I highly recommend this podcast on Bitcoin — for anyone who wants to understand how Bitcoin works, for anyone who wants to meditate on money as a social construct, and, inadvertently, for anyone who wants to dismantle our current undemocratic and stupid operating system (money & banking). Here’s the official details from the Apple site:
Why is this Happening (WITH) Podcast: Is Bitcoin for Real?
Chris Hayes (MSNBC) with Joe Weisenthal (Bloomberg editor)
How does bitcoin work? Where did it come from, why does it exist, and will it ever be used for everyday purchases? Far from some passing fad, bitcoin has been around for more than a decade now and shows no signs of going anywhere. We figured it was long overdue to understand the most well-known cryptocurrency and the problem it is trying to solve. Lucky for us, Bloomberg editor Joe Weisenthal came prepared.
Now the story.
When I first listened to the podcast on May 1, I immediately Tweeted my recommendation, along with some comments about the next deeper layer, which was missing from the discussion — The Money Question:
Yes, very good convo.
But didn’t deal with “The Money Question” —
–who creates new U.S. money (who should create new U.S. money?)
–how does it enter economy
–who decides, by what rules
Sovereign of the Market: The Money Question in Early America
Jeff Sklansky, U.IL-Chicago
Knowing that economics, money, business, and the government are obscure topics for many people, I like to provide some accessible resources for anyone who wants to learn more, so I started making a thread.
Within seconds, while I was writing Tweet #2 and Tweet #3 of a 3-Tweet thread, Bloomberg editor Joe Weisenthal replied to my first Tweet: “I didn’t discuss this because I think it’s all nonsense.”
Although the Tweet to which I’d originally replied (by Will Fang, a self-described “dabbler” in Bitcoin, recommending the podcast and reTweeted by Hayes) has since been deleted, my thread and Wiesenthal’s reply are still live (screenshot):
For the record and ease of reading, here’s my entire thread (3).
“I didn’t discuss this because I think it’s all nonsense”
Curiously, at the 22-minute mark of the podcast, Weisenthal starts talking about all the “mystical” things about Bitcoin:
— the “immaculate conception” story of Bitcoin (nobody really knows who the founder is)
— the assumed founder has never spent the Bitcoins in his “wallet” (I thought Bitcoin was supposed to solve a privacy issue)
— describes the white paper by “Satoshi Nakamoto“ (the assumed founder’s pseudonym) as the “Gideon’s Bible” of Bitcoin
(A quick reminder that the title of the podcast is “Is Bitcoin for Real?”)
Finally, at the 23:30 mark, the Bloomberg editor (who says The Money Question is “nonsense”) makes a pronouncement: “All money does have a kind of mysticism.”
Here’s my neural synapses firing: mysticism, mystical, occult, esoteric, mysterious, unknown — a question?
Then, just to underscore his Tweet that The Money Question is nonsense, Weisenthal admits that the next step would be to “get into the philosophy of money”. Does he mean The Money Question?
I’m not really interested in going head-to-head with Weisenthal — or anyone else who dismisses conversation in that manner (like the many Bitcoin aficionados he and Hayes mentioned repeatedly). So, we can move on from the Bloomberg expert, who no doubt gets paid a lot of money to kneejerk fellow travelers.
I am interested, however, in alerting more U.S. voters to the fact that The Money Question is real.
YES, BITCOIN IS REAL
So is The Money Question
Some random facts:
—The Money Question was a thing in U.S. history for at least our first 100 years. Hence the title of Jeff Sklansky’s 2017 book: Sovereign of the Market: The Money Question in Early America.
Hence, the Boston Tea Party, the American Revolution, the U.S. Constitution, Greenbacks, the Wizard of Oz, William Jennings Bryan, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 — which seemed to put a cork in The Money Question— up until the 21st century’s first “great” recession (2007-08).
Hence the popularity of the play Hamilton? I admit to not having seen the play and, according to a theater acquaintance, Hamilton the play does not provide any financial history or literacy to theater goers. I can’t help but think, however, that the mystical nature of money — The Money Question — is part of the fascination of Hamilton himself and of the play.
— For most U.S. workers, financial numbers — unlike arithmetic — don’t add up.
— Too many U.S. voters (including most of my family, many friends, neighbors, and colleagues) tend to “blame the victim” in financial stress because they don’t know about or have never asked The Money Question.
— For many in the political media class—like Hayes and Mehdi Hasan—MMT is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It seems to me that this is so because they think it answers The Money Question. Many monetary experts and grassroots researchers (such as myself) think MMT has only half the answer to a part of The Money Question — who SHOULD create U.S. money?
— For many in the political media class (including the Bloomberg editor and Hayes) our money and banking system seems to be working just fine. No need to dig too deep. Oh, yes, terrible inequality is getting worse and worse, but average users of currency and speculators provide “complementary” roles to each other (according to the Bitcoin podcast). No need to dig deeper.
— One of the reasons that this podcast (Is Bitcoin for Real?) is so valuable is that it unintentionally questions many aspects of our current financial system (money and banking). From the Sarah Cooper school of comedy, these two serious dudes (Hayes and Weisenthal) are inadvertently parroting (and parodying) everything that’s wrong with our system (the rich get richer, the poor get poorer) and the way it operates (privately, undemocratically).
Even more Trump-like, Hayes and Weisenthal talk about Bitcoin being a “novel threat to governments” without distinguishing between existing all-powerful, authoritarian governments and democratic governments with democratic money systems. There are no democratic money systems, so far as I know, but we could try to create one, starting with enforcing certain parts of the U.S. Constitution and nationalizing the Federal Reserve System. (See the resources at the end of this blog.) It would be great if our media folks believe in democracy as much as they say they do.
Climate destruction is partially caused & wholly exacerbated by our wrong answers to The Money Question
Fortunately or unfortunately, I was forced to dig deeper as a result of the “great” recession, in 2007-10 when I got cheated by numerous food “justice” colleagues in a wild variety of ways — after a 25-year professional gardening career of spotless financial relationships. Some details of my story are told in my unfinished autobiography and in a recent blog about blaming the victim, THE MONEY QUESTION: When “friends, family, colleagues” pile on — AKA dignity is another word for justice.
Discovering public banks in 2011 was my first big aha moment about the bad, undemocratic design of our economy’s current operating system. Money creation — i.e., The Money Question — was my next aha moment, thanks to a serendipitous stumble in 2015 onto the American Monetary Institute and Stephen Zarlenga’s The Lost Science of Money. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that I learned the historical term The Money Question. Most 21st century monetary reformers seem to prefer “the money power”.
I think it was about the same time — 2018 — that I learned the most shocking and stupidest thing about our money and banking system: It actually causes climate destruction by causing the over-production of everything in order to pay the interest on commercial loans. Overproduction of course includes over-use of land, water, air, energy, and other non-human things. Of course, overproduction also includes overwork for the millions (billions?) of people who are underpaid.
So, to Mr. Bloomberg editor and to Mr. Bloomberg himself —
Time to start asking and covering The Money Question.
Democratic Answers to The Money Question
Nationalizing the Federal Reserve System and Public Money
— Dennis Kucinich’s 2012 NEED Act (former Ohio Congressman)
Summary of official bill is very readable.
— Alliance for Just Money
The Just Money Solution: Three Critical Reforms
— Public Banking Institute
Climate and Monetary Policy
— Greens for Monetary Reform Website
“Greening the Dollar” The crisis in our financial system makes it imperative that we restructure our monetary system. The present system of privatized money issuance and control has resulted in the misdirection of our financial resources to speculation, toxic financial instruments, and loans that create huge profits and wealth for the corporate few, but inadequate income and jobs for the common people.
— Book: Climate Change, Land-use, and Monetary Policy: The new trifecta (2014)
by Geraldine Perry