Bitcoin, in that sense, is anti democratic. It’s based on mistrust rather than trust, it refuses to take any responsibility onto itself – indeed, it doesn’t even have a self to take responsibility onto. It’s nihilistic, and an attractive alternative only to things which are downright bad.
If millions of people started using bitcoins on a regular basis, the soaring value of bitcoins would actually be disastrous. You’ve heard of hyperinflation: this would be hyperdeflation. Take a gold bar valued at $600,000. At $60 per bitcoin, the value of that bar is 10,000 BTC. But then assume that bitcoins rise in value to $600 apiece, and then to $6,000, and then to $60,000 — as would have to happen if the fixed number of bitcoins was being used to store hundreds of billions of dollars in value. Then the value of the gold bar would plunge, in bitcoin terms — to 1,000 BTC and then 100 BTC and finally just 10 BTC. The same thing would happen to all other goods and services in the world, including your own salary. Everything would be constantly going down in price, if you thought in bitcoin terms.
Fair enough, but where Douthat really ticked people off was in his assertion that “the retreat from child rearing” is “a symptom of late-modern exhaustion” and “a spirit that privileges the present over the future.” The present over the future? For the educated classes whose reduced fecundity has Douthat so worried, it seems the opposite is true. People are too future oriented, too worried about feathering the nest before filling it, too damn responsible to have a baby while they’re still in school and using ironing boards as dining tables. Late starts are not the product of laziness but in fact of ambition—of wanting to meet educational goals and career demands and refusing to settle until you’ve absolutely, totally, definitely met the right person.
Goodhart’s law, although it can be expressed in many ways, states that once a social or economic indicator or other surrogate measure is made a target for the purpose of conducting social or economic policy, then it will lose the information content that would qualify it to play that role. The law was named for its developer, Charles Goodhart, a former advisor to the Bank of England and Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics.
This is an appealing vision. In most areas of the economy, free-market principles insure that products and services keep improving, and that consumers get better and better deals. But the free market, though it may be the best way of allocating new TVs and cars, falters when it comes to paying for bypass surgery or chemotherapy. The reasons for this were established nearly fifty years ago, by the economist Kenneth Arrow, in a classic article entitled “Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Medical Care.” Arrow showed that health care is distinctive in ways that limit the power of the market. Because people don’t have the expertise to evaluate doctors, hospitals, or treatments, it’s hard for them to comparison-shop. Because they can’t pay for major care out of pocket, they must rely on insurance, thereby often losing the final say in what to buy or how much to spend. More fundamentally, markets work only when consumers have the power to say no if the price isn’t right. Yet it’s very hard for people to say no in the case of things like end-of-life care or brain surgery.
Allow me to embed the charts here, as well:
Distributism (also known as distributionism or distributivism) is a third-way economic philosophy that developed in England in the early 20th century based upon the principles of Catholic social teaching, especially the teachings of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Rerum Novarum and Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno.
According to distributists, property ownership is a fundamental right and the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the general populace, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism) or by an elite of wealthy property owners (laissez-faire capitalism). Distributism therefore advocates a society marked by widespread property ownership and, according to co-operative economist Race Mathews, maintains that such a system is key to bringing about a just social order.
Spoilers: adjusting for inflation, book prices have held pretty constant over the last five decades.
A point-by-point examination of the hype behind BitCoin.
Money is a sign of poverty.
Iain M. Banks’s CULTURE books.