The Spanish Prisoner

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It’s an interesting setup, Mr. Ross. It is the oldest confidence game on the books. The Spanish Prisoner. Fellow says him and his sister, wealthy refugees, left a fortune in the home country. He got out, girl and the money stuck in Spain. Here is her most beautiful portrait. And he needs money to get her and the fortune out. Man who supplies the money gets the fortune and the girl. Oldest con in the world.

– David Mamet “The Spanish Prisoner” (1997)

Mark Zuckerberg is not The Spanish Prisoner. He’s the guy running the con.


Seven or eight years ago, I was on a commuter flight, sitting in an aisle seat. Two rows ahead of me, across the aisle on my right, a guy was arguing with his wife/girlfriend. It wasn’t a ferocious argument, but any sort of personal disagreement is noticeable in these circumstances, and it had been simmering since I noticed them boarding the plane.

There were two other things I noticed when they sat down. The wife/girlfriend had the husband/boyfriend’s name – Randy – tattooed on the back of her neck, and Randy had the letters T – R – U – S – T tattooed on the fingers of his left hand. I remember smiling to myself when I saw this. Obviously these two were from a very different background than me, but I really appreciated the public display of commitment they had made by getting these tattoos. I remember thinking to myself that I bet their relationship was a strong one, even though the disagreement seemed to simmer throughout the flight.

The plane landed and we all stood up. And then I saw the letters tattooed on Randy’s right hand.

N – O – O – N – E

All of a sudden, I was pretty sure this guy’s name wasn’t Randy. All of a sudden, I was pretty sure this relationship wasn’t likely to last.

I feel like I have TRUST NO ONE tattooed on my hands today, and if you’ve been working in finance for more than 10 years, I bet you feel exactly the same way.

Used to work for Bear? I know you feel this way.

Used to work for Lehman? I know you feel this way.

Used to work for Citi? I know you feel this way.

Used to work for Merrill? I know you feel this way.

Used to work for Deutsche Bank? I know you feel this way.

Yeah, we’ve all got these tattoos today. We have them as a reminder, as a figurative reminder (or literal in the case of “Randy”), that we really really really shouldn’t trust anyone AGAIN.

Because we need a reminder. Because we want to trust again.

Jimmy Dell: I think you’ll find that if what you’ve done for them is as valuable as you say it is, if they are indebted to you morally but not legally, my experience is they will give you nothing, and they will begin to act cruelly toward you.

Joe Ross: Why?

Jimmy Dell: To suppress their guilt.

– David Mamet “The Spanish Prisoner” (1997)

Jimmy Dell is the con man in the 1997 David Mamet movie, played by Steve Martin in his finest dramatic role. In lines like above and below, Jimmy builds a personal trust with the mark by calling his attention to the lack of trust in business relationships. Effective consultants do this a lot, speaking of confidence games.

Jimmy Dell: Always do business as if the person you’re doing business with is trying to screw you, because he probably is. And if he’s not, you can be pleasantly surprised.

That’s the thing about the Spanish Prisoner con. It doesn’t work on saints. It doesn’t work on people who forgive and forget, who turn the other cheek and have an unending reservoir of faith in their fellow humans. It also doesn’t work on sociopaths. It doesn’t work on people who truly trust no one, who can lie to themselves and others without consequence or remorse.

The Spanish Prisoner con works best on smart and accomplished people who think they have TRUST NO ONE figuratively tattooed on their hands, who think they’re too clever to be fooled again, but end up only being too clever by half.

The Spanish Prisoner con works best on coyotes.

Who is a coyote? A coyote is a clever puzzle-solver who really has the best of intentions. Who really wants to be successful for the right reasons. Who really wants to accomplish something of meaning in the world. Who is smart and aware and nobody’s fool. Who has been beaten up professionally a bit and has a healthy skepticism about the business and political world.

And who is just a little bit on the make. 

The defining characteristic of the Spanish Prisoner con is that the mark believes he is doing well while doing good. The mark believes that he is doing the right thing, that he’s the good guy in this story. And if the liberated Prisoner is financially grateful, or if the Prisoner’s sister is grateful in her own way if you know what I mean and I think you do … well, that seems only fair, right?

Now the Spanish Prisoner doesn’t have to be an actual person that needs rescuing. That’s a con for the rubes. The Spanish Prisoner is what Alfred Hitchcock called a MacGuffin – anything that serves as an Object of Desire for the mark, anything that motivates the mark and furthers the narrative arc of the con.

In fact, the most effective MacGuffins are rarely simple signifiers of wealth like an rich Spanish dude. No, the most compelling Spanish Prisoners are Big Ideas like social justice or making America great again or resisting the Man. That’s what gets a coyote’s juices going. Especially if there’s also a pot of gold associated with being on the right side of that Big Idea.

The most successful con operators are the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy. Why? Well, partially because you’ve gotta have some heft to credibly commit to rescuing a Big Idea from the clutches of whatever Big Baddie has it now. But mostly because running the con for money is just thinking waaaay too small.

The Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy don’t need your money. They already have it!

The con here is to gain your trust – again – so that you willingly hand over your autonomy of mind. So that you accept without thought or reflection the naturalness of your current relationship to the State and the Oligarchy.

You’d never fall for this con if it were part of a straightforward commercial arrangement like a job or a purchase. Please! You’re much too savvy for that. You have TRUST NO ONE tattooed on your hands, remember?

But for the chance to help rescue a Big Idea …

But for the chance to make a few bucks or enjoy yourself a bit more as part of doing the right thing …

There’s not a coyote in the world that can resist that bait. And that’s why once you start looking for the Spanish Prisoner con, you will see it everywhere.

Libra, the cryptocoin promoted by Facebook, is a Spanish Prisoner con.

What’s the Big Idea? Why it’s banking the unbanked. It’s facilitating cross-border remittances. It’s bringing the benefits of crypto to the global masses. ALL OF THIS IS TRUE. So far as it goes.

And if it facilitates e-commerce along the way? if it’s possible to make a few bucks or enjoy some greater conveniences as part of Facebook and its partners executing on this Big Idea? Well, what’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong is that this is how Bitcoin dies.

This is how a censorship-embracing coin replaces a censorship-resistant coin. This is how the State and the Oligarchy co-opt crypto. Not with the heel of a jackboot. But with the glamour of convenience and narrative.

And in a few years it will all seem so natural to you.

Using government-approved electronic money will be the water in which you and your children swim. You will not be able to imagine a world where a censorship-embracing coin is not everywhere.

Yay, capitalism!

Libra was designed to co-opt Bitcoin.

Libra was designed to allow government oversight over your economic transactions.

Libra was designed to provide a transparent regulatory window and control mechanism over your money.

Libra was designed for Caesar.

From the Libra consortium:

This is why we believe in and are committed to a collaborative process with regulators, central banks, and lawmakers to ensure that Libra helps with the kind of issues that the existing financial system has been fighting, notably around money laundering, terrorism financing, and more. At the core, we believe that a network that helps move more cash transactions – where a lot of illicit activities happen – to a digital network that features regulated on and off ramps with proper know-your-customer (KYC) practices, combined with the ability for law enforcement and regulators to conduct their own analysis of on-chain activity, will be a big opportunity to increase the efficacy of financial crimes monitoring and enforcement.

“Boo, terrorists!”

A year from now, the narrative story arc regarding “criminal activity” through cash transaction networks AND censorship-resistant transaction networks like Bitcoin will be louder, not softer. In three years, it will be deafening.

Libra and its e-commerce convenience, together with its Big Idea skin of helping The Poors … that’s the carrot.

The “Boo, terrorists! narrative … that’s the stick.

Will Bitcoin itself be outlawed? Maybe. But I really doubt it. It’s too useful as a societal steam valve, now that we’ve got Libra and (soon) other Oligarchy-sponsored and State-supported cryptos in circulation.

What does Bitcoin become in a world where state-approved e-money is in wide circulation?

It becomes an act of effete rebellion, like a non-threatening tattoo on your upper arm that you can cover up with a shirt if you like.

Bitcoin becomes a signifier of Resistance rather than a tool of Resistance.

Owning Bitcoin will make you a Bad Boy! or a Bad Girl! … a safe malcontent that the Nudging State and Nudging Oligarchy are delighted to preserve.

What’s my message to the true-believers who continue to see Bitcoin as a tool for Resistance?

For the next fifty years, you get to play the role of the grumpy old man yelling at clouds.

You know, the role that gold true-believers got to play for the past fifty years.

It’s a miserable way to live.

It’s a miserable way to live for two reasons.

First, and most crucially, this role that the Nudging State is laying out for you is steeped in negative energy. You will find yourself rooting for catastrophe. You will find yourself hoping for decline and collapse. You will find yourself conflating justice with loss and comeuppance. You will take on sadness and schadenfreude as your resting psychic state. Trust me when I say that I know of which I speak. Negative energy is deadly. That is not a figurative statement. It will literally kill you.

Second, you’ll be infested by raccoons, which will be tolerated if not encouraged by regulators, in exactly the same way they are tolerated if not encouraged by regulators in gold-world. Sure, you’ll have the occasional show trial of egregiously aggressive security frauds and Crypto-Funded Criminals ™, but the run of the mill hucksters and con men will walk with impunity.

Because this is what ALWAYS happens.

The money quote from Too Clever By Half:

And that brings me to what is personally the most frustrating aspect of all this. The inevitable result of financial innovation gone awry, which it ALWAYS does, is that it ALWAYS ends up empowering the State. And not just empowering the State, but empowering the State in a specific way, where it becomes harder and harder to be a non-domesticated, clever coyote, even as the non-clever, criminal raccoons flourish.

That’s not an accident. The State doesn’t really care about the raccoons, precisely because they’re NOT clever. The State — particularly the Nudging State — cares very much about co-opting an Idea That Changes Things, whether it changes things in a modest way or massively. It cares very much about coyote population control.

It’s all about coyote population control. It always is.

Is there a way out of this for Bitcoin? No. Co-option by the State and Oligarchy was the Doom of Bitcoin from the beginning.

I mean … I say “Doom” like it’s going to be hurled into the fires of Mordor, but that’s not it at all. There will still be true-believers and raccoons alike generating tradable narratives. You’ll still be able to make money by trading Bitcoin on these narratives (and altcoins, too, I’d expect, although I have no idea how you generate a compelling altcoin narrative these days).

It’s not like Bitcoin is going to go away.

But Bitcoin is going to be permanently diminished in its social importance by the adoption of Libra and other Oligarchy-sponsored and State-embracing crypto currencies. Bitcoin will never again mean what it used to mean.

You know … just like gold was permanently diminished in its social importance by the adoption of Oligarchy-sponsored and State-embracing fiat currencies. Just like gold will never again mean what it used to mean.

I wrote this note six years ago. It was the first Epsilon Theory note to get widespread recognition. You’ll see hints – more than hints, actually – of all the big ET themes over the past few years, particularly The Three-Body Problem.

The core of this note is a quote by Bob Prince, Bridgewater’s co-CIO and an actual prince of a guy. I just think he’s wrong when he says this:

The relationships of asset performance to growth and inflation are reliable – indeed, timeless and universal – and knowable, rooted in the durations and sources of variability of the assets’ cash flows.

I think Bob Prince is wrong in exactly the same way that JP “Jupiter” Morgan was wrong when he said this:

Gold is money. Everything else is credit.

If you get nothing else from Epsilon Theory, get this:

There are no timeless and universal relationships between asset performance and ANYTHING.

The only determinant of price for a non-cash-flowing thing is Narrative. Actually, the only determinant of price for a cash-flowing thing is Narrative, too, but we can save that argument for another day. And what I am saying about these non-cash-flowing things is this:

The introduction of Libra changes the Bitcoin narrative in exactly the same way that the introduction of fiat currency changed the gold narrative. And by change I mean crush.

That makes me sad. That makes me angry. I am convinced that it is part and parcel of a Spanish Prisoner con game. But I refuse to give into the negative energy of that realization AND I refuse to give up on the Big Ideas that I believe in.

So what do I do?

I con the con man.

I know what Mark and Sheryl and all the other Davos-going Team Elite sociopaths are about.

I see what they are offering me and I TAKE it. Without hesitation. Without remorse. I take it just as they are trying to take from me … in full sociopathic bloom.

And what do I give them in return?

NOTHING.

Do I care about banking the unbanked and cross-border remittances? Yes, I do. Very much. So I will TAKE the protocols and the KYC procedures and everything else Libra offers, and I will USE all of that to further the social justice goals that I maintain. And they will get NOTHING from me in return. I will keep my autonomy of mind. I do NOT forget what they are trying to steal from me. I do not ALLOW them to steal that from me.

I refuse to give them my trust.

And I will look for every opportunity to destroy their Little Kingdom.

Seriously.

Do I really have TRUST NO ONE tattooed on my hands? No.

I trust lots of people. I trust my pack.

But Mark and Sheryl and Christine and Jay and Donald and Barack are not in my pack. And they never will be.

Trust no one? No.

I just don’t trust THEM.

Take back your vote.

Take back your distance.

Take back your data.

It’s that simple. And that difficult.

As wise as serpents. As harmless as doves.


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Landvermesser
Member
Landvermesser

This is a really wonderful article, thank you.

A theme that comes up on ET quite often is how important it is not to treat people like instruments but as ends in themselves. But the whole way I’ve had this question in the back of my mind, what if I can tell that somebody is treating me as an instrument, is it ok to take the gloves off, play dumb, squeeze them for what I can? Maybe I was afraid to ask out loud.
The last part of this article addresses that somewhat, and it’s heartening for me to see how much we agree.

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Mark Kahn
Member
Mark Kahn

As always, too much smart stuff for me to absorb in one (or several) reads, but I still have a question (surprise): is the critical Libra “tell” – the one that, oddly, hasn’t gotten much press – the fact that Libra will be backed by a basket of international currencies?

This tells (ha-ha) me that Libra’s not Bitcoin, it’s not threatening the state’s seignorage (and reserve currency status [for the US] and everything else that flows to Caesar from having its own fiat currency); it’s really nothing new; it’s just another payment system dressed up as a crypto currency – albeit, with a new back-office process (blockchain).

Everything else is whatever (narrative, con, etc.); that Libra is backed by the existing Nudging Oligarchy’s currencies announces the winner of the game up front.

Thoughts?

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Jim Handshaw
Member
Jim Handshaw

Mark,

You got it. Libra is Conning the Con (bitcoin).

Thanks Ben,

Jim

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J Z
Member
J Z

All money is about trust, the trust that this unit I am holding in my hand can be used to exchange for goods or services to keep me alive.
Speak of trust, I personally only trust things human can NOT tamper or modify. Gold or BitCoin (math), or what ever human can NOT do anything to it. If that is NOT on the menu, then I trust guns. Since Zuck’s Libra is “stable” where “stability” is managed by a group of “people”, I have to ask what are the guns backing Zuck up. In domestic US, it is like Ben described, this is convenience and narrative. But this coin is meant for international and you know all the governments want to Con their own people and the rest of the world. So the other countries with guns can see the Spanish Psisoner Con as clear as Ben does since that is what they do EVERY day. In other words, for Libra to do what it wants internationally, it depends on the guns, NOT cons.

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BobK71
Member
BobK71

My first instinct is that, internationally, Libra will be no different from today’s dollars really. In most cases, the West probably doesn’t even care if third-world governments put capital controls on dollars. It just makes them look weak and furthers the prestige of dollars.

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BobK71
Member
BobK71

Yes, absolutely agreed. This being Facebook, it might become bigger than a payment system. Time will tell, I guess. For sure, this has nothing to do with Bitcoin. (In fact, Libra has been designed to put distance between it and Bitcoin.)

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merkava18
Member
merkava18

It’s all about the float that Zuck will make his gazillions on, plus whatever the NSA or whoever pays him the most for all tracking of all transactions. It will be perfect for a worldwide “bail-in” when needed. All that money skimmed at the push of a button. Who needs negative interest rates when everybody gets a 10%-50% haircut?

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Peter Perez
Member
Peter Perez

Ben- Remember…an honest man/woman cannot be conned! Speaking of conned, how about the group-sellout/think that is ESG investing? Pretty soon everyone will be ESG (in craven attempts to be included in ESG ETFs…or not be boycotted). To quote Frederick the Great, “He who defends everything defends nothing”. How about so many companies’ and individuals’ aping the Pride Swatch/Thumbnail background for their logos last month? Don’t get me wrong; I see great things with the Pride movement, etc. What bothers me is mindless aping to “comply” what the rest of the herd does…or in fear of society’s equivalent of the Stasi (which we’ve created for ourselves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi “Yay, not so secret policing of ourselves”! It’s as if we’re all afraid of that kindergarten kid who points his finger at us and says “stranger, stranger”…causing the rest to do the same.

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Michael
Member

Peter, so true. This aping to comply is explored in Ben’s https://www.epsilontheory.com/panopticon/

“The beauty of the Panopticon, per Bentham, was that the occupants of each cell would soon come to police themselves. … It’s not necessary for a guard or overseer to watch each prisoner at all times; what’s necessary is for each prisoner to live in a perfectly transparent cell, so that each prisoner thinks that he is being watched at all times. ”

Inertia is difficult to overcome. People need to be co-opted into new payment systems.

Another Big (coyote) Idea behind Libra is that it could and probably will be used to virtue signal – “Golly. I am paying you in Libra as it is safe and it helps the people in Africa… Visa is so two thousand and late.”

It may be easy to get started that we can think. Mark will tell us we need to open a Libra account to use FB or WhatsApp and he will only charge us 0.00000001c per message and donate $1 to Africa / unisex toilets / free gender assignment / meme-du-jour for each account we open.

The KYC regulations that came in post Sept 11 were railroaded in on the “Boo terrorist” meme. It will be interesting if Libra uses the carrot or stick!

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Peter Perez
Member
Peter Perez

Michael…I saw a piece on Castro’s Presidio on TV…what you describe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidio_Modelo

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Andy Catsimanes
Member
Andy Catsimanes

“A coyote is a clever puzzle-solver who really has the best of intentions. Who really wants to be successful for the right reasons. Who really wants to accomplish something of meaning in the world. Who is smart and aware and nobody’s fool. Who has been beaten up professionally a bit and has a healthy skepticism about the business and political world.

And who is just a little bit on the make. ”

Man, did I just look in the mirror.
Except maybe for the “nobody’s fool” part.

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David Iovino
Member
David Iovino

That article alone was worth my July subscription fee.

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Wraith
Member
Wraith

Hi Ben. I loved this piece. It hit really close to home – some of it very, very uncomfortably. Does the saint’s immunity to the Spanish Prisoner con come from the fact he thinks it unethical to unlock a prize from a ‘capital arb’? If coyotes are like parasites (I recently reread your old piece on parasites) in many cases, then the saint thinks that being a coyote HF manager is an unethical job, is that fair? I am a little unclear about who the state and oligarchy are optimizing for in a ruse like Libra right now – after all, the end market of billions is predominantly not comprised of coyotes. Would you say that the gatekeepers/facilitators to the Ocean (This is Water) are often coyotes, and that they need to be “brought in” on both idealogical and materialistic dimensions? But at the same time there is a greater narrative for the masses “onboarding billions to banking” that needs to work in parallel. The difficulty among the more cynical (and chip on the shoulder type) coyotes is with this: “I see what they are offering me and I TAKE it. Without hesitation. Without remorse. I take it just as they are trying to take from me … in full sociopathic bloom.” OF COURSE you are right. But man this is hard to do. Especially for the more cynical and ‘default aggressive’ among us. Conning the con is the definition of sheep’s clothing I suppose. At this early stage it’s… Read more »

Michael
Member

+1 Wraith for “My ideological disgust for the whole project is stratospheric.”

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Nick
Member

Reciprocity is a strong impulse so I agree with your recommendation of basically conditioning one self to take something at face value without having an expectation of giving something back (especially trust) to an organization that already profiting on treating people like cattle. Perhaps this is another “old man yells at cloud” but I do have a hope for some sort of alternative choice that offers a decentralized platform, like Solid (https://solid.inrupt.com/how-it-works)

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J Z
Member
J Z

“THEY” always want to create a ecosystem, water for you to swim in, air for you to breathe, conditioned respond to social events. While we all automatically swim/breathe/respond, Ben keeps reminding us that know your water, know your air, know your crowd. A guy I know told me he knows people who have to think which legs to move first when they walk after they do enough meditation to uncover the unconsciousness. He resist his muscle to automatically move his legs and his brain needs to think how to walk. Resisting by holding a bit coin is easy. Resisting water/air/response is tough. If you become conscious enough, you will find it difficult to walk. Reminds of me of Neo vomiting after he sees the matrix.
I guess you have to vomit before you can fly.

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seneca
Member
seneca

Ben, as usual, thank you for what you do. “As wise as serpents, as harmless as doves” is spot on. There’s another passage further down in that Matthew:10 bit that screams Bitcoin to me: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” As you know, the passage is about how the disciples will be persecuted and ostracized as they go out into the world, and are met with hostility and derision and alienation. To me, it describes the mental model and experience of bitcoiners quite accurately. We know governments will do everything in their power to destroy Bitcoin. We know governments will move to a cashless society where surveillance is a given. We’ve been experimenting with non-governmental money for years, and every one from our family, to friends, to coworkers has told us we’re kooky. We’re the disciples, gone off into the world with our knowledge. We’re also the coyotes, smelling the “coyote population control” in the wind. You should meet these people. They’re usually humble, honest, and intellectually generous. But most importantly, they are diehards. Bitcoin is our “sword”. We did come with peace, and yet we’re ready to sustain significant losses in this endeavor. We certainly are coyotes as you described it, which I guess makes us coyotes with swords 😉 We are coyotes who believe that failure in this age is not option, and the Bitcoin vs Libra battle will be our *only* chance to… Read more »

BobK71
Member
BobK71

This is a very nice piece, but Libra won’t threaten Bitcoin. In fact, Libra has been designed to *avoid* threatening Bitcoin. (See below for the reason.) You see, Libra will be a *stablecoin*, whose value will be pegged to fiat currencies. It is essentially a support system for Western currencies, much like colonial central banks used to be (or banana republics today.) If the colonial/Facebook economy takes off, all the more demand for reserves in the money printed by the Western elites. If colonial money/Libra is over-printed, holders will panic and rush into Western currencies, and blame will go solely to the issuers of the funny money, helping the narrative that Western currencies are best. Either way, the West wins. That is how it has, and probably will, always work. As for Bitcoin, I’ve always said that, though I have no evidence that the Western elites created it in secret, if it never existed, the Western elites would have liked to have created it in secret. Its purpose (even if the Western elites merely discovered its usefulness,) will be to strengthen Western money from the inside out by playing the role of gold, say, in the early to mid-19th century. Fiat and debt money can only go so far, because of the incentives for the elites to destabilize their own system. At some point, the system needs to be supported by debt-free and ‘state-free’ money *that is owned by the elites*. So far, all signs are in support of the… Read more »

Michael
Member

BobK71 given your thoughts on the Western currency basket – it will be interesting to see what the Chinese response through WeChat and AliPay will be.

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BobK71
Member
BobK71

Yes, you have to wonder if the Chinese actually provided the inspiration for Libra!

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BobK71
Member
BobK71

So, to sum up… As Ben points out, there is co-option, but the agent of co-option is not Libra, but Bitcoin.

But is there a con? For a true answer to that, you would have to go to the Big Question of what money really is. Has it ever really been free of the elites? In the Middle Ages, money was physical gold and silver, but that was only because credit money was, well, not credible when there was no economic growth, and because the elites probably owned most of the metals. This is just an extreme case showing money and politics are inseparable in an era (including the present day) of low public awareness of the nature of money. So, Bitcoin is a con in the same sense that all of the history of money is a con.

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Greg Wilbur
Member
Greg Wilbur

It’s with some trepidation that I find myself disagreeing with the real goal of Libra. I think Bitcoin is largely irrelevant.

In my opinion, Libra’s real target is wresting control of the money supply away from countries and moving it under the control of trans-national financial corporations. The anchoring to multiple fiat currencies is to take it out of any single sovereign control. The linkage also provides ‘trust’ in the near term to get it off the ground. Further, I suspect its real opportunities are expanding into things like capital flows, trade settlement, and money laundering without Government interference

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BobK71
Member
BobK71

The Spanish Prisoner con also runs a lot deeper than suspected here. Think, for example, of the average Western citizen during the heyday of 20th-century empire. It must be familiar to all of us that the citizen thinks his country is doing well by doing good, intervening to save poor countries from corrupt dictatorships, and lending them money for growth. If he enjoys owning ‘sound money’ and cheap vacations and imports in/from these countries, well, that is well deserved, isn’t it.

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merkava18
Member
merkava18

We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow. Henry John Temple Palmerston, Remarks in the House of Commons, March 1, 1848.

No less true today than it was then, only difference is that today we are nudged towards thinking we have permanent interests (Yay Military, Boo Terrorists, when our military is creating them every day in the GWOT a perfect example of permanent war, I mean peace. Kill them there so they can’t come here and kill us). Brilliant stuff.

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