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Bitcoin Is Doomed And So Are We
I recently had an epiphany. It doesn't end well.
I had an epiphany last week. Do you get those? Suddenly the clouds part and you see the way forward in a moment of clarity. Only rather than being a positive experience, this one was dark. Very dark. End of days dark.
This is going to be a tough one to explain as it is a bit technical. I'll try to simplify as best I can.
I had a similar epiphany the first time I used the World Wide Web. I was already an Internet user as I'd been working in the field since the late 80s. I'd been sent a CD with the first Mosaic web browser on it. When I fired it up and clicked on a link, this buzzed the modem, dialled up the Internet and pulled down an external web page from a server in California. I knew in an instant this was transformative. I could see this was going to make the Internet available to the man in the street. I instinctively knew we would all soon be shopping online and that one day, delivery would be as important, if not more, than retail premises. Soon after, I quit my comfy Civil Service job and embarked on a career in the private sector doing all things Web related.
My most recent epiphany wasn't quite so instant. It came about through watching a couple of unrelated Youtube videos, coupled with a little insight into digital money, a subject that has interested me for sometime.
I first grappled with the notion of digital money when I read an article about the invention of Bitcoin. I recall I was sufficiently intrigued to print out the article and put it to one side with the intention of downloading the software and investigating the brave new world of Bitcoin mining. In the manner of 'boat-missing' that characterises my life however, this was 2009 and I was in the process of moving from one side of Spain to another having met a new lady on Facebook. I never returned to the article. Had I done so I may well have mined enough Bitcoin to be a multi-millionaire by now. Call me Captain Hindsight!
Now I won't get into a protracted explanation about how Bitcoin works or we'll be here all day. For the purposes of explaining my epiphany it's sufficient just to know that Bitcoin enables a financial transaction to take place between two individuals anywhere in the world, without the need for any intermediary. There is no need for a bank or any other kind of money manager taking a cut for providing the infrastructure in between. All you need is the Internet and the right software at each end (remember that bit - it becomes important later!) This means you have personal sovereignty over your own money. You are your own bank. Now I think 'the powers that be' don't like this notion. My epiphany is that events are conspiring to prevent us enjoying our own financial independence.
The first video that kicked off this train of thought was by a savvy Australian called Naomi Brockwell
whose YouTube channel is a watchable way to keep up with the latest news in crypto, privacy etc. In the video she alerted me to the new EU law which is planning to ban people from running their own crypto wallets, instead forcing them to use regulated exchanges ( https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_3690 ).
So going back to what I said earlier, it is currently possible for you to download software like Bitcoin Core on to your personal computer and be your own bank. Over the years, Bitcoin exchanges have sprung up that can run crypto wallets for you. However they're the weak link in the chain. If you've ever read any horror stories about Bitcoin fraud or hacking in the press, chances are it was an online exchange that is the victim (or culprit). E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mt._Gox
I was initially quite sanguine on hearing this news as it would be almost impossible for the EU to block or adequately police Bitcoin given that I can run whatever the hell software I like on my own PC. Then I watched the second video. This is by a veteran PC repair guy called Jody Bruchon who is new to me, as it was a video YouTube's algorithm suggested as one I might find interesting. They weren't wrong!
I won't go into all the gory details but long story short, you may be aware if you are a PC user that Windows 11, the latest incarnation of the operating system imposed on us by Microsoft, has some very specific hardware/firmware requirements. As the video explains, there are some potentially sinister issues with this, as it means Microsoft is taking control of the software you are able to run on your own computer.
[BTW, Jody contacted me to request I also include his follow-up video which addresses some comments in the original video Here it is…]
Like me, you may have been slightly affronted when you got your first smartphone and discovered that you could only run apps on it that you downloaded from the app store. Jody is suggesting that this is the way Microsoft may be headed. Even alternative operating systems like Linux can only be installed now on a Windows 11 compatible PC because they are issued with digital keys by Microsoft. If those keys are denied at some point in the future, Microsoft could force all PC owners to use only Windows and software it has vetted through it's own app store. And, by extension, that app store could potentially deny users from downloading software that allowed them to run their own crypto wallets.
I don't want you to think of me as a conspiracy theorist, but do you see where I'm going here? My guess is the EU didn't think to introduce such draconian, freedom-busting legislation all by itself . Occam's Razor suggests to me it was probably arm-twisted by 'the powers that be'. I doubt Microsoft is really going to all this trouble to lock down personal computers for commercial reasons. There is a lot of resistance to Windows 11 and many people are already jumping ship, deciding to run Linux on their PCs instead, so they are potentially risking the loss of many customers. Occam's Razor leads me to think it is more likely that 'the powers that be' are arm-twisting Microsoft to lock down software with the express intention of ambushing the very notion of personal financial sovereignty. This is because there is a lot at stake. In fact, everything is at stake.
Governments and central banks around the world are currently engaged in the development and testing of digital currencies - (CBDC - standing for Central Bank Digital Currencies). The aim is to do away with cash altogether, then the government will have complete control over the money supply. They will literally be able to track where every penny goes.
Now you may be one of those flag waving 'God Save the Queen' types who trust the government and thinks it should be doing everything in its power to protect us from those dastardly criminals and funders of terrorism. To that I'd say absolute power corrupts absolutely. We're entering a new era beyond Big Brother, where the government could, for example, attempt to control inflation with negative interest rates - literally taking money out of your account to limit your ability to spend, and there will be nothing you can do about it because you have no cash or crypto to move your money into. They could seek to make you healthier by restricting your expenditure on certain types of foods - 'no sausages for you this week citizen Smith, you're going on a diet. We're banning you from spending your money on certain foodstuffs - only lettuce leaves for you'.
You may think this is science fiction but China has already for some years had a system of social credit scoring where offenders are punished by being denied travel tickets etc https://www.businessinsider.com/china-social-credit-system-punishments-and-rewards-explained-2018-4 China is further down the road to the development of a CBDC than any other nation, already having trialled it in some states and it will be interesting to see how that pans out. We tend to think that the difference between China and the West is of state control. China isn't a democracy they say, China has the communist party and central planning, while the West has the freedom to choose its leaders via the ballot box. Do we though? Or are our two party systems really as independent as they may seem?
I don't think it an accident, fashion or fad that all countries are moving towards CBDCs, I think it is arm-twisting by ‘the powers that be' It is a global system that we won't be able to vote out. Real power isn't with the jackboot, the gun or the ballot box, it is in the control of money. The race to eliminate personal sovereign money i.e. cash and crypto will be the end of liberty and personal freedom. For thousands of years we've enjoyed that freedom but I fear in the next five to ten years it will be taken away from us and we will never get it back. 'The powers that be' that control the money will have achieved absolute power. And will they be corrupt? Absolutely!