Martin Walker (FT Alphaville) touches upon an important aspect of the modern crypto money creation process: the ridiculous costs and unnecessary side effects of digital ‘mining’.
Bitcoin exemplifies our bizarre relationship with money through the ages stemming from our lack of understanding of what it is. It’s as if we are cursed to never come to terms with money’s functions and how they help us progress. Our problems started with us prioritizing the ‘store of value’ of value function of money over ‘medium of exchange’ and ‘unit of account’. For if money is expected to increase in value, it is much more likely to be hoarded than exchanged and thus it will eventually cease to be a reliable unit of account.
From the very beginning of humankind, it has indeed been a constant one step forward, two steps back kind of dance with our faithful companion. Money originated as a ‘gift’= a debt of gratitude to our fellow tribal members who shared their luck of finding more food than they needed. When our memory (of ‘how much’ we owe whom) failed and disagreements became common, we created the first money ledger run by the first central authority (the tribe leader): lines in the sand of who ‘owes’ who.
From there on, it all went downhill for different reasons: huge, cumbersome stones; other stupid object; precious metals… There were some interruptions to this craziness: the time of the Roman republic, the first fiat money in China, the Italian city states creating the first modern ledger during the Renaissance. But generally speaking the crazy money mist always came back and deluded us in going to extremes (mining foreign lands, killing indigenous people, etc.) to obtain shiny objects and call them money.
Until it all ended in 1971 when Nixon pulled the US out of the Bretton Woods Agreement and fiat money became the norm globally. And now, in 2017, having reached an extraordinary level of human progress, once again the mist is descending in front of our eyes and we are thinking about going back to ‘mining’ for money?