Shut Up And Mint The Coin
Today in politics: Marjorie: The Gathering, Fingies Kebbin, and the Cole Haan All Stars.
Americans find ourselves once again standing on the tedious precipice of another manufactured debt ceiling crisis, gazing longingly at the sweet embrace of death awaiting us on the sharp rocks of sovereign default below. Personally, if I have to listen to the Cole Haan All Stars fatuously proclaim that the United States federal government is just like “every single American family” one more time I am going to yeet myself off this fiscal cliff whether the world economy comes with me or not. But what seems most likely to happen is that Joe Biden will attempt to give in to every Republican demand, and then the debt ceiling increase will fail anyway, because Kevin McCarthy can’t count higher than “ten fingies and two feets.”
However there are two possible unilateral solutions that Biden could choose instead, one Constitutional and kind of lawyerly and the other absolutely hilarious, fully legal, and easy, and I expect that he will choose neither of them because one makes it uncomfortably clear that laws are fake and the other makes it uncomfortably clear that money is fake.
Matt Tait covered both options today, so here’s his excellent explanation of the 14th Amendment solution:
The claimed authority here comes from the 14th Amendment’s Section 4, which reads:
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. […]
Here, the argument is that the debt ceiling is inherently unconstitutional, because the debt ceiling legislation means that the US government would be unable to pay its debts. The theory states that since the 14th Amendment ensures that public debt shall not be questioned, that implies a conflict between the 14th Amendment and the debt ceiling legislation. As all schoolchildren know, if there’s a dispute between legislation and the constitution, the constitution wins. So under this theory, the executive branch can declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional and borrow straight past the limit.
Tait goes on to argue that this is not as straightforward as it seems, and I don’t entirely agree with his take on the legal problems but he’s right that it would be a fight in the courts which would taint any new debt issued under this interpretation of the Constitution and probably upset the financial markets anyway. If this were the only solution available, then hell, let’s roll the dice. But it’s not! There’s a better answer:
Our most gifted polemicist Liz Lopatto explains it:
What happens is that the US Treasury mints a platinum coin and deposits it at the Federal Reserve, and Congress is moot. We know the coin is legal; basically, a law passed in 1997 gives the Treasury full unilateral authority to mint platinum coins of any kind, for any reason. (This is separate from the process of increasing the supply of money, which originates with the Federal Reserve.) Former head of the US Mint Philip Diehl has said it can be done — so I think the main objection is that it comes from people who have been ruined by the internet.
Tait also favors minting the coin, in a somewhat less shitposter-ey way than Liz, but between them they address all of the potential objections like “Q: isn’t this inflationary?” (A: no, we’re not spending any new money) and “Q: lol, what?” (A: lmao and, additionally, rofl).
Again though, neither of these is likely to happen. The 14th Amendment solution is basically “let’s have our long-inevitable constitutional crisis right now,” which is… not great for market stability. And minting the platinum coin would make it extremely obvious that there is no sense in which the federal government “can’t afford” to pay for anything, if the pandemic didn’t already pull back that particular curtain. It is simply choosing to keep us poor and sick.
Also Today in Politics: I’m not here to “yuck anybody’s yum,” but yesterday Marjorie: The Gathering bid $100,000 for Fingies Kebbin’s used chapstick, and I wish these freaks would stop involving the rest of us in their creepy fetish play. In Texas, indicted scumbag Attorney General Ken Paxton “accused the speaker of the Texas House of performing his duties while drunk and called for the speaker’s resignation.” Since when is it a crime in Texas to do anything drunk? Tom Scocca wrote about the resurgence of bathroom ban politics, asking “who builds a whole social movement around this kind of thin and speculative grievance-mongering?” A question which is unfortunately rhetorical because we all know exactly who. Look at library book ban requests, for example: Hannah Natanson found that the majority of them, nationally, were filed by just eleven individuals. If you ever feel outnumbered by the rising wave of bigotry remember that it’s, like, a dozen loud weirdos. And is Dianne Feinstein actually alive? Or, to put it different way: if she weren’t alive, would we know?
Today in Media (That Is Somehow Still Also Politics): Tonight at 6 pm, Meatball Rob DeSantis will announce his Presidential campaign on the right-wing media network Twitter, in a Spaces audio conversation with Twitter’s politically inscrutable CEO Elon Musk. I imagine it will go very smoothly for them both, charismatic and personable as they are. In Axios, Sara Fischer and Mike Allen claim that Twitter is muscling in on Rupert Murdoch’s territory, which is definitely something you could choose to believe if you had never experienced the 360 degree clusterfuck that is trying to broadcast a live TV show on Twitter. Personally, I can’t imagine a more hilarious fate for Tucker Carlson or The Daily Wire.
Intern Camille would like to remind us that not only does she have a Master’s degree from Oxford and a lot of smart things to say, but she is also young enough that a Dora the Explorer reference comes very naturally to her. As if I weren’t already depressed enough today.
Recently, representatives of the online publishing site webnovel.com have been reaching out to fans through DMs on AO3, Wattpad, and FanFiction.net, suggesting they "publish" their fanfiction for free on webnovel. However, the terms of the site include signing away rights to the work, as Tumblr user @themirokai explains: “It’s basically, ‘post your stuff here so we can get paid and you can get… nice vibes?’”
Republishing fanfiction isn't anything new. "Filing off the serial numbers" a la Fifty Shades or After is a tried and true tradition, with a substantial amount of debate around it. But there's a difference between a writer executing an Arsène Lupin-esque bit of trickery to turn a transformative work into an original one, and a company emulating Swiper from Dora the Explorer to nab fan work and profit from it, with no regard for the writing’s personal importance or general copyright law.
But these swiping attempts aren’t new either: in 2007, FanLib was a startup where fans could submit their work to contests for the potential of it becoming "canon" (and lose control of their work in the process); in 2013, Amazon launched Kindle Worlds, where fans could sell fanfiction for specific licensed media (and lose control of their work in the process); and in 2021, Realms of Ruin was a short-lived NFT project where fans could buy into a “collaborative” world for a chance of “canonicity” (and lose control of their work in the process).
So webnovel isn’t, in fact, particularly novel. But while prior similar sites attempted to legitimize fanfiction, webnovel’s outreach only expresses a vague "support" of fandom. There’s an awareness of the internal logic of fandom and the focus on community, but even then its view of creators as resources to be exploited still exemplifies the way that the passion work of creators has been transformed into yet another item to feed into the content machine.
The archaic word of the day is deliquate: to cause something to melt away.
—Camille Butera has become canon
Boy, if there’s one constant in businesses that have tried to monetize fanfiction it seems to be that they have total contempt for fanfiction creators. Also Today in Fanfic: Vox’s Aja Romano wrote about “the ‘antis’ — a broad label for people who are opposed to sexual content in media” in a story with an interesting premise that unfortunately seems to have had all the fun Voxed out of it somewhere in the editorial process.
Dinosaur Comics on PERSONAL LONGTERMISM. The Messenger is still going great. Chris Licht has successfully driven CNN’s old audience to MSNBC, but winning over the NewsMax crowd remains to be accomplished. How to stop getting mail. RIP WinRAR. Digital nomads still out there gentrifying everywhere, reports rēst õf wôrld.
Finally: “I once provided thousands of orgasms over a five-year period, without ejaculating a single time. It's called Mantak Chia's Microcosmic Orbital Energy Raising.”
Today’s Song: Alex Lahey, “You’ll Never Get Your Money Back”
Music Intern Sam went to close your tab, but it wasn't there. Oh, you can't put a price on that. Intern Camille’s last regular intern tab is tomorrow! I am sad. I’m mostly posting on Bluesky these days @rusty.todayintabs.com. If you’re not there yet I’d invite you but: