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Sometimes, when people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m CEO of a new currency called Bitcoin. “But,” I tell them, “I’m not the only one.” It gets them interested. They raise important questions. Eventually (or, if they know better, instantly), they call me on this heinous lie.
Which reminds me…
By now, you’ve likely heard about Jamie Dimon’s statements regarding Bitcoin.
To paraphrase Dimon: ‘It’s a fraud. It’s making stupid people, such as my daughter, feel like they’re geniuses. It’s going to get somebody killed. I’ll fire anyone who touches it.’
Well, of course, that’s not a completely unexpected response from a big banker. Bitcoin, after all, is, as Dimon recognized last year, aiming to eat his lunch.
But Dimon is a special case. Because JPMorgan has been trying real hard (since 2013) to get “Bitcoin technology” to fit into its current business model.
Here’s the loose timeline…
2013: JPMorgan files patent for “Bitcoin-like” payment system.
Rejected. Rejected. Rejected. (repeat 172 more times).
Fast-forward to 2016.
Jamie Dimon 2016: Bitcoin developers are ‘coming to eat our lunch. And that’s fine. That’s called competition, and we’ll be competing.”
Jamie Dimon 2017 Q1: Blockchain is going to make us even richer. Bitcoin doesn’t stand a chance. We don’t need no stinkin’ patents!
Jamie Dimon 2017 Q2: Wait. What do you mean that’s all it can do? Oh, I see.
Jamie Dimon 2017: Bitcoin is a fraud. You’re all idiots. I will fire anyone who touches it.
Is Dimon a Bitcoin Genius?
The idea that Jamie fabricated the crash to get a discount is, of course, merely a conspiracy theory floating around in the cryptosphere. But it underlies an important fact about Bitcoin.
The only control Jamie Dimon has over Bitcoin is by spreading F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). He represents one of the world’s most powerful banking institutions — and he only holds soft power over the Bitcoin network. And if it doesn’t die (and kill somebody in the process) as he *publicly* expects it will, he, as one man atop a centralized institution, will not be able to compete with a distributed, self-organizing software program.
And here’s the thing…
The 2008 crash is still pretty fresh in many minds. All “rules” for the American Dream have been shattered. Trust in the banking system is at a dismal low. Bitcoin, therefore, represents a “hedge” against the frauds and gross excesses of the Jamie Dimons of the world. Because those who are paying attention know not a thing has changed on Wall Street.
The Rise of Alternatives
To be sure: I don’t support Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as THE alternative. I support them as AN alternative. I support anything that can give you and yours sovereignty from arbitrary hierarchies. Give you freedom in an unfree world.
But I don’t think it’s wise to fully embrace with open arms the “Cashless Society” just because Bitcoin is disruptive to the current status quo.
Thus, long-time sufferers of Laissez Faire Today know I’m also a fan of the “local currency” movement. (Also, a hybridized version has been on my mind, too.)
Money is a technology. And it’s malleable. There are many ways to skin a cat. And, the more we experiment with the creation and exchange of value, the more we learn about how money can be generative rather than, as it does now, incentivize, en masse, degenerates.
Truth is, nothing’s changed since Bitcoin’s birth. Wall Street is back at selling junk debt, getting rich on toxic fake value slushies. It’s easy to see, then, why Jamie Dimon can’t come around to Bitcoin.
The unbiased protocol is the boss. Not a banker. Not subjective models that do not and cannot possibly reflect truthfully the territory-at-large. With Bitcoin, the map need not represent the territory. The territory simply is.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies work by using energy to burn objective truth into the system. And, as Orwell put it: “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
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