Crypto: an antidote to trust & power
I bought BTC way back nearer the start when it was around 100 bucks a coin. At the time I remember thinking “well…cool. Internet money…but what’s the point?”
It was somewhat challenging to buy, harder to store safely (I subsequently lost the two BTC I’d bought) and at the time completely without purpose beyond the ideological reasons. In order to understand those you really need to read the Bitcoin whitepaper and fully commit to going down that rabbit hole.
At the time I just found it too challenging. There were too many foreign concepts for someone with no background in cryptography or economics.
Five or six years later while travelling around the world, living out of my suitcase, I would once again bump into crypto currency in the form of a job, in probably the least likely place you would expect to find a life changing job opportunity: Cambodia.
I say life changing because the job, even though the start up itself was doomed to fail, two different things happened as a consequence of getting the job.
First, I forced myself, google search bar at the ready, to work my way through the bitcoin whitepaper. For the first time I could “see the matrix”.
The mystery around Satoshi; who he was and why he had created BTC were fascinating.
Second, my realisation about why it had been created as well as it’s role in changing the course of humanity’s trajectory were akin to taking the red pill.
Nice but what does any of this have to do with Trust?
People outside the space in my experience, most often talk about Bitcoin in the context of value. One of the biggest stumbling blocks most have with the idea of BTC is the answer to the question “what is value? Or in some cases, like my own: what is the point? (aka money already works fine)”
Those are both great questions and both are very important questions to answer for yourself particularly in the context of THE most important question.
Why does Bitcoin exist?
To me this is a MUCH more important question than any others.
To answer it we need to cast our minds back to 2008-2010. You remember the Global Financial Crisis? Where because of the actions of a small number of people in “highly regulated” banks all over the world, an enormous amount of people, all over the world felt the pain, and stress and financial devastation of those few.
And how many of the bankers that were the engineers of that dark time in human history were held to account for their actions by the powers that be?
I don’t want the point to get lost in semantic arguments about the facts of the GFC, so hopefully we can all agree that so far what I’ve said is true.
So to answer the question: Why does Bitcoin exist?
A total lack of trust in the centralised authorities that were clearly at a minimum either morally bankrupt and/or completely incompetent and yet had so much power and ability to negatively influence the happiness/suffering of most of the world.
The promise of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies for me has always been about creating trustless* systems that level the playing field for everybody. They move the power and control away from the broken banking system and centralised authority and enable individual sovereignty.
*A trustless system is one that does not require any party to trust any other party in order to function optimally. In the Traditional Finance world, you trust your bank to give you back the money they are minding for you when you ask for it. Which when you think about it is pretty interesting considering they don’t have it. If every customer of your bank went and asked for their money back the bank would have to shut it’s doors. And yet the system of the world has been, that we all are forced to trust them. Or keep our money under our mattress. Or in crypto.
Canada & China
Two weeks ago in my mind these seemed like very different places. China with it’s authoritarian regime and social credit system where technology has been deployed to ensure citizens are kept in line. In my mind an extremely dystopian view of what a future world looks like if you pair too much power and authority with technology.
And Canada, the country where I was born and where many of my family live, a democratic nation of easy going, mild mannered people. A country where you can buy and own guns, but where a lot of people don’t lock the doors to their houses at night.
And yet, in a stunning move of authoritarianism, Liberal party (yep, liberal party) PM Trudeau introduced sweeping emergency powers granting banks and other financial institutions the right to freeze anyone’s money without any due process, if they suspected them of sending more than 25 dollars in support of the truckers protest.
This move by the Canadian PM sets a VERY dangerous precedent and shows more clearly than ever the need for decentralised money. Imagine you had sent 50 bucks to support the truckers in their anti-government protest because you felt the govt had done a lousy job of managing the crisis. Or maybe just because your brother in law is a truck driver and your wife had lost her job because of pandemic restrictions.
Now the government are going to freeze your bank accounts because you have effectively (according to them) funded terrorism.
But lets be clear here. This is not a discussion about whether or not the trucker protest is right or wrong. This is a discussion about the fact that by supporting a completely non-violent cause you think is right, but that the government don’t like you can end up with all of your money completely frozen and unavailable to you.
Just because you sent 50 bucks to a go fund me campaign.
In Canada. Not North Korea. Not Sudan. Not China.
Forget about whether you feel like you belong to the left or the right on the political spectrum. This time it’s a claim of racism and terrorism. Next time it could be abortion they don’t like or the fact that it’s “unacceptable” that you didn’t attend church. This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of power and trust.
If you’re not safe from the corruption of power in Canada, then you are not safe from it anywhere.
And when the government decide they want to freeze all your assets because you did something completely within your rights but that they didn’t like, you better hope that some of your money is in crypto.