Why Blockchain has no economic future.

[expanded from the post on JohnMenadue]

When Bitcoin went public in 2009 it introduced to the world of finance and economics the technology of blockchain. Even the many who thought Bitcoin would never make it as a major currency were intrigued by the BlockChain technology and a large set of new companies have tried to figure out how to offer new services based on blockchain technology. It is still fair to say that very few economists and social scientists understand blockchain, and governments are even further behind.

I will argue that blockchain has no economic future in the regular economy. I will give you the bottom-line, then describe blockchain, discuss its key supposed advantages, and then take it apart as a viable technology by giving you a much more efficient alternative to the same market demand opportunities.

The bottom line for those not interested in the intricacies of blockchains and public trust

The essence of my argument is that a large country can organise a much more trustworthy information system than a distributed network using blockchain can, and at lower costs, meaning that any large economic role for blockchain is easily displaced by a cheaper and even larger national institution.

So in the 19th century, large private companies circulated their own money, in competition with towns and princedoms. In that competition, national governments won, as they will again now.

The reason that the tech community is investing in blockchain companies is partially because some are in love with the technicalities of blockchain, some hope to attract the same criminal and gullible element that Bitcoin has, some lack awareness of the evolution and reality of political systems, and some see a second-best opportunity not yet taken by others. But even in this brief period of missing-in-action governments, large companies will easily outperform blockchain communities on any mayor market. Except the criminal markets, which is hence the only real future of blockchain communities. Continue reading

Posted in bubble, Business, Climate Change, History, Information, Innovation, IT and Internet, Political theory, Politics - national, Science, Social Policy | 12 Comments

Brexit and the considered will of the British People: the Interview

Posted in Democracy, Economics and public policy, Politics - international | 2 Comments

Let’s have another World War!

Sometimes, it feels like 1910 all over again.

Then, a confident Germany was the up-and-coming industrial power house, fearing an even more up-and-coming Russia, with the UK and France desperately holding on to their colonial empires.

Now, a confident China is the up-and-coming industrial powerhouse, fearing an even more up-and-coming India, with the US and its European allies desperately holding on to its global empire.

Then, an international in-bred elite was holding on to far more wealth than it deserved in term of productivity, leading them to support extremism, nationalism, and populism as a means of holding off the tide of socialism and mass discontent.

Now, an international in-bred elite is holding on to far more wealth than it produces, supporting Clinton and Trump, Boris and Macron.

Then, science was threatening to re-structure the world of work radically, with automobiles and telephones making the world a far smaller place than it was before, and with new technology leading to widespread loss of jobs in agriculture and basic trades.

Now, science is re-structuring the world of work radically, with long-distance trade in services and IA driving out the procedural cognitive jobs that keep the peasants and tradesmen of this age busy: administrators, middle-management and I-follow-orders professionals.

Then, belief in magic was still rife, with new migrants in the US and Australia burying shoes in the foundations of the new houses to appease the spirits, and with romantic nationalism blossoming on the Balkans to kick-start a jolly-good-scrap.

Now, belief in magic is even more rife, with witch hunts, fake news, and fairytales in the US (#MeToo, ‘great again’, and DSM V), where the masses reject the notions of innocent till proven guilty and the idea of rationality, and with romantic nationalism blossoming in Scotland, Catalonia, Padania, and god-knows-where.

Then, dooms-sayers were having a field day, ranging from Halley’s Comet that was prophesised to swallow up earth in its 1910 visit, to regular Armageddon following the sinfulness of the times.

Now, there are even more doom-scenarios with widespread support, ranging from the threats to our climate to Islamic fundamentalism to the take-over by robots.

Then, the corrupt were in power, with monarchies, landed aristocrats, oligarchs, and self-congratulating scientists dominating the West, glorifying wars and preaching purity.

Now, well, need I really say it?

So, shall we have another jolly good scrap then to blow away the cobwebs?


Posted in Bullshit, Business, Climate Change, Cultural Critique, Death and taxes, Democracy, Economics and public policy, Employment, Environment, Ethics, Geeky Musings, Gender, History, Humour, Immigration and refugees, Indigenous, Inequality, Information, Innovation, Intellectual Monopoly Privileges, Journalism, Media, Miscellaneous, Music, Philosophy, Political theory, Politics - international, Politics - national, Public and Private Goods, Race and indigenous, regulation, Religion, Science, Social, Social Policy, Society, Sport-general, Theatre, Travel | 5 Comments

Forget Soylent Green – let’s make money out of ‘em

The following is a guest post by RHONDA PRYOR, a recently retired senior manager in the Australian aged care sector. We are hoping Rhonda may become a regular contributor to Troppo.

If you woke up to read the Government had announced that they have a totally new approach to State Schooling, which was to use it solely to make a profit for private and faith based organisations, what would you think?

You read on to discover some of the more chilling features of this new approach include no teacher/pupil ratios – just have as many kids in the class as you want. Oh, and yes, in our new approach to education we won’t even have to employ trained teachers, or if we do it will be ok to employ those that no one else wants. And don’t worry if, in this new corporate profit-making model, the kids get out of hand; it will be ok to medicate them into submission. As for the school canteen you can feed them anything or, on some days nothing at all, and make a profit out of that as well. This opening up of the education system for the sole purpose of being a profit-making enterprise will mean that not only private schools can charge fees, but to ensure a place for your kid in this visionary model of schooling, you might have to sell the family home.

If you read this I suspect you would be outraged, and the Education Minister soon looking at their options, yet this is how we operate aged care in this country.

Continue reading

Posted in Economics and public policy, Ethics, Health | 29 Comments

The #MeToo moment: another disaster for the Democrats?

The #MeToo flood of stories of women who feel abused by men – ranging from lurid stares to straightforward rape – seems like a disaster to me for the Democrats. Not because of the stories themselves, but because of how the progressive media and commentators have reacted to it. It has turned into open man-bashing which will cost the Democrats both votes and funding, whilst buying precious few female votes.

Let’s talk about the man-bashing first.

How did the Huffington Post, that bastion of progressivity, report the issue? It ran with a story by an editor that said

“Women can turn the whole internet into a list of “Me toos,” but it won’t make a difference until men ― all men ― acknowledge how they perpetuate misogyny and commit to making a change.”

This is textbook sexism: ‘all men … perpetuate misogyny’? I should be fired within ten minutes if I asserted that ‘all women’ were guilty of something that bad, but instead of this editor being instantly fired and then derided by senior Democrats, this openly sexist man-bashing has gone unpunished. It’s not too late, you know, this editor could still be fired tomorrow or next week. But it’s not going to happen and that is poisonous for the Democrats. This is their issue and their newspaper, and an editor of it openly advocates male-hatred of the kind that is illegal in many countries. The fact that half of white women voted for Trump despite him being the groper-in-chief tells you not many women change their vote on this issue, but white men have deserted the Democrats in drove and this open hatred of them will keep them away.

Am I over-reacting, picking on an isolated case of zealotry? Nope, the Huffington Post piece was a common reaction amongst the progressive commentariat. Leah Fessle in Quartz thus got away with saying that “our culture raises all men with toxic ideals about masculinity.”

Again, textbook sexism. If she were a man saying similar things about ‘all women’ in the same newspaper, instant unemployment and public humiliation would have been his fate. Again, it’s not too late to fire her next week, but it won’t happen. Continue reading

Posted in bubble, Bullshit, Cultural Critique, Gender, Health, Humour, Information, IT and Internet, Law, Libertarian Musings, Life, Media, Miscellaneous, Philosophy, Religion, Social | 19 Comments

Detoxing democracy – detoxing Brexit

As readers of my Twitter feed will know, I’m heading to London to give some seminars. One on the use and abuse of wellbeing to target policy at LSE, one on evidence-based policy at King’s College London Policy Institute and a public lecture titled “Detoxing democracy: Brexit and the considered will of the British people.” I thought I’d record the abstract and a brief outline of the argument here. If you know anyone who might be interested and able to attend, please let them know. They can register here.


Though material conditions played their part, the degradation of politics now so evident in the shock and awe of Brexit and Trump also reflect the way in which elections orient politics around political combat, rather than deliberation and problem solving. Yet Britain could use the ancient Athenian idea of selection by lot – choosing a cross-section of the public to deliberate together to complement elections – to turn its slow-motion crisis into the rebirth of democracy, moving it from government according to the will of the people, and towards the richer, safer notion of government according to the considered will of the people.

An outline of the argument: Detoxing Brexit by detoxing democracy.

Britain’s governing class is now engineering a tragedy that arose from a piece of political improvisation gone horribly wrong. Yet there’s a principled way of handling the situation.

A citizens’ jury – chosen to be representative of the electorate – is exposed to each side of the debate and then deliberates. By this process, the will of the people is transformed into their considered will. The evidence suggests that this will produce a substantial swing towards the remain position perhaps as much as 15%.

In my public lecture, I’ll propose that we raise the funds to host at least ten citizens’ juries of approximately fifty people each chosen by lot from their local communities around Britain to be held simultaneously over – say – two weekends.

The process would be overseen by a board of respected citizens with differing views about Brexit who commit themselves to the integrity of the process.

For me the crucial thing is not Brexit itself – as important as that is. If my fears are right, I doubt Brexit could harm the economy by more than – say 2%. And there are plenty of things in life worth sacrificing 2% of one’s income for. Indeed, after the dismal way the Greek crisis was handled by Europe, there’s some justice to the Brexit vote – though my own view is that, remaining outside the Euro, Britain has the best of both worlds.

The tragedy of Brexit is that, the way things have been handled so far, whatever Britain does, around half of its population will resent what happens as illegitimate.

Given this, I would hope that the ‘deliberative referendum’ I’ll propose would be conducted with grave humility and generosity by those seeking a change of mind. They might commit in advance to accepting Brexit if the process does not indicate that the considered opinion of the British people is against Brexit by at least the margin by which Brexit won the referendum.


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Iranian Film Festival

Top Picks

Trailer Icon 03 Subdued (Opening Night)
Mina, recently divorced from her husband, struggles to maintain an independent life with no supportive family. She eventually finds a job in a restaurant. A friendship between her and the manager gradually becomes something more. It’s the beginning of a tumultuous emotional journey for Mina.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Shahab, Nahal, Hamed, Faramarz, and Nicki have patented an invention and are trying to immigrate to Europe. Three days before their departure, Hamed falls into a coma and requires an organ transplant. The crisis elicits very different ethical responses from each of the others, revealing their true selves.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Reza and Leila are newly married and deeply in love. When they discover that Leila is unable to conceive, Reza’s mother convinces her daughter-in-law that Reza must take a second wife to produce a child. Heartbreak follows.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ The Film Sufi

The 15 minutes film features a “football” in the main lead. The philosophical and thematic meanings can be derived by the viewer with their own instinct.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

The widowed Mahi loses her only son. Behrooz, her teenage sweetheart, who had left Iran following the scandal of his relationship with her, appears at the funeral. The relationship shows signs of resuming but Behrooz now has a much younger fiancé. On the horns of these emotional entanglements the three characters have to make decisions not only about their emotions, but also their future lives.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Young Bahareh lives in Yazd with her father and her grandmother. It’s turbulent times in the real world – first the Iranian Revolution and then the long and bitter Iran-Iraq war. But Bahareh always has her head in a book and retreats into her own dreams and fantasies to try to make sense of the world around her.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Bahar and Parisa are out shopping for their friend’s wedding when they receive a call from a stranger – the bride is dead and the wedding has been cancelled. They contact her fiancé, but he is vague and seems to know nothing. Suspicious, they are determined to uncover the truth.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

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