Editorials: The Americans are coming! and A crypto-bubble is bursting

Soldiers of the US Southern Command ready to load building supplies onto a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in the 2019 Darien Lift operation. US Embassy photo.

Warriors on a peace mission this time

Starting in a few days US forces will move into Panama with Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters. They will be bringing and setting up prefabricated classrooms to replace some of the bohio-style “rancho schools” in remote indigenous areas. Improved conditions for some teachers and students, practice for US military engineering units. There is a long tradition of such missions here.

Let’s hope that the men and women on the mission will get some tropical sunshine at the tail end of our rainy season. Let’s also hope that they’ll get a bit of time off to experience some of the nice things about Panama. Perhaps their mission will pique their interest in coming back on their own time for a vacation.


They’re telling you that what you really ought to do is invest your money in something you really don’t understand? Uh huh. No matter WHOSE endorsement they get – or give. Uh huh. Photo by Marcho Verch Professional Photographer, CC, original here.

Will we see some crypto perp walks?

Blockchain technology that avoids the banking systems can be legitimately useful. Shipping companies whose crews need to be paid in various places around the world and can’t easily wait for banks to play games making interest on the float are an example. Such banks don’t like it, unless they are into the cryptocurrency business themselves.

It’s a medium of exchange, not a set of magic coins. It’s only as valuable as what, and who, is behind it. A billionaire businessman of modest origins who made his way up through bartending, banking, software and sports and entertainment franchises, Mark Cuban, looks at the FTX scandal and kindred collapses that may well sink the whole cryto market as nothing all that special:

These blowups have not been crypto blowups, they have been banking blow-ups. Lending to the wrong entity, misvaluations of collateral, arrogant arbs, followed by depositor runs. See Long Term Capital, Savings & Loan and Sub-Prime blowups. All different versions of the same story.

But crypto not subject to banking regulations, or securities regulations? An open invitation to hoodlums.

How did FTX seek to protect itself from US regulations? They invested heavily into politics, on both sides of the partisan aisle, a bit more to Democrats but an awful lot fo Republicans too.

It was all run from this weird little cult scene in the Bahamas. Kind of like a capitalist mirror image of an old WeatherCollective, wherein inward-looking groupthink led people to forget about more universal values.

The Republican Party is dominated by a lifelong con man, the scion of his grandfather’s pimping fortune, an amoral narcissist. They are off the deep end in scandals. They have been getting beaten up in electoral politics about this, so now some of them are making a partisan issue of FTX.

It’s a bipartisan scandal, mostly of omission by both Democrats and Republicans who took money without checking to see from whom. It’s a national scandal prompted by a Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that equates campaign contributions with free speech and treats corporations and other non-human entities as persons with constitutional rights that are actual people have. It thus encourages the purchase of US elections on a grand scale, and forces members of Congress to spend an inordinate amount of their time raising money.

There are two ready solutions on the governmental level. Crypto currencies need to be regulated like other financial sectors. More difficult, there needs to be a constitutional amendment allowing for the statutory regulation of campaign spending notwithstanding the creative and ahistorical dogmas of the Federalist Society.

Will some people go to prison over FTX? Probably. Will some politicians who are not criminals be embarrassed by it? No doubt. Time to learn lessons and fix problems.


Rod Serling. Shutterstock photo from the Pixabay archives.

The ultimate obscenity is not caring, not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing back and drawing in, becoming narcissistic.

Rod Serling

Bear in mind…


Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.

Zadie Smith


Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind.

Nikola Tesla


I worked as long in a fish and chip shop as I did in Parliament. I’ve had particular experiences in politics, but they’re not my only ones, and they’re not the ones that defined me.

Jacinda Ardern


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