This thread about how the SEC is being mean to the company trying to hook cryptocurrency scams into the real economy creates an acute crisis for nanoluthiers, who are still decades away from being able to build an atomic scale violin and thought they had more time https://t.co/OCso4xvkxX
— Pinboard (@Pinboard) September 8, 2021
I wrote about one of my favorite trends in Rich Person Things. https://t.co/QrFPAadR7Y
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) September 22, 2021
There are the many liberative and exciting things that cryptocurrency might someday be and be used for, and then there is what cryptocurrency currently is, and how it actually gets used. Neither, strictly speaking, is anything that a normal person would really need to know or care about unless that normal person is the victim of a ransomware scam, or wants to buy drugs on the internet, or needs to discreetly send $250,000 to Roger Stone. For now, this is what it is: something that’s absolutely real, but also abstracted and howlingly sketchy even relative to other speculative investment vehicles and obscure even when compared to the other memetic fads that our moment’s reigning cretins tend to favor. The discourse around it is absolutely catastrophic, just disastrously obnoxious and dishonest and stilted at every turn, but that is generally true when it comes to conversations about money.
It is not unreasonable to be suspicious of this, both because of who is making the argument and how they are making it. Cryptocurrency, at least as it is sold by its most fervent adherents—the most prominent of those are men already famous for being rich, with a greasy substrate of rise-and-grind influencer types pumping and dumping and posting and posting and posting away just beneath—is rhetorically much more ambitious than the previous innovations that promised to Change The World for the better. Another reason for skepticism is that those previous innovations, when pitched by this type of person, all quickly wound up resolving to abetting ever bleaker new frontiers of serf labor, or expediting and optimizing the process through which aspiring genocidaires around the world get their social media posts in front of the most receptive possible audiences.
But also there is just the reality of how and what cryptocurrency actually is, which is, as SEC chair Gary Gensler said last week, “a highly speculative asset class.” When the Biden Administration tentatively moved to tax and regulate cryptocurrency transactions, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explained the decision by saying, “To the extent [cryptocurrency] is used, I fear it’s often for illicit finance. It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions, and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.” Advocates’ response to this series of basically true observations is less a rebuttal than a blithe counterproposal to the effect that 1) none of that matters and also is all being fixed, and 2) the new money will bring about world peace so honestly how dare you…