Hi, everybody. My name Stefan Molyneux, and
I’m the host of Freedomain Radio.
I think it’s really important to take a few
minutes to understand the future of freedom,
I would argue, which is Bitcoin and old coins
and related to digital currencies. Now, why
is this important? Fine question. I would
argue that it’s important because fundamentally
control over human beings used to be direct
control over them like they were slaves or
they were serfs. Now, what’s happened is the
people who are in charge of society, the people
who run society have found it much more profitable
and a better camouflage to control money,
and through the control of money they can
So like an amateur thief will stick a gun
in your ribs and demand your wallet, but a
really sophisticated thief will control the
Central Bank and print money for his use and
his friends’ use and then stick you with the
results and inflation and have you blame the
poor helpless shopkeeper who is forced to
raise prices because that’s an overprinting
There doesn’t seem to be any particular end
to this problem of fiat currency, central
banking, government control of money and interest
rates and the resulting control of human beings.
Hundreds of fiat currencies have been around
throughout history. They’ve all hit the same
disaster with, I guess, the exception of the
British Pound which has only lasted only about
96% of its value since it was first introduced
a few hundred years ago. So I think it’s really
important to understand what digital currencies
are, how they operate, and why they’re so
important. So we’re going to focus a little
bit on Bitcoin here. There are some other
stories that we’ll talk about as well.
What is a Bitcoin? A Bitcoin is a networked
cryptocurrency. Now, crypto sounds cryptic.
It just means that it is cryptography. It’s
based on the cryptography branch of mathematics
or the hiding of particular information in
special codes. Bitcoins are transmitted from
one Bitcoin address to the next in any amount
desired with zero cost overhead. You can apply
a small cost overhead if you want in the terms
of pennies to have it transact a slight amount
faster but it is free. Bitcoin addresses are
identified by a string of 32 random numbers
and letters just like a bank account number.
Users can have one or many Bitcoin addresses.
You can create a new Bitcoin address for every
transaction if you want. If you want to know
how to use Bitcoins, it’s very, very simple.
You can just go weusecoins.com or trybtc.com.
Bitcoin is software. Like an email client,
you download it and install it on your local
computer or device and you can send and receive
Bitcoins. The Bitcoin software is designed
and written by developers who are publicly
known from around the world, and changes are
made to the software over time based on fixes
and features that are in demand by a consensus
of users. No one person or authority can enforce
changes. You see how it’s not hierarchical,
not centrally controlled; it is a voluntary
participation of like-minded and talented
people to produce something of great value
to the world.
Now, unfortunately, for those of us who like
freedom, Bitcoin has a lot of qualities that
government regulators don’t like and it doesn’t
have qualities that government regulators
do like which is why it’s going to be a challenge
and an exciting challenge to get it adapted
in a more widespread way.
So how does a Bitcoin come to existence? Well,
it’s called mining. What happens is you set
up a computer, a series of computers particularly
with good graphics cards to solve mathematical
equations. A lot of permutations of these
equations have to be solved to find the right
solution, and this serves as proof of work
performed by this miner. The miner is the
machine or the person who’s running it. It’s
like you expend the energy to dig into the
ground to extract gold and that’s called mining,
and in the same way you expend computer power
and CPU cycles and electricity to create a
Bitcoin, to mine a Bitcoin. Both require the
consumption of resources. The processing power
of computers that are actively involved in
currently mining for Bitcoins is estimated
to be 6 to 8 times greater than the top 500
supercomputers combined as of May 2013.
Let’s have a look at the fees. Recently, somebody
transferred $6.5 million in Bitcoins for a
fee of 6 cents. That’s a lot of zeros with
a 9% in terms of fees.
Let’s compare that to PayPal. PayPal typically
charges 2.9% plus a 30-cent fee per transaction,
bank wire transfers, charge runs 3.5%, takes
three and a half business days to clear. If
you’re looking at something like Visa you’re
looking at similar kinds of amounts. So to
do this, transfer over PayPal would have cost
$188,500. To do a wire transfer would have
cost over a quarter million dollars. Bitcoin
can do it for 6 cents. How do you feel if
you’re a bank looking at this competitor on
the horizon and it’s not to the next call
you make going to be to your personally rented
congressman to write, interfering legislation
into this kind of stuff?
There are third-party websites. It’s an open
API such as Coinbase and BitPay service, and
they aim to make merchant transactions simpler
and link Bitcoin accounts to legacy bank accounts.
They charge 0% to 0.99% for transactions.
Bitcoin transactions are irreversible so there’s
less risk to senders of fraud or chargebacks
and this is important. The reason that they’re
not reversible is if you want to send someone
back the Bitcoins, since it cost you nothing,
if you want that option, since it cost you
nothing, you send it back. Somebody sends
you a Bitcoin by accident or you run or reverse
the transaction, you send them the Bitcoin
back because it’s not this overhead of transaction
fees. You can just do that very easily. You
can put escrow services which means that you
basically put your Bitcoin into a holding
a holding cell until a particular condition
is satisfied like some good is delivered or
some service is provided and then it’s released.
Transactions anywhere in the world are generally
confirmed within ten minutes regardless of
the size of the transaction. It’s possible
to have confirmed the transaction within moments
by introducing trusted intermediaries and
off-chain transactions that are validated
by third parties rather than by the Bitcoin
network. So if you’re doing something incredibly
time sensitive, then you can, of course, accelerate
Now, highly regulated money services like
PayPal have been unable to connect foreign
marketplaces, really remote places. Bitcoin
permits those with an internet connection
of any kind previously in isolated areas to
send and receive wealth, creating a truly
global marketplace. Look, I use PayPal but
they have to conform with a huge amount of
government regulations and legislations which
is what drives their price up to some degree.
Bitcoin is often described as frictionless
because of the lack of need for intermediaries,
the low or no fees and the speed. The authenticity
of transactions are double checked and assured
by the rest of the network. One measurement
of the authenticity of transactions is measured
by the bricks index which estimates that approximately
$500 million would be required in order to
trick the network and create fake transactions.
They’re not too likely. I’m sure there’s better
use for half a billion dollars like funding
the US government for a pound eight nanoseconds.
Now, of course, Bitcoin is not the only pony
in the show. The blueprints for Bitcoin are
open source. People can make their own modified
versions of Bitcoin but different properties
often referred to as old coins. This opens
up the Bitcoin currency to competition which
is kind of what you want in order to keep
it moving ahead and becoming as efficient
and friendly as possible. If any fundamental
problems with Bitcoin are discovered in the
future, then you can just switch to a new
or existing old coin and there are dozens
already traded on exchanges. The top five
in terms of market cap are Litecoin, FeatherCoin,
Terracoin, Namecoin, and Novacoin.
So you may have a question. It sounds like
a whole bunch of digital burping, bleeps,
and bloops, and blurps. Is it real money?
Well, that’s a question. Let’s go back in
time to our good friend, shaggy face ZZ Top
Aristotle dude. Of course, as you probably
know, many, many different things have been
used as money throughout history from corn
shells to salts to buffalo hides to beaver
pelts and so on.
What is money? Well, Aristotle defines the
sound form of money in terms of durability,
it’s got to last. Portability, you got to
be able to carry it like if you want to pay
for a car in iron, you’re not going to need
a couple of tons at least. Divisibility, can
you divide it without losing its value, right?
You can cut a gold bar in half, and it’s worth
half a gold bar. But if you cut a diamond
in half, it’s worth a whole lot less. And
does it have intrinsic value? Gold, of course,
is popular because you can use it for jewelry.
Now, of, course, you can use it for industrial
manufacturing and so on.
Other important qualities for money: fungibility,
not just something you have to dig out from
between your toenails, but what it means is
that if you lend someone ten bucks and they
give you back a different $10 bill, you don’t
care. Whereas, if you lend someone your car
and they give you back a different car, that
might bother you a little. So fungibility
and scarcity is really, really important.
So in terms of fiat currency — because what
you want to do is not necessarily compare
Bitcoin to gold. I mean, we can do that but
it’s important to compare Bitcoin to existing
government issued fiat currency which is backed
by nothing, can be printed at will, relies
on debt, and all these other awful things.
Okay, dollars are durable. They are portable.
You can divide them. They have no intrinsic
value. They’re fungible and they’re certainly
not scarce. You don’t even need to print them
anymore. You can just type them into the Feds
bank account and bingo bango, bongo, you’ve
made yourself some wealth and enslaved yourself
some poor people.
Is it real money? Well, it certainly is more
real than Federal Reserve notes. It’s more
real than the ass wipe paper towels of money
printing extravaganzas known as modern government
currencies. Bitcoin has all these qualities.
It doesn’t have a huge amount of intrinsic
value. You could make the argument both ways.
It certainly is true; a single Bitcoin doesn’t
have alternative uses like gold, but it has
intrinsic utility in the same way that if
you have a lot of phones networked together,
that’s a lot more valuable than a single telephone.
You can buy things all over the world with
it. Having money that I used elsewhere is
not always the best thing in the world.
Now, let’s say you use gold and you have a
gold standard and then there are some new
use that is found for gold that drives its
price up that really discombobulates the system,
what you do want to some degree is predictability
in terms of the value of the currency and
predictability in terms of its value. It’s
useful. Bitcoin is still settling in to that.
But just because you have a money based on
or composed of something that’s used elsewhere,
it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be stable
than necessarily better.
Bitcoin versus gold I think is interesting.
This is from July 2010 to January 2013. It
is starting to stabilize out a little bit.
Now, since Bitcoin has many of the positive
money properties that gold has and some that
gold does not, it’s conceivable that the anticipated
return of the gold standard will be leapfrogged
by a cryptocurrency standard. Do we want to
go back to a gold standard or do we want to
go to a cryptocurrency? Gold, of course, is
hard to transport. It’s difficult to store
safely and so on and also does get chafed
down and so on. Crypto stuff is pretty cool
from that standpoint. You can’t pay with gold
from your phone very easily but you can with
Compared to gold, of course, Bitcoin is easy
to transfer, less expensive to secure in storage,
easy to verify, and much easier to granulate,
to slice down into tiny little bits. You wouldn’t
want to buy a piece of penny candy with gold
but you can do that with Bitcoin because it
doesn’t really matter since there’s no overhead
to the paying or selling of things. Through
Bitcoin, you can make it a .00000 infinity
1 if you want.
There are some economic theorists who are
making the argument that the traditional definition
of a tangible asset may need to be updated.
Now, since Bitcoin is not tangible in the
traditional sense but meets the standards
to being corporeal, it does exist as electricity,
as something that is on your hard drive or
is on your smartphone, or whatever. So it
does exist. It’s not purely conceptual. It’s
not like the dream you had last night. It
is actually sort of something that exists.
Is it tangible? Well, it requires effort to
produce. It exists. It’s tangible value on
a hard drive, so it’s something to be explored
that the Aristotelian definitions of money
did not of course include the digital age.
If you’re not particularly aware of Bitcoin
— more than a quarter a half of people are
in certain areas — there may be a reason
for that which is that you don’t live in a
highly unstable banana republic. What products
and services do you typically tend to buy
using Bitcoins? In the country USA, electrical
items like a TV, 28% — I’m sorry, it’s UK
— USA 28%. Argentina is 40% because Argentina
is a tragic example of a government gone wild.
Like in the 1920s, Argentina had the same
standard of living that America did and then
they went into this socialist vacuum-baked
hell of central planning and their wealth
all went up in smoke.
As to the value of their money, they had to
reform the currency many times so they’re
very interested in not sullying their hands
with the magic corrosive rest based very pixie
dust of government currencies. Computer staff
— I’ll let you if you want to pause. Sorry
for those who’s just listening to the audio.
There is a lovely video. I’m not going to
read all these percentages but there’s lot
of different ways.
Of course, electrical items, computer software,
and hardware, entertainment goods, DVDs, clothes,
beauty items, betting, gambling, and other
all important. I do have Bitcoins. Let’s make
this clear. I do have some Bitcoins, but I’m
going to hold on to them like grim death.
I think they’re going to be the foundation
of significant wealth.
A survey of US consumers in May 2013 found
that 25% of them had heard of Bitcoin. Another
survey found that nearly 40% of Argentineans
where official yearly inflation figures are
10% or more probably many times more, in reality,
have heard of Bitcoin. Thirty-two percent
of people living in the UK have heard of Bitcoin.
The word “Bitcoin” was recently added to the
Oxford English Dictionary. You know you’ve
made it when. The average Bitcoin user, according
to a survey of user, is 96% male — I think
that’s similar to libertarianism — 32.7 years
old, if you’re a libertarian or anarcho-capitalist,
37%; non-religious, 61%; if you have a full-time
job, 43%; in a relationship, 56%.
The most common use of Bitcoins according
to the survey was for gifts and to donations.
I, of course, as a show that doesn’t really
sell anything and doesn’t have any advertisements,
I do take Bitcoins so it’s in the low bar
or in the notes for the podcast if you like
to help out. I really appreciate that. It’s
also going to cue our code up.
As of September 2013, 29% of downloads of
the official Bitcoin client software have
been from internet connections in the US,
followed by China, 10%; and Germany, 7%. In
the US, there have been 3,455 downloads of
the official Bitcoin client per million capita
compared with the sizeable 1,751 per million
capita in Cyprus, and 697 per million capita
in Argentina. The country with the most downloads
per capita has been Iceland who, of course,
took a rather stern though temporarily helpful
stance with their banksters during the recent
The largest base of Bitcoin users is in the
US followed by China. China’s market cap and
volume is growing quickly. Of course, they’re
in fascistic, semi-socialist remnants of free
market hell so they’re into that as well.
This is just some statistics. You can have
a look at pause the video, if you like. Bitcoin
claimed downloads per capita. This is a logarithmic
scale. It would give you whiplash if we put
Several new charities and other donation-based
organizations have been created based on Bitcoin.
A number of charities are now accepting Bitcoin
or have switched entirely in an attempt to
avoid government regulations or bank interference.
Famously, WikiLeaks underwent a banking blockade
and account freezes by PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard
under pressure from governments; they now
circumvent this through Bitcoin.
FreeDomainRadio, that would be us. Let me
read it for you. You can, of course, look
at it in the low bar or scan the QR. Bitcoin
Not Bombs funnels Bitcoin donations to charities,
bitcoinnotbombs.com. Fr33aid is a medical
volunteer charity that now only accepts Bitcoins.
Fr33aid.com, Bitcoin100 encourages Bitcoin
adoption by offering charities $1,000 in Bitcoin,
Here are some logos. It’s like a scatter shot
of the advertising hard drive. This is all
the people who are interested or involved
in using Bitcoins. You can, of course, pause
this; look at it in more in detail if you
So Bitcoin has likely created a significant
number of new millionaires. Tragically, I’m
not among them. As of April 2013, at least
250 Bitcoin addresses contained a balance
of more than $1 million in Bitcoins. As of
April 2nd, the address with the most Bitcoins
was worth around $13 million. The Winklevoss
twins of Facebook fame own millions in Bitcoins
and are working to create tradable ETF, electronic
fund transfer, based on Bitcoin.
So a bunch of capitalist firms have been keenly
interested in Bitcoin. In May 2013, a company
called CoinLab announced a $5 million investment
by Union Square Ventures, merchant transaction
company BitPay raised $2 million from Founders
Fund and recently signed up their 10,000th
merchant partner. Much of the money that flows
into Bitcoin economy comes through Bitcoin
exchanges which convert fiat currencies into
bitcoins and vice-versa. You don’t have to
mine them. You can buy them or you can, of
course, apply goods and services in return
for bitcoins, how you acquire them.
Let’s look at an important predecessor to
Bitcoin, E-Gold. The story of E-Gold is important
to understand where Bitcoin came from and
what might happen to it.
The E-Gold company and website was a predecessor
providing an alternative currency that was
not centrally controlled; it was backed by
physical gold and quickly transferrable globally.
Of course, the origin of paper money was simply
as receipts for money that you’d given a jeweler
with a safe to store your gold, and people
just found it a lot easier to trade those
receipts than it was to go and get their gold
every time they wanted to buy something. The
E-Gold was a noble act back to the way it
used to work.
Users could open accounts denominated in grams
of gold divisible by half to 1 and 10,000
and transferred up the E-Gold accounts. At
its peak, E-Gold had around $20 million in
market capitalization and had around 500 million
users. E-Gold is widely regarded as the first
successful digital currency system to gain
a widespread user based and merchant adoption.
Users could register with any name they wanted
but their real identity was often revealed
when initially depositing money to their account,
i.e. by a bank wire transfer. So you take
your bank while you put it in to E-Gold then
they kind of know who you are.
What happened? Oh, here we dip our face into
the tasty acidic apple bobbing bucket of government
hypocrisy. E-Gold was criticized by lawmakers
and competitors for not confirming the identity
of its users but fraud committed by E-Gold
was often done through the traditional banking
system when criminals used credit cards they
did not require identity verification. Despite
this, it was slandered as a tool favored by
crooks and terrorists to launder their cash.
See, laundering cash is when you take money
from illicit proceeds and then you turn it
into “legitimate” proceeds by running it through
a business or running it through something
like that. If you counterfeit, you want to
make that money legitimate, say, by having
a central bank where you can counterfeit at
will and then call it legitimate.
After 9/11, a bureau within the US Treasury
called FinCEN, Financial Crimes Enforcement
Network. I do believe that is in fact the
central business plan of the Federal Reserve.
I have to look that up. FinCEN, made it illegal
to operate any business it classified as a
money service business without licensing because
that keeps everyone safe.
E-Gold was told by the US state of California
and the US Treasury that it wasn’t defined
as a money service business. So the Treasury
wouldn’t have to define gold as money. If
they define gold as money, they have to explain
to us what this tissue paper with George Washington
on it is called. However, the definition of
an MSB was later extended to describe any
company that involved an exchange of value,
fortunately, not an exchange of fluids, just
value. FinCEN also expand that the MSB classification
and its laws to include any foreign business
that allowed US citizens to register accounts.
Even though E-Gold was initially compliant
under the changed rules, the US government
prosecuted the company. Can you believe that?
You’ve obeyed the law but you still get prosecuted.
Ah, well, no good deeds go unpunished then.
Three directors of the company pled guilty
to money laundering paying millions in fines
and serving community service and house arrest
In January 2012, competitor Gold Money disabled
their account to account payments as well
unwilling to deal with the cost and risk of
these expanded FinCEN regulations. You get
like three telephone books worth the regulations.
Nobody can tell you whether they’re in compliance
or not and you face massive legal bills and
years in court and so on. It’s soft fascism.
The hard fascism is where you’re just told
to go into a camp and you’re not allowed to
work and you just stick a gun to your head.
The soft fascism is when they just bury you
like De NIro in Brazil; they just bury you
in paper to the point where you become avoidant.
Soft threats and over regulation, it’s quite
The story of Liberty Reserve is similar. Liberty
Reserve was a centralized digital currency
service based in Costa Rica. Users’ identities
were based on unverified email address, name,
and date of birth. Users could deposit and
exchange currency for Liberty dollars and
Liberty Euros that were pegged to the fiat
currencies. At a tight, Liberty Reserve had
about one million users worldwide with 200,000
from the United States. Loose requirements
on identification allegedly attracted criminals
for money laundering and fraud purposes.
An official at the IRS was quoted, “If Al
Capone were alive today, this is how he would
be hiding his money.” Nice. The Liberty Reserve
website was seized in May 2013 under allegations
of handling $6 billion in criminal proceeds.
The US tried the founders and their employees
in US courts under a provision of the Patriot
Act since it was not a US company.
Well, government is clearly concerned with
money laundering and problems of financial
institutions. Let’s have a look at the prosecution
of E-Gold and Liberty Reserve for money laundering.
What about large and more established financial
organizations? What were they charged with?
In December 2012, the Standard Chartered Bank,
the fifth largest bank in the UK, was caught
laundering 250 — yes, that’s a B — billion
dollars, and only had to pay fines. That same
month, HSBC was granted immunity from charges
of allegedly laundering $2.3 billion for international
organized crime. I assume that’s the private
one not the public one.
The honorable Senator Chuck Grassley — I
think that’s funny — do you know, if you
really are honorable, you really don’t need
to say it in front of your name? I think maybe
I’ll just start introducing myself, “Hello,
I’m the bold Stefan Molyneux,” just in case
people miss out on that. The honorable Senator
Chuck Grassley, “What I have seen from the
department is an inexplicable unwillingness
to prosecute and convict those responsible
for aiding and abetting drug lords and terrorists.”
It’s really inexplicable. I wonder if I could
explain something to Sen. Chuck which is that
a lot of banks donate money to politicians.
There you go.
An HSBC spokesperson stated, “We are focused
on taking all necessary steps to fulfill our
obligations under the agreements with the
US and UK governments and in implementing
effective global standards across HSBC.” Good.
This, of course, entirely ignores the ethical
considerations and the questionable meaning
of the term “money laundering.”
Let’s delve into our brief history of Bitcoin
before discussing its importance in the future.
Bitcoin technology’s results are literally
decades and millions of man hours of previous
research and inventions in cryptography and
networking and electronic cash systems. In
2008, the Zorro-like and pseudo anonymous
inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, released
a white paper online presenting its design.
Nakamoto combined elements from peer-to-peer
technologies like BitTorrent with various
cryptographic algorithms and techniques to
create the blueprints for the new electronic
currency. Nakamoto’s true identity remains
mysterious to the public domain. I can tell
you though, it’s not me. So that should help.
In 2009, Nakamoto and admirers of his paperwork
to create the first version of the Bitcoin
software and this was the beginning stages
of the Bitcoin network and making the software
not only available to the public to use but
also open source. After Nakamoto’s contribution,
the project was largely taken over by publicly
known programmer such as Gavin Andresen who
is now the lead developer of the official
Bitcoin client and protocol. During the early
period of Bitcoin, each bitcoin was cheap.
It was relatively trivial to hundreds or thousands
of them with personal computers. A pizza was
once famously sold for 10,000 Bitcoins. I
wouldn’t even tell you what that’s worth right
now because you will cry. During the first
six months of the act of trading, the price
of one Bitcoin stayed below 14 cents.
Ever escalating effort from Bitcoin entrepreneurs,
speculators, and journalists have grown the
Bitcoin ecosystem into one of a semi-mature
technology and launched the price of one Bitcoin
well beyond $100. So purchasing power of the
US dollar since 1774, there were couple of
early attempts at a central bank in the United
States, fought back valiantly by the defenders
of light, freedom, and liberty and then, of
course, from 1913 onwards the value of the
US dollar has fallen by 95%. This is what
happens when the government takes control
of a currency, it turns it into — it’s like
basically turning a lake into a cloud without
the value of it raining back down on you.
So that’s what happens to the government currency;
it just drops and drops and drops in value
as they print money to bribe constituents
and donors in the here and now with the blood,
sweat, and tears of the unborn.
Let’s look at Bitcoins value. Ah, you see,
it goes up like crazy. This is from October
2012 through to I guess mid to late September.
And you can see it’s beginning to stabilize
now and it’s doing really, really nicely medium
price about $124 for a Bitcoin. This is kind
of what you expect with the decentralized
money that has a cap that requires energy
and time to create. It’s going to become more
stable in value that anything that the government
has to do with.
Of course, in the 19th century in the United
States, the price of most things fell over
time. It was like everything was a computer
but there were wars, the slavery, the confederate
dollars, I mean just a mess. The greenback
is all just a bunch of nonsense that went
on with the governments attempting — as they
always do — pay for their overspending by
debasing the currency. So I think it’s very
interesting to see, and this is something
that I predicted years ago which is that a
free market currency would aim for stability
and would increase in value over time.
Let’s look at the supply of the US dollar.
From less than $2 trillion in 1980, about
$1.5 trillion, it’s now over — projected
to go over $11 trillion in 2015. This is just
the money that they’re telling us about. I’m
sure the truth is much worse. So it says,
less than $2 trillion in 1980 to over $10
trillion now — 400% increase. There are no
hard limits on the increase of supply of US
dollars now that is off the goal standard.
When the dollar was tied to gold, you couldn’t
print a lot more money than you had gold to
back it up. But now, they could just print
whatever they want.
This is something people don’t understand.
They think that somehow the minimum wage needs
to be increased but if the minimum wage was
tied to the price of silver, then the minimum
wage now — the minimum wage in 1960 would
be about $23 or $24 an hour now. It is not
the minimum wage that needs to be fixed. It’s
the currency that needs to stop debasing the
currency and you won’t need to keep raising
the minimum wage — a topic for another time.
Okay. So the US dollar has lost about 97%
of its value since 1900 despite increases
in adoption. It is now, of course, the world
reserve currency and so on. Now think of this
supply of Bitcoins. Well, this isn’t exactly
how it’s supposed to go. The algorithms get
progressively harder and harder to solve,
and so the number of Bitcoins diminish. The
total number of Bitcoins that will ever exist
is hard coded into the software at about 21
million Bitcoins. These 21 million Bitcoins
are divisible down to eight decimal places
providing for about 2.1 quadrillion transactable
units of the currency. 2.1 quadrillion sounds
like quite a bit to me.
The software is designed, as I mentioned,
so that the difficulty of getting new Bitcoins
or mining Bitcoins increases over time. It’s
an even decline of money supply near its maximum.
This leveling off is projected to take place
somewhere around 2033. By the year 2040, about
99.8% of all Bitcoins that will exist are
expected to be mined. Though surges in mining
due to the deployment of breakthrough mining
technologies such as the ones observed in
August 2013 can speed up the process. Currently,
Bitcoin is near 56% of the maximum of 21 million.
As Bitcoin approaches the point of being mined
out, it will become a currency with a decreasing
money supply, and that’s deflationary. Some
Bitcoins are accidentally lost or small amounts
of Bitcoins are purposefully destroyed. Imagine,
deflationary, the value of your money increases
without you doing anything. Wouldn’t that
change our entire buying habits as a society?
So much of stuff is bought simply because
the value of money is going to go down over
time. So much of our decision-making is based
upon that. It would be wonderful.
What are the current regulations for Bitcoin?
Well, in March 2013, FinCEN released guidance
regarding — there’s nothing like government
guidance — regarding virtual currencies essentially
classifying any Bitcoin business as a money
service business and money transmitter under
its definition. This could potentially require
those businesses require relevant licenses
in 48 different states equating to millions
of dollars in regulatory compliance fees per
FinCEN’s vague guidance may also classify
Bitcoin miners even as hobbyists to register
as a money transmitter. Commented one lawyer
on the guidance, “A person that creates units
and sells those units is a monetary transmitter.”
This is akin to requiring people who cook
at home for friends to meet the same food
safety standards as food producing corporations.
The world’s largest Bitcoin exchange based
in Japan, MtGox, has had $5 million in US
bank account seized by the US department of
Homeland Security. The legal claim for these
seizures was based on forms filed by US subsidiary
of MtGox. The subsidiary classified itself
as a business not dealing in money services.
Well, before FinCEN ever released guidance
regarding electronic currencies, instead of
politely pointing out this deficiency in their
paperwork due to a changed regulatory guidance
— laws are not supposed to be retroactive,
people — they seized the bank accounts. These
disruptions to the company’s balance sheets
may lead to its demise.
Income tax classifications in the US are still
unclear, but it’s likely that Bitcoin will
be subject to capital gains taxes. Germany
currently classifies Bitcoin as private money
or [Indiscernible] subject to capital gains,
taxes and possibly sales taxes as well. You’d
never know who’s half German, would you?
FinCEN’s slightly less bloodthirsty Canadian
court’s cousin FINTRAC has determined that
Canadian Bitcoin exchanges are currently not
classified as money service businesses. The
Central Bank of Thailand recently ruled that
a lack of existing laws concerning Bitcoin
made it effectively illegal, prompting new
Bitcoin-based businesses in the country to
close their doors amidst regulatory uncertainty.
This is the soft fascism that we have to deal
Okay. Let’s look at BitTorrent which has some
technological similarities to Bitcoin. BitTorrent
permits peer-to-peer file sharing often copyrighted
movies and music and is like Bitcoin, decentralized
in nature. That’s different from Napster which
relied on centralized stuff. However, it’s
still possible for copyright holders to monitor
the use of BitTorrent and attack participants
with lawsuits through the participants’ internet
service providers and legal threats towards
the ISPs that coerce cooperation.
There are technological solutions to combat
this monitoring such as the use of private
networks like Tor and identity obscuring services
such as VPNs. Legal threats in the form of
subpoenas have forced privacy protecting VPN
services to move to a select number of countries.
This is cat and mouse of freedom and control.
There are some centralized bottlenecks of
BitTorrent usage. A large percentage of BitTorrent
traffic is orchestrated through the Pirate
Bay website based in Sweden. Sweden was bullied
into prosecuting. The Pirate Bay threatened
with trade sanctions by the United States
government. Shortly before news of the threat
broke, these servers were raided. The Pirate
Bay was back up in three days on new service
and due to the Streisand effect doubled in
its number of users. However, while the Pirate
Bay remains active, its four founders were
tried on criminal charges in civil prosecution.
All four were sentenced to a year in jail
and $3.5 million in damages to copyright holding
BitTorrent’s example teaches us that it is
challenging to shut down an underground decentralized
technology even when widely used. However,
the Pirate Bay demonstrates that registered
companies and public figures are giant target
marks for prosecution and fall neatly within
the umbrella of force that governments excel
Could government shut down Bitcoin? Well,
the public developers of Bitcoin could be
threatened by state actors. This might just
lead developers to retire and be replaced
by anonymous developers. States can regulate
registered Bitcoin businesses into oblivion
or crush them with regulatory hurdles until
many of the benefits of Bitcoin are neutralized
with respect to those businesses. Bitcoin
has brought about a new model of unregulated
business publicly accessible but hosted in
secret locations and dealing only with Bitcoins.
The most famous example is the eBay of illegal
drugs, the Silk Road.
Did you know about half of the world workers
operate off the grid and in the gray market
or the black market? It’s expected to rise
within a few years to about 60%. These are
people who don’t need government, who are
avoiding government, who can enforce contracts,
and the economy still works fairly well. Imagine
hell well it could work without all this endless
interference and control.
Governments can coerce ISPs into implementing
internet censoring technologies used to identify
and stop or throttle Bitcoin traffic, but
this may prompt an arms raise between Bitcoin
developers and ISPs to detect and evade detection.
Historically, ISPs have had mixed success
implementing such technologies to hogtied
BitTorrent. The Chinese government has extensive
experience with internet censorship but even
that great firewall can be bypassed.
Some regimes particularly those with weak
fiat currencies will be tempted to become
safe havens for Bitcoin businesses and traffic
in order to feed off the wealth generated
or as a political favor to constituents. However,
as we discussed earlier, the US has prosecuted
foreign businesses under US laws and threatened
other countries with trade sanctions for inconveniences
that did not threaten its control over the
world’s reserve currency. With the vast arsenal
of kinetic and digital weapons and an NSA-based
stranglehold on many segments of the internet,
how far would the US government and the allied
states go and protect stability to inflate
Many earlier adopters predicted the Bitcoin
to dollar spot price will rise ten times,
a hundred times and more beyond its current
level. Certainly, the most likely short-term
scenario for fiat currency is to inflate.
This is what governments do. It’s called the
soft default. If the government can’t pay
its bills, it just keeps printing money to
pretend to pay its bills and thus devaluing
the currency. And therefore, since the amount
of fiat currencies is going to increase and
the rate of growth of Bitcoins is going to
decrease, the Bitcoin to fiat currency ratio
is going to be very, very profitable I would
argue. It’s not advice; it’s just my particular
Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin have the potential
to supply in fiat currencies. They’re much
more beneficial to non-aggression principle-friendly
businesses. Even if cryptocurrencies don’t
take over the white or regular market, they
have the potential to overtake system D. it’s
a French term for off the grid, gray market,
black market. These are not people who are
dealing in anything particularly illegal.
These are street vendors or people who provide
goods and services for barter or other kinds
of exchange. Capturing just 10% of the system
D market would represent the growth of 300
to 1,000 times in market cap. I guess it’s
not a bad place to be.
As fiat currencies inflate and collapse, we
can expect more and more interest from large
populations including Cyprus and Argentina.
There will be substantial interest from the
Third World countries. Many African countries
are operating on the mobile-phone based M-Pesa.
If, and it seems inevitable, the US dollar
is going to collapse as, at least as a world’s
reserve currency, people are going to be looking
for an alternative, a replacement. And there’s
no particular currency that I think is going
to step up as a natural successor because
everybody is inflating and everybody’s government
is growing. Why not think about this as a
currency that’s already there for you?
Bank consolidation. This, of course, is interesting.
1990 to 1995, we can see here on the left
tons and tons of banks and they’ve all been
collapsed and ground into these monster banks.
This has nothing to do with the free market,
of course. It’s simply that if you’re big,
you get bailouts. You’re too big to fail;
and therefore, there’s a huge advantage under
the existing system for banks to consolidate.
If you’re small, you’re allowed to fail. If
you’re big, you get bailouts so naturally
banks are not stupid. Bankers are not stupid.
So they consolidate. That’s quite an important
factor when you think about the value of Bitcoins
relative to all of these trembling and collapsing
financial institutions that are going to face
another round of problems relatively soon,
I would argue and therefore are going to need
more bailouts, triggering more money printing
and devaluing of the fiat currencies.
What about political attacks on Bitcoin? They’re
going to happen. Of course, they’re going
to happen. Mafia doesn’t like it when you
move into their neighborhood and outcompete
To convert fiat currencies into Bitcoin on
a large scale, you got to interface with banks.
Many Bitcoin exchanges have had difficulty
finding banks willing to work with them. Notable
examples include Tradehill losing their accounts
with the Internet Archive Federal Credit Union,
and MtGox finding partners in the wake of
account seizures by the Department of Homeland
Security. In the long run, will banks want
to support Bitcoin? Well, they ain’t getting
bailouts from Bitcoin users so it’s hard to
Many enjoy the regular trade hurdles to keep
out potential new competitors and make much
of their profits off of states supported fractional
reserve rules and the amount of money coerced
into stock markets. All your money is forced
into the stock markets particularly for retirement
plans. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there but
you have to be there. Banks really like that.
Based on the lessons of E-Gold, I think it’s
reasonable to expect political attacks on
Bitcoin and it’s going to be the usual supposedly
terrorism, child pornography, the drug trade,
and organized crime, all these terrible things.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt as Bitcoin adoption
grows and begins to threaten some of the viability
of fiat currencies. “Oh, it’s going to threaten
economic stability and there’s going to be
systemic risks.” I would let the objective
considerations for whether the world is benefitted
by the current system. “Well, you see, Bitcoin
is hard to tax and the poor need your tax
money or they’re going to…” As an illustrative
example, the Liberty Dollar, a private gold
and silver certificate-based currency, was
shut down and labeled a unique form of domestic
terrorism far before it became disruptive.
Bitcoin is pseudo anonymous built into the
Bitcoin protocol, is a public ledger of all
Bitcoin transactions called the “block chain.”
This ledger doesn’t contain personal information
about the participants, but other sources
of information can link real identities to
the addresses involved in Bitcoin transactions.
These sources can include third parties such
as Bitcoin exchanges and web traffic sent
from Bitcoin users. The NSA will probably
have an eye on this stuff.
Of course, like all markets whether it’s a
demand for non anonymity, there will be supply
of it. Bitcoin’s primary mechanism for protecting
privacy is Bitcoin mixing in which Bitcoin
users or trusted third-party websites can
obscure the flow of Bitcoins from address
to address. In order to protect privacy against
incredibly powerful actors like the NSA, if
it is possible to do so with all the variety
of semi obscure tools must be utilized in
very particular ways. Any small mistakes can
leak information about the participants of
a Bitcoin transaction.
The notion that Bitcoin is anonymous out of
the box is a myth — very important to remember
— and few users are sufficiently educated
to use Bitcoin as anonymously as possible.
The ability of Bitcoin to truly flourish may
depend heavily on the ability to avoid taxation
beyond the whims of the state. This will be
defined by users’ access to and understanding
of anonymity tools.
For a comprehensive guide on Bitcoin anonymities,
sign up for the newsletter at anonymousbitcoinbook.com.
The eBook is targeted for a Q4 2013 release
with the goal of making the subject accessible
Let’s just spend a minute or two. Thank you
for your patience. I really, really wanted
to emphasize just how important I think this
Political power is money power. Political
power used to be guns alone. Now, fundamentally,
it is money power. It is the power to control
money. It is the power to print money. It
is the power to issued IOUs. It is the power
to sell bonds. It is the power to have debt
— to have national debts. This is what political
power fundamentally is these days and so they
will be about as receptive in the halls of
political power to a way bypassing the power
of money as a king would be to you poisoning
his knights. That is the source of his power.
The sword was a source of his power. The money
is a source of political power.
Now, politicians have nothing to offer Bitcoin
users. The only thing they can do is get in
the way and make things difficult. If you
are a big pharmaceutical company or part of
the military industrial complex, then politicians
have real goodies to offer you. “Hey, donate
to us, be part of the system, be upfront,
comply with these regulations, it will keep
smaller competitors out, and we’ll give you
all these big ass juicy contracts, and all
these kind of great stuff. We’ll give you
tariff rules to competitors.”
So if you’re in the system and you’re public
and you’re a big corporation, politicians
have a lot to offer you so you’ll donate a
lot of money to politicians. The more economy
shifts to things like Bitcoins, each individual
Bitcoin user doesn’t want to have anything
to do with the government as much as possible
most likely, and to politicians aren’t going
to have anything to offer them which means
there will be fewer donations.
And also, the power of the state is kind of
hidden from a lot of salaried workers. They’re
going to take your money and so on, but you’re
sort of hidden from the regulations. You’re
hidden from — they’re all hidden from you,
the controls, the laws, the accounting requirements.
They’re just all the stuff, these mountains
and mountains of regulations are all hidden
from you. Start dealing with Bitcoins, the
power of the government, a little bit more
“in your face” — very important to understand
It’s likely that it will be attacked for a
variety of reasons but since political power
is based on control of money, political freedom
is based on liberty of money, is based on
removing the power of money from the ruling
classes. I would argue that other than the
internet, there’s nothing more revolutionary,
nothing with the greater capacity to enhance
and expand human freedom but then getting
out of the pockets of the state and getting
out of the paper currency of the state, trading
It is an astounding opportunity to take back
the power of economy, the power of trade,
the power of freedom, the power of life itself.
Trade is life. Where trade is banned, people
die. You don’t get the division of labor,
and money is incredibly necessary for the
facilitation of trade. Frictionless money
has never existed before in history. Money
without overhead or with very little overhead
has never existed before in history. Untraceable
money has almost never before existed in human
history. This is an incredible development
in allowing us to get free of the matrix of
state power and state control.
Now, I urge everyone, obey the laws and declare
what you need to declare and keep track of
things, talk to your accountants and so on.
But what an amazing opportunity it is where
legal bypass the corrosive and destructive
and child-eating power of fiat currency. I
strongly urge you, look into this stuff. Learn
to understand it, and recognize it for the
astounding breakthrough that it is.
This is Stefan Molyneux from Freedomain Radio.
Thank you so much for watching. I look forward
to your donations.