Why you need dollars

Common among the question posed by those introduced to Bitcoin is that of need.

Why do I need Bitcoin? What benefit does it offer me?

While most Bitcoin enthusiasts embark on a multi-faceted adventure of how Bitcoin may provide benefits in payment costs, or perhaps as a speculative investment, few flip the question on its head and ask why people need dollars (for this exercise, please replace “dollars” with the fiat currency of your choice).

At face value, dollars are needed to operate. It doesn’t really matter whether the transfer costs are low, or the methods are convenient. People accept dollars predominantly, but more importantly, they need dollars to meet their financial obligations. Even more importantly, they need dollars to pay their debts.

Without digressing into monetary semantics, I’ll claim that most currency in circulation arrived on this earth through the issuance of debt. To a layman this may not be clear, but anybody with banking experience, or who has done their research, can confirm that money enters the system as a debt obligation.

What this means is that every (almost every, I’ll admit, but most indeed) dollar in existence has an invisible rubber band attached to it that pulls it back to its issuer. Consider the implication. Even though you may have eliminated your personal debt, and accumulated $10,000, this concept still applies. Somebody, somewhere, owes those dollars to someone. This is not a conspiracy notion. This is a fact.

As a result, we observe a proliferation of debt in our society. Whether an individual suffers from $5,000 in credit card debt, $50,000 in student loans, or $300,000 in mortgage debt, the paradigm is the same. All dollars are debt. And all dollars are owed.

Ergo (and I do hate that word, but it carries the message), the number one reason that people need dollars is to pay off debt, period.

It would be nice if everybody could shift blithely from a dollar system to a digital currency, but that simply won’t happen until the dollar begins to misbehave. Tethered to the dollar is a grand society of people, earners, makers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and others born into a world of infinite promise, but harsh reality. They toil in earnest, and it breaks my heart.

This debt will never be repaid. I don’t say this as an opinion. This is a mathematical fact. The debt obligations of the world exceed the amount of currency that circulates. Simple. There is not enough currency to pay the debt, because the currency is the debt.

The bad news is that this has happened countless times before, but rarely with a currency so proliferate as the US dollar. The good news is that the world always seems to move on after a currency crisis, picking up the pieces, reevaluating their assets, and carrying forward.

The worse news is that these crises can take decades to wash out. So unfortunately, a Bitcoin enthusiast in 10 years may still have to answer the question: why do I need Bitcoin, when I REALLY need dollars?

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One comment on “Why you need dollars

  1. Austrian says:

    Surprised you haven’t mentioned legal tender: people need dollars because they are forced to use them.

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