First things first, Mrugakshee and I officially just booked our tickets to El Salvador. One of my family members found out before the readers of the letter and asked us to pay attention to human rights issues such as LGBTQ, among other things. The statement was that other human rights issues are more important than Bitcoin.
I typically try to avoid comparing the importance of things, especially when both are important in their own right. The rights of marginalized groups are obviously important, especially in parts of the world where those groups have absolutely no rights at all. At the same time, it’s not immediately obvious that Bitcoin is a human rights issue. So I thought I’d take this time to write this letter and articulate why and how Bitcoin fits into human rights. Specifically, it doesn’t matter which humans rights group you’re a part of, you still have the same need to support your cause with money. This letter articulates exactly why bitcoin is ideal money for any and all human rights issues.
Sound Money is a Human Right
Sound Money — Money not liable to sudden appreciation or depreciation in value
I will address bitcoin volatility later in this article. I retain the assertion that bitcoin is sound money.
Human Right — A right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person
There are two relevant widely recognized human rights that are worth tying into this discussion. (See Human Rights Foundation Mission Statement)
Freedom of Association
Freedom to Acquire and Dispose of Property
Freedom of Association
This is essentially the right to gather and protest. With this right, individuals are free to associate themselves with a group that may have goals that run counter to the regime in power. This right arguably is at the root of societal change itself, as all great shifts in our world started with people organizing themselves in order to manifest that change. What does this have to do with money?
Money is a tool that can be used to organize, amplify, and sustain messages required for making change. It is an instrumental tool in any group, big or small. But how do you collect donations en mass without a bank account? What if your bank account can be shut down or frozen? This is exactly what happened to Hong Kong Democracy Protest organizers in 2019. Nearly 10 million dollars of funds were seized by the police on allegations of money laundering1.
With money turning digital, cash will become the primary means of organizing protest money. The cash is only useful as long as the society continues to take it, otherwise it’s just paper. There needs to be a money that is …
Outside of the control of the regime in power
Unseizeable, Uncounterfeitable, Uninflatable
A kind of money that fits this description would serve as the ultimate tool for social change. This sort of money leaves the defending regime with absolutely no recourse for thwarting the financial efforts of the group that is protesting.
Freedom to Acquire and Dispose of Property
The point I’d like to make here hinges upon my belief that no one should have the value of their savings depleted involuntarily. The freedom to acquire and dispose of property implies that no one else has the right to dispose of your property; your property is yours and yours alone to dispose of. The central bank should get no exemption from disposing of your money, but that’s exactly what is happening when trillions of dollars are printed. The units of currency in peoples account are in tact, but the value they hold is being disposed of.
Money printing is a glaring human rights violating that is taking place in every country where the money printer is turned on. This violation hurts the poorest among us as it is they who use cash, and currency most. The wealthiest among us keep their wealth in stocks, real estate, and assets. The poorest among us live paycheque to paycheque. It is absolutely no mystery why the cost of living is outpacing a living wage.
Bitcoin and El Salvador
In El Salvador, 70% of the population does not have a bank account2. This massive group of people (est. 5 million people) do not have the ability to save money, access credit, invest, or conduct transactions securely. The two biggest barriers to financial services in El Salvador are the following.
Access to a National Identity3
Proximity/Access to a Financial Institution
What Bitcoin is offering the people of El Salvador is a money that
Is not easily seized
Cannot be Inflated
Gives 100% Secure Transactions 24/7/365
Gives unbiased access to anyone using it
In other words, the unbanked can suddenly become banked.
Money is the Foundation of Prosperity
It is fairly difficult to accomplish much of anything when the default money has systemic problems. People have trouble organizing, or amassing enough money to organize meaningful and lasting social change.
If I dare to be bold (and I do), I would like to offer a prediction for El Salvador. Within the decade (by 2030), El Salvador will become the wealthiest country in Central America. I surmise that the standard of living in El Salvador will steadily increase under this new sound money standard based on Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is Sound Money, Despite Volatility
Bitcoin just turned 12, it is very young, and in its adolescence. I believe Bitcoin to already have the status of “Money”, and “Sound Money” to be specific. However, I am willing to concede that Bitcoin is becoming Sound Money.
Bitcoin is a $1 trillion dollar globally recognized asset. It’s volatility (positive and negative) is an indication of its status as a nascent asset. The volatility of bitcoin has been decreasing since its debut on global markets in 2011.4
There is a good likelihood that this trend will continue as this is a common trajectory taken by truly novel assets. The less volatile bitcoin becomes, the stronger claim it has on being a money, and a tool for human rights.
Alex Gladstein + Human Rights Foundation
If you haven’t already heard or read any of Alex Gladstein’s work, I highly recommend you check him out. He is the Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation. A Non-Profit organization aimed at solving human rights issues in authoritarian countries.
The HRF has recognized the potential of bitcoin to change countries at the ground level, from within the borders. Obviously nothing is that simple, so they also do lots of work to support human rights from a number of other angles. Alex Gladstein has been quite outspoken about just how Bitcoin fits into human rights. I’ve only scratched the surface here, but I’ve made sure to link some of his work below.
Bitcoin is about More than Making Money
For me, Bitcoin is much more than just making money and becoming wealthy. I believe it is the best chance the world has at making lasting meaningful change on a global scale. At the root of our problems is the fact that our global reserve money (USD) is corrupt.
“Money” underpins the majority of economic actions taken by individuals, organizations, nonprofits, businesses, and countries. If the money is corrupt at the base layer, then the whole system is corrupt all the way through. But, if we fix the money, we can fix the world.