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Hungary's Needy Given Money to Burn

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the idioms-to-the-rescue dept.

The Almighty Buck 95

Knowing that ideas are a dime a dozen and eager to think outside the box, Hungary's central bank is burning old currency to help the needy. The bank has found that the 40-50 tons of currency that needs to be burned every year is a blessing in disguise for people caught between a rock and a hard place due to the extreme cold sweeping across Europe.

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FIRST COMMENT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39020775)

suck my cock

Re:FIRST COMMENT (0)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023015)

Rick is that you?

I hope they don't steak the dump truck. (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020801)

At the very least, if they take the truck, they shouldn't leave the load of waste money in the street.

Why not? (2)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020857)

If it just got T-Boned, it might make a delicious meal

Shades of Depression-era Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39020839)

"The fledgling Nazi party, whose attempted coup had failed in 1923, won 32 seats legally in the next election. The right-wing Nationalist party won 106 seats, having promised 100 percent compensation to the victims of inflation and vengeance on the conspirators who had brought it. "

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39020943)

Absolutely. this image [blogspot.com] immediately came to mind.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (4, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021249)

Sure if you ignore that they are the exact opposite situations.

One is burning currency because the government is printing so much that it's worthless.

the other is burning currency because the government doesn't want to increase the supply of currency (and hence make it worthless) as it produces new notes.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39026103)

Still, the decreasing number of bank notes means that less money is actually circulating among not-so-well-off people (who normally use cash in day to day affairs) and is rather moving to bank accounts of corporations. This is very plausible as many Hungarians have taken loans denominated in CHF or EUR when the Hungarian forint was strong and now with today's weak forint this means their income goes not to the local economy but to banks.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39027219)

Far more likely they are replacing them with newly printed currency - currency does wear after all.

If they aren't then it's even more the opposite - they are activiely trying to create deflation and really punish those who have taken out loans.

Of course that ignores the not physical currency part of the money supply.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39028931)

Yes, its only the American Government that does the 'quantitative easing' (a.k.a. print baby! print!), devaluing the worth of the American greenback. I know the banks say they are different, but the other difference is printing actual paper means you have something to burn, but with Quantitative Easing, the money is all electronic, and stuffing a credit card into a heater doesn't give off that much heat.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39033263)

Have you seen the exchange rates?

They are not affected by QEs and that's an objective fact.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39121959)

Hahaha yeah only because the banks are sitting on all the cash like a dragon guarding its gold. Just wait till the economy starts to heat up and that money is actually loaned out; that's when you'll see the real inflation with regards to QEing.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39142461)

Funny, our Aussie dollar is worth more than the US dollar, and has been for a while. That reminds me, gotta start importing crap that's too expensive over here. In any case i get the feeling inflating you currency is moreso to put your country in a competitive position against others.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39144351)

Well, Australia actually is a great example.

It has implemented aggressive fiscal stimulus (fueled by deficit spending) from the very start averting the severe recession. Total amount of stimulus measures was about $60 billions in 2 years which works out to about $3000 per individual, mostly in direct spending.

In comparison, US had implemented $787 billion stimulus which works out to about $2300 per individual. Unfortunately, more than a half of that amount was in tax cuts which are MUCH less effective than direct spending.

Besides, Australia has never had a deregulation boom like the US so the real estate bubble was not that severe.

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany Anti-Counter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39031985)

A lot of Euro countries use a very effective anti-counterfeiting measures on there bills, unlike the US.. I do not know if Hungary is one of them, but they also change the face or image of there currency (as you know) so this a 50/50 idea, they get to keep warm for about 5-10 minutes, plus they get the feeling of what it could be like if they were billionaires..

Re:Shades of Depression-era Germany (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39021177)

Not really a great analogy.

Firstly, any government can build a mandate partially on dubious slogans. There's already plenty of people in the US who want compensation against the ills brought onto them by conspiring bankers, so a party that adopted that mandate would probably be radical, but at least get some votes.

Secondly, just because the fellas are burning money doesn't mean they are burning money like Germany. Any central bank destroys money each year when the money is too old to use. Bills deteriorate, become obsolete due to no security features etc. Hungary's inflation has been around 3-4% for several years so no need to fear hyperinflation just yet.

Up in smoke (4, Interesting)

powerlord (28156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020843)

Watched the video. Not sure how much energy it takes to process the currency into briquets, but it is certainly one of the most innovative "Recycling" programs I've seen, and from the looks of it, one that actually benefits all parties involved (Central Bank gets to destroy old currency, Poor get free fuel).

Re:Up in smoke (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39022577)

Something similar was done when they retired the old Deutschemarks in favor of Euros some years ago. Old currency was fed into a gasifier and passed over catalysts to make methanol.

isolation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39022603)

this one is innovative also :
http://billioneurohouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/bbc.png

Re:Up in smoke (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022921)

Not sure how much energy it takes to process the currency into briquets, but it is certainly one of the most innovative "Recycling" programs I've seen, and from the looks of it, one that actually benefits all parties involved (Central Bank gets to destroy old currency, Poor get free fuel).

I doubt it takes more energy to process to briquets than they were already using to dispose of this stuff. In fact I suspect they are using off the shelf industrial grade shredder/balers that are already in use in places like military bases and embassies (and other high security sites) have to burn the waste on-site. These machines have metal separation built in so what you get is paper and plastic out. (Or in this case just paper).

There are commercial grade shredder/balers [officezone.com] that make rather small bales, and I imagine some specialty machines do smaller bales for small incinerator burning.

Once shredded, its just paper, its not currency any more, and this program could be extended to millions of tons on other government paper as well.

Two things to consider:
First: Is burning waste paper in uncontrolled incineration (home stoves) really a wise approach to recycling? The pollution effects of thousands of chimnies spewing smoke and smoldering embers onto roof tops is worrisome.

Second: Some countries (maybe not Hungary) have special papers used in their currency. (little blue and red threads in US, other special plastics used in Australia, etc). You don't want tons of this stuff roaming around for counterfeiters to pick up for free off of the back of a truck.

Re:Up in smoke (2)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022975)

Well, presumably they'd be burning wood or paper in those stoves anyway, so I doubt it makes a difference whether the fuel used to be money.

Re:Up in smoke (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023139)

No, they would probably be burning something else, perhaps coal which might be more of a pollutant. There is not enough wood in the country to serve as fuel source for the entire populace. In some cases they may be simply using fireplaces rather than stoves.

But the point remains that wood, and coal aren't composed of a billion tiny slivers of paper that can smolder and fly out the chimney. And combustion is bound to be incomplete, lots of fragments lifted by the updraft. potentially plugging any spark arresters in place.

Seems to me that blowing the shredded paper (not bales) into large coal fired electric generation facility might yield more clean and complete combustion, and electricity to boot.

Re:Up in smoke (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023797)

No, they would probably be burning something else, perhaps coal which might be more of a pollutant. There is not enough wood in the country to serve as fuel source for the entire populace. In some cases they may be simply using fireplaces rather than stoves.

But the point remains that wood, and coal aren't composed of a billion tiny slivers of paper that can smolder and fly out the chimney. And combustion is bound to be incomplete, lots of fragments lifted by the updraft. potentially plugging any spark arresters in place.

Seems to me that blowing the shredded paper (not bales) into large coal fired electric generation facility might yield more clean and complete combustion, and electricity to boot.

I think you are onto something. Electric vehicles are not powered by coal; they are powered by money.

Re:Up in smoke (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39142517)

Second: Some countries (maybe not Hungary) have special papers used in their currency. (little blue and red threads in US, other special plastics used in Australia, etc). You don't want tons of this stuff roaming around for counterfeiters to pick up for free off of the back of a truck.

You wouldn't want to burn aussie money though, it's actually worth something now.

Re:Up in smoke (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023135)

Gassifying bank notes. Interesting.

Can we recycle politicians the same way??

Re:Up in smoke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024501)

Why bother recycling them? They produce enough hot air as is.

Re:Up in smoke (1)

someWebGeek (2566673) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023669)

[rhetorical]Is the shredding/compaction process along with the delivery by trucks and collection by individual citizens truly superior to simply sending the unprocessed notes off to be burned in great, big boilers to generate steam-powered electricity for wider, cheaper distribution of power?[/rhetorical]

I kind of like the idea of toasting my toes to the crackly warmth of tens of thousands of ex-bank-notes, but I already don't respect the notion of "money" as anything other than a abstract place-holder for the work of myself and my fellow man. This seems a bit more like "spectacularism" on the Hungarian government's part.

"It's not the Earth the meek inherit, it's the dirt."

Re:Up in smoke (4, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023983)

[rhetorical]Is the shredding/compaction process along with the delivery by trucks and collection by individual citizens truly superior to simply sending the unprocessed notes off to be burned in great, big boilers to generate steam-powered electricity for wider, cheaper distribution of power?[/rhetorical]

I know you said rhetorical, so you probably know the answer, but:

Sure, burning it in one place for power generation would probably be a more efficient use of the "disposable cash", assuming that is the problem they are trying to solve. In this case though the problem is: "We have these poor people who are freezing in the winter." and someone else noticed "Hey, we're going to burn this used money we took out of circulation. If we can process it a little more, maybe we can give it away to the poor and kill two birds with one 1,000 Euro brick."

Doesn't make it the MOST efficient way of doing things, just a better use of the resources they had available.

To make everyone happy, those who disapprove of the solution can complain that "They just keep throwing money at the problem and expect it to go away".

Yeah...thanks, I guess (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020859)

Wouldn't they be a lot better off with wood or coal, something that would actually burn for a WHILE? Paper is only useful as kindling.

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (4, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020885)

Providing wood or coal would be an extra cost to the government. If they already have the paper and are already destroying it why not compress it into a useful brick for burning. I'd imagine it wouldn't burn that fast if compressed enough.

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (5, Informative)

DustPuppySnr (899790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020905)

"Our examination showed that the heating properties of these shredded currency briquettes are similar to brown coal so they are pretty useful for heating and resolve the problem to find fuel."

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39020925)

You can get paper to burn slower. That's what they are doing.

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39021163)

You do realize that most "paper" currency is not your regular cheap wood-pulp paper, right?

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021601)

It's more cotton and denim than wood-pulp paper IIRC.

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023857)

It's more cotton and denim than wood-pulp paper IIRC.

Denim is cotton that is dyed in one direction with indigo.

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023339)

Wouldn't they be a lot better off with wood or coal, something that would actually burn for a WHILE? Paper is only useful as kindling.

Paper sheets burn for just a short duration, just as wood sheets would. However, you can heat a stove just fine with paper, it's just a matter of feeding it a lot of those sheets. However, the chances are that you'll have to agitate the fuel manually during the burning to burn it all.

Re:Yeah...thanks, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024235)

Have you tried it? Paper is wood, but with more surface. Crumpled/shredded and pressed paper burns longer than wood chip briquettes. In a way it's ideal. (Not sure about emissions though.) Another great fuel: dried bread. I speak of experience.

As in the Apocalypse for 2012. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39020889)

Richer people can burn coal or money!

Poor people can't, and they should suffer from the siberian cold!

JCPM

Depressing (5, Funny)

CryptDemon (1772622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020893)

I can't help but think of how depressed I would be with the irony if I were in this situation. I'm so poor and don't have money, but the government was kind enough to bring some to me and let me watch it burn.

Re:Depressing (3, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020927)

I think it would be more depressing to know they are burning the money somewhere else and I am still cold. I mean the currency at that point has no real value and putting it back into circulation would cause insane inflation. This is really the best possible outcome.

Re:Depressing (2)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020971)

Oddly cruel. It is a bit like letting homeless people crowd around a burning house instead of demolishing it. I imagine they see a lot of tears there.

Re:Depressing (4, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021307)

Not really.

If you watch the video you will see that they aren't giving out stacks of bills in bank bands, but rather shredded note stock compressed into highly dense bricks and mortared together with a flammable medium.

According to the video they burn with roughly the same intensity as brown coal (AKA: Lignite). It's not the greatest fuel ever, but in a country where most homes are still heated by either steam boilers or coal/wood burning stoves, it's an acceptable alternative to either re-circulating the notes and causing hyperinflation (thus worsening the poor's problems by many times over) or having the poor denude the countryside looking for wood to burn. Hungary controls it's money supply AND the poor get free fuel to get them through the winter. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Re:Depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39026963)

What's really depressing is "dark age" FUD like this:

in a country where most homes are still heated by either steam boilers or coal/wood burning stoves

According to the International Energy Agency: http://www.iea.org/stats/electricitydata.asp?COUNTRY_CODE=HU [iea.org] , Hungary's heating is produced using mostly natural gas (76%) and electricity using nuclear plants (43%). Coal only constitutes 18% of electricity generation and 13% of heat generation. Only 1% of electricity is reused for heating.

60% of Hungarians live in urban areas, where natural gas is used almost exclusively (predominantly in direct (convection) or central (radiator) heating). Coal stoves are a thing of the past (most have been replaced by gas convection in the eighties). In rural settings where gas is not available or economical (to lay pipelines for) some wood burning stoves are still used but it's a minority. Not sure what you mean by steam boiler (surely not nuclear plant turbines), as they can only be found as protected cultural heritage like historical trains/riverboats. Modern central heating rarely involves a phase transition as it's rather dangerous, next to being inefficient. If you meant electric boilers, some are used in smaller apartments but it's a minority as well due to limited capacity and relative cost.

I'm not even sure why this blurb made it to Slashdot, it's just a PR stunt (we think of the children!) by a bank that has come under pressure by the new nationalist government for being thoroughly corrupt like most other central banks. If anything this should be interesting in the larger EU context where the neoliberal European Parliament is attacking the country for its new constitution (the last of the eastern block to update it post communism), where the management of the central bank has to swear on the constitution (to work in the interest of the people, not their bonuses etc.), like all other civil servants have had to do for ever. I mean, heaven forbid bankers should ever be held accountable for any wrongdoing..

Apart from the BRICS and ALBA countries, Hungary is one of only two in the "civilized" world (together with Iceland) to actually try to keep its sovereignty, try to withstand the IMF and currency/bond market manipulation attacks and not become the next Greece (or Ireland, or Portugal, or Spain, or Italy, or ..).

Re:Depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038063)

Is there some reason that burning money rather than recycling it has a different cost/benefit tradeoff than say burning newspapers rather than recycling? I would imagine that the security around preparing it is the key difference, anything else?

Re:Depressing (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021825)

Not all all, because this is fiat currency with no inherent value. It is worn out or soiled, and thus its value was removed and it was destroyed. At least the paper is now valuable as fuel.

Re:Depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39020981)

They are burning money that can not be used...

Re:Depressing (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021355)

I guess keeping money in a safe, or under the mattress would be a bad idea then, since the money will eventually be worthless.

Re:Depressing (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021581)

It's only worthless when it's recovered. Your bills should not devalue like that unless the bill is done away with altogether. A bill from 1960 is probably removed from circulation once it hits a bank, but you would still be able to use it to purchase things anywhere.

Re:Depressing (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023741)

A bill from 1960 is probably removed from circulation once it hits a bank, but you would still be able to use it to purchase things anywhere.

That's not true for most Eastern European countries. I have occasionally found in an old drawer or between the pages of an old book Hungarian and Romanian currency from 15 years ago, but no shop today would accept it, and there's some uncertainty whether even the national bank in the capital would exchange it these days.

Re:Depressing (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025723)

I'm not a, ummm, whatever the banknote equivalent of a philatelist is, but aren't they worth more than face value as collectibles? I'd just hang on to them as curios because I like shit like that.

Re:Depressing (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025983)

You can still claim the face value of any currency issued in New Zealand at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Even the old pounds and shillings that were replaced with dollars and cents in the 60's. Sucks to live in Eastern Europe...

Re:Depressing (2)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021521)

They are not "burning money", they are "burning bills". Ask an economist the difference.

FWIW... (3, Informative)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39020997)

FWIW, this is apparently about destroying old worn out bills, a routine practice, as opposed to inflation gone wild

Re:FWIW... (1)

asylumx (881307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021761)

FWIW, the summary pretty much says that (and yet, I thank you for pointing it out)

Re:FWIW... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39023011)

Inflation gone wild, you mean like the USA in 2013-2014?

Oh wait, you guys are still in 2012... never mind.

Re:FWIW... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024183)

None of the money the fed created is actually in the system. The fed is paying banks interest on deposits. So banks borrow money from the fed, then deposit it at the fed, and earn 0.25% interest. Inflation isn't going to happen. It's just a subsidy to the banks

Money Expiration (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021305)

I'm surprised they don't print an expiration date on money, making sure people spend it fast before it's worth nothing.

Re:Money Expiration (1)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021953)

That's essentially what inflation is. It's a guarantee that your money will not be worth as much ten years from now as it is today. If you have one hundred dollars in the bank today, three of them have an expiration date of one year from now. That's why so much effort goes into making sure the inflation rate stays positive. Once deflation sets in, hoarding begins. An alternative means to expire money would be to tax wealth instead of income, but that would piss off a lot of rich people, so the politicians will never do it.

Re:Money Expiration (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024037)

Taxing wealth from Rich people only makes it harder for poor people to find an income. What governments should do is fix Tax loop holes. Rich people buy up hundreds of acres of land and get a huge tax break if they use 1 acre to grow a garden. These tax breaks are not proportional in what their intentions were for.

Is that what I think it is? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021867)

At around 1:30 into the video you can see this in the background: http://i.imgur.com/J2SZ1.jpg [imgur.com]
I can't imagine what else passes for autism therapy in former Soviet bloc countries.

fool (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022251)

that's some device gymnast's use. you can see it in olympics. you hold those and do stuff.

Re:Is that what I think it is? (2)

denzacar (181829) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022659)

You shouldn't have skipped the part at 0:26 then.
The part where in the background a woman gives a young man, who clearly displays a lack of concentration and of motoric skills, a basketball to hold up in the air while leading him in a walk on a raised platform of some kind.
I'm guessing the platform is a bench and they are doing a balance exercise.

That might have clued you in that the room is a small gym.

Then again, since your prejudice prevented you from realizing that on your own, seeing there is a girl led through the same exercise in the very frame you chose to present - there is this part a couple of seconds earlier. [youtube.com]

There is a more obvious source of fuel (2)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022013)

If we just stacked up, like cordwood , everyone who strings together things like this...

a blessing in disguise for people caught between a rock and a hard place

...and burned them, the poor could be warmer, and the world would be instantly improved. I mean, not as much as if we were to make Soylent Green out of everybody who can't mange to distinguish between "loose" and "lose" - but, baby steps.

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023059)

Actually, if all the poor would simply kill the rich and redistribute their wealth, everybody would be better off except 5% of the population.

Maths always win.

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023505)

Actually, if all the poor would simply kill the rich and redistribute their wealth, everybody would be better off except 5% of the population.

I wonder how the people in the 10%-6% slot will feel about your plan, when the 5%-1% folks are dead, and they've just been promoted to the new top 5%. Obviously the only solution is to tax everyone as needed until everyone lives at exactly the same level of prosperity. Also, since some people will be at a disadvantage for having been born without working arms and legs, or with severely limited cognitive function, it will only be reasonable to surgically render everyone as invalids, and lobotomize them to make it all fair. Wow, someone should write a cautionary short story about that scenario or something.

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023623)

I wonder how the people in the 10%-6% slot will feel about your plan, when the 5%-1% folks are dead, and they've just been promoted to the new top 5%.

Very true [wikipedia.org] .

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024079)

Obviously the only solution is to tax everyone as needed until everyone lives at exactly the same level of prosperity. Also, since some people will be at a disadvantage for having been born without working arms and legs, or with severely limited cognitive function, it will only be reasonable to surgically render everyone as invalids, and lobotomize them to make it all fair. Wow, someone should write a cautionary short story about that scenario or something.

If you're referring to Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut, the author himself said the story was not about wealth.
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/may/05/vonnegut_lawyers_could/

"It's about intelligence and talent, and wealth is not a demonstration of either one," said Vonnegut, 82, of New York. He said he wouldn't want schoolchildren deprived of a quality education because they were poor.

"Kansas is apparently handicapping schoolchildren, no matter how gifted and talented, with lousy educations if their parents are poor," he said.

So it seems Vonnegut would support a certain leveling of the economic playing field, if not necessarily to the extent that you sarcastically proposed.

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024427)

It's not about what Vonnegut would or wouldn't like. I'm responding to the general "it's not fair that some people's lives are better than others" atmospherics that have people just as cranky about dumbing down education opportunities for kids (to suit the bottom of the barrel) as they are about wanting to tear down people who run businesses or just plain earn a dollar more an hour than they do. There is a loud contingent that sees "fair" as being "nobody should get or have something that somebody else doesn't have - no matter how they come by it." As someone that works 80-90 hours a week, that's a sore subject for me.

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

Garth Smith (1720052) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024535)

We know that a few people having all the resources doesn't work. Look to feudalism and the reason the Magna Carta was signed. We also know that everyone sharing resources doesn't work. Every large-scale attempt at communism fails in some way due to corruption and greed.

Thus, there must be something in between where we have some richer people and some poorer people. In an ideal society, how would resources end up being distributed? We have made absolutely awesome advances in technology and production in the past 50 years. Where did all this extra production go? Why are we having trouble funding schools and paying for basic infrastructure when we are producing more per capita than mankind ever has in all of history?

The OWS movement has a point, as do business owners and entrepreneurs that work very hard for their fortunes. Yet what we see in the media is cheerleading for one side or the other, without any discussion of the complex and boring details. Rhetoric sounds so much better in a 3 second sound bite.

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025023)

Where did all this extra production go?

It went into standard of living. A family of fifty years ago would have considered today's medicine, communications technology, textiles, entertainment, and the instant availability of unthinkable amounts of information to be the purest fantasy. Lower income homes with multiple televisions? Cars with airbags? Mobile phones that help you find your teenage kid on a Saturday night? Forums like this, used by people all over the globe, in real time? Living so long that cancer eventually gets you, instead of a simple gut infection? Laser eye surgery?

If people today kept the same expectations for quality of day-to-day life, and harnessed all of that technology and productivity to save for retirement, hire better teachers, etc., it would be a different world. But people are lazy and like their toys. And only half of the people in the country are even asked to pay income taxes, despite the fact that lower income people today live like kings compared to lower income people 50 years ago. So, it's not exactly a mystery what happened over the last 50 years. Combine that with the fact that the rest of the world is actually starting to catch up and compete, and you've got some price pressure, too. Oh, that and crushing debt from over-spending personally and governmentally.

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

Garth Smith (1720052) | more than 2 years ago | (#39065471)

If people today kept the same expectations for quality of day-to-day life, and harnessed all of that technology and productivity to save for retirement, hire better teachers, etc., it would be a different world. But people are lazy and like their toys.

Alas, I have to agree with you that this is where at least some of the production went. (Looking at real income rates however shows that richer people have benefited much more from the amazing increase in production.) So what can we do to change it? How can we encourage society to buy less TVs and pay for more teachers?

Re:There is a more obvious source of fuel (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39027267)

I was doing a completely over-the-top reply to the troll parent post, obviously. Sorry you took me seriously.

I'm sure all that burning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39022071)

I'm sure all that burning is helping them to meet the European green house gas and air quality targets...
Maybe Europeans will now have a better appreciation of the the economic impact that meeting green house and air quality targets entail in future negotiations.

IMHO, we just just abandon the green house gas negotiations and proceed directly on climate change impact mitigation negotiations. It's really too late for the former, and the latter is probably inevitable, so we should just get started with it...

Selling Money (1)

Lueseiseki (1189513) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022281)

Have they ever thought about selling their unusable notes out for novelty purposes? I think it would spice up a good game of monopoly :)

It is not money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39022333)

if it cannot be used a a medium of exchange.

The only disadvantage .. (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022349)

.. is that one, inevitabl,e Godawful pun. Sigh.

For the rest I think it's not a bad idea at all.

Well, Hungary, you asked for capitalism... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39022365)

...you received capitalism.

The minority who say that things are better under capitalism are as much exploitative liars as those who said things were perfect under the Soviets. But, for the average working man, things are much worse. And I say this as a Russian emigrant who left the USSR a few years after the drunk puppet Yeltsin was installed and the only significant increase for the average man was in the number of destitutes, drug addicts and suicides.

You want to see what an old Western democracy turns into under global capitalism? See Greece now or England in a few years' time. And they will take away more of your welfare state to pay for the debts created by a corporation-government, selling off what you built and own and giving you nowhere to turn to.

Re:Well, Hungary, you asked for capitalism... (3, Insightful)

frist (1441971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024095)

Oh please. As a 1st gen immigrant from Romania, an eastern european soviet block country crushed by first the Nazis and then the Soviets, capitalism as done in the US is a godsend compared to the bullshit of Marxism. What you have in Russia and Romania is the result of years of devastating communism, where there is no incentive to work, everyone steals from their employer (the state). The same people are in power now as before, they're just "capitalists" by name. I have family that went back after the revolution and tried to help the country, start businesses, teach etc. They got stolen blind because of the same attitudes that had been forged into the soul of the people by communism.

Never mind that I had relatives in prison tortured because my family wouldn't join the communist party. My mother told me about when she was being appointed to her first job, how she wanted to request to be in a different location so she went to the hearing and a married couple went first. They were stationed (the govt picks where you work in that system of govt by the way) over a hundred kilometers apart. They had no car. They had a child. They requested to be posted closer together. The govt presiding officer told the woman - eh you can find another man in your new village. After a few similar cases my mom just left without a hearing.

Go back to your dear Russia and take your communism bullshit with you. Never again you fucks and take your fucking KGB putin and his fucks with you. Thank God for the US. The main regret of the Romanian people and the cause of so much horror there was that the US didn't take over and instead gave Romania to you Russian bastards.

Re:Well, Hungary, you asked for capitalism... (2)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39029043)

Agree. Similar things happened with the Birds ;), but it was worse in Romania.
However I can't accept the fact that a lot of the Eastern block countries are finding it so hard to create a democratic government. I think a lot of the older population still yearn for the security of the old system - so my aunt tells me.

Re:Well, Hungary, you asked for capitalism... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39057505)

As a 1st gen immigrant from Romania

The dissenting opinions are usually from young immigrants who:
  (i) are more privileged than the average person - i.e. in the vocal minority who benefit from capitalism;
  (ii) never experienced more than the last few turbulent, austere years of Soviet rule - and if they did, it was as a young child.

The whole point in capitalism is to minimise your work by exploiting your capital - if you don't understand this then you don't really understand capitalism. People at the bottom are taught that capitalism = achievement through hard work because this is how you get a pliant workforce, not because hard work per se will get you anywhere.

The same people are in power now as before, they're just "capitalists" by name.

Yeah, all the same social securities and control... the restrictions on private enterprise... oh, wait, no.

I have family that went back after the revolution and tried to help the country, start businesses, teach etc.

"Helkp the country, start businesses" - you mean "exploit the country, start businesses"?

They got stolen blind because of the same attitudes that had been forged into the soul of the people by communism.

And how did your family specifically get "stolen blind" when they were trying to "teach"? Did someone try to learn without paying enough to your family for the privilege of privatised knowledge?

Never mind that I had relatives in prison tortured because my family wouldn't join the communist party.

Have you ever been imprisoned in the US? The torture there is different - you're not be beaten by your guard but they'll let other inmates abuse you if they don't like you. This includes those held for years before being judged at any trial: consider the Miami mega-jail. If you're a well-off, white chap then your experience of US justice will seem fair and gentle - you're part of the "Party".

My mother told me about when she was being appointed to her first job, how she wanted to request to be in a different location so she went to the hearing and a married couple went first.

That's fucking beautiful. In some Western countries approaching 50% of young people are out of work, and we're approaching a quarter in many more. How wonderful to have a system where not only are you assigned a job but you get an appeals process if you don't like that job!

They were stationed (the govt picks where you work in that system of govt by the way) over a hundred kilometers apart. They had no car. They had a child. They requested to be posted closer together. The govt presiding officer told the woman - eh you can find another man in your new village. After a few similar cases my mom just left without a hearing.

Like I said, the bias of the privileged. This happens to people all the fucking time in Western countries: one of the partners cannot find a job locally so must either spend $1000s/year commuting or spend days away at at a time. Indeed, capitalism's now at the position where in all but the richest households both people have to work full time and the child gets the benefit of neither of their parents through the day and for part of the evening.

I'm a law student and I've sat at tribunals where abusive comments to the appellants through the day would pale the above into insignificance: the weirdest recent one was an old, disabled man - after spending minutes transitioning from his chair to another seat - being asked whether using a wheelchair was a "lifestyle choice". Despite medical statements from his doctors to the contrary, he was told that he could clearly walk without a chair. At an earlier case, a man who had been abused by a woman from the start (no prejudice, then) had the case addressed in terms of his wife's "nagging".

And I don't know about your country but we don't have an appeals process for when the only job you can find is 100km away.

Go back to your dear Russia and take your communism bullshit with you. Never again you fucks and take your fucking KGB putin and his fucks with you. Thank God for the US.

Putin was an agent become exploiter, as you are too. You embody the spirit of Putin more than I ever will.

The main regret of the Romanian people and the cause of so much horror there was that the US didn't take over and instead gave Romania to you Russian bastards.

Half of my family is from Spain. The cause of so much horror there was that the US propped up the Franco regime.

Re:Well, Hungary, you asked for capitalism... (2)

andyteleco (1090569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39109179)

As a descendant of a Hungarian family your comment makes me want to puke. Your beloved USSR is THE cause that Eastern countries today have the enormous debt they are struggling to somehow repay. For decades the country was kept up (bordering misery) on sovereign debt.

Of course capitalism isn't going to solve everything overnight, and is still quite shitty for many people who have kept the communist attitude of "daddy state will provide".

And I won't even get started on the rampant lack of any basic liberty or human rights which was the norm at the time. My family was stripped of the lands and other possessions which they had earned through hard work because they were tagged as "dirty capitalists".

True, capitalism sucks, but it's still the less bad system anyone has discovered.

Re:Well, Hungary, you asked for capitalism... (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39142747)

Capitalism is when one man exploits another man, socialism is the other way around

I'm from a polish background, and i particularly despise hearing from people like the AC OP who yearn for their old system, yet somehow, find themselves in what they consider to be the worst place. Ironic huh. Fact of the matter is, lots of people benefited under communism (sad thing is that they were actively benefiting from the poverty and exploitation of others), when the cracks in the eastern block was starting to show in the 70's, lots of communists started to bail to capitalist countries, taking a fair bit of wealth with them, which may sound ironic, but in reality, they were supporters of communism, because it was economically beneficial to them, they went to capitalist countries, because it would be economically beneficial to them.

The fact of the matter is, socialism is a scourge, but it will take 3-4 generations before the countries that were inflicted will be able to overcome the damage, maybe even more. The bottom line is, I'm always incredibly wary of anyone who's desired system involves everyone to conform to that system. I'm very sceptical that it's an acceptable system when people need to be subdued by force, the history of communism is as despicable as it can get, there was no leaving, it was illegal to leave.

Like the old saying goes... (2)

jimmydigital (267697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39022913)

Provide a man with fire and he keeps warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm the rest of his life. Something.. something.. something.. soviet Russia.

Re:Like the old saying goes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39023405)

In Soviet Russia, fire burns YOU!

Money to Burn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39023385)

I guess you could say it costs a fortune to heat that place!

They don't need no water... (1)

Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39023731)

Let the motherf*cker burn!

How much? (1)

Flaming Troll Shill (2565309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025253)

So, all these comments (at least as of when I last reloaded the page) and noone asking how much to buy a couple bricks? I for one would love to buy a couple bricks to keep by my fireplace. If cheap enough, I'd even burn them sometimes, but if not, would be a fun conversation starter.

C'mon, any Hunkies reading this? Post a reply if you can score me some!

PS: I'm an American of Hungarian decent, not insult intended calling you a Hunky & even if I wasn't, if you were offended, you should lighten up :)

Re:How much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39027437)

Here in Vancouver, Canada we had a restaurateur. He sold perogies, and such and the name of his chain was Hunky Bill's. I loved his food and I'm Irish by descent. But it was good solid fare. Unfortunately, the folks from the same cultural background as his decided that referring to himself as Hunky Bill was a slur and created so much grief for him he finally shut down his restaurants. What a loss.

I think he now sells a simple plastic appliance to help make perogies.

So Hungary has only 10 poor people? (2)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025397)

TFA says that the money briquettes have a comparable energy to "brown coal" (aka Lignite), or about 2/3rds the energy of "normal" anthracite coal.

Heating a house in the US Northeast with anthracite takes between three and six tons per year.

So a mere 40-50 tons? Even keeping the house so cold you can see your breath, the amount of these briquettes they need to get rid of will, quite seriously, only heat 10-15 homes.

I truly applaud the vast improvement over burning their retired currency as mere waste, but this has zero impact on keeping a nation's poor from freezing to death in the winter.

Re:So Hungary has only 10 poor people? (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39027319)

I imagine if these people owned a residence the size of a typical house in the northeast US they wouldn't have a problem with poverty. I haven't watched the video but this seems more like a burning blocks in barrels style solution which would offer some warmth to significantly more than 10 people. Of course it's not going to solve the entire heating problem but it might be 40 tonnes of forest saved.

Re:So Hungary has only 10 poor people? (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39028955)

First, it's not necessary to heat the entire house, especially if you're worried about making your fuel last as long as possible. Heat a room and keep everyone there unless they NEED to be somewhere else. Second, burning 50 tons of banknotes saves a lot more than 50 tons of trees, considering most of a tree's weight is water. It also saves the energy of drying said wood (even if that energy would be solar, laying the wood out to dry on its own), and the cost of fuel to move it from the forest to the lumber yard to the homes (the fuel to ship the banknotes is going to be used no matter WHERE they are going, though there may be a difference in exactly how much).

Saying this is going to have minimal impact on freezing poor people is probably true, but it ISN'T GOING TO HURT, and it has small but positive effects elsewhere.

It could be like the poormans lottery (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025715)

All I see is "This video contains content from afp, who has blocked it from display on this website. Watch it on YouTube"

I wonder if any notes survived the shredding and compacting process to be salvagable...

100 households (1)

szilagyi (633672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39036305)

40-50 tons may sound like a lot, but I burn around 20 tons of wood to (mostly) heat my (admittedly large) house, with maybe 10 rooms. Supposing you could fit an entire family in something like a room, and the shredded bills really do have the heat content of brown coal (which is something like 2x wood per mass), and further supposing they are using a modern heating system (like an apartment block with a big gasification boiler) that's 2x more efficient than mine, that's still only like 100 households.

That's certainly a good thing, but hardly worth mentioning beyond the publicity value. You'd think that the bulk biomass market would be a more efficient way to merge the shredded bills into the supply stream. (A guess on my part.)

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