The Intellectual Insurgent
in·sur·gent (n-sûrjnt) adj. One who acts contrary to the established leadership (as of a political party, union, or corporation) or its decisions and policies
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Getting The Liberals To Do To Sudan What The Neocons Did To Iraq
Mahmood Mamdani, preeminent scholar on Africa, discusses the political weapon of the term "genocide" and how the United States uses it to gain political advantage against its adversaries.
"I’m struck by the fact that the largest political movement against mass violence on US campuses is on Darfur and not on Iraq. I had always thought that they should have greater responsibility, they should feel responsibility, for mass violence which is the result of their own government's policies."
Friday, July 20, 2007
The Greater Threat - Terrorism or Obesity?
America is home to the most obese people in the world. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), obesity in adults has increased by 60% within the past twenty years and obesity in children has tripled in the past thirty years. A staggering 33% of American adults are obese and obesity-related deaths have climbed to more than 300,000 a year, second only to tobacco-related deaths.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Nuclear Weapons My Ass
Today's headline "Iran to maximize oil income in non-U.S. currency" is a straightforward explanation of why the war drums are beating toward Iran, which has the courage to advance its own economic interests, but upsets the pyramid scheme that the Federal Reserve set up since Nixon took the United States off the gold standard (for more on this topic, see post below entitled "New Money, Old Money").
Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, international affairs director of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), confirmed that Tehran has asked customers in Japan to pay for their crude oil in yen instead of dollars.
NIOC is now asking customers in Japan -- all of whom previously bought Iranian oil in dollars -- to open letters of credit in yen, the official said. The state oil company will also issue its invoices in the Japanese currency.
After Japan makes the switch, more than 70 percent of the Islamic Republic's oil revenue will be in currencies other than the dollar, said Ghanimifard.
Iran, OPEC's second biggest producer, exports around 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, with up to 65 percent of that volume moving into Asia.
Iran gives one of America's biggest creditor nations, Japan, an incentive not to hold dollars in its reserves and our media pretend that this is a dispute about nuclear weapons.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Bringing Democracy to Iraq?
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Old Money, New Money
The following are excerpts from a great article by Dan Eden that everyone should read:
What Is Money?
At the dawn of civilization, the earliest way to get something that you needed was called barter. I give you a cow and you build me a hut to live in. But what if I want a tiny hut? Do I give you half a cow? Placing a standard value on goods and services was first achieved through the use of currency, or money. Almost every culture has money. Ancient cultures used everything from sea shells and beads to huge circular stones to buy and sell. Eventually, precious metals were used and more recently the standard currency has been based on gold.
The value of precious metal is determined by its weight. Instead of carrying chunks or nuggets of gold and silver, early empires made standard "coins" of the metals and set a standard value in the marketplace. Coins were great for most transactions, but they were heavy and wore out your pants pockets quickly. Soon a new idea, paper money, was invented.
The original idea behind paper money was convenience. Each piece of paper represented a specific weight of a precious metal, usually silver or gold, that was kept somewhere in a treasury. If an individual wanted to, he could exchange the paper money for the gold or silver that it represented. It was all based on trust and a promise. In fact, the early paper money in America was called a "promisary note."
If you can find old dollar bills, you will read the promise written on each note. You will also notice that the notes are numbered. In this way, each note is unique and represents a corresponding weight of silver or gold in the US Treasury vaults.
On a global scale, when someone in America bought something from a foreign country, they would pay in US dollars. The foreign company would then go to their local bank and exchange the dollars for their local currency. When foreign banks had a surplus of US dollars, they would then exchange them for gold. This meant that the US Treasury was always needing to acquire more gold to replenish its vaults and maintain the "gold backed" dollars in circulation.
To do this he needed to change the law. So he did. The new system is called "fiat money" and is defined as follows: "Definition: Fiat money is money that is intrinsically useless; is used only as a medium of exchange." He ended the system of "promisary notes," ended the fixed value of gold and allowed the system of "supply and demand" to set the value of both gold and American currency. But wait! There's more!
Back in the early 1970's, America produced most of the oil it needed. Texas oil fields were active and a far cry from the rusted rigs you can still see there today. We imported a fixed amount, about 25%, from foreign countries, but our thirst for oil was getting stronger. Nixon knew that America and every developing nation in the world would need more oil in the future. He also knew that OPEC, the handful of countries that produced foreign oil, wanted the limits of American imports lifted so they could sell more. So he cut a deal.
Another thing that helped pull this scheme off was the fact that gold, held by the US Treasury, went from its fixed value of $35/ounce to its present value of over $600/ounce. Of course a cup of coffee was once 5¢ and now my Starbucks Latte-Macchiato-double-Skim is close to $5!
Coffee, Automobiles and Computers: The Plot ThickensOil is a big import but not the biggest. Americans buy so many things from foreign countries that it is staggering to imagine. In 1973 the US sold more goods to foreign countries than it bought. But in each successive year the tables have turned.
The whole system is kept running smoothly by global central banks who monitor the supply and demand for dollars on a daily -- even hourly -- basis. If there are too many dollars "out there" in the world, the US buys its own currency to create a scarcity. If there are too few, it sells more dollars or buys more foreign goods to replenish the supply.
Houston, we have a problem!
Imagine what would happen if the oil producing countries in OPEC decided to sell oil in some other currency besides US dollars! What if they changed the system to use the Euro, the Franc or the Yen? What would happen if no one needed US dollars anymore? Hang on tight, it's already started.
Hugo Chavez has recently announced plans to nationalize the country's oil industry. Although Venezuela is a major oil producer and a member of OPEC, they have sold their oil to Cuba and other regional countries without the use of dollars and often in a barter exchange for domestically produced products. In 2001, Venezuela's ambassador to Russia announced that Venezuela was considering switching to oil sales in the Euro. Within one year the American government was seeking a regime change and America has been accused by Chavez of attempting to assassinate him in a failed coup attempt backed by the CIA.
Since June 8, 2006, Russia's Putin has been selling its reserves of US dollars. This has been done slowly to diminish any dramatic effect on the global supply, but it represents a decision of Russia to divest itself of a dollar reserve. The world market has taken notice.