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The Heartland Has Been Devastated: Peter Thiel Speaks Up

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In a speech at the National Press Club on October 31, billionaire businessman and tech pioneer Peter Thiel defended his controversial decision, which has caused intense debate and earned Thiel the wrath of Silicon Valley liberal elites, to back Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

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“Everybody knows we’ve been living through a crazy election year,” so begins Thiel’s speech. “Real events seem like the rehearsals for Saturday Night Live. Only an outbreak of insanity would seem to account for the unprecedented fact that this year a political outsider managed to win a major party nomination.”

Thiel’s speech was streamed live and a full recording on YouTube had half a million views so far. In his introduction, Thomas Burr, Washington correspondent for The Salt Lake Tribune and 109th president of the National Press, recalled Thiel’s impressive track record as PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor, among many other success stories. Burr also mentioned the recent storm caused by Thiel’s political choices – after speaking in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention, Thiel is donating $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign.

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Thiel agrees that Trump’s words about women in a recently leaked 2005 video were “clearly offensive and inappropriate,” but is persuaded that Trump’s voters have more important concerns to worry about. “[We]’ve lost tens of thousands of factories and millions of jobs to foreign trade,” he said.

The heartland has been devastated.

“[Money] flows into financial assets; it distorts our economy in favor of more banking and more financialization; and it gives the well-connected people who benefit a reason to defend the status quo,” continued Thiel. “But not everyone benefits, and Trump voters know it. Trump voters are also tired of war.”

Clinton’s proposed course of action would do worse than involve us in a messy civil war; it would risk a direct nuclear conflict.

According to Thiel, there are loud voices that do not intend to tolerate the views of one half of the country.

“This intolerance has taken on some bizarre forms,” notes Thiel. “The Advocate, a magazine which once praised me as a ‘gay innovator,’ even published an article saying that as of now I am, and I quote, ‘not a gay man,’ because I don’t agree with their politics.”

The lie behind the buzzword of ‘diversity’ could not be made more clear: If you don’t conform, then you don’t count as ‘diverse,’ no matter what your personal background.

The Advocate article Thiel is referring to is here, and it does seem intolerant indeed, to say the least. The Advocate replied with a disclaimer, saying that commentary pieces “represent only the views of the writer, not the entire publication.”

Thiel’s point about diversity has been recently emphasized by Mark Zuckerberg, one of the few Silicon Valley tech titans who have spoken up in support of Thiel. “We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate,” said Zuckerberg. “There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault.”

Similarly, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos doesn’t consider Thiel’s personal political views as a valid reason to boycott Thiel. “It’s way too divisive to say if you have an opinion, you can’t sit on my board,” said Bezos. “That makes no sense.”

We Have Fallen Very Far From the Apollo Standard

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel

Thiel is known for his Libertarian views, but he recognizes that the government has a job to do, and doesn’t claim that the government never works. On the contrary, he recalled past government success stories.

“[The] government wasn’t always this broken,” Thiel said. “The Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, and the Apollo Program – whatever you think of these ventures, you cannot doubt the competence of the government that got them done. But we have fallen very far from that standard.”

These words echo Thiel’s famous remark: “We were promised flying cars and we got 140 characters.” It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley, which these days does too much 140 characters and not enough flying cars (with some exceptions though) doesn’t like Thiel.

“It is better to risk boldness than triviality,” says Thiel in his “Zero to One” book on startups and how to build the future. In the book’s conclusion, Thiel proposes to accelerate “takeoff toward a much better future,” perhaps toward “new technologies so powerful as to transcend the current limits of our understanding.” In his speech in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention, Thiel criticized the triviality that seems to dominate today’s politics. “When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union,” he said. “And we won.”

Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?

Images and video from National Press Club and Wikimedia Commons.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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Venezuela’s President Claims “Petro” Cryptocurrency Raised $735 Million in One Day

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Venezuela’s controversial leader Nicolas Maduro has claimed that his administration’s Petro cryptocurrency raised $735 million on day one of its pre-sale, a figure that many in the digital currency market are still struggling to verify.

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Venezuela’s State-Backed Cryptocurrency Is Here

In a Twitter post that appeared Tuesday, Maduro said the token raised more than 4.777 billion Chinese yuan, which is equivalent to $735 million. The leader said the new state-backed cryptocurrency “reaffirms our economic sovereignty.”At the time of writing, the tweet received more than 2,500 likes and over 4,100 comments.

Veneuzela’s state-backed digital currency is pegged to the petro, which is itself derived from the price of one barrel of local oil. Caracas says it hopes to draw investment from oil-rich Middle Eastern countries, Turkey and Western nations, such as the United States.

The launch of Petro has made Venezuela the first government to launch a state-run cryptocurrency. Other nations that have expressed interest in running a similar campaign include Russia, Estonia and Kazakhstan.

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The price of one unit of Petro starts at $60. To date, about 824 million tokens have been made available.

Skeptics have not only questioned Maduro’s claim, but the very motivation behind issuing a cryptocurrency in the first place. Several analysts have opined that Petro is merely an opportunity for President Maduro’s administration to cover its debts.

That’s the conclusion the U.S. Treasury Department drew earlier this week. In an exclusive statement to Reuters, the Treasury said: “Available information indicates that, once issued, the Petro digital currency would appear to be an extension of credit to the Venezuelan government.”

Others have argued that Petro isn’t really a cryptocurrency per se, but a way to tokenize oil. This is akin to putting a new wrapper around the black commodity.

The president also said that, following the sale of Petro, his country will issue a gold-backed cryptocurrency as early as next week.

Collapsing Economy

When oil prices bottomed in 2016, few nations were hit harder than Venezuela, an energy-dependent socialist state that failed to diversify its economy. Years later, the country is battling massive debt, hyperinflation and a contracting economy. These conditions have contributed to the country’s worsening humanitarian crisis, including massive food and medical shortages.

Last week, Brazil declared a “social emergency” after 70,000 Venezuelan migrants crossed its borders. Venezuelans have also been crossing the Colombian border to escape the crisis at home.

Venezuela represents yet another case of a centralized economy that failed to fulfill its promises of equality, leaving its population worse off than before. Rather than disavow central planning, President Maduro has put the blame (at least partly) on foreign meddling.

Maduro’s administration has taken drastic measures to save money and make up shortages in areas such as food, water and electricity. This includes changing daylight savings time, cutting working hours of public sector employees and urging residents to scale back on their use of electricity.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 165 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Why Government Regulation Will Fail

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The crypto markets have been buzzing lately with as much price volatility as ever.  The attention, as usual, often appears to be on how many dollars have been lost or what ginormous percentage loss has taken place.  There is all this talk about broken support levels and the urgent need of a price reversal.  

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Not to dismiss the importance of keeping everyone informed on the latest action, what about the underlying cause of investors running for the sidelines.  On the technical side one thing is certain.  The still pathetically slow transaction speeds of both bitcoin and ether magnify price spikes and corrections.  

That is what happens in illiquid markets.  Over time this will change but in the short run it is something that is part of daily life.  This alone is what makes it so difficult to apply classical Dow Theory based technical analysis to crypto.

Let’s Dig Into The Causes

When we look at cryptocurrencies in general, starting with bitcoin, one of the big questions is the future role of government will play.  It is not so much a big question as hundreds of little questions.

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The most relevant question in the past few months is the role of government in controlling cryptocurrency exchanges.  Back in September it was the Chinese closing local exchanges. Now it is the South Korean proposal to enact legislation that could have a similar effect.

From December peak levels, bitcoin has fallen more the 40%. At its low ether was down as much as 38%.  Neither price movement can be attributed to technicalities like profit taking.  It was the perception the governments in two of the big crypto trading countries hold some sort of absolute power.  In reality, this is a false perception and here are some of examples of their powerlessness.  

BTCC Shows Crypto Power

BTCC is China and the world’s first Bitcoin exchange going back to its founding in 2011. At one point last year China was the biggest source of demand for Bitcoin by some measures accounting for 40% of the global action.  Then China slammed down the hammer by closing local exchanges threatening BTCC very existence.

Survival – Revival

The story of BTCC is like a slap in the face to the Chinese government and a good example of their lack of power.  Just the other day, BTCC announced they had been acquired by a Singapore investment fund.  Very few terms were announced so there is more to be revealed but some things are obvious.

I am guessing that if a sophisticated Singapore investor is putting real money into BTCC they see a bright future. BTCC has since relocated to Hong Kong and re-registered in the UK.

BTCC already has the tools to become a global exchange.  For example its Mobi Bitcoin wallet supports over 15 languages and more than 100 cryptocurrencies.  Now with enhanced financial support, they are able outflank the powerful Chinese government.

The Korean Contradiction

Investors reading the news this month from South Korea learned about a legislative proposal to restrict exchanges domiciled in the country.  Judging from the negative price action, it would have been easy to suspect the government was banning ownership of cryptocurrencies.  That was never the case.  

In reality, South Korean exchanges were setting prices that any reasonable observer would consider egregious.  Regulating South Korean exchanges could help level the playing field for small investors and open up the crypto market to new investors. But, judging from the price action this month, you would have to expect government restrictions on ownership. That is not going to happen and here is why.

Korean Pension Funds Invested in Crypto Exchanges

Local news in Seoul are talking about the giant South Korean National Pension Fund holding investments in as many as four local cryptocurrency exchanges.  At just a few million dollars, it amounts to less than 1% of total SKNPF assets.  

Nevertheless, this amounts to a political embarrassment to any effort that would potentially diminish the value of the four exchanges in the SKNPF portfolio.  The South Korean Pension Fund is no slouch ranking as one of the largest in the world.  So their decisions could also serve as an example elsewhere in the world.

Lots of Sound And Fury, Signifying Nothing

Emerging markets like cryptocurrencies are inherently volatile and subject to a heavy dose of emotion.  The past two months have been good examples of how investors can read the headlines and react.  It is important to keep the true cost of trading on trading on headlines can be.  Under the new tax law long term investment is rewarded.  Short term profits can no longer be deferred by a swap into similar assets.  Five years from now will anyone remember the fears from Chinese or South Korea?

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 24 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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House Pushes Forward With Trump Tax Plan Amid Dissent

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The U.S. House of Representatives is pushing hard to move President Trump’s tax proposal through the legislative process, even as growing dissent rattles confidence in the landmark bill.

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Congressional Analysis

An analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation concluded Tuesday that tax cuts for lower- and middle-income Americans would fade over the next decade at a faster rate than those for high earners. The analysis found that four out of every five tax filers earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would receive tax relief from the bill in 2019. However, by 2027, that figure would drop to 60%.

Meanwhile, those earning more than $1 million would also see their tax savings fade, albeit at a slower rate than the smaller income brackets. In 2019, about three-quarters of those earning $1 million-plus will get tax relief, a figure that drops to two-thirds in 2027.

The conclusion could spark another round of debate as the Trump administration seeks to push forward on tax reform this year. The tax plan has faced attack from both sides of the political divide, with high-tax state Republicans criticizing individual deductions for state and local taxes.

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The reform bill, which promises to reduce the number of tax brackets, cut the corporate tax rate and implement a one-time repatriation fee, has been described as the most ambitious since the Reagan administration. Through Reagan’s tax reform, the U.S. economy managed to grow by an average of 3.4% annually until the beginning of the Obama administration. And that includes three recessions between the two presidents.

To his credit, President Jimmy Carer before him implemented the biggest regulatory overhaul in postwar history.

Mid-Terms Loom

Republicans have good reason to raise questions about Trump’s tax reform, especially those in high-tax states such as California. Already faced with a difficult re-election next year, California’s GOP Representative Darrell Issa said he wouldn’t endorse changes that “may make it the tremendous burden felt by California taxpayers even worse.”

Republican Ed Gillespie of Virginia was defeated in state elections on Tuesday, a clear sign that the GOP-controlled Congress is under attack. South Carolina is seen as an important barometer of the Democrats’ chances of winning in crucial swing states ahead of next year’s midterms.

Democrat Ralph Northam will be the next governor of Virgina, various news outlets reported late Tuesday.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 165 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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