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Author Topic: The Ponzi scheme argument  (Read 4888 times)
Jack of Diamonds
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July 15, 2011, 03:55:16 PM
 #21

3. If all BTC holders were to attempt to cash out RIGHT NOW, there would be a huge percentage that would not be able to find any takers.

How does that differ from all the world's gold holders panicking and trying to liquidate millions of ounces of gold within a few hours?

How is any commodity or currency or investment 'safeguarded' against market volatility? I'd love to hear your explanation.

Commodities can *only* be liquidated if there are people buying the commodity (be it gold, silver, palladium, platinum, oil, coffee beans, tulips or bitcoins).
Obviously if there are 10 million people selling something and only 1000 people buying, the price will drop because holders want to get rid of their possessions for any price available.

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July 15, 2011, 04:12:09 PM
 #22

Blabla.

1. Invest in me, I am BTC I only gain in value. However, nobody actually creates a justifyable increase in value outside of speculation/being told so(150% gainz!!111). It is thus "empty". There is no reason a BTC should be worth something other than people who "believe the story".

2. Get told: Oh sure, cash out anytime you want with the profits made! It's a currency!

3. If all BTC holders were to attempt to cash out RIGHT NOW, there would be a huge percentage that would not be able to find any takers.

4. Different to ponzi in 0 ways.

5. Huh

6. Profit!

1. Gold or oil or any other commodity can then be said to have value based on investors 'believing the story.'  There is some truth here but it can be applied to ANY investment (real estate, stocks etc.)

3. if 30% of the world's gold reserves were to be sold RIGHT NOW - what would happen to the price of gold?  It would certainly drop a lot (currently at $1588/oz) possibly by upwards of 50% or more as margin/leverage calls would likely come into play driving the price down further.  However, at the end of this process gold would still have some value, some proportion of 'gold bugs' 'believing the story' whether that value was $800/oz or even $150/oz.


IMO Bitcoin acts as an asset AND a currency, and is so quite different from a Ponzi scheme.







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July 15, 2011, 04:18:05 PM
 #23

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Even if no new money were ever brought into the bitcoin economy, bitcoins would still create value for people who used them because they would enable transactions that would otherwise be impossible, more expensive, or more difficult. Even if every dollar going into bitcoins were balanced by a dollar going out and the value of a bitcoin never significantly changed, bitcoins would still produce added value for everyone who used them.

But this is no different than infusing a token product in a pyramid scheme to pull them over the line of being seen as solely money shifting. Multi-level-marketing is all about selling a "product", but in reality, the sales of that product are never what drives the operation, but rather the recruitment of new members and their "initiation fee".

Saying that Bitcoin has this intrinsic usefulness as a payment mechanism (or currency) doesn't matter, if the injection of value into Bitcoin is really to get a payout as its value rises. The fact that (1) Bitcoin is *not* being used as a currency (except for alpaca socks, drugs and cofee), and that (2) there is no real attempt by the developers to streamline its safety or increase simplicity in order for it to actually be adopted as one, tells me that Bitcoin currency potential is not what makes Bitcoin attractive to current investors (despite their claims to the contrary) and, moreover, was never really was intended to be. Frankly, I think the whole "cryptocurrency" angle is the most brilliantly designed patter upon which a ponzi scheme was ever be built. Forget jewelry, or super-vitamins, here you are part of an ideological revolution!

Simply put, if Bitcoin really was a useful and viable payment system, the Bitcoin economy wouldn't almost entirely consist of speculation on exchanges. The reason all people are running around, putting up posters to expose people to Bitcoin is so that more "initation fees" can be collected.



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July 15, 2011, 04:42:01 PM
 #24

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Differences with Bitcoin:

Blabla.

1. Invest in me, I am BTC, or any other commodity, currency, or investment, I only gain in value. However, nobody actually creates a justifyable increase in value outside of speculation/being told so(150% gainz!!111). It is thus "empty". There is no reason a BTC, or any other commodity, currency, or investment, should be worth something other than people who "believe the story".

2. Get told: Oh sure, cash out anytime you want with the profits made! It's a currency!

3. If all BTC, or any other commodity, currency, or investment, holders were to attempt to cash out RIGHT NOW, there would be a huge percentage that would not be able to find any takers.

4. Different to ponzi in 0 ways.

5. Huh

6. Profit!

So, what you're basically saying is that bitcoins, USD, gold, silver, wheat, salt, rice, beef, pork, etc, are all Ponzi schemes.


Raoul Duke
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July 15, 2011, 04:47:38 PM
 #25

Finally, someone that can explain it in a way for every dumbass to understand that Bitcoin isn't and will never be a Ponzi scheme.

+1 for you, my friend Smiley

Quote
Differences with Bitcoin:

Blabla.

1. Invest in me, I am BTC I only gain in value. However, nobody actually creates a justifyable increase in value outside of speculation/being told so(150% gainz!!111). It is thus "empty". There is no reason a BTC should be worth something other than people who "believe the story".

2. Get told: Oh sure, cash out anytime you want with the profits made! It's a currency!

3. If all BTC holders were to attempt to cash out RIGHT NOW, there would be a huge percentage that would not be able to find any takers.

4. Different to ponzi in 0 ways.

5. Huh

6. Profit!

After all i was wrong! Not every dumbass will understand...  Roll Eyes

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July 15, 2011, 04:52:14 PM
 #26


Simply put, if Bitcoin really was a useful and viable payment system, the Bitcoin economy wouldn't almost entirely consist of speculation on exchanges. The reason all people are running around, putting up posters to expose people to Bitcoin is so that more "initation fees" can be collected.


I'm curious to know how the first steps in the acceptance of bitcoin differ from the first steps of acceptance of a 'legitimate' online currency.

1) Introduce currency.  It has no value because no one uses it.
2) People start speculating in it based on anticipated use.
3) People start using it because it has the value speculators have introduced to it.
4) It increases in use and stability.

You seem to be arguing that because our car is only one mile down the road it'll never get a hundred miles further.  I'm thinking the same way it got the first mile, am I crazy?


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July 15, 2011, 05:16:31 PM
 #27


So, what you're basically saying is that bitcoins, USD, gold, silver, wheat, salt, rice, beef, pork, etc, are all Ponzi schemes.


This.


Bitcoin is comody now, which might be in future used as currency. Its like collectable goods, minimal real value, but high expectations and thus high price not a Ponzi.

It might very well be a bubble, but not a Ponzi. Ponzi should be used with centralised schemes where early investors are paid by later. Pyramid is bit more complex. As nothing is paid out, it can't be Ponzi.

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geek-trader
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July 15, 2011, 06:17:00 PM
 #28

Let me guess.

These people at "slash dot" i must be a noob for not knowing or caring what slash dot is, I'm assuming it's just another site like reddit for random people to voice their opinions on topics..

I'm assuming they have nothing to do with bitcoin and are looking at it from the outside.

Therefore in my eyes, their opinion just doesn't matter.  As American's most of us think we're doing good by occupying all of these countries overseas.  Do we give a fuck what some jihadist thinks about our invasion?  absolutely not.. his opinion doesn't matter at all.

Slashdot is one of the original "Reddit" type sites.  It started in the late 1990's.  I joined in 1998, so it was around then, at least.  You could say Reddit and Digg are "Slashdot-type" sites.

But like any tech-heavy discussion site (say, like forums.bitcoin.org) you have a lot of smart people who think they know everything.  And Slashdot's users are consistently wrong about what they think will catch on with the "general population".  For example, they all thought the Apple iPad would be a huge failure.

So, looking at it that way, if the Slashdot users think Bitcoin will fail, it's now guaranteed to succeed!

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July 15, 2011, 06:26:35 PM
 #29

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Even if no new money were ever brought into the bitcoin economy, bitcoins would still create value for people who used them because they would enable transactions that would otherwise be impossible, more expensive, or more difficult. Even if every dollar going into bitcoins were balanced by a dollar going out and the value of a bitcoin never significantly changed, bitcoins would still produce added value for everyone who used them.

But this is no different than infusing a token product in a pyramid scheme to pull them over the line of being seen as solely money shifting. Multi-level-marketing is all about selling a "product", but in reality, the sales of that product are never what drives the operation, but rather the recruitment of new members and their "initiation fee".
It depends on what the product is. If the product is useless or drastically overpriced and must always realistically be so, I agree. If the product is innovative and genuinely useful, then I disagree.

Quote
Simply put, if Bitcoin really was a useful and viable payment system, the Bitcoin economy wouldn't almost entirely consist of speculation on exchanges. The reason all people are running around, putting up posters to expose people to Bitcoin is so that more "initation fees" can be collected.
If you believe bitcoins can never become a useful and viable payment system, then it's really no different from investments in ill-conceived products of other kinds. The IPOs of the dot-com boom created huge values for companies attempting to make products that had no chance in the market. You can certainly argue that this is what bitcoin is, but that's not the same thing as a scam or Ponzi scheme. That's just a bad idea.

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July 15, 2011, 06:31:06 PM
 #30

This is a fair point. How long do you give Bitcoin till it becomes utilized for its intended use? Or, put another way, what do you think would be the signs (if ever) that Bitcoin will not achieve this goal?

Quote
Even if no new money were ever brought into the bitcoin economy, bitcoins would still create value for people who used them because they would enable transactions that would otherwise be impossible, more expensive, or more difficult. Even if every dollar going into bitcoins were balanced by a dollar going out and the value of a bitcoin never significantly changed, bitcoins would still produce added value for everyone who used them.

But this is no different than infusing a token product in a pyramid scheme to pull them over the line of being seen as solely money shifting. Multi-level-marketing is all about selling a "product", but in reality, the sales of that product are never what drives the operation, but rather the recruitment of new members and their "initiation fee".
It depends on what the product is. If the product is useless or drastically overpriced, I agree. If the product is innovative and genuinely useful, then I disagree.

Quote
Simply put, if Bitcoin really was a useful and viable payment system, the Bitcoin economy wouldn't almost entirely consist of speculation on exchanges. The reason all people are running around, putting up posters to expose people to Bitcoin is so that more "initation fees" can be collected.
If you believe bitcoins can never become a useful and viable payment system, then it's really no different from investments in ill-conceived products of other kinds. The IPOs of the dot-com boom created huge values for companies attempting to make products that had no change in the market. You can certainly argue that this is what bitcoin is, but that's not the same thing as a scam or Ponzi scheme. That's just a bad idea.


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July 15, 2011, 06:36:23 PM
 #31

This is a fair point. How long do you give Bitcoin till it becomes utilized for its intended use? Or, put another way, what do you think would be the signs (if ever) that Bitcoin will not achieve this goal?
I think it could go on forever being used solely for those niche applications where it genuinely works best. I think that would cause its value to erode, which would be completely appropriate. Whether you consider that a failure or a limited success depends purely on your expectations.

In my heart of hearts, I believe bitcoins are doomed to fail. However, it's not because they're not a viable cryptocurrency, it's because they're the first serious attempt. We're bound to figure out how to do things better the next time around, and likely a superior replacement will doom bitcoins. However, no serious flaws have emerged yet, so the first mover advantage could carry. Oddly, that's kind of why I'm motivated to make them work. Even if bitcoins fail, we need to learn as much as possible so the next replacement will be as good as possible.

Does anyone know what the serious flaws that supposedly doom bitcoins are? Other than the fact that government actions could doom it, or a superior cryptocurrency (or one endorsed by large entities) could supplant it?

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July 16, 2011, 04:40:20 AM
 #32

I've come to understand the nature of 'ponzi' to be a function of focus, how close in (or far out) one zooms.

In light of this, it is far more practical to ask simple questions of Bitcoin utility, rather than (what are essentially) economic-philosophy questions.

So we go from: "Is Bitcoin a ponzi?"
to: "What is the definition of a ponzi?"
to: Screw it. What can I buy with a Bitcoin?

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July 16, 2011, 08:00:17 AM
 #33

Does anyone know what the serious flaws that supposedly doom bitcoins are? Other than the fact that government actions could doom it, or a superior cryptocurrency (or one endorsed by large entities) could supplant it?

My guess would be 'distribution friction'.
By this I mean that because it's a global system, it really needs a very large number of bitcoin holders in order to be really useful or dominant in more than a few niche markets.
With the 21million coin limit - there's something of a psychological barrier to interest in the idea unless you can be a holder of at least a few whole bitcoins.
The obvious way for that barrier to disappear - is for the per bitcoin value to be extremely high. But without the massive distribution whereby 10's of millions of people have some millicoins or microcoins, there's little incentive for that sort of spread. (chicken and egg stuff I guess)

Part of this distribution friction is also the costs associated with converting other currencies to and from BTC, as well as the non-availability of exchanges in most geographical markets.

I'm not saying the 21million limit is an issue in itself - but somehow the distribution seems too concentrated.
One way I see that could help this - is if it were really useful for microtransactions and made headway in some related market (currency of choice for MMORPG virtual goods?) . This would give an incentive for large numbers of people to desire sub-BTC quantities.
Unfortunately I understand there are (at least for now) a few technical impediments to it being a good system for a vast number of truly small transactions.

I don't know if 'doomed' is quite what this implies.. but it suggests to me that the required timeframe for serious distribution of bitcoin could be in decades or even on the order of a century or so.

Bitcoin may indeed be revolutionary - but it might be our grandchildren who reap the real rewards.



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July 16, 2011, 08:20:11 AM
 #34

My guess would be 'distribution friction'.
By this I mean that because it's a global system, it really needs a very large number of bitcoin holders in order to be really useful or dominant in more than a few niche markets.
Like any other technology, it will find its first success in the niche markets that it serves best. Over time, if it's useful, it will expand into other markets that it may not serve quite as perfectly, but merely better than anything else.

Wireless telephones found their first market with the wealthy. Computers found their first market with large corporations and governments. Bitcoins are finding their first market in the underground and geek economy.

Obviously, getting out of the niche is a large hurdle and many technologies never make it. But distribution friction is going down.

Yes, there's a chicken and egg problem. But the solution to that is niche markets where it's especially useful.

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July 16, 2011, 08:30:46 AM
 #35

Obviously, getting out of the niche is a large hurdle and many technologies never make it. But distribution friction is going down.
Yes, there's a chicken and egg problem. But the solution to that is niche markets where it's especially useful.

But just how does it get out of those niches?
The general effect of businesses running in those niche markets is to slurp the wealth up from the end-users into the businesses.
The consumers in those niches will presumably have a need to go back to the exchanges and get some more BTC to continue participating, while the businesses will cash out their BTC to other currencies in order to pay their costs.

I just see a situation where those little markets could sail along with a fairly low BTC value.. and there's still nothing really driving overall distribution.


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July 16, 2011, 08:41:08 AM
 #36

My guess would be 'distribution friction'.
By this I mean that because it's a global system, it really needs a very large number of bitcoin holders in order to be really useful or dominant in more than a few niche markets.

Like any other technology, it will find its first success in the niche markets that it serves best. Over time, if it's useful, it will expand into other markets that it may not serve quite as perfectly, but merely better than anything else.

So a few more niche markets open up over time..  but unless the value skyrockets and true microtransactions are practical - it still doesn't mean it's destined to serve the wider ecommerce market properly any time soon. (ie within a decade or so)

I'm not particularly tied to this scenario.. It just seems plausible to me that it could go the ultra-slow way.

Is it a reasonable assumption that due to the limited distribution,  the per BTC value must be very high for it to expand to other markets?

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July 16, 2011, 08:41:50 AM
 #37

I'm not saying the 21million limit is an issue in itself - but somehow the distribution seems too concentrated.
One way I see that could help this - is if it were really useful for microtransactions and made headway in some related market (currency of choice for MMORPG virtual goods?) . This would give an incentive for large numbers of people to desire sub-BTC quantities.
Unfortunately I understand there are (at least for now) a few technical impediments to it being a good system for a vast number of truly small transactions.

Bitcoin turned out not to be great for microtransactions afterall.

But it is not the technology necessarily that causes this. At least not in the MMORPG field, where people can already be seen to operate at a financial loss, in fact fully expect to operate at a financial loss.

So my take has been that Bitcoins can take on the ghastly can of worms that is the interface to fiat currencies, freeing other blockchain-based currencies to do some of the things that the kind of fiat-currency-interfaces adopted by Bitcoin make difficult to do with Bitcoin.

The Galactic Milieu has already spawned a number of spinoffs of Bitcoin, not just to allow transaction fees to remain small in proportion to the prices paid for things but also because some "nations" want to float their own "national currency" on the "galactic market" and some players want to be able to actually play the forex markets and stock markets of the Milieu.

I have also set up a game that can serve as a distribution system, distributing virtual assets even to players who do not pay to play.

Not using Bitcoins directly gives a further step of remove from fiat currencies and all the hassles they can entail (accusations of being "gambling" for example) as well as a way to avoid the relative-to-prices "high" transaction fees of actual Bitcoins. (If you mine millions of tons of resources a day, and pay less than a bitcoin a month to play, each ton is worth only a tiny fraction of a bitcoin, but individual characters might only need to buy a few kilograms to forge a sword from...)

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July 16, 2011, 09:27:35 AM
 #38


So my take has been that Bitcoins can take on the ghastly can of worms that is the interface to fiat currencies, freeing other blockchain-based currencies to do some of the things that the kind of fiat-currency-interfaces adopted by Bitcoin make difficult to do with Bitcoin.
That makes sense..  As is clear from your example about mining game resources to create some little thing as a sword - the value of such things may easily be on the order of picoBTC or less.  Even if bitcoin microtransactions were good down to the satoshi level, there would be a need for other systems to break it down further and so only use BTC indirectly.


The Galactic Milieu has already spawned a number of spinoffs of Bitcoin, not just to allow transaction fees to remain small in proportion to the prices paid for things but also because some "nations" want to float their own "national currency" on the "galactic market" and some players want to be able to actually play the forex markets and stock markets of the Milieu.

I have also set up a game that can serve as a distribution system, distributing virtual assets even to players who do not pay to play.
I've had a casual interest in these sorts of things for a while, and am familiar with freeciv and battle for wesnoth.
Galactic Milieu hadn't hit my radar..  and even now that it has - I don't understand it.
(downloaded the client - it displays a splash screen and exits. Not much clue there)

Nevertheless.. what little I can deduce from the links above tells me it might be interesting. I'll try again if it hits my radar in a few months/years!

As to whether this sort of thing can help the overall distribution/uptake of bitcoin - I'd guess so.. gradually, but I still don't see anything happening soon.


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July 16, 2011, 09:38:06 AM
 #39

The only clients on there for downloading are GRouPcoin and a play by mail thing that looked like it might potentially be able to be made use of with some work but that never resulted in any actual emails arriving at the order-submission address.

If it simply throws up a splash screen and exits I guess that explains why no actual play by email orders ever got submitted.

It worked for me, I would not have uploaded it otherwise. But it seems to be pretty much a failed experiment.

The real concept is not to need its own special clients. People wanting to control events on a planetary scale use Freeciv as a client, equipping it with the Galactic Ruleset which is available on the Freeciv forums. People just wanting a playable storyboard history of some portion of the events of the past use Battle for Wesnoth, downloading the "campaigns" from the add-ons system already built into that "client". People liking a more interactive, and single-character viewpoint use a Crossfire RPG client to connect to the CrossCiv server. Etc.

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July 16, 2011, 10:22:18 AM
 #40

Let me guess.

These people at "slash dot" i must be a noob for not knowing or caring what slash dot is, I'm assuming it's just another site like reddit for random people to voice their opinions on topics..

I'm assuming they have nothing to do with bitcoin and are looking at it from the outside.

Therefore in my eyes, their opinion just doesn't matter.  As American's most of us think we're doing good by occupying all of these countries overseas.  Do we give a fuck what some jihadist thinks about our invasion?  absolutely not.. his opinion doesn't matter at all.

Slashdot is one of the original "Reddit" type sites.  It started in the late 1990's.  I joined in 1998, so it was around then, at least.  You could say Reddit and Digg are "Slashdot-type" sites.

But like any tech-heavy discussion site (say, like forums.bitcoin.org) you have a lot of smart people who think they know everything.  And Slashdot's users are consistently wrong about what they think will catch on with the "general population".  For example, they all thought the Apple iPad would be a huge failure.

So, looking at it that way, if the Slashdot users think Bitcoin will fail, it's now guaranteed to succeed!

I didn't say it would be a failure, and I think some of the slash dotters would have had the same feeling as me.  It was a disappointment when it came out that it used iOS and not the Full Mac OS, but I knew millions would flock to it due to it's simplicity and the Apple Logo.  I forget how long I've been looking at slash dot, but its been atleast 10 years.  I posted every now and then, but forgot my pw, and some reason recovery doesn't work, think I used a socal.rr.com email that I nolonger have access to.

Set up the same thing..
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