According to a thread on reddit, Bill Gates has said that he doesn’t own any bitcoin and his opinions of it are very negative.
The question was “what do you think about bitcoin…” Notice how the reply only talks about investing, and then about companies. Bitcoin isn’t a commodity, nor a company. It’s just money. Sure, people do trade in currencies, but we don’t generally think of them as investments and never as companies. So why is Gates confusing these very different things?
The misinterpretation sounds familiar to the fallacy of expecting your money to earn yield. Stephan Livera wrote a fantastic article recently where he explains why bitcoin is money first and foremost and not a yield asset.
Before we go there, it’s amusing to think for a while about the irony of his response. This is the guy who “invented” the worst operating system the world has ever seen. He then used deception and his family influence (his mother was on the board of IBM) to foist it on the world with no choice. This same guy says that he thinks the value of companies is based on how they make great products. Great products don’t fear competition and don’t need to destroy it.
He goes on to compare apples to oranges (money to companies), by suggesting that Bitcoin is worth “just what some other person decides someone else will pay”. Faulty comparisons aside, his description of how bitcoin is valued is not even true. The value of bitcoin is what people as a whole decide it is worth, not what someone decides! The decision is made by the sellers and buyers without any interference by government or other powers. He knows exactly why he doesn’t like it, but perhaps only subconsciously. That’s why the given reasons for objecting to it make no logical sense.
His description of how Bitcoin is valued does, however, fit banker currencies very well. They are worth whatever the controllers of the currency say they are worth. They control the value by controlling the scarcity. If they print more, the value goes down; stop printing, the value goes up (or stays the same if the economy isn’t growing). Fiat literally means “let there be”. Either Gates is extremely ignorant or lying.
Bill Gates’ world is the world of corporations. That’s what he understands and knows how to operate in. When you design a company, you have a set of priorities. Take for example a publicly traded company. It’s “prime directive” is to make a profit for the shareholders. It has to have this priority by law, and any director who is not following it is open to prosecution, fines, and even imprisonment. If this company wants to sell stuff to the public, it has to present a caring image. It has to say “we produce the finest quality foods, our priority is the health of our customers” (Ok you can see I’m not a marketing professional, but you know what I mean).
They need to make customers think that their first priority is not profit, but the benefit of the customer. That’s what selling is all about. If everything the company does is completely open to the public, its priorities will be clear. Anyone who understands accounts can know all they need to know about a company if they have full access to them. That’s why police forces always go for the accounts in an investigation.
The accounts have to be kept private, because they contain evidence of true priorities, among other things. As a designer, no matter how much you might want the company to be all the things you put in the public-facing part of it, you are working within the legal restrictions of obligations to shareholders. You’re caught up in a mess of corporate institutions—government, the corporation you registered, all the different institutions that hold most of the shares, partner organizations and so on. There’s no humanity there, no conscience, yet somehow you have to make a public presentation of “corporate responsibility”.
Individual shareholders might have a conscience, but the vast majority of shares are held by intermediary institutions—non-human entities which have no conscience—and a legal obligation to maximize profit. They lie or hide the uncomfortable truth from the shareholders and customers because they have to.
There are no people in this system, all interactions are between psychopathic entities created by collective human imagination.
People operate these appendages to interact with each other, and the humans themselves are not the interactors. Our corporations don’t care if we live or die. They don’t care if they poison us with fake food and drinks, destroy our world with radioactive waste and spills. They only care about profits. And the people who are most suited to operating them are also psychopaths.
Love Vs Fear
Comparing bitcoin to the corporate world is like comparing condoms to herpes. With bitcoin we can break the seemingly endless cycles we are caught up in. Corporations are the physical manifestation of our fears. They are driven by fear. Fear of failure, fear of losing control, shareholders’ fear of losing their money, and most of all fear of the people they are supposedly there to serve. We program these fears into our corporations. Our giant, incorporeal entities stalk the planet like monsters while the people run screaming from their wars, famines, pestilence and death. They grow bigger, fed by our growing fears.
Only when we are free from this kind of mental restriction we will be free to pursue our objectives without fear. Fear is the opposite of love and is what all Bad Things in our world are rooted in. Fear will drag us down into the ant heap of totalitarianism. Love is just the absence of fear, and fear is the absence of love. The banker money systems can’t be used to build anything free of fear because the most fearful people on earth control them. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is not controlled by anyone. Thus it is not restricted and can be used to build new systems of cooperation. It’s not a cure, we could equally use it to carry on down, but it is an opportunity to build better, more human-oriented systems that don’t depend on the control freaks.
And that’s why Bill Gates doesn’t like it.