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ATO Australian tax treatment for options trades 🇦🇺

I am posting this as I hope it will help other Australian options traders trading in US options with their tax treatment for ATO (Australian Tax Office) purposes. The ATO provides very little guidance on tax treatment for options trading and I had to do a lot of digging to get to this point. I welcome any feedback on this post.

The Deloitte Report from 2011

My initial research led me to this comprehensive Deloitte report from 2011 which is hosted on the ASX website. I've been through this document about 20 times and although it's a great report to understand how different scenarios apply, it's still really hard to find out what's changed since 2011.
I am mainly relating myself to the scenario of being an individual and non-sole trader (no business set up) for my trading. I think this will apply to many others here too. According to that document, there isn't much guidance on what happens when you're an options premium seller and close positions before they expire.
Note that the ATO sometimes uses the term "ETO" (Exchange Traded Option) to discuss what we're talking about here with options trading.
Also note: The ATO discusses the separate Capital Gains Tax ("CGT") events that occur in each scenario in some of their documents. A CGT event will then determine what tax treatment gets applied if you don't know much about capital gains in Australia.

ATO Request for Advice

Since the Deloitte report didn't answer my questions, I eventually ended up contacting the ATO with a request for advice and tried to explain my scenario: I'm an Australian resident for tax purposes, I'm trading with tastyworks in $USD, I'm primarily a premium seller and I don't have it set up with any business/company/trust etc. In effect, I have a rough idea that I'm looking at capital gains tax but I wanted to fully understand how it worked.
Initially the ATO respondent didn't understand what I was talking about when I said that I was selling a position first and buying it to close. According to the laws, there is no example of this given anywhere because it is always assumed in ATO examples that you buy a position and sell it. Why? I have no idea.
I sent a follow up request with even more detail to the ATO. I think (hope) they understood what I meant now after explaining what an options premium seller is!

Currency Gains/Losses

First, I have to consider translating my $USD to Australian dollars. How do we treat that?
FX Translation
If the premium from selling the options contract is received in $USD, do I convert it to $AUD on that day it is received?
ATO response:
Subsection 960-50(6), Item 5 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) states the amount should be translated at the time of the transaction or event for the purposes of the Capital Gains Tax provisions. For the purpose of granting an option to an entity, the time of the event is when you grant the option (subsection 104-20(2) ITAA 1997).
This is a very detailed response which even refers to the level of which section in the law it is coming from. I now know that I need to translate my trades from $USD to $AUD according to the RBA's translation rates for every single trade.
But what about gains or losses on translation?
There is one major rule that overrides FX gains and losses after digging deeper. The ATO has a "$250k balance election". This will probably apply to a lot of people trading in balances below $250k a lot of the FX rules don't apply. It states:
However, the $250,000 balance election broadly enables you to disregard certain foreign currency gains and losses on certain foreign currency denominated bank accounts and credit card accounts (called qualifying forex accounts) with balances below a specified limit.
Therefore, I'm all good disregarding FX gains and losses! I just need to ensure I translate my trades on the day they occurred. It's a bit of extra admin to do unfortunately, but it is what it is.

Credit Trades

This is the scenario where we SELL a position first, collect premium, and close the position by making an opposite BUY order. Selling a naked PUT, for example.
What happens when you open the position? ATO Response:
The option is grantedCGT event D2 happens when a taxpayer grants an option. The time of the event is when the option is granted. The capital gain or loss arising is the difference between the capital proceeds and the expenditure incurred to grant the option.
This seems straight forward. We collect premium and record a capital gain.
What happens when you close the position? ATO Response:
Closing out an optionThe establishment of an ETO contract is referred to as opening a position (ASX Explanatory Booklet 'Understanding Options Trading'). A person who writes (sells) a call or put option may close out their position by taking (buying) an identical call or put option in the same series. This is referred to as the close-out of an option or the closing-out of an opening position.
CGT event C2 happens when a taxpayer's ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends. Paragraph 104-25(1)(a) of the ITAA 1997 provides that ownership of an intangible CGT asset ends by cancellation, surrender, or release or similar means.
CGT event C2 therefore happens to a taxpayer when their position under an ETO is closed out where the close-out results in the cancellation, release or discharge of the ETO.
Under subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997 you make a capital gain from CGT event C2 if the capital proceeds from the ending are more than the assets cost base. You make a capital loss if those capital proceeds are less than the assets reduced cost base.
Both CGT events (being D2 upon granting the option and C2 upon adopting the close out position) must be accounted for if applicable to a situation.
My take on this is that the BUY position that cancels out your SELL position will most often simply realise a capital loss (the entire portion of your BUY position). In effect, it 'cancels out' your original premium sold, but it's not recorded that way, it's recorded as two separate CGT events - your capital gain from CGT event D2 (SELL position), then, your capital loss from CGT event C2 (BUY position) is also recorded. In effect, they net each other out, but you don't record them as a 'netted out' number - you record them separately.
From what I understand, if you were trading as a sole tradecompany then you would record them as a netted out capital gain or loss, because the trades would be classified as trading stock but not in our case here as an individual person trading options. The example I've written below should hopefully make that clearer.
EXAMPLE:
Trade on 1 July 2020: Open position
Trade on 15 July 2020: Close position
We can see from this simple example that even though you made a gain on those trades, you still have to record the transactions separately, as first a gain, then as a loss. Note that it is not just a matter of netting off the value of the net profit collected and converting the profit to $AUD because the exchange rate will be different on the date of the opening trade and on the date of the closing trade we have to record them separately.

What if you don't close the position and the options are exercised? ATO Response:
The option is granted and then the option is exercisedUnder subsection 104-40(5) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) the capital gain or loss from the CGT event D2 is disregarded if the option is exercised. Subsection 134-1(1), item 1, of the ITAA 1997 refers to the consequences for the grantor of the exercise of the option.
Where the option binds the grantor to dispose of a CGT asset section 116-65 of the ITAA 1997 applies to the transaction.
Subsection 116-65(2) of the ITAA 1997 provides that the capital proceeds from the grant or disposal of the shares (CGT asset) include any payment received for granting the option. The disposal of the shares is a CGT event A1 which occurs under subsection 104-10(3) of the ITAA 1997 when the contract for disposal is entered into.
You would still make a capital gain at the happening of the CGT event D2 in the year the event occurs (the time the option is granted). That capital gain is disregarded when the option is exercised. Where the option is exercised in the subsequent tax year, the CGT event D2 gain is disregarded at that point. An amendment may be necessary to remove the gain previously included in taxable income for the year in which the CGT event D2 occurred.
This scenario is pretty unlikely - for me personally I never hold positions to expiration, but it is nice to know what happens with the tax treatment if it ultimately does come to that.

Debit Trades

What about the scenario when you want to BUY some options first, then SELL that position and close it later? Buying a CALL, for example. This case is what the ATO originally thought my request was about before I clarified with them. They stated:
When you buy an ETO, you acquire an asset (the ETO) for the amount paid for it (that is, the premium) plus any additional costs such as brokerage fees and the Australian Clearing House (ACH) fee. These costs together form the cost base of the ETO (section 109-5 of the ITAA 1997). On the close out of the position, you make a capital gain or loss equal to the difference between the cost base of the ETO and the amount received on its expiry or termination (subsection 104-25(3) of the ITAA 1997). The capital gain or loss is calculated on each parcel of options.
So it seems it is far easier to record debit trades for tax purposes. It is easier for the tax office to see that you open a position by buying it, and close it by selling it. And in that case you net off the total after selling it. This is very similar to a trading shares and the CGT treatment is in effect very similar (the main difference is that it is not coming under CGT event A1 because there is no asset to dispose of, like in a shares or property trade).

Other ATO Info (FYI)

The ATO also referred me to the following documents. They relate to some 'decisions' that they made from super funds but the same principles apply to individuals they said.
The ATO’s Interpretative Decision in relation to the tax treatment of premiums payable and receivable for exchange traded options can be found on the links below. Please note that the interpretative decisions below are in relation to self-managed superannuation funds but the same principles would apply in your situation [as an individual taxpayer, not as a super fund].
Premiums Receivable: ATO ID 2009/110

Some tips

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US Venezuela Policy is About Oligarchy, Not Democracy

US Venezuela Policy is About Oligarchy, Not Democracy

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the LARGEST in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels.
While ignoring (and even supporting) the atrocities of authoritarian regimes in places like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, US oligarchs have targeted Venezuela for “regime-change” in the name of “democracy”.
Currently, the US is engaging in economic warfare against Venezuela to foment a coup and remove its democratically elected president Nicolás Maduro.
Without providing solid evidence, our corporate-controlled government and mainstream media portray Maduro as a corrupt, repressive, and illegitimate leader with little to no support.

Ask yourself:

Do I ever see officials from the Venezuelan government appear in corporate news shows to tell THEIR side of the story?
What people DO get to comment on Venezuela and what are their credentials and agenda? Are these people essentially public relations agents for the US-orchestrated coup?
Does corporate news provide me with historical background of US imperialism in Venezuela to put these current events in context?

What Corporate-Controlled Media will NOT Tell You

The CIA was involved in the failed coup against Venezuela's popular leader Hugo Chavez in 2002.
Venezuela is not a strictly socialist country; it has a “mixed” economy - not unlike Norway or other Scandinavian countries.
Venezuela is a DEMOCRACY - unlike US-allies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
In 2012, Jimmy Carter went on record saying:
“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”
The opposition to Maduro knew they were going to lose the last election and so boycotted it in attempt to delegitimize the results.
The US actually tried to dissuade Maduro’s opponents from running!
Maduro invited international observers into the country in 2018 to monitor the last election but the opposition asked the UN not to send observers!
More than 80% of the Venezuelan population had not even HEARD of Juan Guaidó before Trump and the US state proclaimed him the “rightful” president.
Maduro’s approval ratings within his country are on par with opposition-controlled National Assembly. According to an October poll by opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, Venezuela's National Assembly, of which Juan Guaidó is president, has a disapproval rating of 70%.
Venezuela WANTS to sell its oil to the US – the US is their largest market and refines a majority of their oil.
US companies Chevron Corp, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International all have operations in Venezuela, and are allowed to continue to engage in transactions and activities with PDVSA and its joint ventures through July 27.
“No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.” Organization of American States Charter

Why is the US Corporatocracy so Keen to Remove Maduro?

While Venezuela’s economy is not a strictly-state-run economy, its oil industry is nationalized and uses its revenues for the benefit of its citizens (especially the poor).
After years of crippling US sanctions Maduro stepped over a crucial line in October when his government announced that Venezuela was abandoning the US dollar and would be make all future transactions on the Venezuelan exchange market in euro.
Saddam Hussein also went off the dollar in favor of the euro in 2003 – we started dropping bombs on him the next month.
A similar decision by the Gadhafi government in Libya (2011) was quickly followed by a devastating US-orchestrated conflict - culminating in Gadhafi's capture by radical Islamists who sodomized him with a bayonet before killing him. Since then, Libya has gone from Africa's wealthiest country to a truly failed-state complete with a slave trade! To make matters worse, after the collapse of the Libyan government, its military arms were smuggled out of that country and into the hands of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria - enabling US-orchestrated chaos in those countries.

Who cares what currency a country uses to trade petroleum?

Answer: US oligarchy

The US dollar is central to US world economic domination.
Like all other modern currencies, it is a fiat currency – backed by no real assets to prop up its value.
In lieu of a “gold standard” we know operate on a de-facto “oil-standard”:
"After the collapse of the Bretton Woods gold standard in the early 1970s, the United States struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to standardize oil prices in dollar terms. Through this deal, the petrodollar system was born, along with a paradigm shift away from pegged exchanged rates and gold-backed currencies to non-backed, floating rate regimes.
The petrodollar system elevated the U.S. dollar to the world's reserve currency and, through this status, the United States enjoys persistent trade deficits and is a global economic hegemony." Investopedia
“The central banking Ponzi scheme requires an ever-increasing base of demand and the immediate silencing of those who would threaten its existence. Perhaps that is what the hurry [was] in removing Gaddafi in particular and those who might have been sympathetic to his monetary idea.” Anthony Wile

US Foreign Policy is about Oligarchy Not Democracy

Since World War II, the US has attempted to over-throw the 52 foreign governments. Aside from a handful of exceptions (China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc.), the US has been successful in the vast majority of these attempts.
US foreign policy is not about democracy – it is about exploiting the world’s resources in the interests of a small, ultra-wealthy global elite.
This exploitation benefits a small percentage of people at the top of the economic pyramid while the costs are born by those at the bottom.

US CIA Coup Playbook:

How to Plunder Resources from Foreign Countries While Pretending to Support Democracy
  1. Find a country with resources you want.
  2. Send in an “Economic Hitman” to offer bribes the country’s leader in the form of personally lucrative business deals. If he accepts the deal, the leader will amass a personal fortune in exchange for "privatizing” the resources you wish to extract.
If the leader will not accept your bribes, begin the regime-change process.
3) Engage in economic warfare by imposing crippling sanctions on the country and blame the ensuing shortages on the leader’s “socialist” policies.
4) Work with right-wing allies inside country to fund and organize an “astroturf” opposition group behind a corporate-friendly puppet.
5) Hire thugs inside country to incite unrest and violence against the government in coordination with your opposition group. Use corporate media to publicize the orchestrated outbursts as popular outrage and paint a picture of a “failed state” mired in corruption and chaos.
6) When the government arrests your thugs, decry the response as the brutal repression. Use corporate-owned media to demonize the target government as a despotic regime while praising your puppet opposition as champions of democracy.
7) Work with right-wing military leaders to organize the overthrow the government (offer them the same business deals the current leader refused).
8) If a military-led coup cannot be organized, create a mercenary army to carry out acts of terrorism against the government and its supporters. Portray the mercenaries as “freedom fighters” and their acts of terrorism as a “civil war”.
9) If the target government has popular and military support and is too well-defended for your mercenaries to over-throw: label the country a “rouge state” and wait for the right time to invade. Meanwhile, continue to wear the country’s government and populace down using steps 3 – 8.
10) Escalate the terror campaign within the country to provoke a military response from the country against the US. If they won’t take the bait , fabricate an attack or threat that you can sell to the US population as justification for an invasion.
11) Once the government is removed, set up your puppet regime to provide the illusion of sovereignty. The regime will facilitate and legitimize your appropriation of the country’s resources under the guise of "free" trade.
12) As you continue to extract the country’s resources, provide intelligence and military support to the puppet regime to suppress popular dissent within the country.
13) Use the demise of the former government as yet another example of the impracticality of “socialism.”
What Can I Do?
Call your senators and representatives to voice your opposition to US regime-change efforts in Venezuela.
https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/
Please share this message with others.
Sources included at: https://link.medium.com/8DiA5xzx4T

‘Venezuela’: Media’s One-Word Rebuttal to the Threat of Socialism

ALAN MACLEOD FEBRUARY 8, 2019
A recent Gallup poll (8/13/18) found that a majority of millennials view socialism favorably, preferring it to capitalism. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States, while new leftist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) policies of higher taxes on the wealthy, free healthcare and public college tuition are highly popular—even among Republican voters (FAIR.org,1/23/19).
Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” (Fox News, 2/2/19) run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated.
Leading the charge have been Fox News and other conservative outlets. One Fox opinion piece (1/25/19) claimed that Americans should be “absolutely disgusted” by the “fraud” of Bernie Sanders and Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, as they “continue to promote a system that is causing mass starvation and the collapse of a country,” warning that is exactly what their failed socialist policies would bring to the US. (Back in the real world, while Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez identify as socialists, Warren is a self-described capitalist, and Booker is noted for his ties to Wall Street, whose support for his presidential bid he has reportedly been soliciting.) A second Fox Newsarticle (1/27/19) continues in the same vein, warning that, “At the heart of Venezuela’s collapse is a laundry list of socialist policies that have decimated its economy.”
The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) describes calls for negotiations in Venezuela as “siding with the dictator.”
In an article entitled “Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and the Starving Children of Venezuela,” the Washington Examiner (6/15/17) warned its readers to “beware the socialist utopia,” describing it as a dystopia where children go hungry thanks to socialism. The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) recently condemned Sanders for his support of a “dictator,” despite the fact Bernie has strongly criticized Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and dismissed Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, as a “dead Communist dictator” (Reuters, 6/1/16).
More supposedly centrist publications have continued this line of attack. The New York Times’ Bret Stephens (1/25/19) argued: “Venezuela is a socialist catastrophe. In the age of AOC, the lesson must be learned again”—namely, that “socialism never works,” as “20 years of socialism” has led to “the ruin of a nation.” The Miami Herald(2/1/19) cast shame on Sanders and AOC for arguing for socialism in the face of such overwhelming evidence against it, describing the left’s refusal to back self-appointed president Juan Guaidó, someone whom less than 20 percent of Venezuelans had even heard of, let alone voted for, as “morally repugnant.”
This useful weapon to be used against the left can only be sustained by withholding a great number of key facts—chief among them, the US role in Venezuela’s devastation. US sanctions, according to the Venezuelan opposition’s economics czar, are responsible for a halving of the country’s oil output (FAIR.org, 12/17/18). The UN Human Rights Council has formally condemned the US and discussed reparations to be paid, with one UN special rapporteur describing Trump’s sanctions as a possible “crime against humanity” (London Independent, 1/26/19). This has not been reported by any the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or any other national US “resistance” news outlet, which have been only too quick to support Trump’s regime change plans (FAIR.org, 1/25/19).
Likewise, the local US-backed opposition’s role in the economic crisis is barely mentioned. The opposition, which controls much of the country’s food supply, has officially accepted responsibility for conducting an “economic war” by withholding food and other key goods.
For example, the monolithic Empresas Polar controls the majority of the flour production and distribution crucial for making arepa cornbread, Venezuela’s staple food. Polar’s chair is Leopoldo Lopez, national coordinator of Juan Guaidó’s Popular Will party, while its president is Lorenzo Mendoza, who considered running for president against Maduro in the 2018 elections that caused pandemonium in the media (FAIR.org, 5/23/18).
Conspicuously, it’s the products that Polar has a near-monopoly in that are often in shortest supply. This is hardly a secret, but never mentioned in the copious stories (CNN, 5/14/14, Bloomberg, 3/16/17, Washington Post, 5/22/17, NPR, 4/7/17) focusing on bread lines in the country.
Also rarely commented on was the fact that multiple international election observer missions declared the 2018 elections free and fair, and that Venezuelan government spending as a proportion of GDP (often considered a barometer of socialism) is actually lower than the US’s, and far lower than most of Europe’s, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The London Daily Express (2/3/19) demonstrates that redbaiting works equally well on either side of the Atlantic.
Regardless of these bothersome facts, the media has continued to present Venezuela’s supposedly socialist dictatorship as solely responsible for its crisis as a warning to any progressives who get the wrong idea. So useful is this tool that it is being used to attack progressive movements around the world. The Daily Express (2/3/19) and Daily Mail (2/3/19) condemned UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for his “defense” of a “dictator,” while the Daily Telegraph(2/3/19) warned that the catastrophe of Venezuela is Labour’s blueprint for Britain. Meanwhile, the Greek leftist party Syriza’s support for Maduro (the official position of three-quarters of UN member states) was condemned as “shameful” (London Independent, 1/29/19).
“Venezuela” is also used as a one-word response to shut down debate and counter any progressive idea or thought. While the panel on ABC’s The View (7/23/18) discussed progressive legislation like Medicare for All and immigration reform, conservative regular Meghan McCain responding by invoking Venezuela: “They’re starving to death” she explained, leaving the other panelists bemused.
President Trump has also used it. In response to criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren over his “Pocahontas” jibe, he replied that she would “make our country into Venezuela” (Reuters, 10/15/18).
The weapon’s effectiveness can only be sustained through a media in lockstep with the government’s regime-change goals. That the media is fixated on the travails of a relatively small and unimportant country in America’s “backyard,” and that the picture of Venezuela is so shallow, is not a mistake. Rather, the simplistic narrative of a socialist dictatorship starving its own people provides great utility as a weapon for the establishment to beat back the domestic “threat” of socialism, by associating movements and figures such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jeremy Corbyn with an evil caricature they have carefully crafted.

Corporate Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President: MSM Will Not Let Facts Interfere With Coup Agenda

Facts Don’t Interfere With Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President Joe Emersberger
Guaidó, anointed by Trump and a new Iraq-style Coalition of the Willing, did not even run in Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election. In fact, shortly before the election, Guaidó was not even mentioned by the opposition-aligned pollster Datanálisis when it published approval ratings of various prominent opposition leaders. Henri Falcón, who actually did run in the election (defying US threats against him) was claimed by the pollster to basically be in a statistical tie for most popular among them. It is remarkable to see the Western media dismiss this election as “fraudulent,” without even attempting to show that it was “stolen“ from Falcón. Perhaps that’s because it so clearly wasn’t stolen.
Graph: Approval Ratings of Main Venezuelan Leaders Nov 2016 - July 2018 Data from the opposition-aligned pollsters in Venezuela (via Torino Capital) indicates that Henri Falcón was the most popular of the major opposition figures at the time of the May 2018 presidential election. Nicolás Maduro won the election due to widespread opposition boycotting and votes drawn by another opposition candidate, Javier Bertucci.
The constitutional argument that Trump and his accomplices have used to “recognize” Guaidó rests on the preposterous claim that Maduro has “abandoned” the presidency by soundly beating Falcón in the election. Caracas-based journalist Lucas Koerner took apart that argument in more detail.
What about the McClatchy-owned Miami Herald's claim that Maduro “continues to reject international aid”? In November 2018, following a public appeal by Maduro, the UN did authorize emergency aid for Venezuela. It was even reported by Reuters (11/26/18), whose headlines have often broadcast the news agency’s contempt for Maduro’s government.
It’s not unusual for Western media to ignore facts they have themselves reported when a major “propaganda blitz” by Washington is underway against a government. For example, it was generally reported accurately in 1998 that UN weapons inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq ahead of air strikes ordered by Bill Clinton, not expelled by Iraq’s government. But by 2002, it became a staple of pro-war propaganda that Iraq had expelled weapons inspectors (Extra! Update, 10/02).
And, incidentally, when a Venezuelan NGO requested aid from the UN-linked Global Fund in 2017, it was turned down. Setting aside how effective foreign aid is at all (the example of Haiti hardly makes a great case for it), it is supposed to be distributed based on relative need, not based on how badly the US government wants somebody overthrown.
But the potential for “aid” to alleviate Venezuela’s crisis is negligible compared to the destructive impact of US economic sanctions. Near the end of the Miami Herald article, author Jim Wyss cited an estimate from the thoroughly demonized Venezuelan government that US sanctions have cost it $30 billion, with no time period specified for that estimate. Again, this calls to mind the run-up to the Iraq invasion, when completely factual statements that Iraq had no WMDs were attributed to the discredited Iraqi government. Quoting Iraqi denials supposedly balanced the lies spread in the media by US officials like John Bolton, who now leads the charge to overthrow Maduro. Wyss could have cited economists independent of the Maduro government on the impact of US sanctions—like US economist Mark Weisbrot, or the emphatically anti-Maduro Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez.
Illegal US sanctions were first imposed in 2015 under a fraudulent “state of emergency” declared by Obama, and subsequently extended by Trump. The revenue lost to Venezuela’s government due to US economic sanctions since August 2017, when the impact became very easy to quantify, is by now well over $6 billion. That’s enormous in an economy that was only able to import about $11 billion of goods in 2018, and needs about $2 billion per year in medicines. Trump’s “recognition” of Guaidó as “interim president” was the pretext for making the already devastating sanctions much worse. Last month, Francisco Rodríguez revised his projection for the change in Venezuela’s real GDP in 2019, from an 11 percent contraction to 26 percent, after the intensified sanctions were announced.
The $20 million in US “aid” that Wyss is outraged Maduro won’t let in is a rounding error compared to the billions already lost from Trump’s sanctions.
Former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield, who pressed for more sanctions on Venezuela, dispensed with the standard “humanitarian” cover that US officials have offered for them (Intercept, 2/10/19):
And if we can do something that will bring that end quicker, we probably should do it, but we should do it understanding that it’s going to have an impact on millions and millions of people who are already having great difficulty finding enough to eat, getting themselves cured when they get sick, or finding clothes to put on their children before they go off to school. We don’t get to do this and pretend as though it has no impact there. We have to make the hard decision—the desired outcome justifies this fairly severe punishment.
How does this gruesome candor get missed by reporters like Wyss, and go unreported in his article?
Speaking of “severe punishment,” if the names John Bolton and Elliott Abrams don’t immediately call to mind the punishment they should be receiving for crimes against humanity, it illustrates how well the Western propaganda system functions. Bolton, a prime facilitator of the Iraq War, recently suggested that Maduro could be sent to a US-run torture camp in Cuba. Abrams played a key role in keeping US support flowing to mass murderers and torturers in Central America during the 1980s. Also significant that Abrams, brought in by Trump to help oust Maduro, used “humanitarian aid” as cover to supply weapons to the US-backed Contra terrorists in Nicaragua.
In the Miami Herald article, the use of US “aid” for military purposes is presented as another allegation made by the vilified Venezuelan president: “Maduro has repeatedly said the aid is cover for a military invasion and has ordered his armed forces not to let it in, even as food and medicine shortages sweep the country.”
Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Secretly Shipping Arms After Weapons Found on Plane with Possible CIA Ties | Democracy Now!
Calling for international aid and being democratically elected will do as little to protect Maduro’s government from US aggression as being disarmed of WMD did to prevent Iraq from being invaded—unless there is much more pushback from the US public against a lethal propaganda system.

When Is a Democracy not a Democracy? When It’s Venezuela and the US is Pushing Regime Change. Venezuela has as much right to call itself a democracy as does the United States. Until that is understood by enough people, the Trump administration will continue to devastate Venezuela’s economy with illegal sanctions and push it towards civil war.
Suggested Reading:
UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Cause Death in Venezuela
Guaido is playing it fast and loose with the Bolivarian Constitution to justify a dictatorship
Trump’s Economic Sanctions Have Cost Venezuela About $6bn Since August 2017
How could Venezuela's president 'steal' the 2018 election from an unknown who didn't run?
In other news...
The Largest Protest Ever Was 15 Years Ago. The Iraq War Isn’t Over. What Happened?
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US Venezuela Policy is About Oligarchy, Not Democracy

US Venezuela Policy is About Oligarchy, Not Democracy

The proven oil reserves in Venezuela are recognized as the LARGEST in the world, totaling 297 billion barrels.
While ignoring (and even supporting) the atrocities of authoritarian regimes in places like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, US oligarchs have targeted Venezuela for “regime-change” in the name of “democracy”.
Currently, the US is engaging in economic warfare against Venezuela to foment a coup and remove its democratically elected president Nicolás Maduro.
Without providing solid evidence, our corporate-controlled government and mainstream media portray Maduro as a corrupt, repressive, and illegitimate leader with little to no support.

Ask yourself:

Do I ever see officials from the Venezuelan government appear in corporate news shows to tell THEIR side of the story?
What people DO get to comment on Venezuela and what are their credentials and agenda? Are these people essentially public relations agents for the US-orchestrated coup?
Does corporate news provide me with historical background of US imperialism in Venezuela to put these current events in context?

What Corporate-Controlled Media will NOT Tell You

The CIA was involved in the failed coup against Venezuela's popular leader Hugo Chavez in 2002.
Venezuela is not a strictly socialist country; it has a “mixed” economy - not unlike Norway or other Scandinavian countries.
Venezuela is a DEMOCRACY - unlike US-allies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
In 2012, Jimmy Carter went on record saying:
“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”
The opposition to Maduro knew they were going to lose the last election and so boycotted it in attempt to delegitimize the results.
The US actually tried to dissuade Maduro’s opponents from running!
Maduro invited international observers into the country in 2018 to monitor the last election but the opposition asked the UN not to send observers!
More than 80% of the Venezuelan population had not even HEARD of Juan Guaidó before Trump and the US state proclaimed him the “rightful” president.
Maduro’s approval ratings within his country are on par with opposition-controlled National Assembly. According to an October poll by opposition-aligned pollster Datanalisis, Venezuela's National Assembly, of which Juan Guaidó is president, has a disapproval rating of 70%.
Venezuela WANTS to sell its oil to the US – the US is their largest market and refines a majority of their oil.
US companies Chevron Corp, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Weatherford International all have operations in Venezuela, and are allowed to continue to engage in transactions and activities with PDVSA and its joint ventures through July 27.
“No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.” Organization of American States Charter

Why is the US Corporatocracy so Keen to Remove Maduro?

While Venezuela’s economy is not a strictly-state-run economy, its oil industry is nationalized and uses its revenues for the benefit of its citizens (especially the poor).
After years of crippling US sanctions Maduro stepped over a crucial line in October when his government announced that Venezuela was abandoning the US dollar and would be make all future transactions on the Venezuelan exchange market in euro.
Saddam Hussein also went off the dollar in favor of the euro in 2003 – we started dropping bombs on him the next month.
A similar decision by the Gadhafi government in Libya (2011) was quickly followed by a devastating US-orchestrated conflict - culminating in Gadhafi's capture by radical Islamists who sodomized him with a bayonet before killing him. Since then, Libya has gone from Africa's wealthiest country to a truly failed-state complete with a slave trade! To make matters worse, after the collapse of the Libyan government, its military arms were smuggled out of that country and into the hands of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria - enabling US-orchestrated chaos in those countries.

Who cares what currency a country uses to trade petroleum?

Answer: US oligarchy

The US dollar is central to US world economic domination.
Like all other modern currencies, it is a fiat currency – backed by no real assets to prop up its value.
In lieu of a “gold standard” we know operate on a de-facto “oil-standard”:
"After the collapse of the Bretton Woods gold standard in the early 1970s, the United States struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to standardize oil prices in dollar terms. Through this deal, the petrodollar system was born, along with a paradigm shift away from pegged exchanged rates and gold-backed currencies to non-backed, floating rate regimes.
The petrodollar system elevated the U.S. dollar to the world's reserve currency and, through this status, the United States enjoys persistent trade deficits and is a global economic hegemony." Investopedia
“The central banking Ponzi scheme requires an ever-increasing base of demand and the immediate silencing of those who would threaten its existence. Perhaps that is what the hurry [was] in removing Gaddafi in particular and those who might have been sympathetic to his monetary idea.” Anthony Wile

US Foreign Policy is about Oligarchy Not Democracy

Since World War II, the US has attempted to over-throw the 52 foreign governments. Aside from a handful of exceptions (China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc.), the US has been successful in the vast majority of these attempts.
US foreign policy is not about democracy – it is about exploiting the world’s resources in the interests of a small, ultra-wealthy global elite.
This exploitation benefits a small percentage of people at the top of the economic pyramid while the costs are born by those at the bottom.

US CIA Coup Playbook:

How to Plunder Resources from Foreign Countries While Pretending to Support Democracy
  1. Find a country with resources you want.
  2. Send in an “Economic Hitman” to offer bribes the country’s leader in the form of personally lucrative business deals. If he accepts the deal, the leader will amass a personal fortune in exchange for "privatizing” the resources you wish to extract.
If the leader will not accept your bribes, begin the regime-change process.
3) Engage in economic warfare by imposing crippling sanctions on the country and blame the ensuing shortages on the leader’s “socialist” policies.
4) Work with right-wing allies inside country to fund and organize an “astroturf” opposition group behind a corporate-friendly puppet.
5) Hire thugs inside country to incite unrest and violence against the government in coordination with your opposition group. Use corporate media to publicize the orchestrated outbursts as popular outrage and paint a picture of a “failed state” mired in corruption and chaos.
6) When the government arrests your thugs, decry the response as the brutal repression. Use corporate-owned media to demonize the target government as a despotic regime while praising your puppet opposition as champions of democracy.
7) Work with right-wing military leaders to organize the overthrow the government (offer them the same business deals the current leader refused).
8) If a military-led coup cannot be organized, create a mercenary army to carry out acts of terrorism against the government and its supporters. Portray the mercenaries as “freedom fighters” and their acts of terrorism as a “civil war”.
9) If the target government has popular and military support and is too well-defended for your mercenaries to over-throw: label the country a “rouge state” and wait for the right time to invade. Meanwhile, continue to wear the country’s government and populace down using steps 3 – 8.
10) Escalate the terror campaign within the country to provoke a military response from the country against the US. If they won’t take the bait , fabricate an attack or threat that you can sell to the US population as justification for an invasion.
11) Once the government is removed, set up your puppet regime to provide the illusion of sovereignty. The regime will facilitate and legitimize your appropriation of the country’s resources under the guise of "free" trade.
12) As you continue to extract the country’s resources, provide intelligence and military support to the puppet regime to suppress popular dissent within the country.
13) Use the demise of the former government as yet another example of the impracticality of “socialism.”
What Can I Do?
Call your senators and representatives to voice your opposition to US regime-change efforts in Venezuela.
https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/
Please share this message with others.
Sources included at: https://link.medium.com/8DiA5xzx4T

‘Venezuela’: Media’s One-Word Rebuttal to the Threat of Socialism

ALAN MACLEOD FEBRUARY 8, 2019
A recent Gallup poll (8/13/18) found that a majority of millennials view socialism favorably, preferring it to capitalism. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States, while new leftist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) policies of higher taxes on the wealthy, free healthcare and public college tuition are highly popular—even among Republican voters (FAIR.org,1/23/19).
Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” (Fox News, 2/2/19) run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated.
Leading the charge have been Fox News and other conservative outlets. One Fox opinion piece (1/25/19) claimed that Americans should be “absolutely disgusted” by the “fraud” of Bernie Sanders and Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, as they “continue to promote a system that is causing mass starvation and the collapse of a country,” warning that is exactly what their failed socialist policies would bring to the US. (Back in the real world, while Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez identify as socialists, Warren is a self-described capitalist, and Booker is noted for his ties to Wall Street, whose support for his presidential bid he has reportedly been soliciting.) A second Fox Newsarticle (1/27/19) continues in the same vein, warning that, “At the heart of Venezuela’s collapse is a laundry list of socialist policies that have decimated its economy.”
The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) describes calls for negotiations in Venezuela as “siding with the dictator.”
In an article entitled “Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and the Starving Children of Venezuela,” the Washington Examiner (6/15/17) warned its readers to “beware the socialist utopia,” describing it as a dystopia where children go hungry thanks to socialism. The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) recently condemned Sanders for his support of a “dictator,” despite the fact Bernie has strongly criticized Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and dismissed Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, as a “dead Communist dictator” (Reuters, 6/1/16).
More supposedly centrist publications have continued this line of attack. The New York Times’ Bret Stephens (1/25/19) argued: “Venezuela is a socialist catastrophe. In the age of AOC, the lesson must be learned again”—namely, that “socialism never works,” as “20 years of socialism” has led to “the ruin of a nation.” The Miami Herald(2/1/19) cast shame on Sanders and AOC for arguing for socialism in the face of such overwhelming evidence against it, describing the left’s refusal to back self-appointed president Juan Guaidó, someone whom less than 20 percent of Venezuelans had even heard of, let alone voted for, as “morally repugnant.”
This useful weapon to be used against the left can only be sustained by withholding a great number of key facts—chief among them, the US role in Venezuela’s devastation. US sanctions, according to the Venezuelan opposition’s economics czar, are responsible for a halving of the country’s oil output (FAIR.org, 12/17/18). The UN Human Rights Council has formally condemned the US and discussed reparations to be paid, with one UN special rapporteur describing Trump’s sanctions as a possible “crime against humanity” (London Independent, 1/26/19). This has not been reported by any the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or any other national US “resistance” news outlet, which have been only too quick to support Trump’s regime change plans (FAIR.org, 1/25/19).
Likewise, the local US-backed opposition’s role in the economic crisis is barely mentioned. The opposition, which controls much of the country’s food supply, has officially accepted responsibility for conducting an “economic war” by withholding food and other key goods.
For example, the monolithic Empresas Polar controls the majority of the flour production and distribution crucial for making arepa cornbread, Venezuela’s staple food. Polar’s chair is Leopoldo Lopez, national coordinator of Juan Guaidó’s Popular Will party, while its president is Lorenzo Mendoza, who considered running for president against Maduro in the 2018 elections that caused pandemonium in the media (FAIR.org, 5/23/18).
Conspicuously, it’s the products that Polar has a near-monopoly in that are often in shortest supply. This is hardly a secret, but never mentioned in the copious stories (CNN, 5/14/14, Bloomberg, 3/16/17, Washington Post, 5/22/17, NPR, 4/7/17) focusing on bread lines in the country.
Also rarely commented on was the fact that multiple international election observer missions declared the 2018 elections free and fair, and that Venezuelan government spending as a proportion of GDP (often considered a barometer of socialism) is actually lower than the US’s, and far lower than most of Europe’s, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The London Daily Express (2/3/19) demonstrates that redbaiting works equally well on either side of the Atlantic.
Regardless of these bothersome facts, the media has continued to present Venezuela’s supposedly socialist dictatorship as solely responsible for its crisis as a warning to any progressives who get the wrong idea. So useful is this tool that it is being used to attack progressive movements around the world. The Daily Express (2/3/19) and Daily Mail (2/3/19) condemned UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for his “defense” of a “dictator,” while the Daily Telegraph(2/3/19) warned that the catastrophe of Venezuela is Labour’s blueprint for Britain. Meanwhile, the Greek leftist party Syriza’s support for Maduro (the official position of three-quarters of UN member states) was condemned as “shameful” (London Independent, 1/29/19).
“Venezuela” is also used as a one-word response to shut down debate and counter any progressive idea or thought. While the panel on ABC’s The View (7/23/18) discussed progressive legislation like Medicare for All and immigration reform, conservative regular Meghan McCain responding by invoking Venezuela: “They’re starving to death” she explained, leaving the other panelists bemused.
President Trump has also used it. In response to criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren over his “Pocahontas” jibe, he replied that she would “make our country into Venezuela” (Reuters, 10/15/18).
The weapon’s effectiveness can only be sustained through a media in lockstep with the government’s regime-change goals. That the media is fixated on the travails of a relatively small and unimportant country in America’s “backyard,” and that the picture of Venezuela is so shallow, is not a mistake. Rather, the simplistic narrative of a socialist dictatorship starving its own people provides great utility as a weapon for the establishment to beat back the domestic “threat” of socialism, by associating movements and figures such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jeremy Corbyn with an evil caricature they have carefully crafted.

Corporate Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President: MSM Will Not Let Facts Interfere With Coup Agenda

Facts Don’t Interfere With Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President Joe Emersberger
Guaidó, anointed by Trump and a new Iraq-style Coalition of the Willing, did not even run in Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election. In fact, shortly before the election, Guaidó was not even mentioned by the opposition-aligned pollster Datanálisis when it published approval ratings of various prominent opposition leaders. Henri Falcón, who actually did run in the election (defying US threats against him) was claimed by the pollster to basically be in a statistical tie for most popular among them. It is remarkable to see the Western media dismiss this election as “fraudulent,” without even attempting to show that it was “stolen“ from Falcón. Perhaps that’s because it so clearly wasn’t stolen.
Graph: Approval Ratings of Main Venezuelan Leaders Nov 2016 - July 2018 Data from the opposition-aligned pollsters in Venezuela (via Torino Capital) indicates that Henri Falcón was the most popular of the major opposition figures at the time of the May 2018 presidential election. Nicolás Maduro won the election due to widespread opposition boycotting and votes drawn by another opposition candidate, Javier Bertucci.
The constitutional argument that Trump and his accomplices have used to “recognize” Guaidó rests on the preposterous claim that Maduro has “abandoned” the presidency by soundly beating Falcón in the election. Caracas-based journalist Lucas Koerner took apart that argument in more detail.
What about the McClatchy-owned Miami Herald's claim that Maduro “continues to reject international aid”? In November 2018, following a public appeal by Maduro, the UN did authorize emergency aid for Venezuela. It was even reported by Reuters (11/26/18), whose headlines have often broadcast the news agency’s contempt for Maduro’s government.
It’s not unusual for Western media to ignore facts they have themselves reported when a major “propaganda blitz” by Washington is underway against a government. For example, it was generally reported accurately in 1998 that UN weapons inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq ahead of air strikes ordered by Bill Clinton, not expelled by Iraq’s government. But by 2002, it became a staple of pro-war propaganda that Iraq had expelled weapons inspectors (Extra! Update, 10/02).
And, incidentally, when a Venezuelan NGO requested aid from the UN-linked Global Fund in 2017, it was turned down. Setting aside how effective foreign aid is at all (the example of Haiti hardly makes a great case for it), it is supposed to be distributed based on relative need, not based on how badly the US government wants somebody overthrown.
But the potential for “aid” to alleviate Venezuela’s crisis is negligible compared to the destructive impact of US economic sanctions. Near the end of the Miami Herald article, author Jim Wyss cited an estimate from the thoroughly demonized Venezuelan government that US sanctions have cost it $30 billion, with no time period specified for that estimate. Again, this calls to mind the run-up to the Iraq invasion, when completely factual statements that Iraq had no WMDs were attributed to the discredited Iraqi government. Quoting Iraqi denials supposedly balanced the lies spread in the media by US officials like John Bolton, who now leads the charge to overthrow Maduro. Wyss could have cited economists independent of the Maduro government on the impact of US sanctions—like US economist Mark Weisbrot, or the emphatically anti-Maduro Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez.
Illegal US sanctions were first imposed in 2015 under a fraudulent “state of emergency” declared by Obama, and subsequently extended by Trump. The revenue lost to Venezuela’s government due to US economic sanctions since August 2017, when the impact became very easy to quantify, is by now well over $6 billion. That’s enormous in an economy that was only able to import about $11 billion of goods in 2018, and needs about $2 billion per year in medicines. Trump’s “recognition” of Guaidó as “interim president” was the pretext for making the already devastating sanctions much worse. Last month, Francisco Rodríguez revised his projection for the change in Venezuela’s real GDP in 2019, from an 11 percent contraction to 26 percent, after the intensified sanctions were announced.
The $20 million in US “aid” that Wyss is outraged Maduro won’t let in is a rounding error compared to the billions already lost from Trump’s sanctions.
Former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield, who pressed for more sanctions on Venezuela, dispensed with the standard “humanitarian” cover that US officials have offered for them (Intercept, 2/10/19):
And if we can do something that will bring that end quicker, we probably should do it, but we should do it understanding that it’s going to have an impact on millions and millions of people who are already having great difficulty finding enough to eat, getting themselves cured when they get sick, or finding clothes to put on their children before they go off to school. We don’t get to do this and pretend as though it has no impact there. We have to make the hard decision—the desired outcome justifies this fairly severe punishment.
How does this gruesome candor get missed by reporters like Wyss, and go unreported in his article?
Speaking of “severe punishment,” if the names John Bolton and Elliott Abrams don’t immediately call to mind the punishment they should be receiving for crimes against humanity, it illustrates how well the Western propaganda system functions. Bolton, a prime facilitator of the Iraq War, recently suggested that Maduro could be sent to a US-run torture camp in Cuba. Abrams played a key role in keeping US support flowing to mass murderers and torturers in Central America during the 1980s. Also significant that Abrams, brought in by Trump to help oust Maduro, used “humanitarian aid” as cover to supply weapons to the US-backed Contra terrorists in Nicaragua.
In the Miami Herald article, the use of US “aid” for military purposes is presented as another allegation made by the vilified Venezuelan president: “Maduro has repeatedly said the aid is cover for a military invasion and has ordered his armed forces not to let it in, even as food and medicine shortages sweep the country.”
Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Secretly Shipping Arms After Weapons Found on Plane with Possible CIA Ties | Democracy Now!
Calling for international aid and being democratically elected will do as little to protect Maduro’s government from US aggression as being disarmed of WMD did to prevent Iraq from being invaded—unless there is much more pushback from the US public against a lethal propaganda system.
Suggested Reading:
When Is a Democracy not a Democracy? When It’s Venezuela and the US is Pushing Regime Change. Venezuela has as much right to call itself a democracy as does the United States. Until that is understood by enough people, the Trump administration will continue to devastate Venezuela’s economy with illegal sanctions and push it towards civil war.
UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Cause Death in Venezuela
Guaido is playing it fast and loose with the Bolivarian Constitution to justify a dictatorship
Trump’s Economic Sanctions Have Cost Venezuela About $6bn Since August 2017
How could Venezuela's president 'steal' the 2018 election from an unknown who didn't run?
In other news...
The Largest Protest Ever Was 15 Years Ago. The Iraq War Isn’t Over. What Happened?
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[Table] IAmA: We Are the Hosts of the Let's Talk Bitcoin! Show! We just spent 4 days at Bitcoin2013, Ask Us Anything!

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Date: 2013-05-24
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Link to my post
Questions Answers
Hi all! I was wondering, what do you think it would take to get bitcoin from a niche currency used mainly by internet denizens to go mainstraim? I know the slow creep of more small companies accepting bitcoin helps, but what do you think that final cusp will be, and will it ever come to that? Thanks for taking the time to do this! There are several potential tipping points, but my favorite one is a large corporation accepting Bitcoin.
Amazon has an incredibly small operating margin, less than 1% - They have more than that in transaction costs, so if they were to accept Bitcoins for product and offer Bitcoins as payment to their affiliates it would cause a rush of other companies to jump onboard for the same reasons.
Once that happens with one large company, it sets a precedent. Doing something new is scary, and when the regulatory environment is uncertain like it is with Bitcoin the choice to accept could potentially cost you a lot of money later if it's retroactively made not OK and the value of the currency plummets.
But once a company like Amazon or Google jumps in, they have enough political swing and momentum that attacking Bitcoin becomes attacking them, and they'll fight that tooth and nail if it's saving them money.
Another example of a tipping point would be a country, ANY country, adopting it as their formal currency OR issuing a new currency with Bitcoins as the transparent backing of it. With bitcoin you can have a functional gold standard, because the gold doesn't need to be hidden from sight.
It is the hiding that makes gold standards dangerous - The people who issue currency with the gold as backing have no reason to issue the correct amount when only they know how much is out there, and how much gold they have.
I guess the Supreme Court has decided this does not apply to taxes, which is crap. Or are you talking about other countries? Thank you :) I actually mean something along the lines of "It is illegal to trade dollars for any cryptocurrency that does not have a real name and social security associated with it"
Will bitcoins ever be able to be traded like other recognized currencies in similar ways to Forex? More specifically, will there ever be retail brokers offering margin trading accounts that allow you to buy and sell bitcoin with leverage? There are already really small niche sites you can trade Bitcoin at leverage with, but it's just a bad idea. With a "normal" commodity market, like say chickens, if you think chickens are undervalued and want to profit from them you can buy forward production of say, a million chickens. Then when the option comes due, if you're on the profitable side of the trade you can essentially sell it for cash and the chickens never need to be delivered. In that way, it almost doesn't matter if the chickens ever existed to begin with because you never intended to take posession. With Bitcoin, it's different - Converting a bitcoin options contract into US dollars, yen, whatever actually is more expensive and time consuming than just "accepting delivery" of the bitcoins themselves. You can still sell them for whatever currency you want, but it is at the time of your choosing rather than at the point of settlement. What that means is that if you sell an option and the Bitcoins don't really exist, you could be screwed. You either default or buy them at market price which can be very painful given how volatile the pricing is right now. It is a bad idea to play with leverage in Bitcoin because if you lose, you potentially lose very big. Additionally, it's bad to buy an option because you introduce the possibility of the counterparty (supply) not being able to deliver, whereas if you just bought Bitcoins you have the Bitcoins.
Do you believe bitcoin is important locally as well as on the internet? If so, how are you promoting bitcoin in your local communities? Cryptocurrencies (of which Bitcoin is the most prominent) are the first real competition to the types of money we've used all our lives. With Dollars, Yen, Whatever - Ultimately there are a handful of people who get to decide how and why the currency should be managed.
If they did a good job, it might be fine - But the reality is the decision made affecting all users of the currency are to the benefit of a very few , at the cost of the many.
Bitcoin is different - The rules that govern it, are the rules that govern it. Nobody can break them, and if they're ever broken it's because more than 51% of the distributed power in the system (anyone can buy a mining rig and join this group). For me, that's incredibly important. Rules should apply evenly to everyone because otherwise they're not rules at all.
Local communities can benefit because it removes payment processors from merchant relationships, removes chargeback risk, and basically acts like Cash on the internet.
What are some of the more exciting things you (each of you?) envision for Bitcoin in the short to medium term? Discounts :) We've been talking about the deflationary business model, and during this period where the value is going to go up pretty fast (over the next several years) as adoption ramps up, businesses are going to be giving major discounts to those who choose to spend them.
From the merchants perspective, this is actually a huge win - They get to have lower prices than their US Dollar (or local currency) competitors, and the value of the Bitcoins they receive goes up over time instead of going down with printed currencies. Once this becomes pervasive in the Bitcoin economy, it will mean that even at those discounted prices they are STILL profitable because their suppliers are also offering them discounts to pay in Bitcoin.
Right now we're at the beginning of this cycle, you can see BitcoinStore.com is attempting it (Disclosure - They have sponsored us in the past, we run a 30s advertisement for them per show) but it's hard to be the first one doing it because it looks like you're sacrificing yourself when really it's just the model that makes the most sense.
Not to be the doom and gloom person but in the future what do you think will/would be the "last nail in the coffin" for Bitcoin? It depends what you mean by "last nail in the coffin"
How did you meet/find Andreas and Stephanie and how did you persuade them to be part of your show? I put out a call for staff several months ago, Andreas found me through that and joined the team initially as a correspondent providing expertise and commentary while Mt.Gox was having a lot of problems. Once we re-started the show as a twice-weekly, he graciously offered to join the hosting staff and gladly took him up on it.
I found Stephanie through her show Porc therapy, and a listener named Justus - He mentioned she did voicework, and I hired her to do some of our early introductions and advertising spots. When we went through the re-organization I offered her an occasional hosting role, and never bothered finding other hosts because I was so happy with our dynamic and varied viewpoints.
Both of the other hosts on the show are real professionals, and it's been my distinct pleasure to work with them.
Thanks for responding! Andreas is my fave (though I enjoy yours and Stephanie's comments too). Everybody has their favorite :) I think the fact that we all have people disagreeing with us at times means we're doing the job, and providing multiple and varied perspectives.
What recording tools are you using? We started off using Skype, Virtual Audio Cables (VAC) and Adobe Audition (creative suite)
Now we use Mumble instead of Skype, but the rest is the same.
I edit the host segments for content (sometimes we go on and on and on) and I edit the interviews for presentation, rarely removing any content. Many times the skillset that enables you to have a really smart idea is not the same skillset that lets you present that idea, perfectly, the first time. Our interview subjects tell me all the time "I love how smart I sound" and I get to say "You are smart, I just removed the brain processing noises"
Assuming bitcoin reaches critical mass, how does bitcoin cope with the criticism of rewarding early adopters? Do you see a potential uproar about inequity? Is there outrage against people who bought Apple stock at $30? Bitcoin is a currency that right now, and for the next few years, acting like an IPO. People who got in early got in cheap, but there was a whole lot of risk because people weren't using it much, there wern't vendors accepting it, so the use case is much more speculative.
We're very much still in the early adoption phase right now - Less than %.01 of internet users are Bitcoin users, as that number grows while the number of coins being added to the total pool grows at a much slower rate, the price per coin has to go up. If Bitcoin fails and everybody abandons it, this works the opposite way - but it actually solves a number of problems (microtransactions, fees, international money transfers, automated payment systems) so I'm not super concerned about that.
One of my favorite quotes, by Douglas Adams.
>It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent >blindingly obvious. The cry 'I could have thought of that' is a very >popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't, and a very >significant and revealing fact it is too.
What do you make of the download trend of the bitcoin client software in China? Isn't this a big story? China has lots of restrictive controls on their local currency, so Bitcoin has a real use case there. This is one of many scenarios where given even 1% adoption, the price must go very much above where it is now.
You commented on a recent episode about how Satochi Dice was going to block US traffic to the site due to uncertain regulations. Can't bitcoin work around that? If you send bitcoin to the addresses of the various bets - it still works right? Thanks for your show - I await each new podcast. Yes, if you already have the specific betting addresses it doesn't matter where you are in the world. It is only the website that does not allow US IPs, they did this to be very clear they were trying to respect the US gambling laws.
I spoke with Erik Voorhees about this among other things at the conference, you can find that interview here Link to letstalkbitcoin.com
I'd like to thank all three of you for doing this podcast, it's always thought provoking and fun to listen to. Plus, Stephanie does have a very sexy voice... But I do have a question, Right now, I don't know the answer to that question.
How do miners determine which transactions will be confirmed first and which get put to the back of the line? Shouldn't they be confirmed in a 'first come, first serve' basis? But the development team has made it clear they're moving towards a market-based mechanism where Miners set the minimum transaction fee they will accept, and process on a first-come/highest-fee model. People who want their transaction to process fast will put a higher fee and it will be prioritized, while people who don't care about delivery time will be able to send no fee and be subsidized by those paying higher fees.
*edit: As well, do you still plan on using some time on the show to go into more detail about mining? I think it was mentioned a few weeks ago that the topic might be explored in further detail. There will be fewer miners who accept free or very low fee transactions, so there you go.
How would Bitcoin change our financial system as we know it? In the same way the automobile changed the horse-and-buggy system as they knew it. If you play out the logic, one functionally obsoletes the other. I was talking with a financial reporter the other day who has been coming around to bitcoin, and he said to me "You know, if they were building the banking system from scratch today I think this is pretty close to what it would look like"
Andreas answered a question below about bitcoin and self driving cars, fixing spam on the internet by using Bitcoin addresses with tiny amounts of BTC in them to prove you're a real person and not a single-use bot, there are so many crazy and impossible things that become actually probable when you're talking in the context of a world built on decentralized, rules-based, cryptographically secured, instantly transmittable, person to person internet cash.
I have never been so hopeful for our future as I am now that I've thrown my days into bitcoin. Bitcoin 2013 was a fine conference and a wonderful experiance, so many very smart people have quit their jobs or left their studies to do the same thing I have.
We know we're building the future, and it's a better one than we have today.
Have any of you heard about how in Africa much of the exchange in value is done with mobile phone minutes? It seems to me - whatever the US attempts to do with Bitcoin - there will be other places that it will bubble up in. What about Argentina and other places where they actually understand what damage a desperate government can do to a currency? I would agree with you. Until recently it's been impossible to use Bitcoins on a "dumb cell phone" - That changed recently with Link to phoneacoin.com and others.
Bitcoin solves problems that the world has had for decades, it takes the power to destroy the currency away from government so they cannot do it no matter how much they want to, or how desperately they think they need to.
No government wants to destroy a currency, they just don't want to acknowledge they've trapped themselves with debt and have no way out.
Who invented Bitcoin? What is to stop whoever did so initially issuing themselves the equivalent of $79 zillion in Bitcoin currency prior to it taking off? Is there commission charged on each transaction that occurs? If so, how much, and who receives this? The true creator is not known, he went by a false name "Satoshi".
He actually holds about 250,000 coins if I recall correctly because he was the first miner. Bitcoin is a protocol, a set of rules. It's open source, and anyone who wants to look at it can see that there is not a mechanism to just create more coins by typing in a magic word. There are no commissions, although there are fees that go to the miners who process and verify transactions.
Great podcast, can't wait for the next one! It depends on the mesh. If the mesh was never connected to the internet, it would be a parralel Bitcoin network able to transact with itself but if it was ever connected to the larger network any conflicting transactions would be "lost" as the two ledgers (the big one, and the disconnected one) try to reckon their differences. Only one winner, so that means there is a loser.
You discussed mesh networks in 3rd world countries and how bitcoin could be used in such a scenario. If the [mesh] network is disconnected from the internet, how would transactions on the blockchain be verified? Couldn't the time the mesh network was disconnected make it vulnerable to hacking the [mesh network's] blockchain? More interesting might be disconnected communities running their own fork or version of Bitcoin, that way if they're ever connected it can be an exchange process (trading their coins for "bitcoins" rather than a reckoning (Seeing who has a bigger network and canceling out transactions on the smaller one that conflict)
1) The price for one Bitcoin seems to fluctuate quite a bit. The most successful currencies remain relatively stable over time (e.g. the Dollar). Will Bitcoin ever need to reach a certain level of stability to be a successful unit of trade? and if so, what do you think needs to happen before then? 1 - Yes! Once everyone who has purchased Bitcoin has purchased them, the price will stabilize. In practice this will start happening long before absolute stability, and as soon as people start thinking about prices in terms of BTC instead of their local currency it almost doesn't matter.
2) If Bitcoin ever becomes a widely accepted form of payment (seems a lot of businesses already accept it), how do you think the US government will proceed/react/regulate/etc. considering that technically only the feds can issue currency? 2 - "The Feds" are not the only ones who can issue currency - They have legal tender laws which mean people MUST accept their money, but nothing prevents you from circulating a voluntary currency like Bitcoin.
Do you foresee companies like paypal incorporating bitcoin into their businesses in the future as a more credible exchange than these ones that are currently running? No. Paypal again is the proverbial horse-drawn-buggy manufacturer- Sure they might go to the worlds faire and while observing the new fangled automobiles say to themselves 'we might integrate this into our existing machines!' when the fact is that it obsoletes those existing machines.
Paypal makes their money by standing in the middle of transactions collecting fees, Bitcoin serves its function by connecting people who want to do commerce directly to one-another, and what fees are paid are a tiny fraction of what Paypal does. If paypal accepted Bitcoin, it would not be Bitcoin any more because they would have mechanisms to freeze accounts at the very least to mitigate risk. That is not possible with Bitcoin by itself.
Thanks for the well thought out response, I genuinely appreciated that you took the time for this! I do have a follow up question, how does one get bit coin in an easy way? Lets say I have 300$ that I want in bit coin.. whats the best way to approach this? Probably a company like bitinstant.com, bitstamp.com, or btcquick.com - For larger amounts they don't make too much sense but at that level its your best bet.
Not to be rude, but how do you expect for a currency without a standard like gold silver etc. to not crash down in a blaze of glory? What standard is your currency backed by?
Hi There. I was at the San Jose convention hall last weekend attending Big Wow Comicfest and that's where I saw Bitcoin2013! Mostly Bitcoin 2013 was an opportunity for people building the future of Bitcoin to meet each other and network. There were speakers talking about a wide variety of issues, and vendors of Bitcoin services who were showing their latest innovations and systems.
What information was presented at this event that couldn't be done justice disseminated over the internet? The information will eventually be online, but the probably 200 people I got to meet in real life will not (in real life)
What resources do you think I should review as a total newbie to bitcoin? Or if possible, what's the one sentence pitch to get a newb involved? For people brand new, www.weusecoins.com is a good place to start For people who want to learn how it works, www.letstalkbitcoin.com/learn will direct you to the Bitcoin Education Project, which is a series of free and very high quality lectures that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know and more about Bitcoin, How it works, and all the little sub-topics that you'll eventually want to learn about.
The pitch is "It's like cash that lives on the internet, and is as easy to spend on the internet as buying a candybar in a store with a dollar"
Would any of you hazard a guess at the bitcoin exchange rate at the end of 2013? Sure, i'll make a wild guess.
$1000.
If and when a large user comes onboard, I think thats the next price at which we'll bounce around for a while, just like 100 became the sticky point after the last major bout of adoption.
How do bitcoins relate to the law? For example, what would be the crime if somone hacked your account and stole your bitcoins? It's not exactly theft of money, or is it? Bitcoins are your property, it's illegal for someone to steal your property whether it is money or not. Right now there is little that can be done about theft, but eventually I expect a class of "Blockchain Forensic Investigators" to emerge who will track down your stolen coins for a % based fee.
On your last show you mentioned the diversity of the Bitcoiners who attended BitCoin2013 - which nation was most represented in your opinion? Were there any Chinese nationals present (we've heard that they've suddenly gotten the bitcoin bug in the last month)? Did the other nations talk about regulatory problems or is that just a US concern? I met the gentleman from BTC-China, but other than that I actually didn't see any obvious chinese nationals. We saw lots of eastern europeans and south americans.
Other nations are not talking about the regulatory issue as far as I can tell, it seems like everyone is waiting to see what the US does, which is not abnormal in a very new situation like this.
Isn't having an inherently deflationary currency a terrible idea? How is bitcoin different from geeky goldbuggery? Because you can't divide a gold coin into .0001 without incurring cost and expense. That's not the case with Bitcoin, so the deflationary aspect of it is largely moot.
There is a tendency to listen to modern "economics" which makes this arguement, saying that the money supply must expand because otherwise it drives down profitability in a race to the bottom.
I think in practice we'll find that people don't work against their own best interest, and while during the initial adoptions stages of Bitcoin there will be significant discounts offered to those who pay with Bitcoin vs. legacy currency, once the market becomes saturated and the price levels out those discounts will be scaled way back.
Right now it makes sense to heavily discount, because the expectation is that the value of the Bitcoins will go up during this period of adoption, that won't always be true and the discount is a reflection of anticipated future returns.
Was it bad when people saved money in banks that paid 10% interest? No, that's called capital formation. There is a thought that given a deflationary currency nobody will spend any money, that's nonsense. Just because your currency gains value over time doesn't mean that you no longer have costs that must be paid for. What Deflationary currencies do is say "Ok, you could spend it on that, but is it worth it relative to what you'll gain by not?"
That's a good thing. Our system right now works on the opposite theory - Spend money NOW because if you're dumb enough to keep it in the bank it will actually lose value over time between the couple points of "official" inflation and less than 1% artifical interest rates. The situation is like this now because the fed is trying to make people spend as much money as possible with the hope that the flows will "restart the economic engine"
Too bad this isn't how things work, not that it'll stop us from trying it over and over again.
In the 2008 financial crash, govts bailed out the banks because there was no other way to maintain the whole financial ecosystems of payrolls, invoices and trade, all of which go through the banking system. Honestly? No. Bitcoin would be great in this role, but governments around the world rely on their ability to expand the money supply (print money, or sell debt) in order to fund their deficits. They also manipulate interest rates to be low so that debt is very inexpensive.
Can you envisage another financial crash in the future where govt says, "We don't need to do a bailout, as we've got this alternative payment system" and then instructs businesses and employees to just get themselves a bitcoin address and work through the Bitcoin system? Bitcoin doesn't have a central control mechanism, so there is no group or person who can say "OK - the interest rate is 1%" - If that's really what the interest rate wants to be based on market forces, it'll be that - But if not, there isn't much anyone can do to stop it.
What type of notes and agenda does the team coordinate on before a show? We use Basecamp, and it really depends. Right now we have a show prep thread that has 30+ posts in it for episode 11, we'll probably use 5 of those.
The agenda is really basic - As we get near recording time topics are selected (generally by me, but I like to get the other hosts to do it since they provide most of the commentary in Host segments) and I form a schedule, then we run through the recording session hitting each topic.
Over the last weeks we've brought two researchers onto the team, so that has helped a TON.
I first learned about Bitcoins on an episode of The Good Wife. The one with Jason Biggs as the creator of BitCoin. Have you watched that episode and how accurate does that episode portray what's happening with Bitcoin in terms of legal stuff? Not having seen it but knowing TV, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say "not very well" Satoshi has not been identified, was a throw-away identity that was cryptographically secured, so probably never will.
Are there any conferences in Chicago anytime soon? I think a Q&A in public would be helpful for your show as well as bitcoin. I'll be speaking at an event in NYC on July 30, there will be one or two meetups while I'm there. There is also an event in October in Atlanta. I remember talking with a guy at Bitcoin2013 wearing a shirt that said "BitcoinChicago" so I'd suggest looking for a user-group.
We're planning on doing Q&As often, but none of us are really near Chicago so it's tough. Happy to do virtual Q&As over skype, live or recorded.
Oh dear. You're not all perfectly grammatical orators on the first try? I'm crushed! I really value my own time, and I know other people out there do too. I try to make the show as information dense as possible, thats the criteria we've been operating under from really day one.
We're actually talking about cutting the show in half and releasing it more often (still recording the same amount) because people can get tired of listening to such dense content for an hour or more.
US Treasury recently issued a directive stating they would be monitoring any entity attempting to exchange virtual currency for USD (or any other currency, goods, or services), indicating that federal authorities take a dim view of what amounts to private coinage. Do you anticipate a Supreme Court case here defining what is and is not private coinage? 2.And given bitcoin's noted extra-legal uses, do you have any indication it is being decrypted by NSA? 3.Taking it a step further, do you think it could be a national security-sponsored international sieve for money laundering? It may eventually go to Supreme Court.
I think the market has done fine for bitcoin so far. I think the market will continue to take care of bitcoin. The idea of giving in willingly to regulation makes me cringe. There are two camps. Some people think that regulation is inevitable, and since it's going to happen anyways it's better to participate in the process and try to make it less bad. The other side thinks that by participating, you accept their authority to regulate it when really they have no right to regulate money and have proven to do a very bad job at it now for quite a number of years.
Thanks so much for doing this, I love the Bitcoin system, but hate the volatility. How do you recommend dealing with that? I've heard to convert it quickly to the currency of choice after any exchange has been made to avoid any more changes to the price. The easy solution is just buy and hold - If you need to buy something, do it when you need to and not before. Do not pre-order anything.
What is your prediction of the price for 1 btc in USD, exactly one year from now? Just for fun, since I know it is impossible to even guess the day to day price swings. As a wild guess number I'd say $1000 or less than a dollar. Very little middleground because if it's regulated out of existence it will still exist, but be hard to find and cheap - If adoption continues to path the price should accelerate with wild spikes up and down.
My partner is buying into bitcoin as well as litecoin. Any advice for him? (I personally don't understand it) Don't panic, invest for the long term, and don't buy any more than you can afford to lose 100% of because there are still things that could dramatically reduce the price of bitcoin (mostly regulatory stuff, I answered this elsewhere in the thread)
Hello, I just wrote a long post about the functions of using BTC to facilitate a 'free bank' using the principals of free money, similar to the WIR bank. Link to en.wikipedia.org Do you think that something like this would be possible using Bitcoin? Probably. Not really my area of expertise.
Why did bits take a dive at the same time gold took a tank? I don't pay attention to price, sorry.
We take full credit for any rise and blame others for any decline. Feel free to tip us from your gains! Lol.
Just wanted to say I love your show. I encourage you to please continue making high-quality podcast episodes. Thank you. I'm really excited to be able to be a journalist in such an exciting field in a time when journalism is under attack. Not sure if you've been following the so-called "AP scandal" but now is a weird time to be trying to report the truth in this world, and we couldn't have picked a more controversial topic to the global macro picture.
Bitcoins are the stupidest investment anyone could ever make. Pass. Link to static.quickmeme.com
Unfortunately, quickmeme doesn't let you copy image urls directly. Link to i.qkme.me
Yes, but they started being worth a set value. bitcoin was never backed by anything so its value was kind of made up. how do you expect to make a non goverment currency anybody with a computer can print to retain value? Because the pie is only so large, the more people who have computers devoted to the work just each get a smaller and smaller piece.
The rate of issuance for Bitcoin is currently 25 bitcoins every 10 minutes. Only one person or pool gets the whole 25 bitcoins, it's a race to find them. If there are 10 people looking, chances are pretty good you'll find some. If there are 100,000,000 people looking, chances are much less good that you'll find them first, but if there are that many people looking those 25 coins are probably worth a whole lot more.
The system is self balancing in this way, unlike the government currency system where they create 65 billion USD worth of new value every month to buy mortgage backed securities for face value to try and prop up the market. With more than a trillion USD being added in this way each year, how can a government currency retain its value?
Because the governments "pie" does infact have limits to making it, and only dropped gold standard after over 150 years of the doller having a defined worth, unlike bitcoin, where a random hacker can just print endless money. I'd direct you to security researcher Dan Kaminsky. Link to www.businessinsider.com
You'll find it's a little harder than you're describing. Like, impossible.
Last updated: 2013-05-29 11:06 UTC
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