Thursday, June 9, 2011

Caving In A Little To BitCoin Mania

The main reason I ignored BitCoin for a long time is because I know from experience that online libertarians are absolute dipshits when it comes to questions like this one:

Bitcoin of course does away with the need for banks to create money (and maybe for banks in general) and probably in some small part for hard cash (hard cash will probably never go away, that’s why governments could chose to care not that much). I don't have to tell anybody that money is something banks (I'm excluding governments of my argument now because their decrease in profit is greatly smaller than that of banks) cherish or that having a lot of money equals power. But apparently I do. Bitcoin and their miners are cutting in on the profits of the banks. This has been the sole right of the banks for centuries now. They started wars with countries and discredited loyal government officials who tried to take that right away from them. This is not something they will let happen. They are already fighting it by letting their bought lackeys Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia discredit Bitcoin and push for a legal solution. Appreciate the real threat: Banks!

I don't think it's even a question of bought lackeys - the Senators probably just fear the Web and are stupid enough to honestly believe drugs are some kind of threat to America - but the BIG flaw in all those delusional technolibertarian blog posts is the hand-waving that occurs with respect to governments not being able to stop BitCoin. Because they allegedly can't stop illegal file-sharing.

News flash: I don't use illegal file-sharing, because I live in the United States, and over here, you can lose everything you own because you wanted to listen to some piece of crap Bon Jovi song and you didn't have the patience to go through iTunes. In fact, you can lose everything you own because some random person downloaded something without paying for it and the judge is too much of a dipshit to learn anything about technology before ruining your life - or because the lawyers are too expensive. I'm sure if I lived in a country with a less brutal oligarchy, I'd use illegal file-sharing, but I don't.

It's hard to look at the US finance bailouts without seeing a lot of government backup for the finance industry, even when it fucks everything up for people. I voted for Obama, like everybody in the United States who had sex even once in 2008, and I even volunteered a tiny tiny bit for his campaign, but it's impossible not to doubt that whole "land of the free" thing when the guy who extended the Patriot Act, assassinated a foreign national without hesitation, and ran the least transparent administration in history is your only serious choice if you want to vote for freedom of speech, due process, and open government. BitCoin looks to me a little like the kind of thing that people remember and laugh about having taken seriously, like my raver entrepreneur friend who tried to start an offshore data haven straight out of Bruce Sterling, and a little like the type of shit that gets people tortured for their good intentions, like WikiLeaks.

This is the before picture. You should see the after.

But it also reminds me of the stuff that got me excited about the Internet, back in 1995, when I was trying to persuade corporate middle management types and small business owners that yes, one day, people will actually buy things on the Internet, and some of them hired me while others laughed in my face. And the returns on investment (right now) are insane.


Silk Road and Bitcoins could herald a black market eCommerce revolution. But anonymity cuts both ways. How long until a DEA agent sets up a fake Silk Road account and starts sending SWAT teams instead of LSD to the addresses she gets? As Silk Road inevitably spills out of the bitcoin bubble, its drug-swapping utopians will meet a harsh reality no anonymizing network can blur.