Vermont’s Public Bank

Over in North Dakota, the state-run bank has been an oddball, yet very successful, model of 1910s socialism.  It’s the only state-run bank…well, although it looks like it’s getting a sibling in Vermont.

Three out of four Vermont communities have voted to convert the state-run Vermont Economic Development Authority into a true banking institution.

Banks do business by storing some peoples’ money, and lending it out to others, charging interest on the loan.   Part of the 2008 economic meltdown was due to banks taking far too risky investments, losing not only the principal but harming their ability to pay interest to those whose money they were lending out.  Lending stopped, borrowing stopped, savings were depleted, and everything went to hell for a time.    That is, until the Federal government stepped in to bail out the messed-up banks.

The hope is that a state-owned bank, taking a more credit-uniony stance, will run its lending policies in the interest of building value, not simply turning a quick buck.  The Bank of North Dakota does an enormous amount of business investment, handles college savings accounts for North Dakota children, and is more directly involved in the financial building of the State’s economy than some financial advisory board.  As the Vermont study points out, states already do a lot of lending and financial investment without the benefit of acting in a bankly manner.  Actually crossing that line into hanging a big “BANK” sign on the capital building makes one side worry about financial abuse, the other side cringe away from the evils of Socialism, but calling a bank a bank and doing business accordingly is the smartest step for a state that wants to control its own financial wellbeing.

Good luck, Vermont:  the Bank of North Dakota turns a hundred years old in 2019; hopefully you’ll overcome any shortsighted opposition and come into being before then.

 

Auroracoin

Link

A group of…somebody? has decided to create the cryptocurrency Auroracoin and give some to everyone in Iceland out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s 50% pre-mined, and no exchanges are trading it at the moment, but it’s got a lot of “good” press at the moment. If you’d like to start mining it, to be ahead of the curve, pools are just starting to accept connections.

The All-Seeing Eye

Artist John Chirillo has created a work of art that required almost 15,000 one-dollar bills.  Chirillo took each dollar bill, carefullly cut out the all-seeing eyes from the reverse, until he had a whole jar-full of ‘em.  The whole lot of them were then mounted in rows, creating a fast expanse of eyes.

According to the notes in the Imgur page, all bills were put back into circulation.  Legal?  Yes: the mutilation wasn’t done to devalue or otherwise falsify the bills, and well over 2/3 of the original bill was intact.   This means that banks and businesses would have accepted them fine, but pretty much the instant they made it to a reserve bank they’d have gone into a shredder to be replaced by crisp new bills.

The all-seeing eye on the back of the dollar is one of the most controversial parts of our money.   First, its connection to Freemasonry squicks out a lot of people right off the bat. Created in 1935, the designer of the new dollar, Henry Wallace, found the symbol relevant and did some due diligence by asking a Catholic if he thought there’d be any problem with it.  That hasn’t stopped Christians from going off the deep-end over its symbolism, though.  From the other end, the recent overwhelming evidence of all-seeing government surveillance has brought the the all-seeing eye out as a symbol of the fascist surveillance state.   As a symbol, I think it worked, although maybe not as the original engraver intended.  When a symbol loses value, it just becomes an image lacking definition.  When it becomes a representation of an important concept, good or bad, then some Milwaukee artist feeds off that meaning and spend three years of his life cutting tiny triangles out of dollar bills.