In Praise of Cash

“My main defence of cash will be simple and intuitive. As unsexy and analogue as cash is, it is resilient. It is easy to use. It requires little fancy infrastructure. It is not subject to arbitrary algorithmic glitches from incompetent programmers. And, yes, it leaves no data trail that will be used to project the aspirations and neuroses of faceless technocrats and business analysts into my daily existence. It comes with criminals, but hey, it’s good old friendly normal capitalism rather than predictive Minority Report surveillance-capitalism. And ask yourself this: do you really want to live in the latter society without the ability to buy drugs? Believe me, you’ll need something to dull the existential pain.”

—Scott, Brent. “In Praise of Cash.” Aeon. March 1, 2017.

The Lonely Middle Aged Man

“Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation…Beginning in the 1980s, Schwartz says, study after study started showing that those who were more socially isolated were much more likely to die during a given period than their socially connected neighbors, even after you corrected for age, gender, and lifestyle choices like exercising and eating right. Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the progression of Alzheimer’s. One study found that it can be as much of a long-term risk factor as smoking.”

—Baker, Billy. “The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.Boston Globe. March 9, 2017.

The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative

Take boots, for example. [Vimes] earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was … on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

—Pratchett, Terry. “Men at Arms”, quoted in Fleischmann, Amir. “The Myth of the Fiscal ConservativeJacobin Magazine. March 5, 2017.

The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative talks about the strange notion that sometimes you have to spend money to save money. One example from the Bush II era is that for every dollar the U.S. federal government spent on Medicare, Part D (the prescription medicine program), Medicare saved two dollars of spending.