Bitcoins and Democracy

With Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency for that matter, our thinking about the independence of our economy has established root. However, as the use and understanding of Bitcoin increases in the mindshare of people each passing day, so too does the interest of those that stand to lose by it being used.

Politicians around the world are being pressed to regulate it to the point that it’s whole raison d’être is nullified. Banks are making it difficult to conduct transactions between fiat and crypto and government financial institutions have implementing new measures that put it under their control.

Yet the point of Bitcoin is the independence it affords. A transaction that is secure and decentralized, conducted online, each transaction is recorded on thousands of computers around the world. It is in many ways, a fool proof system. As Satoshi Nakamoto wrote in the white paper on bitcoin, it was “a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust”.

In the first block of bitcoin, embedded into the coinbase of the block was a note “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” a derisive comment on the instability of the banking sector caused by fractional reserve banking.

Based on bitcoin’s open source code, other cryptocurrencies started to emerge. Now there are almost two thousand available. And the bitcoin blockchain is being attacked in an attempt to shut it down. Recent research found some 1600 files attached to it, some including child pornography which under the law, could render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal.

But bitcoin has some powerful supporters. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently predicted that Bitcoin will be the world’s biggest single currency with ten years.

While, by itself, Bitcoin does not represent democracy, what it does tell us is that enough people want to move away from the absolute control that fiat currency and in fact government control has.  Why has Bitcoin septupled in only half a year? Because  it works as promised. It’s decentralized and free of the meddling of any government.

People have lost trust in governments. Each day there is a new controversy where self interest manifests itself time and time again. Politicians elected as representative’s fall into a pattern of party politics where the will of the people is lost to the will of corporations.

In Australia, much of the policy being now implemented is not for the benefit of ordinary Australians but designed to service an elite class. The recent assault of welfare payments conflicting with a bonus through tax reductions for big business is one such example.

The recent plebiscite for same sex marriage conflicted in several instances with the will of the people and the opinions of their local representatives. Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister for one was leading the no campaign yet his electorate was decidedly in favor of a yes vote. The same could be said for some Labor politicians in different electorates.

Politicians in general have lost touch with the population they supposedly represent.

That distrust paves the way for direct democracy. A process by which the discussion on any matter before the parliament is made open for the general public to continuously voice an opinion and ultimately vote upon.

There are contentious issues that need to be sorted. The census debacle of 2016 where the ABS computers crashed under the weight of the data being transferred need not have happened. Each day, ten times that amount of data is being transferred through servers such as those that service Facebook or Twitter or Google any one of a thousand other internet platforms.

Yet that failure continues to provide support to those in government to continue to rely upon a system such as the printed paper that was developed 600 years ago rather than update to modern technology. The recent plebiscite is a case in point. At a cost of $100 million dollars to mail out 10 million ballots and have the mailed back and then manually sorted into yes and no votes in piles for each electorate could have been done at almost no cost and in a fraction of the time.

The government currently maintains a system under MyGov that enables individuals to lodge tax returns, Centrelink claims, Medicare claims and Health records could similarly house a platform to enable the orderly discussion of legislation and voting on its final implementation with the records being logged into a blockchain to ensure a tamperproof and secure record.

Will it happen? That is the plan for the fledgling political party Online Direct Democracy. It needs support and it requires funding, both are yet to happen.