This is an opinion editorial by Tim Niemeyer, a Bitcoiner since circa 2018 and co-host of the Lincolnland Bitcoin Meetup in Springfield, Illinois.
“I tell the kids, somebody’s gotta win, somebody’s gotta lose.
Just don’t fight about it. Just try to get better.” — Yogi Berra
Let’s pretend we’re playing a game of baseball. Aside from the occasional blind umpire, the rules are pretty fair and consistent. In our particular game though, let’s pretend I’m not only the opposition but also the umpire, rule maker and historian. When you score a run, I can overturn the call. After the game, I can change whatever rule could have prevented your run in my favor. Just for good measure, because I can, I strike your run from the record books. How long would you want to play before you chose to quit and play a different game?
There may be some that prefer playing a game where a central authority makes the call. Seems legit — neither team has ultimate control, so it should be fair, right? In this situation, both sides must (should) agree to not only the rules but who makes and enforces said rules. Unfortunately, human nature creeps in; handshakes are made, backdoor agreements are done and, before you know it, one team has colluded with the central authority to gain some level of control over the ruleset. When a game like this happens, where one side benefits from being nearer to the source of control, we claim the game is rigged.
Everyone, regardless of political orientation, has witnessed numerous situations where the “other side” has seemed to rig the game in their favor. The easy route is to blame the other side and call them bad, evil or cheaters. The fault lies though in the way the game was set up in the first place. If two sides were playing a game, and I walked up wanting to play, what options would I have? If I had friends on one side, I could jump right in with them. If I were a little more opportunistic, I could watch an inning and determine which side is currently dominating, then join that side. This becomes an endless cycle of not playing the game, but playing the game inside the game — tug of war over the rulebook.
As I watch this game more intensely, I observe many players looking like they don’t even want to be playing. They look, by choice or unconscious habit, like they are just going through the motions because they either don’t realize that the game is rigged or they do in fact realize the game is rigged and they just keep playing and hoping their side somehow seizes control of the rulebook. It seems like there are a lot of disillusioned spectators. I wonder if they can sense it’s a rigged game.
The more I watch this game, I notice the players spending an unnecessary amount of time, not actually playing the game, but rather bickering over balls and strikes. Each inning is more about debating the rules than it is playing the game. I wonder why they choose to keep fighting over their game, then I see one of the multitude of rules posted — you must play this game only; players are not allowed to make their own game and rules.
At this point, I scoff and walk away. The game just loses its appeal. Why would I choose to play a game that I don’t have any say over if or how I get to play or not? Can I consider it a game if I’m coerced to play by an ever-changing rule set manipulated by players with clout and connections? Doesn’t seem fair. What’s not fair about it is not the outputs but the inputs. When the inputs are subject to change by whomever is the most politically connected, the outputs become increasingly distorted. This is not a game I’m willing to play.
What if, when I first walked up to the game already playing, I was perceptive enough to notice it was already rigged. Then I looked across the way and noticed another game. As I watch this game, I notice all players are there voluntarily. Although they have friends playing in the rigged, top-down created game, they’ve chosen to play a game in a fair, bottom-up created game where the rules were set prior to gameplay, no one regardless of power, status, or hierarchy has the ability to change the rules, and the rules are enforced by an impartial observer. This new, fairer game is Bitcoin.
As venerable gigabrain Robert Breedlove states, “In games, fixed rules lead to peaceful gameplay. If you’re spending time fighting over the rules of the game, then you’re not playing the game, you’re engaging in politics. In economics, such fighting lessens aggregate wealth creation. Bitcoin is fixed rules fixing economics.”
As far as this meager rules-based article is concerned, spoiler alert, Bitcoin is the ultimate tool to compensate us for our time and energy in a way that is moral, unconvoluted, incentivised, and unwaveringly enforced. On the other hand, fiat and now Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are in stark contrast.
While you may want a game’s rules to be set and consistently enforced with no entity able to change the rules to benefit themselves, the centralized ruleset of fiat and CBDCs are ever-changing, ever-growing, and immorally incentivised to benefit those with the control. While aiming for a monetary system that is equal is admirable, it presupposes the people creating the rules will not succumb to human nature and adjust the rules to benefit themselves and their immediate circle. Can you criticize fiat (and eventually CBDCs’) umpires without getting kicked out of the game? Well, you can just ask truck drivers in northern North America or nonviolent citizens in Europe…
Furthermore, allowing a central authority to change the rules at their whim, we are allowing damaging incentives to enter into the game. This manipulates basic market economic signals, which distorts reality. When one small group has the ability to choose who plays (permission to spend), adjusting pitch clocks (money expiration), have only one scoring card (centralized “node”), inconsistently enforced (unpredictable policy), or scoring based on perceived “niceness” (social credit scores), you create a game that’s immoral, convoluted, incentively misaligned, and inconsistently enforced.
Bitcoin … well, fixes this. It’s a fair game. It’s ironic that early Bitcoiners were ones who disregarded legacy rules to opt into a fair, rule-based system; rules without rulers, ya know? Playing the game of Bitcoin, you can play knowing the rules are fair (spend without permission or expiration), you can have ownership over the rules (run your own node & securely self-custody), and you can play the game more freely with predictable and set rules (fixed supply & monetary policy). You can do all this by simply opting out of the current centralized game of fiat and its digital kissing cousin, CBDCs.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed it, please share this with your normie, precoiner, and non-technical friends. I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books, “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein:
“I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
This is a guest post by Tim Niemeyer. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.