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Election Day with Marty Bent and Alex Gladstein: Swan Signal Live E36

Posted 11/10/20 by Brady Swenson

Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer of the Human Rights Founda­tion, and Marty Bent, Host of Tales from the Crypt, discuss democ­racy, Ameri­ca’s election, and Bitcoin as a tool to defend individual freedom.

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Summary

0:00 Intro­duc­tion

5:16 State of American democ­racy

17:59 Tendency of govern­ments toward central­iza­tion

28:30 Technology changes the world; law guides it

33:47 Bitcoin should be protected as free speech

39:19 The future of encryp­tion and the Travel Rule

48:25 State of privacy

52:00 Bitcoin yield curve via light­ning

56:52 Future of privacy

1:01:10 Do votes matter?

1:06:30 Central banking will continue printing regard­less

1:12:20 Wrap up

Transcript

Brady Swenson:

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Swan Signal Live. We have a great show for you today on this election day here in the United States with Marty and Alex. Before we dive into the discus­sion today, let’s check in with Swan. This, of course, is a produc­tion of Swan Bitcoin at swanbitcoin.com.

We are doing something I think is really cool. We, of course, are dedicated to educa­tion, Bitcoin educa­tion, as well as being a very safe and reason­able way to stack Sats with automatic recur­ring buys. But we’re giving away Yan Pritzk­er’s book, our co-founder and CTO, Inventing Bitcoin. It’s 4.9 stars on Amazon, it’s often recom­mended by bitcoiners as a great intro­duc­tion to the Bitcoin system. You can go to swanbitcoin.com/freebook and get your copy. All we ask is that you share it with your family and friends. It’s a great way to intro­duce them to Bitcoin, how it works, and why we need it. And we’ll also email them with the book and say, “Hey, Swan is a great way to stack.” I think it’s a perfect starting point for the new corners in your life. So, that’s a great deal.

And if you are on the Swan Force, our referral program, you’ll get a special link that will take your friends and family directly to your Swan Force page and offer them the book. So, when they come back and start stacking, you’ll get referral credit, your 25% of Swan’s fees. So, it’s kind of a cool deal, a way to get people onto your Swan Force landing page by giving away some educa­tion. A win-win for everyone.

We are rolling out daily buys right now. We’ve rolled out to about 700 customers. We have a few hundred people stacking daily now on Swan. If you want to get on that list, you still can. It’s swanbitcoin.com/dailybuys. Those will continue to roll out over the coming couple of weeks. We do have a 247 Bitcoin chat on telegram. It’s t.me/swansignal. And we have great discus­sions in there, more in depth than we can hold on Twitter. 247, discus­sions are happening there, so check that out. It’s also a great place to kind of get the lowdown on breaking news. Often, our friends in there will drop the latest in there and we end up having some good discus­sions about it. So, check out t.me/swansignal.

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Okay, let’s dive into this one with Alex Gladstein. He’s the Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Founda­tion. He’s an advocate for freedom, of course, and he’s also served as the vice presi­dent of strategy for the Oslo Freedom Forum. He’s on the faculty at Singu­larity Univer­sity. You can support the Human Rights Founda­tion through Swan actually, with every purchase you make by signing up to autostack@swanbitcoin.com/hrf, for Human Rights Founda­tion. 25% of the fees on every purchase you make will go to support Alex’s work. So, check that out. Alex, welcome to the show, man. Thanks for joining us today on this election day.

Alex Gladstein:

It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Brady Swenson:

Absolutely. And we have, of course, Marty Bent. You all know him. He’s the author of The Daily Newsletter, Marty’s Bent. He’s creeping up on 1,000 issues. 1,000, it’s coming up, buddy. Upper 800s now, I was checking that out today, so that’s awesome, Marty. Of course, he is the host of Tales From The Crypt Podcast from the premier Bitcoin Podcast in the world. Marty, thanks for joining us today, man. Appre­ciate it.

Marty Bent:

Thank you for having me. Pumped to be here. Very special day.

Brady Swenson:

It is a special day. These are like halving, like the Bitcoin halving, so the presi­den­tial elections only come once every four years, and as we all know, they coincide with presi­den­tial election years. So, that’s always mixed up for an extra special year with those two seminal events happening that usually have a great impact on the world, and in terms of the halving, it’s having a greater and greater impact every time we have one.

These gentlemen think and write and comment about ethics and freedom of govern­ments around the world and the United States, about fairness, about elections, democ­ra­cies, the state of govern­ments around the world, and that’s why I wanted to have them on today. Of course, as a presi­den­tial election day, it’s a great day to kind of reflect on the values and princi­ples of this country, how they’ve evolved over the years, and where we’re headed, kind of trending right now.

So Alex, let’s start with you. Can you share with us, broadly speaking, your view of the evolu­tion of this nation’s ethics and princi­ples, and how maybe they’ve changed for the better or for the worse? I know this is a massive question. Take as much time as you need. I think it’ll seed the conver­sa­tion for the rest of this episode.

Alex Gladstein:

Yeah. I think there’s different levels to that question. First and foremost, today’s a great day, it’s election day. Our leaders, our rulers don’t know if they’re going to be in power in a couple months. And the people go out and they vote and they deter­mine who the next rulers are going to be. I know that a lot of people, maybe especially in the Bitcoin commu­nity, are jaded about this process and don’t really believe it brings any real change, and maybe right­fully so, are focused on some more struc­tural forces beneath the elections. But don’t under­es­ti­mate the power of elections and what they can do in the world and how they’ve shaped the world. They are a very impor­tant piece of the archi­tec­ture of freedom. They’re not the founda­tion, they’re not the base layer, but they’re a very impor­tant part that helps the system from getting stuck.

If you look at the things that I pursue and care about and advocate for, they are primarily free speech, separa­tion of powers in societies, where there’s a compe­ti­tion of powers, where powers can check each other, and civil society organi­za­tions, whether they be nonprofit groups, or journal­istic outfits, inves­tiga­tive reporters. These, to me, are all the most impor­tant ingre­di­ents of a free society, and elections are kind of like the cherry on top of that social geopo­lit­ical parfait. So, we need them, though, because they give this oppor­tu­nity to shake things up every couple years, and ultimately, I think that we should recog­nize their impor­tance while also realizing they’re not funda­men­tally every­thing that matters.

In fact, as many have right­fully pointed out, every dictator gets elected. But you know what, most of these elections you see around the world are rigged. In a free and fair election where both candi­dates have to go out and raise money and not one is given like special treat­ment from the govern­ment, this is a healthy process. In a lot of countries, it’s not like that. In a lot of countries, the govern­ment gets all the national airtime on the TV and the opposi­tion doesn’t get any at all. That’s the way it is. In a lot of these countries, the govern­ment uses its entire Treasury to pay for the campaign of just one candi­date, and the other candi­date gets nothing.

In a lot of countries, the govern­ment sends in armed thugs to liter­ally replace ballot boxes with fake results. I was inter­viewing someone from a West African nation of Togo the other day and she was telling me her whole life story, and she remem­bers this riveting election in 2005 where the opposi­tion seemed to have won, and then at the end, the govern­ment sent in like SWAT teams and they just took all the results away, and then three hours later on national televi­sion, the dictator was announced as the winner.

So, I think that that is the reality for so many hundreds of millions of people around the world, and a lot of people don’t even have even the semblance of elections. If you look in China, it’s not like they go out and they vote for their leaders.

So, sometimes elections are fraud­u­lent, some people don’t have them, and that consti­tutes four billion people, and the rest of us have the oppor­tu­nity to make a differ­ence. And I know it can feel like it doesn’t matter or your vote doesn’t matter, or whatever, but at the end of the day, if you look back in American history, I mean, voting, and elections, and who’s presi­dent has changed the world in a massive way. I mean, if it hadn’t been JFK, if it hadn’t been Nixon, if it hadn’t been Reagan, if it hadn’t been Bush, I mean, we’re talking about wars here, we’re talking about the Iraq war, we’re talking about the Vietnam War, we’re talking about Water­gate, we’re talking about big, big, big historic things.

So, I guess my first point is, elections are really impor­tant and it’s kind of a cool day, we get to watch our… Nobody knows what’s going to happen. I think it’s a lot of fun. And so many millions of people, billions of people around the world would really risk so much of their life to have just this little thing that a lot of Ameri­cans take for granted. So, that’s one piece.

The second piece is prospects for the future. Not so exciting. I mean, I just finished submit­ting a paper for the Cato Journal, where I’ll be a speaker at an upcoming confer­ence about monetary policy, and I’ve been studying central bank digital curren­cies, and finan­cial privacy and freedom. And look, people are screwed in dicta­tor­ships. It’s not like they have a way to push back or fight for their rights when it comes to lobbying or legal processes, but even in democ­ra­cies, the view is very dim. I mean, we’re talking the Bank Secrecy Act here, which doesn’t account for infla­tion, we’re talking the expan­sion of the travel rule, and we’re talking these amounts that are being surveilled going down and down, and down and down, right?

The ironic thing is that the fees that the govern­ment lives off of are adjusted for infla­tion, so I thought that was kind of funny. But the control is we can all kind of feel it coming in, even in democ­ra­cies. And look, there might be a hope that maybe in a Switzer­land, or a Finland, or maybe even in the United States, that people can create a movement, and push back, and force the govern­ment to make a private CBDC. I mean, as I explained in my paper, I’m not even sure that’s techni­cally feasible, really, to have a truly free and private CBDC that can actually be a savings tool and a privacy tool like cash has been for so many years, I don’t think that’s even really techni­cally possible for a variety of reasons. But maybe they could do it in a free country where you could go out and protest and vote. Most people don’t have that oppor­tu­nity.

So, the paper concludes with the fact that I think Bitcoin is so impor­tant for the future of all societies, because really, it keeps that tool that we’ve had for as long as we can remember, obviously, gener­a­tions and gener­a­tions of the ability of people to save and the ability of people to have some privacy in their social inter­ac­tions and their behav­iors. And it’s this check against this growing Orwellian kind of corpo­rate state monster, and even better than banknotes, it’s a way to actually have a savings instru­ment that’s separated from the whims of the govern­ment. And maybe that govern­ment is certainly better than a different govern­ment. Some central bankers have more indepen­dence from the elected officials, or from the dicta­tors, than others. But in any case, I would not feel comfort­able if the finan­cial future of my family and my commu­ni­ties and my nation was in the hands of central bankers. That’s not something I’d be super excited about, but Bitcoin gives us a another option.

So, I would say that my second and final point here is that, under­neath the excite­ment of Election Day, and acknowl­edging how impor­tant it is, and how lucky we are vis a vis some other people who live in God knows how many other countries, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, whatever, the future is in question, and it’s dim, but Bitcoin does give a little bit of a spark there. So, that’s where I’m at right now.

Brady Swenson:

Appre­ciate that, man. Marty, you write a lot about, both on Twitter and in the Bent, about this country, and its founding princi­ples, and criti­cize where the country is at now and how it’s evolved. I’d love to hear from you, because I think a lot of bitcoiners kind of listen to you on these subjects, on this matter, what are the founding princi­ples that you value as an American and how have they evolved, either for better or for worse?

Marty Bent:

Yeah. I mean, just to keep it simple, life, liberty and the pursuit of happi­ness is the purest form. The values of this country was founded on and really rooted in that, and private property rights, I would argue. And I believe that the founding fathers were very pressured and very smart and very metic­u­lous with the way they crafted their message and the Bill of Rights in the Consti­tu­tion.

And I just think Thomas Jefferson specif­i­cally warns there’s need to be revolu­tions period­i­cally to clarify those rights and to fight for them every once in a while. I just think, partic­u­larly the last few gener­a­tions, last 50 to 100 years, arguably, that hasn’t materi­al­ized, and I think it is impor­tant that we realize there is this natural entropy to the ideals that this country was founded on life, liberty, the pursuit of happi­ness that are just simply eroded away by the polit­ical process. You have new laws being created every day, more lawyers being handed degrees every day to go make laws, and very seldom, if ever, do we give freedoms back to people. They just seem to be, again, eroded slowly due to compla­cency and inability to actually change the system from within.

And so I just think there’s a natural entropy that’s been playing its course and there’s been little pushback, partic­u­larly in recent decades, to claw back some of that freedom and liberty in the form of a revolu­tion. I don’t think in today’s day and age, luckily for us, the revolu­tions don’t need to be bloody, thank­fully, and Bitcoin, which allows us to peace­fully exit the system and claw back some of those liber­ties on our own volition, and partic­u­larly when it comes to private property rights and control over your finances, which are the core to your ability to interact in the economy and act with liberty from first princi­ples. So, yeah, I just think there’s been this natural entropy over time and I don’t think people have really fought back in earnest and many decades, and I think Bitcoin being intro­duced to the world is incred­ible because it actually creates a vehicle through which to act, to claw back some of those liber­ties, and it seems like people are.

With that being said, today, it looks like, just following lately on Twitter, of what’s going on on election day, it seems like turnout is going to be an all time highs, pretty historic turnout here in America for elections. So, it seems like people think that there is a problem and action is needed, whether or not the action of actually casting a vote is the most effec­tive way to actually have an effect on any outcome in the long run. I would argue against, but it seems like people are noticing there’s a problem and think that’s the best way to act to fix what they perceive as problems.

But hopefully, if things don’t go according to plan, then it’s like, hey, it doesn’t matter if it’s Biden, the erosion of liber­ties are going to continue and we have to go through other systems, poten­tially, Bitcoin being a catalyst for that. I think that’s good. I think people are waking up. People know something’s wrong inher­ently. You just feel it in the air with the growing inequality, the growing tension, the growing social cohesion. I don’t want to sound bombastic or anything, but it’s time for a revolu­tion to crawl back liber­ties and freedom in the digital age, which is becoming glaringly obvious that the trend these polit­ical systems are taking us down and these state entities are taking us down is completely Orwellian. You’re going to have the Chinese surveil­lance state exported to the rest of the world if we don’t fight to claw back freedoms right now.

Brady Swenson:

Alex, would you agree that the natural tendency of central­ized govern­ments is toward more central­iza­tion and less freedom over time?

Alex Gladstein:

I don’t know. I mean, I think that histor­i­cally, from really bird’s eye wide perspec­tive, govern­ment seems to be inevitably becoming more decen­tral­ized. I mean, we used to all have kings, we all used to live in feudal systems. Most of us were serfs, right? There were a couple kings, couple princes, a couple people in the merchant class, but every­body else was just farming or doing whatever you could to survive. And that was sort of the way the world was for many thousands of years, and even before that, it was even worse in terms of like being nasty, brutish, and short.

And I always remind people, I try to, in my advocacy, that half the world still lives under author­i­tar­i­anism, but roughly, the other half doesn’t, right? And there’s some incred­ible societies that have been built out there, whether it’s in Northern Europe, or Eastern Asia, or places ranging from Estonia to Costa Rica, to certain states in the United States that function really well, to Canada, etc. So, when you compare what we have today to what we had several hundred years ago, I mean, it’s not even close along any kind of possible metric, whether you think of be life expectancy, literacy rates, how much electricity per capita we have avail­able to us, the fact that we can work all night instead of being in the dark. I mean, we’re clearly advancing as a civiliza­tion from that perspec­tive.

And I would also say just inter­nally in America, I do agree with Marty that there’s been some really depressing trends with basically just more restric­tions, and I’m especially concerned about the restric­tions around privacy and about finance, but you also have to remember that less than 100 years ago, or 100 years ago, we’re talking a huge number of people in this country didn’t have the same rights as others. I mean, we’re talking women had to fight to get the right to vote. Obviously, blacks weren’t legally treated as equals for a long, long, long time. Obviously, gays weren’t treated as equals, still aren’t entirely treated as equals. So, when we talk about equality of oppor­tu­nity, which is something I deeply believe in, and I think equality of outcome, obviously, is a scam, but equality of oppor­tu­nity is quite impor­tant. And we’ve made really big strides there. It’s quite impres­sive. So, that’s been somewhat inspiring.

There’s also some inter­esting trends that seem very positive in our country in terms of things like just decrim­i­nal­iza­tion of marijuana is really impor­tant. I mean, that the war on drugs is one of the biggest blights on our nation and contributes to our world worst prison problem, which is probably the greatest embar­rass­ment I have as an American, is our prison system, and how many people we lock up for nonvi­o­lent crimes. That’s improving pretty dramat­i­cally actually if you look at it in terms of how many states are slowly legal­izing marijuana. I think that’s a really big deal.

I don’t want to be all dark here. I mean, I think there’s some mega trends here where you have more and more people who, they didn’t choose the way they were born, they were born a certain race, or they had a certain predilec­tion, or whatever they had, oppor­tu­ni­ties are opening up for them legally speaking in the court of law, where now they’re going to be hopefully treated the same as anyone else, right? That’s a really big progress that we’re seeing. We’re also seeing major progress in some of these areas in terms of decrim­i­nal­iza­tion of drugs. So, those are two things that I don’t think we should forget. But I do gener­ally agree that the prolif­er­a­tion of restric­tions around privacy and the sort of nanny state trend is certainly worri­some, but these two trends are kind of happening at the same time so sometimes it’s hard to track. Does that make sense?

Brady Swenson:

Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Marty has gone black. There you are, Marty. Yeah, it does absolutely make sense. And I wanted to kind of piggy­back on something that Marty was talking about and kind of toss the same question over to you, Marty. There seems to be the sort of natural evolu­tion of… And Brandon Quittem recently wrote about this, and you highlighted it in the Bent, kind of these gener­a­tional turnings, right? So, sort of cycles where you have this revolu­tion, you sort of increase individual freedom, you kind of break up these central­ized insti­tu­tions, as you’ve lost faith in them, and then slowly over time, we sort of rebuild those central­ized insti­tu­tions and maybe we see individual freedoms and decen­tral­iza­tion of govern­ment and decision making decrease.

I mean, we can use money as an example, the control of money. The founding fathers used a couple of great quotes that we’ve probably all heard before but I think are worth reiter­ating. From Jefferson, “Bank paper must be suppressed and the circu­lating medium must be restored to the nation, to whom it belongs. The Washington paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have to ruin commerce, suppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injus­tice.” The initial bank, the First Bank of the United States is what it was called, was based on a gold standard, right? And we didn’t see a Fiat standard really emerged until 1862 with the Civil War and the green­back, and we’ve gone back and forth. That’s kind of a metaphor for the swinging of the pendulum, back and forth between sort of decen­tral­iza­tion and central­iza­tion of control in general.

Do you feel like we sort of are on the extreme side of central­iza­tion at this point and do you think that the consti­tu­tion and our amend­ments, Bill of Rights and the amend­ments to the Consti­tu­tion are nimble enough at this point to actually allow that pendulum to swing back some without there needing to be a violent revolu­tion?

Marty Bent:

I don’t have faith that we’ll be able to change the system to the tradi­tional routes. That’s not to say that we’re doomed if we don’t do that, but I don’t know, it’s tough. I like the Buckmin­ster Fuller quote, “You don’t change an existing system by working within it, you have to create a completely different system separate of that system to change the paradigm.” And I think that’s true in this case.

I like to talk a lot about, and I’ve made this analogy on the podcast before, when our repre­sen­ta­tive democ­racy was first designed, why was it designed the way it was? Why do we have repre­sen­ta­tives at the state and local level? Why do we have congressmen at the state level? Why do we have a presi­dent? Why do they meet centrally in Washington DC? At the time, it was impos­sible for a colonists and the citizens of the country to actually commu­ni­cate with each other outside of the mailing system, which was on horse­back and took days to get messages across the world.

So, digital world in which social media and the ability to commu­ni­cate directly and instan­ta­neously with each other, I think the mechanics of politi­cians, partic­u­larly, if you just look at them as variables and cogs in a machine to serve a certain purpose, which back in the day when govern­ment was first designed was to meet in a central location so these politi­cians can repre­sent your individual voice and speak on your behalf locally in DC to form laws and amend­ments and stuff like that, I just don’t think that’s the reality of the times that we live in today. You don’t need anybody to speak on behalf of you, you can speak on behalf of yourself via the commu­ni­ca­tion technology that exists. That’s not to say, I’m not like advocating for direct democ­racy, I don’t know what the solution is. I just don’t think the design of our polit­ical system, partic­u­larly here in the United States, is conducive for the pace of infor­ma­tion spread that we have on the Internet and in the digital age. We move too slow.

And that’s the other thing. The perco­la­tion infor­ma­tion throughout the polit­ical system is just not efficient at all. By the time these politi­cians finally get a bill to the floor or able to actually work on a policy, infor­ma­tion has changed so fast on the ground, things are changing so quickly here, and I do think it’s a very ineffi­cient process.

And again, another thing you have to think of at the incep­tion of the country too is, what was the point of the govern­ment? Was it just to limit the intru­sion of personal liberty? I think it’s safe to say, resound­ingly, even though Alex listed off a bunch of examples of people becoming more liber­ated throughout the last century, which I do not deny at all, it’s those were the liber­a­tion of groups that were able to partic­i­pate in our democ­racy that previ­ously weren’t able to, but if you think about the individual, no matter what group they repre­sent or they fall under according to certain descrip­tions, the individual certainly had a large intru­sion on their civil liber­ties over the last 50 to 100 years. And I don’t think it’s going to be changed in DC, I think we’re going to have to slowly but surely sort of exit that system, and tools like Bitcoin help us do that. I think, again, there’s a natural entropy to this stuff and I think it’s starting to run its course.

Brady Swenson:

Inter­esting, Alex, I mean, what do you have to say to that? Do you think that is it possible or what are the chances that we could sort of create a new system of gover­nance at this point? There’s so much inertia behind the way that the Western world has been operating its govern­ments, and do you think we need that, or is separa­tion of money and state kind of enough to help right the ship?

Alex Gladstein:

Yeah, I mean I broadly believe what the cypher­punks believe, that technology will change the world as opposed to policy, and that society follows technology, and if you really want to change the world, work on technology. And back in the ’80s and ’90s, this is something that ended up being really prescient, right? But I mean, there is certainly a place for law and for govern­ment policy as it follows technology to avert disaster, or to go in a slightly better way or a way that opens up enormous possi­bil­i­ties that maybe societies didn’t even see. So, I’ll give the example of Section 230, right?

So, back in the 90s, lawmakers in DC made this policy that said that no provider or user of an inter­ac­tive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any infor­ma­tion provided by another infor­ma­tion content provider, and it seemed maybe innocuous at the time, but it really gave birth to this huge, enormous Internet that we have now, which I person­ally enjoy. I mean, now it’s coming into question whether it can sustain itself moving forward. But the very fact that you could blog in the early 2000s and get your voice out, or you could start using Twitter when it first came out without the service that you’re on being afraid of getting sued was such a huge thing that allowed, again, the flowering of, really, the Internet gener­a­tion. That wasn’t going to happen in China. I mean, laws get created with the opposite effect in dicta­tor­ships.

So, I wouldn’t rule this out. I do think we’ll follow technology, and the success of our nation will very much depend on how our policy­makers chart the course as we follow technology. And in this case, obviously, for us here, we’re focused on finance, we’re focused on Bitcoin. And I’m skeptical, but we have prece­dent that we can make laws that will help lead us to more prosperous times. I’m very out on that for people who live in dicta­tor­ships, I don’t think that’s going to happen, but for people who live in democ­ra­cies where we can campaign, we can push, we can lobby, we can whistle blow, we can expose, there’s certain ways where we could get what we want that isn’t just technology, that kind of follows technology. And that’s why on a long bed, I would obviously bet on liberal democ­ra­cies over any other kind of polit­ical system, simply because it’s just more open and there’s more possi­bil­i­ties.

But I wouldn’t count out some sort of huge section 230-esque founda­tional piece of policy to come into play in the next year or two, some Supreme Court ruling about Bitcoin that actually, who knows, maybe it’s really good for us. I mean, I’d be curious to hear what Marty has to say on that, but, I mean, it’s not impos­sible. I think, you got to follow what Coin Center’s doing, but it’s not impos­sible that some of these scary things can get overturned and that people on the Supreme Court, if they’re strict about inter­preting the Consti­tu­tion, hey, maybe they protect our rights and create prece­dent that helps us be sover­eign. I don’t know if Marty can react to that, but that’s my interest.

Brady Swenson:

Before we go over to Marty to react to that, can you tell us what section 203 is, Alex?

Alex Gladstein:

It’s actually 230. Yes, section 230 is part of the Commu­ni­ca­tions Decency Act in 1996, and it’s turned out, according to the Electronic Frontier Founda­tion and other civil liber­tar­ians, to be what they call one of the most valuable tools for protecting free expres­sion on the Internet. It’s inter­esting. You have to dig into it, but again, the nut graph is that no provider or user of an inter­ac­tive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any infor­ma­tion provided by another infor­ma­tion content provider.

So, this kind of creates a shield for people to go onto these platforms and say what they want without the platform being afraid of getting sued. It’s allowed, obviously, for YouTube, or Vimeo, for God knows whatever else you’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter, and I under­stand we’ve got new problems now with disin­for­ma­tion. But I’d rather have disin­for­ma­tion than fricking govern­ment propa­ganda and censor­ship. I mean, you got to choose your evils here. But it’s not impos­sible that there could be some sort of Section 230-esque law in the Bitcoin realm where maybe in the next year or two, some court case goes up to the Supreme Court and they deter­mine and policy ensues that govern­ments can’t force people who hold Bitcoin to denounce their holdings or who knows what, I mean, we have to see, but these are things that can be shaped I do believe. I may be skeptical of them saving us, but it’s a possi­bility for us in America. Not going to happen in China.

Brady Swenson:

Right, right. Marty, what are your thoughts, man?

Marty Bent:

Yeah. I’m thinking back, partic­u­larly to a conver­sa­tion I had with Preston Byrne on the podcast, who is a lawyer, and he put out there that running a Bitcoin full node is an act of polit­ical speech, so there­fore should be protected by the First Amend­ment. And I think I’m inter­ested to see how Bitcoin does present itself in the court system here in the United States, partic­u­larly because I do think it’s inevitable it’ll happen someday, to some extent, whether or not it is brought to the Supreme Court on the guise of helping crimi­nals, or sanction countries route around the travel rule in sanctions, or whether or not it is actually an act of free speech to run a full node. I would much prefer the latter because I think that would hold up partic­u­larly well in the Supreme Court, and I think it is a true state­ment, like running a full node and saying, “Hey, I support this network and the rules that are dictated by this software and I should be able to express my support for this network as a free American.”

And I think if you do that, it actually hearkens to that FAA, but we’re not going to have the same money until we wrest control of it from the hands of the govern­ment. Maybe this is the sly round­about way that you actually get civil liber­ties back to a point and actually sort of elimi­nate all the overar­ching regula­tions that are being thrown at Bitcoin, including the travel rule, because hey, running a full node and accepting and receiving Bitcoin trans­ac­tions via that full node is an act of free speech and active polit­ical speech and is protected by the First Amend­ment.

And that’s something I’ve been pushing heavily for and what I would like Coin Center and the HODLpacs of the world to really freeing Bitcoin on Capitol Hill as an act of free speech, it is code at the end of the day. It is simply text that you download and run and it just so happens to create this distrib­uted messaging protocol, but has a sound monetary token attached to it. I do think maybe that is the round­about way via the tradi­tional polit­ical system that you preserve and claw back those civil liber­ties, if you’re able to get Bitcoin declared as free speech, free polit­ical speech, and then that allows you to use your Bitcoin node any way that you want to. It sort of makes all the other overar­ching finan­cial regula­tions moot at that point.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah. So, this is the same idea that allowed encryp­tion to be kind of distrib­uted to the masses, the idea that it falls under the auspices of free speech under the First Amend­ment. And those arguments are being made now that Bitcoin relies on encryp­tion, that it’s speech, that it’s code, that essen­tially just comes down to being words or a code of some kind that is trans­mitted between people and it’s effec­tively speech. That idea, like you said, would have to be upheld in the courts, Alex, because we’re seeing legis­la­tion, and we can talk about that right. I want to talk about the lawful access to Encrypted Data Act and the Travel Rule, which are both running through govern­ment agencies right now. First, we can talk about the Travel Rule, which has been-

Alex Gladstein:

Before you get there-

Brady Swenson:

Yeah, go ahead.

Alex Gladstein:

… I just want to comment on two things that some of you may have used. I’m sure a lot of you have used one of these things, maybe some or the other, but just look at Tor project and signal. I mean, if you look at Tor, I asked one of my friends at the EFF a few months ago about this, I don’t think any American has ever been arrested for running a Tor Exit Node, okay? I mean, we do have these rights that don’t exist in other countries and courts uphold them, and when you think about signal, sure, it’s open source, but Moxie Marlin­spike’s got a huge team. They’re over here in California, They’re big, big organi­za­tion. And they’ve they’ve been able to defend themselves as a great New Yorker profile recently, they’ve been able to defend themselves against govern­ment requests for… They don’t have a lot of user data, but obviously, they have phone numbers, but they’ve been able to defend themselves really well. Again, not happening in China.

I mean, you have to have a legal frame­work for the builders to build. I mean, I don’t believe Bitcoin is stoppable, but at the end of the day if you go back and look at the early ’90s and look at the cypher­punks, yes, technology was the thing and it was about writing unstop­pable code, but the FBI, and the NSA, and the CIA, they were trying to stop the prolif­er­a­tion of this, and at the end of the day, they ended up losing in courts. I still don’t think encryp­tion was stoppable, obviously, it was like hilar­ious because they would put the code on T‑shirts, or put it in their email signa­ture line just to prove how unstop­pable it was, but the govern­ment can still come and arrest people if they have a monopoly of violence.

So, again, just this idea that we have this society where that doesn’t have to happen all the time, that we can actually protect ourselves, not just through technology, but laws, very, very powerful. So, I just wanted to make that point.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for making the points. Well taken. I thought we could talk a little bit more specif­i­cally about the Travel Rule and this kind of anti privacy, anti encryp­tion law that’s making its way and proposed by Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton and Marsha Black­burn. It’s called the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, and while the bill does not call for an end to encryp­tion technology outrights, which would certainly be challenged in the courts, I’m sure, but tech firms have argued that there’s no way for lawful access to occur that would not break encryp­tion, the security provided by encryp­tion for all users. Two questions here, and Marty, you can start on this one.

One. What do you think, in general, about these pieces of legis­la­tion that are being prosed all the time, quite often now, that violate privacy for Ameri­cans? And, secondly, do you think that it even matters at this point? Is encryp­tion as secure and as useful as we think it is or do you think hardware back doors and other methods used by spy agencies, for instance, have compro­mised it more than we sort of think it has?

Marty Bent:

Yeah. So, to touch on the first question about the Travel Rule, yeah, I mean, I think Alex touched on a bit earlier, they’re outdated, partic­u­larly the Bank Secrecy Act, which was pushed through law, I believe, in 1970 or 1971. At the time, it said, any trans­ac­tions over $10,000 have to be reported. And if you adjust that for infla­tion today, that number would have to be something like 70, or $80,000 to be equal with what it was in 1970. We’re actually trying to lower that barrier now. So, in terms of purchasing power, it’s just widened the net of the amount of people that become deemed suspi­cious in the eyes of the Bank Secrecy Act.

And then the Travel Rule, this is something I’ve been harping on a lot and I think more and more people need to talk about. The Finan­cial Action Task Force is the entity that basically writes the guide­lines, suggests the guide­lines other countries should follow within the purview of the Travel Rule, and it’s created by this unelected supra­na­tional regula­tory body that nobody asked for and nobody voted on, more impor­tantly, and they get to dictate… I mean, they don’t officially write the laws, but they write the guide­lines that then become the laws and dictate that banks are now virtual asset service providers, have to share certain infor­ma­tion about their customers with each other. And yes, it is a complete invasion of privacy.

The finan­cial system, big tech, and big retail have proven time and time again that they do not have the ability to properly secure the data that’s being shared, very personal data, social security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers, spouses, all this crazy, intimate personal infor­ma­tion being stored on very insecure databases that are proven time and time and time and time again to be hacked and to leak that data. And then on top of that, the whole guise for these laws and these regula­tions being put into place in the first place is to curb money laundering and crime that is perpe­trated by drug dealers, sex traffickers and other crimi­nals, mostly people doing polit­ical crime, actually paying to have stuff get pushed through a polit­ical system. And it’s the same insti­tu­tions, mainly the big banks, that have proven time and time again that if the customer is willing to pay enough, they will let these crimi­nals get away with this, like the Mexican drug cartels, Jeffrey Epstein had a bank account at Deutsche Bank after he got out of jail in 2008.

They’re not even stopping the biggest perpe­tra­tors of the crimes are they’re attempting to stop with these laws. They’re actually letting the biggest perpe­tra­tors of these crimes basically route around the system and work through the system if they’re willing to pay up. So, you’re, number one, hurting the individual by forcing them to give up a bunch of their personal infor­ma­tion that is likely inevitably going to be hacked and distrib­uted on the dark web, but number two, it’s all bullshit because the people who are actually money laundering the most money, trafficking the most people and drugs are actually able to work within the system, and the banks that facil­i­tate that activity just get a slap on the wrist in form of a fine. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s inhumane. I forgot the second part of the question because I got so heated there.

Brady Swenson:

It’s all right. You talked about both of these laws that are sort of being proposed right now and working their way through the system-

Alex Gladstein:

Could I just add some color to that.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah.

Alex Gladstein:

So again, I’ve been doing all this research for this paper, and I’ll just give the listeners just a very brief thumb­nail backstory. The Supreme Court case that started all this emotion was United States versus Miller, basically, which ended up legit­imizing things like the Bank Secrecy Act by ruling that bank records are not protected under the Fourth Amend­ment, right? And this estab­lished what’s called the third party doctrine, which holds that citizens who volun­tarily provide finan­cial infor­ma­tion to banks have no expec­ta­tion of privacy. And this is what over time has enabled the govern­ment, it has given them legal prece­dent, at the Supreme Court level, to collect finan­cial data from banks without a warrant or without probable cause, thus, we have this mass surveil­lance state from a finan­cial perspec­tive.

Coin Center has done some work in this space, and they’ve basically pointed out that when this happened, when the BSA was intro­duced then when it was later legit­imized, the dissenting justices in these cases were very concerned about the privacy leaks that would happen through inter­me­di­aries, etc, etc. And you have to remember, at that time, most trans­ac­tions, most small trans­ac­tions at the time were done with paper money, right? And there was no big sort of data market, big brother thing that could suck up our data and learn about what we’re doing, and trace us, and engineer us, and sell us or whatever. It didn’t exist. So, they were concerned even then.

So, it’s inter­esting that a lot of these legal prece­dents have held for so many decades when things have changed so much. So, perhaps what we might see with perhaps a very consti­tu­tion­alist strict Supreme Court now or whatever, perhaps is a revis­iting of some of these cases about individual privacy when it comes to finance. And just when it comes to the travel rule, which of course is, again, as Marty said, a recom­men­da­tion made by this unelected group of rogue states that include Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Turkey, the US ultimately has to imple­ment that.

It’s not like FATF dictates it, but FATF says it, and then the US often does what FATF recom­mends. Just the detail on that is that today, American finan­cial insti­tu­tions have to share infor­ma­tion about trans­ac­tions inter­na­tion­ally of more than $3,000, right? So, that is something they just reveal or the govern­ment can have without a warrant. The proposed rule would mean surveil­lance for any inter­na­tional trans­ac­tion of more than $250, okay? So, we’re talking about basically just like a huge expan­sion of the surveil­lance state, because so many of those trans­ac­tions, whether they be remit­tances, maybe you Venmo somebody, maybe on Trans­fer­Wise, Revolut, whatever, all those things are going to be surveilled now by the govern­ment without a warrant, if this passes, right?

And just to give you an idea of how the infla­tion plays into that, that $3,000 threshold, then, when all this stuff was legal­ized through the court system, was about $20,000 of today’s money. And the 250 was what was then 40. So, you’re now, just because of infla­tion, you’re just casting an ever wider net, you’re going up and up and up on trans­ac­tions. So, we’re watching the growth of the American finan­cial surveil­lance system happen in front of our eyes. And can the courts stop it? Maybe. I mean, probably not, but the answer is definitely not for folks who don’t have the oppor­tu­nity to live in a free society.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah. Marty, prospects of privacy tech on Bitcoin, because I think we all three agree here on the power of the cypher­punks writing code and unstop­pable technology, exponen­tial technolo­gies being a much greater force for change than the polit­ical system that is, like you mentioned, slow and resis­tant to change, or even let alone revolu­tion. What are your takes so far right now on the state of privacy, both on the base layer and on light­ning, which is throwing a lot of promise and the big announce­ment you wrote about in the Bent today from Light­ning Labs?

Marty Bent:

Yeah, I’m bullish, I think. Obviously just be up front with the state of the Bitcoin protocol in terms of being able to use in a private manner with ease. It’s definitely subpar. It’s not very easy to use Bitcoin privately unless you know exactly what to do. It has to be made easier for your average user, I think. But it has been made easier for your average user over time, over the first roughly 12 years of Bitcoin’s existence, and I think it will continue to get better. In terms of privacy attained via the protocol level, I think things like Schnorr and Taproot, if they’re imple­mented and when they’re imple­mented, there will certainly be a signif­i­cant increase to the ability to perturb chain analysis heuris­tics that are used to track people throughout the Bitcoin blockchain at the protocol level.

I’m extremely bullish on privacy solutions, including Light­ning. I think Light­ning is going to be a great way to do that. I actually spoke with a gentleman from Commerce­Block today, it the company that’s making a stage chain imple­men­ta­tion that’ll be imple­mented in a while called Mercury Wallet. That is a very unique aspect from a privacy perspec­tive on a second layer solution. I think that in combi­na­tions with things like CoinJoin’s Wasabi Samurai Join market as well as CoinSwaps, which Chris Belcher is working on, as well as Pay to EndPoint are going to be very bullish on privacy for Bitcoin users in the future. Add Liquid to the mix there and Atomic Swaps between different second layer solutions.

Actually, on a 10 to 15 year timeline, I’m not really worried about people being able to use Bitcoin privately. I think it’s going to be pretty easy to attain suffi­cient privacy using Bitcoin with the combi­na­tion of the protocol level and the second layer solutions that are coming to market. And I think it’s imper­a­tive that Bitcoin wants to succeed in the long run. I know there’s a lot of people who believe it only needs to be sound money, and it can be fully trans­parent, and you can know who has what, when, and it can still work, but I think the privacy tech only makes it more valuable and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah. Alex, I want to get to you on privacy tech, but there is a question here Sean is very insis­tent that we talk about. Light­ning Pool and the yield curve. He wants to hear from uncle Marty about… There we go, the yield curve, get to the yield curve. What is the signif­i­cance of something like Light­ning Pool being able to estab­lish a yield curve for Bitcoin?

Marty Bent:

The signif­i­cance is that it creates a real rate of return for your Bitcoin, obviously. It gives a time value to Satoshis. Like if you’re willing to give up your Satoshis for X amount of time, here’s the interest rate attached to that, here’s the value in the form of an interest rate attached to that. If you’re going to lock up your Satoshis to provide liquidity… And we’re talking about Light­ning Pool specif­i­cally in this imple­men­ta­tion. If you lock up your Satoshis for X duration of time and the person you give access to the Satoshi is willing to pay X interest rate, that is they are defining, in a free market, what the actual time value of your Bitcoin is, which is a funda­mental building block of a robust finan­cial system, lending markets.

I know Bitcoin is a fully reserved sound monetary system, but you are going to have lending. On top of Bitcoin, people are going to lend out bitcoins if they’re willing to so that others can start businesses and try to get a rate of return and create businesses that provide revenue above the original loan value so that they can get a rate of return.

And so the signif­i­cance of Light­ning Pool specif­i­cally is that you’re able to deter­mine that rate of return in a truly capital­istic and free market fashion where it’s noncus­to­dial, you liter­ally just have a protocol, a pool protocol, where people willing to provide liquidity, which are large node opera­tors that have channels with enough capacity, they are lending out their capacity to users who want to get bootstrapped onto the Light­ning network specif­i­cally and use it as quickly as possible. And the amount they’re willing to pay to get on the Light­ning network to leverage that is the real rate of return and the real time value of the Sats held in the Light­ning network repre­senting that interest rate that user buying channel capacity is willing to pay.

So, from a perspec­tive of finan­cial­iza­tion of Bitcoin at a native level, it’s massive because it allows a free market solution to actually deter­mine a real rate of return, and at no point are you giving up custody of your Bitcoin to anybody else. It’s held in a multisig, and nobody’s going to steal your Bitcoin. So, if you compare it to a central­ized solution like BlockFi, they have their interest bearing account where you can give them your Bitcoin and they’ll lock it up, but then they’ll lend it out to the other side, to traders, and their bet is that the traders will be profitable enough that they’ll be able to pay back that interest rate so that BlockFi makes a profit. Alter­na­tively, on the Light­ning network via Light­ning Pool, you’re basically getting a profit and able to produce an interest rate on any Bitcoin that you lock up by providing utility to individ­uals who want to use the Light­ning network, which is pretty massive.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah, that’s pretty huge. Raoul Pal talks about Bitcoin as like a pristine reserve asset, and the next level of sort of becoming the global reserve asset and really competing against the dollar and treasuries in that way is estab­lishing a yield curve. And the fact that it can happen and it’s emerging now in a free market fashion is huge, and not being set artifi­cially by govern­ments or central banks is a big deal.

Hyper bullish indeed, and it’s fun to watch this actual decen­tral­ized and free market finance emerge on top of Bitcoin. I know that people get impatient to get these things devel­oped, but when you’re dealing with money and a global system for the transfer of value, and 250 billion dollars at this point, poten­tially trillions of dollars over the next few years, you got to move inten­tion­ally and slowly. So, we respect that devel­op­ment coming out of Light­ning Labs. They’re doing great work.

Let’s get back into this privacy question, Alex. And thanks, Shawn, for that question out of YouTube. What do you think are the prospects for privacy in Bitcoin to estab­lish real privacy, both, obviously, in the United States policy-wise or encour­aging policy to develop in that direc­tion, but also globally, more impor­tantly in nations that don’t have a legal system to help, at least in some way, shape or form, protect privacy?

Alex Gladstein:

Yeah. I mean, Bitcoin is digital cash, that’s what it wants to be, that’s what it was created as, obviously, an electronic peer to peer cash system, and some of that quest is going really well. What do people use cash to do? A couple different things, but a lot of the time they use it to hoard, in a positive way, they use it to save in a way that’s hard for someone to steal, or hard for someone to freeze, or they can kind of extract their banknotes out of the system and hold them in a relatively sover­eign way where the only kind of threat is the govern­ment devaluing that currency, which we can get to.

But gener­ally speaking, Bitcoin repli­cates this function of cash really well for people in almost every country in the world today. So, when it comes to hoarding or saving, I think Bitcoin is doing really well and repli­cating that part of digital cash so far.

The other part of private or, truly, I mean, if you make a cash donation to a church box or something, it’s anony­mous, needs a lot of work. I am optimistic but short term bearish on this. I mean, I think it’s just going to take more time. I think what Marty just walked us through is really promising because whenever people think they can make money and get involved in and put their capital to good use, supporting privacy, I’m very bullish about that. So, I think that’s what’s going to be neces­sary to keep us moving forward or economic incen­tives for privacy. So, Pool is a great thing to dive into, and hopefully, to follow.

But gener­ally speaking, yes, and HRF has supported Chris Belcher, and I think privacy in Bitcoin is program­mable and it’s going to continue. And look, some people out there like Adam back, others, believe in this dream of having confi­den­tial trans­ac­tions on the main chain, assuming we can have auditability, and it’s possible. I mean, who knows? Maybe in two or three years, this ends up happening where it really improves privacy. So, I think all those things are possible but we’re not quite there yet.

The other part of digital cash, which is all related, where I think Bitcoin is, obviously, farthest behind is small trans­ac­tions and using it to do your stuff. And I know that this has been much derided because of very early misguided attempts to kind of force Bitcoin to do this, but if Bitcoin truly is to be this useful, private, digital cash that we can save and exchange with each other, it’ll be impor­tant to have some level of ability to use it to buy stuff. So right now, it’s primarily used as like remit­tance and a savings vehicle, but it is possible, especially with usability and privacy improve­ments, and poten­tially, merchants like Square allowing more adoption of stuff like Light­ning, it is possible that with second layer solutions, you could start getting a kind of a cash-like usability here for this thing. I think that’s the farthest down the road, but I think all these things are connected and related.

But gener­ally, I guess, short term bearish but long term bullish on Bitcoin privacy. And again, sort of it’s connected to the other compo­nents of how Bitcoin is becoming digital cash.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah. I think those are the two most revolu­tionary aspects of Bitcoin, separating money and state, decen­tral­izing the control of money supply and fixing it in that sense, and then the ability to take back some privacy, monetary privacy that can, I hope, kind of insti­tute amongst citizens around the world, this idea that we can take back privacy, we don’t have to be compla­cent about it or give up or feel like we have been beaten down.

All right, we’re going to wrap up here going back and talking a bit more about the election and the United States. Marty, I want to hear from you about this idea that there’s apathy, voter apathy out there, or the idea that we should just abstain from voting in elections. There’s record turnout this year, and I think expanded early voting in a lot of states is making a lot more acces­sible. Like you said earlier, there’s a stark differ­ence in a lot of ways, not neces­sarily in other ways, but in a lot of ways appar­ently, and then people want to come out and voice their opinions on that front. Where do you fall on the idea of abstaining from partic­i­pating in the right to vote?

Marty Bent:

I certainly think it’s your right and I tend to exercise that right. I’m a big believer in meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Alex actually sent me a thread from Glenn Green­wald earlier today in prepa­ra­tion for this conver­sa­tion. I think it just hits at it well. So, the first tweet of the thread is this idea that everyone can relax and go to sleep and stop paying atten­tion once the good parents, Joe and Kamala are in charge is creepy and author­i­tarian, but has happened on January 20, 2009, when the anti war, civil liber­ties and anti corpo­ratist movement vanished overnight. And to me, the polit­ical speak and the politicking from the politi­cians it’s really not that different, whether it’s Democ­ratic or Repub­lican politi­cians in control. Like William Barr right now is trying to add back doors to encryp­tion technology and he’s part of Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion. Trump has continued the drone strikes in Yemen that Obama started. I’m a big believer in meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I will concede that there may be a lesser of two evils, partic­u­larly around this election, but I don’t think it’s material enough to put all of your confi­dence in any one politi­cian, partic­u­larly the presi­dent. I’m very bullish on creating freedom enabling technolo­gies outside of the US polit­ical system specif­i­cally.

Brady Swenson:

Oh, yeah, hell, yeah. Alex, you want to talk about exercising the right to vote and whether or not you think it’s impor­tant?

Alex Gladstein:

Well, that’s easy for me. It’s very impor­tant in the global context. I mean, again, it’s easy to be jaded, and I under­stand the meet the new boss, same as the old boss, but again, I mean, the next presi­dent is going to have a lot of big decisions, and people handle these things differ­ently.

And those decisions gave us things like the Iraq war, and the war on terror, and the Vietnam War, and you can go back, and not all these things were completely inevitable. I mean, it might may have gone a little differ­ently with a different person. The handling of the fall of the Berlin wall with George H.W. I mean, some of these things were handled well, some of them were handled really poorly, but the Presi­dent is quite impor­tant. So, just for the sake of the people who live in fricking North Korea, you should go vote, would be my main takeaway.

But I do think something that I really wanted to touch on, maybe a good thing to sort of help include would be, especially if Biden is elected, we’re really possibly looking at this economic policy that’s going to rapidly shift more towards a sort of an MMT under­standing of how the dollar system works. I think it’s probably inevitable, even with Trump, given the handouts he started to give out, and even though I think some of his policy advisors are going to be a little more reluc­tant to do this, kind of more bearish on this idea, but I think it’s inevitable that politi­cians get rid of this idea of the debt ceiling and they print a lot more money, and in the short term, it may go well.

So, the inter­esting thing is, I don’t know why bitcoiners would be opposed to this. We have our parallel savings system that we have, so it’s kind of like, “Hey, if they want to exper­i­ment with the nation’s money, hey, go for it. We’re covered. We’re going to be okay on our side.” And it’s our, I would say, respon­si­bility to educate other people about this amazing technology so that they can also be involved in this, so that in case it doesn’t work out so well with the US dollar exper­i­ment, you at least have something. I don’t think anybody’s rooting for some sort of… I mean, trust me. Knowing a lot of Venezue­lans and Zimbab­weans, etc, you don’t want a dollar collapse. That would be so bad for the world in terms of every possible metric. But if it started to happen, at least you’d be kind of covered, right?

So, it’s just kind of an inter­esting thing to think about, is like Bitcoin and MMT as powerful forces dictating the next 20 years of, I think, economic life.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah, the idea that Jerome Powell is going to win either direc­tion. Here’s the cover of Barron’s, The Winner. “No matter what happens on Election Day, count on Fed Chairman Jerome Powell as the stabi­lizing force for the economy and the markets.” It recalls, I think, a time cover from 2008 about the plunge protec­tion team here to save America. Times like this the media starts to glorify and making the heroes the people who are printing the money, because that’s what solving the problem, right? Yeah. Go ahead, Marty.

Marty Bent:

Well, I mean, that’s where the signal is, right? Who is really in control? We sit here and we squabble over politi­cians, Biden or Trump. I do think Biden would take us quicker down the MMT path towards the green New Deal, which I don’t think is a good idea and if I were, gun to my head, pick between Trump or Biden this election, honestly, I’d probably vote Trump. But with that being said, is that really where the power lies? It lies in the central banking system and the ability to print money ex nihilo so that you can misal­lo­cate the capital and just initiate these bad policies in the first place.

So, if you need to get to the core of where these problems are at, it’s the central banking system. There is no doubt in my mind that that is where the signal is, on that Barron’s cove, Jerome Powell. And that’s the other inter­esting thing, that is where the power lies, and he seems very vulner­able right now. He’s basically begging the politi­cians to do MMT and create a fiscal response because he is out of ammo. And in terms of who actually has the power and what is the source of these existen­tial problems that we have in our society, it’s the money, it’s the money fix the world. You can’t have the ability to print money ex nihilo and misal­lo­cate capital on the levels and to the extent that we have as a society, here in America partic­u­larly, and not expect negative conse­quences.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah, yeah. Alex, if you had to weigh the impacts that you think the central­ized control of money versus central­ized control of law has on humanity, what propor­tion would you say those two have in terms of detri­mental effects?

Alex Gladstein:

Yeah. I think, obviously, the central­ized control money is amelio­rated if there’s an open society, which can have checks and balances on the people who control the money, obviously. So, you don’t see democ­ra­cies go into hyper­in­fla­tion, it just doesn’t happen, at least hasn’t yet. The societies that go into super high infla­tion over time that lead to the destruc­tion of their currency or hyper­in­fla­tion are countries at war, dicta­tor­ships, etc. They’re in shambles.

So, it helps if you have an open society, but ultimately, I mean, the tempta­tion is just too strong, as Satoshi noted, to abuse and devalue for short term polit­ical gains. It’s very diffi­cult to have this conver­sa­tion because we don’t have counter­fac­tuals, we live in the world and we don’t have other worlds to talk about, and we’ve seen such incred­ible progress in our world for the average person in their life in the fiat age, right? But there’s a lot of good arguments that stand that it’s not because of the wise decisions of the central bankers that we have these improve­ments, it’s rather actually because of technology and progress and civiliza­tional advance­ment, and that’s kind of where I’d stand.

But again, it’s tough to talk to the average person about these things because they look at you like you’re crazy, because obviously, the world has improved dramat­i­cally for the average person by any metric over the last 50, 60, 70 years in terms of things like literacy rates, living standards, things like that, right? We all have these things in our pocket now, super­com­puters, things like that. So, it’s fun to have this argument. We don’t have a counter­fac­tual, we don’t have another world which isn’t fiat money, that didn’t go down that road, but ultimately, I do agree with, I think, the prevailing senti­ment in the Bitcoin commu­nity, that it’s technology and sort of civiliza­tional advance­ments that have brought us here, not the wise decisions of central bankers, and those will eventu­ally fail us.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us on this Election Day, in this halving year. It’s been a big year for Bitcoin. We’re knocking on the door of price action going up 13,800 now, it’s been going up quite a bit, quite a rally over the last month or two. It should be shaping up to be a really exciting year once we get that loop, that feedback loop going of number go up and media atten­tion and etc, etc. I think it’s just a win for all of us, for bitcoiners and for the world to get this idea out there more broadly.

Alex Gladstein:

Look, last election, it was $760. So, hey, we’ll see what happens in 2024. I hope we can do it again.

Brady Swenson:

Yeah, that’s almost a 20X increase in the last four years. So yeah, it’s going to be an exciting time, and this election, I think, is going to be inter­esting to see how it plays out. Either way, I think we’re going to continue to go down the path of money printing, maybe more extreme on one case than the other, but I don’t think it really matters for Bitcoin. Vote with your node. Run a node, exit the system, vote for the separa­tion of money and state, vote for your own monetary sover­eignty, and just kind of keep a voice out there. Keep your voice up and raised.

And I think we’re going to have quite a bit of work to do to really commit as bitcoiners to carrying this flag, and it’s not always going to be easy, and we’re going to need to have to fight. And I think we’re here, shows like this to do this. I really appre­ciate the work of both of you fighting on that front. Thanks to everyone who is listening, who’s in the chat for fighting on that front as well. Run your nodes. Keep bitcoining. Gentlemen, thanks so much. Appre­ciate your time.

Marty Bent:

Thank you.

Alex Gladstein:

Thanks for having us on.

Marty Bent:

Can I say one thing? Fight to bring civility back too. We need to have civility in these conver­sa­tions, even when you’re approaching nocoiners. Inability to have civil conver­sa­tions these days is a net negative. Try to be civil with people.

Brady Swenson:

Absolutely, absolutely. Before we head out, please smash that like button. It does help get this video out even after the live broad­cast, so it’ll show up in people’s feeds. And also, swanbitcoin.com/dailybuys, get in on that action. Swanbitcoin.com/freebook. Grab Yan’s book, grab Inventing Bitcoin. Read it, share it, spread the Bitcoin knowl­edge, spread the love. That’s how we’re going to keep this thing rolling. Number go up, and educa­tion. I think that’s the formula for us. All right? Thanks, everyone. Take care.

Alex Gladstein:

See you.

Marty Bent:

Bye, guys.

Past Episodes

Episode 8 –Andy Edstrom and Ansel Linder

Episode 9 –Rockstar Devel­oper and Jeremy Rubin

Episode 10 – Bitcoin TINA and CK Snarks

Episode 11– Gigi and Knut Svanholm

Episode 12 –Adam Back and Preston Pysh

Episode 13 –Alex Gladstein and Matt Odell

Episode 14 –Robert Breedlove and Tuur Demeester

Episode 15 –Isaiah Jackson and Max Keiser

Episode 16 –Gigi and Udi Wertheimer

Episode 17 –Aleks Svetski and Jimmy Song

Episode 18 –Stephan Livera and Marty Bent

Episode 19 –Mark Moss and Ben Prentice

Episode 20 –Samson Mow and Parker Lewis

Episode 21–Lyn Alden and Jeff Booth

Episode 22– Robert Breedlove and Cory Klipp­sten

Episode 23 — Saifedean Ammous and George Gammon

Episode 24 –Jameson Lopp and Eric Martin­dale

Episode 25 –Preston Pysh and Andy Edstrom

Episode 26 –Lyn Alden and Nic Carter

Episode 27 — Erik Townsend and Yan Pritzker

Episode 28 — Max Keiser and Tone Vays

Episode 29 –Preston Pysh and Andy Edstrom

Episode 30–Raoul Pal and Vijay Boyapati

Episode 31–Dan Tapiero and Dan Matuszewski

Episode 32–Robert Breedlove and Parker Lewis

Episode 33– Danielle DiMartino Booth and Michael Saylor

Episode 34– Jeff Deist and Stephan Livera

Episode 35–Will Reeves and Yan Pritzker

Links

Swan Bitcoin

Swan Bitcoin — the best place to buy and invest in Bitcoin

Swan Bitcoin on Twitter

Swan Signal on YouTube

Swan Signal on Facebook

Swan Signal on Twitch

Swan Signal Podcast

Swan Signal Telegram Chat Room

Alex Gladstein

Alex Gladstein on Twitter

Alex Gladstein on LinkedIn

Human Rights Founda­tion

Marty Bent

Marty Bent on Twitter

Tales from the Crypt

Marty’s Bent

This blog offers thoughts and opinions on Bitcoin from the Swan Bitcoin team and friends. Swan Bitcoin is the easiest way to buy Bitcoin using your bank account automatically every week or month, starting with as little as $10. Sign up or learn more here.

Brady Swenson

Brady is the Head of Education at Swan Bitcoin, the best place to buy Bitcoin with easy recurring purchases straight from your bank account. Brady also hosts Citizen Bitcoin, a podcast focused on documenting his journey learning Bitcoin, featuring some of the biggest names in the Bitcoin world.

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