Posts tagged Money monopoly

War on the Informal Sector (Cont’d)

  • Neutron Bomb Urbanism, from Stealth of Nations by Robert Neuwirth: in which Babatunde Fashola, arbitrary but energetic State Governor of Lagos, Nigeria, possessed of a gleaming vision and infrastructure and housing projects for Lagos, cordons off and destroys 10,000 people’s homes in the shantytown neighborhood of Badia East. This comes on the heels of his government’s destruction of homes and displacement of more than one million people in largely unannounced, government slum clearances [sic]. The same government has also demolished squatter communities in Makoko, razed street markets and criminalized street selling in the name of his gleaming visions and the socioeconomic cleansing that will scour his city of poor people’s homes, lives and livelihoods.

  • You will be assimilated: State of Illinois vs. Technological Progress and Human-Scale Trade, from Cameron Scott at SocialTimes. The company behind the Square credit-card processor — one of the single most beneficial developments in years for small-scale sellers, ranging from storefront small businesses to informal hawkers and yard sales (I use it myself for ALL Distro tabling events — is being targeted with a cease-and-desist order and a threat of massive overkill fines from the State of Illinois, because they offer an unlicensed alternative to existing businesses for transmitting money under the State of Illinois. Since they haven’t complied with the right paperwork for a state license that they couldn’t possibly have known they needed, based on the State Government of Illinois’ arbitrary declaration that it will classify them in the category of transmitting money rather than a merchant payment processor, the State of Illinois will now shake them down for a no-doubt expensive and certainly legally burdensome licensing settlement, or else it will assess a fine of $1,000 per transaction, $1,000 per day, and 4× the transaction amount for continuing to process credit card payments for individuals and small businesses. As usual, the state’s mad insistence on compliance at all costs, with a maddeningly complex, largely arbitrary and in practice completely unpredictable set of bureaucratic requirements, means an assault on any disruptive technology or low-overhead upstart, even those that maintain a superficially respectable corporate front; the only way to survive is to call in yet more lawyers, fill out more forms, and to sink yet more time and money into making yourself indistinguishable from every other financial business in operation. Before the Law stands a doorkeeper, and you must be made to see that he is mighty; after all, the clash-of-the-titans competition between oligopolistic bureaucratically managed, government regulated finance industry has of course served us all so well that its business model must be locked in and secured against upstart alternative business models, at every opportunity, no matter the cost to low-overhead alternatives and infrastructure and services that community businesses and human-scale commerce have come to depend on.

Also.

Investors Anonymous

A Knowledge Problem with Insider Trading Law. Brian Doherty: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts. (2011-05-16):

Reihan Salam at The Daily is of course glad hedge fund villain Raj Rajaratnam was convicted for insider trading, blah blah, but spells out one of the perverse results of keeping those who know the most about companies (theoretically) from helping spread that knowledge and help bake it into the...

How the regulatory arm of the Money Monopoly -- in order to "protect" small investors from predatory insiders, natch -- ends up encouraging, nay demanding, faceless corporations with governance alienated from the enterprise and unaccountable to investors.

The Money Monopoly vs. Aesthetics and Good Taste

New U.S. $100 Even Uglier. Daring Fireball (2010-04-22):

Why are we making our money ugly? We’re ruining one of the greatest visual brands in history.  ★ 

Good lord.

John Gruber, linking the story at Daring Fireball, asks "Why are we [sic] making our money ugly?" I don't think it's hard to explain. The answer is that "we" (you and I) aren't doing anything to the U.S. Federal Reserve notes, because we don't design them and we don't have any meaningful market choice about what kind of money to use, either. The "visual brand" here is a brand in a completely uncompetitive market.

The people who do exercise effective choice over the design of U.S. government monopoly money (Treasury, the Fed, and the Secret Service) have no need to work to attract customers; their work is solely concerned with confining customers. Hence they have no incentive to be concerned with keeping their "visual brand" strong or attractive; the incentives point towards just making it as complicated and inelegant as possible, in order to make the design hard to counterfeit. Money that was produced in a competitive market, and which relied on customer choice rather than government fiat as its basis for value, has typically been attractive and well-designed.