts the part only of a blockhead or a cheat.

Perhaps we may conclude that, when the fraudulent pretences by which the monopoly of money has been thus far maintained, and the fraudulent purposes for which it has been maintained, have been so fully demonstrated that they can no longer be con cealed or denied, and after the effects of the monopoly have been to impoverish the country to an amount at least twenty times greater than the whole amount of the privileged money, - perhaps we may conclude that, after all these results, the responsi bility of the authors of the monopoly is not to be evaded, nor their motives justified, by any such mock freedom in banking as is offered to us, provided we will use only government bonds as banking capital, and come under all such regulations and conditions as the government may prescribe, and thus give up all right to bank upon any portion of the thirty thousand millions of other property which we have (or once had, and may have again); at least twenty thousand millions of which are better banking capital than any government bonds can be; and which we have a perfect right to use as banking capital, without asking any permission of the government, or coming under any of its regu lations or conditions.

Perhaps we may conclude that this attempt of the government to delude us into the idea that we can have perfect freedom in banking, while deprived of our right to use the twenty or thirty thousand millions of banking capital we already have, and while restricted to the contemptible amount of capital we can have, or can afford to have, under the system proposed by the government, is very much like a proposal to establish, perfect freedom in farming by requiring men to give up all the farms they now have, and buy some of the government lands in Ore gon or Alaska, and there come under all such regulations and conditions as the government may prescribe.

Perhaps we may conclude that the establishment of a mo nopoly of money is equivalent to the establishment of monop olies in all the businesses that are carried on by means of money, - to wit, all businesses that are carried on at all in civilized society; and that to establish such monopolies as these is equivalent to condemning all persons, except those holding the [*12] monopolies, to the condition of tributaries, dependents, servants, paupers, beggars, or slaves. Perhaps we may conclude that the establishment of a monopoly of money is also equivalent to a prohibition upon all businesses, except such as the monopolists of money may choose to license. And perhaps we may con clude that, if government were to prohibit directly all businesses, except such as it should choose to license, and, by direct grants, were to make all these licensed businesses subjects of monopoly, its acts, in so doing, would be no more flagrant tyrannies, and no more flagrant violations of men’s natural rights, than are its acts in establishing the single monopoly of money.

Perhaps, after we shall have been insulted and impoverished by a few more such cheats as the “specie payment” cheat, the “honest money” cheat, the “free banking” cheat, and all the other cheats to which the government has resorted, for the one sole purpose of maintaining that monopoly of money on which the last administration relied for its support, and which the pres ent administration is evidently determined to maintain, we may conclude that it is time for the people to take the matter of money into their own hands, and assert their right to provide their own money, in their own way, free of all dictation or inter ference from the government.

Perhaps we may conclude that the right to live, and to provide ourselves with food,, clothing, shelter, and all the other necessa ries and comforts of life, necessarily includes the right to provide ourselves with money; inasmuch as, in civilized life, money is the immediate and indispensable instrumentality for procuring all these things. Hence we may perhaps conclude that a people who surrender their natural right to provide themselves with money, practically surrender their right to provide for their own subsistence; and that a government that demands such a stir-render, or attempts to take from them that right, and give it as a monopoly to a few, is as necessarily and as plainly the mere instrument of that few, as it would be if it were to require the people to surrender their right to follow their occupations as farmers, mechanics, and merchants, and give all these occupa tions as monopolies into the hands of the same few to whom it now gives the monopoly of money. [*13]

Perhaps we may conclude that we want no special laws what ever, either of license, prohibition, or regulation, on the subject of banking; that bankers, like other men, should be free to make their own contracts, and then, like other men, be compelled to fulfil them; and that their private property, like the private property of all other men, should be holden to pay their debts.

Perhaps we may conclude that it is the natural right, of every man, who has a dollar’s worth of property that can be taken by legal process and applied to the payment of a promissory note, to offer his note for that amount in the market; and that it is the natural right of every body that pleases, to accept that note in exchange for other property; and that it is also a natural right of every subsequent holder of that note to offer it again in the market, and exchange it for other property with whomsoever may choose to accept it.

And since, in this way, it is not only theoretically possible, but absolutely practicable, that, to say the least, a very large amount of the material property of the country should be represented by promissory notes, and thus made to aid in furnishing a solvent and legitimate currency; and since nobody can be required to accept such a currency unless he pleases; and since nobody who chooses to accept it can either say that he is wronged, or be said to wrong any body else, by accepting it, - perhaps we may conclude that such a currency as this-if the people, or any portion of them, prefer it to any other that is offered them-can not rightfully be prohibited.

Perhaps we may conclude that no considerable accumulations of coin are necessary to maintain specie payments; that, where banking is free, and the private property of the bankers is holden for the debts of the banks, the business of banking naturally and necessarily falls into the hands of men of known wealth, whose notes challenge the scrutiny, and command the confidence, of the whole community; that, as these men, if permitted to do it, are always ready to supply the market with the greatest amount of notes that can be kept in circulation, the public have no tempta tion to accept any doubtful notes, and doubtful notes can conse quently get no circulation; that, when the public arc thus satisfied of the solvency of the notes they hold, they prefer them to coin, and the bankers rarely have any occasion to redeem them other- [*14] wise than by receiving them in payment of the notes they dis count; that, as all the bank notes issued are wanted to pay the notes discounted, and are, at short intervals after their issue,- say in two, three, or four months, on an average,-returned to the banks in payment of notes discounted, the bankers, as a general rule, have no need to provide for any other redemption; and that, consequently, coin, unless in very small amounts, is merely dead capital, for which the bankers have no use whatever.

And, if the practicability or utility of this system should be doubted, perhaps we may refer the doubters to the example of Scotland, where, for eighty years, - from 1765 to 1845,-all the banks of Scotland, with two or three exceptions, stood upon the principle of the individual liability of their stockholders; enjoying perfect freedom in the issue of their notes, subject only to these restrictions, namely, that they should issue no notes below one pound, and none except those made payable on demand. The result was that Scotland had the best system of banks, or at least the best association of banks, for solvency, stability, and utility, that was ever known in Europe. During all that period of eighty years, while the banks of England were failing by the hundreds, and many of them proving utterly rotten, and while all that did not prove rotten repeatedly suspended specie pay ments,-at one time for more than twenty years, - the banks of Scotland never suspended specie payments, and their notes were always equal to coin. And, by introducing manufactures, they raised Scotland, within that period, from a miserable poverty-stricken condition (the effect of her cold climate and barren soil) to a condition of prosperity and wealth second to that of no other people in Europe. These facts, and others that cannot here be enumerated at length, demonstrate that, where banks rest upon the individual liability of stockholders, or upon any other basis that gives to the public an absolute guarantee of the solvency of the banks, banking may be made perfectly free, and the amount of currency as great as can be kept in circulation, and yet that it will always be equal to coin. And they prove also that all the [*15] arguments that are now used to justify restraints upon banking, and limitations upon the amount of currency, in order to main tain specie payments, proceed wholly’ from gross ignorance or fraud.

Perhaps we may conclude that money is simply property that is cut up, or divided, into such pieces or parcels as are conven ient and acceptable to be given and received in exchange for other property; and that any man who has any property what ever that can be cut up, or divided, into such pieces or parcels, has a perfect legal and moral right thus to cut it up, and then freely offer it in the market, in competition with all other money, and in exchange for any other commodity, that may there be of fered in competition with, or in exchange for, it. Perhaps we may conclude that the simple fact of these pieces or parcels being called money, or not called money, - of their bearing the stamp or license of the government, or not bearing it, - has nothing to do with his right to offer them in the market, or to sell them, or lend them, or exchange them, on such terms as the parties to the contracts may mutually agree upon; that the sim ple facts that they are property, -property that is naturally ven dible,-and that they are his property, entitle him to sell them, or lend them, to whomsoever may wish to buy, or to borrow, them; and to do all this on such terms as the parties, free of all interference from the government, may agree upon. And per haps we may conclude that these pieces or parcels may as right. fully be bought, sold, and exchanged (if the parties so agree) by means of contracts on paper-notes, checks, drafts, bills of ex change, or whatever else-promising to deliver them on demand, or at times agreed on, as by actual delivery of the parcels them selves, at the time of the contract.

Perhaps we may conclude that, instead of Congress having the right, in General Butler’s phrase, to “prohibit, by the severest penalties, every other person, corporation, or institution [than the government itself, or those whom it licenses] from issuing any [*16] thing that might appear in the semblance of money,” it has no such right whatever, nor any semblance of such a right; that it has no color of right in the matter, beyond the simple “power to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;” that, so far from their having any such right, it is one of the first and most sacred of all the duties of any and every government (that has any duties at all) to protect every man in his natural right to offer in the market every vendible or loanable commodity he has to sell, or to lend; and to sell it, or lend it, to any and every man who wishes to buy it, or borrow it; and that it is the duty of the government to protect him in his liberty to do this by any and every possible form of contract - whether check, note, draft, bill of exchange, or whatever else - that is naturally and intrinsically just and obligatory.

Perhaps we may conclude that it is as much the duty of gov ernment to protect each and every man, who has any thing deserving the name of money, or that men may choose to call money, in his right to sell or lend it to any and every other man who may choose to accept it as money, as it is to protect him in his right to sell or lend any other property whatever, which he may wish to sell or lend, and which other men may wish to buy or borrow.

Perhaps we may conclude that the simple fact that men may, or may not, choose to call any particular commodity money, makes no difference whatever in the nature, character, quality, or value of the commodity itself; and therefore cannot affect the right of men to buy, or sell, or lend, or borrow it; or to give it in exchange for any other property, on such terms as the parties (without fraud) may mutually agree upon.

Perhaps we may conclude that all men, who are presumed competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts, must also be presumed to be just as competent to judge of the value of any money that may be offered them, as the men who offer it are to judge of the value of the commodities they are to receive in exchange for it.

Perhaps, in short, we may conclude that it is one of the nat ural rights of men to sell their property for such money, and as [*17] much of it, as is offered to them for it, and as they choose to accept.

Perhaps we may also conclude that the idea of providing the people with money by prohibiting all money except such as the government itself may specially provide or license, is just as absurd, preposterous, and tyrannical as would be the idea of providing the people with food, clothing, or shelter, by prohibit ing all food, clothing, or shelter, except such as the government itself may specially provide or license.

Perhaps we may conclude that, as it is with all other commod ities, so it is with money, namely, that free competition in produ cing it and offering it in the market is the sure, and only sure, way of guaranteeing to us the greatest supply, the best article, and on the best terms; that, inasmuch as banking is but a very recent invention, - but one on which all industry and all other inven tions depend mainly for their efficiency, - it is just as absurd to suppose that we have already attained perfection in it, as it would be to suppose we had attained perfection in any or all the other arts by which industry is carried on ; that it is, therefore, just as absurd and suicidal to prohibit, all new experiments and inventions in banking, as it would be to prohibit all new experiments and inventions in agriculture, mechanics, or any of the other arts of life; and that, to be consistent, those who would prohibit all new experiments and inventions in banking ought also to in sist that the patent office be closed, and that all new experiments and inventions in any and every art and science whatsoever be prohibited.

Perhaps we may conclude that, however much money, or how ever many kinds of money, may be offered in the market, there is no danger that the holders will give any more of it in ex. change for other men’s property or labor, than such property or labor is worth; and that, therefore, there is no danger that the prices of either property or labor will ever be too high; or, what is the same thing, that property or labor will ever bring any more money than it is worth.

Perhaps we may conclude that it is time that those men who claim that gold and silver coins, by the monopoly now given to them as money, arc kept at a price far above their true and [*18] natural value as metals, and who claim that they should still be kept at that price by restrictions upon all other money, were taught that all honest and equitable commerce requires that each and every commodity that may be sold at all - whether it be called money, or by any other name-should be sold only at the price it will bear in free and open market, and subject to the free. competition of every other commodity that may there be offered in competition with, or in exchange for, it; that the free and open market is as much the true and only test of the true and natural market value of every thing that can be called money, as it is of the true and natural market value of every thing that is exchanged for money.

Perhaps we may conclude that, since industry is an animal, so to speak, that feeds and lives on money; since its strength, activity, and growth depend mainly upon the amount of money that is furnished to it; since we as yet know of no limits to its increase in power, except the limits set by the money that is supplied to it - since, when it is fully supplied with money, it will create two, five, ten,. a hundred, often thousands, sometimes millions, and even hundreds and thousands of millions, of dollars of wealth, for every dollar that it consumes, but, when stinted or deprived of money, necessarily languishes or dies; and since, when it languishes or dies, mankind languish or die with it, - perhaps, in view of these facts, we may conclude that to stint or deprive it of money is not merely bad economy, but fatuity and suicide.

And, finally, perhaps we may conclude that a government that sacrifices a million of lives to maintain its power, and then uses that power to trample in the dust all the natural rights of the survivors, and to cheat, plunder, and starve them, for the mere profit of the holders of eight hundred millions of money, is not a government that should be tolerated for any great length of time.