Checking Your Financial Privilege
Bitcoin has opened my eyes to many things, politics, economics and the way we operate as a society. It’s brought me far more questions than answers, and as I try to make sense of all the chaos and why we tend to organise ourselves in a certain way, it sends me down different rabbit holes. I’ve engaged with Bitcoin holders from many different countries and walks of life, age groups, and even then, Bitcoiners don’t agree on everything.
Most of the Bitcoiners I come into contact with are there to strike it rich; there’s nothing wrong with that; I think that’s the first draw card into Bitcoin. To me, however, Bitcoin isn’t about getting rich; it’s just about getting back what was owed to me.
I have been working for almost 10 years, not a long time, but in that time, in my country, we’ve had broad money growth of 12% annually. This means I’ve lost a total of 120% of the purchasing power of my savings over that time. Each country is on a different path; some more aggressive, and some are slower.
Stable coin myth
We often refer to pegged crypto tokens as stable coins; you’ll get them pegged to the US dollar, the pound or the Euro, for the most part, I have seen pegged CAD and AUD, but that’s a far smaller market. However, do you ever stop to think why they’re the only ones considered “stable”?
Compared to the basket of the world’s currencies, these fiat currencies lose the least amount of purchasing power per year. They not only suck on their citizen’s productivity, but a large part of it is sucking productivity out of other nations to prop up their currency.
The stability it gives these countries is a privilege; I know many people in these countries would;t agree with me, but having a little less inflation a year makes a big difference to your standard of living, hopes and dreams.
No one wants to hear or accept that they hold any privilege. In fact, mentioning that word alone is enough to trigger many people. However, the fact is only 14% of the world gets to enjoy a relatively stable currency.
The inconvenient truth
I am not claiming that developing nations are saints and that there is no corruption because there is a lot of our countries plights that are self-inflicted, too, just as is developed nations; it’s just that we have the added burden of propping up larger currencies.
The more I look around me with orange eyes, the more it becomes apparent; I’ve been working 80 hour weeks for 5 years now, thinking I would get ahead. Fact is, I didn’t. I cannot outwork inflation no matter how hard I try.
It may not seem like it to other country citizens, but each currency affords you a bit more time than the other when it comes to robbing you of your purchasing power. As someone who lives in a country that is further down the track, I have a smaller room for error; I have less margin to convert my fiat into something that isn’t stripped from me.
My Hail Mary
Yes, I have Bitcoin; it’s my hail mary at the moment.
If you are one of the so-called “stable” currencies, I get why Bitcoin is just a get rich quick, swap in and out to make some money, and that’s great; I wish everyone well with their trade.
But for some of us, this means a lot more. We have a lot riding on Bitcoins success; at this point in my life, I honestly cannot see another way out for me as a South African.
The sad thing is that even if I do make this correct bet and Bitcoin is the winner and I am rewarded, where does that leave everyone in my nation that didn’t get into Bitcoin? There is no real winning if everyone around you is losing.
So what if Bitcoin hits a million dollars if I cannot spend it if I am going to have most of it taxed away if I cannot leave the country to get a better deal somewhere else.
Bitcoin could stop the inflation pain I feel personally, but what does that help if everyone is in pain around me? How do we use Bitcoin to rebuild, actually to build back better?
What do we do with wealth?
I’ve been so focused on acquiring wealth in crypto, but now I think if it does happen, how do we apply it to the world to build a better society? Is it all talk, and once Bitcoiners have been enriched, we walk away to serve ourselves living behind large walls like the rich do now, avoiding the world’s problems?
If Bitcoiners are to gain the financial privileges of the rich, how are we going to wield that power and responsibility to better our societies?