Friday, February 28, 2014

Once Again, Technology Evangelists Miss the Point

This morning Amanda Kooser used her Crave blog on CNET to post a poll on whether or not Bitcoin should be banned. This provided me with yet another example of how those acolytes of anarchy, who serve at the altar of the Internet, never seem to get the point when any question of governance arises. Usually, I am content to observe that the concept of governance is simply alien to the Internet community, even when the issue at stake involves death threats to one of its own.

Because "Internet fidelity" imposes blinders that limit view to only the most objectively technical issues, those acolytes have never really grasped the fact that currency systems are all "fictions of convenience." Thus, to maintain the acolyte metaphor, the very act of attributing a value of a currency amounts to an article of faith. I would modestly propose that one of the functions of government is to impose some set of constraints based on rationality to limit the damage brought on by the irrationality of faith.

In less explosive language this amounts to saying that matters of regulation and oversight should be the responsibility of some form of governmental authority. As long as the Internet is run by those who question the authority of any form of governance, abuses such as those of the recent Bitcoin episode will continue to occur, since there are no regulations to check them nor any body of oversight to implement the checking. I realize that, from this point of view, this makes the Internet sound like a lemming headed for a cliff. On the other hand, when we consider how many of today's crises may be attributed to failures of governments to do their jobs in a manner that will earn the consent of the governed, we can appreciate why a preference for anarchy among the acolytes will endure. Bitcoin may not be the cliff that kills the lemming, but we should recognize that it has the potential to do so.

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