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Author Topic: [Hypothetical] What if Bitcoin were to restart tomorrow?  (Read 4345 times)
CurbsideProphet
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July 15, 2011, 01:17:54 AM
 #1

Let me start off by saying this is not a thread about "early-adopter" envy.  They took the risks and had the foresight.  High risk should reap high reward.

Now, I don't have exact numbers so I'll have to use hypothetical ones in my example.  Lets assume that there are currently 100 early adopters and the Bitcoin community is roughly 5,000 to date.

Would Bitcoin be better off, in the long-term, if it were to restart tomorrow?  The reason I ask is because the MtGox hack essentially showed that a small (~8%) portion of outstanding Bitcoins can unstabilize the market so greatly to the point where it reduced the price to $0.01.

5,000 people is not very much should Bitcoin ever become widely accepted.  But the distribution of BTC's would be significantly greater with 5,000 early adopters compared to 100.  Essentially with a greater distribution, it would take more people going rogue to cause a massive disruption to the Bitcoin economy.  If Bitcoin truly is not a ponzi scheme or pure speculation, wouldn't it's ability to surive be improved by having the outstanding BTC's more evenly distributed?

Also, if you think about it, to a certain degree early adopters are only "paper rich."  Lets say for example that early adopters in aggregate hold 2 million of the outstanding Bitcoins (again hypothetical #).  This would give them a current worth of roughly $28 million USD.  However, as we have already seen, 500,000BTC's can bring the price down to zero.  So really, there's no current market to sell those $2 million coins.  The price would drop substantially before you are able to liquidate so your true wealth is actually much lower.

Again, I'm not really advocating taking away anything from the early adopters (as if I had that ability anyway), I just have to wonder, if we're really talking about Bitcoin as a greater good, wouldn't it be better off with a wider distribution?

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July 15, 2011, 01:22:23 AM
 #2

I wish the world economy would restart and everyone could be issued one million dollars  Smiley
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July 15, 2011, 01:27:35 AM
 #3

You could start your own block chain anytime you wanted. The question is, would anyone join you?

As for wider distribution, that's easy enough; there's plenty of BTC available for anyone who wants it. You just have to convince people to buy it.

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July 15, 2011, 01:27:47 AM
 #4

Executive Summary:

1.) This isn't about early adopters profiting. (Nice setup, nearly believed you.)

2.) The market can't absorb all of their bitcoins at once and not decline precipitously. (I'll file this under 'no kidding'.)

3.) Hey guys, can't we just reset it and redistribute everything? (Awww, and you nearly went the whole post without whipping this out.)

Always with the redistribution. May this thread die in a fire.

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July 15, 2011, 01:32:48 AM
 #5

Would you actually invest resources in Bitcoin after that kind of precedent? Any system where that is possible is not going to hold any value.

The "paper rich" issue isn't any different for "late adopters" either. In aggregate they cannot all cash out to the some other currency at the current rate either. All exchange rates are a reflection of marginal value comparisons.

The people who are hurt by not being able to sell lots of coins at the same price as a few coins are the people who have a lot so the incentives are right for individuals acting in their own self interest to distribute coins more evenly over time.  

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July 15, 2011, 01:57:08 AM
 #6

Why is this topic so taboo that it can't be discussed even hypothetically?  What I'm trying to say is if you believe in Bitcoin as a viable long-term P2P currency then you need to identify the inherent risks to its longevity.  Shouldn't the fact that a very small portion of the overall community having the ability to bring BTC to its knees be at least something to discuss?

I don't understand why early-adopters need to be treated as gods and any sort of topic that comes up is automatically met with, "oh yeah just another guy trying to get rich off them."  As if my ONE thread can somehow re-write history...

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July 15, 2011, 01:58:51 AM
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If bitcoin goes mainstream, then we might all be early adopters. Maybe in 5 years people will be saying, "there are people out there who have 100,000 mBTC just because they got on board early, would things be better if we just restarted?"

Bitcoin is only here because people before us carried the banner. I know this is a hypothetical, to getting into the nitty gritty details is pointless, but surely you have to see that the reason why bitcoin is growing and has lasted this long is because of early adopters. They took a gamble, and it is paying off. We, the midterm adopters, are also taking a gamble. But the odds have changes, and success is more likely then it was a year ago, so you have to put more in to get a share of the pie.

This is pretty much the same as investing in a company. Early investors might get millions of shares cheap. But no later investor would say, "man, two years ago I could have bought 100 times the shares for the same amount, this is something that should be addressed." That is because they understand that investing earlier was more of a risk. Sure it was cheaper, but payout was way more uncertain. Why can't bitcoin enthusiasts understand the same thing?

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July 15, 2011, 01:59:56 AM
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Time machine....  Wink

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July 15, 2011, 02:00:07 AM
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Proletarians of all countries, unite!

The op sounds like he was reading back last nights notes from the "People's Central Economic Planning Committee".
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July 15, 2011, 02:03:10 AM
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Why is this topic so taboo that it can't be discussed even hypothetically?  What I'm trying to say is if you believe in Bitcoin as a viable long-term P2P currency then you need to identify the inherent risks to its longevity.  Shouldn't the fact that a very small portion of the overall community having the ability to bring BTC to its knees be at least something to discuss?

I don't understand why early-adopters need to be treated as gods and any sort of topic that comes up is automatically met with, "oh yeah just another guy trying to get rich off them."  As if my ONE thread can somehow re-write history...

Early adopters can't bring the bitcoin system to its knees. They can only bring the price down. But doing that will distribute the bitcoins in question and solve the problem of concentration you are complaining about. So the price crashes. So what? No big deal. After the hackcrash, before the reset, there was about 10 minutes of trading, and it was still around $14. I would love a chance to get cheap bitcoins. Please lord, let some early adopter try to 'bring bitcoin to its knees'. I'll jump at the opportunity.

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CurbsideProphet
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July 15, 2011, 02:06:56 AM
 #11

If bitcoin goes mainstream, then we might all be early adopters. Maybe in 5 years people will be saying, "there are people out there who have 100,000 mBTC just because they got on board early, would things be better if we just restarted?"

Bitcoin is only here because people before us carried the banner. I know this is a hypothetical, to getting into the nitty gritty details is pointless, but surely you have to see that the reason why bitcoin is growing and has lasted this long is because of early adopters. They took a gamble, and it is paying off. We, the midterm adopters, are also taking a gamble. But the odds have changes, and success is more likely then it was a year ago, so you have to put more in to get a share of the pie.

This is pretty much the same as investing in a company. Early investors might get millions of shares cheap. But no later investor would say, "man, two years ago I could have bought 100 times the shares for the same amount, this is something that should be addressed." That is because they understand that investing earlier was more of a risk. Sure it was cheaper, but payout was way more uncertain. Why can't bitcoin enthusiasts understand the same thing?

You make a lot of good points, I appreciate the response Damien.  I suppose my view was a little short sighted and quite hoenstly whether people believe me or not it wasn't a post out of greed or envy.  It was simply out of concern. 

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July 15, 2011, 02:07:12 AM
 #12

This would be a horrible awful thing to do to bitcoins. People would be a fool to invest in or rely on bitcoins with this precedent. Two years from now, the same thing could repeat with an even larger group trying to get in early.

It's still early. If you are reading this, you are an early adopter.

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July 15, 2011, 02:10:59 AM
 #13

I'm not an early adopter, but I think it would be very bad for the bitcoin community if any major effort got under way to re-start it. The point of a currency is to store value, and eliminating people's holdings would reduce confidence in it being able to do that.

I also think it's difficult for any currency to not have a concentrated initial seeding, since all new things necessarily start with a small number of adopters and grow from there.

The early adopters having more currency might also have positive effects on the growth in adoption, in giving them greater incentive to create support software, and promote it to others.

In the long run, the current distribution of ownership will change, as money by its nature changes hands a lot, so it's not that relevant. Price instability from a large sell-off by an early adopter can only happen a few times before the distribution is spread more thinly.

DamienBlack
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July 15, 2011, 02:15:02 AM
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If bitcoin goes mainstream, then we might all be early adopters. Maybe in 5 years people will be saying, "there are people out there who have 100,000 mBTC just because they got on board early, would things be better if we just restarted?"

Bitcoin is only here because people before us carried the banner. I know this is a hypothetical, to getting into the nitty gritty details is pointless, but surely you have to see that the reason why bitcoin is growing and has lasted this long is because of early adopters. They took a gamble, and it is paying off. We, the midterm adopters, are also taking a gamble. But the odds have changes, and success is more likely then it was a year ago, so you have to put more in to get a share of the pie.

This is pretty much the same as investing in a company. Early investors might get millions of shares cheap. But no later investor would say, "man, two years ago I could have bought 100 times the shares for the same amount, this is something that should be addressed." That is because they understand that investing earlier was more of a risk. Sure it was cheaper, but payout was way more uncertain. Why can't bitcoin enthusiasts understand the same thing?

You make a lot of good points, I appreciate the response Damien.  I suppose my view was a little short sighted and quite hoenstly whether people believe me or not it wasn't a post out of greed or envy.  It was simply out of concern.  

Don't worry about other people's descriptions of your motives. We get a lot of people hashing the same ideas over and over again. I think this is a good thing. The fact that the system is so open and transparent that people can participate in discussions like this can only be good for bitcoin. And sometimes someone will come forward with ideas and solutions that really do help. I don't even begin to understand how the USD works. And I can't articulate any ideas, even ignorant ones, on how to improve it. The system is to opaque, I don't have the inside information, everything is closed from view. That is why I like bitcoin.

But as I said, we get a lot of people hashing the same ideas, people get impatient.

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July 15, 2011, 02:16:43 AM
 #15

Besides all of the above, it's simply not possible to distribute wealth evenly without violence. There will always be people who have a larger proportion of X than others, and a small number who have a whole lot of X. To change this requires sticking guns in their faces and taking away their X by threat of violence. I'm well aware that many people around here have absolutely no problem with this and cheer every time it happens.

See also Harrison Bergeron.

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DamienBlack
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July 15, 2011, 02:25:07 AM
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Besides all of the above, it's simply not possible to distribute wealth evenly without violence. There will always be people who have a larger proportion of X than others, and a small number who have a whole lot of X. To change this requires sticking guns in their faces and taking away their X by threat of violence. I'm well aware that many people around here have absolutely no problem with this and cheer every time it happens.

See also Harrison Bergeron.

While this is true, there is a big difference between a wide spread between the poor and the rich, and a smaller one. Upward mobility is one of the most important thing for a government to provide. Yet providing upward mobility is often perceived as 'distributing wealth'. People must understand, that even in first world nations like the US, we are not a meritocracy. The number one correlative of your wealth is not ability, intelligence or work ethic -- it is your parent's wealth. I think we can all support the goal of a true meritocracy, and that simply requires us to provide lower class citizens with more opportunities to attain upward mobility.

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July 15, 2011, 02:31:17 AM
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While this is true, there is a big difference between a wide spread between the poor and the rich, and a smaller one. Upward mobility is one of the most important thing for a government to provide. Yet providing upward mobility is often perceived as 'distributing wealth'. People must understand, that even in first world nations like the US, we are not a meritocracy. The number one correlative of your wealth is not ability, intelligence or work ethic -- it is your parent's wealth. I think we can all support the goal of a true meritocracy, and that simply requires us to provide lower class citizens with more opportunities to attain upward mobility.

What does this mean? You've said several things which are apparently well-formed sentences, but which I find completely incomprehensible.

First: "Upward mobility is one of the most important thing for a government to provide." What do you mean by upward mobility? Why would a government provide it? Why should providing it be reserved to the government?

Second: "I think we can all support the goal of a true meritocracy, and that simply requires us to provide lower class citizens with more opportunities to attain upward mobility." First, what is an opportunity to provide upward mobility? Who are the "us" who are required to provide it? How are those people going to be compelled to do so? (Or, who shoots "us" if "we" don't?)

Hopefully with some clear answers to these questions, I can decipher the rest of this message.

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Anonymous
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July 15, 2011, 02:32:20 AM
 #18

Someone created 500 000 fake bitcoins at mt gox and tried to redistribute them. Even then the price went back to $13 a few minutes later. The point is it will take a LOT of real bitcoins to do something like that. There arent many people with 500 000 btc imo.

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July 15, 2011, 02:39:14 AM
 #19

Why is this topic so taboo that it can't be discussed even hypothetically?  What I'm trying to say is if you believe in Bitcoin as a viable long-term P2P currency then you need to identify the inherent risks to its longevity.  Shouldn't the fact that a very small portion of the overall community having the ability to bring BTC to its knees be at least something to discuss?

I don't understand why early-adopters need to be treated as gods and any sort of topic that comes up is automatically met with, "oh yeah just another guy trying to get rich off them."  As if my ONE thread can somehow re-write history...

I am confused by everyone's assumption that the 'early adopters' took a risk...pennies worth of electricity is not a risk on generating thousands of worthless bitcoins is not a gamble. If anything, they gambled their brain power on something they saw as immensely useful. Those that propped up the system and invested in BTC for cash and began to offer goods and services for bitcoin are the ones bearing a risk...basically everyone that came in after the 'earliest adopters'.

The entrants into the current market are the ones bearing the greatest risk. Buying in at $14/per is a lot different than buying in for pennies...

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July 15, 2011, 02:43:20 AM
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Why is this topic so taboo that it can't be discussed even hypothetically?  What I'm trying to say is if you believe in Bitcoin as a viable long-term P2P currency then you need to identify the inherent risks to its longevity.  Shouldn't the fact that a very small portion of the overall community having the ability to bring BTC to its knees be at least something to discuss?

I don't understand why early-adopters need to be treated as gods and any sort of topic that comes up is automatically met with, "oh yeah just another guy trying to get rich off them."  As if my ONE thread can somehow re-write history...

I am confused by everyone's assumption that the 'early adopters' took a risk...pennies worth of electricity is not a risk on generating thousands of worthless bitcoins is not a gamble. If anything, they gambled their brain power on something they saw as immensely useful. Those that propped up the system and invested in BTC for cash and began to offer goods and services for bitcoin are the ones bearing a risk...basically everyone that came in after the 'earliest adopters'.

The entrants into the current market are the ones bearing the greatest risk. Buying in at $14/per is a lot different than buying in for pennies...

Some guy spent 10,000 BTC on two pizzas. He (and his counterparty) took more of a risk than any of us.

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