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August 25, 2019

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In case it's not clear: I don't want "invisibility" for hysteria-driven crackdowns or the lunatic rantings and policies of our racist xenophobe-in-chief and his toadies and enablers. I want our policies to stop being driven by ginned-up hysteria compounded of cruelty, racism, fear, and greed.

America wets its pants, part 1,734.

As a minor follow up to the side discussion in the other thread about different American regions, it's worth noting that nearly the entire northeast, and absolutely the entire northeast corridor, falls in the 100 mile range.

Thanks for the ACLU links, Janie.

how long before some R politician suggests that citizens should have to carry and show papers on demand?

If you look Hispanic, you are already well advised to do so. Not that having even an official, US government-issued passport will necessarily protect you from being detained for days.

Blacks don't seem to be safe either. From being held for years.
https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-citizens-ice-20180427-htmlstory.html

It's really just us WASPs who aren't already there. For the rest, "guilty until proven innocent" seems to be the standard. And even proven may not be sufficient.

I didn't sign up to live in a police state. An increasingly more visible border patrol is not what I want or what I will ever vote for or support

More power to you, Janie, and to all who think as you do.

"If you're actually a citizen, why are you carrying those papers with you? That's highly suspicious. A normal citizen does not carry a birth certificate or a passport (why would you even wish to tavel abroad if you truly love America?) around in daily life."

Speaking of ACLU and immigration dysfunction:

https://www.aclu.org/blog/racial-justice/race-and-criminal-justice/louisiana-parish-jailed-us-citizen-being-latinx-were

But Torres wasn’t released. Instead, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office placed an “immigration hold” on Torres on the suspicion that he was unlawfully present in the United States.

The basis for this suspicion? He had a Latinx name and brown skin. Staff at the sheriff’s office explained that they had a policy of detaining all Latinx people for immigration review.

This aggression will not stand, man.

So, a long time ago, when i lived in NY, the Long Island railroad decided to respond to a streak of bad service by raising fares.

This was unpopular.

People responded by waiting until they were on the train to buy their ticket, and paying with $50 or $100 bills, as their circumstances allowed.

Which meant that a conductor could sell at most a handful of fares before running out of small bills to make change.

If everyone on a bus or train responds to an ICE interrogation with the "I do not wish to respond" reply, as it appears they are within their rights to do, it may become impractical or pointless to do the bus and train thing.

Some folks will no doubt be hassled to the point of significant inconvenience, so it may not be something everyone will want to do, or be able to do.

But if you can, maybe consider it.

Get in the way.

Anderson made his mark as domestic policy advisor for Ronald Reagan. For example, at a cabinet meeting early in Reagan’s first term, Attorney General William French Smith presented a plan to require a national ID card for anyone working in the United States, in part to deal with illegal immigrants.

Anderson, who normally didn’t speak at those meetings, raised his hand and, when called on by Reagan, explained that such a card could easily be faked or lost. So why not tattoo a number on everyone’s wrist? Reagan immediately understood the illusion to Nazi practices and the threat such a “Papers please” dictate would pose to liberty. The proposal died there and then.

i feel free

more free than this guy, anyway.

when the cops show up for our false alarms, they just ask to see my ID and then leave with "have a nice day".

one might call it a p r i v i l e g e.

@russell:

This is complicated. Here's another ACLU link, which includes this section:

You have the right to remain silent or tell the agent that you’ll only answer questions in the presence of an attorney, no matter your citizenship or immigration status. You do not have to answer questions about your immigration status. You may simply say that you do not wish to answer those questions. If you choose to remain silent, the agent will likely ask you questions for longer, but your silence alone is not enough to support probable cause or reasonable suspicion to arrest, detain, or search you or your belongings.

A limited exception does exist: for people who do have permission to be in the U.S. for a specific reason and for, usually, a limited amount of time (a “nonimmigrant” on a visa, for example), the law does require you to provide information about your immigration status if asked. While you can still choose to remain silent or decline a request to produce your documents, people in this category should be aware that they could face arrest consequences. If you want to know whether you fall into this category, you should consult an attorney.

As to this: If everyone on a bus or train responds to an ICE interrogation with the "I do not wish to respond" reply, as it appears they are within their rights to do, it may become impractical or pointless to do the bus and train thing.

I would love to see a concerted effort like this, maybe with some training as preparation for things going south. But at least on my bus, this specific tactic would not have worked, because (and I think this is generally true) they don't actually ask everyone; their attentions are very, shall we say, targeted.

In my bus, one agent stood at the front of the bus talking nice nice about how much they appreciated our cooperation, while the other agent moved quickly down the aisle more or less ignoring almost everyone. I was about halfway down, and I'm not sure he even looked at me, because I didn't look at him, I just nodded as minimally as I could when I felt his body turn my way and he quickly asked was I a citizen. (I wish I'd had the courage to ignore him. I had a ticket for a trip overseas in my pocket......avoiding the (as russell says) "significant inconvenience" of possibly being detained and missing the bus and sacrificing that trip, and the money I had paid for it, overrode politics that day, to my shame. Although as an old white female, I'd probably have to assault an agent before they'd pay any attention to me in the first place. I am not who they're after.)

I did take video on my phone, but mostly what I got is just voices; I didn't stand up and make a show of it. The only people I saw the guy talk to were some European (white, I think German) tourists, who volunteered their papers, as per the above guideline, and a group of young Chinese men, probably students or summer visitors to one of the nearby colleges, who also produced their papers readily.

A couple of years ago there was a stir in Maine because some ignorant asshole of a luggage handler responded to the question, "Do you have to be a citizen to ride the bus" by saying "yes." Of course, that's not remotely true. Unfortunately, ignorance of all sorts, including ignorant xenophobia, is contagious, or always latent and ready to froth up at the slightest opportunity.

The racist xenophobe-in-chief, AKA Clickbait, has unleashed this kind of shit all over the country, as Nous's story also shows.

cleek's story @4:22 speaks to how far we've come toward normalizing this shit since, okay, Reagan, just to choose a random benchmark. We now have an administration that I suspect would love to tattoo a number on everyone...and not that much less than half the country would be standing in line to get theirs.

Although for that matter, I don't see why tattoos couldn't be faked, just like papers. Or those chips Elon Musk wants to put in our bodies.

they don't actually ask everyone; their attentions are very, shall we say, targeted.

A good point. So, maybe not such a useful idea, from me.

I'm not sure what the best things are to do. Some folks from my church participated in a thing last week, where they walked a small coffin from Boston to the ICE center in Dover NH. The coffin was meant to represent the kids who have died in ICE custody.

Some folks have taken to standing outside the center in Dover at night, holding lights, so at least the people inside know that somebody out there knows they are in there and are thinking about them.

There is the "Jews against ICE" group who have staged fairly vocal protests at the ICE centers in South Boston and Rhode Island. Which apparently is getting under some folks' skin, because in Rhode Island an ICE officer drove his truck into them.

Who knows what all of that amounts to. When are gestures effective? I don't know.

But IMO we're at the point where we can't just sit around doing nothing.

Little things, but two petitions:

Asking hotel chains not to cooperate with ICE by housing people ICE has detained.

I'm not sure what to think about this, actually. If the hope is that by denying ICE access to rooms, we will discourage them from conducting raids, I think that's pie in the sky. More likely they'll just house people in makeshift shacks, or cages. On the other hand, if enough people rise up and push back, even via petition, it's better than nothing, especially in terms of getting big corporations to refuse to cooperate.

ACLU petition to Greyhound to stop letting agents on their buses

especially in terms of getting big corporations to refuse to cooperate

I mean in terms of political optics and clout.

Reagan immediately understood the illusion to Nazi practices and the threat such a “Papers please” dictate would pose to liberty. The proposal died there and then.

Is it not amazing that we have reached the point where Reagan, by comparison, looks like a font of liberalism?

font of liberalism

Apologies for the quibble, but Reagan looks, by comparison, like a font if decency and sanity. Not wanting to be like the Nazis is not "liberalism."

With the emphasis on "by comparison."

My brother-in-law and family live on an island with a relatively large population of illegals who work at various jobs from kitchen help at the resort to landscaping for rich people. (Its an island populated mostly by retired people, rich people with summer homes, or people running businesses to skim money off the summer tourists). The islanders monitor the ferry and have a alert system in place to spread the word should ICE show up by that route. I am proud of them!

(Of course there is an exploitive attitude about this. The illegals are cheap labor.)

Reagan immediately understood the illusion to Nazi practices and the threat such a “Papers please” dictate would pose to liberty. The proposal died there and then.

The Talibangicals have whined about such measures as "national ID card" (let alone tattoos and chipping) as being The Mark Of The Beast.

It would be interesting to see if Trump could make them change.

It would be interesting to see if Trump could make them change.

Definitely the way to bet. He'd (somehow) make it a culture wars deal, and they'd be all over it.

But then, I think he could sell them on a chain of government run brothels. To the point of getting them to include them in their daughters' summer plans.

He'd do it fast enough if he could tie it to voter suppression.

So let me just tell Emily Harvey: ordinary people *do* see it, and some of us don't like it, and we will do everything we can to scale it back to the invisibility in everyday life that it deserves in a free society.

Thank you.

Everything we can. I have signed on to the twitter feed of the folks that russell mentioned a few weeks back: https://twitter.com/NeverAgainActn Hoping to summon the courage to join one of their events soon.

Back to the "everyday people don't see it" myth: I was also stopped by the Border Patrol last fall, driving my car along Rt. 37 in NY state up along the St. Lawrence River. (One of my long slow ways around to get to Ohio. I like scenic routes.)

I filled the air with a lot of flimflam about growing up in a NE Ohio port town and having vivid memories of all the excitement when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1957. I was, in fact, astounded at how small the St. Lawrence is in some places along that route, having only ever seen its more majestic incarnation further east.

The agent allowed as how yes, they run awfully big ships through there, and sometimes the ships even run aground. We didn't get around to the topic of how badly the Seaway has messed up the ecology of the Great Lakes.

Maybe I wasted a little of his time that might have been spent in more nefarious activities, who knows. But that's two not-crossing-the-border encounters in about eight months, after a grand total of *ZERO* in my previous 68 years of existence.

Fuck 'em.

in my little town, we had a stars-n-bars protest outside the courthouse yesterday. the town council recently voted to take down the confederate soldier statue that's been there since 190x, and the local history-class-skippers didn't like that. so they were out there marching around with their flags and signs. all 10 of them.

why yes, i did give them a big FU as i drove by.

My wife and I are semi-binging The Handmaid’s Tale. It really gets under your skin. ICE agents = guardians in my mind. It’s disgusting.

I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the second series of The Handmaid's Tale, I don't feel like I can take the stress...

I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the second series of The Handmaid's Tale, I don't feel like I can take the stress...

Hmm. The comment wasn't empty, but it posts that way.

I have a long-standing bet with a friend about the same age as I am (65, now) that we will live long enough to see mandatory national IDs in the US. The Real ID requirements for states was a big step in that direction, as is the requirement that you have a state Real ID or federal or foreign papers to travel by air starting in October next year.

A couple of days ago there was a story about California DMV employees going to prison for taking bribes to put false information into the state database. In this case, it was false information about passing tests or qualifying for special licenses. At some point, there will be an expensive black market just for basic IDs that have the proper entries in some state's database so they can be "verified".

This will all be fine with the blessed patriots who blather about freedom and the constitution to identify themselves as real Americans.

This will all be fine with the blessed patriots who blather about freedom and the constitution to identify themselves as real Americans.

I bet there's a strong negative correlation between the quantity of blathering and the amount of foreign travel, or even domestic air travel. Except to Disney World, I suppose. Security theater for thee and not for me.......And who needs to go to any of those furrin countries anyhow? Or even furrin states? (I know I've told this story, but soon after I moved to Maine I was talking to a guy who said he'd just gotten back from vacation. I said, "Where'd you go?" And he said, "Out of state." There is no need to define it further. New Hampshire? Tajikistan? It's all the same to him.)

*****

As to real ID, that takes me in another direction: I *never* *ever* *ever* use a debit card for anything but ATM withdrawals. I use a credit card more often, especially because I donate $ and buy stuff online from time to time. But I still use cash at every possible opportunity, in part as a mostly at this point symbolic gesture of resistance to my every breath being tracked by Big Brother. For the same reason, I don't have a grocery store discount card. I refuse to give LL Bean or Staples my phone # when I check out with cash. The clerks always look at me like I'm from Betelgeuse. People just blather their phone #'s out loud in checkout lines for the whole world to hear! WTF!!!

So my question is: how long before cash is obsolete? A few years ago there was an article in the Globe about a few eating places in Boston -- coffee shops and such -- that were refusing to take cash, which was against state law. But I haven't seen or looked for any follow-up.

JanieM, in the OP: From another angle, the notion that as long as "everyday people...don't see it," then everything is hunky dory, is vicious.

Very, very true.

But: "notions" live in people's heads, not in the ether. That includes the heads of "everyday people", many of who vote.

I have repeatedly taunted Marty with the notion of a National ID Card because that's something "everyday people" would, in fact, "see" in their everyday lives. Maybe they'd find it "hunky dory" since it would definitively 'solve the problem' of 'illegal immigration'. Or maybe they'd find it constitutionally (or theologically!) unbearable. Who knows? Either way, it would at least reduce by one the number of ways in which "everyday people" are ... special.

--TP

We already have a federal system for identifying who is and is not allowed to work in the US. People who are motivated to work around that - undocumented immigrants trying to make a living, and the people who hire them - find ways to work around that.

I can't imagine a system that will make what is already in place in that context any more bulletproof without also being very intrusive. Depending on what you do for a living, you may already have to piss in a cup to get hired, citizen or no. Which, in fact, is an impediment to actually getting hired for a non-trivial number of people.

Both my license and my passport expire in the next 12 months, so I will be entering the Real ID universe.

Also FWIW, I have also begun using debit card exclusively for withdrawing cash, and have a dedicated credit card for all online purchases. I've been in the habit of using PayPal for everything online, but will probably start dialing that back, just to limit the concentration of ownership of information about what I do with my money.

Convenience is nice, not being treated like a product to be pimped out to every freaking Big Data firehose is nicer.

Sweden has gone far on the abolition of cash road already. Many locations/shops already don't accept cash anymore and even beggars collect donations electronically.

Otherwise the main motive is to be able to go negative interest on commoners without an option to simply withdraw everything as cash to avoid that. Officially the motive for that is to promote spending and thus benefitting the economy but the real reason is of course the desire to redistribute the money upwards.

just as the idea that US illegal labor situation is some kind of crisis is entirely manufactured, the rubes can likely be convinced that it's been solved - all the GOP needs to do is to declare it so.

but it's politically useful for them. so they won't.

Both my license and my passport expire in the next 12 months, so I will be entering the Real ID universe.

i don't know what the DMV is like in MA these days, but getting my real ID took 6.5 hours in NC. they take longer to process and the additional time has absoultely crushed the NC DMV.

a National ID Card because that's something "everyday people" would, in fact, "see" in their everyday lives.

Except they wouldn't. As we can see from the Real ID, the national ID will probably piggyback on drivers licenses. And so be essentially invisible. (Well at least until they start being required for kids under 16.) After all, we long since reached the point where drivers licenses are essentially IDs for all of us. All that's new is making the ID "national."

I refuse to give LL Bean or Staples my phone # when I check out with cash. The clerks always look at me like I'm from Betelgeuse.

I get a rather similar reaction when people discover that I don't do Facebook.** I think we, as a culture, are already past the tipping point where (lack of) privacy is concerned.

** Of course, even I am not immune to the social media craze. I do have a LinkedIn listing. Simply because any time I apply for a job, the first thing they do is check LinkedIn. Partly to crosscheck the resume, of course. But mostly to look for common connections -- personal testimony still being the best reference.

I confess, I do the same thing. The lack of a LinkedIn entry is a huge red flag. "What's he hiding?" being the instant response.

The Feds are increasing efforts to analyze Bitcoin blockchain data.

"The U.S. Treasury Department is stepping up its focus on illegal cryptocurrency-related activities. Recently, Treasury announced that its financial intelligence and enforcement agencies are collecting and analyzing Bitcoin addresses. These addresses are associated with several “Chinese kingpins” allegedly involved in “fueling America’s deadly opioid crisis.”"
United States Intensifies Bitcoin Address Analysis in Opioid Fight

Some recent cryptocurrencies are using zero-knowledge proof resulting in transactions that can't be analyzed.

"Zero knowledge proofs, ..., are becoming the go-to privacy technology sought in blockchains at present. This is for good reason — they allow for true “zerocoin” transactions, meaning that coins transferred have no transaction history which can be tracked through the blockchain, and even the amounts are obscured from outside parties. Users transacting with these currencies can rest assured that their identity or use of funds will not be ascertained by any third party, regardless of their resources — an extremely powerful idea."
The future of blockchain privacy: zero-knowledge proofs in decentralised exchanges

It's a bit ironic that China is turning on its head the circumstances from 160 years ago.

Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency is making some people nervous. All kinds of business around the world use Facebook as a platform. Being able to bypass the fiat currency infrastructure while making transactions across political boundaries would be a boom. And very much unappreciated by countries and their tax collectors.

there's a good and depressing article in WaPo about credit card data mining.

makes me want to ... well, do nothing. the world is what it is. gotta get through it.

Being able to bypass the fiat currency infrastructure while making transactions across political boundaries would be a boom.

i like that 'fiat' currency is presumed inferior to a currency based on absolutely nothing but greed.

my fiction is better than your fiction because mine is valuable to people who want to convince others to buy it from them!

oh, it's a Ponzi scheme?

no, it's math, see!

fail.

Fiat by algorithm.

CharlesWT,
I understand that being able to avoid the transactional track that normal banking leaves would be a boom for different scams and money-laundering schemes. I have, nonetheless, two issues.

First, you equate the current banking system with fiat currency. Let us assume, arguendo, that dollar still had gold backing. Would the monetary system be any freer? During the time of actual metal-backed money, the ability to use bullion was, in practice, severely restricted by custom and government pressure. First, no one with a major stake in system would try to draw all their holdings from the central bank because it could create a panic. Second, if you tried, you would probably face intense pressure not to do so, and the press would be happy to support the government's quasi and extralegal means to stop you. All modern metal backed systems were rather fragile and vulnerable to panics, and governments defended them very aggressively.

Second, even if we accept your statement that a complete ability of untrackable transactions would increase business activities, would the externalities of such growth be really covered by the profits? Today, the most important groups of people who strive for untraceability are fraudsters, tax evaders, drug dealers and sanctions evaders.

Of these groups, only tax evaders are engaging in legitimate businesses, so an increased efficiency of tax evasion allows, in theory, an increased volume of transactions, as base cost of taxes is effectively lowered. However, we have already seen that the most recent tax cuts have not really improved the economy markedly, so increased tax evasion is unlikely to allow a boom.

Fraudsters and drug dealers engage in businesses that hurt the economy. Improving their efficiency allows them to cause more massive externalities on the society. Every dollar they earn causes others to lose more than a dollar.

So, only sanctions evaders, who only hurt national security, but do not cause economic harm, might cause an overall addition to the economy, but their volume is so low that it is unlikely to cause any major effect.

Definitely good for a laugh. If only, if only....
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/08/26/trumps-is-spurring-global-economy/

cleek,
The problem you have is the fact that the American system of vital and other population records is so bad. I got an ID card for my daughter this summer. I checked on the police website using my internet banking, and selected a passport/ID card application. It listed me and my children as the persons whom I can apply a passport for. After I selected my daughter, it printed out a complete application, with all necessary information already filled in, and simply asked me to verify it, and to upload a photo. The system did not ask for any info, because it picked everything from the population database. The government knows its citizens (and non-citizens).

Because she's a minor, I then needed to send an invitation for my wife to co-sign the application. The system picked her email from the national population database, and suggested it. Finally, I paid the fee, and reserved an appointment at the police station for them to check that the photo matches the applicant. I arrived at the appointed time, waited some five minutes to be invited in, the lady at the counter asked my daughter her name, and the passport arrived in mail a week later.

That is the strength of a well-functioning population database. When the government is allowed to know your personal information, it can serve you so much better.

When the government is allowed to know your personal information, it can serve you so much better.

It can. But letting that happens requires a basic trust in your government. Which Americans increasingly lack -- a paranoia enthusiastically pushed by massively self-interested "libertarians" like the Mercers and the Koch brothers.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/us/david-koch-dead.html

wj,
The feds will take it over after a few more cases like the one in California I mentioned earlier, where state DMV employees were bribed to insert false information into the database. The false information wasn't a complete new identity in the California case, but that day will come. The federal employees will go on the already lengthy list of employees whose financial accounts are checked regularly by the computers.

"i like that 'fiat' currency is presumed inferior to a currency based on absolutely nothing but greed."

Our Fiat Currency is backed up by valuable goods!

24,000 Fiat Dollars gets you a Fiat! Vroom, vroom!

Make sure to drive with the lights on. Fiat Lux!

The value of Fiat cars is overinflated too.

Snarki,

Fiat currencies have an important function: the monetary reserve can increase when the economy grows. Even the historians of the metal reserve age noticed this, and praised the increase in European wealth that the gold and silver imports from America brought along. They mixed the cause and effect: it was not the import of bullion that brought prosperity but the fact that this increased money supply, allowing for more commerce.

The greatest point against fiat currency is the fact that it can easily be inflated by the government, when national policy calls for it. However, no country has undergone a major war without either debasing its currency or simply stopping payments in bullion. So, if the government policy calls for it, the metal-backed currency loses its backing. Nobody really holds bullion to any great extent in a modern monetary system, so this will hurt everyone, and if bullion were widely in circulation, the government would debase the coinage. (In reality, debasement of coinage has not really been that necessary since late 18th century.) Because in a fiat regime, adjusting the value of currency is continuous and much less dramatic, the system is less prone to shocks, as the adjustments don't need to take place in so great steps.

Third, the fiat currency is backed by one very real good: you can pay your taxes with it. The government is, at all times, funneling money into its coffers. You need dollars to pay your share, and so does everyone else. Even if everyone were using bitcoin, your dollars would have value, because you would need them to pay income, real estate and sales taxes. (It is a bit like today's situation reversed: you need bitcoin to pay for illegal drugs, so your bitcoin have, in essence, backing in the national illegal drug market.)

When the government is allowed to know your personal information, it can serve you so much better.

That by itself defies the political philosophy of the GOP*. A working and functional government is (outside of culture war issues) the one thing it cannot tolerate because it violates fundamental dogma.

*since at least Reagan

Our Fiat Currency is backed up by valuable goods!

24,000 Fiat Dollars gets you a Fiat! Vroom, vroom!

All currency is, to some extent, fiat currency. Even gold has minimal intrinsic value; it is valuable because we agree that it is valuable, and are willing to exchange other items of value for it. A shared delusion, if you like.

About the only difference between any other basis of a currency and a "fiat currency" is that the government accepts/requires the latter for payment of taxes**. And it is far more convenient if you have a single currency, rather than be constantly converting from one to the other. Just ask the folks in the Euro zone!

** As Lurker noted while I was writing this.

mmmm...the drug standard? Interesting.

Next?

Drugbugs!

Colombian Peso as the international reserve currency?

Many entertaining possibilities. :)

I vote to award the thread win to Lurker.

i wanna grow up to be a debaser

However, no country has undergone a major war without either debasing its currency or simply stopping payments in bullion.

I seem to recall there was one time in the long history of the wars between England and France when England actually went through a painful stretch of austerity and paid off their war debt. France defaulted. As I recall the lecture, England won the next of the wars fairly easily because the English got much better interest rates than the French could get.

It was a long time ago that I heard it, and I think the lecturer made a point that it only happened once.

I may also be completely wrong.

Sorry. I stand corrected. My history goes only down to Napoleonic wars. Before that, the system was much more dependent on bullion, because bank notes had not been really that big a thing. Anyhow, England dropped out of convertibility during Napoleonic Wars, and in both World Wars. She paid her debts in paper money, with limited government-induced inflation.

A short googling gives this interesting paper, which might be the source of the lecture you describe

https://www.nber.org/papers/w3517

Gold has intrinsic value, as an industrial metal and, for now, jewelry. Its price goes up and down as an alternative investment, but there is a floor somewhere down there based on the limited supply and industrial/consumer demand.

Concessions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium here in Atlanta are now cashless, don't recall seeing if there are other venues around the U.S. that have taken that step..

Gold is (to my knowledge) an unessential element, i.e. it could be replaced/substituted completely without major changes to our civilisation*. If copper, iron or even platinum would be removed, the (human) world of today could not exist (ignoring for the moment that our very biology depends on the presence of copper and iron in enzymes and in the oxygen carriers in our blood).

*if it did not exist in our universe, only chemists would have noticed it as a gap in the PSE. And I consider it unlikely that they would even today hace deduced its properties (it's the only element whose macroscopic/visible properties are strongly influenced by relativistic effects).

Gold has intrinsic value, as an industrial metal and, for now, jewelry. Its price goes up and down as an alternative investment, but there is a floor somewhere down there based on the limited supply and industrial/consumer demand.

Quite true. But gold's intrinsic value for industrial uses is a tiny fraction of its current market value. (Which is based on a shared view of its worth as money.) It's got some usefulness in electrical components. But it's too soft for anything structural.

There are alternative electrical metals which, even where not quite as good, are close enough that, absent historical/nostalgia use as money, would give a value of $20/oz (vs about $1,500). (Silver, which is actually a better conductor of electricity, is currently around $18.)

I dont know wj, it gets used a lot in electronics even at current prices. Not that it wouldnt be cheaper, but has enough advantage to still get used.

Gold is used in medical applications that might not be feasible using other materials.

One use not mentioned above is to separate many otherwise ordinary citizens from their allegedly "worthless" fiat currency.

Other uses listed here.

I dont know wj, it gets used a lot in electronics even at current prices. Not that it wouldnt be cheaper, but has enough advantage to still get used.

Yes, but.
Absent all those supposed value uses (which are over half of the "uses" listed in bobbyp's link), the demand would be vastly lower. Leading to a far lower price.

If gold's only value was its intrinsic value, a lot less of it would have been mined. In that universe, it might be worth quite a bit more than $20/oz.

Spain once just about turned gold and silver into fiat currencies. It thought it could become incredibly wealthy by hauling as much gold and silver back from the Americas as it could. Instead, the more it imported, the less it was worth until its economy completely collapsed.

Meanwhile, the northern European countries got wealthy by exchanging goods and services with each other using gold and silver, some of it from the Americas, as medians of exchange.

wj: As we can see from the Real ID, the national ID will probably piggyback on drivers licenses. And so be essentially invisible.

Harumph. Any National ID Card that would actually be useful in addressing the 'illegal immigration problem' would hardly be "invisible" to Real Murkins, whether they drive a car or not. At City Hall, at the bank, at a job interview, at school enrollment, when signing up for internet access or a phone line or electricity, let alone at any interaction with 'law enforcement', the demand to "Show me your papers" would confront the fair-skinned and the blue-eyed just like the Hispanic and the Asian. Nicaraguans, Norwegians, and Nebraskans would all be 'illegals' unless they could show a valid, current, National ID Card on demand.

Alternatively, of course, the Real Murkins who keep caterwauling about 'illegal immigration' but want no part of "National ID" can kiss my ass.

--TP

it might be worth quite a bit more than $20/oz.

In which case.... more of it would probably be mined.

Real Murkins don't live in cities. Which means that public transit is slim to nonexistent. So driving is a necessity. Thus all Real Murkins already have drivers licenses -- and probably have since the day they turned 16 (or whatever the minimum age is in their state). So there would be no particularly noticable impact in getting their papers. Which was my point. Getting routinely asked for their papers would, as Tony says, be a different story.

An interesting question is, what kind of documentation would be required to get papers in the first place? I mean, my citizenship is based on where I was born. But how do you prove that the birth certificate you are presenting is really yours? Mine, for example, includes neither fingerprints not foot prints (at the time, a common way to track infants in hospital). Certainly nobody took a DNA sample. So what actually proves you are who you say you are?

In which case.... more of it would probably be mined.

But not as much as there has been mined.

wj,
You question reveals the greatest weakness of the ID system. It works reliably only if you have also a national population database. Such a database allows very nicely also the identification of a person.

First of all, the database includes the personal history of addresses. You can quiz the person a) about those addresses and, if suspicion arises b) about the landmarks in the vicinity of their previous homes. Then you can ask about their relatives, because the system has also names of spouses, parents and children stored. You can ask about their personal histories. To pass such a quiz, you are probably you, and we haven't yet checked the school yearbooks and taxman's registers yet. And naturally, you should look like your previous photo on the ID and have an accent and vocabulary matching your personal history. Last, you should know reliably that the person in question will not apply for an ID of their own nor cause otherwise register markings into authority registers. (E.g. an asylum patient might have his address changed to the database by the staff.) For example, tax and social security payments withheld by two employers in different parts of the country should raise a red flag at the enforcement authorities, triggering further investigation; one of those employees is impersonating the other.

In general, you will have a few very specific types of person that are more easy to impersonate than others, and you can easily target those persons for extra scrutiny.

The only persons who could pass easily are children applying for their first ID, but they usually have a parent or guardian vouching for them. And because children are, usually, enrolled in school, they are very difficult to swap. The friends and teachers will notice.

So, for an adult, impersonating another person becomes a very laborious task if there is a national register, and in any case, it requires you to have hidden the body of the person being impersonated well.

Then you could ask what good will such a register bring? One very good thing is that it allows for more efficient credit. When the debtor has identified themselves, the creditor knows that in case of debtor skipping town, the execution authorities can and will easily track him through the country and enforce debts there, the likelihood of non-payment decreases, which increases trust and makes the economy more efficient.

But not as much as there has been mined.

Yes. A huge buy signal.

BUY. BUY. BUY.

But is its price topping out?

SELL. SELL. SELL

Or just watch TV.

You question reveals the greatest weakness of the ID system. It works reliably only if you have also a national population database. Such a database allows very nicely also the identification of a person.

I accept your point, once the system is up and running. But I see challenges getting from here to there. In a small country, sure. But in a huge one? Not going to be easy. Or quick. (And Witness Protection Programs ate going to be tough, even granting insider access to fudge to database.)

For example, tax and social security payments withheld by two employers in different parts of the country should raise a red flag at the enforcement authorities, triggering further investigation; one of those employees is impersonating the other.

There, at least, you are wrong. These days, it's entirely possible to live in one part of the country while getting paid in another. And if you happen to be holding two jobs, you could be paying taxes in even more places. And that's before you get to S-corps -- corporations where the owners pay personal taxes on their share of the profits. In the various states where the corporation does business. (I note that I live in California, but get to pay state income taxes both there and on the far side of the country in New York. I won't be surprised if I pick up another state or two in the next few years.)

In the US such a database would be the DMV writ large. And much more consequential.

How quaint The Prisoner now seems...

" I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!..."

"When people claim to know me, I can no longer act freely."

Jerzy Kozinski in "The Painted Bird" (IIRC)

OTOH, bah. i'm already quite well-known by banks, stores, doctors, insurers, web sites, gene sequencing companies and the government. i have no doubt that there's no INNER JOIN out there that hasn't been done already on my various data sets.

hell, my job is in 'big data'. i'm part of the problem.

bring on the omniscope, i say. let us reap the benefits of Knowing.

Finishing this up. Big book, really too much to take in, but my takeaway is that American concern and fear over big government (@20% of the economy) data and surveillance is laughable compared to what we signed away contractually (yeah, you did) to the other 80% of the economy .... the private sector ... which gives not one shit about the privacy of our individual private sectors.

https://theintercept.com/2019/02/02/shoshana-zuboff-age-of-surveillance-capitalism/

We are a laughable people, and I count myself among em.

We've no idea. No fucking idea.

Like fracking, regardless of whether we agree with the need, big data took what they wanted and still are before anyone knew we were being drilled from every direction, over, under, and sideways, or could even articulate possible "unforeseen consequences, blah fucking blah".

Move fast. Disrupt. Ask questions later.

Try getting some answers.

There's nothing to even shoot at.

Google (I use) and Facebook (not me) alone have multiple drilling rigs up our private data butts and we are now hooked up to data pipelines and our data pumped for the benefit of commerce.

The government should be so lucky.

Americans and American business, as a class of people, are predatory motherfuckers.

Fuck us.

They took the cat out of the bag and drowned it and now each of us are fully bagged as data trophies.

https://theintercept.com/2019/02/02/shoshana-zuboff-age-of-surveillance-capitalism/

There are other reviews too, if you don't trust The Intercept.

Trust? Patooie!

Think of the power of this, designed by Google:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N6JrtfGoBI

What could go wrong?

what we signed away contractually (yeah, you did)

Does ANYBODY actually read any of those agreements? Especially the on-line ones? I suspect "1 in a million" would be on the high side. Even among lawyers (who might at least have a chance of understanding them) I doubt the numbers are all that high.

For Europeans the salvatory/jurisdictional clause in the typical licencing agreements (=local laws apply outside the US) is the most important one. Otherwise most of those 'agreements' would be nil and void for being contrary to public policy (contra bonos mores) in most places.

An interview with Surveillance Capitalism author Zuboff:

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/shoshana-zuboff-q-and-a-the-age-of-surveillance-capital.html

Not only do we not read the contracts, I don't, but we don't have time to read them AND the perhaps thousands of other contracts that are extensions of the single contract in front of you that you just clicked "yes" on, which enable infinite users of "users' of your data (your Roomba maps your bedroom; the map isn't yours) and enable the modification of your behavior on behalf of whatever conglomeration of technology you've unwittingly signed on to.

The human brain can't wrap itself around the now "inevitable" all-encompassing nature of this beast.

It's like playing the game "GO" or chess with A. I.

It's a fait accompli.

To what end?

This:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuBe93FMiJc

It's not your Uncle Ira:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3vPlEm1nig

But we've signed on, so it kind of has to be your Uncle Ira.

It's "home-style" "gourmet", "hearty" shit in a can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c04M7JfuK8

It's you in a can.

It's a fait accompli.

Yes, but it is the direct result of consciously adopted public policies.

I've heard that can be changed, even by any means necessary (cf Civil War).

I've heard that can be changed, even by any means necessary (cf Civil War).

Or even just by something as simple as passing GDPR. Admittedly it might be rough getting something like that thru the US Congress. But not impossible.

What goes around:

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/russia-deny-visa-johnson-murphy

Why would any country in the world permit members of a dangerous rogue political movement to invade their borders?

President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.

a promise of a pardon for a crime sounds to me like conspiracy to commit a crime. though IANAL.

Time to see the lout's papers:

https://juanitajean.com/breaking-news-during-the-ballgame-here-ya-go/

Execute him.

The line the rest of them up.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/8/28/1881933/-Boris-Johnson-suspends-parliament-as-U-K-lurches-toward-no-deal-Brexit-with-a-very-British-coup

Execute the entire conservative nationalist movement the world over.

For any UK citizens etc, there is a petition up on petitiondotparliamentdotuk to stop prorogation (I cannot post actual link).

a promise of a pardon for a crime sounds to me like conspiracy to commit a crime. though IANAL

I confess that I wasn't surprised by the rumors that Trump might have dangled the promise of a pardon in front of a couple of the witnesses in the Mueller investigation. It seemed entirely in keeping with his mob boss approach to doing business. But those conversations were, naturally, private. And designed to keep people from flipping.

Here we have him promising pardons, in advance, for acts not yet committed. In sufficiently public settings that we get multiple reports out of the White House that he is doing so.

Not just shameless contempt for the law, which no longer surprises. But this shows a feeling of absolute personal immunity on Trump's part. Which, for me, is even scarier.

From the link about the UK:

Proroguing parliament, that is, suspending a session of the body without dissolving it, is not on the face of it something unusual. It usually happens for about a week each year as the new session is getting underway. But Johnson’s request expands that to a length that hasn’t happened since the English Civil Wars.
Perhaps it's time for Her Majesty to reach back to that same time. Give it a week or two, then call Parliament back into session whether the PM wishes or not. God save the Queen!

But this shows a feeling of absolute personal immunity on Trump's part.

for which we can entirely thank the Congressional GOP.

GFTNC, I notice that the petition (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/269157 ) runs until February 2020. Any bets on whether, even though it's already got 50 times necessary signatures (and rising fast; the last digit or two of the count is a bit of a blur) to mandate a response, Johnson decides to just ignore it for a couple months?

As Tropical Storm (potentially hurricane) Dorian barrels towards the US, we see this https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-will-divert-disaster-relief-funds-to-us-mexico-border-enforcement-prompting-outcry-from-democrats/2019/08/27/ba20dd30-c903-11e9-be05-f76ac4ec618c_story.html

It occurs to me to wonder,. Suppose Trump actually does divert emergency response funds to build his wall. And then a hurricane does hit Florida, with no funds available., Does that lose him that state next year? Ditto even Alabama or Mississippi. How much personal pain are his fans willing to bear on his behalf?

Of course he'll ignore it.

The problem is that proroguing Parliament in the middle of what is effectively a constitutional crisis, while outrageous, is legally entirely valid (which is why the Queen assented to it so readily).

The solution lies in Parliament's hands, if they can get a majority to agree on a single course of action within the next few days. Which is not impossible but not overwhelmingly probable, either,

Nigel: ... legally entirely valid (which is why the Queen assented to it so readily).

I guess Her Majesty subscribes to the notion of politics-as-hopscotch -- i.e. a ritualistic game in which a slavish adherence to The Rules is the only object. Not surprising, since the Fascists of the world have cowed pundits and the public alike into accepting the farcical premise that Real Life is secondary to The Rules.

If only Queen Elizabeth were the ONLY little old lady with that view. Alas, the world is full of such little old ladies, of both sexes and of all ages, on both sides of the Atlantic.

--TP

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-administration-end-protection-sick-immigrants-deportation

Corrupt vermin. Vengeance will out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt7hKx99PYk

As Tropical Storm (potentially hurricane) Dorian barrels towards the US...

The latest forecast has Dorian hitting Florida as a major (category 3 or higher) hurricane sometime Monday morning.

With luck, Puerto Rico will be spared the worst of it. Since, obviously, emergency assistance for them is totally off the table.

I guess Her Majesty subscribes to the notion of politics-as-hopscotch -- i.e. a ritualistic game in which a slavish adherence to The Rules is the only object.

Well, slavish adherence to the rules is more or less the duty of a constitutional monarch.
The problem somewhere, of course, when the country encounters a situation the rules don’t even contemplate (and as our constitution wasn’t really designed in the first place, not much contemplating ever went on).

The collision between a referendum (rare anyway in our democracy) and a Parliament so calamitously hung, it could not have been better designed to be incapable of making decisions, might well test our constitution to destruction.

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