Bitcoin and Crypto’s reached a major turning point: why is cryptocurrency worth anything?
In a recent interview clip Jack Dorsey quietly states his opinion on the difference between people who “get” blockchain and crypto, and those that will forever be married to the past:
This is the simply stated portion that says it all:
“People who have questions in the world, people who have curiosity (and are) recognizing that the current systems, wether they be corporate financial systems or the government financial systems just aren’t working for them…”
Although the context of his statement is regarding bitcoin as the native currency for the internet, and in particular how people are responding to the fact that financial systems “just aren’t working for them” it is, nevertheless, a perfect statement of how the world is changing.
It has already changed into two distinct groups: those that are clinging to the status quo, since it has worked very well for them, and those that want to find a new and better way, because, in most cases, the current system did not work for them.
It’s important to realize that this statement is not coming from a disgruntled outsider, but from the hugely successful founder of Square, now called Block.
The fact that a large group of highly successful business leaders, such as Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk, although benefiting massively from the current financial systems, are at the same time embracing a new way of thought and action for the future, is at the crux of the issues addressed in this post.
Buffet vs Musk & Dorsey and the zero sum mindset of Malthusian Capitalism
There is a war waging between those that are open to, and welcoming of, bitcoin, crypto, blockchain, DeFi and other new financial innovations and those that reject all of it and would like nothing more than to see it stopped, by any means necessary.
The derision, insults and disdain lobbed at bitcoin, crypto and anyone that believes in them, by the “old guard” epitomized by Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger are now well known and documented:
A few quotes:
“Probably rat poison squared.” — Warren Buffett in Fox Business interview at 2018 meeting
“I think I should say modestly that the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization” – Charlie Munger vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway
“I certainly didn’t invest in crypto. I’m proud of the fact I’ve avoided it. It’s like a venereal disease or something. I just regard it as beneath contempt.” – Charlie Munger vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway
Interestingly, if you look deeper at the interviews and quotes, you’d see that, in spite of the headline grabbing hyperbole, it’s the price speculation that is at the heart of the criticism.
The comments that crypto and bitcoin “don’t produce anything” are ridiculous on their face, as if the fiat dollar “produces” products, services or anything else.
Take a stat so well known that it is almost a cliché, any way you put it: a 2013 U.S. dollar (the year the federal reserve was created, not coincidentally) would be worth more than 16x what a dollar is worth today. One has to ask where that value is now?
Bitcoin, however, has over time only gained value. A lot. If bitcoin is rat poison, maybe the fiat system and the federal reverse are the rat?
100 year old billionaires are, aparently, not inclined to speak from enlightened self-interest. Or, to be kind, perhaps they are blinded by the success they enjoyed in a system that favors anyone at the top of the pyramid, one built on value theft?
One very big caveat, however, is clearly that the “everything bubble” is bursting, price speculation always ends in price crashes, and the massive gains in the value of various cryptocurrencies are a symptom of a larger systemic emergency, rather than a quality inherent to crypto itself. There’s that.
The gap between this kind of thinking vs. that of the forward looking cryptocurrency proponents, and what they consider to be positive innovations, is vast. In a time where divisive thought is nearly ubiquitous this is not news.
However, the fact that the legions of those that “get it” are as large as they are, and that they are constantly growing, has clearly taken the debate past the point of no return.
To get the full view of this divide it’s important to look also at just how the nearly 100 year old duo of Buffet & Munger got to be the “legends” that they are.
All the best known names they are associated with, from the initial Berkshire Hathaway purchase in 1962 to more recent investments in companies such as CocaCola, GEICO Insurance, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Sees Candy, Clayton Homes and so on, paint a clear picture of extreme hierarchal and exploitative capitalism that is solely based on making themselves and shareholders rich, and doing it on the backs of consumers.
In an example of the thinking of those that do not worship the duo, in The Nation, David Dayen wrote: “America isn’t supposed to allow moats, much less reward them. Our economic system, we claim, is founded on free and fair competition. We have laws over a century old designed to break up concentrated industries, encouraging innovation and risk-taking. In other words, Buffett’s investment strategy should not legally be available, to him or anyone else.”
Exactly this kind of double standard, corrupt to the core, is built on systemic greed founded on a Malthusian “zero-sum mindset”. This is what has led millions to conclude that the system just isn’t working for them.
Being championed ad nausea for this lifetime of “achievement” is part and parcel of the status quo that many, from many in the 99% to the “nouveau 1%”, such as Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Vitalik Buterin and many others, are actively seeking alternatives to.
That distinction, being rich and powerful and yet not satisfied with the legacy of corruption and greed, is at the heart of the new wave of thought that has made bitcoin, crypto and DeFi a force to be reckoned with.
Moreover, seeing the state of the world that centuries of this kind of thinking has engendered, it’s natural for the young and more enlightened to want to search for other ways for things to work, ways that perhaps champion something other than monopolistic greed and exploitation.
In a recent Interview Elon Musk addressed precisely this issue – how many in the current system are focused on prospering at the expense of others and maintaining a zero-sum mindset. In the clip he outlines how important it is to understand the failure of that approach.
The idea that crypto will disappear is wishful thinking by those that cling to the systems of the past
A clip of Harrison Ford speaking at the Global Climate Action Summit was banned on some platforms as incendiary. Why? Because he passionately accuses those that are financially linked to fossil fuels of working to spread disinformation and misinformation, in order to perpetuate their massive incomes, even while the planet is on the brink of climate disaster.
Blocking this opinion, from a rich and famous film star, no less, is typical in the way that the established system works to suppress the idea that you should do anything about the fact that “it’s just not working” for you.
This is the same divide, mentioned above, that is nearly all pervasive today, but will never stop innovation in thinking about financial systems. It will not stop DeFi or DAOs or crypto or bitcoin.
It will not stop sustainable energy from becoming an ever bigger part of the world’s energy infrastructure. The point of going back has long since passed.
How money works according to Musk
Jack Dorsey has an understated and somehow “quiet” way of expressing revolutionary ideas. Elon Musk, on the other hand, is well known for controversial and flamboyant statements, and especially tweets.
But to get a taste of just how radical his thinking really is, particularly to those that disagree, you have to dig deeper into lengthy interviews, such as those with Lex Fridman, where he reveals his thinking more specifically on money, crypto and the governments role in the system of money.
Coming from the wealthiest person on earth, some may find it odd, yet his thoughts on crypto vs fiat money are well documented. It’s just this kind of stance, taken by so many in the “new” establishment at the top of the current financial pyramid, who also see the necessity for change toward new ideas and systems that can so away with the worst of the status quo, well represented above by Buffet & Munger and other “crypto haters”.
Government is a corporation in the limit
In yet another interview excerpt, Musk goes even deeper into his belief that – in his exact words: “if you don’t like corporations should really hate governments”
While this particular statement arose out of a spat with Senator Elizabeth Warren regarding taxes, the overall concept of challenging the status quo and the, clearly failed, systems perpetuated, remains in play.
Web3, and how Web2 and legacy financial structures are linked
Although fraught with infighting – the typical bitcoin vs. Ethereum vs. Doge vs. Shiba Inu internal debates and criticisms are not on the magnitude of the division between those that generally support and benefit from, for example, status quo financial structure and fossil fuel business, vs those that favor Blockchain and Sustainable energy.
Further, the spirit of the clash between Web2 and Web3 rests not on the tech or the systems themselves, which it can be argued are the same, but on the beliefs and intent of each camp.
The surveillance capitalism business models of web2, epitomized by Facebook and Google are diametrically opposed to the spirit and stated goals of web3, just as bitcoin was created out of a time that, not coincidentally, corresponded to the 2008 crash and crisis born of the greed and corruption of the legacy economic establishment.
There are two distinct camps that have emerged.
Those, such as Tesla and Elon Musk, that reject the traditional holy grail of shareholder value and instead embrace, for example, a more enlightened mission “to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy”. This aligns with any individual choosing the support crypto as a “Hodler” or at least believer, vs. those that support the legacy systems of finance, the fossil fuel industrial complex and Web2’s exploitative business model.
This divide is the ultimate test of our time and it will only grow in stature and importance.
The correspondence between forward looking innovation in all human thought, communication and action is already too big to stop and cannot be wished away.
There will undoubtedly be setbacks to these new directions, and there will be attacks using more than insults, such as those quoted above, but the time for the unstoppable force to be quelled is long since past. Coke and a smile? No thanks.
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