Please click the link to listen to the 80th episode of my weekly crypto podcast ‘Five Minute Crypto.’ These are intended to be short, single-topic ramblings on some aspect of the cryptosphere. Comments and critiques welcome.
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Five Minute Crypto – The Bitcoin Hodler Rabbit Hole – Money Matters
Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.
First a simple caveat:
This series intends to paint very broad strokes. The short podcast format doesn’t lend itself to an in-depth analysis of each and every point made. Bitcoin’s immutability, fiat’s relentless printing, and so on are taken as given. If you find yourself baulking at these statements feel free to head off, conduct due diligence, and return when ready.
Welcome to Five Minute Crypto this week’s episode focuses on one of the first revelations of Bitcoin hodling – there’s a lot more or indeed less, to money than you may have at first thought.
Let’s face it most of us came to Bitcoin because ‘number go up’ – its meteoric rise to a high of $20 thousand dollars in under a decade naturally garnered a lot of investment attention. Let’s also admit that the vast majority of people buy Bitcoin before they have a solid grasp of what it is and where it might be going. ‘Number go up’ is powerful Juju but Sha-256, nodes, permissionless transactions, predictable issuance, and hard money are generally left for later research, if at all.
For some once they make that purchase, the matter is taken no further – they file it under ‘speculative investment’ and move on. For many others, they catch the Altcoin bug and abandon Bitcoin almost as soon as they find it – generally to their profound financial detriment. Still more, fritter away their stack on poorly timed market trades – essentially trying to shortcut the process – once again to their general cost. A significant minority, however, peer under the Bitcoin hood and down the rabbit hole they go. One of the first realizations these folks tend to find themselves facing is their own financial illiteracy. To their discomfort, they realize that they have only the most passing understanding of money. Being financially successful doesn’t in fact prove you have a grasp of the fundamentals of what constitutes money and why that might matter. Each and every significant facet of Bitcoin highlights aspects of money that for most have rarely if ever being considered.
Magical Internet Money v Fiat
Though a term frequently bandied around the cryptosphere -fiat is a concept new to most. Currency, sure they feel they have a handle on that but the understanding that all currencies are fiat and therefore backed by nothing comes as a shock to the majority. In a profound demonstration of widespread financial illiteracy, the majority of adults still hold the belief that their countries’ money is backed by something. Incredibly a significant minority still believe their nation’s currency is backed by gold and if not gold then the government. Bitcoin forces you to examine government backing and what you find is nothing….no gold, no assets, no limit – nothing but that most fragile of pillars – trust. In a world where every other currency is based on the same premise perhaps it’s possible the let the realization rest there. However, when you add Bitcoin into the mix – the flaws of the current fiat model become glaringly obvious. Even if you remain sceptical of BTC, the looming disaster that is modern monetary policy is illuminated by its stark contrast to Bitcoin. Intentional inflation where BTC is deflationary, unlimited where BTC is bounded, free from issuance restraints where BTC’s issuance is enshrined in code, controlled by the few where Bitcoin is supported by the many and on and on go the unflattering comparisons.
Furthermore, once you first transact on the Bitcoin network you suddenly become highly aware of the concept of monetary control. BTC is permissionless and now that you think about it – your bank transactions etc. are not and why is that? Sure you could stop at patriotic acceptance – I’m Australian or whatever and therefore my country should control my money but once you add in an awareness of the unfettered printing of your nation’s currency and its intended erosion of your purchasing power such patriotism starts to seem entirely one-sided. Work, consume, pay your taxes, do what you told – all very well and good but Bitcoin offers a peek into a world where financial autonomy may finally return to the hands of those who work for their money. Asking permission to spend your own money is suddenly revealed as the unwanted infringement on your personal freedom it actually is. Moving money in any way you see fit is a right – Bitcoin places back in your own hands. You may not have missed it in the past but you’ll be damned if you will now simply let that freedom go.
Once you have peered down the Bitcoin rabbit hole – money simply cannot be viewed as it once was. This reframing of your understanding of fiat is permanent and just the first of many such worldview changes that follow from interacting with this upstart called Bitcoin.
Thanks for listening.