Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bitcoin's Origins: Generational Circumstances and Mentalities

Image Source and © Scenes from a Multiverse (27 December 2013).

Today's post explains the origins of cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin's alarming headlines. Under what circumstances was Bitcoin conceived? What do its proponents believe? And why do they think they are ahead of the curve?

This post does not deal with Satoshi Nakamoto's founding Bitcoin white paper, so much as its context. To understand the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is to understand the perspective of younger generations - X and Y - coming out of the Great Recession. They reacted to this crisis in a most unexpected and radical way, by developing a whole new digitized financial system. This post reveals Bitcoin in terms of how its users see it, and is part of a continuing series on this blog on the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies.

What follows is an observation of a series of trends which contributed to the way younger cryptocurrency enthusiasts look at Bitcoin. While this post looks at positive aspects of this technology - as seen by its supporters - a future post will deal with its problems, other perspectives, and Bitcoin's theoretical challenges to the system of western economics.

Obvious aspects around the founding of Bitcoin are economic and technological. Beyond that, the language of cryptocurrency is one of generational strife. The Kikuyu have a proverb: 'we do not inherit the world from our parents but borrow it from our children.' The Great Recession was an object lesson in that regard. On 6 February 2014, the FT published what one annoyed commenter labeled as another "it's not fair" article:
Today things look different. Heirs of the Golden Age still run the show, and septuagenarian rock stars hog the limelight. Meanwhile the young face dismal employment prospects, insecurity if they do land a job, and soaring bills for their housing and education. Their plight is an extraordinary generational triumph for their parents’ cohort. In the US, escalating college tuition fees have prompted little protest. Occupy Wall Street was supposed to spur a larger social revolt on the debt question but it failed. In countries on the front line of the eurozone crisis, a doomed generation – facing something in the region of 65 per cent youth unemployment – backs neither the existing parties nor any of the radical alternatives, seeing in all of them, indeed in politics itself, the expressions of the era that got them into this mess.
Understandable as this attitude might be, it is also self-defeating. For until the grievances of the young can assume a political expression more threatening to the established order, the sad truth is that nothing much will change. Modern warfare requires few soldiers. There is no ideology of youth any more, and it is not just the unemployed under-25s who have lost faith in the future. From the point of view of the modern state and its politicians, who needs the young?
This article wrongly assumed the only resolution for generational economic imbalances could be found in the political sphere. Boomers who find few echoes of 1960s' and 1970s' movements assume that there is no movement afoot. But that is because many of them view the world through politicized lenses and cannot perceive initiatives beyond their well-worn scopes of activity. After the failure of Occupy, the political option fell by the wayside. Occupy was not the rebirth of 60s' political radicalism, but the last gasp of 20th century ideological solutions. The 21st century shows that politicians - who represent a massive Boomer voting bloc - have become practically anti-ideological; many are cynical media manipulators, who will use any scrap of policy to get elected, whether it is consistent with their stated moribund values or not.

This is how the thinking runs among cryptocurrency enthusiasts: remember Quantitative Easing? This was and is the neo-Keynesian program which the US government and other western governments used to support their faltering economies through the Great Recession. It involved printing massive amounts of money - which ended up being largely funneled to bubble economies in Asia.

To see the broader impact of QE, look at its ripple effects in China. In fact, if you want an quick glance at the entire western financial system as it evolved over the past century, especially in America, you can see that odyssey replicated in condensed form over the past five years in China. According to a recent BBC World TV report, China's debt amounts to between USD $24 and $25 trillion; it was accumulated during the country's credit splurge since 2008. That Chinese debt equals the total value of the entire American and Japanese banking sectors combined. Total Chinese debt is twice to two-and-a-half times Chinese GDP. Compare this to America's USD $17 trillion debt - which is now equal to the entire value of the American economy. In that BBC report, critics remarked that it will be mathematically impossible for China to recover from this debt (of course, others disagree). You can see clips from that report at Zero Hedge, here, and below, in a comment from Fitch's Charlene Chu.

In the view of cryptocurrency supporters, this entire system lives on borrowed time. When the boom in spending reaches its highest pitch, expect a crash within a year, or two, or three. A crash is inevitable. It is built into this type of economy. Conspicuous consumption is all smoke and mirrors. The prosperity and security they offer are fake. Materialism cannot answer a capitalist populace's nagging psychological and spiritual questions; economic participation becomes an exercise in dissemblance and moral confusion.

In an unremedied approach, "system development [h]as [been] based on consumption rather than investment and on credit rather than on savings": the economy depends on a two-thirds part devoted to consumption. This explains the explosion of the marketing and entertainment sectors, their undue and often pernicious influence on mass culture, and their alarming, intrusive methods employed to seduce consumers. Testaments to this addictive dream are marketers' invasion of consumers' activities online, especially in social networks. Worse, the marketing and entertainment mechanisms which pump consumption lead straight to the incipient building of totalitarian state structures.

As they artificially expanded developing economies abroad, the west's national banks propped inflation of their currencies against staggering amounts of future domestic public debt. In this youthful view, the national banks and governments paid the accumulated debts of today's dominant generation by creating crippling debt for tomorrow's generationsThis picture created a lot of bad blood: a growing contingent of younger adults sees this contractual arrangement as an act of betrayal.

Daniel Hannan's European Parliament speech of 26 March 2009 encapsulates a generational disenchantment with the governmental and banking systems. Video Source: Youtube.

At the start of the recession, embittered Gen Xers coming up the ranks concluded that government mismanagement led to a policy of using fiat currencies to bail out the faltering economy; as a result, printed government monies were becoming inflated and worthless. Moreover, future debts tied to these inflated currencies will completely enslave younger citizens. The latter will never be able to repay these insane amounts of money (for an iconic Gen X declaration on that subject, see conservative MEP Daniel Hannan's  much-discussed 2009 viral video, above). Worse, current authorities know this, yet heedlessly continue in flagrant abuses of their current power. War is often used to reboot an unsustainable economy. And as Gen X's veterans come home to diagnoses of PTSD, guess who will have to fight in that war? Generations Y and Z.

Image Source: Sufiy.

Lest this post be dismissed as right-wing cant, similar generational critiques have come from the liberal-left: the problem is generational, not political. In June 2009, the Guardian reported that the recession created socialism for the rich and captialism for the poor. The middle class dream has become a myth, with people borrowing to maintain a middle class standard of living. More specifically, increasingly, the poor are young. Bitcoin is very much a tool of a younger disenfranchised middle class, clawing back capital in the face of a growing generational class divide, where the middle evaporates, while the older rich get richer, and the younger poor get poorer.

In one Mis-ter Anderson moment, talk of cryptocurrencies also puts all politics aside and speaks of exploitation in the workplace. The system as it currently stands must plunder its younger generations for decades to come. To preserve the status quo, workplace standards abuse juniors to keep them passive and working in place; to keep them in a frame of mind where simply walking away is inconceivable. At the individual level, many younger workers receive diminished employee compensations compared to what their parents enjoyed. It is not just a question of a lower standard of living for younger generations and a lack of job security. They face a brutalized workplace culture.

Work cultures were always anti-democratic, but human resource management policies now cultivate climates of fear, constantly threaten firing, and demand machine-like levels of human productivity. Management techniques consciously degrade the dignity of workers with insidious psychological games and competitive conditioning, where sham rituals around 'quality control' and 'performance reviews' reinforce hierarchical authority. The employment sector has become a locus of treachery, bullying and mobbing, and petty humiliation.  By the new Millennium, workplace professionalism, so precariously won over the 20th century, had been decimated and replaced by a fake, abusive version of itself.

The response of some younger workers was basic participation in the workforce, with a refusal to jump through the hoops necessary to rise. Managers deemed this to be a sign of 'low ambition,' but really it was a mark of passive resistance, a refusal to play the game as stipulated by bosses. If a younger worker ceases to care about promotion, the intimidating structure of control and psychological debilitation associated with the workplace loses a lot of its power. In response, employers eliminated or downgraded salaries and job security. They offered little or no pay for a lot of their grunt work, instituting a disgraceful system of unpaid internships for Gen Y and Gen Z workers. For disaffected Gen X employees who were slightly higher up the ladder, employers replaced professional careers and steady vocational jobs with contract labour. These are two of the most shameful job-model changes adopted in the past 30 years. Most of these changes were enacted in the name globalization and efficiency. In fact, they are merely the lower reaches of a larger, corrupted edifice.

It was under these circumstances that Bitcoin was conceived as an apolitical, or even anti-political, instrument of generational conflict. Bitcoin proponents insist that the Great Recession unveiled and entrenched the artificial inflation and bankruptcy of the global financial system. They ask: if you were put on the hook for this mess, which you did not create, what would you do? Those who will have to pay for an already-mortgaged future came to a startling realization: who needs the modern state and its politicians? In the first decade of the new Millennium, a lot of Angry Young Men became libertarians, then anarchists. They now move toward an attitude that could be called 'trans-statism' or 'anti-statism.' Some of them focused on the micro level, at local communities. Some younger men and women began cultivating new online institutions of civic media. But they got to the heart of the problem when they realized that the anchor of statist power is not ideological or militaristic, but economic. At the end of the day, money is bigger than politics. And money trumps war.

Bitcoin's Gen X and Gen Y visionaries argue that many of these social and economic problems can be resolved by implementing a different financial system. Tinkercoin, a Canadian start-up that allows people to buy Bitcoins with their credit cards, explains how Bitcoin works at its Bitcoin 101 page; it summarizes this technology simply:
Bitcoin is a software system that operates over the internet. A close relative is Bittorrent, which is software that allows people to download files from their neighbors, or the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, otherwise known as HTTP, which is the software that lets us view web pages hosted on other people’s servers. ...
When you download a file off of bittorrent, you are downloading it from other people just like you who have the same file on their computers. There isn’t a central computer that everyone is connected to — you’re downloading the file directly from your neighbors. This is why bittorrent is called a peer-to-peer network.
Similarly, the infrastructure of bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network of tens of thousands of people. All these people are running the same program on their computer, called the “Bitcoin Client”, and all of these programs are talking to each other.
As with everything in the new Millennium, the rub is the intersection between virtual reality and the real world. But Bitcoin is coming ever closer to bridging that gap.

Gnostic Media interview with Mad Bitcoins host, Thomas Hunt, in which Hunt explains how Bitcoins work (6 March 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

The Youtube show, Mad Bitcoins, which keeps people up-to-date with a digest of the latest cryptocurrency developments, hailed Seattle's new Bitcoin ATMs:
[News headline:] First U.S. Bitcoin ATMs to open soon in Seattle and Austin. Robocoin is back. And of course, the media is focusing on their palm print scanning technology and the fact that you'll probably have to scan your driver's license so that they can create limits on how much worthless fiat money you can convert into valuable Bitcoins, to follow anti-money laundering rules of an ancient society of paper pushers. But they're missing the best part of these machines: you can put fiat in, and get Bitcoins out. [Another headline:] Bitcoin ATM Pioneer Plans Machines for Singapore, London. Vancouver-based Bitcoiniacs is on the move, with plans to expand their Bitcoin ATM empire internationally - Singapore and London - coming soon!
Bitcoin theorists spend a lot of time in dual realities, operating between the virtual and the real. Many have day jobs inside the established system and moonlight outside the system. True to their often libertarian and conservative attitudes, they are pro-capitalist; but many have a hybrid sense of democratic equality and social welfare. They favour anti-statism, which gained popularity because the Internet provided the technological means to work around state apparatuses. But, with the establishment of the Bitcoin Foundation, even online anarchists remain weirdly and paradoxically aware that states remain critical in Real Life, although they don't like them and see them as sources of real or potential oppression. Thinkers here tread brand new ground. It is extremely difficult to reconcile an online mobilized mass culture with some of the more exclusive democratic principles of the Enlightenment and subsequent revolutionary ideas of the 18th and 19th centuries. Rather than eradicate the faltering economic system, they feel they can transform it - and save it. Thus, a diatribe that began with bitterness and anger transforms into optimism and potential conciliation with the older generation. In the discussion below, you can hear overlapping strains of competing ideologies and economic solutions, which are coming together to form a new, post-recession set of values.

Mad Bitcoins discussion on New York hearings on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, 29 January 2014. Video Source: Youtube.

Here are excerpts in the Mad Bitcoins discussion on New York state Bitcoin regulation, hosted by Thomas Hunt, with comment from Andreas Antonopoulos and Chris Ellis (aka ChrisJ) of Feathercoin, an Internet open-source cryptocurrency; the discussion on regulation opened up debate on the older generation and the economic establishment:
  • Andreas Antonopoulos (2:56:58): "What this reveals is an incredible perspective that is so out of place. Is this still the United States of America where we believe in free markets? Because what we just heard on these hearings was that, because the volatility is too high in the free market of currencies and because these [crypto]currencies can be created by anyone; and they can compete directly against the closed market currencies, that they should be regulated and better controlled in a hierarchical fashion because the free market cannot be trusted to deliver safe outcomes. Is that what we just heard on there? (-Yes.) Did they just basically say that we need more centralized control of these currencies, because if we just let the free market operate, we're going to go to zero or the volatility's going to explode, or people will actually transact without interference from the government? I mean - oh my God! - Was that the most statist load of crap you have ever heard? Unbelievable! I thought at least within a financial system in New York, which used to be the centre of capitalism and free market economics in this country, you'd have at least some respect for free markets; some respect for free-floating currencies; some respect for market-based pricing; some respect for individual choice; some respect for the system that made this country great; and that has uplifted an entire middle class around the world. You know, as I've said before, Bitcoin is not anti-capitalism. Bitcoin is anti-kleptocracy. And these people wouldn't know capitalism if it bit them in the ass. ... This is not capitalism. This is a kleptocracy that benefits the few and they want to maintain that kleptocracy for as long as they can and of course, they're absolutely terrified of free markets; they're terrified of individuals being able to make a choice; they're terrified of losing control and they use the excuse of protecting you for your own safety in order to justify fixing Bitcoin and turning it more into a centrally-managed, centrally-controlled unfree market. Well, the good news is, they can't do this. The good news is, Bitcoin is a global currency that's outside of their control. And the good news is, that they just showed the entire world what they stand for."
  • ChrisJ (2:59:59): "Can we talk a little bit about the way they try to control the public discourse; ... they keep using (and I say 'they' you know ... who I'm referring to, right?). They keep using things like the volatility as a way of putting people off. ... What I've noticed is that these Bitcoin meet-ups keep getting bigger and bigger. More people keep turning up. And they have an appetite for risk. They don't want to be spoken down to. They do want to have an impact. They do want to have control. And they see this as their ticket. I mean ... if you're watching this and you're from London, then you know that London is just full of middle class consultants ripping each other off. ... This system fosters tyrants. It fosters mini-tyrants. Everywhere - in offices, in schools ... the tyrant at the top ... says to the ones who are at the bottom: 'Look, you're going to cause mischief. I'll ... pay you off. You go be a little tyrant somewhere else and rule over some other people. And so we all end up working in these jobs that we don't really want, barely affording ... to pay for our rent."
  • Andreas Antonopoulos (3:08:12): "You know why I'm angry? I'm angry because since 2008, along with many other people, I have suffered under an economic depression that was entirely predictable and entirely preventable and that benefited a certain group of people with trillions of dollars. They essentially stole the wealth of this country. They destroyed the economy and they went unpunished. ... [I]t would be OK if they just receded into the night and I could relegate them to irrelevance and go on with my life and do things like use my own cryptocurrency without having to pay attention. But for them to come back in the guise of these regulators and with extreme hubris and lack of self-awareness, to come and teach us how we need to redesign Bitcoin, to make it safe and comfortable for the banks so that they can embide (sic) it with legitimacy? Well no, I'm sorry, that is unacceptable and of course it makes me angry."
  • ChrisJ (4:13:08): "We confuse comfort with safety. ... We just want to feel comfortable. We just want to luxuriate. We just want our consumerism. And that's not being safe. In fact, you're more at risk when you're living like that, because we've seen in empires before that have declined - there was this kind of hubris towards the end and everyone thought, 'Yeah, well this is normal. This is the new normal and everything's ... going to be fine. And this is how things are always going to be.' - No, no, I think you'll find if you check the canon, that's usually the way things end. And the only real way to survive is to keep learning, is to never think that you're right, and to always be looking, to question your own knowledge as well, to be willing to give up what you think you know is true. ... The general public have been shocked into this ... apathy ... where they're just kind of sleep-walking through life. And they get a job because that's what you're meant to do. And they just about scrape a living. But they're surviving, but they're not thriving. ... They're not able to respond to themselves. ... Modern day society doesn't give us time to really learn about ourselves. It doesn't give us that space, that you're brought up from an early age, you're put through this sausage machine, this ... factory that puts you into a job, and then you're just expected to produce an output straightaway. ... And what we're producing is what somebody else thinks is right, not what we think is right. And the fact is, you can't control other people ... it's an illusion of control. ... It's not sustainable."
  • Andreas Antonopoulos (4:28:37): "I love the perspective that you offer here of ... understanding the generational gap, because what this has done is it's empowered a new generation to make choices, and now the choice is not simply to listen to different information. But it is a choice to be to participate in a completely separate economy, an economy that is not rigged; an economy that has jobs and innovation. For a generation who saw their future stolen; who saw their jobs destroyed; and then on top of that, got mocked as 'slackers' because they weren't able to get jobs in a market that's rigged ... and that generation is coming back with a vengeance. And one of the mechanisms by which they're coming back is Bitcoin, because little things like that give them hope, give them opportunity. ... So it will become a generational thing. But the difference is that the power is not all in the hands of the established incumbents anymore. Power is more broadly distributed and decentralized than ever before in history. So like you, Chris, I am an optimist. And I see the younger generation simply rejecting this fear-mongering ... these stilted approaches to markets and this stagnant, rigged economy that generates war and exploitation on a global scale, and then destroys nature and chews up the carcass in order to extract resources. They're going to try to find new ways to try to found an economy that is sustainable; that is equitable; that is global in nature and that is not affected by local political considerations that leave 6 billion people out in the cold, struggling, while ... the billion in the elite can freely roam the world financially and are untouchable by government. That is not a healthy society. And it will come to an end, not because Bitcoin brings it to an end, but because it collapses from the inside out. And when it does collapse, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will offer alternative solutions for people to reboot their lives. I think for many people who have already been thrown out of the existing economic system, they will be able to reboot their lives."
  • Andreas Antonopoulos (4:50:25): "People mostly don't question money. That's another thing to realize. We're not simply doing a technological change here. We're not simply introducing disruption into an industry. Money is not an industry. Money is not even a basic technology. Money is one of the most ancient technologies in our culture. It is as old as the wheel and fire. Money has existed before the Iron Age. Money has existed in the form of shells, beads and stones going back to ... Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon[s] probably. But certainly to the most early hominids and Homo sapiens. Money is hundreds of thousands of years old, not just thousands. It is embedded so deeply in our culture that we don't even for a moment stop to think: What is money? How does it inform a conversation of a transaction between people? How is money a language? How does it acquire value? Who creates it? What is it made of? What does it mean? All these questions we never asked ourselves. Why? Because from age three, you start learning about money as an embedded system of your culture. You accept it as a fact of life. You accept it as an invariant that has existed for millennia, that somehow describes the value of your parents vis-à-vis the society in which they live. And through that lens, you start seeing money as something that exists beyond society, above society and ... in some magical place. Most people simply don't investigate it beyond there. And I can confess, as many other Bitcoiners, I didn't investigate money as seriously as I ... investigated ... Bitcoin. Because the simple juxtaposition of a different form of money basically starts confusing and creating cognitive dissonance, because a lot of the most cherished assumptions we have as a culture about money, ones that are not based in fact, but are based simply in habit; ones that represent a normative version of money, not an absolute function of money - these things get challenged immediately. And we have to face the fact that the myth of money as we speak it from generation to generation is a vast simplification of a transactional language that has much deeper meaning and much deeper implications than we understand. When Bitcoin shows us a different language, it makes us reexamine our own language, just like bilingual people are better able to understand their own grammar when they can compare it to another grammar. Bitcoin represents a new grammar of money. And as such, it violates all of the myths that we had before. And it makes us question them."
See all my posts on Cryptocurrencies.


  1. Hm, interesting writeup. You got some attention on Reddit for it, too. I guess I'm old now, so I'm between Y and X and never even got an opportunity to participate in soul-crushing corporate structures for various personal reasons, that said, painting stuff with the broadest socioeconomic brush overlooks a few more basic reasons for the sudden boom in crypto:

    - Nobody minds getting rich quick. Cost to enter with the unfair advantage of having mined at least some altcoins is still ridiculously low, so if any of these other reasons are enough to sustain the value, it's a way to swipe some value back from the big movers...

    - Cash exists. It's been a thing for a long time. The idea that there should be have some way to have something resembling a digital equivalent re: anonymity, personal ownership, etc. has also been around for a long time...

    - Personal ownership allows for personal liquidity. You can stuff your cash or gold Rand Paul anti-Ameros under the mattress. The idea that you need to rely on a bank or CC intermediary to conduct your everday transactions for food and other necessities is a very modern thing.

    - The last crisis was a crisis of liquidity. I don't think the Y/Z kids felt this personally in a way crypto would have helped, but maybe they've absorbed it from mom or dad - or else they're just the ones with the time to kill given the lack of other opportunities. However, people closer to Gen X have been around the block enough to have probably discovered their bank account and credit accounts are subject to "DoS" by the banks' stubborn refusal to implement actual security mechanisms (who has a CC that implements the 'temporary account number' trick in meatspace? Note that Chip & PIN solves the 'wrong' problem and has only been used to push liability back on customers where permitted) in the face of the inevitable triennial skimming or so - and as someone who's been there roughly every three years despite best personal practices, they're now more than interested in selling ID theft insurance or additional accounts with additional minimums and fees. The risk of maintaining a personal store of value as a 'backup' seems very reasonable under those circumstances, the moreso if you can transfer it on and off of your person (via e.g. a phone wallet) for actual use without extreme wait or hassle. At least then if you're denied access it might only be your own fault.

    (out of space, continued)

  2. (...continued:)

    - "What's the fuss?" I'd say 50% of crypto enthusiasts right now are actual anti-tax 'protesters' who might have blindly inherited that position from their parents. The other half are just interested in it for the technology and the idea of maybe owning somewhere to live without threat of eviction someday - how twencen! But on some level, anyone who's filled out a tax return understands the reason for the whole exercise is that there's an element of volition involved - the citizen has the duty to report honestly, and in exchange, the government upholds their rights to their property and security. The massive freakout over crypto shows how little trust there is on either side - the Randy kids who are absolutely sure they could provide better healthcare and roads themselves want to hide every penny, and governments are equivalently responding with worries about money laundering, drugs, and everything else that was equally possible (but might have demanded a larger truck) with cash. I think to some extent this lack of trust is being smelled by other kids who might not have politically cared about it, because clearly this is an interesting moment where the old guard is caught blubbering: "Wait, we didn't want you to -exercise- your liberties!" Combine that with everything else in the air and this goes to the basic issue of our time: how much criminal/terrorist intent can the government assume of its citizens just because that makes their jobs easier?

    Or in other words: "Why are you even still printing cash if hoarding it under the mattress makes grandma a person of interest for it?" Since the people profiting from the 'death' of cash happen to be those banks and payment processors, whose actions (and continued operations) are inextricably linked with implementing government policies ("The Ownership Society," etc), this is an interesting question to ask, and asking it en masse is one way for these generations to ask why they aren't allowed to have it at as "good" as grandma did back when she was a beatnik... (Not that the history was actually terribly rosy, but remember, we've selected for the people who did well enough to keep in touch with their grandkids.)

    That last part is the "reexamination" being prompted: Do we actually still have the freedom to deal in cash, or in lumps of imaginary digital scarcity readily exchanged for it like gold nuggets back in the klondike? If not, what are we getting in exchange for the new system other than the risk of having our lives frozen at various others' whims (which, at present, happens to give equal power to the law, the banks, _and_ any average criminal, as far as temporarily denying me the right to enjoy a sandwich with my earnings)?

    I feel like I left out half of what I was ready to say, but that's probably enough - and goes to the heart of it more than deconstructing generational differences. "Older folks" are really just as much risk, but have a stronger belief that they'll be protected or that customer service will sort things out; and indeed, "kids" don't get the concessions a generous bank might make for grandma, in part because they're less likely to concede the $7/mo "identity protection fee" might be a reasonable solution.

    1. Thanks for your comment anon. I am addressing the investment mentality in the crypto world, the government / banking perspectives, and crypto's anarchic links in later posts.

    2. Hey, glad it held up enough to be anything after a night's sleep! As "cheerleady" as that might sound, it's only why it seems pretty reasonable to me to want to keep some of that "N months' savings" everyone's supposed to magically have and maintain in something similar to "digital cash" alongside actual bank deposits, having gotten over the modest hump of setting up the software and actually learning what I'm doing.

      I'm also actually a little weirded out over what this does to taxation in practice, though not in theory, if said kids who seriously think they're better at paying for their own private roads etc. are actually in the majority, or a sizeable enough minority to throw a wrench in public goods that the private sector has no interest in. But if you want to take a generational view, anything that gets the "old guard" to reinvest in the next generation at a more predictable rate helps solve the "getting them out of the basement" problem. (And as to me personally.. I'm still slightly astounded my family decided to implode rather than help me arrange for transportation when I was seeking that all-important First Job in a public-transitless and unwalkable corner of the USA - not that I was 'entitled', but I physically couldn't interview or even figure out where to interview without a liiittttle more coordination on that front - pre-Craigslist, of course. I think only a fraction of kids are in *that* confused a boat, but the "You could program a VCR when people knew what VCRs were, shouldn't you just be a billionaire automatically for some reason by now like the TV told us?" attitude is still semi-prevalent, so eh.. who knows, "Is this the VCR?")

    3. Anon, thanks for your comments, they are most welcome. The idea that vulnerable adults should fend for themselves with little or no help from dominant adults depends on new cultural, political and Postmodern definitions of society. Look at traditional cultures - the family across all age ranges is still considered a viable unit. There is no shame in mutual support.

      I have written at length about the revolutionary historic processes which changed vertical loyalties in society (say, in a family unit or a village) to horizontal ones (creating loyalties within single genders, classes, age groups, among other alignments).


      In more traditional societies, you could have economic social alignments that spanned different age groups, different genders, different classes. Modern and Postmodern thinking increasingly identified alternate bases of loyalty from which you get a host of egalitarian -ism ideologies: feminism is one example, where traditional cooperation (many would argue traditional suppression) was dropped in favour of cross-gender loyalty and mutual support between women.

      NB I'm *not* mentioning this point to support or criticize this process, merely pointing out the pattern of change. In your example, you fell prey to a generational alignment that sees members of one age group declare greater loyalty to other members of its own cohort and their common interests - over and above loyalty to family members who belong to other age groups. This is evidence of a lateral or horizontal social arrangement. If you watch media, marketing and entertainment carefully, you will see abundant evidence of these messages of lateral loyalty being reinforced.

      Under these conditions, you have two options; seek support and help from others in your laterally defined groups, be they generational, cultural, gender-based or political. OR create new values, institutions and areas of social and economic activity which break down these lateral barriers, redefine the collectives that operate in society and create new sets of collective values. This option does not have to constitute a return to patriarchal systems and inegalitarianism as is so often assumed. In the latter case, generations will speak to each other again and cooperate instead of competing to get a controlling interest of the country, to the detriment of everyone else who is not in the same marketing demographic.

    4. In short: "Yup." And not to be dismissive but just to acknowledge it's been tread: Graeber's an interesting read and everybody loves Vonnegut.

      I think my folks were living a particularly awkward variation of the "Boomer myth" in these parts, though, possibly awkwardly prevalent in my part of New England and in tune with what became the '90s you've-been-downsized? feed-your-family-by-bowhunting* zeitgeist - that they could be totally self-sufficient in sort of a John & Yoko way, and that they'd succeeded academically so were entitled to some kind of ongoing economic reward that never quite came within reach. And if they didn't need a social network and little Anon was doing so good with BBSes and television... well, seal the doors, any friends he makes' parents are crack dealers if they let their kids play in the street, and those pedos from the computer are good teachers but don't go forging connections in real life - you're not going to need a social network if you come from good stock (and to their credit, they didn't cut lose with their own stories of childhood mischief until more than a decade later). Weird times. Frankly, these years it looks like the pendulum has swung back in the other direction - everyone knows something's strange if your whole life ain't on Facebook, and I like to hope the schools are now intent enough on the 'Communist interference' of encouraging social bonds that they're now doing a better job than just letting the lower grades gang up on the obvious targets in the name of forging them - so I wish the current crop the best, even if I ascribe some of the noises starting to come out of San Francisco to them.

      My personal feeling is that it's sort of ridiculous that US society isn't arranged to provide for a greater degree of, say, homeownership, education, *and* individualism if these are the things it supposedly values - in light of the past decades, Scandinavia does seem to have us beat and they don't seem to be hurting for startups - and it certainly would be nice if those things were available regardless of, or resilient to, any particular family or generation's alignments. But people with the 'staunchly independent' mindset don't seem to consider their rights to organize and create a decent experience with the public sector, and by the time the gray matter starts to decay they just want the government to stay out of their Medicare and Social Security. So until then there's Doge, and if every generation is allowed their own Doge, maybe that's as close to a reasonable free-market solution as things get (bringing back apprenticeships also seems popular among the collectible-Liberty-coins set, because having no hope of social or economic mobility was good enough for, um.. the Middle Ages through Dickensian England?).

      (out of space _again?_)

    5. (...continued. this was supposed to be a quick reply, but hey, have a perspective and feel free to run with it)

      Notes from the field: It sounds like a fair few of my compatriots in tech are finally getting out of their parents' houses due to the current little Web 2.1-plus-electronic-medical-records boom, but the barrier to generations speaking to each other over here has mostly been that they're speaking to each other every day and it took ten years to sink in that grumping about it isn't getting anyone a nicer retirement or, say, the opportunity to provide their parents with a nice retirement. Someone could probably get a nice sociology paper about just how few opportunities you need to create to maintain the myth of individual bad luck. But as some Libertarian-minded education critic pointed out in some book I was fond of in the 90s, that laterality is built into the education system, too - higher and lower grades are the Other, so stick to your own cohort until you're old enough to realize that made no sense (if you ever do).

      *Not actually downsized, by the way - skipped corporate America entirely for being a sole practitioner, which did result in a fair few delayed reactions to things garbled in transmission from around other folks' water coolers. The Internet certainly has helped with some of that...

  3. Typo above; I meant to say: *as dropped in favour of intra-gender loyalty and mutual support between women.

  4. "Myth of individual bad luck" - yeah, I'm sorry, but it is fair to say that Gen X and Y did not make up the recession of the early 90s or the great recession in their heads. The MSM reported the Boomer dismissal of those on the receiving end as 'doomed to fail,' yet somehow (the narrative goes) these generational failures possessed inherent 'slacking' or 'entitled' character flaws which made them deserve being doomed. Saying unemployed middle aged and younger people were to blame for the great recession is like blaming the men in the trenches for the causes of World War I. When something that big happens, it is not a myth-riddled excuse; it is not due to collective character flaws of an entire cohort. It is a real phenomenon that exposes deep problems in our economic and social system.

    My question about cryptos would be - assume a scenario in which the economy bounced back to boom level. Would people still feel alienated and want cryptos then?

  5. The only drawback that people are worried about bitcoin is its volatility. Its very unpredictable price change makes people doubtful whether to use it or invest on it. However, this makes a good thing for investors who are quite good in foreseeing its price flux. As a bitcoin user, I see that bitcoin can possibly the future currency despite its volatile feature.