TL;DR: money makes the world go 'round. buy bitcoins before the dollar collapses. submitted by
Global trends should be making everything cheaper, faster, and easier. But some things remain the same. Americans still aren't taught how to critically think in public schools. People across the globe are still hungry. Isn't it obvious that the people who make the rules, and the people who make the money - the people in charge - are not using this power and money for good?
The reason these problems still exist is simply that fixing them is not profitable. But "profitable" is soon going to be an outdated notion. Money won't matter, if we reach the point where the whole world has been stripped to the bare earth and a few giant corporations own everything. In that world, who'll give a shit what's profitable? Everyone's lives will be equally bad, except for those at the top.
The money system is controlled, collectively, by the bankers. (-1-
) The banks create their profits by loaning money to companies and governments, creating debt. All that new debt has interest attached; the interest charges on the USA's debt, for the year 2010, were about half
of the 2010 income tax revenue. (Right - half of 'our tax money' goes to the interest fees on Uncle Sam's credit card. After the other half is spent on other line items, there's still a couple trillion dollars worth of other bills. We've just been letting them pile up on the kitchen table for a couple of decades. See IOUSA
, streaming on Netflix, or this data-packed site
for further info on the USA's astronomical debt.)
The US is cheating right now by making more money
to pay some of these debts. (The Fed is not part of the government. It's a private corporation whose shares are owned by... Surprise! More bankers - JP Morgan, Chase Manhattan, Goldman Sachs, etc. These are the owners who get half of our tax dollars each year. Remember when we had to bail these same guys out a couple years back, because they bet all the mortgages at a roulette table and lost all their money? Fun times!)
Understandably, other countries are grumbling about the US's unfair advantage. The dollar's value has just been dropping steadily
since the Fed was invented 1933 - but since modern finance is based entirely on the dollar ('the world's reserve currency'), allowing the dollar to fail would be a very messy prospect. No countries have been willing to call us out on our shenanigans so far. But nothing good lasts forever; saying that the dollar can't fail is simply wishful thinking. Even the Council on Foreign Relations says that economically, we're no stronger than the rest of the G20
Wouldn't it be nice to neatly sidestep this collapsing system? We might have a chance with "Bitcoins." Bitcoins are a cryptocurrency. They're anonymous, and transactions can't be chargedback. This means, that for the first time ever
, we might be able to set up a real free market, free of meddling by banks and governments. Digital cash brings a paradigm shift - for example, since bitcoins are anonymous, the government can't look in your bank account to see how much tax money they can take
. There's many interesting ramifications
of this idea; for one, if you want to buy drugs anonymously with anonymous cash no one can stop you.
Bitcoins exist in a peer to peer network of clients, who run the Bitcoin software. All nodes talk to each other and follow an agreed-upon set of rules. These rules handle stuff like the exchange of bitcoins, preventing cheaters from spending coins that they don't own, and minting more money. The system seems pretty robust so far; and as more people use it, it gets stronger. There are 5.7 million bitcoins right now; worth about $0.75 each. The minting process will gradually slow down as the total supply of bitcoins approaches 21 million. I bought a couple hundred bitoins myself, because a) they're cool and b) if the system gets widely adopted, the value of each bitcoin will see some impressive gains.
for the official client, mybitcoin.com
for a much easier to use web client, bitcoin.it
for a wiki. Go buy some bitcoins
before the dollar collapses. Follow @bitcoinnews
, check out the bitcoin.org forums
and trade anything over the counter in #bitcoin-otc on chat.freenode.net. There's also /bitcoin
Technical details -
Bitcoin is based on public-key crypto. Imagine a big pool of bitcoins; and imagine that each one has a different lock on it. These locks are here to prevent coins from being spent without the matching key. Everyone can see and examine all of the coins and the locks, but the keys are secret... only the person with the key can unlock the lock and spend the coin. Bitcoins are digital cash - if you lose the key to the lock on your bitcoins, you have no way to ever get a new one to unlock the coin. It's like dropping change down a storm drain.
So, owning the key means that you effectively 'own' that coin. When a coin is 'spent,' the old lock and key are destroyed and new, different ones are created. The new owner gets the new key; now he 'owns' the coin because he's the only one who is allowed to spend it.
You spend bitcoins in "transactions." Let's say Alice owes Bob ten bitcoins for some data. Alice sends out a message to the network, saying 'I am transferring ownership rights of these coins to Bob'. From now on, Bob owns the coins. The system makes a note of this transaction, and a few minutes later, the transaction is recorded in a "block." Blocks are lists of recent transactions that prove the transfer of ownership. About 6-8 blocks are usually generated per hour, so each block generally contains about ten minutes of transaction history.
Every time a block is created, the creator is rewarded with some bitcoins. This is how bitcoins are created. There's a chain of blocks going all the way back to the first bitcoin that was created, in 2009; new bitcoins trickle in at a constant rate. (Over a period of decades this rate will slow to a trickle and stop; the total number of bitcoins that will ever exist is 21 million.)
The transaction record stored in the chain of blocks is complete. There is a hard record of every bitcoin transaction that has ever taken place. Clients can look through this history to check if a transaction is legitimate - if Alice sends Bob her bitcoins, the network as a whole will cry foul when she tries to send the same ones to Claire later. This prevents cheating, because anyone who tries to simply create new bitcoins out of thin air will be ignored, since there's no record of the coins existing.
However, note that until the Alice-Bob transaction is recorded in a block or three, ("confirmed,") it might be possible for Alice to send Claire the same bitcoins. In this case, the official ruling is, whichever transaction ends up in the next block counts as valid. (The nodes generating blocks will include the first transaction they receive, and ignore the later attempts.) Either Bob or Claire would get the bitcoins, the other would be SOL. So, to completely trust a transaction, you need to wait for the transaction to be confirmed.
Incidentally I am planning a cross country road trip next month funded entirely by bitcoins. Follow me on Twitter
, it's going to be an epic adventure! I plan on making a podcast and blog
about my travels (maybe a documentary too if I can get my hands on a camera.)
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