Category Archives: transparancy

The tragedy of the currency

columns-s

The problem with both central banking and vaulted gold are the same, they provide legitimate efficiencies. There is no airtight analytical case against them.  Economies of scale of security and analysis do provide some, even much, legitimate value.

Do those economies of scale outweigh the risks of the ‘keepers’ keeping a private ledger?  Almost always at first and never forever.  Corruption creeps in.  Corruption is really the rising cost of transparency.  A chess game of emotions,  like ‘kindness’, ‘fairness’, ‘ability’ and even magical powers, slowly chips away at the keepers ability to be honest.  Once the honesty dies, nothing feeds the flow of transparency and it withers and wilts.  Eventually nothing is left but a carboard cutout of it’s former self.  An unliving, inaccurate, but easy to explain and defensible approximation of the actual state of weights and measures.  A public ledger.

Insider threats always abound, so a brutally honest private ledger must be quietly kept along side it.  Once transparency is a shell of it’s former self, the stake holders of their currency no longer keep tabs on it’s mechanics.  Discrepancies form, and are exasperated by greed as they are observed and then exploited by the now unwatched keepers.  At first the exploitation is covered up to protect the currency itself, but eventually the cover up exists strictly to protect it’s liquidity, and then, it’s ability to hold any value at all.

The tragedy of the currency is wrapped up in it’s mechanics.  The single ledger becomes a lightning rod of anger, justified or not, against inequity.  Politicians (remember ‘politc’ is simply your public face) delay to answer smartly.  Not to skim at first but simply to quiet their opponents. Sometimes the delayed issues are completely tangential to the virtues of the currency.

Time is friction in transparency.  Delays become corruption.  The older data is the more useless it becomes.  A composite caricature of discombobulated snapshots in time.  You can’t trust what you can’t see, and you can’t see the whole accountant at once.  At first it’s impractical, and then it’s discouraged.

The mechanics of absolute power corrupt absolutely.  The problem with a single ledger has always been, it’s single accountant, and their perhaps unintentional but still vulnerable political face.

Most civilizations have approached this as a political problem.  Avoid bad politics and the accountant is safe.  History has demonstrated no person or their protectors are unassailable.  Even if they were, they are mortal and will be succeeded.  Instead the United States proposed a technical solution.  Every person is their own accountant.  They must preserve their own ledgers. Nearly impervious to corruption, but inefficient.  Then in desperation, in a time of world war, this was abandoned for centralized efficiencies.

If you solve the single accountant problem in a centralized way, you solve the public/private ledger problem.  Enjoy the spoils of the economies of scale without the classical risks.  How can many accountants share one ledger without losing the efficiencies of one copy?  By copying and verifying the copies of the ledger so fast that the entire market can view every trade in real time without latency.  Time approaches an infinitely small number, so transparency approaches an infinitely large one.  That is exactly what Bitcoin does.  And it’s never been done before.  Laid down on the transparency of it’s open source code, the open ledger is copied and updated all over the world every second of every day.  Everyone can know the ledger is real because they can see exactly how it is verified.

How to trust is an unsolvable problem, but how to avoid needing to trust is already solved.  A grand joke on those who obsess over politics.  A comedy of the currency.