07 Mar 2014

Goodbye, Texas

Bitcoin 33 Comments

I’ve been in Texas for the Bitcoin conference. The site was not at the hotel (which normally happens when I travel for business) and so I’ve only been at my computer for a very limited time this week. I’ll resume normal posting this weekend.

In the meantime, check out the reading list at the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute. Michael Goldstein–a very solid an-cap coming from the Rothbardian tradition–gave a talk at the conference showing that an-caps should really look into the history behind Nakamoto’s famous white paper. It didn’t emerge from the brow of Zeus.

My quick takeaway from the conference is that Bitcoin isn’t just about money; it is a technological innovation (“the blockchain”) that has all sorts of ramifications, just one of which is a new medium of exchange (that may, or may not, one day be a money by anyone’s definition). If you are a hard money person who thinks BTC as intangible digital money is nonsense, okay fine, let’s put that issue to the side. Look at the possibilities of decentralized contract enforcement without the need for large, reputable third parties.

33 Responses to “Goodbye, Texas”

  1. Gamble says:

    Yes digital currency could destroy middle men and their parasitic nature. Hate to be an up and coming banker…

    Byby Visa.

    Byby Ben Bernanke.

    Problem is getting there. The overlords won’t simply let go. Fine have it, its yours, never mind my estate. I never like that Bentley anyways. The Lear jet was a bore. Take it all, its yours.

    NSA teenage intern hackers are not going to stop stealing bit-coin anytime soon…

    • Dan (DD5) says:

      You make it sound as if the government can’t just pass a law that says: Bitcoins is banned! Which it would if it ever really started to feel threatned by it. So now what? People will engage in civil disobedience? Yeah right! When that day comes, you won’t need bitcoin to “bypass” the system anyway.

      • Gamble says:

        IT is more expedient to use teenage hackers to destroy bitcoin than pass prohibition.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        Hundreds of thousands of people engage in civil disobedience every day. They smoke marijuana, they litter, they speed.

        Some people would continue to use Bitcoin even if it were “banned” because the government doesn’t have the resources or the desire to go after the little guy.

    • joe says:

      We said bye bye to Ben Bernanke a month ago.

      Visa is a credit card, not a currency. Perhaps you could use a digital currency to pay your credit card bill. Credit cards are not replaced by digital currency.

      • Gamble says:

        Visa, for people who bill in full every month, is a simple way to move money around. It does cost, but it is worth it.

        Digital currency such as ultra coin, could by pass not only Visa but things like western union and nearly every other bank service.

        There is nearly zero overhead and fees are near zero cost.

      • Silas Barta says:

        I agree with you here, and I wish people (on both sides of the fence) would stop promoting their comparability.

        Visa gives you a bundle of services:

        1) money transfer
        2) escrow
        3) dispute adjudication through 2)
        4) theft protection

        Bitcoin only replaces 1) from that list. To get a full replacement, you’d have to arrange for a provider of 2-4).

        At the same time, it is a good thing that Bitcoin makes it so easy to layer on top of it and provide the services of 2-4). But I really, really wish people would stop promoting the “no chargebacks lol” thing as being something a) Bitcoin always requires, and b) something that’s always good.

  2. Silas Barta says:

    Well said! That’s one of the things I think needs wider praise from libertarians. The usual line is that “private, competing currencies would be great, and the competition would ensure honest issuers”. The bitcoin protocol establishes that you don’t even need that much: you can have a currency where you don’t need to trust *any* issuer.

    • Dan (DD5) says:

      It does not establish anything of this sort, for it is not a “currency”, at least not yet. So hold on to your horses.

      • Silas Barta says:

        It doesn’t matter if it’s “a real currency” yet; it’s proof that you can have an accounting system without trusted parties; any real currency could then employ that somehow.

        • Dan (DD5) says:

          I pay the grocery man $50 in cash for my groceries. There is no third/trusted party in that transaction.

          • Gamble says:

            Check cashing, monthly bank fee, payroll service, etc.

          • Silas Barta says:

            It requires the trusting the mint (to “fairly” issue the currency, to be the only one making bills will these properties), which is the centralization Bitcoin attempts to eliminate.

          • Tel says:

            I pay the grocery man $50 in cash for my groceries. There is no third/trusted party in that transaction.

            In that case there would be no difference paying for groceries with Monopoly money, or just scribbling down “This is $50” on any scrap of paper. After all, it’s just a transaction between you and the grocery man, no third party involved.

    • joe says:

      Bitcoin just had a pump and dump. You need to know who holds the currency. Problem with Bitcoin is that a small percentage held a lot, they marketd Bitcoin to chumps and drove up the price. Then they dumped it.

      You need info on the issuer, who holds the currency, etc. It’s very susceptible to scams.

      • Ken B says:

        No joe. It’s only a scam if the Fed does it. If private individuals do it it’s “market forces.”

        • Richie says:

          You just love strawmen, don’t you?

        • Major_Freedom says:

          You’re only saying that straw man as a reaction formation to distract yourself from the fact that you own statist wolrdview is based on coercion, which scams people tp the extent they are told otherwise by people like you.

        • Cosmo Kramer says:

          It is bad no matter who does it. That is the point. If a market participant does it, then we have actions we can take against them. When the government does it, not only can’t we do anything, it gets labeled as saving the economy or some other phony BS.

      • Tel says:

        On this one I kind of agree with you… the idea of a currency is to circulate. It facilitates transactions, and that’s the only thing that makes it useful. If a small number of parties sit on a lot of currency it isn’t working properly.

        However, there are many crypto currencies to choose from, which is the whole idea… the one that circulates the most becomes the most valuable so it is in the interests of currency holders not to hold too tightly else people will move across to some alternative.

        What Libertarians support is the freedom to allow this process to happen, not any particular implementation.

      • Chris P says:

        This claim has always fascinated me because we pretty much know everyone who holds a lot of bitcoins. There are very few people who own a lot who aren’t public figures. Yet, none have done anything close to a pump and dump.

        These type of statements can be checked against the facts. Of course, they never are.

  3. Major_Freedom says:

    Private currencies are great because if users fail, others are not coerced into experiencing a reduction in the value of their store of value from any non-market inflationary bailouts.

    And that is exactly what pisses off monetary socialists. They can’t stand individuals determining the quantity of money and spending without a coercive centralized authority.

    They hate peace. They hate voluntary exchanges and abstentions from exchanges.

    Let them burn.

    • joe says:

      A user that is “too big to fail” will get a bail out.

      Nobody is “pissed off” about Bitcoin except the people who bought Bitcoin during the pump and dump scam or the people who lost their bitcoins when Mt Gox failed.

      Monetary socialism is supported by every economist except for the fringe economists who subscribe to the Austrian school. Getting rid of fractional reserve banking is a radical fringe position. They easily have enough clout to prevent a digital currency from existing if they have a problem with it as you describe. Even with the backing of the Koch Bros, the Austrian school has little to know influence on public policy.

      • joe says:

        “They” meaning the monetary socialists (aka 99.9% of people who make their living as economists).

      • Ken B says:

        You got evidence the Kochs are Austrians, or are you reflexively smearing them?

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        “Nobody is “pissed off” about Bitcoin except the people who bought Bitcoin during the pump and dump scam or the people who lost their bitcoins when Mt Gox failed.”


        I dunno, this guy seems pretty pissed off, and seems very unlikely to have ever bought Bitcoin…

      • Major_Freedom says:

        The very concept of too bog to fail already presupposes bail outs. The bail outs are decided first, and the name tbtf comes later.

        Many more people than just MtGox customers are pissed. Where do you think the ideological attacks against it are coming from?

        Your third paragraph is just silly ad populum fallacy.

      • Anonymous says:

        “joe” the troll aka Jerry Wolfgang the troll on the EPJ

  4. konst says:

    @ Bob Murphy
    Did you do an interview there and is there a link to it?

  5. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    Here’s a good post by Silas that explains the “blockchain” innovation that Bob mentioned:

    • Silas Barta says:

      Wow, I had completely forgotten I had written that! I assumed I had only written about the cryptographic pre-requisites, but somehow that one slipped my mind. (Pretty bad considering how sparse my posts on the blogs are.)

      Thanks for the link!

  6. Major_Freedom says:

    A short but sweet video from the conference that some of you may enjoy


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