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Cryptocurrency

Dogecoin’s Australian co-founder let rip on cryptocurrency as an ‘inherently right-wing… get rich quick’ scam for billionaires

- July 15, 2021 3 MIN READ
Dogecoin’s Australian co-inventor, Jackson Palmer, has made a rare foray into public debate about the worth of cryptocurrencies, condemning them a cult-like get rich quick scheme for billionaires taking advantage of “the financially desperate and naive”.

In a 10-tweet thread, Palmer, whose Twitter account is normally silent, lambasted cryptocurrencies as  “almost purpose built to make the funnel of profiteering more efficient for those at the top and less safeguarded for the vulnerable”.

Palmer was based in Sydney in 2013 when the meme-based joke cryptocurrency took on a life of its own.

Palmer had registered Dogecoin.com domain name, riffing on an earlier internet meme involving a quizzical looking Shiba Inu, when US IBM engineer Billy Markus got in touch with him. They decided to produce a parody coin to mock cryptocurrencies, hence the “much wow” and “so currency.”

Palmer subsequently parted ways with Markus and the joke crypto remained pretty much that until this year, when one of the world’s richest men, Elon Musk, decided to join the party.

In April Dogecoin’s value exploded, aided and abetted by Musk’s Twitter commentary and the fact that Tesla took $2.5 billion stake in the pioneering crypto bitcoin. The highly volatile coins rose dramatically as small investors piled in. The fell just as quickly depending on what Musk said about them.

At the time, Palmer made a brief appearance on Twitter to call Musk a “self-absorbed grifter” before deleting the tweet.

Overnight he returned to the microblogging site to say that cryptocurrency “is like taking the worst parts of today’s capitalist system, such as corruption and fraud, and using software to prevent interventions that protect the average person.

Of course many cryptocurrency fans did not take kindly to his critique, confirming another of his points – that debate “is near impossible”, attracting “smears from the powerful figures in control of the industry” as well as angry retail investors  “sold the false promise of one day being a fellow billionaire”.

Here is Palmer’s full thread:

I am often asked if I will “return to cryptocurrency” or begin regularly sharing my thoughts on the topic again. My answer is a wholehearted “no”, but to avoid repeating myself I figure it might be worthwhile briefly explaining why here…

After years of studying it, I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.Despite claims of “decentralization”, the cryptocurrency industry is controlled by a powerful cartel of wealthy figures who, with time, have evolved to incorporate many of the same institutions tied to the existing centralized financial system they supposedly set out to replace.

The cryptocurrency industry leverages a network of shady business connections, bought influencers and pay-for-play media outlets to perpetuate a cult-like “get rich quick” funnel designed to extract new money from the financially desperate and naive.

Financial exploitation undoubtedly existed before cryptocurrency, but cryptocurrency is almost purpose built to make the funnel of profiteering more efficient for those at the top and less safeguarded for the vulnerable.

Cryptocurrency is like taking the worst parts of today’s capitalist system (eg. corruption, fraud, inequality) and using software to technically limit the use of interventions (eg. audits, regulation, taxation) which serve as protections or safety nets for the average person.

Lose your savings account password? Your fault.

Fall victim to a scam? Your fault.

Billionaires manipulating markets? They’re geniuses.

This is the type of dangerous “free for all” capitalism cryptocurrency was unfortunately architected to facilitate since its inception.

But these days even the most modest critique of cryptocurrency will draw smears from the powerful figures in control of the industry and the ire of retail investors who they’ve sold the false promise of one day being a fellow billionaire. Good-faith debate is near impossible.

For these reasons, I simply no longer go out of my way to engage in public discussion regarding cryptocurrency. It doesn’t align with my politics or belief system, and I don’t have the energy to try and discuss that with those unwilling to engage in a grounded conversation.

I applaud those with the energy to continue asking the hard questions and applying the lens of rigorous skepticism all technology should be subject to. New technology can make the world a better place, but not when decoupled from its inherent politics or societal consequences.