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Cui bono [Formerly: Tradehill Bitcoin exchange shut down for 2nd time in 2 years]

From: Charles Evans <cevans@chyden.net>
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2013 06:13:53 -0400
Message-ID: <522EF0E1.6060902@chyden.net>
To: Web Payments CG <public-webpayments@w3.org>
CC: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
On 09/09/2013 07:56 PM, Manu Sporny wrote:
> I think you may be surprised by the number of people in "incumbent"
> institutions that are very interested in Bitcoin and want to see it
> succeed. These people are not very forthcoming with their opinions in
> public, but their personal desire to see the worlds financial system
> improve the condition of millions of individuals around the world
> exceeds their desire to keep things status quo.

It is good to see someone who is in actual contact with representatives
of incumbents express it this way.

One source of confusion comes from the use of collectivist language. 
All human action is individual action.  Governments, firms, religions,
ethnicities, genders, etc. do not form expectations, make plans, or take
action; individuals within these categories do.  To understand why
something happened, one should look at the individuals' motives and ask,
"Cui bono?" [Who benefits?]

In this way Goldman Sachs might 'want' thus and such, in some vague
ethereal way, but it is the individual executives, managers, and
shareholders associated with Goldman Sachs who make the decisions. 
Rather than see these individuals as ants who are programmed at
conception to play specialized roles their entire lives, one might see
them as intelligent profit-maximizers.  Far from being a threat, Bitcoin
might represent a hitherto nonexistent opportunity.

Another source of confusion comes from the natural tendency to place
great weight on the status quo.  For example, although Western Union is
a firm that specializes in money transfers *today*, it *used*to*be* a
telegram company.  When use of the disruptive new telephone technology
began to eat into their business, Western Union executives changed
business models.  It would not be surprising to see Western Union
become, e.g., a Bitcoin exchange, should this disruptive new payment
technology begin to eat into their current business.

Those who own bitcoin holdings most likely would be giddy as all get-out
if the CEO if a Fortune 500 firm publicly expressed support for
Bitcoin.  Instead of seeing these guys as adversaries, some of us see
them as prospective allies.

Charles Evans
Received on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 12:12:03 UTC

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