Saturday, March 23, 2013

Alexander Reed Kelly — Have You Heard of Bitcoin? (video)

“Bitcoin is to banks what email was to postal offices,” says Mihai Alisie, editor of Bitcoin Magazine.... "It as the potential of being as big as the Internet — maybe bigger."
truthdig
Have You Heard of Bitcoin?
Alexander Reed Kelly

Video with developers.



36 comments:

Dan Kervick said...

Why do libertarians hate America?

Malmo's Ghost said...

Dan,

Libertarians hate America? Really? Prove it.

The J said...

What I don't get about bitcoin: how can it inch its way up in the money hierarchy? It's not really accepted anywhere, certainly not as payment of gov't taxes... why would I want to collect any of it?

Unknown said...

Bitcoin is worse than gold as money since there is an absolute limit on the number of Bitcoins that can be "mined." It is a money hoarder's dream come true EXCEPT government is not there to force people to use it as was the case with a gold standard.

A much better private money form is common stock. Common stock "shares" wealth and power and is thus economically and socially stable.

Dan Kervick said...

Why are bitcoiners trying to undermine the US currency system?

Unknown said...

Because the US wastes its money creation power propping up the usury for stolen purchasing power cartel, the banks? Because the US allows that same cartel to create 97% of the price inflation in the dollar?

Malmo's Ghost said...

Dan,

What would you advocate we do to these so called traitorous libertarians?

Dan Kervick said...

Malmo's Ghost, I don't think anything much needs to be done about the bitcoiners. Their ponzi schemes and money laundering schemes will eventually collapse of their own weakness. Some will eventually be prosecuted for tax avoidance and money laundering. You can't pay your taxes in bitcoins.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Dan,

I don't disagree. I just with you'd lay off the sweeping generalizations. You're better than that.

Dan Kervick said...

I'm just teasing the libertarians. But you have to admit they have a rather stridently anti-government stance. There doesn't seem to be anything about the US system of government that they like. If they were to get their way and give us the radically decentralized, localized, privatized world they seem to want, the ability of progressive Americans to eventually mobilize the government to produce full employment, social and economic equality and broad prosperity would be damaged.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Dan,

Let's be honest, the national government has dropped the ball in a big way the past few years, which legitimately plays into the libertarians concerns. But let me be frank, I do not wish to be governed by a nation of libertarians. On the other hand I, like you, desire good and responsive government, however it comes about.

Matt Franko said...

Dan,

From my pov they dont necessarily hate "America", they seem to deny/denegrate authority in general.

As the govt represents certain significant authorities, it and it's institutions (here the monetary system) becomes a main target of their ire...

Here is the wiki on Libertarianism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism

It's full of crazy stuff (to me)

Key excerpt: "According to the U.S. Libertarian Party, libertarianism is the advocacy of a government that is funded voluntarily and limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence."

So you see this "coercion and violence" crop up here and our Bob Roddis mentions this all the time...

They dont like it when Warren tells his story about the guy standing at the door with a 9mm, that probably really sets them off.

It is not clear to me if this anti-authority view is driven by the fact that we are tremendously overtaxed by our morons who think "we're out of money" and that govt "gets the money from the taxpayers"... and this tremendous injustice is driving them to just "hate government" as a shotgun approach... void of nuance or degree.

Like Mal indicates that "govt has dropped the ball" here and he could at core be thinking "over taxation"...

Or if it some deeper psycopathy at work wrt "coercion" at ANY level. Like they may feel the same way if govt levied very a very SMALL appropriate rate of taxes.

I often wonder how much Libertarianism is a result of over-taxation vs how much is just an anti-authority cohort of our citizens...

rsp,

Matt Franko said...

Like the "Boston Tea Party" (and today's 'Tea Party'), was it because of 'overtaxation' or just 'taxation'?

hard to tell...

vimothy said...

Bitcoin: what you get if you cross Richard Stallman with Zero Hedge.

Malmo's Ghost said...

Bitcoin: a reaction to dysfunctional government.

vimothy said...

That's as may be, but it doesn't speak to the wisdom or the coherence of the Bitcoin project. If Bitcoin is something that is good (in some sense), what makes it so?

Malmo's Ghost said...

I don't know if it's good or not, or even how "good" would be defined here. People come up with a lot of schemes, much of them dumb and dumber, when they feel their best interests aren't being represented. To my mind bitcoinage as an unlikely bromide is no worse (not even close) than what our massive and unresponsive bureaucracy has exacted upon millions and millions of its citizens over the past six years or so.

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, on the political compass matrix, the vertical axis is authoritarian-libertarian. It's a range from hierarchy to consensus.

Radical libertarians want "no state," with "state" equivalent to government as it is usually understood. This is nonsense both socially and cognitively. Human beings are pack animals, where there is always dominance and submission, not lone hunters. This is quite different from herd and hive behavior, too. It's just no possible to organize modern society based completely on individual freedom with no institutional social cohesion, and the suggestion that it is possible by nature is unreasonable. There is no evidence that speaks for this, and a lot of evidence that speaks against it. But that is only a small faction of those that fall on the libertarian side of the axis.

What unites libertarians of all stripes is the distrust of hierarchy based on dominance, what Marx called attention to a "class structure." Historically, the ruling class as used government to enforce privilege. This is what libertarians are agreed upon as "wrong." Yes, it is normative and does not reflect the "natural" state of affairs historically or evolutionarily. However, libertarians believe that human being are better than this and can rise above it. History has a liberal bias.

The other axis is conservative and liberal. The basis of traditional conservatism is that some are better than other and deserve more. The basis of liberalism is that all are inherently equal and there should be no privileged positions at the starting gate. Nor should privilege be allowed to arise through customs and institutions.

These two axes generate a matrix of political views based on norms and views that get expressed as political theories.

The overarching context is that historically humans evolved cooperation in their packs that first evinced the social compacts of tribal life and then the social contracts of civilization, that is, the rule of law and constitutional government.

Abandoning the rule of law and constitutional government because it has resulted in "issues" limiting liberty would be like abandoning money and going back to barter because money results in financial issues. It would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The challenge is how to deal with the challenges arising from increasing complexity, especially due to emergence involving "issues" that humanity did not face previously.

Basically, authoritarianism is top-down organization on the military model, and libertarianism is consensus-building on the tribal model, while conservatism is based on heredity traits and liberalism in the proposition that all are created equal.

The authoritarian conservative solution is to have the those with the best heredity rule. The authoritarian liberal position is a meritocracy. The conservative libertarian view is to give the greatest liberty to those who accumulate most, i.e., asymmetrical liberty, and the liberal libertarian view is social equality — "do under others....", "all for one and one for all," and "from each according to ability and to each according to need."

These are the extremes on this matrix and there are other views scattered on the matrix. This is a somewhat simplistic way of viewing political theory, but it is a good model for thinking about some of the perennial issues involving personal freedom, egality, and community, as well as the affects of factors like class structure, customs, institutions, and the like., as well as political choice.

vimothy said...

Malmo's Ghost,

I don't know if it's good or not, or even how "good" would be defined here.

I was leaving it open in the hope that you would define it.

But okay, you won't say that it's "good". But you will say that it's "no worse" than the current system. In what sense then is it "no worse"?

vimothy said...

The basis of traditional conservatism is that some are better than other and deserve more. The basis of liberalism is that all are inherently equal and there should be no privileged positions at the starting gate

Are these really the bases of traditional conservatism and liberalism?

Malmo's Ghost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vimothy said...

On Bitcoin, my take is:

Bitcoin is supposed to be a digital simularcrum of gold. But gold is a commodity--one of many.

What is it about Bitcoin that makes it a valuable commodity, like gold? Nothing, as far as I can see. Bitcoin has value as an anonymous means of payment, i.e., it's useful in some forms of exchange, but there is no underlying value beyond that. At the end of the day, it's computer game money.

What you want from money as an asset (i.e. as something that you might want in your portfolio) is liquidity and a stable value. Bitcoin does badly on both these fronts.

Malmo's Ghost said...

"But okay, you won't say that it's "good". But you will say that it's "no worse" than the current system. In what sense then is it "no worse"?

I see bitcoin as a relatively small subset of our larger dysfunctional system. It is that sense that I see it as no worse.

vimothy said...

I'm not coming from the same place as MMTers, who I guess dislike Bitcoin because they think the government derives special powers from its ability to define and issue money. If this ability is compromised, then it's powers could be diluted. So I expect that they would be naturally resistant to such schemes.

In my view it is neither desirable nor possible to suppress private monies. And I don't think that private money undermines government money in general or the US currency system in particular. That said, I still find Bitcoin wanting.

Tom Hickey said...

If Bitcoin is something that is good (in some sense), what makes it so?

More options = greater degree of freedom.

The trade-off is between freedom and control.

The ideal is maximum freedom that can be effectively controlled.

Tom Hickey said...

Bitcoin is an interesting experiment. Let's see where it goes.

Tom Hickey said...

And I don't think that private money undermines government money in general or the US currency system in particular.

Unless an entire community would use a private currency like Bitcoin (the Libertarian agenda), it has to be convertible into the unit of account, and that is its weakness. In the end, it's just a token for a tax credit, i.e., a virtual tax credit that has to be exchanged for an actual tax credit to pay taxes. Of course, the Libertarian dream is communities in which there is no state taxing authority and contributions for public use, e.g., security, are voluntary.

Tom Hickey said...

Are these really the bases of traditional conservatism and liberalism?

I believe so behaviorally and sociologically if we look at evidence. Historically, conservatism has basically been a defense of "natural in equality" as the basis of class privilege against the onslaught of rising liberalism. This can produced paradoxically results. For example, the US pretends to be a "classless society," and the staunchest defenders of that view are the privileged who sit at the apex of the class structure and shout "class warfare" at any suggestion that they are privileged or that their privileged should be reduced, e.g., through progressive taxation. They claim that that "merit" is not privilege and that they individually outperformed, hence deserve to have more than than others (because they are better than others).

Anonymous said...

It's not America libertarians hate, it's democracy.

Anonymous said...

Tom Hickey: "What unites libertarians of all stripes is the distrust of hierarchy based on dominance,"

Then why do libertarians suck up to big business?

Matt Franko said...

Yeah but Tom a lot of those folks who sit atop the hierarchy think its a "free market" and "they got theirs fair and square, etc..." , not realizing that its all been a subsidy system for their benefit under govt authority from word go.... they think "I EARNED mine, etc..."

Those folks are I submit Libertarian/Randian synthesis folks of the right ... basically 'authority' deniers too...

The key differentiator seems to be some sort of "libertarianism", I dont know what else to term it, anti-authority?

iow you have anarchy/chaos 'freewill' type approaches from the left Libertarians and moron "free market" Darwinian pagan-type approaches from the right Libertarians.... and here we are...

Neither of these two cohorts, which seem to comprise a majority of US electorate, can be seen as accepting of authority, even if this authority is operative thru our govt 'of, by, for we the people' ... so this is a tough predicament we are in....

rsp,






Tom Hickey said...

Then why do libertarians suck up to big business?

They only see governments as hierarchical institutions. They see businesses as "teams."

In my view this is the great weakness of the Libertarian analysis that makes them ignore the obvious relationship of Big Business and Big Government that results in corporatism, a term that Mussolini considered more appropriate than "fascism." They believe that if Big Government goes away, then the power of Big Business will also disappear and all businesses will be competing the same terms.

It's a one sided analysis that I think is myopic if only because it ignores economies of scale and the institutional leverage this provides that generates monopoly power and oligopoly privilege for large firms.

I think that this is the result of a methodological individualism based on ontological individualism, the effect of which is the ignoring of social and societal relationships, especially institutional arrangements. It's a micro-based analysis that ignores meso and macro factors.

Consequently, it appears to be to be unrealistic. I don't have a bias against this POV.I would be nice if it were true. It doesn't apply to unenlightened individuals in large modern societies whose life support systems are based on utility maximization and where groups can dominate through coordination. But Libertarians are OK with this, since from their POB it is only right that the best individuals and teams dominate in fair games on a level playing field in a zero sum, winner-take-all world.

In short, in my view the assumptions are to simplistic for the conceptual model to be plausibly representational.

Tom Hickey said...

It's not America libertarians hate, it's democracy.

"Tyranny of the majority"

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tom. :)

It seems to me that big business is hierarchical, even at the micro level.

When I was younger I thought that I was libertarian, and I would prefer that banner. But then I found out more about libertarianism. :(

Recently something clicked, and now I think that a lot of libertarians are really Randians. That is, they are really authoritarians who are hero-worshippers of the supreme individual, the uebermensch.

Malmo's Ghost said...

"Recently something clicked, and now I think that a lot of libertarians are really Randians. That is, they are really authoritarians"

Yes, a lot.

Tom Hickey said...

@ Bill

Right. There is a certain inconsistency in being a conservative libertarian, i.e., someone who believes in personal liberty while believing that some are superior to others, since it leads to asymmetrical liberty, with the "better people" having the actual freedom that property ownership bestows, while the rest are employed by them (serve them) on their terms.