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The Chinese proverb "May you live in interesting times" has always been said to be a blessing and a curse in equal measures. Honestly, for most of my life this idea did not really mean much to me and I simply acknowledge that I've heard this one before.
However, in the last 2 years I've started feeling this. We really do live in very interesting times and I am in equal measures scared of war and famine and excited about changes in power structures.
Ever since I went down the rabbit hole of crypto in 2012 I have been learning about our current financial system and the basic concepts of money. Most of this learning is very dry and makes people's eyes glaze over. Most people prefer a dentist visit over economics.
But the focus has shifted, our interesting times make the basics of money very much something that now makes people wonder. It makes people pay attention. With massive inflation happening large parts of the world the connection between power and money is becoming a hot topic!
It is important to actually look at the system we live in today and find out what it is that we are trying to improve. What are the problems with our current system?
Anyone that goes shopping has noticed, prices are up. A lot. Your money no longer buys the same amount of bread or gas as it did a year ago. If you look at bigger items the contrast is even more visible. Some things have gotten 30% more expensive in a single year.
The simple reason for this is that the government has been printing more fiat money. As more dollars are printed, each individual dollar loses value. The government can do this as the money we have today is 'fiat' money. The word "fiat" refers to government-printed money — and it means "it shall be" in Latin. The government decides what this fiat-money "shall be" worth.
The last years the global money supply was enlarged quite dramatically as we can see in the next graph. More money was printed by the government.
Some 80% of the fiat money in existence today has been printed in the last couple of years.
The enormous spike in currency that we see in 2020 then has a simple effect. There are now 5 times as many dollars to represent the same wealth as there were before.
You can expect inflation to continue to go up, as your dollars / euros / yen simply are worth only a fraction of what they were worth 10 years ago.
The real question is where did that printed fiat money go to?
The government has a monopoly on printing money and there are no real limits on how much they can print, this effectively is a massive wealth transfer from people's savings to the government and the companies they choose to invest in.
Inflation and printing of money is a simple way to steal from the people, and it worked for decades without the people catching on. Although that will change.
A much more subtle use of power is seen in controlling the method of how people spend their money.
Most of the transactions today are made by banks. People pay with cards in stores, pay their rent via electronic-banking or receive their paycheck this way. In fact, it has become near impossible for a person to participate in society without having a bank account. At the same time the amount of cash / paper money people are allowed to use to pay for products has consistently gone down.
The bigger bills in many countries have gone away making holding a bigger amount simply impractical. Why is this happening?
Maybe the answer is that banks take a percentage on card payments. Even when you don't see a charge, the merchant still gets the bill due at the end of the month. So obviously its profitable for banks to move people to electronic payments.
Maybe governments really like the power that we've all seen in American movies that when a fugitive pays with their credit card, the government instantly knows where to send their men-with-guns.
But neither is not a full answer. Not the banks but the government is the one that decides there should no longer be a €1000, €500, €100 bill, which we lost just in the last decade. €50 is now the largest in use.
A better answer is that electronic payments are easier to trace. They can also be blocked if the government or bank doesn't like you. For instance if you were paying someone your government doesn't like. Companies or persons that are 'sanctioned' for instance.
We can also look at the beginning of February this year when in Canada, the power governments now have over people's money was demonstrated clearly when a whole lot of people got their accounts frozen because they send money to a fundraiser the government didn't like to help the truckers.
The government and the banking sector have today ultimate control over how people can spent their own money, who they can pay and they have the ability to freeze or confiscate individuals bank accounts.
After the previous two points you may already get a feeling that fiat money is really not your money, but it is theirs. The government and its financial system.
Imagine, if you will, that you want to buy a house. Its not newly build, but you really do need a mortgage. You go to a bank and they are very willing to help. One thing stands out. They say that you need to also take an additional loan for €30 000 which you have to use in order to install a heat pump and other green upgrades.
When you look around you realize that all banks have this exact same demand.
If you want a house and need a mortgage (who doesn't?), you are forced to invest in new products that you may not at all want to spend that kind of money on. If you disagree you can't get anyone to give you a mortgage.
Does that sound insane? I agree. It is a blatant abuse of the government granted rights to issue loans. Yet, it has been on the table for some years and the idea continues taking shape in Europe.
The financial system is highly regulated and many rights are only granted to a very small number of companies. From owning stock to giving out loans or simply to buy and sell customers crypto for fiat. You need the governments permission to do any of those. What rules will they come up with next?
The people that own the financial system, banks and the central bank, have been using their monopoly powers to help themselves. From banks refusing accounts to crypto companies to green-deal sales that people can't refuse.
Above we noticed that the government of the USA 'printed' 80% of the money in existence today just in the last 2 years. The question that anyone might want to ask is, where did all that money go?
Being able to print all that money gives those in the government massive power, and as founder of the Rothschild family in the 18th century said, controlling a nation's currency is more powerful than all her politics.
These are a couple of real-life indications of how your dependence on banks and fiat-money is giving away a lot of control over your daily life and your happiness.
What Satoshi Nakamoto was aiming for has always been a crypto currency that allows people to step out of the system of fiat-money.
Bitcoin Cash is the main contender to be a better money, if for no other reason then that all the control systems built into fiat are impossible.