More than $1 billion dollars worth of a digital currency known as “bitcoins” now circulate on the web – an amount that exceeds the value of the entire currency stock of small countries like Liberia (which uses “Liberian dollars”), Bhutan (which uses the “Ngultrum”), and 18 other countries.So what is a “bitcoin,” and why would anyone use it?Unlike traditional currency, bitcoins are not issued by a government or even a private company. Instead, the currency is run by computer code that distributes new bitcoins at a set rate to people who devote web servers to keep the code running. The bitcoins are then bought and sold for regular U.S. dollars online.
‘They buy gold, they put it under the mattress, or they buy bitcoin.’
– Tony Gallippi, the CEO “BitPay.com,
Bitcoin is in high demand right now — each bitcoin currently sells for more than $90 U.S. dollars — which bitcoin insiders say is because of world events that have shaken confidence in government-issued currencies.
“Because of what’s going on in Cyprus and Europe, people are trying to pull their money out of banks there,” Tony Gallippi, the CEO “BitPay.com,” which enables businesses to easily accept bitcoins as payment, told FoxNews.com.
In Cyprus, the government is considering taking a percentage of all citizens’ bank accounts to solve its fiscal woes. That has led Cypriots — and other Europeans worried about the same thing happening to them — to take their money out of banks.
“So they buy gold, they put it under the mattress, or they buy bitcoin,” Gallippi said.
Bitcoin demand has also increased, Gallippi says, because last week U.S. regulators issued the first official guidelines for private digital currencies. Prior to the regulations, the legal status of the currencies was in doubt.
“Now people can see that it’s not illegal, that it’s not banned,” Gallippi said.
Bitcoin is controversial because the currency can be exchanged anonymously online — it is in a sense the digital equivalent of using hard cash — and so some have criticized it for facilitating online drug markets. On the site known as “the Silk Road,” for instance, users pay bitcoins for illegal drugs and other forbidden items.
Bitcoin Targeted by Cyberattack
Just as Bitcoin explodes beyond the $1 billion mark thanks to Europe’s debt crisis, the emerging virtual currency was dealt a setback this week after a key exchange was hit by a powerful cyber attack that caused delays.
“After purchasing bitcoins through an exchange, a user can create an account on Silk Road and start purchasing illegal drugs from individuals around the world and have them delivered to their homes within days,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you to take immediate action and shut down the Silk Road network.”
The regulatory guidelines issued last week by the government agency known as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), however, will not stop that.
The regulations say that digital currencies like bitcoin are to be treated essentially as foreign currencies. Companies that exchange digital bitcoins for real money will have to comply with the same regulations as traditional currency exchangers — namely, they must verify the identity of anyone exchanging money for bitcoins and report large transactions to the government.
Using bitcoins to purchase goods, however, is specifically exempted.
“A user who obtains convertible virtual currency and uses it to purchase real or virtual goods or services is not… under FinCEN’s regulations,” the guidance reads.
Some bitcoin defenders say the use of bitcoins to buy illegal items shouldn’t obscure the legal uses.
“With any technology… Criminals are going to use it for something, and regular people are going to use it for something,” Gallippi said. “You can’t ban cell phones just because criminals are using them to do drug deals. You can’t ban e-mail just because people are using them to do phishing scams in Nigeria. You have to start just prosecuting people who are committing crimes — you can’t just completely wipe out the new technology.”
Gallippi says one reason to use bitcoins for legal transactions is a lower risk of identity theft.
“If you are buying something online and you have the choice of paying with a credit card or bitcoins – think about what you have to do to use a credit card. You have to fill out this whole long form, name, address, account number, sometimes more… coincidentally, that’s all the info a thief would need to steal to pretend to be you.”
Between that, bitcoin’s anonymity, and worries about conventional currency, bitcoin demand is as high as ever, according to Alan Safahi, who runs “Zip Zap” – a company that facilitates cash deposits at stores like CVS and Wal-Mart for transfer to a site that can convert the money to bitcoins.
“We’re processing millions of dollars a month. We’ve seen tremendous surge in activity,” he said.
Bitcoin Really Is an Existential Threat to the Modern Liberal State
By Evan Soltas Apr 5, 2013 1:43 PM MT
So far, Bitcoin is not a big deal. Its total value in circulation was $1.4 billion as of this week. That’s equivalent to the currency stock of a small nation — somewhere between Iceland and Uruguay — and just one-thousandth of the total value of U.S. dollars in circulation. The volume of transactions in Bitcoin is growing only slowly, relative to the massive increase in demand for the currency: This discrepancy is strong evidence that Bitcoin’s rise is a speculative bubble.
Nonetheless, Bitcoin raises some interesting questions. One is whether it might undermine the modern state — which, for many of its libertarian-anarchist advocates, is the whole idea.
Technology enabled governments to grow more powerful and more centralized in the 19th and 20th centuries, as Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, has argued. The intriguing possibility is that technologies of the 21st century — such as Bitcoin — might push the other way.
Physical cash is used in a rapidly shrinking share of transactions: 27 percent in 2011, 23 percent by 2017, and so on, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, a financial-services research firm. The central banks of Sweden and Nigeria have both declared goals of a cashless economy. In Europe, the volume of non-cash transactions is forecasted to rise by 7 percent per year, despite economic stagnation.
What’s going on? First, a global shift to mobile payments and credit and debit cards. Second, a rise in online retail — one that could put 15 to 20 percent of all retail sales online in the U.S., U.K., China, and Europe, according to Bain & Company.
Electronic payments aren’t new. Bitcoin’s only innovations are its status as an independent currency and its decentralized network design. But those differences might make Bitcoin — or rather, crypto-currency in general — an existential threat to the modern liberal state. If widely adopted, crypto-currencies would cripple government in three central functions: taxation, police and macroeconomic stabilization. That is exactly what Bitcoin’s biggest fans are hoping.
Taxation: How do governments collect taxes on transactions in Bitcoin? The answer is they don’t, and they can’t. Crypto-currency’s strong protections on anonymity make it impossible for any state to know who is buying what, who is paying whom, who earns what, and who has what in savings. That poses a direct challenge to the power of states to levy taxes.
The problem is that Bitcoin makes tax evasion easier. States could enforce reporting of Bitcoin income for individuals and businesses, as they try to do for cash, which is also hard to track. But encryption and the peer-to-peer network structure make Bitcoin even harder to follow than physical cash, and digital cash is much better than the physical kind for storage and transactions, so the scale of the challenge could end up being much bigger.
Police:It would be almost impossible for states to detect certain crimes. One of the major alleged uses of Bitcoin — though, of course, one can never truly know — is buying illicit drugs. Bitcoin’s cryptography makes it uniquely able to facilitate money laundering, insider trading, fraud, and bribery. The transactions would be untraceable, and the money doesn’t ever have to return to the bank, where the financial crime might have been detected.
Macroeconomic policy:A Bitcoin economy would undermine the power of real-world central banks to make monetary policy. Yes, governments can influence the demand for national currencies by requiring taxes to be paid in them. But the monetary lever on private transactions and lending would be gone if such commerce was denominated in Bitcoin. And by displacing governments as currency issuers, Bitcoin also threatens their ability to finance public debt. In a world where many transactions are anonymous, it’s unclear how governments could even compile accurate economic data, without which macroeconomic policy is impossible. Economic depression in a Bitcoin regime could be an insoluble problem.
If Bitcoin remains on the fringes, then the state is safe. The question is, if it shows signs of becoming a widely used currency, what could governments do to crush it?
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the wing of the U.S. Treasury Department that investigates money laundering, said last month that it has the authority to regulate transactions involving both Bitcoin and U.S. dollars under the Bank Secrecy Act. These inter-currency exchanges appear to be the best foothold for regulation. Governments could require records of all purchases and sales of Bitcoin, for instance.
But this approach has severe limits. There are, by design, no direct avenues for government to interpose itself in Bitcoin-only transactions. Government does have some enforcement leverage over the individuals and businesses. Bitcoin transactions have a real-world side. The problem, though, is that the usual mechanisms for detection and enforcement are very weak against Bitcoin. Ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Bitcoin presents “distinct challenges for deterring illicit activity,” according to a leaked intelligence assessment that was prepared in April 2012. “Bitcoin is unique because it is the only decentralized, P2P network-based virtual currency,” the FBI’s Cyber Intelligence and Criminal Intelligence Sections wrote. “The way it creates, operates, and distributes bitcoins makes it distinctively susceptible to illicit money transfers.”
Bitcoin may be a bubble that will burst. If it does, other forms of digital cash will come along. The state was intimately involved in the development of money — but that was before networked computers. In the next chapter of the history of currency, money might very well turn on its creator, and roll back government.
(Evan Soltas is a contributor to the Ticker. Follow him on Twitter.)
There is a bitcoin craze at the moment, with prices of bitcoin skyrocketing. Bitcoin is still far from ready for prime time, but as it matures, it will change society’s fundamental operations much more than the Internet did. The net, after all, only allowed people to talk and shop more efficiently. By comparison, bitcoin eradicates the government’s ability to operate.
Let’s begin by looking at what a bitcoin is. It is money. It is a new form of money that isn’t issued by a government. Governments don’t have a monopoly on coming up with things you can trade and barter with, and bitcoin is one such non-governmental barter instrument. The difference between bitcoin and all other such tokens of value that have been invented over the years is that nobody is in control of the money supply, and nobody is in control of the money flow. This means that nobody can start the printing presses to eradicate your savings, and nobody can seize or see your wealth or income. You can think of it as an open-source currency compared to proprietary, state-issued currencies.
There is no central bank. This is a revolutionary concept. People can trade cash at a distance without going through an intermediary. The first time you send the value of a cup of coffee to a friend in India on a Sunday, without any transaction fees, and they have the money instantly, without anybody but you knowing of the transaction, your jaw drops.
This would have been but a curiosity, if it weren’t for the ridiculously strong business case to cut banks and credit card processors out of the sales loop for corporations, which could roughly double the profits in retail sales. This means that there’s a very strong force for universal uptake of this new currency.
As nobody is in control of the money supply (it is set to grow predictably at a slowing rate until 2140), and demand increases with a limited supply, the price for each bitcoin increases. This is what we’re seeing now, as more and more people realize bitcoin’s business potential. Also, there is value in the concept that you don’t have to trust any single person to store or to transfer bitcoin – not your government, not your bank, not Western Union – is something completely new.
So why does bitcoin have value? How is it, strictly speaking, money? People who ask this tend to be stuck in the idea that only states and governments can issue money, but that’s not the case. What we see as money has changed many times, and when Marco Polo came back to Europe from China in the 13th century, people were mocking him for bringing home banknotes. “This is not money”, they would say, and burn the Chinese banknotes. Money was coins. If you dismiss bitcoin just because you’re not used to seeing sequences of rare prime numbers as money, make sure you’re not scoffing at banknotes as people were in the 13th century. If people use it as money to trade, it’s money.
It is important to realize that while the Internet has changed life in the IT industry tremendously, from a government standpoint, the net hasn’t changed much at all. If anything, it has reinforced existing structures: consumers spend their state-issued money more efficiently, credit is borrowed more and better from state-regulated banks which expands the money supply and keeps people happy, and it has created new industries that can fuel the economy. Oh, and it also lets citizens submit governmental forms more efficiently.
The only flip side to the net, from a government angle, would be that some people use the Internet to violate state-issued monopolies on entertainment distribution, which has been seen as a problem that needs to be dealt with swiftly and harshly, but other than that, the internet really isn’t much new from a government standpoint. Think about that the next time you see a politician who doesn’t appear to get the net: for them, if they’ve been in government too long, there is nothing much to get.
So we essentially have four different types of players that keep the economy going, and by extension, the government funded and operational. One, there is the government itself, which issues money and regulates banks. (For this exercise, I include the central bank in “government”.) Two, there are commercial banks which are in complete control of the money flow, in exchange for sharing that insight with the government and letting it siphon off as much as it likes to operate itself. Also, commercial banks expand the money supply when people ask for credit, so credit is good as the economy is measured today (“growth”). At the bottom of the food chain are, three, corporations which are tasked with using this system, running all its operations through these banks, and four, the ordinary citizen, who is supposed to be doing actual work and actually produce something that fuels the entire ecosystem.
What bitcoin does is cut the banks out of the loop, and by extension, the government’s ability to operate.
Those wars you have seen on TV? They are all fueled by this mechanism – the ability for banks to keep people happy in letting them spend imaginary money, while simultaneously giving the nation-state the ability to control as much of the money flow as it likes (and siphon as much as it likes off for itself).
Now, bitcoin isn’t going to drive its adoption just because it is impervious to state control and insight. Rather, its adoption is going to be driven by the strong business case for corporations to cut banks out of the loop – more specifically, cut bank profits out of their own profits.
The normal reaction for a government would be to use its entire arsenal of force against any phenomenon that threatens the government’s ability to function to this degree. But bitcoin is resilient to that. There is no central point to shut down. You can’t point a gun at a prime number and expect things to change. And we all know how effective governmental attempts to shut down peer-to-peer networks have been (even if it has been a low-priority issue so far that they haven’t really cared about).
A while back, I wrote that bitcoin is “The Napster of banking”. Perhaps there is a better analogy – perhaps it is the Skynet of banking. There is no central mainframe to shut down, and the intelligence in bitcoin is completely distributed with the single goal of obsoleting central banking.
In this regard, people at Business Insider who compare the bitcoin trade and its current price spike with the bubble around Beanie Babies in the early century come across as dangerously shortsighted and ignorant. Bitcoin is not a plush toy, it is not a commodity. It is an economic agreement, and as such, has value like any other contract that improves your business. This particular contract improves every business except banks.
So is bitcoin ready to take over the world? Far from it.
There are many problems with bitcoin today, but they are becoming less severe than the problems that plagued it one, two, and three years ago. In short, we’re seeing kinks being worked out, scratches being polished, and dents being straightened. But there are many reasons why bitcoin couldn’t take the place of state-issued money today, even if it is on a strong trajectory to do so in the next decade or decades.
The liquidity to state-issued money is one thing that strikes me immediately. In any economy, you need bridges between payment systems that are in use. Today, the vast majority of such bridging is handled by a Japanese bitcoin exchange known as MtGox. This is an unacceptable single point of failure in an ecosystem (proven by two hours of outage today). Further, lags of 10 minutes are common with MtGox’s trading engine (I’m seeing 400 seconds of lag right as I type this), which is just ridiculous when the financial world at large is dealing with micro- and nanosecond trading.
Bitcoin is getting there. But it’s not there yet. When it gets there, expect governments to panic and society to be reshaped into something where governments cannot rely on taxing income nor wealth for running their operations.
That is a bigger change to society’s fundamental structure than the ability to seek and share culture and knowledge we got with the net.
The U.S. is applying money-laundering rules to “virtual currencies,” amid growing concern that new forms of cash bought on the Internet are being used to fund illicit activities.
The move means that firms that issue or exchange the increasingly popular online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union Co. WU 0.00% They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000.[…]
The arm of the Treasury Department that fights money laundering said Monday that the standard federal banking rules aimed at suspicious dollar transfers also apply to firms that issue or exchange money that isn’t linked to any government and exists only online.
One of the fastest-growing alternative cash products is Bitcoin, an online currency launched in 2009 that isn’t backed by a central bank or controlled by a central administrator. Currency units, known as “bitcoins” and consisting of a series of numbers, are created automatically on a set schedule and traded anonymously between digital addresses or “wallets.” Certain exchange firms buy or sell bitcoins for legal tender at a rate that fluctuates with the market[…]law enforcement, regulators and financial institution have expressed worries about the hard-to-trace attributes of virtual currencies, helping trigger this week’s move from the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCen.
Creating clear-cut rules for virtual currencies is difficult. A FinCen official said that anti-money-laundering rules would apply depending on the “factors and circumstances” of each business. The rules don’t apply to individuals who simply use virtual currencies to purchase real or virtual goods.
The new guidance “clarifies definitions and expectations to ensure that businesses…are aware of their regulatory responsibilities,” said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, FinCen director.
Bitcoin is an unregulated, uncontrolled online currency – worth more than £500m, it’s the world’s fastest growing. It can be used to buy drugs, move money across the world, or get rich quick. The people behind Bitcoin speak to the Guardian’s James Ball at their home in a squat in central London
Bitcoin, a privately controlled independent currency, is nothing short of revolutionary. Bitcoin, however, has a major drawback: it does not address the key issue of interest.
by Anthony Migchels
Bitcoin was developed by Satoshi Nakamoto and launched in January 2009.
There are currently more than 8 million Bitcoins in circulation and after predictable initial price swings after its launch, they have traded at a fairly stable rate of about $5 for more than six months now.
Bitcoin is a debt free unit: it comes into circulation through ‘mining’: the solving of complex algorithms by clients yields new Bitcoins.
However, no more than 21 million can be mined so there will never be more than that in circulation.
Bitcoin is important and actually nothing short of revolutionary. It is the first notable independent internet currency.
WHY BITCOIN MATTERS
Its key strength is its peer to peer design. The issuing organization’s sole function is to provide the client software and on-line market place where Bitcoins can be traded for other currencies. It plays no role in the creation of the money supply.
In this respect, it is a real assault on the Money Power’s stranglehold on our money supply.
It allows businesses and consumers to diversify their methods of payment, making them a little less dependent on the Government/Banking monopoly.
It also shows that a free market for currencies already exists. Of course regulators are inimical to them, but current legislation does allow for all sorts of units.
In fact, there is very little to stop free market currencies, provided those looking for opportunities are dedicated enough.
Furthermore, Bitcoin is the first free market unit in the world that creates convertibility to other units through a currency exchange. This is an innovation that is underrated by most commentators.
Mutual Credit-based barters can use Bitcoin technology to create convertibility without dollar/euro backing.
Unsurprisingly, legislators bribed by banks have already voiced ‘concern’ about Bitcoin’s independence.
Apparently some naughty drug dealers are using Bitcoin to finance their operation. Its peer-to-peer character makes it suitable for this kind of transaction. Just like cash.
And cash too, as we know, is under attack from Big Brother who would like to know everything we buy and sell, and make us completely dependent on his monopoly infrastructure.
So Bitcoin’s existence is very useful for all monetary reformers as it will allow us to gather information about the strategies that the adversary will use to disable it.
Notwithstanding these revolutionary breakthroughs, Bitcoin does suffer from a basic flaw.
It’s designed to behave like Gold. Nakamoto clearly believes Austrian Economics is the last word, including the idea that hyperinflation is the main threat to the system.
As a result Bitcoin suffers from the same problems as Gold: it is deflationary and expensive.
There is never enough of it. True, Bitcoins can be divided in ever smaller denominations, so ‘physically’ there will never be a shortage, but it means Bitcoin is designed to appreciate for ever and this is the definition of deflation.
Worse still, Bitcoin does not address the interest issue. There is no possibility for cheap credit and if the unit matures, a banking system will be necessary to provide credit based on deposits.
Not only will this exacerbate the scarcity of money, it will also lead to very high cost for capital.
Yet another problem is that with a full reserve banking system as required by Bitcoin (and Gold too, by the way) would allow the Money Power to mop up the money supply through compound interest within one or two decades, as you can find out here..
The basic conceptual flaw is, that Austrian Economics believes a currency should be a good store of value first and foremost. This is the fatal mistake: money is a means of exchange, and it is the agreement to use it as such that gives it value, not the other way around. This is even true of Gold today: the reason Gold is now expensive, is because many investors are speculating it will be currency again.
Because of this design flaw, Bitcoin is being hoarded by its users. They prefer to have it sit in their ‘account’, instead of spending it, hoping it will appreciate. As a result turnover is lower than it could be. The unit is already an object of speculation, hindering its primary function: to finance normal trade.
Bitcoin is a revolution and a badly needed bit of fresh air. Peer to peer and independent of banks and Government it is an example for all of us. Yes, we should press for reform at the Government level, but no, we should not await it. There is a free market for currencies and it is ours for the taking.
However, it is not credit based and it does not allow for interest free credit. Its deflationary by nature, which is very problematic.
Its decentralized peer-to-peer nature and its convertibility mechanism are its main strength. If these can be harnessed in interest free credit based units, they would be unstoppable. The Money Power would be really hard pressed.
Bitcoin is a shot heard far and wide, but it is only the proverbial first shot across the bow.
Anthony Migchels is an Interest-Free Currency activist and founder of the Gelre, the first Regional Currency in the Netherlands. You can read all of his articles on his blog Real Currencies – See more at: http://henrymakow.com/bitcoins.html#sthash.0IOo9xH7.dpuf
With the recent hullabaloo the country of Cyprus consideration to steal the deposits of the people to fund the central banks, the price of Bitcoins has jumped from $46.82 on March 16th 2013 to $71.96 March 22, 2013. That is a swing of $25.14 in 6 days! I’m not sure what the annualized rate is however it’s a lot! Imagine what the price would have done had the Cypress Parliament actually allowed this theft to occur?
Power to the People
As central Banks and Governments continue to print more and more money out of nothing, this will have the effect of driving the bitcoin price up. This is great for those that have bitcoins and bad for those who do not have bitcoins. What organizations are likely to be the last adopters? The BORG, Banks Organized Religion and Government. My point is: as the government controlled interest backed fiat currency continues to devolve and at the same time the non-government controlled non-interest backed bitcoin fiat currency continue to evolve, those having “dollars” will have less and less money. So lets dream for a moment…each Bitcoin is worth $100,000 and $100,000 buys a loaf of bread. Now you are a member of the BORG and you have a trillion dollars, your illicit power is been greatly reduced and those with the 10,000 bitcoins are going to be in great shape.
In the fine article written by Anthony Migchels, he states that people are likely to hoard the bitcoins. Some may or at least in my opinion they would be silly not to trade with them as much as possible. Most people at least right now have never even HEARD of them. Anyone who knows me, would say I talk to alot of people in the real world. That translates very simply, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT on BitCoins. Let’s put it this way, they can only go down to zero, AND they can go up to ANYTHING. There are only 6 BILLION people in the world and my guess is that most of them would like to be more prosperous. Let’s say each person wants just one BitCoin, instead of their government manipulated debt based currency, do you know what that will do to the price? I don’t know either, my first guess is it would make the value of a BitCoin, like a MILLION DOLLARS!
Bitcoins are not food, you can not eat them. They don’t even exist, except in cyberspace! The reason why BitCoins will continue to increase is because people are using them. The more people that use them, the more the price increases. If you don’t use them for anything, what good are they? The more they get used, the more they will be accepted. As I see it you got to get your hands on BitCoins as soon as possible. Dump the Dollar for something the government can’t steal, can’t regulate and can’t control. That will really make ’em mad. And there is NOTHING they can do about it except turn off the internet / start World War 3 and play chicken with humanity. Give me a break, I got news for them, humanity will survive! The BORG won’t. They are valueless, irrelevant parasites. (ask me how I really feel, lol) Then we pump the value of a BitCoin up to a million dollars each. You don’t want to be the one holding the big bag of money when the “dollars” are worthless and or the government has decided to steal them for their Banker masters.
Morpheus: Zion, hear me! It is true, what many of you have heard. The machines have gathered an army and as I speak, that army is drawing nearer to our home. Believe me when I say, we have a difficult time ahead of us. But if we are to be prepared for it, we must first shed our fear of it. I stand here, before you now, truthfully unafraid. Why? Because I believe something you do not? No, I stand here without fear because I remember. I remember that I am here not because of the path that lies before me, but because of the path that lies behind me. I remember that for 8000 years, we have fought the BORG. I remember that for 8000 years, they have sent their armies to tax, and control us, and after a centuries of war, I remember that which matters most… We are still here! Today, let us send a message to that army. Tonight, let us shake this cave. Tonight, let us tremble these halls of earth, steel, and stone, let us be heard from red core to black sky. Tonight, let us make them remember, THIS IS ZION AND WE ARE NOT AFRAID!
Turning off the Internet
The world is moving into the future. Lets see, we had the mail, printing press, light blub, telegraph, telephone, fax, internet, cell phone, and now BitCoins. The government didn’t turn those things off, why they couldn’t. The government didn’t create them, the people did. Furthermore we now live in a global economy, EVERYTHING runs on the internet. Want to go back to the dark ages? Turn off the internet. I say bring it on. Society is going to continue to move into the future no matter what they do. I do not care what they do because they do not do anything for me. So I ignore them. Now that we have BitCoins we now have a free market free market for the first time in 8000 years. The government is now officially out of business. They have lost their control. The Government is rendered irrelevant. It is the job of the activists so simply spread the word, that the war is finally over and we can all go home now. The best part is those who spread the word the most will be the ones who will be most rewarded.
What I am doing
This is how I am spreading the word. You need BitCoins, I have them. Send me a email and I will be more than happy to send you your first ones FREE, so you can in turn do the same thing. Send some to your friends, first you need a BitCoin wallet send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org (remove hyphens) and I will send you them for FREE. What is the catch? First off, I am not rich, however Bitcoins are divisible by 100,000,000, so I don’t have to send a bunch. Then you would simply do what I am doing. Tell your friends you want to send them some BitCoins. They need a wallet and you will send them a portion of what you have. It’s like a multi-level marketing, without the need for the top down, hierarchical, multi-level marketing. It’s organic, pay it forward kinda deal. The increase will be made on how many people use the system. So let’s do it. Get out there and rock and roll the bones…Get Busy!
These are the cards I am passing out to people as I knock on doors for my regular job.
True story. I’ve been trying for about a week to buy modest (U$10000-20000) amount. It’s been hell. First, mt.gox requires scary amount of ID to receive wires. What has this world come to – to put your money somewhere you have to prove who you are! I get it about withdrawing, but depositing? WTF?
Then to sending wires. Scary. A branch manager of a local e-trade branch, without asking me for any ID pulls up my account, says there is plenty of money there, and proceeds for an hour to browser through the e-trade website looking for the right form, not finding it, making me hand write a ‘to whom it may concern’, finding the form, filling out a wrong one twice anyway, waiting for ‘his guy in Seattle’ to get off the other line, finally announcing that they can’t do it without additional signatures and notarizing more documents, which they can’t do as they have no notary on staff…
Wells Fargo bank. At least they checked my ID. Worked through filling out the forms. After 30 minutes of doing that, the banker announces that federal regulations require me to declare my address in Japan. What? No address in Japan, no wire. Very surprised that anyone can have a bank account in another country without living there. And ‘ by the way, we couldn’t send it anyway without the Wells Fargo debit card. Also your incoming wire hasn’t cleared’. Thanks for wasting my time.
Entire day shot. I have no reason to think my wire would clear at mtgox either, since I am #3277 on the verification queue, whatever that means (not promising).
Is this the famous banking system that needed to be bailed out, or the world collapses immediately? I can’t imagine Chinese banks being less competent, or monkey banks for that matter.
No wonder people are running to get bitcoin which allows you to move your money wherever the f*** you want, whenever you want, without anyone’s permission. Not to mention handling your own security, for god’s sake!
This is one of the key reasons why people buy gold. You can’t just conjure gold out of thin air. It takes years of exploration and investment to pull it out of the ground.
In the information age, though, we have an alternative.
Bitcoin is digital currency. It doesn’t actually exist in our physical world… only in computers.
If this sounds esoteric and far-fetched, it’s not. The vast majority of our monetary system today is already digital.
A very small percentage of all the currency circulating in the world exists in physical notes and bills. The rest of it is merely accounting entries in bank databases. Most financial transactions are just a reshuffling of these database entries. Physical currency seldom changes hands.
Bitcoin is similar in this respect… nothing physical exists. But there are some key advantages.
For one, Bitcoin is not controlled by any government or central bank. And two, it’s private.
In the world of conventional finance, governments can see every time you use your credit card, withdraw cash at an ATM, or make a wire transfer.
Yet with Bitcoin, they don’t have this ability. And this is a key reason why Bitcoin has become so popular, especially in places like Argentina where people are getting squashed by their government.
A few days ago I wrote about an Argentine car rental agency that had begun accepting Bitcoins. My friend Sir Charles of PricedinGold.com was at their office; he snapped a photo and sent me some really great information.
The 1-day rental rate for a basic car was 380 Argentine pesos. At the government’s official rate, that works out to be $74 USD. In Bitcoins, the same car rents for 1.13 BTC… which is approximately $54 USD. This is nearly 30% cheaper!
The benefit for the rental agency is the privacy; they can avoid all the costly fees, bureaucracy, and debilitating capital controls associated with a normal transaction. Plus, they can hold Bitcoins instead of the rapidly depreciating Argentine peso.
If you think that these sorts of tactics– mind-numbing financial bureaucracy, confiscatory taxes, and capital controls– can’t happen where you live, think again.
I was just having a conversation this morning on the topic with Jim Rickards, author of the best-selling Currency Wars and one of the speakers at our upcoming Offshore Tactics Workshop.
Jim reminded me that, aside from Roosevelt confiscating gold back in the 1930s, the US government also imposed a confiscatory windfall profits tax on oil gains back in the 1970s. In addition, for most of the 20th century, capital controls were the rule around the world, not the exception.
To be fair, Bitcoin is not without its challenges. But the prospect of digital currencies presents an elegant alternative to fiat destruction.
If you want to find out more about Bitcoin, this website provides a lot of great introductory information:
In the article below we discuss the nature of the market, the constraints that have enslaved the worlds markets, and the free market opportunity that has recently been created by advances in technology. In accordance with the Titanian Code of Honor, and its purpose to advance human creativity, we are doing everything in our power to increase awareness of this new free market, thereby changing the culture of human society in a beneficial way. To that end we are hereby launching the Titanian Free Market Project.
Of the various arenas in which freedom plays an important role, one of the most profound is the market – which I broadly define as the exchange of value between two or more individual people. In any market an ethical transaction is always one in which each party concludes the transaction believing herself to have benefitted from the exchange. For example, if I buy a widget from you, I wanted the widget more than the money I paid for it – whereas you wanted the money more than the widget. This is the nature of win-win transactions. Unfortunately, such transactions become much harder to attain when the market is constrained by external forces.
In today’s world, almost all markets are heavily constrained. Most of the constraints fall into three categories: Sanctions, Taxes, and Regulations. In the case of sanctions, an analysis of their nature and effects could fill a whole book. In fact such a book exists. It was written by the world-class economist, Robert McGee. Reference to it is: A Trade Policy for Free Societies: The Case Against Protectionism, Quorum Books, 1994. I’ll summarize its conclusions, with which I agree, by pointing out:
Trade sanctions never work – which is to say they never produce the intended effects;
They always produce destructive consequences; and
They are highly unethical.
Since sanctions only affect most of us very indirectly, I’ll leave it to McGee to explain them, and move on to a discussion of how taxes constrain trade.
and more recently by the estimable Larken Rose, when a group of people, calling themselves legislators, take resources from one person or group and bestow them upon another individual or group, the process is based on the notion that a certain group of individuals has the right, by virtue of their authority, to commit acts which would be crimes if performed by any of those people individually. That concept of “authority” is the lynchpin of the whole process – because, factually, authority is a myth – or, to put it another way, authority is a shared hallucination induced in us by the most predatory members of our society.
Consider how taxes constrain the market. If an employer, for example, wants to offer you a job, you and he both have to figure in the income tax that he will withhold from your earnings. Whether or not you are aware of it consciously, the employer is a tax collector’s agent – bent on stealing a portion of your earnings. He signs up as a privilege of being in business to take your money for the government and you sign up to let him do it. Or if you don’t, you can’t have the job. Have a fun time supporting yourself without one. By the way, In a free labor market this would not be happening, and the employer’s offer would be more attractive.
When you go to the store and buy something you need or want, the store owner, by means of a sales tax privilege (license), tacks a sales tax onto the price you must pay. You don’t want to pay the tax, but you don’t get the product you unless do. Like the employer above, the store owner is a tax collection agent. She doesn’t like this role any more than you do – but she’s been coerced into serving the state. She wants to be in business for herself but the Government requires her to be an agent for the state, in return for the “privilege” of being in business.
In fact, as things stood until very recently, the only way you could conduct any kind of business transaction without some government taking a share of the proceeds, was to pay cash – which of course is anonymous – and possibly secret from the tax collectors. Do you wonder why our government (and Banks), have launched a move to outlaw cash transactions – to permit only electronic transactions? Mark my words, it’s coming soon.
I hope it’s obvious from these few examples that taxation takes a bite out of almost every market transaction – and that we’d all be better off if it didn’t – as we’d have better choices available to us. At a basic level we could buy and sell goods and services without some third party affecting the pricing.
Regulations drive up prices
And lastly, let’s talk about regulations. When you buy goods and services manufactured or imported by big companies, a sizable portion of the cost pays for the company’s expenses in complying with government regulations. Smaller, more innovative, companies are often driven out of business by such compliance costs. There are many products sold in other countries that are better and much cheaper than their domestic counterparts – but regulations forbid their import, so you have to pay higher prices for the “made in USA” label.
Harry Browne Why Government Doesn’t Work
Harry Browne who was the United States libertarian presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, wrote the book, “Why Government Doesn’t Work”. On page 97 indicates that the cost of regulation is between 10 and 32%.
“A study by Thomas D. Hopkins of the Rochester Institute of Technology estimated the cost of federal regulation at $600 billion annually, which is 11% of the $5,599 billion national income for 1994. A 1992 study for the Heritage Foundation by William G. Laffer, III, and Nancy A. Bord estimated the net cost of regulation (after allowing for the benefits regulation might produce) to be between 16% and 32% of the national income.
It is impossible to calculate precisely the cost of regulation, but it’s obvious that it exacts an enormous cost from us — and that it eats up at least 10% of the national income. Add that to the 48% that federal, state, and local governments tax away from us, and at least 58% of your earnings are diverted to satisfy the government before you get to spend anything on yourself.”
But the real cost of regulation is incalculable, we have no idea what an enterprising person might have created, but didn’t because his resources, both in time and money, for compliance were stolen from him by the government.
The fact is that we don’t need most of the regulations – they don’t actually serve us. It would be much cheaper and more economical to establish more websites like Angie’s List and Consumer Reports – where we could quickly find out what businesses deserve our trust, what products are dangerous, or where to go for the best deal.
So given that possibility, how did we, as a society, get to our present circumstances: taxed and regulated into near poverty by government authorities that threaten to steal our homes, empty our bank accounts, and/or throw us in cages if we don’t comply with their demands? For the answer to that one, we need to discuss cartels.
The Dominance of Cartels
Most folks think that cartels are something remote – distant. We think of oil cartels in the Middle East or drug cartels in Latin America. Yet the reality is that since the early 1900s, almost every industry in this country has been dominated by a cartel.
So what is a cartel? It is simply a shared monopoly that exists for just 2 purposes:
To maximize the profits of the cartel’s members, and
To maintain the monopoly position of the cartel.
As far as the definition goes, cartels don’t sound all that ominous. But here’s the kicker. Every successful cartel persuades a government to enforce the cartel’s rules. This eliminates the possibility of real competition – thereby decimating the otherwise free market. And governments go along with this partnership because they too get a benefit. At the very least, governments get bigger, their budgets grow, and their power over others expands. Workers in these government bureaucracies acquire more “responsibility” (power), get promoted to supervise more people, get raises and an increase of their prestige. Little wonder they like acting in complicity with cartels.
A few examples are in order. Central Banks, financial brokerages, academic institutions, political parties and all of the so-called professions are run by cartels. If you need a license or an academic degree to do it, it’s run by a cartel. And if you are licensed, you are a member of a cartel. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, therapist, dentist, veterinarian, carpenter, plumber, electrician, hair dresser, or a general contractor… in short anyone with a “license”, you have unwittingly bought into a cartel. The government is itself a power brokerage cartel. That’s why you need government permission (a license) to drive a car, fish in the river, modify your home, ingest a medicinal herb, or otherwise do the things you would do just as well or better without a license.
Thus it is that, at the behest of the cartels, the government, be it federal, state, county, municipal, or special district, steps in and tinkers with the market in a variety of destructive ways:
Commercial banks, as permitted by government, lend money they don’t have – again stealing your money and outright defrauding everyone in the market. In addition they report your transactions to the IRS – empowering them to steal from you.
Speaking of the IRS, it is estimated that, on average, one dollar out of every three that you spend goes to pay for your vendors’ expense in attempting to comply with all the tax codes that apply to them. Again that makes everything you buy in the market more expensive than it would be otherwise.
Taxing Agencies at all levels of government collectively steal over 50% of your money. If they didn’t, you’d have twice as much money with which to participate in the market.
Tariffs on imported goods are supposed to protect domestic producers – but the net effect is that consumers have to spend more to make desired purchases.
So called Money Services Businesses (Money Transporters) include credit/debit card processors, banks that make wire transfers, and a miscellaneous category. To use these businesses’ services you have to be willing to divulge your personal and financial data to them. Their main drawback is that, in compliance with government mandates, their records are transparent to most government agencies. So you can’t use them without revealing where you are and what you’ve purchased. If the “powers that be” disapprove, they are quite capable of intercepting you as you leave the store.
So why do we tolerate all this government interference in our lives and our markets? The answer is mainly because the enforcers of these practices wear quaint costumes and have a monopoly on force. They carry badges, tasers, pepper spray, batons, gavels, and guns, which the government gives them permission to use with impunity to enforce their “laws”. It would be just as correct however to say it’s because most of us have been indoctrinated into believing that these weapon-wielding thugs and their black-robed and expensively-suited supporters somehow have “authority” on their side. This is a blatant lie! No one has a right to do collectively what would be a crime if done by an individual. When a cop pulls you over for a busted tail-light (not a crime) and winds up beating you up and hauling you into jail, he has committed assault, battery, and kidnapping. If he shoots you dead, it’s murder.
Real Market Freedom
Since you are still reading, you understand that to have a truly free market we must be able to side-step sanctions, avoid taxes, and safely ignore regulations. As unlikely as the fact may seem – the means to accomplish this is in hand today. The key is the judicious use of the recently invented digital currency called “BitCoins”.
Pros and Cons
Before discussing the tools needed to avail yourself of the BitCoin economy, let’s briefly examine the ethics of side-stepping sanctions, avoiding taxes, and ignoring regulations. Quite frankly, if you still believe sanctions, taxes, and regulations are good things, you are living in the matrix. Wake UP! If you have any critical thinking skills that haven’t been beaten out of you by the mandatory youth indoctrination camps (schools), read this article for an in-depth discussion of ethics, law, and government.
Because the major cartels control the creation of government edicts, the establishment of sanctions, taxes, and regulations is, you can be sure, not for your protection or benefit – but for theirs. Their financial interests are at stake – and when they win, you lose. If you think otherwise, you believe a series of lies that the BORG has created to manipulate your mind.
Tools for Achieving Market Freedom
The primary tools for achieving real market freedom are anonymous browsers, strong encryption, virus/malware protection programs, and digital currency. So what are these tools?
An anonymous browser, or anonymizer, allows you to visit websites without your identity or i.p. address being recorded or compromised. Thus whatever you do on the websites, your visit is truly private and cannot be traced back to your computer or identity. While there are multiple such browsers available, the best known and most widely used one is called Tor. You can download it for free at the preceding link.
Strong encryption is needed so that your privacy cannot be compromised by an examination of your computer’s hard drive, or your portable drives and flash drives. If Uncle Sam suspects that you are participating in the free market, you can bet your last dollar one of his minions will try to figure out what you are doing – and there are a number of techniques by which this can be done if you don’t exercise certain precautions.Similarly, if you encounter the TSA at an airport or elsewhere, you may be subject to an invasion of your computer privacy even with NO suspicion. Hence the need for good encryption. TrueCrypt disk encryption and Smart Encryptor file and folder encryption appear to be good choices, and can be had for free at the preceding links.
Malware protection is widely available on the Internet – and there’s nothing to keep you from using multiple programs to ensure that what one program misses another can detect. These programs aren’t perfect, so it behooves you to use more than one. Two good ones that come to mind are Malware Bytes and AVG.
Now we get to the interesting new technology that makes the free market a reality: Digital Currency. There have long been digital currencies available, but in the past they’ve all been susceptible to government intrusion – for the simple reason that their creators set them up using a website that could be attacked by the shutting down of the website or the raiding of the headquarters of the system’s creators.But a few years ago a brilliant anonymous computer programmer invented a digital currency called BitCoins – and everything changed. The BitCoin system has no central server or physical headquarters, but instead is what has come to be called a distributed peer-to-peer network. Those who are familiar with online file-sharing will realize that the immunity of file-sharing programs is based on this same design concept. Its primary features are these:
The entire BitCoin system is heavily encrypted.
The value of a BitCoin is determined by its perceived value – as in any free market.
Exchanges exist that allow one to buy BitCoins at the going price with other currencies on a global basis. While these exchanges could be attacked or destroyed by government, the BitCoin system wouldn’t even hiccup – because exchanges are easy to set up and new ones would spring up faster than government could take them down. You might want to consider setting one up yourself.
BitCoins are used anonymously – so the identities of buyer and seller cannot be determined by a third party.
The system generates new BitCoins by means of a process called “mining” which occurs at an ever-diminishing rate – so when 21 million BitCoins are in circulation the mining stops and the number of BitCoins will remain fixed thereafter. This insures that BitCoins cannot suffer from inflation and their value cannot be debased or manipulated, as is the case with today’s fiat currencies.In fact, as the value of BitCoins continues to grow they will experience deflation – meaning that the buying power of each BitCoin increases. This is unlikely to be a problem, as the smallest denomination of a BitCoin is .00000001 – thus, if the value of a BitCoin grew to $1,000,000, the smallest denomination would still be worth about 1¢ in the marketplace.
Let’s take a moment to compare BitCoins with other currencies. The value of a currency ultimately depends upon how useful it is to its owners. Every viable currency exhibits these properties:
The world’s fiat currencies exhibit all of these properties except one – Scarcity. When a central bank issues trillions of currency units (as does our Federal Reserve), it steals the buying power of every unit in circulation. The value of each unit diminishes and prices appear to rise. In this way the buying power of the dollar has dropped by more than 96% since the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913. This inflation is actually a hidden tax. Fiat currencies enable governments to tax the people, without the majority of people even being aware of it.
Moreover, fiat currencies are linked to the banking system, which destroys all monetary privacy, because the government requires the banks to report any “suspicious activity” in your account. This is done under the pretext of protecting the public from “money laundering” and the sale of “contraband” (i.e. drugs and guns). As a proponent of the free market, I am much more afraid of the government’s invasion of my privacy than I am of the threat of money laundering or contraband. After all, “money laundering” just means “financial privacy” and “contraband” simply refers to ownership prohibition, which the government has no moral right to impose.
So let’s examine other currencies – backed by gold or silver. These provide durability and scarcity, but are not as portable or readily divisible as BitCoins. Moreover, their use is expensive. Transporting any significant amount of gold or silver requires security measures and a trustworthy carrier. How are we to know whom to trust? And if you successfully ship your gold to a secure facility in Singapore, how are you to use it? And who is to say that a regime change in Singapore won’t jeopardize your holdings there. The need to entrust your holdings to a third party is a significant risk.
Alternatively you could buy physical gold or silver and keep it with you at home. But now you have to provide security against theft or government “confiscation”. To think your government won’t raid your home and confiscate your gold is naïve – they’ve done it before and are likely to do it again.
By contrast, BitCoins provide all four desired properties: scarcity, durability, portability, and divisibility. In fact, so portable are BitCoins that you could use some to make a purchase from someone in a foreign country – anywhere in the world – and no one would know, nor could any government stop you. In addition to the desirable features described above, BitCoins provide financial privacy, the scarcest commodity in today’s global police state AND immunity to government manipulation. The only way the use of BitCoins could be curtailed would be to shut down the Internet in its entirety – but in today’s world, this would be a disaster for the entire global economy, as well as for communications and transportation systems. Even if an EMP pulse were to knock out 99% of all the computers and the internet, the entire chain of transactions, known as the “blockchain”, is stored on every computer running the BitCoin client. When the Internet came back online, you would still have all your BitCoins. And the system, being open source, would repopulate itself. Voila!
The Titanian Free Market Project
In keeping with the ethics of the Titania Project, we are hereby launching the Titanian Free Market Project. In future articles we’ll bring you more detailed information about:
Access to free market Tools
The proper use of free market tools
Advantageous ways to establish a free market business and
Specific business opportunities in the free market.
Free market risks and how to deal with them.
The BORGhates the idea of a truly free market – because a free market, such as I’ve described above, cannot be controlled, taxed, or otherwise manipulated – not by the cartels, not by the banks, not by the IRS, not by the courts, and not by the gun toting thugs who serve these interests. The reason the government has control of the “money” is because it is theirs – they own it. Give to Caesar, what is Caesars! And they can keep it! BitCoins are outside the jurisdiction of the government, totally off shore, existing only in cyberspace!
For this reason it is altogether predictable that governments the world over will attempt to intervene – by whatever means they can – and I’ll tell you when things will come to a head. It will get really nasty when employers and employees realize that both will benefit when employees’ salaries are paid in BitCoins – thereby completely bypassing the banks and all their snoopy complicit reporting – not to mention that the income tax will be in its death-throes at that point. Can you see it?
The governments’ first step will be to outlaw BitCoins – to prohibit them – to make it illegal to own them or trade with them. We’ll be told that those who use them are drug dealers, money launderers, pedophiles, porn brokers, smugglers, gun runners and terrorists. Of course we’ve all seen how effective previous attempts at prohibition have been. They fail quickly enough when transactions are not anonymous. No one need know that you own or trade with BitCoins, if you observe a few simple precautions while using them.
Bitcoins in Dollars
As far as transforming our world, BitCoin is a game-changer. It offers all the same reasons to buy it as gold and silver, plus you can send it around the world in an instant! It is outside the purview of any government and using BitCoins does not contribute to Governmental terrorism. It takes money, and, for the first time in history, puts it in the hands of the WE THE PEOPLE! The time is now to buy BitCoins and start trading them for things you need. The value has gone up over 1200% since the beginning of the year! Start by dumping the dollar for BitCoins and deprive the BORG of the resources they need to enslave you. As more and more people continue to use them the value will continue to go up. Which would you rather have – BitCoins, a currency that is increasing in value or the dollar, a currency that has been systematically devalued by 96% since 1913?