As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rise out of their initial status as nerd novelty, public discussion has increased to where seemingly everyone has an opinion. Most fascinating to me among all the opinions I see are those that denounce Bitcoin. “It’s a bubble.” “It’s a scam.” “It has no intrinsic value.” “It’s bad for the economy.” And, most recently, “It’s bad for the planet.”

Personally, and as a libertarian, I like the idea of Bitcoin. Alternatives to the centrally managed money supply – fiat money, no less, with nothing beyond the government’s good graces and a collective presumption of value behind it – introduce market forces where few exist, and market forces are universally a Good Thing.

I liked the idea enough to make a small purchase a while back. After I bought, the value tanked, so I sat on it for a while, and then when it started to climb above my buy-in price, I took my initial investment out. I now own a wee bit of Bitcoin, that cost me nothing. Did I get the timing right? Of course not. It would have been pure luck if I did. But, every action has been totally my choice to make.

Which is why I find the braying denouncers’ obsessions with telling everyone else that Bitcoin sucks so amusing. Why do they care so much? No one’s forcing them to participate in cryptocurrency, and what skin is it off their backs if someone else does?

Is there a subtext at play? Is all this negativity a Shakespearean “doth protest too much” deflection? Do the brayers fear that Bitcoin will somehow undermine a social structure they’re comfortable with, but also fear that actually saying so might expose some hypocrisy? Or, could it be that they feel they missed out on a get-rich-quick opportunity (no matter real or imagined) and need to console themselves for guessing wrong?

Or, are we merely witnessing anticipatory schadenfreude? Are these killjoys laying the groundwork for future “I told you so” scolding should Bitcoin crater to zero?

Some will claim that they’re merely trying to protect others from being scammed. But, apart from the question of what makes them wiser than those they’re figuring to protect, there’s the “who asked you?” and “how is it any of your business?” buttinsky aspect of this. People LOVE to share their opinions. Heck, I do, too – why else would I blog? But, there are opinions and there are opinions. I’ve repeatedly shared Harlan Ellison’s opinion on opinions:

Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing. It’s just bibble-babble. It’s like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks.

Barring some substantive discussion as to why Bitcoin is bubble/scam/valueless/bad, I see no reason to pay any heed to the defeatists. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a strong overlap between Bitcoin brayers and Malthusian doomsayers, given the generalized/Luddite tone of both. They don’t upset me, other than when they demand government get in the way of human progress. The behavior is mostly amusing, but it’s also interesting enough to ponder what it tells us.

About the only place I’d say there’s actually justification for third-party meddling in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is in the subset of the securities world where people are playing with publicly insured money. If a bank is carrying FDIC insurance for depositors’ money, the principle that “he who pays the piper calls the tune” allows – nay, behooves – the insurer to dictate terms regarding how the insured money is used. Barring those situations, though? Let the market figure it out.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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