After the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens United decision in 2010 that opened the way for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money in political campaigns, all that new funding needed someplace to go where it would not be easily tracked. In response, the number of groups seeking 501(c)(4) status – which, in addition to the tax break, allows donors to remain anonymous – shot up to 3,400 in 2012.
The flood of applications overloaded the IRS processing system. It may be wrong that, in order to deal with the mountain of paperwork, the IRS functionaries began culling the applicants by looking for keywords such as “tea party” and “patriot,” but I suspect it had far less to do with political bias than it did with the fact that the majority of new groups were conservative. If someone were running a bogus political operation and wanted to attract corporate cash, they would probably pretend to be some kind of grass-roots tea party group. It is entirely understandable that an overwhelmed IRS bureaucrat would choose to look for questionable applicants in the most obvious places.
The fact is that none of the right-wing applicants were turned down, even though they are probably as engaged in partisan campaigning as Karl Rove or Jim Messina. A 501(c)(4) group is, by law, supposed to be a social welfare organization whose primary activity is not politics. Can anyone honestly say that about Rove or Messina or any of the many tea party organizations?
Sadly, after this so-called scandal has blown over and enough heads have rolled, the cowed IRS will be even more timid in denying tax-exempt designation to any front organization run by partisan political operatives and funded by corporate moneymen who want to keep their names out of the news."
DAVID HORSEY, writing in the Los Angeles Times, “The Real Scandal: IRS Gives Tax Exemptions to Political Partisans.”
New $100 bills coming to a bank near you in October
Story: http://nbcnews.to/17XlMsi l Photo: Federal Reserve
Poor Richard’s News should use the top image as his avatar. The bottom image looks like a photocopy that had liquid paper dumped all over it.
TechGent supports the removal of the $100 bill from circulation. Our government could save millions each year by stopping production of this useless piece of monetary history. Studies have shown that the largest amount of one hundred dollar bills in circulation are actually just sitting in over-seas bank accounts. The 2nd largest use of the $100 bill is for drug and crime use - so why do we spend millions to keep this currency in production? Because the same people who want the $100 bill are the same politicians who want the penny to stay around - Our Congress has a mind-blowing ability to do absolutely nothing at makes any correlation to common sense.
The Bitcoin Bubble’s Bursting
Earlier this month people began noticing that Bitcoin, the digital currency, was exploding in value. This isn’t the first time. As the Wall Street Journal explained back in 2011, Bitcoin at that time was the world’s fastest-gaining currency. They also provided a good explainer about how Bitcoin actually works:
If returns like those seem otherworldly, perhaps its because Bitcoin is a world unto itself. To recap, it’s is a purely online currency with no intrinsic value; its worth is based solely on the willingness of holders and merchants to accept it in trade. In that respect, it’s not so different from fiat currencies like the dollar or Euro, but whereas governments back such money, Bitcoins lack central control.
In another way, the appeal of the Bitcoin echoes the appeal of gold. Istead of a central bank, a computer algorithm dictates their supply. Today there are six million Bitcoins, a number that will grow at a steadily slowing rate until it approaches 21 million, but no more. As with gold, some see such limited supply as built-in protection against inflation that could result from runaway government budget deficits. Gold, of course, has been a store of value for thousands of years and has at least some industrial use, whereas Bitcoins are brand new and exist only on the Internet.
Back when the WSJ wrote this article, a bitcoin was worth $30. Yesterday, it hit $250.
Today, people are cashing in their chips and it’s tumbled (as of early this afternoon) back down to $190.
But let’s get to some good Bitcoin reading. Here are items that have crossed my radar over the last few days:
- MIT Technology Review: Cryptocurrency — The bitcoin, a virtual medium of exchange, could be a real alternative to government-issued money—but only if it survives hoarding by speculators. James Surowiecki dips into the currency’s background and history. See also Joshua Davis’ New Yorker article, The Crypto-Currency, about the mystery behind Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto… if there really is, or was, a Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Slate: Will Bitcoins Make Me Rich? — A dispatch from inside the digital currency bubble. Farhad Manjoo withdraws $1,027.51 to buy himself a couple of coins.
- Felix Salmon, The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency. Written just last week, Salmon notes that although the value of all bitcoins surged past $1 billion for the first time, it is/was a classic bubble, but still had “fascinating implications for anybody who cares about payments, or currencies, or trust.”
- Business Insider: There’s Someone Called ‘The Bitcoin Billionaire’ Who’s Randomly Giving Out Thousands Of Dollars On Reddit.
- Quartz: Why Bitcoin “millionaires” could accidentally become tax felons. Hint: capital gains.
Image: Screenshot, Real Time Bitcoin Market Data, by Clark Moody.
There is beauty still. There is serenity, and calm, and a steadfast, unbroken peace. There is creation. There are shades of blue, and of red other than that of blood and carnage, than that of war or terror.
There is wonder, still; there is light, even in the deepest of space, or around the nearest corner. There is a zenith for every nadir.
There still is love, and friendship.
And above all, there is hope.
There is still good and peace in our World; sometimes it just takes a little perspective.
"The gun vote failed because of the way the Senate is designed. It failed because the Senate wildly overrepresents small, rural states and, on top of that, requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass most pieces of legislation. -Ezra Klein"
The (ExxonMobil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas) appears to be the largest accident involving heavy crude since an Enbridge Energy pipeline spill in 2010 that dumped more than 840,000 gallons near Marshall, Mich., soiling a 39-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River.
Late Tuesday, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ordered Exxon not to restart the pipeline without getting approval, because of its proximity to populated areas and waterways, and because the initial investigation had not yet uncovered the cause of the spill.
The Arkansas spill followed an accident in Utah on March 18 in which a Chevron pipeline leaked more than 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel in a wetlands area about 50 miles from Salt Lake City.
“Chevron Pipe Line Company regrets this incident, and we are committed to remediating the affected area and mitigating all impacts on the environment,” Gareth Johnstone, a Chevron spokesman, said in a statement.
The Chevron spill was the third in three years in Utah, prompting Gov. Gary R. Herbert to sharply criticize the pipeline agency at a recent news conference. “Obviously, they have not done a very good job of overseeing the pipes that travel between our states,” he said.
The safety records of both the Exxon and Chevron pipelines have been under scrutiny in recent years. Last week, the pipeline agency proposed imposing a $1.7 million fine on Exxon Mobil over a 2011 spill that dumped an estimated 63,000 gallons of oil in the Yellowstone River in Montana.
Records show that the pipeline agency has proposed a fine of about $150,000 in the same year over the company’s failure to properly test several pipelines.
In June 2010, a Chevron pipeline spilled more than 33,000 gallons of crude into Red Butte Creek near Salt Lake City. The company took more than 10 hours to respond to the spill, and it was fined $423,600, according to pipeline agency records. Seven months later, a second Chevron spill sent an additional 21,000 gallons of oil into the same area."
The New York Times, “Pipeline Spill Stirs New Criticism of Keystone Plan” (via inothernews)
The environmental, societal, and financial implications / risks of this pipeline by no means outweigh the near single benefit of creating 10,000 jobs. Green energy would create a whole lot more….