$1,000 Gun Tax Pushed as “Role Model” for States | Americans for Tax Reform

Steep gun tax concept endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 1993 beginning to take hold

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A $1,000 per gun tax should serve as a “role model” for states, according to the governor of the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, which imposed the $1,000 gun tax earlier this month. An idea first endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 1993, steep gun taxes have now taken hold in Cook County, Ill. the city of Seattle, and now a U.S. territory.

As reported by the Saipan Tribune:

The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres defended the CNMI’s new gun control laws on Friday as a law that could be “a role model” for other U.S. states and jurisdictions facing seemingly uncontrolled and continued gun violence.

The administration was responding to queries regarding its position on recent reports that the a legal challenge to the new law, Public law 19-42, was likely, particularly over a provision that assesses a $1,000 excise tax on pistols.

The $1,000 gun tax “role model” threat is not idle. Consider the following:

Seattle Gun Tax: On Jan. 1, 2016, Seattle’s $25 per gun tax took effect, as did a two cent to five cent tax per round of ammunition.

Cook County, Ill. Gun and Ammunition Tax: On June 1, 2016, Cook County’s new ammunition tax takes effect, at a rate of one cent to five cents per round of ammunition. The ammo tax comes on top of the existing gun tax regime of $25 per gun.

Hillary Clinton’s 25% Gun Tax Endorsement: In passionate testimony to the Senate Finance Committee in 1993, Hillary Clinton gave her strong personal endorsement to a new national 25% sales tax on guns and endorsed a steep increase in the gun dealer fee, to $2,500.

“The Left is now seeking to tax guns out of existence,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “The Second Amendment makes it difficult to legally ban guns, but Hillary has led the way to explaining you can achieve the same thing with high taxes.”

In newly released footage from Americans for Tax Reform, Clinton is shown nodding enthusiastically as she endorsed the 25% gun tax and as legal gun dealers were described as “purveyors of violence.”

Source: $1,000 Gun Tax Pushed as “Role Model” for States | Americans for Tax Reform

The Economist Asks: Will Bitcoin’s Blockchain Change The World?

The Economist Asks: Will Bitcoin's Blockchain Change The World?

Legendary news publication “The Economist” has seen fit to not only acknowledge the innovations of Blockchain’s technology but produce a feature story on it for the current October 31 weekly edition. The cover story’s title is called, “The trust machine – How the technology behind bitcoin could change the world.” Here we go over some excerpts and the basic tenor of the piece.

The Economist is one of the Western world’s oldest and most trusted publications

As you may already be aware, Bitcoin does not have a sterling reputation within the mainstream media, if that fact has alluded you to this point, The Economist makes sure you get that realization stated up front as fact within the story’s first sentence, which succinctly reads “Bitcoin has a bad reputation.” The online edition fails to reveal a name of an author for this story.

This first sentence sets up the article with a short summary of why the generally negative reputation has been established, so far. By the middle of the second paragraph, it does not refute any issues with the public image Bitcoin. They seem to have little interest in disputing its validity, but they rush to the defense of the technological flavor-of-the-month, Bitcoin’s revolutionary Blockchain technology, whose impressive skip set is attracting venture capitalists and banking magnates like moths to a flame.

An original point of view was the use of Napster as the progenitor, the guiding light, for all future peer-to-peer networks, be it Napster, Spotify or Bitcoin. The article covers the broad strokes of what a blockchain is and how it may help businesses become more efficient in a multitude of business fields, from banking to real estate registry in Honduras. A swing at Bitcoin, while catapulting “The Blockchain” is pretty much a prerequisite in such an editorial piece.

“Bitcoin itself may never be more than a curiosity. However, blockchains have a host of other uses because they meet the need for a trustworthy record, something vital for transactions of every sort. Dozens of startups now hope to capitalize on the blockchain technology, either by doing clever things with the bitcoin blockchain or by creating new blockchains of their own.”

It has some other facets of the interaction between the mainstream and the blockchain that I won’t spoil. The representation of how a major pillar of the mainstream media with 1,400,000 weekly readers covers a revolutionary technology like Bitcoin and its blockchain is worth a read. The piece is generally quite positive, if fairly predictable, but the idea of promoting the blockchain over Bitcoin reminds me of something my favorite Bitcoin guru Andreas Antonopoulos said. He said the following at a recent Wired Money Bitcoin education seminar in July that is quite salient, to put this in perspective.

Antonopoulos:

“The Blockchain, in itself, is boring technology. It’s a slow ledger. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the disruptive potential of Bitcoin, and so you can get some watered-down, CompuServe-like, smooth jazz, soft version of it that feels nice and comfortable at the executive Board Room. There are two places you can be. You can be Blockbuster or your can be Netflix. That’s why Bitcoin is the important thing, not The Blockchain.”

Reading The Economist piece is a good idea, as is watching the video of Andreas’ dissertation at Wired Money. Take in the arguments from both sides of the aisle, and make a decision on where your digital future is headed. Will you be much more educated listening to Andreas for twenty minutes over reading the referenced article for 7 minutes through the link above? Absolutely, but inquiring minds might want to know what the mainstream’s latest spin looks like in print, however short-sighted it may be.

The Economist Asks: Will Bitcoin’s Blockchain Change The World?.

How Can We Make Bitcoin Mainstream?

bitcoin mainstream

Bitcoin now has PayPal integration and dedicated global banking to go along with its natty logo. Regulators are taking notice of it, and noted retailers are accepting it.

If you think bitcoin is mainstream, though, think again. According to an analysis earlier this year, there were only 1.2 million bitcoin addresses holding anything other than dust as of February.

Even its advocates admit that it has a long way to go. Curtis Fenimore’s attempt to promote bitcoin to the masses has stalled. Bitcoin Bigfoot, his grassroots effort to get posters and other materials promoting bitcoin out into the community, “hasn’t been all that active or relevant lately,” he admitted.

Fenimore raised all of the bitcoins for his public awareness effort when the price was over $700. Then, he spent the funds on Bitcoin Bigfoot after the price fell under $700. It was just the luck of the draw.

In the meantime, many people are still blissfully unaware of bitcoin. “We still have a very long way to go in absolute terms,” he suggested.

The perception problem may have more to do with depth than breadth. Bitcoin entrepreneur Erik Voorhees argued that around half the people he spoke to are aware of bitcoin, but only a small fraction understand it.

This is normal and expected, said Voorhees:

“Both the Internet and Paypal had a long period where people heard of it and sort of knew what it was, before they really tried it out.”

Conquering the learning curve

How will the understanding of bitcoin grow among the masses that have heard of it, but know little about it? We’re still in the speculation phase, where people hope to make a fast buck. This early, immature phase could work to the cryptocurrency’s advantage, said Voorhees.

Successive price bubbles create an effect called the ‘tide theory’. When prices spike, people wake up, smelling a potential money-making opportunity, and flock to bitcoin hoping for profit. That may be a short-term reaction, but it sparks a new wave of user adoption.

When the price slumps again, many of the people who arrived in that wave will slide away, but some will stay. Those remaining will have gained a deep understanding of bitcoin and its technology. With each successive bubble, the pool of adopters that continue to use the payment network increases.

via How Can We Make Bitcoin Mainstream?.

‘Bitcoin is Better than Currency’ – Bill Gates

When Bill Gates introduced the Windows® operating system it changed how we use computers forever and made Gates one of the wealthiest men on the planet.

But it was also Gate’s unique business model that made Microsoft the powerhouse that it is today. Instead of hiring programmers to write his code he chose mathematicians, physicists and other scientists under the theory that if they were that smart computer programming would be a piece of cake. Gates was most certainly correct as the company’s success amply demonstrates. Now this software legend is adding his thoughts on Bitcoin and what it might mean to the future.

Gates has been mostly silent on the issue of Bitcoin, which is a bit strange considering his background in both tech and business, but he finally broke his meditation about Bitcoin in a recent interview with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg TV’s Smart Street show recently. Schatzker asked his opinion of cryptocurrencies during the interview and Gates replied:

“Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be. Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”

But the richest man in America did not stop there. He went on to talk about the bad reputation that Bitcoin  has gotten from a media that only seems to  report when something bad happens, such as Mt. Gox and Silk Road. While Bitcoin has been used by criminals over the years, in today’s world this is simply no longer as true because more and more ordinary citizens are adopting it with enthusiasm. Gates shed light on this aspect, stating:

“The customers we’re talking about aren’t trying to be anonymous. They’re willing to be known, so Bitcoin technology is key and you can add to it or you could build a similar technology where there’s enough attribution where people feel comfortable that this is nothing to do with terrorism or any type of money laundering.”

Gates also spoke at the Sibos 2014 financial-services industry conference in Boston recently and while his support for a new age in finance was not apparent, he was most definitely in favor of using Bitcoin as a payments solution at the very least. During his speech he made it clear that he believed virtual currencies will take the forefront leading to all financial transactions being “digital, universal and almost free.”

via ‘Bitcoin is Better than Currency’ – Bill Gates.

The Bank Of England Just Said It Thinks Bitcoin Could Be Huge

The Bank Of England Just Said It Thinks Bitcoin Could Be Huge

The Bank of England has devoted two papers to the rise of digital currencies. It’s another demonstration of Bitcoin’s transformation from niche cyber-libertarian intrigue to a subject of mainstream interest.

More significantly, the Bank suggests that the key innovation is not the digital currency itself — which is subject to wild fluctuations — but the “distributed ledger,” which tracks Bitcoin transactions. That ledger has the potential to revolutionize the financial system, the bank argues.

Although there has been a great deal of innovation and new technology in payment systems, the Bank says ” the basic structure of centralised payment systems has remained unchanged.” At the core of the system is a central ledger (usually a central bank) that records and settles transactions.

Bitcoin, and other digital currencies, works on a completely different decentralized model. Instead of a central ledger digital (crypto)currencies operate with a publicly visible ledger, with copies shared between all participants. The advantage of this system is that it avoids the problem of people spending the same money multiple times without having to have centralized monitoring of the process. Or as the Bank puts it:

Since anybody can check any proposed transaction against the ledger, this approach removes the need for a central authority and thus for participants to have confidence in the integrity of any single entity .

This removes two key risks of a centralized system — credit risk and liquidity risk. Credit risk arises where one of the banks in a system goes bust, leaving unpaid debts to other institutions in the system. Liquidity risk comes about when a firm is fundamentally sound (it has the necessary assets to pay off its debts) but at a particular time it is unable to convert those assets to cash in order to meet its debt payments.

via The Bank Of England Just Said It Thinks Bitcoin Could Be Huge – Yahoo Finance.

EBay’s PayPal Unit to Start Accepting Bitcoin Payments – Bloomberg

bitcoin-image_graphics

EBay Inc. EBAY’s PayPal service will start accepting bitcoins, opening up the world’s second-biggest Internet payment network to virtual currency transactions.“We’re announcing PayPal’s first foray into bitcoin,” Bill Ready, the chief of EBay’s Braintree unit, said at Techcrunch’s Disrupt SF conference yesterday. “Over the coming months we’ll allow our merchants to accept bitcoin.  On the consumer side it will be a sleek experience.”

EBay, as the world’s biggest Web marketplace and operator of a global payments service, is the most significant business to date that’s embraced bitcoin. The move could potentially enable PayPal’s 152 million registered accounts to transact using the virtual currency, spurring wider use and acceptance of bitcoin, according to Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc.

“PayPal integrating bitcoin into Braintree is a very substantial development,” Luria said. “Not only will it make it possible for some of the fastest-growing apps to integrate bitcoin seamlessly, it opens the door for PayPal to integrate bitcoin into its main wallet functionality. If that happens millions of retailers will de facto be accepting bitcoin overnight.”

Braintree provides payment capabilities on websites and in mobile apps such as mobile car-booking service Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc., the short-term home rental service for travelers. EBay acquired Braintree for $800 million in cash last year to expand its mobile-transactions business. PayPal and Braintree will work with bitcoin payment-service provider Coinbase Inc. to enable payments in the virtual currency, Ready said.

via EBay’s PayPal Unit to Start Accepting Bitcoin Payments – Bloomberg.

Obama’s Former Chief Economist Calls For An End To US Dollar Reserve Status

Fire_dollar

There are few truisms about the world economy, but for decades, one has been the role of the United States dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It’s a core principle of American economic policy. After all, who wouldn’t want their currency to be the one that foreign banks and governments want to hold in reserve?But new research reveals that what was once a privilege is now a burden, undermining job growth, pumping up budget and trade deficits and inflating financial bubbles.

To get the American economy on track, the government needs to drop its commitment to maintaining the dollar’s reserve-currency status.

The reasons are best articulated by Kenneth Austin, a Treasury Department economist, in the latest issue of The Journal of Post Keynesian Economics needless to say, it’s his opinion, not necessarily the department’s. On the assumption that you don’t have the journal on your coffee table, allow me to summarize.It is widely recognized that various countries, including China, Singapore and South Korea, suppress the value of their currency relative to the dollar to boost their exports to the United States and reduce its exports to them. They buy lots of dollars, which increases the dollar’s value relative to their own currencies, thus making their exports to us cheaper and our exports to them more expensive.In 2013, America’s trade deficit was about $475 billion. Its deficit with China alone was $318 billion.

Though Mr. Austin doesn’t say it explicitly, his work shows that, far from being a victim of managed trade, the United States is a willing participant through its efforts to keep the dollar as the world’s most prominent reserve currency.

When a country wants to boost its exports by making them cheaper using the aforementioned process, its central bank accumulates currency from countries that issue reserves. To support this process, these countries suppress their consumption and boost their national savings. Since global accounts must balance, when “currency accumulators” save more and consume less than they produce, other countries — “currency issuers,” like the United States — must save less and consume more than they produce i.e., run trade deficits.

This means that Americans alone do not determine their rates of savings and consumption. Think of an open, global economy as having one huge, aggregated amount of income that must all be consumed, saved or invested. That means individual countries must adjust to one another. If trade-surplus countries suppress their own consumption and use their excess savings to accumulate dollars, trade-deficit countries must absorb those excess savings to finance their excess consumption or investment.

Note that as long as the dollar is the reserve currency, America’s trade deficit can worsen even when we’re not directly in on the trade. Suppose South Korea runs a surplus with Brazil. By storing its surplus export revenues in Treasury bonds, South Korea nudges up the relative value of the dollar against our competitors’ currencies, and our trade deficit increases, even though the original transaction had nothing to do with the United States.

via Obama’s Former Chief Economist Calls For An End To US Dollar Reserve Status | Zero Hedge.

More Companies Are Paying Employees in Bitcoin

More Companies Paying Employees in Bitcoin

Wagepoint makes it as easy as possible for companies to make payments in cryptocurrency. Customers don’t have to handle bitcoin at all. Instead, Wagepoint takes its fiat currency and handles the convergence for them.In Canada, it uses CA Virtex for the exchange. In the US, its deal with Buttercoin now has $1.3m in funding from people including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Buttercoin is still in stealth mode.Perhaps predictably, tech firms are at the front of the queue when it comes to paying their employees in bitcoin. Structur3D Printing, based in Kitchener, Ontario, produces a system for extruding paste that can be used in 3D printing.Co-founder and president Charles Mire is targeting everything from cake makers and chocolatiers through to hobbyist ‘makers’ with the product, which can handle everything from silicone to cake icing.Mire doesn’t take bitcoin payments from the company, but his co-founder and director of research and development Andrew Finkle gets 10% of his salary this way.

via More Companies Are Paying Employees in Bitcoin.

DigitalTangible Launches Crypto 2.0-Powered Gold and Bitcoin Market

DigitalTangible

DigitalTangible has announced the formal launch of its crypto 2.0-powered, decentralized marketplace for gold and bitcoin traders.While existing services allow bitcoin users to buy gold with bitcoin, DigitalTangible offers a novel innovation for the market, using an underlying crypto 2.0 protocol that issues tokens representing physical gold and attaches them to bitcoin addresses, thereby allowing traders to seamlessly move between bitcoin and gold.

DigitalTangible counts two of the more visible gold-buying services that cater to bitcoin users as partners – Amagi Metals, which recently announced it would cease to accept fiat currency by 2017, and Agora Commodities, which has sold more than $10m-worth of gold and silver for bitcoin to date.

The launch coincides with the formal unveiling of the firm’s partnership with Amagi, and to mark the occasion, the companies are offering all customers free overnight shipping on select gold products for a limited time.Lewis explained that both Agora and Amagi will sell gold on the DigitalTangible platform, competing for customers and thereby driving down costs for users. As the project’s lead vendors, Lewis added that the partnership is attractive for Agora and Amagi as they can increase sales and drive down marketing costs.

Of course, while bitcoin enjoys some support from the gold community, not all gold investors are enthusiastic about alternative digital stores of value. As such, DigitalTangible and its partners are investing in a marketing push that aims to fight against any negative perceptions of bitcoin.

via DigitalTangible Launches Crypto 2.0-Powered Gold and Bitcoin Market.

Currency reform in Ancient Rome

thetrib

He reduced taxes and attempted through various means to end the “singular system of annihilating capital and ruining agriculture and industry [which] was so deeply rooted in the Roman administration”.[21] At the same time, though, he subsidized literature, art and science and socialized education.When invaders from Gaul threatened the Empire, Severus Alexander attempted to buy them off rather than engage in a pitched, costly battle. This, once again, angered the legionnaires, who elevated General Maximinus as the new emperor. The military rebelled and, like Pertinax and Macrinus before him, Alexander Severus was executed.Over the next three years, Maximinus doubled soldiers’ pay and waged nearly continual warfare. Taxes were raised, with tax-collectors empowered to commit acts of violence against delinquent or reluctant payers, as well as to summarily confiscate property for citizens in arrears.Over the next five decades,

 

  • [e]mperors … debased the silver currency and raised taxes during what they perceived to be a temporary crisis, expecting windfalls of specie from victory, but war had changed from profitable conquest to a grim defense … The Roman world was treated to the spectacle of imperial mints annually churning out hundreds of millions of silver-clad antoninaniani by recycling coins but a few years old [which] removed older coins from circulation and destroyed public confidence in imperial moneys.[22]

 

Characteristic of all monetary collapses, as the denarius rapidly withered into a billon trinket Roman citizens developed odd, if essential, skills – the most noteworthy of which were extracting the thin silver coating from otherwise worthless coins and fluency in the social language of monetary failure: barter.

via Currency reform in Ancient Rome « Adam Smith Institute.