Tag Archives: Bitcoin

The Dream of Bitcoin

Medellin, Columbia, December 12, 2017

“About 50-60% of the people in Medellin do not have a bank account. They take loans out from teenage gang members, who charge 20% per month “tax.”’ And the poor are willing to do this because one: there is no financial education. And two: because they have no other choice.”

That’s what our guide for the Medellin Real City Tours told us. The poor often don’t have a regular job, just sell things on the street. But the system won’t allow them to start an account at a bank for this reason. How are you able to put an “employer” on the application if you sell mangos on street corners? The population of Medellin is around 3 million people, meaning over 1.5 million are what they call the “unbanked”.

Worldwide, 38% of the world’s population does not have a bank account . That works out to 2 billion adults with no account at all. Their bank is literally under their mattress.

A possible solution floated was to allow the poor in Medellin to use the payphone as a bank – enter your account number and put coins into the machine. I thought this was ingenious – but it hasn’t been implemented, nor a date set to start. Better yet: why not use what every single adult already has – a cellphone.

I think we can look towards SubSaharan Africa as an example. “While just 1 percent of adults globally say they use a mobile money account…in SubSaharan Africa, 12 percent of adults (64 million adults) have mobile money accounts…” Imagine now if the banks weren’t huge multi-nationals, but citizens from within their community, keeping the money in the community to benefit all?

My Taiwanese friends were interested in buying Bitcoin, but weren’t able to connect their bank to Coinbase in order to make the purchase. I said, ‘Just give me your money and $5 for fees, and I’ll send you some.’ Which I did.

Then, it dawned on me: I had just become a bank. I received a cash deposit, agreed on a fee, and sent them money/bitcoin.

This is the Dream of Bitcoin: disintermediate and disrupt the Finance Industry. The individual as the bank.

Disintermediation of Banking

“Disintermediation…the removal of intermediaries in economics from a supply chain, or cutting out the middlemen in connection with a transaction or a series of transactions.”
~ Wikipedia

Just look at recent history: what has disintermediated the Taxi industry? Uber.

In every Latin American city I’ve been to I was able to use Uber, arrange my pickup point and where I wanted to go, agree to a set fee, and pay with my phone. I could even set a pickup time in the future. I can even get a limousine-type car with Uber black. Uber wins because it’s cheaper, more convenient and safer than hailing a taxi from the street. And I don’t need to pick up fake paper receipts to inflate the fare for writing off on my company expenses either! I get an email, and it gets recorded in my Uber account.

And now the same disintermediation is happening in the Banking Industry, through Bitcoin, and the other alt coins such as Ether and Ripple. In 2016, the Finance and Insurance Industry accounted for 1.4 Trillion dollars in GDP in the US alone.

Worldwide, the estimated size for the financial industry in 2014 is $13.1 trillion. The Global Market Cap for Cryptocoins currently stands (CoinMarketCap.com, December 12, 2017) at 505,158,081,668, or only around half a billion. Just to give you idea of the scale, the Finance industry is over 1,399 times the size of the Crypto market cap.

When anyone with a smartphone can be a bank – who needs banks?

Well, people don’t have enough money to lend money for a house, right?

Satoshi Nakamoto does.

Satoshi Nakamoto, the sexy and mysterious founder of Bitcoin purportedly owns about a million bitcoins. He could finance a bunch of home loans. And the contract terms could be written in a mathematically precise form, with different term lengths, percentage interest, monthly payment and insurance escrow. And, if the buyer doesn’t pay, then the mathematically constructed contract could determine that ownership reverts to Satoshi – just like a bank. What’s to keep banks in business if the competition is us?

The Teen Gangster Bankers of Medellin
Currently, teen gangsters disintermediate the banks in Medellin. They are the bank of choice for the poor there. But what if a philanthropically inclined individual in turn disintermediates the gangsters, granting short-term loans to friends and family at half the gangster rate of 10%, down from the usurious gangster rate of 20%? He does it through his cellphone, and the gangsters are none the wiser. The poor get to keep more of their money, and the gangsters find something else to exploit.

Now, let’s take this worldwide. There are 15 million millionaires in the world, soon to all have the ability to act as a bank. There are only an estimated 14,600 banks in the entire world.

Remember the Great Recession? Too Big to Fail? Well, now We The People don’t need to bail out an institution anymore. Nor do we need any of such size.

But, what about the World Bank, and bailouts for countries such as Venezuela or Greece? Well, why not have a sorta ICO, but scaled for countries? Negotiate the terms of repayment, mathematically formulate the agreement, and let individuals – not countries, decide. Why should a “Germany” decide that an entire generation of young Greeks shall for a period no less than X years have no economic opportunities? The Greek diaspora worldwide is estimated at 7 Million, 1.3 million in the US alone.

Imagine a sorta bailout ICO, with repayment terms as a percentage of the total “investment” voted on by the bitcoin wallets of the individuals that are willing to participate? No expensive infrastructure to maintain, no impressive office buildings and helipads. Just individuals voting with their wallets.

Nations fall, individuals rise again. Democracy is messy, yet Crypto is ruled by consensus. The lesson of Segwit taught us that.

The Wisdom of Crowds, or Rule by Mob?
That’s the fear, isn’t it? Well, what are nations states anyway? We have a representative government, which has carved up districts in a way to benefit one side or the other. Which has led to things like the creation of National Parks to protect our shared natural resources…and the election of a serial sexual harasser in chief. Wars, both electronic and actual have plagued us as a nation.

But, if there’s anything that travel has taught me is this: while nations create enemies and justify wars, the vast majority of individual people within those countries are good and kind people willing to give the shirt off their back. They live and let live, and if someone needs help they will lend a helping hand.

Medellin was admittedly a basket case of a city back in the bad-old-days of Pablo Escobar. Now, tourists are making their way back, even taking tours of the city that explain the events during the reign of terror of Pablo, and to his eventual death. And how the city has recovered in a way that makes it not just a safer city, but a desirable one.

Their problem wasn’t even of their own making. Worldwide demand for cocaine led to Pablo. The country didn’t benefit, they just got all the shitty parts, like crime, murders, and government corruption.

No one would blame them if they held a grudge against countries that purchase the powder that contributed to such violence. But, every time I am asked where I am from, I tell them with a smile ”Soy Estadounidense.” I am from the United States. And sometimes: “Soy Junkie!” which in Espanol sounds like “I am a Yankee!”

And they go, “Ahh…” and smile back. Because their country has come so far, even tourists from the States want to visit.

The Aftermath
And what happens when the Banking system crumbles, and Bitcoin rises and rises again to take its place? When the Insurance Industry is crowdsourced, and National Debt is wiped clean by the proud people from that nation? When individuals assert their power and vote with their BTC and ETH wallets?

My view is that a sort of of democratic capitalist socialism will take hold. It will be messy, and there will be disagreements, but ultimately, I think great good will evolve from it.

Because, to paraphrase a line from one of my favorite science fiction movies: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or even the one.

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Bitcoin Future: Shoot for the Moon, or Land in the FUD?

Bitcoin Future: Shoot for the Moon, or land in the FUD? The rise, and rise of Bitcoin

Quito, Ecuador, December 7th, 2017

At the moment there’s a buncha Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) in the Facebooks and Reddit Bitcoin worlds right now. And all of that is warranted, given how the (real) futures whale investor profits whether a market goes up – or down. 

And unlike a real commodity like corn costing more, or less, because of uncertainty (rainfall, competition, insects, disease…) the only uncertainty with Bitcoin is how much the whales want the market to dive (or rise). 

My thoughts are: it doesn’t matter what happens. What matters is what happens next.

ETFs and 401Ks 

The InkyWinkyVosselhof twins tried (and failed) to singlehandedly jumpstart the Bitcoin ETF market with their ill-gotten Facebook millions, but a second go with futures approved will more than likely be the next step in bitcoin’s r/evolution

The current ETF market is over 4 trillion dollars. The 401K and IRA Retirement market that is one of the major purchasers of ETFs is 26.6 Trillion dollars. And, as everyone’s favorite self-help gazillionaire James Altucher noted, there are 15 million millionaires that are all asking their advisors if they should get into bitcoin, or not? 

Sure, what the heck, buy a Bitcoin…or eight. Diversification is never a bad idea.

Oops, but there’s only 21 million of those suckers, and 4 Million have been lost, sent to incorrect public addresses – what have you. 

But, I’m a gazilionaire! I want a full Bitcoin! 

Sure, but it will cost you…

…or, you can park that 5% of that 30 trillion bucks on the basket of the top 10 Cryptocoins in an ETF that is completely uncorrelated with anything else you hold, you know: diworsify!

Well let’s see, 5% of 30 trillion is…carry the 4 equals…a ocean of filthy lucre pouring into a thimble-sized asset. An asset that doesn’t ebb and flow with the season (aka “corn”) it only ever was, and ever will be, 17 million, once you subtract those bits of coin forever lost.

We may one day look back on the 1 million-dollar per bitcoin forecast by 2020 by potential dick-eater John McAfee as woefully low.

While the whales may have their go at making the market dive, because they know in just a little while all of those coins the retail crowd tossed aside because their hopes and dreams just got shredded in the baleen gills of the futures mega-whales will now, inevitably, be hoovered up into  the Plesiosaurian jaws of the retirement account managers bottom-feeding straight after. 

And what happens next? 

They rise and rise to the moon, and beyond. 

 

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The New Pharaohs, or Unnatural Selection

Galapagos Islands, December 4th, 2017

Yesterday, I was face to face with a penguin. I was snorkeling off of Isla Isabel, and popped up next to one of like 10 little pinguinos huddled on some not-yet-submerged volcanic outcroppings in the wide wide ocean. With oceans rising because of global warming up to 3 feet a cenfury, I calculate about 30 more years before they will no longer have these little ocean havens safe from the predations of the hunter species, the killer whales, sharks, and Donald Trump Junior’s.

The Galapagos, rather than being a model for the ideas of Darwin, are a kind of the opposite of his life’s work, an Un-Natural Selection – if you will. The Giant tortoises are bred in captivity to be released to the wild, ladybugs are imported to attack a species of furry insect that is killing their trees. Cats, goats, and other “foreign” species are eradicated to allow the endemic species to better thrive.

en·dem·ic
enˈdemik  (of a plant or animal) native or restricted to a certain country or area.

All for dollares de tourista, and preserve for all time their idea of perfection. A museum of what they believe Darwin saw at the time he saw them.

When most people think of Darwin the phrase “Survival of the fittest” comes to mind. But what is forgotten is the other half of the equation: Sexual Selection. What species find sexy. Because things like Peacock’s unnecessarily long tail feathers do not a fittest species make.

Which brings to mind the Weinstein’s and ALL of the corporate presidents I worked for had a lot of rumors of “sleeping”on the job, if you will. Taking Darwin’s ideas to extremes: Men aspire to powerful positions in order to be more attractive to females. Maybe this is not in the forefront of their brains – more likely in their reptilian hindbrains. To put bread on the table is the front, once successful it’s putting Barbara on the table.

And then, it goes to the dark side.

In middle managers it’s bad enough, but when you are at the pinnacle of your respective power it is rife. Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely – right? Men are assertive because it’s attractive – in general. The dark side is when it is taken to extremes – sexual abuse, harassment – and rape.

This is not to gift them with cover for their actions, aka: I strove for a position of power  because it’s my biological perogative in order to spread my genes. There are plenty of decent men who spread their genes with willing participants. I see these serial harassers more as sad shadows of humans who acted this way despite their respectable positions and reputations.

I mean, who wakes up and says I want to grow up to be a CEO? Assholes, that’s who.

Look at Trump, and that potential future congressman and serial pedophile Roy Moore who seem to think it’s not at all a problem. In fact, I think current laws and mores are an inconvenience to their behaviors, because ‘…when you are are a star, they let you do it…grab them by the pussy,’ said our so-called Commander and Chief.

We should have never left the trees

I look towards the so-called “primitive” cultures. The aborigines, the natives, and headhunters. Modern world vs “primitive” world. Totally in balance – either grow their own food, or hunt only what they need.

Then, think back to my time visiting the Ouros Reed Islanders of Lake Titicaca, the ones willing to be on display, to wear their native “costumes” and greet the tourists with songs starting in their native tongues, segueing to English, German and Japanese for their visitor’s amusement. When I saw the Ouros leader pull out his fat stack roll to give change, I understood why.

The other reed islands, the ones who decided to not go along with this ridiculousness had signs of normality – some trash, sloppy huts and irregularly shaped reed islands. The “tourist” reed islands were pictures of Disney perfection, clean, orderly, symmetrical even. Hut interiors in museum quality settings.

Totally in balance, right? Well, if you’re not part of one of those uncontacted indians in the Amazon – then you are affected by the modern world.

A quick look back at history, and one viewpoint is that Farming destroyed this balance, led to king’s and taxation and ownership – of land, of slaves. Then the creation of money, then usury and now we have Central Banks, and Modern Pharaohs deciding which third world country would be amenable to some economic meddling. Because it’s not the Koch brothers that determine the fate of countries, but the Rothschild’s, the US and the House of Saud.

Venezuelan Diaspora
In my 7 months of travel through Chile, then Peru and Ecuador, I seemed to run into many Venezuelans. The reason for this is because of their economic disaster of a situation that is driving the inhabitants to other, “better” countries. But, not so long ago, Venezuela was a powerhouse of a South American country, much like Chile was pre-Pinochet.

I can’t help but draw parallels between the two countries. When Chile defied President Nixon, he vowed to “Make the economy scream.” And scream they did, an entire country gone insane, incarcerating, torturing and killing their citizens – all with the help of the Economic Hitmen: the CIA.

While most “reasonable” people say that the reasons for Venezuela’s economic failure is Chavez’s fault for not diversifying their oil based economy, I see this more like an opportunity for the Bush’s to talk to the House of Saud to lower their crude prices to the screaming point, destroy Venezuela’s economy, and make their citizens go to war against each other. Because, they can. Because, when you defy the US you defy the crazy motherfuckers that can destroy your entire country.

I think of the schoolyard joke, ‘I’m gonna hit you so hard it will knock out your entire family!’ Heh.

And as long as we have oil and dollar based economies, then these sorts of economic destruction of countries will continue. Which brings me to:

The Hope of Bitcoin
The Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet, the used-to-be-richest-person in the world declared “You can’t value bitcoin because it’s not a value-producing asset…real bubble in that sort of thing.” He also famously didn’t get Amazon either. And now who’s the richest man now, Warren? Dipshit says what?

Oracles should remain Oracles – tourist destinations to view oddities, the ancient, where the gullible go to hear the babblings of drugged wise-people to justify their already made decisions.

McAfee (sort of) gets it. He said if Bitcoin didn’t get to $500,000 in 2 years he’d eat his dick. Lately he raised this to 1 million. (Me, I’m rooting for $999,999 in 2 years). Here’s what McAfee gets: set expectations high. Shoot for the moon, because there’s a lot of profit to be had between the mud and the moon, and maaybee you’ll land on top of the bitcoin mountain.

Bitcoin is kind of the digital version of Darwin’s “Survival of the fittest.” Bitcoin attacked constantly by the best hackers on the planet. It becomes the fittest, hardiest stray dog walking the streets. Not backed by anything, no sovereign “owner”. No Central Authority to manipulate or inflate it – distributed, democratic. The Ne Plus Ultra of cash, the Alma Ata of money. It’s digital lucre, the closest thing to money as an idea.

Quoth Warren: “Bitcoin is not a value producing asset” – Like that’s an argument. Earth to Warren: neither is the US Dollar. Or any dollar, for that matter. For the first time in history we only have money that’s infinitely inflatable. Except for Bitcoin. Bitcoin only has, and will only ever have 21 million in existence. The US Dollar is a joke excuse for money. Because one of the defining rules of money is relative scarcity. You can’t use shells as money when you live on a beach, for example.

Unless, you are in the US. Or any other country right now, for that matter.

The only reason US dollars are stable is because they are the lingua franca of Oil. In a way, the US dollar is backed by oil. Other countries must keep stacks of US dollars in order to purchase oil. Which keeps the US economy humming, and brings us back full circle to the House of Saud, the Bush’s and the economic disaster of Venezuela.

The New Pharaohs
The way the Republicans are acting, they seems like they’d be okay with gangrapes on public buses. Create victim classes in which to prey. By the way their so-called leaders, Donald Trump and McConnell are acting, they’d be okay with a serial child molester in Congress – as long as he’s not a Democrat. They’re also okay with a Tax plan that destroys the middle class, creates a pool of servants (poor), and solidifies the haves, the Trumps and Pharoahs iz’all good.

‘Cause what kind of model country would they desire? Maybe modeled on Saudi Arabia – close to zero crime, the lucky ones of the House of Saud treated like the Pharaohs of old, every whim catered to by the poor – which is everyone else.

Modern slavery, and if you steal they will cut off your hands. You can prey on the pretty servant women – because, why not? They won’t complain – well, to anyone that would matter. Women wear the veil, and can’t drive, can’t abort – or even vote for that matter. Perfection to the Trumps of the world.

And for that thief with no hands? He deserved it, right? Well, maybe he was one of the unlucky ones, one of those not lucky enough to be part of the House of Saud, and had to steal for a living. He deserved to have his hands cut, right? So what that he wasn’t born into the right family? Or was unlucky enough to be born during a time when the Congress destroyed it’s middle class – because who needs a class of people who might have just a smidgeon of enough power to have their complaints heard?

I think Trump wants to be a modern Pharoah, and with the new tax legislation, he’ll be one step closer. And who really cares for the middle class? Bernie Sanders? Harharhar.

As long as Trump has lower class servants he can step on their backs in order to reach his palace – why should he care? Abuse of power only abuses the weak – not the one in power – so again: why should he care? And if the last waiter didn’t show you enough courtesy? Well there’s a hundred other starving people to take his place.

And who needs equals when you have a harem? Sexual harassment only occurs to the victim, not to the Pharoahs of the world. They just get to become president! Or the owner of the Miss Universe pageant.

Which leads me back to the Galapagos, and Unnatural Selection. What kind kind of world is being created for us? A world of the haves and the have nots? Because if you don’t “have” something that benefits from inflation, like a house, or gold, or a series of apartment buildings around the world, or oil – then you’re of the to-be-fucked-with class. And even if you do have something, like oil, if you piss off the wrong people you’re fucked again twice over.

Or maybe, just maybe, you opt out. You own a bitcoin or two. Something that is not up to the whims of governments, and powerful House of Saud connections. Something that is unnaturally deflationary. That went from nothing to something. And despite the Oracles you buy and hodl, because it’s the new thin blue line separating civilization from chaos. Just ask the Venezuelans. 100,000 of them reportedly mine Bitcoin.

Because nothing defines money than what you are able to purchase with it, and right now the Venezuelan dollar amounts to a bunch of nothing. Like Zimbabwe, Greece, the US dollar, etcetera.

What of the nomadic life I’ve been living? Traveling with just a backpack, homeless in way. We backpackers think we make little impact, but then I see the towns and cities transformed by tourism, and not all I see is good.

What then? To live the life idyllic, to harvest your own food, recycle your own shit – has it’s negatives. I’m modern man, and I like cities too. I like that I can fly into New York city and order my favorite pirogues at Veselka’s.

Can the Pharaohs not enslave everything in order to do so?

Can we not eat every fish in the ocean, or warm the planet to boil away the islands the penguins count on? Islands to escape from the sharks and killer whales and Donald Junior’s of the world?

Can we not conserve the “endemic” species we have, like marine iguanas, giant tortoises, and humans?

Can we not respect and accept the equality and rights of women?

Is that too much to ask?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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