[00:00:00] Speaker A: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the 178th episode of the Atlas Society Asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I'm the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit introducing young people to the ideas of Ayn Rand in fun, creative ways, including graphic novels, animated videos, those, and even music. Today we are joined by Robert Breedlove, joining us from the UK. Before I even begin to introduce our guests, I want to remind all of you who are joining us on Zoom, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. Go ahead and start typing in your questions, and we will get to as many of them as we can. So our guest, Robert Breevlove, is a bitcoin focused entrepreneur, writer, philosopher.
We know him through Michael Saylor. He came to our gala honoring him in Malibu, and what also caught our eye was last month he produced a viral video on Francisco's Money speech in Atlas Shrugged that prompted a surge of interest in Atlas Shrugged and Rand's work. Breedlove is also the host of what is Money? Podcast and author of thank God for Bitcoin, the Creation, Corruption, and Redemption of Money. A self described freedom maximalist, Robert advocates for the importance of freedom across all spheres of human action and calls Bitcoin a humanitarian movement exposing the greatest con in human history, central banking. Robert, thanks for joining us.
[00:01:48] Speaker B: Thank you. And thank you for that elaborate introduction.
[00:01:51] Speaker A: So our audience always loves to learn a little bit about our guests origin stories. Yours is interesting. Growing up in Tennessee, were there any early influences that put you on your path to becoming one of the most prominent bitcoin evangelists, if I can use that term?
[00:02:17] Speaker B: Sure. I guess I've always been freedom oriented. I guess by birth.
My report cards always read something like, Robert's an excellent student.
He got really good grades. I always volunteered to be the one to read out loud first. I love to read.
But he has a distinct problem with authority.
He talks back a little bit, and he Just resists authority. I don't know why I'm that way. There's just something in my DNA or my blood, I suppose.
And then I would also add that my grandfather was in war. He was in the Korean War. He was in US Special Forces.
And I learned a lot from him about just the evils of warfare. And one adamant assertion he had on my life was that I was never to join the military under any circumstances.
[00:03:18] Speaker A: Interesting.
[00:03:19] Speaker B: And so I guess that laid some kind of foundation into wondering what that's all about. Why do we go to war? It doesn't seem to make sense we work really hard to build all of this capital and civilization around us. Why do we go to war and then destroy it? It just seemed like a very self destructive activity. And then I would also credit, my mom was a very curious kid. I was asking a lot of questions. I think I just exhausted her at some point. And she was like, you just need to read. So any questions you have, you can find a book and it will give you the answers. And so she inculcated this habit of reading at a very young age, I'd say from probably the age of eleven. First book I read on my own was Hatchet, just a boy surviving in the woods.
And I've just been reading.
[00:04:18] Speaker A: If there's one constant, I would say among all of our guests that we have on this podcast, across so many different disciplines, it's reading books as a young person. And when I was a teenager, 70% of my classmates, my friends were reading books every day, and that was just for fun. These weren't assigned. Today that percentage is 12% and probably dropping. So that makes our challenge at the Atlas Society. We are promoting ideas that when Ein Rand expressed them in her novels, they are not small books. So that's kind of how we get creative. One of the other things that Ain Rand said was that religion is kind of a primitive or precursor of philosophy. And I also understand that growing up, your family was very religious, attending Southern Baptist churches. Do you think that that religious upbringing also primed you to become interested in philOsophy, to be looking for answers not just about why we have war, what's the proper way to organize a society, but also what is right, what is wrong, what is the purpose of life? How should we treat each other?
[00:05:56] Speaker B: Perhaps I should be clear, actually, my mother wasn't super religious. She's much more of a scientifically minded person.
She'd probably describe herself as agnostic. But my aunt and uncle, who I spent a lot of time with, they're very religious. So we went to church often, and then I went to church on my own in my teenage years as well.
Mostly for the social aspect, I think by my habit of reading took me initially into astrophysics. Those were some of the first books I really started to read. So 12, 13, 14 years old, I was reading like Stephen Hawking, Brian Green, other astrophysical authors. And so at that point I had developed really an atheistic perspective. I thought religion was kind of a fairy tale really, but a useful fairy tale, I guess, right? Like people needed a story to inhabit.
But I didn't take it seriously in a literal sense.
However, my current views are that we do need a central orienting story, and perhaps religion was. Religions have been an attempt at that, like kind of a collective software that we all plug into something to share and disseminate and evolve our cultural values. And maybe that software has some bugs in it. I wish the Bible talked more about property, for instance. And there are many things in the Bible that allude to that, talking about the problems with theft and deception, et cetera, et cetera. So I don't know how much that really influenced me. But more recently, actually, in getting into Bitcoin, I've started to revisit Christianity and other wisdom traditions and religions through more of a pragmatic perspective.
And I think it's important.
We are the animal imbued with rationality, and that rationality seems intrinsically linked to the stories we tell, the narrative structures we inhabit. And I guess rationality is our ultimate tool, if you will, kind of like a meta tool. And I would also put money in this category.
They are meta tools in the sense that they let us create more tools, right? When we collaborate at scale, we can produce more goods, we can innovate and create more wealth and abundance and technology.
So I do think there is.
In that sense, you could almost say we are religious animals. We need some mythology to guide us.
But I don't know how much my religious upbringing really impacted my views on freedom. I think that was more. I would credit that in addition to kind of my natural inclination towards freedom, when I read the book the Creature from Jekyll island in my early 20s.
[00:09:02] Speaker A: That'S what really on the bookshelf behind me.
[00:09:04] Speaker B: Yeah. It really gave me insights into what I think is the most malevolent institution and biggest scam in the world, which is central banking. But at the time, again, this is my early 20s, so 2005 probably. I guess I was 19, actually.
I felt like I had found the problem in the world, but there was no solution to it. So I kind of just put it on an intellectual shelf and moved on with my life. And it wasn't until discovering Bitcoin, through which I discovered Austrian economics.
Before that, I had earned my master's degree in accounting and finance, studied a lot of economics, had been reading the Economist magazine Weekly, but none of that is based in Austrian economics whatsoever.
And so in discovering Bitcoin and then discovering Austrian economics, I felt I had found the solution to the problem that was identified in the creature from Jekyll Island. So that's what really set me up on this path.
[00:10:03] Speaker A: It's interesting when you talk about the need for narrative. Ayn Rand called art the indispensable medium for the communication of a moral ideal. And I think that the principles of objectivism, which she elaborated, systematized, categorized after her two Magnum opuses, her Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead.
Those principles are also dramatized in her fiction, in her art.
And so that's really. We take a page from that at the Outlaw SocietY in trying to find artistic ways to communicate these ideas in a world where young people are not reading books in the same way they were when I was growing up. So, speaking of books, you recently did a show on Francisco's money speech. It went viral.
Did I understand that you are or were reading Atlas Shrug for the first time? And were you aware that the speech was in the book? Tell us a little bit about Aynrand and how you discovered.
[00:11:29] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm a bit ashamed to say that the first time I read Atlas Shrugged was about a year ago.
So didn't find.
[00:11:37] Speaker A: Hopefully, the Atlas Society had something to do with that.
[00:11:40] Speaker B: You certainly did. And also my conversations with Euron Brooke. I had him on the show. We explored Rand's essay, the virtue of selfishness, and it's been recommended to me a thousand times. I don't know what took me so long, but I finally read it, and there was a weird moment, actually. I was returning home from a flight. I actually wasn't reading the book. It was audiobook I typically read. But for this particular book, the audiobook was recommended because the voice acting is really good, which it is.
And I stepped off the flight. I had booked an Uber home. And as I'm sitting there on a bench, waiting, a man walks directly into the center of my field of vision. And he's wearing a suit, a green suit, and it's covered in dollar signs.
[00:12:29] Speaker A: I love it.
[00:12:30] Speaker B: And I was like, what in the world? This is hilarious. And so I take a picture of him on my phone. I'm thinking about tweeting something about it, and then this very strange synchronicity occurred.
That right at that moment when he walked in my field of vision, and I noticed him, and I'm listening to this 64 hours audiobook. The money speech began right at that moment. Just by coincidence, I think I had heard the money speech once before, years and years ago, but I didn't even connect the dots that it was from Atlas Shrugged. And so I'm listening to this. It's about a 15 minutes speech and audiobook.
And it just floored me. I've spent years asking this question, what is money? And I had never heard such a comprehensive, elegant answer as what Rand wrote in that book. And so I listened to it probably five, six more times over the next few days.
And I was just inspired. I'm like, something is here. This is very important. People need to know this.
It's not enough to just read it. It's not enough to just do a video monologue of me reading it. I needed to put some art to it. And so my creative director of the podcast, he's very talented. I asked him for some help. I said, look, I need to get this speech in some type of artistic wrapper and put it on the channel, and we'll see how it does.
And we published it. We published it as the world's best speech on money.
Also another weird coincidence for Bitcoin. We didn't mean to do this. It came out to a runtime of exactly 21 minutes and 21 seconds.
Bitcoin is a fixed supply asset of 21 million, which is just another weird thing that happened. And then it went, yeah, semiviral. It did about a quarter million views in a month, which is pretty good for like a short form documentary, basically.
[00:14:31] Speaker A: Yeah.
[00:14:34] Speaker B: I think anyone that is curious about the nature of money, that is the first resource I would point them towards.
It's absolutely fantastic.
[00:14:44] Speaker A: So we're going to put that link in all of the chats. Also, we shall put the link to the draw my life video that the Atlas Society did. My name is Money, in which we dramatized that as character and where she came from, what her struggles were, who's taking advantage of her, how we can resurrect her in her purest form. And then, of course, we also did. My name is Francisco Dankonia. We'll put that in the link as well. And we did. My name is Bitcoin. So those are all fun, short videos that people will enjoy. They all, I think, probably got about a million views each. So check them out.
So let's talk about how you discovered Bitcoin. So, I understand it was Bitcoin first, then Austrian economics, and finally Ayn Rand.
[00:15:44] Speaker B: Yeah. So again, it was curiosity. My mom guiding me towards reading as a solution to my curiOsity. Started out in the natural sciences when I was young, and then when I got into my later teenage years, I was very mystified, I think is probably the right word, by the economy.
People talking about stocks and bonds and all of these abstract financial instruments, I didn't understand what they were. I couldn't fathom how the market actually worked. And what it was. So I was like, I want to understand this. I want to learn how the world works.
And so really started to dive into reading economics, or what I thought was economics at the time, largely, it was the Economist magazine. I became a subscriber to that for years. I read it for years.
I think I learned a lot reading that. It's a magazine. It's more of a newspaper than a magazine, and covers a broad spectrum of topics. They go into arts and sciences, finance, economics, et cetera. Really good writing. So I think that was engaging for me.
[00:16:55] Speaker A: Are you still subscribing to the economy?
[00:16:58] Speaker B: No.
What a tragedy years ago, because other institutions succumbed. That's right.
I never understood economics as a result of reading that magazine. Actually, I had more questions. And I think now, in retrospect, it's because it was all Keynesian based, effectively. And that magazine as well didn't cover much Austrian thought at all. They had a few sections. Used to do a column on ScHMTR, who's not really an Austrian economist, but he kind of touches on some of the teachings of the.
So that was my current intellectual fascination. For years and years and years, I was also reading Economics newsletters and whatnot. That's what led me to the creature from Jekyll island, actually was.
I don't recall the name of it, but it was an economics newsletter that was issued once a week, and it recommended that book.
And, yeah, that's what got me started on that path. And then I graduated with a master's degree in accounting and finance. I went into the private sector. I was a CFO, mostly focused in tech companies for most of my career.
And then I discovered I heard about bitcoin in 2014, but just sort of wrote it off like many people do. And it wasn't until the late 2016 I started to explore crypto, trying to learn about what crypto is.
And in going down that rabbit hole, I just became increasingly aware that bitcoin was the main, if not the only, innovation in this entire space.
And it was in April 2018. I was fortunate to read the book the Bitcoin standard by safety and amuse. Basically. The weekend it came out, I think the weekend it came out, I ordered it and read it in two days.
And it was at that point that I had connected the dots. I was like, okay, this is that. When I read the book, the creature from Jekyll island, and came to the conclusion that there was no solution to central banking, I felt like in reading the Bitcoin standard, I had identified that solution. We needed a digital gold. We needed a non physical gold to solve the centralization issue. Gold is excellent money, but unfortunately, it lacks portability. So we had to innovate around that by centralizing the custody of gold inside of banks and then issuing banknotes or warehouse receipts on top of that to make gold a globally transactable currency. So in the very act of trying to scale gold as money, we got into this problem where we needed to trust banks and central banks to maintain full reserve, full reserve banking. And that's not an activity that any human is apparently capable of doing.
Every full reserve degenerates into a fractional reserve, and apparently every fractional reserve degenerates into a zero reserve fiat standard. And I think all of that is rooted in this technical flaw in gold, that it's physical and it's expensive to secure and move across space.
So a framing I like to use for this is if money is an instrument for moving economic value or purchasing power across time and space, gold is really good at moving value across time. We all know that, right? The fine man suit is worth cost the same in terms of gold as it did 100 years ago, but it's really bad at moving purchasing power across space. So we needed that derivative instrument, the banknote, the gold backed currency, to make it transactable and portable across space. But that got us into the centralization problem. So what we really needed to solve central banking is a non physical gold, something that does not necessitate centralization to scale as a globally transactable currency. And so that was my light bulb moment. And Bitcoin standard also introduced me to Austrian economics, and I've been going down that rabbit hole ever since.
[00:21:17] Speaker A: All right, I have many more questions for you, but we've got some really good ones coming in from the audience, so we're going to dip into those. My modern Gault from Instagram. So good to see you again, my friend. He is asking, what do you think is the most common misunderstanding when it comes to property?
[00:21:40] Speaker B: Oh, wow. It's one of my favorite topics.
The conventional idea of property is typically real estate, right? When you say, I own property, people think you mean you own land.
And maybe the term, I don't know how the term got transformed into that, but private property is essentially freedom.
So, one framing for this is life, liberty, property, right? Life is your future freedom. If I take your life, I've stolen your future freedom. That would be murder, right? Liberty is your present freedom. Your ability to move about as you see fit, go where you please. If you take someone's liberty, you've incarcerated them, right? You've stolen their present freedom. And property is the fruits of your past freedom. The things you've accumulated through work or through trade that rightfully and justly belong to you because you did the work to create them. And so if you violate someone's private property, you're basically stealing the fruits of their past freedom.
Another framing for this is, and this is a bit more abstract, but this is the one that really clicked with me, is that private property isn't a thing.
It's the relationship between an owner and asset, right? It's like a legally acknowledged or a socially acknowledged binding between an owner and an asset. And we have to codify this into the law so that there's recourse if someone violates that relationship, right? If someone steals your car, you need to be able to call someone or otherwise regain the asset that was stolen from you.
And Mises has a great quote on this. He says, if history can teach us anything, it's that civilization and private property are inexorably linked.
If we can't own the fruits of our own labor across time and use that to accumulate wealth and improve our position in life, then none of the other rights matter, none of the other freedoms matter. And Rand has a quote on this as well, right that without the right to life is the only right, and then the only implementation of that right is private property.
[00:24:02] Speaker A: And without the right to private property, no other rights are possible.
[00:24:05] Speaker B: Exactly. So it's foundational to civilization itself. And I really think this is also the exclusive philosophical scope of government. I think government should only exist to preserve life, liberty and property.
I also don't think government needs to fund itself through non consensual exchange. I don't think it needs to steal from people through taxation and inflation. I think there's different ways to do it. There's ways to have governance structures that are consensual in nature. But the problem is that, well, the monopoly on violence has a lot of power, right? They can just sort of dictate to you what your tax rate is going to be, and you don't really have a seat at that negotiating table. And I think Bitcoin is interesting here because, well, first of all, it's uninflatable. So its monetization would eliminate inflation as a revenue option for the state. And it's also very easy to conceal and move. So if a state were taxing you excessively or being excessively oppressive through regulation or anything else, you could take your purchasing power and move to a jurisdiction that treats you better. So I think it enables people to vote with their wallet and with their feet in a way that holds the state more accountable to the preferences of citizens.
[00:25:26] Speaker A: You know, it's interesting, when I was interviewing Michael Saylor, he told this story of an experience that led him to primed him to understand the importance of bitcoin. And it was that he had some company or assets in, I think, Argentina. And overnight, the government decided to devalue the currency by 50%, or that they were going to do this. And he was scrambling to think, how am I going to get my property, my assets, my capital out of this country that just said they are going to take half of it by fiat?
And he was getting creative. He was thinking, well, okay, how about I take the money, I buy a yacht, and I sail it to America, and then I sell the yacht.
Of course, that wasn't even.
You know, Bitcoin does make it possible to do that. And there's a reason why Ricardo Salinas, who was our honoree at our 7th annual gala just a couple of weeks ago, is holding 60% of its liquid assets in Bitcoin.
Yeah, I'd have another layer to your very eloquent description of property.
I tend to also think of it as capital. And the. The Socialists want to nationalize, seize the means of production, capital. And of course, there is capital that can be assets, that it can be monetary assets, but it's initially, your capital is your means of production. That's your mind, that's your reason.
And that's why I like to say that as individuals, we are not owned and we are not owed. And thinking of ourselves as our first and foremost property, our minds, our bodies, and having domain over those.
[00:27:48] Speaker B: All right, if I could add something to that, actually, we just did an episode on what is money in Argentina, actually. And that's a very telling sequence of events about the problems with fiat currency.
They basically destroyed, I think, five currencies in the span of a few decades. They kept adding zeros and then issuing a new currency and chopping off old zeros. And, yeah, I would encourage people to check that out. And property is also.
What does Hoppa say? That human action is, like, the primary category, and the second most important category is private property. And you can actually define communism, socialism, and capitalism in terms of private property.
Communism is the institutionalized abolition of private property. The state owns everything. You own nothing. Socialism.
[00:28:42] Speaker A: And you will be happy, and you.
[00:28:44] Speaker B: Will be happy by dictate. And socialism is an institutionalized policy of aggression against private property.
And capitalism is an institutionalized policy of respect for private property and consensual transfers of private property via contract. So you can sort of wipe away all of the confusing intellectual philosophical debate about communism versus socialism versus capitalism. If you just look at private property itself, again, that's the point of government, is to preserve that social institution such that we can deal with one another via consent rather than coercion. And if you want to go all the way to the bottom, I think, of the philosophical rabbit hole of property, I would just say that property is justice, right? If justice is people getting what they deserve. Property is just people keeping what they earn.
So that is people getting what they deserve, right? If you worked to create it or you traded for it through a consensual exchange, then you own it. You have full rights and exclusive control over that asset and the ability to exclude others from using it. So if you want a just society, it has to be capitalistic.
Any degree of socialism or communism is inherently unjust when framed in terms of private property.
[00:30:09] Speaker A: And I think that is really important to emphasize, because generally people make arguments against communism that are economic and they're historic, and those don't seem to have prevailed.
First and foremost, we must make the moral argument about why it is unethical and unjust and without winning that fight. That's where Ayn Rand took her stand. I think that is why she is so reviled by the left, is because she challenged them on their supposed moral high ground and challenged not just their track record, but also their motives. And Hayek, one of my beefs with him and Rand's beefs with him is that he said that socialism, communism, well, at least they had lofty ideals. And Ayn Rand was very adamant in pointing out the motivations of envy, of entitlement, of greed, properly understood as the desire for the unearned, and saying, no, this is not necessarily some idealistic venture, but in fact, it is powerlust cloaked in altruistic language. All right, another good question from our dear friend Candice Morena on Facebook. She is asking, Robert, what would you suggest as must reads for a young adult?
[00:31:55] Speaker B: Oh, that is a very challenging.
You know, the devil's in the details. Who is this young adult? What are they trying to learn?
[00:32:03] Speaker A: That's true. That's true.
If they like fiction, if they are.
[00:32:08] Speaker B: Readers, I've recommended this trio of books. I think they dovetail really nicely together.
It's an interesting trio. The first one is the book Leela by Robert Persig.
He authored the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which he's very famous for. But 15 years later, he wrote another book called Leela, an Inquiry into Morals. And it's a blend of, like, a fictional narrative plus some autobiographical elements where he's incorporating his own life into the story to some extent. And then it's also a philosophical treatise on metaphysics and very well written book. And I guess the punchline to it is that he viewed value as fundamental. Like value was the fundamental reality.
Very hard for me to make a synopsis of it, but I would encourage people to check that out. I also liked Jordan Peterson's maps of meaning. It goes into the nature of mythology and psychology and how interconnected they are. He kind of is talking about praxiology, which is the study of human action, without actually talking about it. So it's as if some of these mythological structures from the past were kind of pointing at the importance of praxiology before it was formally defined and expanded upon by people like mises.
And then the third book is Human Action by Mises, which know the magnum opus of Austrian economics, as far as I can tell.
I would read them in that order. Leela is the easiest read. Maps of meaning is a very difficult read, but not as difficult as human action. Human action is extremely difficult.
I think Mises learned the English language in his forty S or fifty s and wrote that book. So the way he uses English is incredible, but makes for a difficult read. But I think if you read all three of them, it has this effect of kind of dissolving a materialist worldview. Like, you really come to see this other side of reality, which I like to say that you can perceive the world as made of matter, or you can perceive the world as made of what matters, right. This domain of relevance and purpose and intention and value that we participate in. And I think those three books are really interesting when read together.
[00:34:45] Speaker A: And, of course, Candice, as you might imagine, I would add to that, particularly if know a teenager anthem and give them our graphic novel adaptation of that with artwork by Marvel Comics illustrator Dan Parsons. Red Pond, another graphic novel. Kids love graphic novels. And then, of course, I would add Atlas Front. Being a teenager or young adult is a perfect time to take that on. All right. Also on Facebook, Jack Stenner asks Robert, do you think people are more prone to emotion than reason? Or has social media over exaggerated this?
[00:35:32] Speaker B: It's a great question.
I do think we are emotional animals. There's no question about that. And I do think it's most effective. And perhaps this gets back to the importance of art, that you really need to connect with someone emotionally, like connect with their heart, before you're going to influence their mind. That's not, of course, this is a generality. There's some people that are more rational. They'll just kind of take arguments based on their merits. But it seems like if you're going to influence a large number of people, you really need some type of artistic vEneer. And this is why Atlas Shrugged is so amazing, right? It's a masterpiece novel.
It's entertaining, it's engaging, but you're also.
[00:36:25] Speaker A: Mystery.
[00:36:27] Speaker B: When I read that book, I'm blown away that a human could write that, basically.
[00:36:30] Speaker A: Truly? Truly, yeah, that I'd say. And Frank Herbert's Dune, you're like, did this come from this person or it's just so out of this world.
[00:36:44] Speaker B: I haven't read that one yet, but I really enjoyed the movie, so I will have to read that.
I would say, to answer the question, I think we're, at the surface more motivated emotionally. A lot of people are swayed more easily by emotions, but I have a lot of faith in human rationality.
This is, again, a meta tool that we've been developing across eons.
We take it for granted today that we can both run this open source software in our minds called English, and have a rational discourse about other books that people have written.
This is not something that was easily done a few thousand years ago. Most people were illiterate, actually, before the inventing of the printing press, the invention of the printing press.
And so I think it's something that we can keep improving upon.
And I do believe, too, that now that we're in the digital age and the liquidity of ideas and information is unprecedented, that rationality will become a more and more important feature of human beings. Like, when I look at young people today, especially digital natives, many are highly intelligent. They grew up tapped into this distributed information network called the Internet, and their cognitive development reflects that.
Who knows what the long run consequences are? Maybe the Internet is somewhat of an intellectual crutch, but I like to think optimistically that having access to that much information sort of accelerates the truth discovery process. Right. It's creating more of a free market for ideas rather than a top down media paradigm as we lived under prior to the digital age.
[00:38:35] Speaker A: That's true.
All right. Also from Facebook, Georgie Alexopoulos asks, what would you say to people who view bitcoin as something people are trying to invest in so they can flee rather than work to try and reverse our current course.
[00:38:55] Speaker B: Well, Bitcoin may be something people use to flee. I mean, if you're talking about fleeing an oppressive regime or fleeing a hyperinflation, then absolutely it can be used as a tool to flee.
That's maybe a negative connotation for saying it's a tool for freedom, right. You can take the fruits of your labor, right? All of the things you have accumulated, the economic energy, the purchasing power, whatever term you want to use here. And you can store it in something that's hyperportable. Right. And unconfiscatable. So I think that's not a critique of Bitcoin. I would say that's a feature, not a bug.
And in saying that it's not something that reforms the current system, I would have to strongly disagree. I mean, every unit of purchasing power that's stored in bitcoin rather than fiat currency, is devitalizing to the state. Right. The state can't print bitcoin as a revenue option. So the higher percentage of global cash balances that are stored in bitcoin, which is another way of saying the higher bitcoin's market capitalization becomes, the less state power is, in my opinion, right. Again, this is an organization that derives all of its revenues from non consensual exchange. It's really hard to steal bitcoin. It's impossible to inflate and hard to steal. So this, in my mind, is like a check on the predations of the state. And I think that's a very important instrument for liberty and Georgie.
[00:40:39] Speaker A: I'd also know, of course, Atlas Shrud, which I hope you've read.
I think defining theme is about the sanction of the victim and withdrawing the sanction of the victim. That is the entire character arc of Dagny Taggart trying to fix things, trying to fix her company, trying to fix the world, and then realizing that the deck was stacked against her and that she was sacrificing herself, which is the height of immorality. And so I think, I agree with Robert that this is not a dichotomy at all. This is not an either or. But certainly refusing to be sacrificed, refusing to let your property be looted and fractionally stolen from you is your moral duty to yourself.
All right, now, you said at the very top, talking about your experience with your grandfather, I think it was your grandfather and his time in the Korean War and his making you promise never to enter the military. I wanted to circle back to that because you've posted on X that saving in Bitcoin is voting against war. I think I see where that's going, but can you lay it out for us? And does the same dynamic apply also to any government spending that we don't like?
[00:42:20] Speaker B: Absolutely. I mean, this gets back to the point that I just made.
If you just imagined a world where everyone's holding their savings in Bitcoin, governments would have absolutely no inflation. They couldn't inflate the monetary base, they couldn't counterfeit currency to steal purchasing power from savers, and therefore, that would remove a revenue option for states.
So as you save more purchasing power on Bitcoin, you are decrementing the ability of the state to fund war via inflation. And this is very important because inflation, like, if we look at the US war on terror, right, I think it spanned approximately 20 years. You could say that it's still going on. I think the cost, when I did this analysis, it was a couple of years ago, so the numbers may have changed a bit.
I wrote this in, I think, masters and slaves of money. It may have been a different piece, but the cost at that time of the war on terror was around $2.5 trillion.
And just by coincidence, when I looked to see how much us M Two had expanded during that time, it was $2.8 trillion. Right? So this war on terror, which is more truthfully described as a US imperialist campaign, was funded entirely via money printing.
And if they didn't have that option, right, if they couldn't inflate and debase the currency to fund the war effort, the US would instead be forced to either borrow or send people tax bills. Right? And the numbers on that worked out to. I think that 2.5 trillion worked out to, like $80,000 per US household. So if you could imagine every US household getting a bill for $80,000 from the US government saying, hey, we're blowing people up on the other side of the world, and we need you to pay your fair share.
Please send us a check for $80,000. You could imagine how much resistance that would be met with versus the alternative of inflation, where you just print the money, wage the war, and then blame the inevitable price inflation, which is the consequence of the monetary inflation on everything but the central bank.
It's Putin's inflation, it's Beyonce's inflation, it's the supply chains, it's this. It's that mainstream media will blame inflation on anything and everyone other than the actual root of the problem, which is the legal monopoly on currency counterfeiting that we call central banking. So this weird plausible deniability. That's built into inflation, I think, is a very terrible tool for deception. And if you can remove that element, then it forces governments to be more honest ultimately, and more explicit in the funding of their activities.
And to maybe tie this back to what we were talking about earlier in terms of communism versus socialism versus capitalism, very important to understand that money printing is theft, right? It is a way of stealing from savers. And so we pride ourselves as free market capitalists in the west, right? We're always talking about the importance of free markets. I was just speaking at the ARC conference here in London, which intends to be the anti World Economic Forum. And one of the central pillars of ARC is free markets. And so in my panel on the future of money, I said, look, guys, you're up here proclaiming the importance of free markets, but no one is addressing the elephant in the room.
There is centrally planned money in every economy in the world. You could fully free and unhamper every single market, and you would not achieve a 100% free market because money is one half of every transaction. So if you have totally free markets, but you have a central bank, you have at best, a 50% free market.
And this is Marxist in its roots, right? This is Marx's 1848 manifesto to the Communist Party. Measure number five reads, the state needs a central monopoly and exclusive monopoly on cash and credit. That's a necessity for Marxism or communism to operate. And so standing in total contradistinction to that is bitcoin, right? Bitcoin is a pure free market. Anywhere you can discover cheap energy, well, you can set up a miner and turn that untapped energy resource into money, and by extension, by giving people recourse to this sound savings instrument that's impossible to inflate and hard to steal. It's impressing capitalistic values on every other market in the world. And I just think that is almost an overwhelming innovation.
[00:47:24] Speaker A: So bitcoin has had a great year, even a great last month.
What do you attribute that to? I mean, I think what really has a lot of people skittish about investing is the. Is the volatility. So what do you attribute the recent upsurge? Is it news about the pending approval of a bitcoin exchange traded fund? What other factors might be playing a role?
[00:47:58] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm always very skittish to ascribe narratives to short term market moves, because that's kind of the purpose of the market, right? Is to sort out collective psychology and just generate the price, tell us what the thing cost. And that's all the information we really need.
That said, I am still a subscriber to the having.
Every four years, the natural sellers of bitcoin are basically cut in half.
Miners that are mining bitcoin, they're earning bitcoin as their revenue. They're selling a lot of it to pay for their capital and operational expenditures. Every four years, the new issuance of bitcoin declines by 50%. So that natural selling of bitcoin is cut in half. So if you hold demand constant, that obviously puts upward pressure on the price. And this is something we know with perfect certainty when these not perfect, approximate certainty when these havings occur, they occur every four years, but it has to do with the block time as of the exact date. And so we've seen this cycle repeat where?
Last time I looked at this, I think it's roughly 510 days after each bitcoin having it hits a new all time high price.
So how many times does that cycle need to repeat before people start to front run this asset? Right. And you're rationalizing, right? It's okay. The money printing is not going to stop.
The quantitative easing is not going to stop. The quantitative tightening of bitcoin is not going to stop. What happens when you denominate a quantitatively tightening asset in terms of a quantitatively easing asset, fiat currency. Well, you get a higher dollar price of bitcoin, effectively. So I think that's a big driver. There's kind of a systemic driver of bitcoin's number go up technology, as we like to say. But then there's also all these other narratives, right? Institutional adoption, Blackrock buying Bitcoin ETF, opening up more channels for capital to flow into this asset. I think these are all important, but I hesitate to give you any specific narrative for why Bitcoin has performed well over the past month.
[00:50:19] Speaker A: All right, well, we have a little less than ten minutes left. There was a couple of things I wanted to get to, and apologies to all of you who asked questions that we're not going to be able to cover. But you made, I thought, a pretty startling prediction. In one of your interviews, you said that the US dollar will hyperinflate by 2035. Do you still believe that? And what do you base it on?
[00:50:46] Speaker B: Yeah. So those who live by the crystal ball are bound to eat glass. So, caveat in tour, it's just a prediction of mine.
I would also say that I'll first explain the prediction. So I looked at the rate of hyperinflations historically, and there's a book called fiat Currency Inflation in France, and it talks about this law of accelerating issuance and depreciation. So every time you print money, you're debasing the currency, you're incentivizing others, market actors, to accumulate more debt because you can borrow strong dollars and pay back weaker dollars over time. So fiat currency is incentivizing indebtedness.
This causes credit expansions. Right. And so when you print a round of money, you're basically blowing another credit bubble. And then when that bubble burst, you have exponentially more liabilities than you did.
That spurred the last round of printing. So the next round of printing is typically exponentially larger to try and shore up these liabilities. And for a simple example of this, in 2008, we printed $700 billion. That was an astronomical figure at the time. Well, in 2020, we printed almost ten X that right, somewhere in the neighborhood of six to $8 trillion.
This gets into, like, Austrian business cycle theory. Each round of printing is sowing the seeds for more credit expansion. Like an exponent, an exponential, exponentially more credit expansion. And every credit bust necessitates exponentially more money printing. So if you just play this out, I think we're probably one to two economic crises away before the US dollar hyperinflates, which I estimated to be roughly 15 years out. Now, to counter my own prediction, there's this strange countervailing phenomenon, which is we're rapidly expanding human productivity through digital technologies and innovation. The more we expand human productivity, the more runway we can actually give the fiat system. Right. The more economic surplus we are generating through technological advance. There's more economic surplus that can be harvested by the printing of money. So I could be very wrong, right? It depends kind of how fast productivity advances relative to how fast the money is being debased. I'm not sure which one of these tectonic forces is going to win out.
[00:53:36] Speaker A: Where does China's plan for a digital yuan fit into that future scenario?
[00:53:42] Speaker B: Well, I think know central bank digital currencies are basically fiat currencies on steroids, right? So not only will they be able to tax you directly out of your bank account, they'll also be able to survey you.
It's a prerequisite to a social credit score system. So it's escalating the oppression of government in a very serious way.
I don't think it will do much to stop the printing of money, though, because again, this ship has already kind of been sailed. Right? I don't see governments reversing course on it, especially given the levels of national indebtedness so I would like to think that any attempts to roll out a CBDC in other parts of the world, specifically in the west, will be met with fierce resistance.
But either way, the money printing is not going to stop. So I don't think the CBDC will have much effect on that front.
[00:54:47] Speaker A: One almost final question. I understand you've met with RFK Jr. Is there a declared candidate?
I know you've also flirted with the idea of making a run, but when you look at the field as it now stands, which candidates are the most bitcoin friendly, or at least any candidates that are talking about the issues that you're talking about today, I should first.
[00:55:18] Speaker B: Talk about my flirtation with running for president. I actually put it out as a joke, a tweet, I think I said, I'll happily run for US president on a platform of 0% taxation. Who's with me?
I was actually joking. But then the Libertarian Party was reaching out to me like, are you serious? Let's do this, et cetera. So I don't actually have any political ambitions.
Of all the things that disinterest me, I think politics is at the top of the list.
Obviously, it's a reality that we inhabit. But what really excites me about Bitcoin is that maybe we can wake up from this delusion that we need to be politically coerced, to be organized as a species. I just don't think it's necessary.
I would define politics as the art of survival inside of human hierarchies.
What I would like to see is those human hierarchies to be based more on competence and less on coercion. So more free markets, less state.
But in terms of the reality we're in today, I very much appreciate that RFK is talking about Bitcoin and talking about the problems of money printing. And he's flirting with the idea of creating US treasury instruments that are backed by commodities, gold, Bitcoin, et cetera. These are all good things, right? Just to get the idea to permeate the collective consciousness a bit more.
And if the US were to embrace Bitcoin, I think this starts to help us reverse course, right? We kind of can get back to our foundational values as a constitutional republic that honors life, liberty and property and has low to no taxes, very predictable and solid rules. And we would then live in a world that's led by entrepreneurial elites rather than political elites.
[00:57:25] Speaker A: It sounds like a future I would be voting for.
[00:57:30] Speaker B: Exactly. Yes. The voting thing, I don't think voting is that effective? I mean, it is at the fringes, but ultimately, I think money is the most important voting system, right? When you buy something, you tell the market to make more of it. When you sell something, you tell the market to make less of it. That's what really determines the reality that we inhabit. And I think we can radically increase human productivity to the same extent that we decrease systematic theft via inflation and taxation.
[00:58:02] Speaker A: I think both are important. I don't think it's an either or, but I agree that voting with your assets is something that we don't talk about enough. Finally, tell us a little bit about Parallax Digital. What kind of services does it provide?
[00:58:17] Speaker B: Yeah, I don't do much with Parallax anymore. Before getting into the space, I was operating a hedge fund, and so that was under the Parallax umbrella. I also do some consulting work there less. These days, I'm much more focused on education and the podcast writing, public speaking.
So yeah, I would say if you want to stay current with me and my work, I would just check out whatismoneypodcast.com. That's where I'm doing most of my work these days.
[00:58:47] Speaker A: Fantastic. And follow you on Twitter and definitely check out his video about Francisco's money speech. It's really breathtaking and appreciated learning a little bit about the artistic creativity that went into it, because I think that also made it very powerful. So thank you, Robert. Really appreciate you joining us from the evening over there in the UK and hope to see you back in Southern California soon.
[00:59:14] Speaker B: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me, and.
[00:59:17] Speaker A: Thanks to everyone who joined us. Thank you for your great questions. Apologies that we didn't get to all of them. Maybe you can ask Robert on Twitter. And especially I want to say to our regulars, Candice and my modern Gaul, those of you who join us frequently, if you haven't yet contributed to support our nonprofit work at the Atlas Society, I'm asking you today, it's my birthday, so that's what I want for my birthday, is for you to make a tax thank you. A tax deductible donation. If you are new, not to this podcast, but new as a donor, our trustees are going to match that. So thank you in advance and I hope that all of you will join us next week. Or I'd say not join me because I'm going to be in New York and the Atlas Society's senior fellow, Antonella Marti and Robert Trisinski, they're going to host a special current events webinar discussing nationalism as realized in different countries around the world. So we'll see you there. Bye.