This is opinion editor Mark Maraiah, entrepreneur, author of Rainmaking Made Simple, and bitcoiner.
“How do you feel about money?”
I’d argue that for many, it’s the question, “Are you happy in your marriage?” is a more intimate question.
I’m sure most readers have never thought deeply about their relationship with money. Those raised with a scarcity mindset will never have enough. This is usually learned from parents and family at a very young age. It is also powered by fiat. If you’re losing 7.7% of your purchasing power every year, you’re likely to induce a scarcity mindset. Those who grew up or nurtured an abundance mindset were programmed differently. Either way, the way you think around and about money is ultimately a choice; you can modify or rewrite the program. For some people, this is easy. For others, it’s almost impossible. There are people who have a lot of money but are still not happy.
In our modern world, there are many people who believe that money is important for life. There are some who idolize money to the extreme. They worship making it and they worship those who do more than it. If you have or earn enough money, count your blessings. A man or woman who has few needs lives more freely and abundantly than others.
Most of us have a special—often invisible or unexamined—relationship with money. For some, it gives them all the reason to be in this world, and for others, it is a means to an end. As we watch Prime Minister Justin Trudeau freeze Canadian truckers’ bank accounts or Biden’s theft of Russian reserves, we begin to realize some grim realities about the nature of money. If you don’t have physical possession of a monetary asset, you only have an IOU, and that IOU is very weak if the governing bodies decide that your words or actions don’t fit their worldview. Usually, the IOU is from the bank or credit union where “you” deposit your money. The only catch is: Once it’s deposited in the bank, it’s not “your” money.
“Not your keys, not your coins,” as Bitcoins like to say. What many non-Bitcoiners fail to realize is that the money in their bank account doesn’t actually belong to them. Zoltan Pozsar, global head of short-term interest rate strategy at Credit Suisse, argues that we are entering a new era of Bretton Woods III, where money includes domestic and foreign money, and argues that commodities will form the basis of international currency affairs. Inside the money is money with an intermediary like a bank. All the money you have is actually an IOU. Foreign money is money outside the banking system. They cannot charge you by denying access to your account, nor can they inflate it.
The money you earn for the work you do is proof of work. If you are lucky, you earn more than you need for daily life. In the age of paper money, this meant trading your precious time, labor and life energy for green paper strips and small metal discs. Today, you exchange your precious time, labor and life energy for pixels on a computer screen. Looking through that lens, one begins to understand that money is just a symbol. If we have an IOU with just one bank, all sorts of mischief is possible by governments and banks. This can include rescue, hostage taking and outright theft. This is deeply disturbing. Our reliance on government-issued currencies means that our wealth can be confiscated at the stroke of a button or pen.
At the outset, the question can be divided into two very important and personal questions:
How is your relationship with the US dollar?
I grew up very lucky. I lived in a home where there was always food on the table, a roof over our heads, and the privilege of never having to worry about money. Classical middle class upbringing through high school. I went to public school and private college, paid for half my tuition, and worked as a professional after graduation.
I was very lucky to grow up and never think too much about money. It was low on my list of priorities and remains so to this day. I rarely worried about having enough money and generally took money for granted. Yes, I was living paycheck to paycheck in the early days of my career, but I had savings — modest as they were — and financially supportive parents. The family banker of last resort, as it were.
That upbringing was both a blessing and a curse. Why the curse? Because I never paid much attention to money. I was never taught about money, the banking system, or the financial system, other than the unspoken values modeled by my parents. Those of us living in the US enjoy the added privilege of having the world’s reserve currency in our pockets. This privilege is one that most Americans take for granted.
Today, the US dollar is still considered the world’s most powerful currency, but it is no longer a reliable store of value. Even the most privileged people start to take notice after watching the Federal Reserve and our government keep putting nonsense money into circulation.
All Americans alive today grew up with the world’s reserve currency, the dollar. For many, this means nothing. Most of us probably remember the first time someone handed us a $5 bill or some other bill when we were young, and we hurried and thought. “Wow, I’m rich!”
Do you have a strong sense of pride in the United States and its founding ideals? Could this affect your view of the dollar? Are you ashamed of the perpetual wars we’ve been fighting since Vietnam? Although it may seem insignificant, these feelings will dramatically affect your relationship with the country’s currency.
Are you a money manager at a hedge fund? Are you a millennial? Are you a boomer? Are you a venture capitalist? Each will shape your relationship with the world’s most desirable fiat currency. Do you see your bank account or access to capital as a source of security, a source of security or a source of power? Do you consider having a bank account a privilege? These are all symbols. Most people in the world are unbanked. As we learn in 2022, these symbols lose their luster and are very illusory.
Enter a new child on the block that was silently spawned on January 3, 2009.
What is your relationship with Bitcoin?
A large percentage of people in the Western world reject it. Like all new technologies, we have a hard time trusting something we don’t understand. Until we have no choice. Canadian truckers didn’t care about bitcoin until they had to. I believe we have now entered an era where the fiat system’s disruptions leave us with no choice but to learn more about bitcoin.
This is a guest post by Mark Maraia. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.