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Our world is currently experiencing an interesting dichotomy when it comes to data and transparency. On the one hand, information has never been so accessible. Nearly five billion people actively use the internet to stay connected to social media, work, shopping, and much more. Our information, both public and private, is being catalogued by the companies and governments with which we interact, in many cases whether we want it to be collected or not.
However, our world is also one of intense secrecy in which the inner workings of governments and corporations are nearly impossible to uncover. Those in power have huge incentives to keep the public eye away from their dealings. After all, the easiest way to keep one’s power is to hide it, or at least hide the means that enable it.
Perhaps it came as a surprise then last week when a treasure trove of secretive financial information pertaining to some of the most powerful government and public figures was released. The “Pandora Papers”, as they were called by the media, certainly shed light on a lot of private details that the rich and powerful likely did not want to be made public.
A Pandora’s Box of Secrets
We all know that corruption happens. The Bernie Madoffs of the world have made sure of that. However, a lot of us commonly think of corruption as happening somewhere else, but never close to home. A government in another country is corrupt, but not our politicians. A company in another state is selling tainted products, but not the one down the street.
What the Pandora Papers have helped highlight however, is that corruption is not as far away as one might think. For example, years ago people commonly associated offshore and shadow banking with the financial institutions of places like Switzerland and the Bahamas. But current media reports identified the state of South Dakota as a leading offshore tax haven for foreign entities. Additionally, based on Hollywood portrayals, you might think that high flying real estate transactions happen only in places like Dubai or Hong Kong. In that case, you probably wouldn’t expect to find out that the King of Jordan owns at least fourteen different properties in the U.S. and U.K., including three in Malibu, California that collectively are worth tens of millions of dollars, while the country of Jordan itself relies on a significant amount of foreign aid for survival.
Perhaps the most unexpected part of the revelations within the Pandora Papers though, is the fact that most of the so-called corruption uncovered is actually completely legal: Politicians steer public funds and goods towards businesses owned by their family members. Corporations use the tax code to avoid large amounts of taxes put in place by their local governments. The super rich keep vast amounts of their fortunes out of the mind of the public through trusts and holding companies. And no one bats an eye.
Cryptocurrency Gets The Short End Of The Stick
Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:
- “Cryptocurrencies are used for drug sales and ransomware.”
- “Cryptocurrencies are used by tax evaders.”
- “Cryptocurrencies are threatening the world’s financial stability.”
We’ve just discussed how the traditional financial system, with all its laws and regulations that are supposed to protect us, actually legalizes a significant amount of questionable behavior. And yet, it takes huge revelations like the Pandora Papers for people to actually pay attention. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency gets attacked for its supposed shortcomings on a daily basis.
There is a rather simple reason for this: The traditional system works very well for the rich and powerful as we addressed above. The financial system that lives on top of blockchains does not.
Why doesn’t cryptocurrency work as well to hide and facilitate corruption? Let’s take Bitcoin as an example:
Bitcoin Can’t Be Controlled
Bitcoin is an open system that is controlled by everyone and by no one. There is no company or government behind it, a point to which even a lot of cryptocurrencies can’t lay claim. Since Bitcoin isn’t controlled by any one entity, no one has the ability to work the Bitcoin system for their own gain at the expense of everyone else.
Bitcoin Is Transparent
For all the talk of “shadowy supercoders”, Bitcoin and blockchain remain the most transparent system ever devised by humanity. Any information sent on top of the blockchain is permanently recorded and publicly broadcasted. Nothing can be completely hidden.
Contrast that with government and corporate structures that are built to keep most information on a “need to know” basis.
Bitcoin Is Equal
Are you rich? poor? male? female? black? white? Good…Bitcoin is for you.
Bitcoin’s blockchain is software code. Its purpose is simply to transfer and retain information in a specific way and it works the same way for everyone and anyone. The traditional system may work better for people of means or people with power, but blockchain doesn’t care about any of that. That’s quite literally not part of the program.
Bitcoin Is Better
Only time will tell exactly how much better Bitcoin and blockchain are compared to the financial systems under which we’ve suffered for hundreds of years. But there’s no denying that they are better.
We are at the beginning of one of the most revolutionary periods in human history, in which people will have the opportunity to control their money rather than have it control them. Control their information rather than have it controlled by irresponsible 3rd parties. Control their lives rather than be controlled by “The Law”.
Are you ready?
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Into the Twitterverse 🐥
Bitcoin and Ethereum have two very different designs and use cases.
Technology tends to improve drastically overtime.
This is not financial advice. This newsletter and related content are for informational purposes only. Cryptocurrencies, stocks, and similar assets can be risky. Always do your own research before making any sort of investment.