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Author Topic: Not a currency, not a commodity, but an accounting system  (Read 4716 times)
niko
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March 09, 2012, 01:54:46 AM
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There has been lots of discussion, for various reasons, about how to classify Bitcoin. Most of it has been focused on currency vs. commodity dichotomy (from taxes to exchanges to the Good Wife episode). Fringe discussions also involved securities.

The fact is, Bitcoin does not fit comfortably into any of these categories. As soon you decide it's one or the other, absurdity pops up. Some even argued, quite reasonably, that Bitcoin is simply Bitcoin, different than anything we've had before, and that it will be up to courts and people to slowly decide how to deal with it, set precedents, etc.

Isn't the most appropriate desription of Bitcoin in traditional terms: an accounting system?  That's all it really does, and it does it beautifully. It's a distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, secure, irreversible accounting system.

Thoughts?

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March 09, 2012, 02:18:27 AM
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It's a distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, secure, irreversible accounting system.

yes, and it is just like every other distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, secure, irreversible accounting system.

even my grandmother knows what one of those is.
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March 09, 2012, 02:19:33 AM
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What is the absurdity in considering Bitcoin a currency?

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March 09, 2012, 02:20:08 AM
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It's a distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, secure, irreversible accounting system.

yes, it is just like every other distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, secure, irreversible accounting system.

even my grandmother knows what one of those is.

Not true.  It is significantly different from namecoin.

https://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
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March 09, 2012, 02:23:11 AM
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Isn't the most appropriate desription of Bitcoin in traditional terms: an accounting system?  That's all it really does, and it does it beautifully. It's a distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, secure, irreversible accounting system.

That's exactly what a currency is.  A currency isn't the paper it's printed upon.  A currency is a standardized unit of measurement, in this case, of relative valuations.  The accounting in a cash economy is performed by the exchange of paper scripts that abstract value, bitcoin does the same thing using a collective & distributed triple entry ledger system (the blockchain).

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

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March 09, 2012, 02:25:03 AM
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There has been lots of discussion, for various reasons, about how to classify Bitcoin. Most of it has been focused on currency vs. commodity dichotomy (from taxes to exchanges to the Good Wife episode). Fringe discussions also involved securities.

The fact is, Bitcoin does not fit comfortably into any of these categories. As soon you decide it's one or the other, absurdity pops up. Some even argued, quite reasonably, that Bitcoin is simply Bitcoin, different than anything we've had before, and that it will be up to courts and people to slowly decide how to deal with it, set precedents, etc.

Isn't the most appropriate desription of Bitcoin in traditional terms: an accounting system?  That's all it really does, and it does it beautifully. It's a distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, secure, irreversible accounting system.

Thoughts?

Not too long ago someone used the term "ledger" instead of accounting system in a post much like this one.

BTW, it's actually a digitally distributed, decentralized, pseudonymous, peer-to-peer, cryptographically secure, irreversible accounting system.  Wink

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March 09, 2012, 02:29:16 AM
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Can someone explain the triple entry part?
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March 09, 2012, 02:40:43 AM
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Quote from: MoonShadow
That's exactly what a currency is.  A currency isn't the paper it's printed upon.  A currency is a standardized unit of measurement, in this case, of relative valuations.  The accounting in a cash economy is performed by the exchange of paper scripts that abstract value, bitcoin does the same thing using a collective & distributed triple entry ledger system (the blockchain).

Whether whittling marks on a tally stick, hauling large stones from one island to another, or printing paper notes, they all seek to achieve what is quoted above. Bitcoin just does it better.

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March 09, 2012, 03:19:39 AM
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Can someone explain the triple entry part?

Here: https://financialcryptography.com/mt/archives/001325.html

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March 09, 2012, 04:32:23 AM
 #10

There has been lots of discussion, for various reasons, about how to classify Bitcoin. Most of it has been focused on currency vs. commodity dichotomy (from taxes to exchanges to the Good Wife episode). Fringe discussions also involved securities.

The fact is, Bitcoin does not fit comfortably into any of these categories.


Bitcoin is a commodity (limited, uniform/standard, divisible, useful), and it is a currency because its properties as a commodity make it extremely useful as such.

Real money always becomes money while simultaneously being a commodity. They're not mutually exclusive. Gold, and Bitcoin, are both commodity monies.

Bitcoin is definitely NOT a security as it requires the promise or backing of no separate party. The Bitcoin software is indeed an accounting system, but Bitcoins themselves are not an accounting system.

Part of the reason people get confused about these things is that Bitcoin is two parts: 1) a commodity useful as money and 2) an accounting and payment system which uses the commodity money.  It may have been smarter to give the two pieces different names, but they're both called Bitcoin Smiley
niko
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March 09, 2012, 06:55:12 AM
 #11

There has been lots of discussion, for various reasons, about how to classify Bitcoin. Most of it has been focused on currency vs. commodity dichotomy (from taxes to exchanges to the Good Wife episode). Fringe discussions also involved securities.

The fact is, Bitcoin does not fit comfortably into any of these categories.


Bitcoin is a commodity (limited, uniform/standard, divisible, useful), and it is a currency because its properties as a commodity make it extremely useful as such.

Real money always becomes money while simultaneously being a commodity. They're not mutually exclusive. Gold, and Bitcoin, are both commodity monies.

Bitcoin is definitely NOT a security as it requires the promise or backing of no separate party. The Bitcoin software is indeed an accounting system, but Bitcoins themselves are not an accounting system.

Part of the reason people get confused about these things is that Bitcoin is two parts: 1) a commodity useful as money and 2) an accounting and payment system which uses the commodity money.  It may have been smarter to give the two pieces different names, but they're both called Bitcoin Smiley

Good point, as usual - although I might not like the consequences. If it's a commodity, in most jurisdictions each fiat-btc exchange would have a sales tax attached, and each trade of goods/services would be taxed as barter. If it's a currency, it'll be highly regulated - not a problem in itself, but has a great potential for abuse by the regulators for ideological/economic reasons, just like fiat.


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March 09, 2012, 03:14:44 PM
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A digital commodity fits it so perfectly I seriously can't see anything absurd about it.

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March 09, 2012, 03:33:25 PM
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Can someone explain the triple entry part?

http://iang.org/papers/triple_entry.html

TL,DR version....

Triple entry accounting is wherein there are three ledgers that record a transaction that must agree.  In this case, one personally trusted by the buyer, another personally trusted by the seller, and a third party trusted by both.  This is the classic trusted third party problem.  In the case of bitcoin, the blockchain serves the role of all three ledgers.  Each of the two parties involved in the transaction have their own local copy, and the trusted third party is the rest of the bitcoin network.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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March 09, 2012, 03:36:35 PM
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A digital commodity fits it so perfectly I seriously can't see anything absurd about it.

Once again, the absurd part is that a commodity is something with a use other than as a monetary unit.  A currency is a unit of exchange by design.  Even commodity monies (gold silver) are currencies once minted into coins.  Until that happens, those monies are not actually monetary units.

Tell me what other use bitcoins serve and I'll agree that it's a commodity.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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March 09, 2012, 03:39:24 PM
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Bitcoin is definitely NOT a security as it requires the promise or backing of no separate party. The Bitcoin software is indeed an accounting system, but Bitcoins themselves are not an accounting system.


I'm going to have to dissent here for technical reasons.  In reality, bitcoins are no more than a mental construct.  They don't even exist as a digital object.  Only transactions exist, and they are not, themselves, bitcoins.  There is only the accounting system.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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March 09, 2012, 03:41:46 PM
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Tell me what other use bitcoins serve and I'll agree that it's a commodity.

Vote counting, clock, novelty and various other reasons one can use an openly shared digital record that no one can forge but where people can make entries pseudononymously.

There are lots of uses for Bitcoin other than a monetary one. Gold was primarily used a jewelry and one could easily argue "hey that's not a real use for something to just look pretty.."

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

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March 09, 2012, 03:43:38 PM
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Bitcoin is definitely NOT a security as it requires the promise or backing of no separate party. The Bitcoin software is indeed an accounting system, but Bitcoins themselves are not an accounting system.


I'm going to have to dissent here for technical reasons.  In reality, bitcoins are no more than a mental construct.  They don't even exist as a digital object.  Only transactions exist, and they are not, themselves, bitcoins.  There is only the accounting system.

I disagree. I mean aren't there tokens within this accounting system? Does it matter that these tokens exist only as part of transactions?

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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March 09, 2012, 03:45:47 PM
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Bitcoin is definitely NOT a security as it requires the promise or backing of no separate party. The Bitcoin software is indeed an accounting system, but Bitcoins themselves are not an accounting system.


I'm going to have to dissent here for technical reasons.  In reality, bitcoins are no more than a mental construct.  They don't even exist as a digital object.  Only transactions exist, and they are not, themselves, bitcoins.  There is only the accounting system.

I disagree. I mean aren't there tokens within this accounting system? Does it matter that these tokens exist only as part of transactions?

No, there are no tokens, not even in the transactions.  There are only the transactions, with entries on who is sending bitcoins to whom (via addresses) and how much.  That is all.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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March 09, 2012, 03:47:55 PM
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Tell me what other use bitcoins serve and I'll agree that it's a commodity.

Vote counting, clock, novelty and various other reasons one can use an openly shared digital record that no one can forge but where people can make entries pseudononymously.

There are lots of uses for Bitcoin other than a monetary one. Gold was primarily used a jewelry and one could easily argue "hey that's not a real use for something to just look pretty.."

Those are not uses for bitcoin, nor the bitcoin network at present, although it's possible that a parallel network (like namecoin) could serve such a purpose.  Tell me what the bitcoins themselves are useful for beyond a unit of exchange.

Honestly, I know it's an impossible task, as I have already mentioned, bitcoins don't really exist.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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March 09, 2012, 03:50:21 PM
 #20

Can someone explain the triple entry part?

http://iang.org/papers/triple_entry.html

TL,DR version....

Triple entry accounting is wherein there are three ledgers that record a transaction that must agree.  In this case, one personally trusted by the buyer, another personally trusted by the seller, and a third party trusted by both.  This is the classic trusted third party problem.  In the case of bitcoin, the blockchain serves the role of all three ledgers.  Each of the two parties involved in the transaction have their own local copy, and the trusted third party is the rest of the bitcoin network.

but its not like Alice and Bob are sitting there reading their own ledgers (client) and comparing it to the blockchain or even each others ledger (client).  their individual copies are connected to the blockchain and depending on the blockchain to feed them correct data.  in that sense there's just one trusted record; the blockchain.
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