Finances Society The Internet

UBI from Cryptocurrency

Bookmarked Proof of Humanity and the Universal Basic Income Coin by Scott Santens (

On March 10, 2021, Proof of Humanity’s UBI coin went live on the Ethereum Mainnet. For anyone who doesn’t know what that sentence means, it means that a cryptocurrency project was launched using the most popular smart contract blockchain in the world, with the goal of eventually providing a basic income to every living human being.


I’m happy to see people trying to use crypto for good instead of pyramid scheming.

But this project seems ill conceived. It incentivizes people to contest the status of other real people because then they get to keep their money. You have to have a chunk of money to start – impossible money in some parts of the world I’d say ($600ish). And the “money” you get has to be traded to be able to be spent (unless your landlord takes crypto?), so the value of your UBI might fluctuate.

Environment Future Building

Greener Solar Panels

Liked How to Build a Low-tech Solar Panel? (LOW←TECH MAGAZINE)

George Cove, a forgotten solar power pioneer, may have built a highly efficient photovoltaic panel 40 years before Bell Labs engineers invented silicon cells. If proven to work, his design could lead to less complex and more sustainable solar panels.

If this is true, it makes me mourn for the future that might have been. Solar powered electricity in 1910?! Think about how many emissions and how much pollution could have been avoided from coal powered energy. If we hadn’t bought into the coal and gas system, if we’d built green from the start, it wouldn’t be such the battle today trying to replace the polluting monstrosities. If we didn’t have coal and gas in our minds as normal, as the baseline to measure everything against without accounting for the externalities of climate change and air pollution causing health conditions like asthma and premature deaths. It wouldn’t have stopped transportation emissions and pollution but a sizable portion of emissions come from power generation.

End of life is an important consideration in new technology, and not just because I work in the waste world. I installed solar panels at my house, wanting to support the technology, even knowing that there isn’t a good solution yet for disposal, hoping that someone will figure it out in the next twenty years when I need to get rid of them. Maybe it’s hypocritical of me? I’m anti NFT / crypto because of the environmental impacts, not trusting that they’ll resolve the energy issues in the future — is it fair that I trust the solar industry is investing in developing better disposal options? Maybe because one is a green industry with many benefits and one key drawback, whereas the other is focused on making money and doesn’t seem to want to deal with the externality of the energy costs (and environmental/ climate implications) associated with their ability to make money?

Both have the potential to decentralize systems. But crypto is disruptive to the power structure and distribution of money, not to the system of capitalism — money, and lots of it, is still the ultimate goal. Solar has the potential to be disruptive to the current system of literal power production by decentralizing and localizing it, giving individuals more control over where their power comes from and shifting away from mega power projects that have significant local impacts like dams destroying the salmon runs (and with them native ways of life, and potentially violating their treaty rights) and wind farms wreaking havoc on migratory birds and bats.

Political Commentary

The End of Nation States

Bookmarked The End of Nation-States by Tomas Pueyo (Uncharted Territories)

It’s 2050. The US government just defaulted on its debt. It’s not meeting its social security payments. Hospitals are going down: they can’t operate without Medicare and Medicaid income. Old people line up outside the hospitals. Hospitals don’t service them. They can’t afford it. There’s a run on the banks that held too many dollars. They are collapsing. All the governments around the world caught with too much US debt are defaulting. Those with their savings in dollars have been wiped out. They are looking at the last few decades of their lives like an empty ravine. 

Do. Not. Want. Need a dislike category for this one.

I see this devolving into dystopia, although I suspect libertarians see it as a utopian future. I have no faith in the free market to deal with externalities like climate change, or disrupt individual power imbalances like class and race and sex, and fix the distributive problems with capitalism that result in a few super wealthy people and everyone else just getting by…in short, more of the same shit we already have, except you’re stick with dickheads like Elon fucking Musk in control of humanity’s fate. I can’t blame desperate people for wishing to turn themselves into the wealthy few instead of the current billionaires, but if we’re going to disrupt the future I wish it were for something better.

At this point I am just desperate for the dollar to keep being worth something for the rest of my life so at some point I can stop working. I have scrimped for years to try to retire early, and I will be pissed if I lose those years of work and savings so some more differenter people can be super rich.

It is interesting timing though after hearing from someone into Bitcoin at Homebrew Website Club this week about why he believes in crypto’s power and has hope for the good it will do for folks in more authoritarian societies than ours like China where he was from. May Bitcoin do that good and build freedom, and not be a Ponzi scheme that screws desperate people in the short term, and not destroy the hope of a cooperative caring shared society.