COIN TALK is produced in partnership with Medium and hosted by Aaron Lammer and Jay Caspian Kang. Press “Listen to the story” above to play the episode. (You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, download the MP3, or email us at email@example.com)
- 🤷♂️ Should Bitcoin change the financial system from within or without?
- 🕴 Ska-Punk vs. Ska-Pop
- 👮♂️ De-platforming
Jay Kang: This is the first time in many episodes I’ve been back here. You promised me that there would be a bunch of tools down here and that you were tinkering, but I see no evidence of tinkering.
Aaron Lammer: This isn’t enough tools for you?
Jay Kang: No, that’s a lot of tools, but-
Aaron Lammer: But, you were expecting new tools.
Jay Kang: I was expecting tools all over the place and you try to build some sort of like … You know with like a Hammond Organ, the speaker that they have? Whatever the Hell it was called, the one that Medeski Martin & Wood used to play.
Aaron Lammer: I do know what you’re talking about. A Leslie Cabinet?
Jay Kang: The Leslie Cabinet, yeah. I thought you would have one of those propped open.
Aaron Lammer: I’m going to keep it 100 with you and say that I was photographed last week by a photographer in a series about podcasters in their native environments and I cleaned this place up-
Jay Kang: Oh, okay.
Aaron Lammer: … for a show. If people really want to see it, I can post a shot from that if people want to see inside the crypto cave.
Jay Kang: What the Leslie … Do you have one of those?
Aaron Lammer: Hell, no.
Jay Kang: Are they expensive?
Aaron Lammer: Yes.
Jay Kang: Like how much?
Aaron Lammer: If they work, they’re expensive.
Jay Kang: They must be more expensive now, right?
Aaron Lammer: A working Leslie Hammond combo is probably $2,500.
Jay Kang: That’s it?
Aaron Lammer: Well, also you need to move it and it weighs like 500 pounds.
Jay Kang: $2,500?
Aaron Lammer: Yep.
Jay Kang: Oh, wow. Look, we last-
Aaron Lammer: It was probably more than that new. A new church organ back in the day, like a pipe organ, I think was over 10 grand.
Jay Kang: Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. That is a very strange way for us to start this show.
Aaron Lammer: I feel like the longer we do this show, the further our tentacles go. Last week, we had 1980s baseball cards and the legacy of Carney Lansford. This time we’re in rotating Leslie speaker territory.
Jay Kang: Yeah, which is a thing between what … I would say between 1990 and 1998 or something that a lot of funk jazz bands starting using it.
Aaron Lammer: It’s been around since forever.
Jay Kang: Yeah, but there was a period of time where it was a real hot item that people talked about when they had DAT tapes of live shows.
Aaron Lammer: There was to bring it to Coin Talk land, I don’t know much about the market for the Leslie Speaker itself, but analog synthesizers themselves, like the actual products of the 80s, have had a weird boom and bust cycle themselves where they were very expensive when they came out and then they became almost worthless for a period when everyone was like, “Oh, I’ve got a digital Trident here. It’s got 1,000 sounds.” Then, people were like, “Actually, those analog synthesizers are a much more valuable piece of technology that has unique characteristics and the market has come back up.” Now, people are calling that they may be a synthesizer crash on the way.
Jay Kang: Oh, that’s bad for you ’cause I’m looking at four synthesizers right now in your [crosstalk 00:04:11]-
Aaron Lammer: To be fair, I bought all those bargain basement off Craigslist and they’re all at least in one way broken at this point. Definitely, if you were buying top-dollar, you’re pretty high on the market right now. You’re not-
Jay Kang: It’s like buying Bitcoin at like $14,000.
Aaron Lammer: That would be like if you’re buying a Juno-106 for two grand right now, you might have the rug pulled out from under you.
Jay Kang: Got it.
Aaron Lammer: Okay. Do you want to run through a little news before we get into our bizarre conversations?
Jay Kang: Yeah, before we go back to talking about the Hammond Organ and the Leslie Rotating Speaker.
Aaron Lammer: I think neither you or I have had strong feelings on this topic before, so I don’t know if we will now, but the CBOE, C-B-O-E Bitcoin ETF, is officially dead. They’ve pulled the plug on it. I think they’re blaming entirely the U.S. government shutdown for it.
Jay Kang: Really?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah.
Jay Kang: What the argument?
Aaron Lammer: Well, I think what they’re saying is in order to get this through, we were going to have to negotiate heavily with regulators and since those said regulators are furloughed and sitting at home in boxers right now not getting paid, there’s no one to pick up the phone for our application. Therefore, based on this current climate and the possibility that this climate will not change in the near future, we are withdrawing our application.
Jay Kang: I’m always confused about the … The ETF thing feels like almost like the Russian investigation for news people. It’s like one of those things where you feel like you should know more about because it’s important, but you don’t really pay any attention to it because all the news is incremental. I don’t quite understand what the difference is between this ETF and the other ETFs that are canceled. I feel like that every once in a while in crypto there’s ETF news and I don’t think that they’re all talking about the same ETF. Is it just that-
Aaron Lammer: I think this was the VanEck ETF was the one that they were trying to push through.
Jay Kang: Okay.
Aaron Lammer: Not that tells you anything.
Jay Kang: What was it made up of?
Aaron Lammer: I think all these ETFs are basically the same and they’re competing companies trying-
Jay Kang: But, what are the assets that they’re putting into the ETF? Is it just Bitcoin?
Aaron Lammer: I think these are just Bitcoin. I think that if Bitcoin gets through, we’ll be talking about an Ethereum ETF down the line, but it feels like this weird … You know when people buy and sell stocks right before earnings reports?
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: This feels like one of these lines in the sand where people are like, “Really good if it happens. Really bad if it doesn’t happen.” People have speculated on that so many times that now I don’t think anyone is really thinks it’s really bad if it doesn’t happen ’cause the temperature I’ve taken from crypto as a whole is that people have more or less accepted that this is not going to happen.
Jay Kang: Yeah, and all of a sudden they-
Aaron Lammer: It’s below 50% right now.
Jay Kang: Okay, the upside case that is being made for the Bitcoin ETF is that somebody like the money manager that you or I would have if you and I had more manager, or we were at least smarter with our money, can call up Fidelity and say, “Hey, my client is feeling spicy. Why don’t we give 10% of his allotment of his retirement into the Bitcoin ETF?”
Aaron Lammer: Correct.
Jay Kang: I don’t know if that really matters so much and it’s the type of thing where if you’ve reached a certain amount of understanding about how money works and how money is invested, you would think, “Oh, that’s really important because those guys who work at Charles Schwab and stuff like that, they make a shitload of decisions and it’s a lot of volume.” But, I don’t know. I also at the same time feel like there are other ways to get exposure to crypto for those guys other than just buying crypto. They can buy futures or whatever still legally, so I just don’t know what an ETF does exactly.
Aaron Lammer: I’m not sure that’s actually true. One thing I think is different is different forms … Let’s just acknowledge, me and you have no idea what we’re talking about. What I’m about to say is quite possibly wrong.
Jay Kang: Yeah, we have no idea.
Aaron Lammer: No idea. So-
Jay Kang: We’re also operating on 40% [crosstalk 00:08:24] capacity.
Aaron Lammer: There’s some … Let’s say you’re investing a retirement fund or a pension fund, there is restrictions about what kinds of investment properties you could put that into. While you’re correct that you could advise your money manager, “Come on. Go on BitMEX with a VPN. Let’s start getting 10% of my portfolio into Bitcoin futures.” That’s not going to happen.
Jay Kang: You could buy Bitcoin futures through a CBOE and CME, right?
Aaron Lammer: Right, but, first of all, what an ETF is, and futures are slightly different, right?
Jay Kang: No, no, no definitely very different.
Aaron Lammer: They’re slightly different.
Jay Kang: I’m just saying there’s ways to get exposure to crypto that are not just the ETF.
Aaron Lammer: There definitely are. I think this the most … An ETF would be the most vanilla exposure of crypto available to the widest array of possible investors including large amounts of capital that are locked up in conservative investments that most people would say potentially shouldn’t be put into Bitcoin. It’s a little bit of like Bitcoin reaching into the traditional finance world a step further than it ever has.
Jay Kang: Are you pro or anti the Bitcoin ETF?
Aaron Lammer: It depends which hat I’m wearing. For the ‘my bags’ hat, I’m pro ETF. I think, an ETF, I can see why an ETF would have a long-term, positive effect on price. On my ‘decentralization now’ hat on, I think I’m against the ETF simply because I think the more levels of abstraction that you put on top of Bitcoin … Basically, if you’re going to create an ETF, you’re hoarding a bunch of Bitcoin and then you’re selling it to everyone-
Jay Kang: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:10:23].
Aaron Lammer: … access to it. It’s all in the same way that custodial accounts are less real than holding your own keys, a bunch of money being held in an ETF is that much less real than a bunch of money being held in a Xapo Bunker because you’re creating all these products on top of it that have their own risks and also, don’t really benefit the Bitcoin network at all.
Jay Kang: That’s my thing about it which is that I think in both instances, I would be against it because right now, sure, the ETF might lead to a 20% spike or something like that in the price of Bitcoin, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether or not there’s a massive, massive spike in the price of Bitcoin and that can be done through wider-scale adoption or, like we always say, some country’s economy collapsing. I just don’t understand how anybody who is into the idea of Bitcoin becoming either the reserve currency or being used a lot through things like the Lightning Network to do shit like buy a coffee or buy a couch or something-
Aaron Lammer: And getting skin.
Jay Kang: And getting skin. Yeah, like the Power Rangers skin, which I still don’t have in Overwatch, but I don’t play Genji, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I don’t understand how you could possibly be for the ETF if you believe any of that stuff. This is fucking terrible. It’s like basically taking a bunch of Bitcoin, putting it on the shelf, and then reducing this thing and … It’s like neutering it. It’s like saying it’s the only thing that matters now is the speculative price that is also manipulated by the people who have created this ETF.
Jay Kang: You’re also going to be paying some premium to the ETF people and anytime you trade it, you’re also going to be paying to the exchange. You’re putting all of your money into essentially what is a volatility ticker and you might as well just … I don’t know. I just think it’s very bad to have those types of people involved in the Bitcoin space. It’s better for Bitcoin to keep some semblance of purity and to actually be used as it is, right?
Aaron Lammer: I’ll make the counter case, which I think is a reasonable counter case, which is that one of the overall risks of Bitcoin is that Bitcoin is going to be shut down by the government. That’s the ultimate sum of all fears. I think most people who believe in Bitcoin no longer think that’s going to happen, but the whole idea of skin in the game is partially that you bet where your mouth is, but it’s also that if I have Bitcoin and you have Bitcoin and my conservative great-aunt has Bitcoin and someone in a collapsing economy has Bitcoin, we’re all providing a certain security for each other.
Aaron Lammer: I think the more Americans, say, who have some stake in the future of Bitcoin, the harder it would be to tear down Bitcoin as a whole because people are like, “Hey, hey. My retirement, bro. Don’t ban my retirement funds.” I think even among Bitcoin zealots, it’s supported because it puts so many more people into the grand exposure chain of Bitcoin which makes, I think, Bitcoining safer for everyone.
Jay Kang: I buy that, but I think Bitcoin being safe is like Bitcoin being co-opted and then it’s useless anyways, so who cares?
Aaron Lammer: I generally agree with you and I also feel like this is an issue where the Bitcoin orthodoxy is speaking a little bit out of both sides of its mouth where the minute there’s any sort of regulatory anything they’re like, “My freedom!”
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: Also, we’re applying to create all these complex financial products on top of Bitcoin and that’s being cheered because it’s good for price, but you’re inviting regulation. Having a Bitcoin ETF exposes Bitcoin to more regulation no matter how you figure it.
Jay Kang: Yeah, and then it also opens it up for massive scrutiny because all these financial … It’s not even the FCC or the CFTC, it’s like you have now … If you build a BitCoin ETF like CBOE, let’s say they make one, if you have every analyst at every investment bank now looking under the hood and trying to figure out what this market is. You also have all those people trying to manipulate this market, which we have found in the past is highly manipulatable and that when it is clearly manipulating, that it’s damaging not just to price but also to the reputation of Bitcoin.
Jay Kang: You and I generally come down on the same side on this, which is why I think it’s like we try to avoid it as a topic. You got to have it be somewhat anarchic. I don’t understand what it is if it’s not that. Every financial product that’s built that can be invested in, our mother’s retirement accounts, makes it less anarchic.
Aaron Lammer: This feels like an emerging contradiction within Bitcoin thought, which is the same people who believe in its anarchic cypherpunk roots I think also maintain a pipe dream that it will become the world’s reserve currency. Those are both Bitcoin maximalists camps and if you want Bitcoin to become the world’s reserve currency, you’d be happy about a Bitcoin ETF. That would be a baby step that would be necessary. There are going to be many, many more steps to being that.
Aaron Lammer: Can that vision coexist with an anarchic cypherpunk vision? To me, it seems crazy, but I think they’re going to try it.
Jay Kang: Yeah, yeah. How many people live in the world?
Aaron Lammer: Five billion or something.
Jay Kang: I think it’s like 6.5 billion.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah.
Jay Kang: Yeah. Maybe 300 million people would have to die for that to happen.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah.
Jay Kang: Basically, almost the entire United States around the world would have to die for that to happen, but sure, if it happens then I guess the Winklevoss twins will have the wealth of China or something like that.
Aaron Lammer: Well, we’ve talked about this before that I think that the world’s reserve currency Bitcoin idea seems particularly absurd to Americans because we’re used to the dollar. Whereas someone from a smaller economy that already has to do weird jump trades with the dollar … It’s like, “Oh, I jumped to dollar. I jumped to Bitcoin. Who cares?”
Aaron Lammer: All right, let me put out a different idea. The biggest version of Bitcoin … We like indie Bitcoin. We like alt-label Bitcoin but-
Jay Kang: Yeah, No Doubt before-
Aaron Lammer: Yeah.
Jay Kang: We like ska No Doubt.
Aaron Lammer: But, in the like ‘what is the biggest vision’ competition, I think the biggest vision is Bitcoin inside of the financial system not as a contrast to the financial system.
Jay Kang: You think that’s the biggest vision?
Aaron Lammer: Well, that’s like … If you’re the world’s-
Jay Kang: I don’t agree with that.
Aaron Lammer: … reserve currency aren’t you in the financial system?
Jay Kang: Well, sure. Yeah, but I don’t think that an ETF is going to be the way to do that.
Aaron Lammer: I guess this is the great historic activist debate whether you’re like you should be an outsider who protests the system or you should change the system from within.
Jay Kang: Yeah, or like the debates that always happen within Marxist circles, which I think is a real question, which is whether or not you should be invested at all in electoral politics or if you should just use revolutionary politics.
Aaron Lammer: Sure. Very prominent issue in Bitcoin right now.
Jay Kang: Yeah. Let’s think about it in terms of that. I was just talking to somebody about this this morning which is like you have Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who by name is a DSA member, part of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Aaron Lammer: Sure.
Jay Kang: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-
Aaron Lammer: You can just call her AOC on the show.
Jay Kang: AOC, by most standards, is a massive success for them. She is, I think, probably one of the five most famous people in America right now, is by far the most talked about politician after Trump.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah.
Jay Kang: Not even close. You would think that this is very good for the DSA and for socialist causes, but, at the same time, it could be catastrophic ’cause she could, as she should, start getting presidential ambitions. I think that the policies that she has pushed so far are pretty centrist. A 70% tax on every dollar you make over $10 million is not a particularly hard-core socialist policy.
Aaron Lammer: Can I pause you and ask a question?
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: Are the people within the DSA disappointed in AOC?
Jay Kang: I don’t know, but I think there are some people who are concerned about that.
Aaron Lammer: Where I thought you were going with this, which was what we said. People say eventually Libertarians won’t like Bitcoin because it will become too mainstream and they’ll want a more extreme version.
Jay Kang: No, no, no. Yeah, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: The DSA, I think that at least a certain portion of their membership is like, “She’s probably too moderate or she’s a sellout of our views.”
Jay Kang: Yeah, and that she will progressively do it more and that because she is so powerful that our entire organization will get co-opted into it. In the end, we’ll just be like slightly left of, let’s say, Beto O’Rourke or something like that which, for the DSA, is a disaster because then they become essentially part of the Democratic operative machine.
Aaron Lammer: You start off ska, then you wake up pop.
Jay Kang: Exactly. I wish you had brought up ska as a better option. At some point, you’re like five dudes in San Jose-
Aaron Lammer: No, I get it.
Jay Kang: … who came out of a high school marching band and then suddenly you’re like-
Aaron Lammer: You’re skanking in your basement and the next day you’re at the KROQ Green Christmas Show. No matter even if the music’s the same, you have to say the settings a little different. The revolutionary cause of ska feels a little different on the big stage.
Jay Kang: Yeah. At some point, your record label says, “Hey, we wrote this pop song for you. Can you just do your little spin on it?” Then you put out a total piece of shit song that’s super popular. Then what happens to ska?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah. In my view, probably the song’s good and everyone likes it except Jay ’cause Jay doesn’t like stuff that’s really popular like the Fyre Fest documentaries.
Jay Kang: I will say that the majority of pop-ska was probably pretty good. You, as a 37-year-old man now from the Bay Area-
Aaron Lammer: Don’t doxx me, bro.
Jay Kang: Yeah, exactly. Fifteen years removed from the last big ska movement of America, would you rather listen to punk-ska or pop-ska? Let’s say that choices are between-
Aaron Lammer: Pop-ska, I think probably.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: My first choice would be rock-steady like first wave ska.
Jay Kang: Okay, but we’re taking that out because that’s like …
Aaron Lammer: Okay. I’m not allowed to go highbrow with it.
Jay Kang: Yeah, you can’t be like, “I’d rather listen to Jimmy Cliff,” or something like that.
Aaron Lammer: No, I’d rather listen to The Specials.
Jay Kang: Or, like the Replacements. Or, the Specials. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, second wave.
Jay Kang: We’re taking the Specials-
Aaron Lammer: Two-Tone.
Jay Kang: … and Jimmy Cliff out of it and your choices are between-
Aaron Lammer: Reel Big Fish.
Jay Kang: … Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake.
Aaron Lammer: Wow. How you going do me like that? [inaudible 00:21:43] Desert Island Discs.
Jay Kang: Anyway, I’m sorry.
Aaron Lammer: Reel Big Fish is the answer to that question.
Jay Kang: Really?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah.
Jay Kang: I think I’d rather listen to Less Than Jake. Anyway, I’m sorry. That was a huge diversion. The central point is still the same, which is Bitcoin going to be co-opted? Is Bitcoin-
Aaron Lammer: And, does it want to change the system from within or from without?
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: What do you think about that?
Jay Kang: I think it has to be from without and I think that basically they need to see themselves as revolutionaries and they need to … There are different ways in which people do these things. There are different ways in which people apply politics or marketing and it doesn’t all have to be from within the system.
Jay Kang: I think that there are movements where being part of the system is lethal. I don’t know if it’s true with DSA. It’s certainly true with Marxism in the United States. You can’t have a co-opted Marxism even working within the electoral system. It will just die and it will corrupt everything. I think Bitcoin is like that. I think the second you have a Bitcoin ETF, then it starts to corrupt Bitcoin. Especially if it’s bought enough and thought about enough to move the market then more people are going to come in because they’re incentivized by the market shift.
Aaron Lammer: Let me give you an example of what I see as a parallel insurgency and we can perhaps use it as an example. Little insurgency called Netflix.
Jay Kang: Okay.
Aaron Lammer: Netflix comes along. At first, they’re a mild annoyance to the-
Jay Kang: Blockbusters, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: … DVD, the Blockbuster theater industrial complex. Generally, whenever they try to butt their way in, the insiders block them. They try to stop them from renting in this manner. They try to window the releases to that they get stuff really late. They don’t want to sell them their content. They work outside the system.
Aaron Lammer: Now, at a certain point, Netflix could have tried to jump inside the existing system there and gotten Blockbuster to buy it or whatever or work closely with those industries. Instead, they were like, “Nope. Our vision is just us streaming everything. Right now, we have … “
Aaron Lammer: Remember when Netflix only had crap on streaming? You could say that’s still true now, but there was a period where it was like a lot straight-to-video kind of material.
Jay Kang: Yeah, you could watch Like Mike 2.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah. A person would be like, “Yo, Netflix is never going to work until we have first-run movies. We’ve got to sell out here.” Then, a different view was wait until they come to us. Just keep building until they come to us.
Aaron Lammer: That’s what I’d like to Bitcoin doing. It’s like this very premise we originally had of fake internet money. All right, you get further and further away from that you’re like, “Why not fake internet banks and fake internet investments?” We’ve been trying all this stuff, it just feels too soon to just merge.
Jay Kang: Yeah. Well, can I ask you a question, then? You have described this world in which people are building products and they’re trying to make it locked into a Bitcoin product to try and present a different vision that you can opt into, right? Why is that not Ethereum?
Aaron Lammer: I think Ethereum did a good job of marketing itself as that. Some of this stuff feels a little bit of a speed issue. That we’re so hungry for this to happen fast … That’s why you’d want a Bitcoin ETF in the first place ’cause you want a revolution. You want an insurgency. You want a populist movement, whatever you want, a media change. Otherwise, you’re stuck there with an open-source software project that’s just like, “Oh, man. What’s our roadmap, 10 years?”
Jay Kang: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: That’s a little bit how Ethereum feels now. Ethereum feels less like an amusement park than a very, very long, trudging, open-source software project.
Jay Kang: Yeah, it might be useless.
Aaron Lammer: It might be also like one of those amusement parks that goes really heavy building a ride for a theme movie and the movie turns out to fade from pop culture memory really quickly.
Jay Kang: Like a Water World ride or something.
Aaron Lammer: One of the ones in Northern California has one for some shark movie, not Jaws.
Jay Kang: Deep Blue Sea.
Aaron Lammer: The Deep Blue Sea ride or something and it’s just like, “Oh, you guys have got to rebrand this.”
Jay Kang: Okay, here’s my thought about that which is that I don’t think that you’re wrong and the reason why I don’t think you’re wrong is not because I think that Ethereum World or the amusement park that consensus was trying to build … It’s not that I think those were successful. I just think there’s a lot of good will poured into trying to make them successful.
Jay Kang: You and I as Bitcoin moderates, we tried every iteration of Ethereum World and not just for the podcast, we were just excited about it. Think about even what happened with CVL. CVL has all these newsrooms and they have a lot of journalists who were joining up with it and they all were willing to take a ride on the promise that this was an alternative, that we could sort of free ourselves from bad contracts and that we could figure out a different way of financing and that maybe we could rich off or a currency speculation.
Jay Kang: All of that was appealing to people and people wanted to do it, it’s just none of these things worked. So, we’re always back to the same problem, which is it’s hard to prove the concept if the baseline of are these things actually products, can’t be met.
Aaron Lammer: In my opinion, the only thing that crypto has actually achieved right now … Of all of its stated goals, I think the idea of censorship resistance is basically the only thing that’s actually active at this point. It’s the only reason that it’s actually different than it’s alternative is that sense of censorship resistance.
Aaron Lammer: As such, I think the only crypto projects that really people are taking seriously in the real world right now are these BitTube, Gab kind of like homes for the de-platformed because that’s the only thing that really differentiates Bitcoin from money right now in the active sense. There’s a lot of things it could do, but that’s the only thing if it just stopped in its development right now that it does.
Jay Kang: Those are more like decentralized projects. For Gab and BitTube … BitTube, for people who don’t know, they were in the news recently because Jordan Peterson got really mad about a variety of things, but it was part of like the intellectual dark web got super made because Patreon, they said, was being partisan.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, they kicked someone off Patreon.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: Is it Patreon or Patreon?
Jay Kang: I say Patreon.
Aaron Lammer: I always think because it’s like a patron.
Jay Kang: I only think it’s Patreon because the podcasts I hear that are on Patreon say Patreon. I think Patreon makes more sense, so I’m going to start saying that now.
Jay Kang: They’re mad about Patreon and then they’re looking at every other platform and they’re just like, “Every platform is biased against us. We’re the only smart people and they’re anti-science,” where the real thing is they’ve used a racial slur or something like that.
Aaron Lammer: Sure.
Jay Kang: Jordan Peterson, who is one of the most popular people on YouTube moved all of his videos to BitTube. There’s some thought that, “Hey, maybe this is beginning of it.” All that you need to do to make a movement is not just Jordan Peterson, but it’s like Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan, who I saw recently was uploading videos to Vimeo I think for similar reasons, if they both move to BitTube, BitTube would actually have an audience, don’t you think?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, it’s like one of those things if Fortnite added Monero, it would double the daily active user base of all of crypto instantly. If a few of these huge properties go to one of these decentralized places, instantly they would have a certain credibility I think.
Aaron Lammer: I guess for me, this comes down to some of the issues I remember when I was in elementary school reading about the ACLU defending KKK marches.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: If you’re not, say, a fan of most of the stuff being moved off of these platforms, should you still be interested in this idea of censorship resistance and the role of money within in? I think that they made a very convincing case that money is always the central issue in any form of censorship or anything.
Jay Kang: Oh, yeah. Sure, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: I guess the question is, should anyone who’s outside of those de-platformed movements care about these sort of tools of non-platform expression?
Jay Kang: Well, I do. I’m not a fan of Jordan Peterson, to say the least.
Aaron Lammer: We’ll put it in the show notes. I don’t know if I’ve ever brought it up on the show before, but when Jordan Peterson did an imitation of you on the Joe Rogan show, he was literally doing the exact same gesture you’re doing right now, which is crossing your arms and leaning back in your chair. If I took a picture of you right now, he’s doing a perfect imitation of you.
Jay Kang: Yeah, ’cause he was saying that me crossing my arms and leaning back was me-
Aaron Lammer: It showed that you weren’t open to his ideas.
Jay Kang: Yeah, it’s like closing myself off from his ideas.
Aaron Lammer: You do that during 90% of the time we’re podcasting. I think it’s just your weird posture.
Jay Kang: Yeah, yeah. He was saying stuff like, “Women should really reconsider wearing makeup in the workplace if they don’t want to be sexually … “ I don’t want to get into trouble again, but his actual quote … I just asked him the question, verbatim, I think, “If a woman wears makeup in the workplace and does not want to be sexually harassed and also cares about issues of sexual harassment, is she being a hypocrite?” And, he said, “Yes.”
Jay Kang: When somebody says that to you, some people will lean in and be like, “Wow, tell me more of your fascinating ideas.” I guess I just have … I’m not that good at being on television so I just lay back-
Aaron Lammer: I read it the same way on this podcast where I’m like, “Jay, does not believe in whatever kind of outgoing [inaudible 00:32:14] case I’m making right now.” Jay does not accept my UBIT take.
Jay Kang: UBITs takes I’m into. That one I’d lean forward and be like, “Tell me more about this interesting coin from Canada.” Look, I’m a free speech absolutist. That’s most of my interesting crypto anyway. It does matter to me that somebody like Jordan Peterson … If Jordan Peterson had actually been de-platformed, it is very interesting to me where he goes next.
Jay Kang: The fact that he is able to find someplace to host this stuff is more important to me than the idea that less people will find his ideas appealing. I don’t-
Aaron Lammer: You support Jordan Peterson’s publishing.
Jay Kang: Yeah, of course.
Aaron Lammer: He should publish widely and be read by many.
Jay Kang: I hope he’s not read by many, but I don’t think that …
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, you believe that the market should make that choice.
Jay Kang: Yeah. I think he should always have the opportunity to publish his pieces if there’s somebody that wants to publish them.
Aaron Lammer: Sure.
Jay Kang: That is my broadest belief. I think this is all good. The question that I have to you though is, do these feel like crypto projects to you?
Aaron Lammer: No.
Jay Kang: Because there’s nothing about BitTube that is like … It could just be like, “Hey, were a website and we’re going to let you run anything on here,” and it would be the same thing.
Aaron Lammer: There are movements that have overlap in their Venn diagram, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the same movement. I think it’s like surfing and weed have a lot of overlap throughout history, but it doesn’t mean that weed is an integral part of surfing.
Jay Kang: Sure, but this thing is called BitTube.
Aaron Lammer: Right. When I think about what’s the long-term outcome of this, let me present two futures to you. There’s one future in which there’s a Bitcoin ETF and your parents’ retirement funds have exposure to Bitcoin. There’s another future in which this alternate de-platformed internet rises up, raises a lot of money for both media and politics, and that money is held in war chests that are denominated in crypto and a large portion of the crypto reserve is held by Gab, BitTube, Jordan Peterson, and anyone ELSE who’s chosen to make that leap, which could be a variety … It could be many forms of speech that people find contentious right now.
Aaron Lammer: Those are pretty different outcomes. If you look at it that way, we’re at a pretty big fork in the road and we’ve already seen how groups that fundraise in crypto end up massively exposed to it and can get a lot of money quickly if things go a certain way.
Aaron Lammer: Something that was interesting to me. We did our live show. I know you had to take off after our set, but during the Tales From Crypt set, someone asked, “What do you make basically of all these alt-right movements that are aligning themselves with crypto.” I think his name is Matt Odell, he gave a really good answer. He was basically like, “I see Bitcoin as an amorphous piece of code. People can project anything they want onto it. Bitcoin doesn’t care. Bitcoin is not an intelligence. It’s not an ideology. It’s simply a piece of open-source software code that people can create whatever they want to.”
Aaron Lammer: I buy that. In practice, when people see it associated with one of those movements, they assume that Bitcoin itself has some sort of an inclination towards it. We’ve seen that a lot. Is Bitcoin spreading various Libertarian, far-right political ideologies? To me, I’m like, “That whole thing about it being just code seems like a better read.”
Jay Kang: Yeah, yeah. There’s nothing about Bitcoin fundamentally that would open itself up for that sort of stuff. There’s nothing in the whitepaper that says that. I think we’ve talked about it here before, which is just there are a lot of people that are going to be mad about the 2008 bank bailout including Occupy Wall Street.
Aaron Lammer: The far end of both sides of the political spectrum.
Jay Kang: Yeah, so there’s no reason I don’t think why cryptocurrency couldn’t also become a defining factor of the far left, but it just hasn’t been. I think the reasons why it hasn’t been are pretty clear. It’s just the far left is I think probably not that interested in getting super rich whereas the far right is. They’re less exposed to speculative ideas-
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, I’ll buy that.
Jay Kang: … and they’re much worse funded. The far right is very well funded and some of the people who are funding it are very creative with money. I think that they saw Bitcoin as this pumpable opportunity. Whereas I don’t know if some Marxist professor at Reed College is studying new forms of currency that are coming out.
Aaron Lammer: There’s a lot of chicken and the egg elements to this story, which is, was this there this huge pool of Austrian School economics sympathizers who may also have been interested in some fringe political speech on YouTube waiting for their own currency, their own financial backing to build their movement, or did this financial novelty, Bitcoin, come along and radicalize those people into those ideas that they are now using Bitcoin to further.
Jay Kang: I will say … All right, and I don’t think this is disputable. I think that the number of people who are into Austrian School economics style ideas has probably increased by 100x in the past 10 years.
Aaron Lammer: I’m guessing the donations to the Mises Institute are up.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: I think their endowment’s probably looking pretty nice right now.
Jay Kang: Yeah, yeah. Before their only real notable person was Ross Ulbricht, DPR.
Aaron Lammer: There’s been notable Libertarian economics thinkers through time. Several of the people who’ve influenced American financial policy-
Jay Kang: No, no. I was talking about the Mises, actual Mises Institute.
Aaron Lammer: Oh, the actual Mises Institute? Yeah, it’s probably in someone’s PO Box 20 years ago.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, I think there’s a real question of who’s driving the ship here. Are people using Bitcoin to further their world political ideology or it Bitcoin pushing people towards a specific ideology? I can see it both ways-
Jay Kang: Me too. I don’t know.
Aaron Lammer: … when I read it from different angles, so I guess it’s both.
Jay Kang: And, the other question is, are we locked into this now? Is it ever going to not be either the property of big money or the far right? Is there a way to change that? I don’t know if I think there is, but …
Aaron Lammer: I think most things become less politically potent as more people get involved with them. I think that there is a sense of delusion that if Bitcoin simply succeeds in the sense of lots of people get Bitcoin wallets and hold portions of their wealth in Bitcoin, that basically normalizes Bitcoin no matter what.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I agree with that.
Aaron Lammer: If I was a person who held more Austrian School economics idea, I’d be overjoyed that Bitcoin exists because it does also seem to be a vessel for putting people in the right suggestive mind state that, “Hey, don’t you think that taxes are involuntary theft?”
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: We don’t really need a state.
Jay Kang: That is true. I would think that maybe the one thing that it does feel intrinsic to it is that the types of people who do look for ways to launder money generally come from the far right.
Aaron Lammer: It’s a new far right. It’s the internet far right. It’s the Gamergate. To me, those people have so little in common with the people from the 1980s who are sitting at the same seat in the table. I feel like, I see them more as a 4chan movement than I see them as an American Conservative movement.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I agree with that. Yeah,
Aaron Lammer: Whether you’re talking about Jordan Peterson fans or you’re talking about people who are like fundraising for heat websites and Bitcoin, these people all seem like lonely internet assholes more so than like-
Jay Kang: A lot of them are, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: … Mitch McConnell types to me.
Jay Kang: Yeah, or like Paul Wolfowitz or something. Although, maybe Paul Wolfowitz these days would be a lonely internet asshole.
Aaron Lammer: I guess. Wasn’t Ryan Zinke spotted at a crypto conference this month?
Jay Kang: That wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Aaron Lammer: I think he was at some sort of a Davos … Whatever Slamdance is to Sundance, he was at the crypto-
Jay Kang: Oh, shit, Aaron. That’s a good idea.
Aaron Lammer: … one with Davos.
Jay Kang: We should make crypto Davos.
Aaron Lammer: I think it already exists, and I think Ryan Zinke was there. And, he’s got-
Jay Kang: He does serve caviar.
Aaron Lammer: … a new blockchain product that he’s trying to shill. Actually, I would say first crypto news I’ve gotten from my wife. He’s got a blockchain product he’s trying to shill that’s literally the most generic pitch line. He’s like, “We’re going to go into developing countries with blockchain and blockchain them with the blockchain.”
Jay Kang: Oh, it’s like that-
Aaron Lammer: It’s him and a guy he met on a plane’s company.
Jay Kang: Oh, my God. It’s like the IBM blockchain. [crosstalk 00:42:03].
Aaron Lammer: I don’t know what it’s called, so I can’t tell you how to load up your bags on that, but load them bags up.
Aaron Lammer: All right, we failed to talk about Ethereum for a second week. We were supposed to talk about the Constantinople non-upgrade that didn’t happen. I don’t know. There’s nothing to say about it.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I have nothing to say.
Aaron Lammer: Jay has nothing to say about it. We’ll be back next week.
Jay Kang: We’ve been waiting on Constantinople for 18 months now.