What parallels can be drawn between an addict’s recovery and a debt-addicted society?
Instead of asking why am I an alcoholic? I prefer to ask how How did I become as hopeless as before and then how did I miraculously – slowly – get to where I am today? What were the actions I took, the motivations for those actions, and the destructive patterns that emerged and shaped the structure of incentives for my reality? Most importantly, now that I’ve been healthy and free from the bondage of active addiction for years, I constantly have to ask myself: What am I doing to continue living freely in this new way? What will I do, what steps will I take to continue on this more enlightened path through service, self-care and human fellowship?
I stopped caring about why I became an alcoholic. The list of causes looks the same to many of us. I started with family, genetics and some circumstances and it was all just a throw of the dice. What matters to me is how I reacted to all of this and how I still react to life today.
When I was sober, I was often motivated by fear. Today I have to be on my guard if a frightening story crosses my mind: “Some of the worst things in my life have never happened.” – Mark Twain.
I’m more aware of my alcoholism now, but what I’ve discovered lately is that I didn’t know I had another addiction: fiat money.
I am the “bitcoin guy” in my group of family and friends. Random conversations and text threads about current events regularly end with me adding a casual and sometimes not so casual “Bitcoin fixes this” or “Better buy more bitcoin” or “Nice job cutting those costs … more bitcoin. ”
When my brother sends me an article about the skyrocketing meat prices and another one about the skyrocketing wood costs, I can’t help but inevitably end up after a few exchanges with my assessment: “This is all a signal. Put your time and energy into something that can best store value across space and time – buy more Bitcoin. “
We operate in a debt based global economy that is very much like a chronic alcoholic / addict. We are becoming increasingly indebted, individually and collectively, and in order to service that debt, those in power prefer to print money to meet their objective rather than effectively distributing tax revenues and practicing austerity measures. For alcoholics / addicts, abstinence is painful. If the world were to move to a more sustainable monetary system, it would almost certainly be painful too.
It is an unpopular decision of the nervous system to be suddenly deprived of the substance it relied on. If the population is one big nervous system, then we probably live on unsustainable debt and cheap money. When an alcoholic / addict decides to get clean and sober and to part with the destructive behavior and substances they have relied on, it can seem disastrous to them. And in many cases they need medical assistance in their detox or the process can be fatal. After the dust has settled and your body is no longer dependent on the chemicals, the real work usually begins.
The incentive for the individual alcoholic / addict to get clean and sober is freedom from the disease. When they achieve this, they benefit from it. Family and friends also usually benefit enormously. Communities and society as a whole benefit from this.
Now let’s look at the incentives for monetary system administrators, central banks, and governments. What are their incentives to manage a new, fairer monetary system? I would argue that they have no incentive to level the playing field and bring out the disenfranchised – those hardest hit by modern inflationary monetary policy. Even if the mob tried to get them, they have the money and the means to escape. They live on the fat of the land. Why should they change the current structure? They privatize the profits and socialize the losses. Your decision-making is based on a high time preference – short-term goals – and self-serving politics. In their world, the rules change at will and they know how to act in advance to enforce themselves.
Enter Bitcoin, a monetary network that is accessible to anyone in the world at any time, without gatekeepers, intermediaries or central sources of error. The record of its transaction log is immutable and can be checked by anyone. The delivery of the asset is firm. The expense is given to those who expend their time and energy, the amount won is equal to how much of their resources they spend. The payoff is true trickle-down economy as those who have earned it through demonstrable labor and expenditure of energy choose to sell it in exchange for other currencies, goods or services. This in turn enriches and rewards those who offer such goods and services in exchange for the time and energy they spend. Bitcoin is “constructed money”. It is a monetary network with rules but no rulers and is resistant to corruption from human fear and greed.
How did I get into Bitcoin? I was in the right place at the right time. I had seen enough to be open to it. I’d seen my parents go into debt, then bankruptcy, then divorce, then homelessness. I had seen my own moral degradation and recovery. In 2016, a friend tossed me an old neighborhood and said it was made of silver. I had no idea. I wanted to know something quickly about money. I soon found Bitcoin.
Through this trip I understood money as an information tool. It can be viewed as an information tool that enables people to accurately (or inaccurately) remunerate their time and energy. The fact that more units of the world’s most widely used information tool, the US dollar, can be arbitrarily made at will by relatively few individuals has never bode well for the majority. Money affects everything. Chaotic and shape-changing money leaves everything it touches in an abyss of misinformation.
Most people go about their lives while never seriously wondering what their finite time on this planet is worth, much less questioning the money they accept for their time and who controls it. If an entity can create money instead of working for it, they are stealing your time. That’s inflation. It’s a stealth tax on your wealth. When central banks and governments decide to put more money into the system, the pie will get bigger and your piece of the pie smaller. You thought that as humanity grew, the cake would stay the same, or at most grow, that your work and sacrifice would climb the ladder and earn more of the cake for yourself and your loved ones. Instead, subconsciously and often openly, you are encouraged to spend your money as soon as you get it. You are always afraid that the prices of the things you want will go up. During your lifetime, the prices for coveted and scarce things have always risen.
Unfortunately, disenfranchised and financially illiterate people are left behind. They are usually unaware of the rules of this game and the fact that with wealth you have access to borrowing money at almost zero percent, where in turn you can buy the scarce assets and reap the benefits of inflation. Most people never get out of the doldrums of the lower and middle class as they live from paycheck to paycheck. In this ubiquitous case, it is common for people to live in debt. Owing to a system that holds an imaginary price, the American dream, freedom, is just out of reach in front of them. America may be the best country in the world, but the pursuit of life, freedom and happiness becomes more difficult the more you get into debt.
Fear once ruled my life. Fear of taking risks. Fear of self-expression. Fear and inaction towards love so as not to get hurt. Fear and inaction towards success in order to avoid the pain of failure. I found a way out through recovery and accessed the basic behavior change necessary. I also found Bitcoin along the way. Recovery and Bitcoin go well together.
Self-sovereignty and responsibility for your actions are one. Honest self-assessment through a close look at incentives and motivations helps me stay true to a more principled life based on honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. I also need to serve those who want positive changes in their lives so that I feel like I have a tangible purpose. Helping the next suffering alcoholic in the way I was helped gives me purpose. It also helps me to help the next sovereign individual grasp and develop an understanding of a brilliant alternative to government sponsored money.
Bitcoin is both an asset and a network with a transparent monetary system in which demonstrable work is rewarded with wealth creation in a way that actually motivates innovation. I am just as abstinent from drugs and alcohol as I hope one day not to participate in a crooked, economically structured world and thus perpetuate it. Government mandated crooked money that is overly ubiquitous leads to the deterioration of the health and spirits of a society. Drugs and alcohol consumed in excess lead to deterioration in the health and spirit of the individual.
If we are to recover from the evils of wasteful consumerism, re-election, bought and paid government officials, and the untenable dependencies we as a society have on the cheapest goods and labor, we must accept better money to act as a conduit for Use changes. Bitcoin fixes this.
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Special thanks to the people whose writings, thoughts, and deeds inspired this article:
Jeff Booth: thepriceoftomorrow.com/amazon/
Robert Breedlove: https://breedlove22.substack.com/
Parker Lewis: https://unchained-capital.com/blog/dollar-crisis-to-bitcoin/
And many more….
This is a guest post from OtterBTC. The opinions expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.