Bitcoin: All You Need To Know, Part 1 – Defining the Monetary System

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the value of cryptocurrencies, particularly ‘Bitcoin’. Cryptocurrencies are units of value which are used to verify the transfer of funds independently of a central bank. They are based on secure encryption techniques and are seen by many as the way forward. Before we can understand the assumed need for cryptocurrencies we need to assess the current monetary system and the history of its development. Money like crytocurrencies is a medium of exchange, but before money was invented we used the bartering system.

The bartering system is a method of trade where goods and services are traded for other goods and services instead of for money. The value of goods and services compared to the value of the goods or services for which it is being traded, is subjective and based on the parties involved. The bartering system was introduced by Mesopotamia tribes and adopted by the Phoenicians. this method of trade dates back to 6000 BC (1). The system was improved by the Babylonians. Roman soldiers were paid with salt as it was a very valuable commodity. It is interesting to note that the bartering system was used during the Great Depression of the 1930s due to the lack of money (1).

Bartering has the advantage of flexibility as items traded do not have to be consistent. on one day a cow can be traded for 2 goats while on another day a cow can be traded for a service. The  system however suffers as there is no trade protection. Defected items can be exchanged without prior knowledge. Trade may also be unfair to one party or even impossible and goods may not be divisible to allow for fair trade, for example trading a chicken for a turkey. Portability of goods being exchanged was also a major limitation.

The bartering system formed the basis of trade which gave rise to the invention of money. Initially value was placed in gold and silver and they became a medium of exchange. The Greek state of Lydia introduced the first old coin in 560 BC (2). The use of gold quickly spread and the gold Ducat introduced by Venice became the most popular coin for half a millennium. Silver came into use when the bimetallic monetary system emerged in 19th century America. The USA didn’t authorize the printing of paper until 1861. Paper money became a sort of receipt to represent gold owned in the bank as paper money was backed by gold. The Bretton Woods agreement, in 1946 fixed the price of gold at $35 when the USD became backed by gold (2).

So why did the bartering system end? Why was paper money introduced?

There are several features of money that must be satisfied for efficient exchange. Money must be:

  • Divisible
  • Durable
  • Portable
  • Widely accepted
  • The same for equal unit values
  • Easy to Identify (3)

This made it more practical to have paper money as a representation of value.

This seems to be a good enough system but there is a significant problem. Who controls the money? Not the government! The central bank does. This bank can freely print money and loan it to the government and has the power to cause or prevent inflation. In 1971 the USD was taken off the gold standard, meaning it was no longer backed by gold. The money is then called fiat currency and its use is completely based on trust. The currencies of all central banks are backed by the USD but the USD is backed by nothing. Unlike the case of the gold standard, money is now very unstable. Gold is valuable because there is limited quantity in existence. This forced stability. But now that money is not backed by gold and can be freely printed, its supply is not limited making it much less valuable (4).

How is money created?

When the government needs more money than it receives from taxes it asks the treasury for money. The treasury then receives a bond (IOU) from the government. The treasury then gives this bond to =the federal reserve through the banks. The federal reserve then writes a cheque for the bond  and gives it to the bank, which then hands it to the government. At this point money is created as the federal reserve writes the cheque with no existing money to back it (4). Another example is the credit card, a bank issues a credit card which allows you to spend money you don’t have, this money literally comes from nowhere as it is not drawn from another person’s account. you repay this debt with interest and as a result the bank creates money. It is legal as they create the system and please note that this is not run by the government. We therefore have a debt based monetary system as increasing debt is needed for the creation of money.

What would be the issue with having a decentralized monetary system not controlled by any one individual? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a system in which the supply of money is limited and not subject to inflation? Well Bitcoin appears to have the solution. In the next installment we will explore the new method of accounting for transactions using cryptography.

 

References

  1. https://www.mint.com/barter-system-history-the-past-and-present
  2. https://www.thelocal.no/20111114/the-long-history-of-gold-trading
  3. http://www.virtualkollage.com/2017/01/the-features-of-money.html
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQUhJTxK5mA&t=73s

 

Aldeam Facey 2018

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Conflict Of Interest #8 Minister of Religion Cheats In Exam

It has been a while since I last updated my ‘Conflict Of Interest’ series, but this story is quite interesting. I remember some time ago I wrote a blog about my experiences invigilating exams at UWI. I started invigilating again and just this week a theology student, a minster of religion was caught red-handed cheating in her examination. She had a paper of notes neatly hidden behind her ‘minister of religion’ identification card. Caught in the act of cheating she couldn’t deny it.

Fortunately for her grace was granted and she was at least allowed to complete her examination. Cheating is not a rare occurrence in examinations, but this one got a lot of attention because invigilators usually do not critically watch theology students as cheating is not expected from ministers in training. It is interesting to note though that subsequent to that event, all theology students are keenly watched during examinations.

At the end of the exam, the lecturer for the course was summoned and was making inquiries of her cheating student. The examiner asked ‘Do you think Jesus would d such a  thing?’ and the shocking reply from the student, who appeared to be in her late 50s ‘I don’t think God would want me to fail’.

Should we be critical of her simply because she is a theology student? We certainly do not make such a big deal of other cheating students. Med students cheat very frequently and they are being trained to saving lives. Should we forgive and forget and allow her to cheat 70 times 7? The criticisms are based on the expectations of a minister, can we trust her lead her church by example? Could it be she was the victim of possession and the devil made her do it?
I am in no way qualified to throw any stones, but this certainly is a conflict of interest.

Aldeam Facey 2017

 

The Role Of A Woman

There have been many talks recently of equal rights. You are probably aware of the stimulating topic that is now taking over Jamaica. There has, for year been a conflict between gender roles and traditional views are being trampled by modern thoughts. Women want to be treated the same way men are treated, but should they? What is the role of women in the family and in society? The trending paradigm shift will certainly tear the fabric of our culture. Is this benifical or detrimental?

I believe in equity, not equality. Women and men are not equals and should never be treated as such. In certain contexts I believe both genders should be treated equally such as, equal pay for equal work or promotions. I don’t believe that is a problem in Jamaica as we have more female managers then males and significanly more females achieving tertiary education. If we should treat everyone equally, it would require everyone to be of the same gender, colour, height, weight, age, race and physical abilities. This is certainly unachievable! Imagine a physically challenged man in a wheelchair trying to get up a staircase vs a healthy man, who would you assist? Clearly the disabled. That, is equity.

Why should I open a door for a woman when she can clearly open it for herself? Why should I pull out a chair? Are her hands numb? Why should I pick up the bill at a restaurant? How do you feel after reading those questions? Probably you assume that I am not a gentleman. I would assume the same. I actually believe that women should be treated specially, as they are deserving of such. But in the cry for equality, shouldn’t a woman open the door for me too? Why plea for something only when it benefits you? The point is we are different and should be treated accordingly, within the confines of the law.

So what is the role of a woman?

In the begining God created the Heavens and the Earth…. He created man, then for him a ‘help meat’. So women are created to support, care, nurture, while men lead, love and protect them. If we look at some scriptures in the bible as well, it definately supports this point. A woman may never usurp authority over a man a man should ( as much as possible) be the leader. Idealy, In a relationship, or organization, there should be a leader and a support/support team. The Jamaican proverb states that “two bull can’t live inna one pen”. This means that if two leaders are in the same space there will be conflicts. In a relationship, given the man is fulfilling his duties, a woman should submit herself to him. Now women will argue that ‘he is not fullfilling his duties’ and in her own way try to define his duties. Such women must be taken to dinner, and left there with the bill, never to be called again… I kid.

In the adventist church, women cannot be ordained pastors.
Women can be leaders where men fail to lead, but as long as there are fully capable men, let the gender roles remain.

It is also important to note that these gender roles are biological, not self-identified. Bruce/Catlin Jenner, is a man, and should be treated as such!

– Aldeam Facey 2017

To Beat Or Not To Beat

It was a cold dark night, full of mischief that evades memory. I stepped through the gate like I was the ‘man a yaad’, only to be greeted by the lady of the house. She was clearly angry about what I had done. Back in those days we kids didn’t have smart phones, so I doubt it had anything to do with nude videos on Instagram or voice notes telling her how good it taste. But whatever transpired that night was whipped from memory as the lady of the house made her inquiries. We were still at the gate, lack of preparation this time around prevented her from having the special leather belt with the names ‘Aldeam’ and ‘Everlee Facey’ etched on its buckle. As she held my shirt, I could see her silhouette looking left and right for an instrument of correction. Knowing this I made attempt to escape the prison of her arms. But like the love of God ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature…’ was able to separate us. As I struggled to be free I recognized the strength of a woman. She finally found a substantial element capable of forgiving sins, purifying and creating a new creature. A loose chain hanging from the gate became less an item of security, less an element of aesthetics but became a whip, a lie detector test and a rod of correction. As the chains of Olympus fell squarely on my back, ‘wooii’ was my cry. All secrets were revealed, all apologies made and the lord was remembered.

‘Weh yuh did deh?’

Chains…

‘Look from when mi a call yuh?’

Chains…

‘Dweet again!’

Chains…

With each question tied to a swing to encourage a speedy response, confirmation was guaranteed. The session was probably two minutes long, but it felt like an hour. All I know for sure, is that whatever I did, was never repeated.

www.lifeofajamaican.com

Memories of my most noteworthy spankings floated around my mind as the video of a young girl being spanked by her mother was echoed by the Jamaican media. Naturally people took sides; some believed the mother (who has since been arrested) was too extreme and was guilty of child abuse, others thought nothing was wrong. It may seem contrary to the truth, but based on my experience, such expressions of anger by a mother, when her child misbehaves,comes from a heart of pure love. She wants what is best for her child, she doesn’t want her daughter to make the same mistakes she did. At least that is what I believe. Our culture is supported by a large number of people who believe they should never ‘spare the rod and spoil the child”. Majority of the Population are Christians and as a child I often hear the following text used to justify spankings:

“Proverbs 13: 24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (KJV).

There are many other methods of punishing children for their misconduct such as removing privileges. In the context of rural Jamaica, where such privileges were initially nonexistent  that may not be the best option. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with spanking, majority of the concerns regarding the recent video was the mothers use of the machete. Now clearly, this mother knew what she was doing, clearly she is an experienced machete wielder. No dogs or children were chopped and as in my case, that was probably the closest ‘rod of correction’ she could find. In any case, I disagree with the use of a machete as it is a ‘high risk’ choice but I completely support spanking!

 

-Aldeam Facey 2017

Equal Rights!

Recently, Jamaican dancehall artiste, Ishawna, has been the center of attention for her song “Equal Rights”. While I am a little late to the dinner party, I thought I would take a bite out of this cake of controversy as this tasty topic is often ignored. The song endorses cunnilingus and clearly indicates that if one expects to ‘receive’, one should also ‘give’. This is a fair point but does one expect a macho Jamaican man to stoop to such levels and openly admit it? Have a listen!

 

I recall writing an article about this very topic where I interviewed some Jamaican males and some were open to the idea. This indicates the changing views in the Jamaican culture. In the article I noted that a friend of mine was willing to have his name posted, but when the article was published, and friends started mocking him, he messaged me asking to be anonymous. Here is his comment when asked his views on cunnilingus:

Anonymous 4: “Yow pum pum fi eat! Mi naa hide an talk! Das why my girl love me enuh. All when e jaw dem big an yuh…”  (he was very descriptive).

The poll at the end of the article had 69% of the respondents (males) supporting cunnilingus. What a coincidence!

Most, however, still oppose openly. Jamaican men are very egocentric and macho, they view oral sex as being degrading and or emasculating. I found this to be particularly true when doing some surveys for the same topic using the female population. Literally every female asked, whether or not they have performed oral sex, support the activity. Why is it that women support the activity but men don’t? Let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of equal rights with regards to oral sex for  Jamaican men.

Advantages of supporting Equal Rights:

  1. Your female partner may finally cum!
  2. Possible reduced frequency of infidelity.
  3. You may receive more sex.
  4. Wetter is better. Foreplay will make sex more enjoyable for females. She doesn’t have to flick it, if you lick it before you kick it.

 

Disadvantages of supporting Equal Rights:

  1. Lose respect from your friends. Because, I mean, you HAVE to tell them about it.
  2. You may bruise your knees.
  3. Your tongue may get tired.
  4. If your wife wants to kill you, she may choke you with her thighs.
  5. Your partner will start to boss you around, you will lose the authority as man of the house and the power of the puss with reign! ha ha ha.

 

There are no real disadvantages. It all comes down to ego. Whether or not you support it, should be your decision, not society, not friends, not culture. If you don’t agree with it, don’t do it, and don’t ask for it. If you do agree, enjoy your meals.

 

– Aldeam Facey 2017