Btchcoin on Bitcoin
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It’s federal budget szn…
…and our first federal budget since 2019!
Last week, the House of Commons Finance Committee shared a report outlining 145 recommendations for the 2021 federal budget based on several consultations with stakeholders across the country. It’s no surprise that the recommendations are focused on continuing pandemic support, economic recovery, and fulfilling promises set out in last year’s throne speech (remember that?).
Some of the recommendations include:
- Investing in mental health care; particularly because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental wellness,
- Implementing national standards for long-term care and investing in better care for seniors,
- Creating a universal pharmacare program,
- Allocating $2 billion to “vaccine research, production and deployment,”
- Investing in supports for those experiencing gender-based violence, what some have referred to as the shadow pandemic,
- Increasing funding for child care and establishing national standards,
- Funding for Indigenous businesses and communities, including immediately providing clean tap water for all communities, and
- Increased funding to strengthen the national Anti-Racism Strategy.
In addition to the Finance Committee recommendations, the Liberals recently closed their pre-budget questionnaire that solicited input from the public on priorities for 2021. The proposed budget release date is still TBD, but the pressure is on since Canadians haven’t seen a federal budget since 2019. Last year’s budget was scrapped because of the extreme economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic before it was about to be released. This will also be Chrystia Freeland’s first budget since being appointed Canada’s first woman finance minister in August 2020.
If you haven’t paid attention to the federal budget in the past, now is a good year to start since COVID-19 has made it more important than ever. You know Btchcoin has your back; we’ll be breaking down the budget for you as soon as it’s here!
Aussie Rules for Facebook…
Is no news good news?
Earlier this week many Australians woke up to a blissfully empty newsfeed as a result of Facebook’s ongoing dispute with their government.
In response to proposed legislation to compel tech giants to pay news outlets for displaying and linking to their content, FB elected to change access to the newsfeed in protest. But in doing so, they also inadvertently blocked access to many emergency service sites, local news sources, content unrelated to the news and most weather sites. Some may call this heavy-handed, others, would welcome an empty newsfeed.
Australia is pushing tech companies to subsidize news producers to compensate for the revenue the tech platforms have diverted from them. But what has driven the decline of traditional news outlets is targeted digital advertising. In 2019, 52% of Americans got their news from FB. The platform’s revenue model is based on the barrage of ads that surrounds news content.
Facebook has argued that the legislation conflicts with the ethos of an open and free internet and verges on being anti-democratic. They’re also arguing that news publishers shouldn’t complain because their hellsite drives traffic to sites outside of FB.
They’re not wrong on that point, but that logic ignores FB’s “digital living room” approach which lacks content moderation and amplifies misinformation. And they’re wrong in suggesting that FB is in some way symbolic of an “open web,” the platform dominates too much of the attention economy to pretend that it is anything other than a massive advertising platform.
In this dispute, Google has agreed to contribute to news producers, which may set an interesting precedent for publishers. For now, FB is continuing to dig its heels in and the Australian government seems to have forgotten that the targeted ad model lies at the heart of the issue, but that evades an easy fix. FB reversed course and the newsfeed is back, even if it remains crowded out by noise.
Btchcoin breaks down the Bitcoin rally…
If you haven’t heard about the massive bitcoin price rally yet, we’ve got you covered. The price of bitcoin (BTC) is up 70% this year and has reached a market capitalization of over a trillion dollars. This was partly thanks to Elon Musk (no surprise) investing $1.5 billion in BTC and announcing that Tesla intends to start accepting BTC as a form of payment.
Remind me what a Bitcoin is, please…
Bitcoin is a digital form of money where all transactions are secured through encryption (they’re hidden in code) and are visible to anyone through a communal leger called a blockchain. It is decentralized unlike our government-issued money that is regulated through a central bank. People like the freedom, security, and resilience to inflation associated with cryptocurrency, but some of the biggest drawbacks have been its volatility, affinity for black market transactions (cough, Silk Road, cough) and the potential for future government interference.
A brief history of Bitcoin…
To say that BTC has had a volatile journey is the understatement of the year. It all started in 2009 (directly post financial crisis) when a mystery person/group by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto wrote the first line of code. Through the next decade, BTC trading was largely performed by retail investors looking to make gains. You may recall the 2017 hype that REALLY put the spotlight on crypto when BTC went from ~$1,000/BTC to ~$20,000/BTC through the year, which was shortly followed by an enormous crash (RIP).
So why has BTC’s price gone up again?
Many believe it’s because the narrative around crypto has morphed from a new/different form of money to a vehicle for storing value and hedging against inflation. There has also been a rise in investment from large institutions, bringing more capital, stability, and interest to the space along with it. Layer on the fear of a global economic meltdown from COVID plus a handout of stimulus cheques, we’re up to all-time highs over CAD$70k/BTC last week.
So… Should I Buy?
Well, putting all your eggs into one crypto coin is definitely a recipe for disaster given the volatility within the space. BUT, there are ways to get exposure and potentially make some $$$. Last week, the world’s first bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF) started trading on the TSX, finally making the process of investing in crypto easier and safer than ever.
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Black Creators and Writers You Should Know About
Authors & Books
Thick and Other Essays – by Tressie McMillan Cottom
How We Get Free: Black feminism and the Combahee River Collective – by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Shut Up You’re Pretty – Tea Mutonji
They Said This Would be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up – by Eternity Martis (cdn author!)
Emilie Nicholas writes about what Toni Morrisson meant to her
Why Black History is an Essential Part of Canadian History by Neil Davis (special focus on Manitoba)
The National Film Board has 29 free films about Black history and Black life in Canada
Secret Alberta: The Former Life of Amber Valley (13 min film)
Check out the work Black Women in Motion is doing, and how you can support them.