Day: December 5, 2022

Les vrais progressistes soutiendraient le Bitcoin et l’économie de la cryptographie, et non la réglementeraient

Lorsque les progressistes politiques abordent des sujets tels que l’inflation, les impôts ou les méfaits des entreprises, ils prétendent parler au nom du peuple. Qu’il s’agisse de la classe ouvrière ou des minorités, les progressistes visent à façonner la politique gouvernementale pour protéger ceux qui risquent constamment d’être exploités.

Mais lorsque ces mêmes personnes, comme la sénatrice américaine Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), se tournent vers des technologies innovantes comme Bitcoin et sa progéniture crypto (crypto-monnaies avec un immense potentiel pour autonomiser les Américains des classes moyennes et inférieures), ils préfèrent le rouleau compresseur à la Coup de main.

De nombreux idéaux progressistes pourraient être atteints avec les crypto-monnaies : non détenues par les banques, pas d’intermédiaires, des frais peu élevés, des transactions rapides et une bouée de sauvetage contre une vie piégée de dettes et de pauvreté.

N’importe qui peut télécharger un portefeuille mobile à partir de sa boutique d’applications pour smartphone, générer une adresse Bitcoin et recevoir immédiatement de petites portions de la crypto-monnaie d’une manière sécurisée et sans confiance, quels que soient sa race, son sexe, son orientation, son statut économique ou même son emplacement.

L’auteur Alex Gladstein a fourni de nombreuses histoires sur le Bitcoin offrant une véritable alternative, donnant aux citoyens les moyens d’agir dans les pays où les devises gonflent rapidement ou dans les pays autoritaires avec des contrôles de capitaux.

Pour les près de 6 millions d’Américains qui ne sont pas bancarisés (sans compte bancaire), l’utilisation de crypto-monnaies comme Bitcoin pourrait être une aubaine. Il n’y a aucune exigence de revenu pour utiliser Bitcoin, pas besoin d’une adresse physique et pas besoin d’utiliser une pièce d’identité. 

Pour les millions d’Américains qui envoient des fonds à l’étranger, un nombre croissant d’entre eux utilisent des transactions Bitcoin à faible coût au lieu des services de virement bancaire traditionnels, qui s’accompagnent souvent de frais à deux chiffres.

Cash App, l’une des applications financières les plus populaires, a entièrement Bitcoin intégré pour envoyer et recevoir des fonds entre amis et famille, et un nombre croissant de marchands en ligne et en personne acceptent désormais Bitcoin.

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Real Progressives Would Support Bitcoin and the Crypto Economy, Not Regulate It Away

When political progressives address topics like inflation, taxes, or corporate wrongdoing, they claim to speak for the people. Whether it’s the working class or minorities, progressives aim to shape government policy to protect those at constant risk for exploitation.

But when these same individuals, such as U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), turn their focus to innovative technologies like Bitcoin and its crypto offspring (cryptocurrencies with immense potential to empower middle and lower-class Americans) they prefer the steamroller to the helping hand.

Many progressive ideals could be achieved with cryptocurrencies: not owned by banks, no middlemen, low fees, fast transactions, and a lifeline from a trapped life of debt and poverty. 

Anyone can download a mobile wallet from their smartphone app store, generate a Bitcoin address, and immediately receive small portions of the cryptocurrency in a trustless, cryptographically secure manner regardless of their race, gender, orientation, economic status, or even location. 

Author Alex Gladstein has provided plenty of stories of Bitcoin providing a real alternative,  empowering citizens in countries with rapidly inflating currencies, or in authoritarian nations with capital controls.

For the close to 6 million Americans who are unbanked (without bank accounts)  using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could be a godsend. There are no income requirements to use Bitcoin, no need for a physical address, and no need to use an ID. 

For the millions of Americans who send remittance payments abroad, a growing numberuse low-fee Bitcoin transactions instead of traditional wire transfer services, which often come with double-digit-percentage fees.

Cash App, one of the most popular finance apps, has fully integrated Bitcoin for sending and receiving funds among friends and family, and a growing number of both online and in-person merchants are now accepting Bitcoin.

While there will inevitably be some technical challenges, especially for senior citizens not enamored by technology, the experience of growing adoption in developing countries gives hope to the idea that cryptocurrencies could be a progressive triumph.

The disintermediation from corporations or politically connected entities should thrill a populist champion like Senator Warren, who has made her reputation fighting banker-bailouts and criticizing cozy relationships between financial institutions and the Federal Reserve.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the collapse of FTX, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, progressives like Senator Warren want to completely snuff out the crypto ecosystem, rather than simply enforce the laws to rid it of bad actors.

The actions of FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, the crypto wunderkind and once-second-largest political donor to Democrats, now alleged to be the kingpin of an $8 billion fraud or Ponzi scheme, have brought us to this moment. The allegations include blurry accounting silos between customer and company accounts, missing funds, and billions of dollars’ worth of tokens given to his own hedge fund Alameda Research to leverage economic power in the crypto markets.

Senator Warren has a right to be outraged, as do millions of FTX customers with funds either missing or locked up in bankruptcy, and millions more crypto-holders are now dealing with the price fallout.

But as the Senator states in a recent op-ed, these alleged crimes are addressed by existing law enforcement and regulatory agencies, whether the FBI or SEC. Fraud, insider dealing, and market manipulation aren’t suddenly different because they occur with crypto tokens.

Where the Senator strays too far is in seeking to completely dismantle crypto alternatives and the economy supporting them.

One of her objections is the industry of proof-of-work mining that uses electricity and computing power to confirm new blocks and protect the Bitcoin blockchain. In her view, these firms are “polluters,” straining electricity grids. In any other progressive era of economic growth, these firms would be championed as innovative upstarts charting the American dream. 

The growing share of miners using renewable energy and repurposing methane pollutionfrom gas and oil wells to fuel machines, thereby capping greenhouse gas emissions, would be enough to headline any global climate change conference. But in progressive states like New York, lawmakers have all but killed this.

That same mentality drives Senator Warren’s desire to ramp up surveillance on each and every crypto transaction. This would also be a dangerous precedent.

Donating crypto to a pro-choice charity or an environmental activist group could make someone a target of figures who oppose these causes. Tech-savvy grandmothers sending crypto payments to their grandchildren, or workers who opt to receive their payments in Bitcoin, would effectively be treated as criminals. Elevating government power to this degree, while reducing our individual liberties, is far from progressive.

While it is nowhere near as mainstream as its proponents would hope, Bitcoin was created because of the flaws of the traditional banking system. Using regulations and laws to strangle it down into Banking 2.0 not only misses the point, but it erases the opportunity for millions of Americans who want an alternative.

Our political officials should moderate their knee-jerk instinct to regulate a new technology like Bitcoin into oblivion. Technological progress should be an inevitable part of a pro-growth agenda in political capitals, and Bitcoin is only one example. Cryptocurrencies may achieve broader adoption, or they may fail, but we deserve an opportunity to try. The government should in all circumstances be tech-neutral: it shouldn’t try to pick the winners or losers of any nascent industry.

Wealthy progressive legislators may not need Bitcoin on a daily basis, but there are millions of others who would greatly benefit from the option of being able to use it. 

Using the failures and crimes of politically connected crypto-exchanges like FTX to effectively chill innovation in this sector and regulate it away would deprive many Americans of new economic technology that could change lives for the better. That’s the furthest thing from progressive, and would severely restrict our capacity for entrepreneurship, innovation, and human flourishing.

Originally published here

Kryptospenden für beide Kriegsparteien

Wer Spenden für ukrainische Organisationen sammelt, kann diese in Kryptowährung umgewandelt und so sehr viel schneller und unkomplizierter als beim klassischen Geldtransfern versenden: In wenigen Minuten sind sie in der Ukraine angekommen. Über ein normales Bankkonto kann eine Überweisung schon mal drei bis zehn Tage dauern. Dazu kommen Transaktionsgebühren und möglicherweise ein schlechter Wechselkurs der Bank.

Spenden für die ukrainische Regierung

Aber nicht nur Nichtregierungsorganisationen nutzen Kryptowährungen für ihre Spenden in die Ukraine, sondern auch die Regierung des Landes selbst. „Wir bekamen Anfragen von unserem Militär, dass sie verschiedene Dinge bräuchten. Die Kosten dafür konnte die ukrainische Nationalbank am zweiten Kriegstag nur in sehr geringem Maße über klassische Geldtransfers zahlen“, so der stellvertretende ukrainische Minister für digitale Transformation im Oktober im Podcast Public Key.

Daher hätten Kryptowährungen in den ersten Kriegstagen sehr dabei geholfen, nötige militärische Ausrüstung zu besorgen. Bisher hat so der ukrainische Staat allein mehr als 60 Millionen Dollar gesammelt. Einen Großteil davon in den ersten Wochen.

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Biden’s Doublespeak Doesn’t Aid Farmers

According to the Biden administration, American agriculture faces unique national security threats, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased ransomware attacks, climate change, and the Avian influenza outbreak.

This comes at a time when the White House is adamant about its plans for “climate-smart commodities and rural projects,” through which it is investing $2.8 billion in 70 selected initiatives around the country.

The Biden administration’s climate-related agriculture programs aim to reduce emissions from the U.S. farm sector, which create more than 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions.

In practice, these “climate-smart” projects attempt to regreen for the purpose of increasing biodiversity and also producing food commodities in a more sustainable way.

It focuses, for instance, on crop cover and reducing tillage, as well as carbon capture and swapping out the use of wet cow manure — the creation of which accounts for a large amount of a farm’s greenhouse gas emissions — for dry manure like composting.

The administration’s move echoes the investments made in Europe into sustainable farming, with a substantial difference that speaks in its favor: contrary to the European approach of reducing farmland, and even subsidizing farmers to give up livestock (which has led to major protests in the Netherlands), the “climate-smart” funding opportunities guide farmers to innovative solutions instead of paying them to essentially give up.

In this sense, the Biden administration does not copy-paste the mistakes that the Europeans are committing.

That said, the White House is not consistent —  many of the ambitions the climate-smart programs are supposed to achieve are incompatible with previous regulations.

Take the very important aspect of soil disruption.

Tillage is an important aspect of farming because it manages crop residues, controls weeds, and prepares the soil for planting.

However, tillage also disrupts soil organic carbon, releasing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and reducing soil productivity.

This is why some farmers have adopted no-till practices (sometimes known as conservation agriculture), which allow them to remain productive without tilling.

In organic farming, no-till is criticized because it requires the use of chemical herbicides to fight pests, something the organic farming sector rejects outright.

The Biden administration is cracking down on the available herbicides catalogue by restricting certain products through the EPA, as I’ve explained for Newsmax before.

It appears the executive wants to have its cake and eat it too, by both arguing for carbon storage, all while depriving farmers of the tools to guarantee that CO2 remains in the soil.

Even though no-till is technically possible in organic farming, its applications are very marginal and currently more experimental than practical use cases.

Conservation agriculture is an essential aspect of the carbon dioxide reduction targets of the farming sector.

Those opposed to the use of chemical pesticides are pushing an agenda that hurts the efforts of farmers to be carbon-efficient.

It is also important to point out that per-acre use of pesticides has declined by 40% and that new technologies also cut pesticide persistence in half, reducing the number of active ingredients by 95%.

The United States also uses a significantly lower amount of pesticides per acre compared to developed farming countries in Europe, as FAO stats reveal. 

The organic farming lobby has argued consistently for more federal funding for their industry. However, organic farming emits more carbon dioxide emissions and reduces biodiversity and wildlife by using considerably more farmland than conventional practices.

If Joe Biden wants to make true on his promises to make farming more eco-friendly, he needs to let go of Obama-era attempts to crack down on modern crop protection.

Originally published here

Das sind die zehn besten Bahnhöfe in Europa

Eine Verbraucherschutz-Organisation hat die 50 größten Bahnhöfe in Europa untersucht: Wo lässt es sich gut warten, stimmt die Infrastruktur und gibt es kostenlosen Internetzugang? Gleich fünf deutsche Städte schaffen es unter die ersten zehn Plätze.

Bahnhöfe sind Durchgangsstationen, an denen man nie lange bleiben möchte. Doch oft zwingen einen Verspätungen oder Zugausfälle zu langen Wartezeiten. Dann zeigt sich, wie gut das Umfeld wirklich ist: Gibt es genügend Restaurants, Läden und Lounges?

Die Verbraucherschutz-Organisation Consumer Choice Center mit Sitz in Washington D.C. hat jetzt ihren jährlichen European Railway Station Index für 2022 vorgelegt. Darin werden zum dritten Mal die 51 großen Bahnhöfe Europas mit deren Infrastruktur genauer untersucht.

Für die Bewertung spielen Kriterien wie deren Fahrgastzahlen, die Zahl der nationalen und internationalen Verbindungen, die Ausschilderung und Lounges sowie die Anzahl der Fahrstühle eine Rolle. Auch der barrierefreie Zugang für Rollstuhlfahrer, die Anbindung an den öffentlichen Personennahverkehr, die Zahl der Restaurants, Läden für die Versorgung und Rideshare-Möglichkeiten und Internetzugang werden berücksichtigt und fließen in den Index ein.

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