*Editor’s Note: This article recently appeared in the latest edition of the Freedom’s Phoenix E-Zine. The theme was “What to Keep and What to Discard,” and while some suggestions were centered on federal agencies, I thought it fit to make the case that we discard the ideology behind the Federal Reserve Note. The following contains some familiar concepts previously discussed on this blog, but also some new terminology.
During the government shut down, we got to see exactly which agencies were useless and which ones should have been shut down. Out of the myriad of three letter parasites, agencies like the DEA, IRS, FBI, DOJ, EPA, and DOE frequently top the lists of agencies that anarchists would eliminate if given the chance. I’d like to suggest a different approach; an ideological elimination of sorts.
Many of the problems people are experiencing are a direct result of misplaced faith in fiat currency namely the petrodollar. Older generations have gotten rich based on this faith and a stronger economy that allowed them to take advantage of the dollar’s strength and are now expecting retirement at 65 with a good couple of decades of leisure; spending their dollars and money accrued from investments on sections of the economy that produce nice feelings but not tangible goods.
Younger generations have no retirement to look forward to as they must pay for the healthcare and social security expenses of these retired individuals who had the luck to be born into a time unlike any other in history. The parents of baby boomers and former generations worked into old age, and their children will likely be facing the same. But boomers lived through a more prosperous economy, had the time to invest in real money (gold and silver) when it was affordable, and feel entitled to the wealth of others despite having had ample opportunity to build their own. They taught their children many of these same attitudes and gave them advice that is not applicable to the ever changing world we inhabit.
The idea that money is something that can be indefinitely printed as long as other countries accept it for oil or drug laundering is a dying one whether or not it is expressed by the modern zeitgeist. Millennials have been taught to have the same faith in fiat that their parents have, but even governments in other countries have been slowly moving away from using the dollar for trade. Middle Eastern and African countries have tried to request gold for payment in oil trading, while the Yuan is becoming a major player in worldwide markets. There’s only so much the government can do to prop up the extrinsic value of the dollar, but its death is good news for people who have distanced themselves from it.
Cryptocurrencies provide hope for younger generations looking to escape the burden of debt that has been placed on them. I believe they are useful for all generations, but especially younger ones who have grown up with a tighter grasp of technology. As more people put their paper dollars into currencies like Bitcoin, more questions are proposed and challenges to Bitcoin’s practical appeal are put forth to discourage usage. But the users of Bitcoin recognize the hypocrisy in criticizing their preferred currency because the same critiques can be made of the dollar.
Even leaving ethical considerations out of the argument one has to consider what is a dollar really worth? Well, many would answer it is worth what it can buy or that it is tied to very powerful interests and used to trade very valuable assets. Why is the same standard not applied to Bitcoin? It’s easy to try to gauge Bitcoin’s value in terms of its worth in dollars, but it is a currency in itself that is fueling a thriving counter economy that will soon challenge government controlled markets. Breaking free from the mindset that a Bitcoin is only worth x amount of dollars is an integral part of accepting it as a legitimate currency with real world value.
What is a Bitcoin worth, though? Well, there are tons of practical goods and services available in a variety of markets, and it has been hugely successful in helping nonprofits and charities help thousands of people. That last link was an example of the generosity of Bitcoin users and the utility of Bitcoins in a single city in Florida. Bitcoins buy food for the homeless, high quality chicken eggs, precious metals, electronics, medical advice, and more tangible, useful goods and services every day. Imagine what could be done with greater worldwide acceptance of competing currencies!
As we move away from the idea that the dollar is the most useful currency, we also have to consider the ethical implications of a currency that is directly damaging to human lives, even if we aren’t able to see its destruction. Now, the dollar itself is an innocuous piece of paper, but the faith behind it coupled with its usage facilitates the darkest evils in far away places; genocide, infanticide, rape, war, crippling sanctions. If you can apply an ethical value to a currency, it appears obvious that the dollar is soaked in its share of blood. Similar to the rampant nationalism behind the American flag, it is the faith behind it and justification of its sordid role in commerce that is damaging. It is a symbol of war and debt slavery; a promise backed by idolatry and usury, but belittled by plastic garbage and its role in idle consumerism.
There is nothing wrong with using something to make exchange of goods and services more fungible, but if we have the option to use a currency that is not universally reviled it seems like that is the better choice. So, can ethics be applied to Bitcoin in a similar way I applied it to the dollar? You judge a tree by its fruits, and while black markets are still a place of usage for Bitcoin, it is making its way into mainstream use. As mentioned before, the cryptocurrency community has used Bitcoin to feed (at the time of publication) 20,000 homeless people in Pensacola, FL alone while also providing hoodies for the homeless in California, and making Thanksgiving accessible to needy folks in New Hampshire.
Compared to the dollar, Bitcoins current legacy is one of peace, free trade from person to person with no banks involved and convenient acquisition of high quality despite illegal medicines not approved by the FDA. Its detractors might point to the recent abduction of Ross Ulbricht, ringleader of the Silk Road and his possible attempt at hiring a hitman to threaten the lives of those who would expose his empire. It is a valid complaint, but even if true, pales in comparison to the millions of lives lost in the war machine fueled by fiat. The concepts behind Bitcoin are intriguing as the community who regularly uses it believes in the principles of free exchange between individuals not hindered by banks, governments, or borders and likewise mutual aid and charity that prove the effectiveness of private individuals helping one another without having to steal from their neighbors to do it.
Now, Bitcoin and its brethren are still new and much good has come from their usage so far, and while I won’t go so far as to say that this will always be the case, it is abundantly clear that it is a more ethical choice than the blood dollar. But until wider implementation of Bitcoin, we are stuck dealing with dollars. That is why I am proposing an ideological shift first; any change begins with the mind and heart. If we can break down the barriers in our mind, physical change follows shortly thereafter.
Abolishing the Fed or bloated government agencies is an unwieldy task that must be fought on a political level. The time and energy invested in changing the system by playing by the rules of the system is simply not worth the minute changes accomplished by such activism, but choosing to participate in an ethical, thriving, peaceful counter economy where you are the change you wish to see in the world is much more beneficial to the psyche as it requires an ideological shift away from monetary ideas that are already abhorrent to most people. So, instead of abolishing the Fed, let’s just ignore it. We don’t need the blood money it produces and we don’t need the false economy it props up since the real producers already exist. By internalizing that we can’t avoid using the dollar because it is the prevalent currency, we become defeatist and closed off to new and exciting developments in currency. Abolish the ideology of fiat fuel, and let’s see what follows.
Original content by Meghan, copyleft, tips welcome