Bitcoin bull Anthony Pompliano and author Michael Shellenberger debated the merits of cryptocurrency, with differences in opinion boiling down to contrasting outlooks on the role of government.
Shellenberger is a staunch Bitcoin critic
Shellenberger likened his Bitcoin stance to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s, who recently proposed harsh legislation “leveling the playing field between crypto and [the] financial system” in the wake of the FTX scandal.
The author expanded by saying he sees no purpose to crypto and that regulating it is nonsensical because, to him, digital assets are not “a real thing.”
“I think it’s basically a pyramid scheme built on top of a criminal digital enterprise built on top of a beautiful digital art project.”
Pompliano responded by adopting a strategy that casts aside the whole narrative that comes with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
Instead, Pompliano sought common ground with Shellenberger by espousing three core beliefs. These were tackling inflation, challenging “oversight players” who operate in ways that run counter to the greater good, and in support of the U.S. constitution and what that stands for, such as protecting property rights and freedom of speech.
Shellenberger made clear that his issue with Bitcoin is not based on differences in values. Rather, his skepticism stems from the “absurd” “libertarian fantasy” that Bitcoiners can escape the government. Yet governments are necessary for societal order and in protecting the weak and vulnerable.
“It’s not a values difference because we all value public safety and freedom and democracy. I think there’s a libertarian fantasy that is tied up with seasteading, that’s tied up with getting away from the nation-state that I think is absurd…”
What should the role of government be?
In making points for and against Bitcoin, the debate touched on asset confiscation, with the central bank of Cyprus confiscating 47.5% of bank deposits exceeding €100,000 in 2013 as the example used.
“There’s no other currency in the world that would allow you to hold it, and if for whatever reason someone wanted to confiscate it, allow you to not let them do that.”
Shellenberger said as a citizen of a nation-state, that nation-state will use any and all means necessary to defend itself, whether that is conscripting people to defend a hostile invasion or confiscating bank deposits in a bid to stave off financial bankruptcy. This is how it is living under a nation-state, deemed Shellenberger.
“Of course, the government would cease people’s assets. That’s what happens. You can say that’s not fair, or whatever, but you live in a nation-state.”
Responding, Pompliano voiced a different view. He pointed out that Cyprus, indeed all governments, were hired by the citizens. A perplexed Shellenberg disputed this, saying “hiring is not the correct word” because hiring infers being optional.
Yet Pompliano stuck firm by saying 100,000s of Americans fired expensive states that were not meeting their needs, such as New York and California, and instead hired Texas or Florida. He pointed out that people have personal agency to go where they are treated better, and they do that by voting with their feet.
“The government is here to represent the people, the people are not here to serve the government.”