Bitcoin, Bitcoin, Going So Fast…

Buyer beware [Doug Henwood, “The Bitcoin Fantasy,” May 19]. Until governments sanction these things for official purposes, they will remain in the realm of speculators and shadow operators. The run-up of price (in dollars) is probably over. Then again, there once were those tulip bulbs.

Bitcoin will be inflating for years to come (this is the “mining”), and there are several other coins that inflate perpetually. So be careful not to get the technology mixed up with the libertarian baggage of its first iteration.

Students Keep Up the Pressure

It’s great to read in “Student Nation Dispatches” about students fighting for social change. I am an alumnus of Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges; it is divesting itself of oil/petroleum products. This helps the environment and keeps the college from supporting theocratic dictatorships in the Middle East. To all those activist students: keep up the good work, and fight the good fight!
Charles A. Fracchia Jr.
san francisco

Teachers Held in the Rubber Room

I am almost speechless with anger and sadness after reading JoAnn Wypijewski’s “Shame as Policy” [May 19]. “Teacher jail”? Detained but not charged? Held on suspicion of what? How can moral panic be used in such a fashion? Are we to allow madmen to destroy the Los Angeles education system? Believe me, if it works there—this shaming—it will work all across the nation. The conservatives will have what they want: a dysfunctional national education system, or what you might call the idiocracy.
Patricia S. Wilson
selma, n.c.

For Women Only

We males have nothing to say about whether a woman goes through with a pregnancy [Katha Pollitt, “Ireland’s Choice,” May 19]. Only women are entitled to decide. What the world needs is good solid education on sex, sexuality, reproduction and the use of contraceptives. What the world does not need is bizarre commandments written by old men who lived thousands of years ago.

Cold War Déjà Vu (All Over Again)

Thank you, Stephen F. Cohen and Katrina vanden Heuvel, for sounding a rare note of sanity during our nation’s jingoistic creation of a new and completely dysfunctional cold war with Russia [“Cold War Without Debate,” May 19]. And, yes, the most mysterious part of it is the packed bandwagon of legislators and media cheering them on. Meanwhile, we have done far more than Russia over the last twenty-three years to create conflicts, as Cohen, the world’s most highly respected Soviet/Russia scholar, and vanden Heuvel have chronicled. Extend my subscription another two years.
Rick Boettger
key west, fla.

Thank you for your position and opinion about the Ukrainian crisis. It is very important for me that some of the American people think the same as me.
Nik Nazarevsky

Russia is a dictatorship under Putin, plain and simple. Democracy does not exist, and human rights barely do. Yanukovich, too, was a dictator, yet all this is apparently unimportant to you. Russia is not being cornered by NATO, and I fail to see any merit to its aims in Ukraine. That US policy is often disastrously wrong does not make Russia’s look any better. Thank you for almost all that The Nation does, but not for this.
Steven Wetstein

Here are a few reasons The Nation shouldn’t outsource its conscience to the likes of Putin apologist Stephen F. Cohen: the hundred or more journalists who have mysteriously died after they criticized Putin’s rule; Putin’s abandonment of Russia’s (stillborn) rule of law and fair elections; Putin’s unabashed embrace of Slavic-flavored national Bolshevism; the steady decay of Russia’s economy under Putin’s oligarchs; the dashed hopes of Russia’s modernizers and innovators; Putin’s cynical exploitation of the darker, neoimperial underside of Russian anti-Semitism, nationalist grievances and failed popular aspirations. The wrong side of history is no place for The Nation.
Edward A. Mainland
novato, calif.

Having a cold war mentality is shortsighted and stupid. As you point out, Russia is naturally sensitive to NATO encroaching near and along its borders. We forget that the USSR paid the heaviest price in casualties—20 million killed—during World War II. That memory lives on. The United States would do well to engage Russia as ally and partner with other countries to address problems of climate change, civil strife, displacements of people, hunger, disease, economic injustice and poverty. We are one global community; we need to work together.
Tom Kimmel
highland park, ill.

These are some of the most intelligent words I have heard regarding the situation in Ukraine. I am 46 and a retired marine and soldier. My final deployment was as a NATO adviser to Ukraine in 2008. For the last twenty years, Ukraine has been at the center of the tug-of-war between the West and the East, and now, sadly, it’s crumbling under the tension. I’ve been watching the situation closely via Twitter contacts, and I have to say I have never seen so much disinformation as I have witnessed here. I fear this is going in a very bad direction very fast.
Daniel William Porcupile
san diego

Capital in Pie Town

I now have read reviews of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century in The Nation [May 5], Foreign Affairs and Time. I note that all the reviews glaringly do not mention an overwhelming historical economic fact: that until just a few generations ago even in the United States, and far more recently in many places, a significant majority of the population produced a substantial portion of their own necessities: food, clothing, housing, fuel.

At 66, I grow most of my own vegetables and chop wood for heating and cooking, including baking my own bread. I do not have a lot of the amenities that most Americans take for granted, but I am able to live pretty well on about a quarter of the money called “poverty level,” without public benefits.

Income inequality means a completely different thing if those with little money have other means available to produce survival necessities. If people depend for basic sustenance on money and do not have a way, both honest and legal, to obtain enough to live, then survival itself is criminalized.

Uncle River
pie town, n.m.