What Independence Needs: A Small Test

What Independence Needs: A Small Test


Key logic in America’s founding documents is now neglected. Let’s test your grasp of what workable independence requires:

1. What does “the Declaration” list as the first justification for America’s Independence?

2. What does the Constitution define as government’s role, after providing “for the common defense” and before securing “the Blessings of Liberty”?

3. The Founders knew that no nation is simply the sum of its private interests. Unless those interests correctly include their dependence on answers to the above.

4. The answer to 1: A tyrannous king was obstructing “Laws… necessary for the public good.”

5. The answer to 2: Government must “promote the general Welfare.”

6. The clear logic of common defense applies equally to the “public good.”

7. “Self-interest rightly understood” incorporates “the close connection...between the private fortune of each… and the prosperity of all.”

8. Do markets promote “the general Welfare”?

9. Market blessings since ~ 1970s haven't “trickled down” (graph: productivity growth  hasn't improved most incomes, see also "winner takes all" charts ).  If your economic beliefs predict a rising tide, what should you do if the tide fails?

10. Thriving elites depend less on America's economy now. And winner-take-all attitudes risk creating a star-strangled economy. One market superstars fears “the pitchforks,” while others seem like capitalist-tyrant-kings obstructing the public good.

Liberty is a government program (it can’t be secured privately). And all private success is built atop a platform of the “public good.” Should America be run to benefit “the people” or mostly a happy few? National independence logically requires domestic interdependence.

 

Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker Cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions.

This post has been updated (in response to the Brenton Yeates comment below) to include the "winner takes all" charts in item 9.

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The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

A close up of Bathynomus raksasa

SJADE 2018
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Volcanoes to power bitcoin mining in El Salvador

The first nation to make bitcoin legal tender will use geothermal energy to mine it.

Credit: Aaron Thomas via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

In June 2021, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to make bitcoin legal tender. Soon after, President Nayib Bukele instructed a state-owned power company to provide bitcoin mining facilities with cheap, clean energy — harnessed from the country's volcanoes.

The challenge: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital form of money and a payment system. Crypto has several advantages over physical dollars and cents — it's incredibly difficult to counterfeit, and transactions are more secure — but it also has a major downside.

Crypto transactions are recorded and new coins are added into circulation through a process called mining.

Crypto mining involves computers solving incredibly difficult mathematical puzzles. It is also incredibly energy-intensive — Cambridge University researchers estimate that bitcoin mining alone consumes more electricity every year than Argentina.

Most of that electricity is generated by carbon-emitting fossil fuels. As it stands, bitcoin mining produces an estimated 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually.

A world first: On June 9, El Salvador became the first nation to make bitcoin legal tender, meaning businesses have to accept it as payment and citizens can use it to pay taxes.

Less than a day later, Bukele tweeted that he'd instructed a state-owned geothermal electric company to put together a plan to provide bitcoin mining facilities with "very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy."

Geothermal electricity is produced by capturing heat from the Earth itself. In El Salvador, that heat comes from volcanoes, and an estimated two-thirds of their energy potential is currently untapped.

Why it matters: El Salvador's decision to make bitcoin legal tender could be a win for both the crypto and the nation itself.

"(W)hat it does for bitcoin is further legitimizes its status as a potential reserve asset for sovereign and super sovereign entities," Greg King, CEO of crypto asset management firm Osprey Funds, told CBS News of the legislation.

Meanwhile, El Salvador is one of the poorest nations in North America, and bitcoin miners — the people who own and operate the computers doing the mining — receive bitcoins as a reward for their efforts.

"This is going to evolve fast!"
NAYIB BUKELE

If El Salvador begins operating bitcoin mining facilities powered by clean, cheap geothermal energy, it could become a global hub for mining — and receive a much-needed economic boost in the process.

The next steps: It remains to be seen whether Salvadorans will fully embrace bitcoin — which is notoriously volatile — or continue business-as-usual with the nation's other legal tender, the U.S. dollar.

Only time will tell if Bukele's plan for volcano-powered bitcoin mining facilities comes to fruition, too — but based on the speed of things so far, we won't have to wait long to find out.

Less than three hours after tweeting about the idea, Bukele followed up with another tweet claiming that the nation's geothermal energy company had already dug a new well and was designing a "mining hub" around it.

"This is going to evolve fast!" the president promised.

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How Pfizer and BioNTech made history with their vaccine
Sponsored by Pfizer
  • Wondering how Pfizer and partner BioNTech developed a COVID-19 vaccine in record time without compromising safety? Dr Bill Gruber, SVP of Pfizer Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, explains the process from start to finish.
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