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Bitcoin Foundation Manifesto

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#1 Brad Wheeler

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Posted 04 November 2016 – 07:28 PM

Published yesterday and referenced in a recent CoinTelegraph article.

  • Fiat currency has been a poor long-term store of value, especially since the gold standard was abolished¹;
  • Inflation encourages consumption and discourages savings and the sustain able use of limited resources;
  • Traditional financial services, especially banking, are not inclusive for the 2.1 billion people that live in poverty (less than $3.10/day)²;
  • Electronic payment processing times and fees are too high, an important reason why 85% of all commerce globally is still done in cash³;
  • The financial services collapse of 2008 and subsequent banking system bailout caused substantial misery for the poorest of the global population, especially in developing economies⁴ ⁵;
  • Losses associated with card fraud totaled $16.3 billion globally in 2014⁶, with more than half of this fraud occurring online⁷;
  • Traditional banking and payments systems are not secure;
  • Trust in traditional banking and financial services is at an all-time low⁸.
Accordingly, we believe that every human has the following financial rights which should not be impeded by governments, regulators, financial institutions or other humans:
  • The right to privacy in transactions that involve no harm to others;
  • The right to keep your savings, or spend your money, anywhere in the world;
  • The right to economic participation with or without a bank account;
  • The right to economic participation with or without a credit history;
  • The right to convert fiat currency into bitcoin and vice versa;
  • The right to use bitcoin as a medium of exchange;
  • The right to use bitcoin as a store of value.
Further, Bitcoin is a technology project and community unlike any other – the technology is completely decentralized and the founder does not head up an organization that sets the strategy, governance and standards. This has created a diverse ecosystem of stakeholders that don’t all share the same vision for Bitcoin. We believe that The Bitcoin Foundation is uniquely positioned to facilitate communication, cooperation and integration towards a shared purpose.

These rights and principles can be summarized as our Mission, Vision and Values.

The Bitcoin Foundation coordinates the efforts of the members of the Bitcoin community, helping to create awareness of the benefits of Bitcoin, how to use it and its related technology requirements, for technologists, regulators, the media and everyone else globally.

Bitcoin will be a globally accepted method of exchanging and storing value which will operate without the need for third parties.

Privacy Guaranteed financial access Decentralization Autonomy Stable money supplies Financial inclusion

¹ http://data.worldban…/FP.CPI.TOTL.ZG
² http://www.worldbank…overty/overview
³ http://www.mastercar…lessSociety.pdf

#2 Claudio Migliore

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Posted 07 November 2016 – 10:38 AM

I can recognize the intentions in this manifesto and some are hard not to agree with.  Nevertheless, I would give another whirl to it:

  • The listed truths are arguably correct, although they range between timeless principles and contingents short term facts

    • You could argue that the first statement is confusing, since gold backed money is not strictly fiat

    • Even when there was some gold “standard” around the world, governments happily debased their currencies and then they played around with words to get some legal cover.

    • The statement about the gold standard is very US centric and is only good to cling to often repeated stats about the loss of dollar purchasing power.

    • Truths 3 to 7, while significant, refer not to systemic economic issues but rather to the contingent state of financial intermediaries

    • The huge truth that is not mentioned at all is that:

      • The Internet has subverted and continues to subvert all connections between humans, making intermediaries generally unnecessary

      • Crypto makes permissionless transactions possible

  • The word “accordingly” suggests that the Foundation beliefs somehow derive from the listed truths, which I do not think to be the case.

    • All the listed rights probably derive in cascade from the principles already established (if routinely trampled upon) by the constitution and laws of most of the world and not from the before mentioned “truths”

    • More in detail:

      • Although politically correct, it is debatable whether the expression “transactions harming no others” has any real meaning

      • The right to economic participation is also a PC term.  There could be mention to economic freedom, but this also entails the right of anyone NOT to transact with anyone else.

  • About the MISSION:

    • The Bitcoin Foundation cannot coordinate any efforts of free people.  It can only attempt to, based on intellectual leadership and personal effort of its members.  The statement contrasts with the factual observation five lines up about the different views within the ecosystem.

    • The mission could, and does not, address the issue of scientific study and understanding of the cryptocurrency phenomenon from and economic and technical point of view.  Past the simple though substantive statements  in Nakamoto’s paper, little has been done regarding understanding the ramifications of Bitcoin adoption, with the irony that a legacy institution of dubious neutrality like the Bank of England has been a major contributor in this field.

  • About the VISION:

    • I think it is a bit narrow.  I believe Bitcoin will play a crucial role as global money, but it is naïve to assume that there will be no third parties.  In fact some initiatives within Bitcoin are creating third parties.  Third parties will always exist in any advanced free economic system since anyone can attempt to, and may succeed in, adding value in a transaction chain.  The point of Bitcoin is permissionless access, not lack of intermediaries.

    • The vision should, I believe include the contribution of Bitcon to freedom and economic progress

  • About the values:

    • PC at work again.

    • “Guaranteed financial access”?  Who is guaranteeing? What is financial access?

    • What is “financial access” and how is it different from financial inclusion? Why is one guaranteed and the other is not?

    • What does the word “Autonomy” mean?
Stable money supplies (Plural?) is very vague.  It sort of tries to reassure inflation hawks. I am one, by the way, and am not reassured.