andreas antonopoulos

Is COVID-19 a Challenge to Political Identity | Andreas Antonopoulos on What Bitcoin Did

Check out the What Bitcoin Did Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Coronavirus is a unifying threat to humanity, it crosses all the dividing lines
  • The most effective responses have been by authoritarian governments that took extreme measures, Having said that;
    • The reason we are in a global pandemic is an authoritarian government covering up and not managing something that could have been a localized epidemic
  • Society works because of peer pressure, community response, and social feedback mechanisms that result in behavioral change, not by government mandates
    • Example: Society was successful at spreading memes and information that changed peoples’ behavior
  • Bitcoin empowers individual financial independence by being an open protocol of money with an independent monetary policy
  • In a free-market economy, equipment and employees of a defunct company are utilized by eager startups who “build better systems out of the parts”
    • Preventing this mechanism means propping up broken businesses, and undermining any possibility of competition by younger companies – everybody loses
  • Money printing leads to wealth transfer, manifested in inequality and inability to invest in your future
  • “Nothing can be taken for granted, therefore nothing is sacred, therefore everything can be re-imagined and that is a positive thing” – Andreas  Antonopoulos

Intro

Is Government the Cause, or Solution?

  • The pandemic has become politicized, people get invested in a perspective and become unable to shift positions when it’s proven wrong
  • The most effective responses have been by authoritarian governments that took extreme measures, Having said that;
    • The reason we are in a global pandemic is an authoritarian government covering up and not managing something that could have been a localized epidemic
    • Similarly  in the US, doctors are being fired for revealing lack of personal protective equipment, or ordered to not wear masks so as not to scare the patients, to downplay the pandemic
  • Even though we need the coordinated response, we are going to see all of the worst problems of government validating the libertarian attitude

 How Libertarians Think about the State’s Response to the Coronavirus? 

  • Breathing in a public place without a mask is a form of aggression, and mandating masks is only possible with the coercive force of the state
  • Check out A Libertarian Response to Coronavirus with Scott Horton, where Scott explains:
    • “I don’t think that it’s necessarily an abandonment of libertarianism itself to concede that government has a role in restricting behavior in a public health crisis.”
      • But we must be extremely vigilant about the erosion of civil liberties

Concerns about the Erosion of Civil Liberties

  • Normal people self-censoring and self-reporting out of fear is extremely dangerous, the worst totalitarian regimes come out of similar moments of crisis
    • “It’s one thing if you have the government over reach while being resisted by the population, it’s another thing if you have the government over reach while being cheered on by mobs of authoritarians who are trying to outdo each other on snitching on their neighbors” – Andreas Antonopoulos
  • An end of globalized, travel friendly culture
    • “I worry this will end the traditions of free travel that some of us enjoy, instead of spreading the freedom to more people, we will see them getting greatly restricted” – Andreas Antonopoulos

Why Society Also Needs to Act 

  • Society works because of peer pressure, community response, and social feedback mechanisms that result in behavioral change, not by government mandates
    • Example: Society was successful at spreading memes and information that changed peoples’ behavior
    • In a way, government undermines those social ques by spreading deliberate misinformation
  • Accepting that the solution only lies with a strong government leads to consolidation of power that gives rise to very long dictatorships, while still not reducing the damage done by this virus

Coronavirus Exposes Weakness in the US Healthcare System

  • “It is not a private healthcare system that has competition, and it’s not a public healthcare system that protects the vulnerable. It is the worst of both cases” – Andreas Antonopoulos
    • For instance: vulnerable service workers have no sick leave, and losing their jobs means losing their healthcare.
      • Result: They will go to work while sick in order to avoid losing their jobs
  • Andreas is especially worried about the outbreak in Louisiana – “One of the poorest places in US. It is going to be a disaster there”
  • Hopefully the crisis results in a positive change of attitude and a greater recognition of the changes needed

The Largest Monetary Experiment in History (It’s not Bitcoin)

  • It’s the modern central banks going to zero or negative interest rates, issuing unprecedented amount of monetary stimulus, and waging a war on cash
    • This experiment creates a need for open money protocols for those who are – or about to become – un-banked, under-banked, controlled through the money system
  • Bitcoin empowers individual financial independence by being an open protocol of money with an independent monetary policy
    • Not by “going to the moon”

The Bitcoin Bubble isn’t Separate from the Broader Bubble

  • When future cost of money is zero, the amount of risk you are willing to take in chasing yield goes to infinity
    • You might as well throw money at everything, Bitcoin was getting the benefit of that
    • But during a liquidity crunch, investments are pulled back and all assets suffer
  • Andreas previously predicted  that in an economic collapse, the price of bitcoin will likely crash with stock market, and after that point  bitcoin’s price may decouple

The Effect of Bailouts

  • The virus didn’t cause the recession, it was merely a trigger. The cause is nothing getting fixed after 2008 – instead:
    • “A global effort to financialize everything and to leverage and margin on everything and inflate giant asset bubbles with stimulus and companies to do share buy backs”
  • In a free market economy, freed up equipment and employees of a defunct company are utilized by eager startups who “build better systems out of the parts”
    • Preventing this mechanism means propping up broken businesses, and undermining any possibility of competition by younger companies – everybody loses
  • “If the answer is government management then nationalize it, and have profits going back to tax payers. But we know that doesn’t work” – Andreas Antonopoulos
    • Case in point: Chinese airplane companies controlled by the government are unable to innovate and just copy other companies
      • “If you kill competition like that you end up creating these companies that are unable to innovate. Now, Boeing has become a company that is unable to build planes that fly, and unable to innovate.”

Money Printer goes Brrrrrr

  • The consequences of money printing is wealth transfer that exhibits itself in inequality and inability to invest in your future
    • Milk may remain cheap, but healthcare, education, housing, quality of life gets expensive
    • The result: Self-determination, freedom, and independence become expensive
  • Moreover, decisions on allocating that money are removed from individual buyers and sellers and redirected to one person
    • Instead how about: “everybody, here is a check, you decide if Boeing, or whoever else, should continue to operate”
    • Bruce Fenton tweeted about the inequality in bailout allocation and the cost per citizen

Negative Consequences from the Crisis

  • Andreas is worried crisis like these are the kind of spark that causes long term problems
    • There is a lot of finger-pointing action and people looking for scapegoats
  • The American patriotic system wants to find someone to retaliate against
    • “The problem with coronavirus is we are not quite sure exactly who we need to bomb in order to exact retribution on our damaged economy” – Andreas Antonopoulos

Positive Outcomes from the Crisis

  • Coronavirus is a unifying threat to humanity, it crosses all the dividing lines
  • Andreas is optimistic about several changes brought about by the crisis
    • It enabled a greater understanding of how we can do more things online
    • Increased appreciation for professions that weren’t considered important (For instance: Supermarket checkout people)
  • The crisis challenges traditional dogmas – Examples:
    • Not working from an office was the exception, now everyone gets to use the tools
    • Meetings weren’t necessary after all, office jobs clearly didn’t require an office
  • “Nothing can be taken for granted, therefore nothing is sacred, therefore everything can be re-imagined and that is a positive thing” – Andreas  Antonopoulos
  • Peter notes how “Traffic is gone, fuel is affordable, kids spending time with families, home-cooked meals replacing fast-food, people conscious about hygiene and health again”
    • Unfortunately, this is only for a portion of humanity. There is a vast poor underclass in the US and other countries where this is an existential threat:
      • Facing the risk of homelessness, food insecurity and health insecurity simultaneously
    • Silver Lining: Average age in India and Africa is mid-twenties, hopefully, it lessens the disaster in these countries

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Notes By Mostafa Khaled

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