The Collective Delusion that is Bitcoin (and All Currencies)

When I first stated traveling for work, I was surprised and amused by the various currencies I saw. Pre-euro, one would encounter a multitude of paper bills of different sizes and colors, each imprinted with a famous man or woman I probably hadn’t heard of.

Imagine that: The locals actually believed these silly pieces of colored paper had value. Sure, paper currency worked as a medium of exchange, and it allowed you to buy goods and services within that society. But how far off was it to observe that this shared belief system was little more than a collective delusion? Take the paper to another land that didn’t share that belief system — they had their own, different delusion — and the paper seemed to be worthless.

That is the simplified version of paper currencies. The real world is obviously more complex. Banks exist, and foreign delusions (currencies if you will) can be exchanged for a fee for the local paper delusion. There is also a nation behind the “worthless” paper, with a standing army, the power to tax and an enormous enforcement mechanism. Perhaps that is the authority that makes our collective delusion seem to be somewhat less deluded.

This brings me to the digital currency, Bitcoin.

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