My New Bitcoin Pitch
I just finished the last day of Bitcoin outreach at the Cheshire County fair just outside of Keene, New Hampshire. The event is a great opportunity to talk to people about Bitcoin, and Bitcoin provides a great opportunity to discuss a great many other topics. I try to work in as much propaganda into my bit as possible, and came up with the following pitch.
As people walk by, I ask them if they like money. This evokes a lot of chuckles, a lot of yeses, and undoubtedly the occasional “Money is the root of all evil” at which point I ask them “Well, what is the root of money?” If they say they do not like money, I suggest they might not be using the wrong kind. If they say yes I invite them to talk about a new kind of money.
Once engaged, the pitch goes something like this.
Surely you’re familiar with credit and debit cards. These are electronic payment systems in which you spend dollars. Surely you’re familiar with dollars, you’ve probably spent a few of them today. Bitcoin is an electronic payment system where we are spending an alternative monetary unit called Bitcoins.
It is almost as if you went to Euros or Yen or some other foreign currency, but the difference is that Bitcoin is not issued by any bank, corporation, or government, there is no central authority at all, and this provides us with some very unique advantages.
For example, when you use a debit or credit card, you are giving someone an account number and permission to take a certain amount of money from that account. This usually works just fine, of course, but sometimes you are overcharged, or someone gets your account number and takes money without your permission. This of course is fraud, we don’t like that, and I’ve always wondered why people didn’t do more to stop it.
So the makers of Bitcoin, they were very smart, and they cared deeply for their fellow man, and they looked at our financial system and said “Something is very wrong with this. There seems to be a great deal of taking. People are taking from one another, and that hurts people, and we don’t like it. So we’re going to create a monetary system that simply lacks the feature of taking. We are not going to build theft into our money as a feature.”
So when you pay someone in Bitcoin, they do not take money out of your account. You put money into their account. The process is reversed. This might sound like a trivial difference at first, but if you think it through, it is actually quite revolutionary. What we are saying, is that the very nature of our financial system requires all of our economic activity be explicitly voluntary. We are eliminating theft, violence, and coercion from our economic system. And I think that’s just excellent because I despise theft, violence and coercion, as I think we all should.
But of course, credit card thieves are not the only people who steal in society. While you spend dollars, you may notice that prices have this nasty habit of increasing. There are a number of factors that go into pricing, of course, but one of those factors is inflation. You may have heard of this. We have the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States. They print money to fund government programs, and some of those programs are, shall we say, of questionable value.
This dilutes the money supply, driving down the value of our assets. It is a backdoor tax on you and me, and I am none too happy about that. Neither were the creators of Bitcoin. So when they developed this monetary system, they decided nobody would have any special privileges. Printing money is of course a rather spectacular privilege. If you printed money you might be able to do some amazing things, until you went to prison for counterfeiting, because it screws over your fellow man. The Federal Reserve suffers no such hindrances.
Nobody can create more bitcoins, all anybody can do within the system is give and receive, give and receive, the way money should work. It doesn’t matter if you are a banker, a billionaire, or a bureaucrat, nobody has the ability to do anything other than give and receive. There will only be 21 million bitcoins in circulation for all of eternity, and nobody can create more of them. This way we solve that pesky inflation problem.
Additionally, let us pretend that you live in a place where the government is quite benevolent. That they keep you safe, and maintain order, and provide you with very good roads and that sort of thing, that your politicians are honest and your elections are quite fair. In this situation, you might want to pay those people for their services, and Bitcoin would certainly allow you to do that.
But were you to find yourself in a place where politicians were lying thieving scum, where the integrity of elections was lacking in credibility, where the government murdered innocent people and had the highest per capita incarceration rate on Earth, this you might not want to pay for. So what then?
Well, here in the United States, what happens is the government asks the bank “How much money does John Smith have?” and the bank is all too happy to give the government your entire financial history. The government then says “John Smith, you owe us X” and John Smith says “No I don’t” and the government says to the bank “Bank, give us all of John’s money”. The bank likes the government more than it likes their customers, and so the bank does this quite willingly.
When the government asks Bitcoin “Hey Bitcoin, how much money does John Smith have” Bitcoin says “What?” And the government says “John Smith, you know, the guy whose social security number is 123456. How much money does he have?” and Bitcoin says “I have no idea what they hell you’re talking about.”
Well, actually, Bitcoin says nothing at all. Because it has no agents to question. It is simply a computer program, it cannot be threatened with imprisonment or death like a bank teller. Bitcoin does not know your name or your social security number, your account is merely a cryptographic key, a string of letters and numbers. You may have heard about those old Swiss bank accounts where rich people hid their money from tax collectors. Then after 9/11 the United States government went to the Swiss banks and said “You wouldn’t be funding terrorism, would you?” and they leaned on the Swiss banks to make them assist in tax collection. So now you cannot get those Swiss bank accounts. But you can get Bitcoin, it is not associated with your name, or your social security number, or your driver’s license, or your thumbprint, or your DNA, or your photo. It is almost anonymous. Anybody can create a Bitcoin account without showing any ID or filling out any form, and you can store as much money in it as you are capable of acquiring, and you can send it anywhere in the world, in the blink of an eye without paying hardly any fees or getting anyone’s permission.
Those are just a few of the reasons I’m so enthusiastic about Bitcoin, if you have a smartphone and would like to get started today, I can set you up with a free Bitcoin wallet right now and you’ll be ready to get started. It won’t cost you a thing, I’m not trying to sell you anything but an idea, but if you’re not into taking financial advice from carnies, then just visit WeUseCoins.com. They have a lot of great information, they talk a lot slower than I do, and they will be happy to tell you how to get bitcoin, where to spend bitcoin, and all of the technical and security information you might be curious about.
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