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Tag: private liberty

Freedom of speech in action

Today, Julian Assange was arrested and then refused bail – even though an anonymous donor offered 60,000 pounds as surety – ostensibly for having committed the crime of using a condom which broke midway through coitus. To make this an even bigger show trial, his defense was not given access to the case documents. Whatever happens next, WikiLeaks have managed another scoop – this time exposing the total hypocrisy of the judicial system of Western democracies.

WikiLeaks and information warfare

Plenty has been happening while I was immersed in the joys of fatherhood. WikiLeaks, and the whole theater of deception surrounding it, has been the most thought-provoking flow of events by far. Plenty to write about, but for now this quote from Raffi Khatchadourian’s excellent piece on Assange:

“He had come to understand the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution. As a student of Kafka, Koestler, and Solzhenitsyn, he believed that truth, creativity, love, and compassion are corrupted by institutional hierarchies, and by “patronage networks”—one of his favorite expressions—that contort the human spirit. He sketched out a manifesto of sorts, titled “Conspiracy as Governance,” which sought to apply graph theory to politics. Assange wrote that illegitimate governance was by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries in “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population.” He argued that, when a regime’s lines of internal communication are disrupted, the information flow among conspirators must dwindle, and that, as the flow approaches zero, the conspiracy dissolves. Leaks were an instrument of information warfare. These ideas soon evolved into WikiLeaks.”

The gold dinar

The following news stories, coupled with the recent unveiling of a gold ATM in Abu Dhabi seem like the first steps on the road to a trend:

1. Apparently the Malaysian state of Kelantan introduced some time ago the gold Dinar and the silver Dirham as legal tender, and the coins are in circulation with at least 3 different banks responsible for coinage and distribution. Interestingly, one of the reasons given by the chief minister of the state of Kelantan for introducing the coins, is that:

“the poor would be protected against inflation by the intrinsic value of the precious metals”

Who would have expected an Islamist party member from provincial Malaysia to speak words straight from an Austrian Economic Theory textbook?

2. An amazing video from Indonesia, where a private Islamic organization is coining – you guessed it – gold Dinars and silver Dirhams. Their explanation for doing it, and the interviews with ordinary people using the coins for their savings, are eye-opening.  One of the interviewees frames it as follows:

“The Dinar and Dirham represent a moral movement of maximum individual freedom”

It seems that this coinage movement sees itself as both enabling individual freedom from banking manipulation and the resulting inflation (obliteration of savings), and as a protest against state corruption and central bank control over individual lives (centrally controlled interest rates).

The death of the middle class

22 statistics from the Business Insider illustrating the complete obliteration of the middle class in the US. Sobering data, considering that all countries pursuing US economic/monetary/taxation policies are in line for the same medicine. In essence this is a massive, unprecedented in its scale, hollowing up of individual wealth.

1. 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
2. 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
3. 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
4. 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
5. 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
6. 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
7. Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
8. Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
9. For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
10. In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
11. As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
12. The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
13. Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
14. In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
15. The top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
16. In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
17. More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
18. For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
19. This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
20. Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
21. Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.
22. The top 10% of Americans now earn around 50% of the national income.

Haffner on the burden of private liberty

“A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions, for love and hate, joy and sorrow, but also all their sensations and thrills – accompanied though they might be by poverty, hunger, death, chaos, and peril. Now that these deliveries suddenly ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of the political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation.” Sebastian Haffner