HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405














Infomania

Buzzflash
Cursor
Raw Story
Salon
Slate
Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
Crisis Papers



MediA-Go-Go

BagNewsNotes
Crooks and Liars
CJR Daily
consortium news
Scoobie Davis




Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
Demosthenes
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
oilprice.com
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Paperweight's Fair Shot
corrente
Pacific Views
Echidne
TAPPED
Talking Points Memo
pandagon
Daily Kos
MyDD
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
Rooks Rant
The Poorman
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Mark Kleiman
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Mad Kane
Blah3.com
Alas, A Blog
Fanatical Apathy
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
Ruminate This
skippy the bush kangaroo
Slacktivist
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
Nitpicker
The Agonist


email address:
digbysez at gmail dot com
isnospoon at gmail dot com

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

 
The horror that is Bitcoin and its libertarian dream

by David Atkins

Bitcoin is the biggest thing going in Libertarian-land. A currency that goes unregulated and untaxed by federal governments, it's the grand new hope of the cyberlibertarian community. Because Bitcoin operates under the regulators' radar, life on Bitcoin provides a pretty decent sense of what a purely libertarian world would look like, free of economic regulation and taxation.

Of course, it's an absolute disaster:

Bitcoin is most useful to criminals.
Currently, for ordinary people, cash and credit work just fine. While some mainstream businesses do take Bitcoin, there is no compelling reason — yet — for ordinary people to use it. If you're a criminal, however, there are very compelling reasons to use it: you can transfer vast sums of cash completely anonymously. Cash transfers are a real problem for criminals. When you can't use bank accounts, lugging around vast sums of cash gets old pretty quickly. Bitcoin solves that. So Bitcoin is very, very empowering for criminals.

There is a Bitcoin crime wave going on right now.
Given that Bitcoin is good for criminals, it should not be surprising that those criminals are targeting other Bitcoin users for thefts. The most spectacular theft so far is the Sheep Marketplace robbery, in which one hacker appears to have emptied a massive Bitcoin marketplace of up to $220 million in Bitcoins. Note that Sheep Marketplace was basically a trading post for drug dealers. Bitcoin exchange and account thefts are very common. Here's a potted history of recent Bitcoin capers.

...

Bitcoin as a currency is horribly unstable.
This chart (above) tells you all you need to know. One day you're rich, when Bitcoin approaches $1,200; the next day half your wealth is wiped out as it plummets to $700. Bitcoin isn't backed by any government's bonds or central bank gold. It's literally an asset without an underlying asset. So its price is determined entirely by its flows.

Bitcoinistan makes the Weimar Republic look sedate. Even if you could live with the crime, the instability makes transactions wildly unfair to the party on the downside.

Bitcoin has produced comical wealth inequality.
Libertarians don't care about inequality, of course. They see it as a reflection of individuals' natural talents, and as an incentive to work harder. But even the most hardcore free marketeer ought to blanche at the incredible level of inequality already endemic to Bitcoin. Just 47 individuals own nearly one-third of all Bitcoins. About 927 people control half the entire currency. There are just over 1 million Bitcoin holders — the vast majority of them own mere crumbs.

Bitcoin hoarding could produce a cartel that controls all Bitcoin.
A study from Cornell has claimed that if Bitcoin miners cooperate, they could end up controlling most Bitcoins and thus control the currency's price. The cartel could beggar or enrich all Bitcoin holders overnight, depending on how they trade it.
There's much more in Jim Edwards' article, including mass instability and assassination cartels.

And this, ultimately, is where the far extremes of the political universe mirror one another and fail. Human beings evolved to be selfish animals--if not purely for themselves, then at the least on behalf of their little in-groups. Both libertarian and communist paradises fail because people are far too selfish to make either one work, and because human life and dignity are incredibly cheap when put either on the unfettered free market or in the hands of unaccountable politburos.

The primary political imbalance we have in the world today is that after the fall of Communism the left generally learned that lesson, understanding the nuances of human nature and the need to allow the public and private sectors to occupy their appropriate roles. Progressives and neoliberals argue stridently over the nature and extent of those roles, but what binds us together under the big tent of the Democratic Party is the understanding that both the public and private sectors of society need to be healthy and in an uneasy detente for human economic systems to work. Human society will never be perfect because the human animal will never be perfect.

The Right never learned that lesson. A huge portion of the Right believes in their Galt's Gulches and the vision of a perfect society without those nasty "others" in it, never had their own ideological chastening, and simply want to destroy the public sector entirely. That's what makes them so radical and dangerous.


.

Search Digby!