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More Thoughts.

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I read a thouroughly ridiculous article today, written by a rabid capitalist, saying how the government should not be in the business of coining/printing money, and private corporations should instead compete to produce money instead.

I had images of all sorts of bullshit going on in this model (ie: CashCorp pays Wal*Mart to only accept CashCorp money; MoneyCo money isn't accepted...) and thankfully realised that no one in their right minds would ever seriously adapt such a system these days.

But this brought me to an interesting thought... what the hell is money? Is there an actual bill out there to represent every single dollar that I "own"? So when my bank statement came this month and it says I have $100* in it, is there an actual $100 bill representing that?

It used to be that every dollar was backed by gold. You could go to the government and turn in your dollar, and they would give you the equivalent amount of gold. Obviously, you can't do that anymore, since we're not even on the gold standard.

Then it hit me... the only reason this little piece of paper has any value is because everyone accepts it as such. If the government were to collapse tomorrow, or the people lose faith in the government, these pieces of paper become worthless. Scary.

I work at a banking software company. I see horrendous pieces of code on a daily basis that justify the existence of birth control. Stuff that would make Jack Bauer cry. For example, today, I was tasked with adding yet another column to a 743-column SQL table. And that's just one of the minor things.

Are we seriously trusting our money to computers, where a single keystroke could mean the difference between $1,000 or $10,000? Projects with terrible management, over 100 million lines of code, 30 different software branches (I have the bitchwork job of porting stuff between these branches)... This is scary.

Or even scarier, how Diebold can make electronic voting machines. These things have millions of lines of code (what the hell? How fucking hard can it be to make a voting program?), and they refuse to let anyone audit their code, and they can't even get the damned things to work right. There are hundreds of errors in these things; districts somehow manage to have thousands more votes than voters, datestamps somehow manage to be 20 years in the future... What the HELL is going on here?

And those are just the obvious errors. Who's to say that there isn't something more nefarious hiding down where no one can find it?

The fucking CEO of Diebold, before the 2004 election, stated "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this?

Oh god.

* The real figure has been arbitrarily modified to protect the innocent. Actually it's just to hide my embarassingly low savings.
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It's a bit unnerving to realize just how shaky the technological foundations of modern society really are. Crap programmers vastly outweigh good ones in terms of population, so naturally the majority of code is going to be crap as a result.

But, then, one realizes that statistically it's just as likely for technology to shit its pants in one's favor as not, and suddenly the whole issue is in a new light. I mean, would you really complain about poor coding practices if you got an extra $15,000 in interest this month? [grin]

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My mother works as a banking officer. The computers they use are awful. Almost all of them are from 96-97 running some god awful version of Windows NT. What's worse is that they don't even need NT, all the software still uses MS-DOS.

That's right we have decade old software that's supposed to crunch a huge amount of database entries over a giant world-wide network using DOS running on Windows NT.

The software is awful, I've seen and heard the horrors of not using a few "if" statements. For example if you only have $100 and the teller enters $10000 you now have -$9900, the software doesn't say anything and the teller has to spot it. Of course sometimes it just decides to jump to a random function and delete your RRSP.

Also the banks rules regarding software entry errors are retarded. If for example the software magically deposits money into your account or the teller enters the amount wrong, it's your fault. So if $2000 just appears in your account, don't spend it or else you now owe $2000 dollars that never actually existed.

Your money is safer under your mattress, although I guess you already knew that.

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The gold standard is BS anyway. The value of gold as a useful substance for industry has declined precipitously over the years, and its value for things like jewelry is all perceived. As a standard of wealth, it's only slightly better than beanie babies or pokemon cards.

Think about it. If the government collapsed tomorrow, what do you think would better trade-bait for keeping your fridge full -- one ounce of gold or four 55-gallon drums of gasoline?

Mark Cuban was right. Fort Knox oughta open the doors and sell its supply to pay down the deficit before people figure out that gold isn't really a good thing to own.

Oh, and per your rabid capitalist comment, I bring back the code monkey.

Aww c'mon, I had to!

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As to the whole un-auditable, zero-accountability, voting machines run by a private firm where the CEO has come right out and said that he would fix the election - yes there are a lot of people that have problems with this.

However, the majority of the people simply don't care. And the people that are in power have no vested interest in fixing the system since it obviously works just fine for them and changing it might undermine thier power base.

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We had about a 21% voter turn-out last election (whereas Israel had something like 63%; as Jon Stewart said, "We shouldn't be bringing democracy to the middle east, they should be bringing it to us!"). An awful lot of people in the western world want others to handle their problems for them, and that's where we've got into a lot of trouble. Diebold and other such private firms have been proven time and time again to not be trustworthy (countless AP and Reuters stories about election fraud that went untouched by the mainstream news channels in 2004). Here in California, where all of Arnold's power-grab state dictator propositions were defeatd, it was found that districts with electronic voting machines voted overwhelmingly for the propositions compared to those who still had paper ballots. So, you're right to be suspicious of the electronic voting machines. They're just plain no-good. www.blackboxvoting.org is a good source of information if you're concerned about this sort of thing.

As for the Federal Reserve, it essentially is a privately owned bank. Some of the primary stockholders are European royalty (incidentally some of the same people who own major energy companies, as well as infastructure all over the world; did you know that most of our water companies are owned by Dutch and German parent companies? What happened to sovereignty? But I digress). They founded the Federal Reserve in 1913 so they'd basically have control over the money system of the wealthiest nation in the world. As Mayer Rothschild once said, "Give me control over a nation's currency, and I care not who makes the laws." In the late 1920's they put the breaks on the printing presses and money became too expensive here in the United States, resulting in the Great Depression. Meanwhile in Germany some of the same bankers (or people related to the bankers over here, they're all basically Anglo-Saxon mobsters, no better than the Sopranos) were flooding their economy with too much money, leading to their depression. In comes Hitler, WW2, and so forth.

Flash forward to John F. Kennedy attempting to disband the Federal Reserve and CIA and getting his head blown off weeks later.

Flash forward to Richard Nixon taking away the silver standard, making our money complete, total fiat. Now they can go really crazy printing off money and buying things off and devaluing our currency (fun fact: illegal immigration has slowed recently in part because out-of-control inflation is making sneaking across the border less attractive than before).

So now we're where we're at today. A handful of WASP mobsters have bought off the entire country with their own fiat currency and thousands of my peers are being sent off to fight in a war of empire. Gee, thanks Woodrow Wilson.

I remember back when I was in high school you'd ramble on to me about politics via MSN and I'd roll my eyes and think you're a crazy liberal or something. Now I'm actually quite interested in this stuff and think it'd be pretty cool to talk geopolitical issues with Ron. Hit me up on AIM (sn: dorfenbrenner) if you want someone to commiserate with ;)

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