Commenter Hans made a very astute comment, comparing bitcoin to mp3’s.
Let’s take a look at mp3’s for a minute, since I have 50,000+ of them on the jukebox.
- work on any of my devices, computers, laptops, android phones and tablets, flat screen telly via USB slot, SD card and USB stick in the car stereo.
- easy to store
- easy to move
- easy to share
- just works
- there are some devices that won’t play them, turntables and such of course, but then again I don’t own any, having divested myself of LP’s and cassettes etc
- don’t come with physical album covers
- you can’t actually handle them, if you wanted to.
- ummm, struggling here…
So it is no great difficulty to see why mp3’s beat things like LP’s, Cassettes, and latterly red book audio CD’s.
I can put a 16 GB USB or SD stick in anything with a USB or SD socket and have far more music on tap than I used to have back in the day, and back in the day I had an unusually large record collection, of over 140 LP’s and over 300 45’s, plus no delays finding of cueing the next thing up, etc etc etc.
Plus, being a digital medium (which you should of course back up) they are immune to physical damage, they don’t get scratched or dirty or get wrapped around the pinch roller and chewed up, plus, being digital, you can trivially make a perfect copy.
The RIAA failed and Napster etc won, simply because of utility, they had a business model that insisted I pay significantly more money, for significantly less utility.
Now, fiat currencies weren’t digital, but in many ways they are now, I can easily go all month if I wanted to without ever handling or spending any actual physical cash, so, in effect, it is a digital medium.
At this point it is worth noting the differences between digital music, and digital money.
Digital music, if it uses a DRM free format, is trivial to make a perfect copy of, digital money isn’t, not for the end user, because the end user never actually got the money, any more than a Netflix user actually gets the films directly.
But, digital money is incredibly popular, the same as digital music, not because of the cost, but because of the utility.
But, wait a minute, let’s examine that utility.
I type this from the UK, so my digital money is Pounds Sterling, yours might be US$, or AU$ or Renminbi, or Euro.
Digital US$ aren’t much use to me at all here in the UK, if you come here or I go there with my plastic, we actually get billed in the local currency, and the bank that issues our cards does the exchange.
So x equivalent amount in US$ in digital money here in the UK has significantly less utility than the same value represented in UK£ in digital money, that I can spend literally anywhere with a chip and pin machine, which nowadays is almost literally anywhere, and is anywhere online.
So the value is the acceptance, and vice versa, if it has utility it is accepted and therefore has value.
Bit-coin is the same, or indeed any other electronic currency, if it has enough utility, eg I can use it easily enough without jumping through hoops, then it is accepted, and therefore it has value.
A few years ago in mainland Europe you had to have marks or francs or lire, Euro was worthless and useless, even when it was available, but when the Euro was made the default currency and the national currencies were retired, well, overnight it had utility, you could spend it anywhere, in fact, you could spend it more places than you could the original national currency, so it was accepted, so it has value.
You see the point here, once things go digital, what they actually are is completely irrelevant, and what they represent too, because now what they represent is utility, acceptance, and therefore value.
Back in the day, when you worked abroad, you always always always had a spare passport, a Rolex, and some pure gold jewellery like chunky rings, if TSHTF you went directly to the airport, waved your passport at them, and traded the Rolex for a ticket on the next plane out.
Today in 2014 I could still go to any airport on the planet and find someone willing to trade me a ticket for my Rolex.
Of course they would, I’d be getting maybe 10c on the dollar in the exchange…. so the Rolex is acceptable as a form of currency, as are gold and silver bullion coins, but the utility at 10c on the $ is frankly fucking crap, so the value as a currency is crap.
Same thing if I want a bus ride, a hamburger, or a packet of smokes… that’s be two bucks please sir…. got change of a Kruger-rand?
Nope, and they sit there and grin at you…
It doesn’t matter what you use as a currency either, or who issues it.
Back in the day in Spain I could earn 5,000 pesetas an hour, and menu del dia (three course meal and wine or beer) was 500 pesetas, so I had to work 6 minutes at my job to buy a good lunch down at the local cantina, clearly, that made me a wealthy man.
If I went back there today, it doesn’t matter that the peseta is gone and it is now in euros, hell, the menu del dia could be 500 trillion zimbabwe dollars, even that doesn’t matter, as long as I can do the same exact job and earn 500 trillion zimbabwe dollars in 6 minutes.
So you see, the price and the currency do not matter, what matters is how long I have to do the same work, to buy the same meal.
If I have to work 12 minutes, my standard of living just dropped by half.
If I have to work an hour, my standard of living dropped by 90%
If I am, as I was there, earning a lot of money compared to the average guy on the street, well, that is a personal problem.
If however we start talking about the average man on the street having to work ten times as long to buy the same meal, then that is economic collapse.
Again, it has nothing whatsoever to do with what the currency is, or who issues it.
Logically, it suddenly starts to look very much like the RIAA, they do not bring anything that is absolutely required to the table, they are just there to take their cut of every single transaction.
What we should have, in a sane and logical society, is this;
- A transaction bank layer, they do nothing but process payments and transactions, but they can do currency exchange, no loans, no savings, no monetary control.
- A savings and loan bank layer, they do nothing but savings and loans, no transactions, no monetary control.
- A monetary control bank layer, all they do is issue currency and control its supply, no transactions, no exchange, no loans, no savings.
Of course, none of these layers should be permitted ANY links or connections of any kind to any other layer, not even through ten layers of offshore shell holding companies and shadow directorships or even investments or stocks, if you own shares in a transaction bank you cannot own shares in a savings and loan bank, if you try, those shares are confiscated and sold on the open market.
Nor should any of these layers be allowed to partake in fractional reserve banking, the transaction layer doesn’t need to, it can make money charging 50c on every transaction, and the savings and loan layer should not be allowed to, you can only loan an amount equivalent to your savings.
While we are at it, we can talk about that *other* monetary system, stocks and shares, that only needs one rule, if you buy a stock, you cannot sell it before 1,000 days are up, and stocks themselves cannot be traded or uses as security or collateral for anything else, as that would make them like money… see…
Of course, at a stroke, 95% of the “economy” of the City of London would vanish overnight, which means 75% of UK “economy” would vanish overnight, but, nothing of value would be lost, quite the contrary.
Which brings us back to bitcoin, linden dollars, and the like.
Now, I am not going to sit here and claim that central bankers are all kind hearted philanthropic geniuses with our best interests at heart, that isn’t true.
But, neither are they all robber barons.
No matter how they got there, they found themselves in charge of the poisoned chalice, and the chalice became poisoned when electronics gave rise to computers which gave rise to a global network of electronic, virtual, currencies.
It isn’t just out of control, in its present form it is uncontrollable.
A civil war and bodies lying in the streets are preferable, from this perspective, to Greece, or anyone else, leaving the Euro.
Why, because the Euro was a step on the way to regaining control, not because it is a Euro, but because it is a unified currency.
Shades of why I keep saying the only answer is devaluation, it’s out of control, devaluation and issuing a “new euro” delays the out of control moment.
Yes, bit coin IS as valid in theory as the Euro or US$, and that IS the problem, it cannot be allowed to be, or you might as well bring back ALL the pre-Euro national currencies, and that can’t be allowed, because the uncontrollable system that is our money markets would collapse, and China and India have all the gold, and they can issue a gold backed currency into that vacuum, and we can’t.
China is spreading its bets, it owns vast amounts of physical gold, vast amounts of us treasury bucks, and vast amounts of digital fiat currency QE, doesn’t matter which way the tree falls, they have a hand in the game.
mp3 killed the music industry, because it gave us utility and exposed the sham, last year the global music industry revenues were 20 billion US$
the computer gaming industry for the same period had global revenues of 66 billion US$
You wanna be the manger for the next Miley Cyrus or the next Gordon Freeman?
Better the proles think that the bankers are all stupid bloodsucking leeches and vampires than they know the truth, the bankers are all sat in the control room of a reactor about to melt its way through to China, fucking crapping themselves, and doing anything and everything they can to try and prevent a total meltdown.
You should watch bitcoin as avidly as anyone who had anything to do with the music industry should have watched napster.
Invest in it? Hell no, that’s like betting the bookies a thousand bucks at 1:1000 (not 1000:1) odds you’ll be dead this time next year, even if you win, you lose.