The crypto-currency Bitcoin is still merely a speck on the global monetary landscape. It is young, experimental, and for all we know, it may ultimately fail to break into the monetary mainstream. However, on a conceptual level I am willing to call it a work of genius and arguably the most exciting development in the field of money for more than 130 years. Letâ€™s say since the start of the Classical Gold Standard in 1879. Does this sound like hyperbole? Well, let me explain.
The Decline and Fall of Capitalist Money
The 20th century was, broadly speaking, a period of almost constant monetary decay. At around 1900 most economists, politicians and bankers would have correctly stated that global capitalism â€“ an international market economy facilitating the free exchange of goods and services across political borders and thus allowing extensive human cooperation through trade â€“ required an international, apolitical, and hard form of money. Such money was gold. It was the basis of the capitalist economy and it imposed strict discipline on all market participants. Crucially, that included governments and banks. Governments had to operate pretty much like private businesses. They had to balance their books, i.e. live within the means provided by taxation, and if they borrowed money in the marketplace their lenders were at full risk of default as no government could print money (gold) to repay loans or even meet interest payments on loans. Banks, of course, issued banknotes or bank-deposits that were not backed by gold but still used by the public as if they were money proper â€“ these were and still are â€˜money-derivativesâ€™ â€“ but again they did so at full risk of default as nobody could â€˜printâ€™ bank-reserves (gold again) to bail out the banks in case the public tired of the â€˜derivativesâ€™ and wanted to hold gold instead.
Over the course of the 20th century â€“ or to be precise, from 1914 to 1971 â€“ the monetary system was completely changed as a consequence of a number of entirely political maneuvers, all of them undermining the quality of money. Today, hard, international and apolitical money has everywhere been replaced with entirely elastic, national and politicized money, with money that central banks issue under a territorial monopoly at no cost and with no meaningful constraints on issuance, and that the central bankers use to â€˜manageâ€™ the â€˜nationalâ€™ economy (itself increasingly an out-of-date-concept), and to fund the state and grow the domestic banks (which, under the protection of a lender-of-last-and-first-resort, now issue unprecedented amounts of money derivatives).
Today the global monetary map resembles a patchwork of local, â€œnationalisticâ€ paper monies, each of which is a political tool, often openly manipulated in an attempt to benefit the local export industry at the expense of foreign competitors or to â€˜stimulateâ€™ the ethereal concept of â€˜aggregate demandâ€™. Not surprisingly, the global economy is drowning in debt (increasingly public sector debt), suffers from a bloated financial sector and international trade tensions, and stumbles from one crisis to another, each one worse than its predecessor.
Bizarrely â€“ but not entirely surprisingly â€“ politicians, bankers and modern â€˜enlightenedâ€™ economists now tell us that this unhinged financial system is to our benefit, really, just trust us.
Truth be told, the present monetary system is a hindrance to free trade, properly functioning markets and human cooperation across borders, and it might already be on its last leg. Yet a powerful but entirely misguided, consensus seems to have taken hold of public opinion, namely that â€˜elasticâ€™ money could be beneficial if moneyâ€™s supply was only managed astutely by some clever monetary central planners.
You can find out a whole lot more at the official Bitcoin URLhttp://bitcoin.org/en/
The future is ours to make and we don't have to keep doing the same old same old hoping to get a different result. This planet needs new smarter and fairer for all solutions. Global Elite your time is up! One planet, one people, one future.
Casascius Bitcoins are physical coins you can hold - and each one is worth real digital bitcoins.
Bitcoin is the most widely used open-source peer-to-peer "cryptocurrency" that you can send over the Internet without a bank or a middleman.
Each Casascius Bitcoin is a collectible coin backed by real Bitcoins embedded inside. Each piece has its own Bitcoin address and a redeemable "private key" on the inside, underneath the hologram.
Current products available for sale:
à¸¿1 Casascius Coin: This is a solid brass coin. Each 1-bitcoin coin is about 1.125inch (28.6mm) in diameter (just bigger than a US quarter but smaller than a half-dollar) and weighs a quarter ounce. Perfect as a small gift to introduce someone to Bitcoin. Also available in a à¸¿0.5 version which is slightly smaller at 1 inch (25.4mm).
à¸¿25 Casascius Coin: This brilliant coin is electroplated with real gold. It's sure to get attention, or at least to take a chat about cryptocurrency out of the abstract and into the aesthetically pleasing. Each coin is about 1.75inch (44.5mm) in diameter, 2.9mm thick, and weighs about 1.2 ounces. Makes a great savings gift for someone special. (2011 version - will not be remade - for sale while supply lasts)
Casascius 2-Factor Gold-Plated Savings Bar: Dress your Bitcoins for tomorrow, make them look their best in your vault today. Would weigh about 12 ounces if it were solid gold, this is a 4.2-ounce metal alloy bar with gold plating. A neat-looking novelty that looks unmistakably valuable. Available as a pre-loaded 100 BTC bar, as well as a non-denominated savings bar. Two-factor encryption is included at no charge. Bar is 80mm x 40mm x 6mm.
How they work: The "private key" is on a card embedded inside the coin and is protected by a tamper-evident hologram. The hologram leaves behind a honeycomb pattern if it is peeled. If the hologram is intact, the bitcoin is good. If you have purchased a 2-factor item, the private key is encrypted and will need to be decrypted using your original preselected passphrase before you can redeem the funds.
The 8-character code you see on the outside of the coin is the first eight characters of the Bitcoin address assigned specifically to that coin. You can verify the coin's balance on Block Explorer. There is a mathematical relationship between the Bitcoin address and the private key inside the coin. The digital bitcoin is actually located on the public "block chain" stored on the internet, but it is completely inaccessible to anyone unless the private key from the coin is loaded into a Bitcoin wallet.
To recover the digital bitcoins, there are several ways to convert the embedded code back into a digital bitcoin so it can be spent over the internet. Most importantly, none of the methods relies on me or any other central issuer, due to Bitcoin's completely decentralized design. The embedded private key code is everything a Bitcoin client needs to find and claim the digital Bitcoins from the peer-to-peer network. For example, you can enter (or "import") your coin's private key code directly into Bitcoin clients such as Armory, Blockchain.info, or directly into Mt. Gox as a deposit method. (Casascius coins use the "minikey" private key format, and the main Bitcoin.org client does not yet support redeeming minikeys.)
Of course, since the face value of the coins depends on the integrity of the embedded key code, you should only accept Casascius Bitcoins bearing an undamaged Casascius hologram from others.
This Casascius Physical Bitcoins website is operated by Mike Caldwell, 2901 Little Cottonwood Road, Sandy, Utah 84092. E-mail is casascius at mc2cs.com.
Max Keiser: â€œIt is inevitable that Bitcoin will become a multi-trillion dollar enterprise because every other currency in the world is tied to dying central banks that are encumbered with impossible-to-pay debts and bankrupt counter-party risks.â€