This is probably the single best political economy article I’ve read this year.
Why Bitcoin Matters
This article by venture capitalist Andreesen Horowitz who’s invested over $50 million in Bitcoin-related startups will start to give you an idea of the potential for Bitcoin-related technology. As I’ve been thinking, it isn’t in the price of Bitcoin where the opportunity lies, but in the new technologies and solutions to contracts and payments (i.e. money transfers) where the real exciting potentials are. Read the article published on NY Times here.
MUST WATCH: Modern Monetary System Explained
I cannot recommend this video highly enough. It is extremely powerful as it explains step-by-step the machinations of the modern monetary system. Mike Maloney is absolutely spot on about this: the system impoverishes the working class every single day. This is why the majority of the working class in South Africa will become poorer and poorer with time, and their anger and resentment toward the ‘wealthy’ and ‘capitalists’ and ‘whites’ will grow as well. In a day, the video has already received nearly 400,000 views (and counting).
South African Cronies Do Things Very Badly
The new ANN7 crony-political news channel was launched recently by the Gupta-Zuma regime. They recruited a news reader who struggles to read.
If South Africa’s political cronies want to feed the public propaganda, they are going to have to get a lot better at this. Otherwise they will just risk exposing how useless and incompetent they all really are, and get not only libertarian-minded people to laugh at them, but even the statists.
In the clip below, the news reader calls Michael Clarke, “Michelle” Clark and essentially fumbles through the entire news segment. Funny.
h/t Rob Price
UPDATE: Oh wow, here’s another shocker from ANN7’s first show of “Game On”.
Quoting from this clip: “And South Africa’s youngest and newest news channel launches, aid, uh, ANZ, uh, ANN7 at a gala event in Johannesburg. Promises to deliver best quality news and information and set new benchmarks in journalistic credibility and finesse.” Yeah, benchmarks for the worst of the worst in high-school journalism.
This news readers is slow off the marks, and then reads the same news segment twice, before inaudible journalist comes in and turns into an economist mid-way through the clip.
Disaster in KZN Healthcare
If the KZN health department does not have its budget increased by R1.6 billion on the existing R28 billion it is allocated, elective procedures may need to be put on hold and state hospitals may only provide emergency services, reports The Witness.
“In the event the department received the funds, Zungu said, it would contain costs and use limited resources effectively, strengthen tender processes and identify savings, prevent fraud and corruption and ensure optimal use of its employees. But, if no funding was received, there would be no new employees except for critical posts, there would be delays in infrastructure projects that are under way and they would have to defer the decision to acquire new equipment and vehicles.”
The department argues that if it receives additional funding, it would be able to identify savings, contain costs, and use resources effectively. However, the most certain way of forcing the department to identify savings, contain costs and use resources more effectively is to CUT its funding, not give it more money to blow.
This is a vision of what’s to come if government goes ahead with the national health scheme. The more government control of the sector grows, the less services will be provided to the public at ever increasing prices.
Here Comes the Water Price Crisis
News today is that the Department of Water Affairs has said it must borrow an additional R380 billion to reach the R700 billion it needs to meet the country’s demand for water over the next decade.
I won’t go into much detail of the problems facing this sector, as I’ve done so on many occasions before.
April 20, 2010: The Water Crisis Cometh
This is a long-term negative trend and once the severity of overconsumption and underinvestment, and capital depletion breaks in the media, the Eskom crisis will look like a picnic.
The dam wall is already starting to crack. The other day a leaked memo by a South African public official alluded to water prices needing to rise by 18 times. That would make our estimates look rather tame and would unleash a political firestorm.
South Africa, welcome to the days of higher water prices and more economical water usage.
February 21, 2012. Water Crisis Bubbling Under the Surface.
A water crisis is bubbling just under the surface in South Africa. The government has not maintained – never mind expanded – the capacity of other State Owned Enterprises such as Transnet, Portnet, Eskom, or the road network to deal with growing demand, and here’s more evidence the water catchment, purification, or distribution utilities have not been managed any better.
Municipal water tariffs are well below a level that would allow the state to maintain and reinvest in water infrastructure. Also, prices are too low to ration demand for water. There is massive excess demand owing to the relatively low public water prices.
Water tariffs have not kept up with other commodity price increases in recent years. This is set to change in the coming decade or two. Expect a massive reallocation of capital into water catchment, purification, and distribution infrastructure in coming years.
March 15, 2012. Water Prices Are Too Low.
Whichever route this takes, the government will be extracting huge sums of money from the private sector to get their hands on the resources to patch the failing water infrastructure.
March 16. Have Another Glass of Crisis.
The government is going to suck massive amounts of resources from the private sector to pay for the mess it has created after a good 17 year party since the ANC took over. This is going to be a water price crisis, not so much a water shortage crisis. There is a mismatch of supply and demand because water prices are set too low by the government. The increase of water prices is going to be dramatic to make up for this. This has major implications for household spending and corporate factor prices. A big re-allocation of resources is on its way. Be ready for it.
Anyone who is familiar with the teachings of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard on the problems of socialism should not be surprised by the current water crisis. It was very predictable.
“I Must Be The Greatest”
This is probably my favourite highlights reel of Muhammad Ali – the greatest of all time – also featuring some commentary from him of why he refused to be drafted for the Vietnam war.
Acting as a true libertarian, Ali refused to go and kill people on the other side of the world who did him or his family no harm. He refused to murder on behalf of the state, opting to rather spend time in jail than murder innocent people, missing the prime of his boxing career as a result.
As Ali says in one clip: “I box to win a clean fight, but the point of war is to kill, kill, kill innocent people.” A must watch. Enjoy.
Parkhurst Businessman Thrown In Jail For Questioning Parking Ticket
The Parkhurst business man who, in this video is shown resisting being called a “criminal” for exceeding his parking time limit and after being confronted by not one or two, but nine metro cops in the otherwise peaceful suburb of Parkhurst, was thrown in jail for a night and day and not given the option of bail when he appeared in court.
While Parkhurst residents are, in addition to the taxes they’re paying to a government police force to keep them safe, spending an additional R600 per month to employ the services of Parksec and Cortac to patrol their neighbourhood and protect against crime (not to mention insurance premiums) this is hugely antagonistic and will fuel a hatred for the police force, and is also likely to stoke racial tensions.
I am still of the view that one day, hopefully soon, private security companies will extend their services to protect the people against these thugs in government uniform.
Army Ousts Egyptian President
The army stuck to its promise and yesterday removed the Egyptian president from office for failure to deal with their demands.
US president Barack Obama, who sends around $1.5 billion to the army in military support to Egypt each year, issued a statement from the White House that completely avoided calling this a “coup”, as that would legally mean he must stop sending financial and military aid to the Egyptian army.
It is worth revisiting what Eric Margolis wrote about Egypt a year ago:
Egypt’s new parliament must now face the difficult task of naming a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution to then be validated by a national referendum.
Even if parliament achieves this goal, it will then confront Egypt’s 500,000-man military and equally numerous internal security forces. So far, Egypt’s military, which is financed, armed and sustained by Washington, threw dictator Mubarak to the wolves to appease popular anger but has barely given an inch on other key issues.
A year after the Tahrir Square revolution, Egypt remains a brutal police state where regime critics disappear, are tortured, and jailed in the thousands. The old guard still control much of the nation’s media, academia, courts and industry: Mubarakism without Mubarak.
The US-backed generals own between a third and two thirds of Egypt’s key businesses or real estate and enjoy lavish perks.
The military’s senior military officers have been trained by the US, vetted by CIA, and are joined at the hip to the Pentagon in much the same manner as were Latin America’s generals in the 60’s and 70’s.
Washington gives Egypt’s military $1.3 billion annually, controls its flow of weapons and spare parts, and provides tens of millions in “black payments” to the military, security forces, and intelligence service, the “Mukhabarat.”
Accordingly, it’s difficult to see Egypt’s plutocratic military easily giving up all of its political and economic power to a rowdy civilian parliament, particularly when the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, France, and Israel are all quietly backing the military regime.
If the military cracks down on parliamentary forces, it risks driving the opposition underground and more violence. Egypt’s military may split, as younger, Nasserite-officers try to seize power, or face bloody urban guerilla war.
Washington would be wise to press its allies in the military to quickly cede power to a responsible civilian government.
Washington did not press its ally – the Egyptian military – to cede power but kept funding them and yesterday the coup came. So much for the US bringing democracy to the rest of the world, eh?
For more background on what’s going on in Egypt, read Margolis.
Social Unrest Predictions Featured on LewRockwell.com Again
In October 2012 I published research for ETM Analytics clients that found Turkey and Brazil to be at the most risk of widespread social unrest in coming months. We know where those countries are today.
Ciaran Ryan wrote an article on the research findings that was published on LewRockwell.com in December, where he wrote based on my findings that:
Based on monetary inflation trends over the last two years, those countries most at risk of social upheaval in the coming months are Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina and India.
Today Turkey and Brazil are burning, and Ciaran published an update to that article, featuring more of my insight and analysis to what’s going on in these countries, here.