The Bitcoin Bomber made a drop on my place last week and I was overwhelmed. It took all weekend, but now all the pre-orders are packaged and shipped, and all the hoodies to be distributed are pre-loaded with a pair of warm socks and our Bitcoin Quick Start Guide in the pouch. Special thanks to Ben Bartholomew and Bartholomew family who placed the largest order. Visit Good Men Do Something to check out their work.
An important lesson for everyone in the Bitcoin space. Pay your invoices right away. We placed the order with Mass Appeal when Bitcoin was around $1,000 and we were sitting pretty, but by the time we got the invoice it had dropped to around $800. No problem, we thought, it’s just a blip in response to China’s aggression. It’ll bounce back. It always bounces back. Well, now Bitcoin is floating around $600, and we’re in a race with the due date on this bill. Shipping the pre-orders also cost more than we originally anticipated, but it’s not as dire as it sounds. Thankfully, we placed a pretty substantial deposit on the order when Bitcoin was up.
Right now we’ve got about $2,300 still owed, and about 2.4btc to cover it. If the price doesn’t bounce before the bill is due I think I might just buy the coin myself at whatever price will zero out the debt. After all, Bitcoin is fundamentally worth what someone will pay for it, not what the exchanges say it is, and I’m confident that it’s currently undervalued. None the less, if feel like helping us defer the cost of this unexpected pickle we’ve found ourselves in, feel free to donate.
There is an equal and opposite lesson to be learned from this for freelancers in the Bitcoin space. if you think Bitcoin is undervalued, now is good time to send out reminders on all your outstanding invoices.
Despite all that, I’m not deterred or discouraged in the slightest. After shipping dozens of Bitcoin Not Bombs t-shirts internationally, prepping hundreds of Bitcoin Not Bombs hoodies for distribution, and then seeing our Bomber blaze across the screen on Fox11, I am more confident than ever of the transformative power of Bitcoin.
I’ll tell you what does frustrate me… primitive institutions that throw hurdles in our way. I’ve said this a hundred times at least: the only problem with Bitcoin is the dollar. The Bitcoin economy works beautifully. It’s free, it’s easy, it’s fast, it’s secure, it’s honest and it’s generous. The only time I ever run into problems is when our Bitcoin projects are forced to interact with the dollar economy.
For example, the Post Office only takes dollars, and being a government agency it is one of the most clumsy and cumbersome institutions I’ve ever had to deal with. I went to their website and I could send Express Mail which was good for hoodies, but I couldn’t send First Class mail which I needed for T-shirts. Using the PayPal merchant tools I could send First Class Mail, but I couldn’t send international mail. To send international mail I had to physically go down to the Post Office, which had a line out front 30 minutes before it even opened, fill out a Customs Declaration form by hand, and then wait for a grumpy bureaucrat to enter what I’d written into the computer by hand. And do you think they had extra staff on hand for the holiday season? Of course not.
After over an hour filling out government forms and an hour waiting in line, when I stepped up the counter and the clerk realized I had over a dozen pieces of international mail, the bureaucrats literally argued right in front of me over who would have to help me. Talk about customer service! After the international orders were processed, I was told that the clerks couldn’t take packages with postage I’d printed online. I had to put that stuff in the mailboxes outside. Or course the mailboxes are only for packages under 13 ounces. Larger packages had to go in this big drop box inside, which of course was locked. It had to be the most utterly inefficient system I’ve ever had to deal with.
On top of that, the unusually high volume of charges on the Post Office website triggered a fraud alert on my debit card and froze my account. It’s December. Virtually EVERYBODY is doing an unusually high volume of incredibly time sensitive transactions at the Post Office. And to be clear, I use a Credit Union not a Bank, but it’s functionally virtually identical. That mass migration over to Credit Unions was largely a panecea in my opinion. If you want to change the world open up a mail service that defies the government monopoly on first class mail and takes Bitcoin.
Here’s another example. We almost lost the 200 pairs of socks we ordered because stupid government interventions make doing private charity unnecessarily difficult. See, the State of California wants it’s pound of flesh, and it’s perfectly willing to let people go cold to get it. Here’s what I mean. I was offered a great price on wholesale socks, $8 per dozen pairs. Can’t beat that. The company didn’t take Bitcoin, but they had heard about it, and we’re talking about it. Being pressed for time, I just sent him some PayPal money to get the ball rolling. But before he could fulfill the order, he needed me to fill out a “Resale Application Form” which demands either an NPO (Non Profit Organization) number or a business license number. Bitcoin Not Bombs has neither. We’re just a coalition of people with good intentions trying to give away free socks. Apparently that’s not allowed. I want to buy the socks, and the guy wants to sell me the socks, but people who want wholesale prices have to apply for government approval. Well, we’re not going to be doing that. I’m sure the homeless person who loses a toe to frostbite this winter will take comfort in knowing he created job security for some tax office bureaucrat who’s probably less educated than him. Thankfully the merchant had the good conscience to defy the government edict. He came by my house dropped off the socks personally and said he’d deal with the paperwork. Gotta love that.
In the end, #HoodieTheHomeless was a huge learning experience for us. Yeah, we made some mistakes along the way, but we’re better for it. And we’re prepped and ready to do it bigger next year.