By Allan Stevo*
US senator Elizabeth Warren claimed last week that bitcoin uses too much electricity. In doing so, she makes a judgment about the “correct” amount of electricity use. But it raises the question of who is entitled to make such a judgment.
It’s fine for Warren to judge for herself, but it’s not fine for her to try to foist that opinion on others through government force or coercion.
A follow-up question from a decent reporter might be, “Is there really not enough available energy?”
At least two centuries of oil exist underground at current levels of usage. It’s not a question of whether it exists; it’s a question of how costly it is to get to. Uranium supplies will last longer than that.
Energy is abundant and easy to provide in a free market environment. However, a free market environment can be hard to come by, for government won’t let a free market for energy exist. Governments around the world are so eager to control energy generation and distribution that the mechanism of supply and demand can’t do its job. Instead, we are left with a bunch of impractical government stipulations by know-it-all politicians and bureaucrats.
Clearly, whoever makes such a decision about whether there is enough energy is operating from a mindset of artificial scarcity.
With unlimited sunlight, nearly unlimited uranium and similar substances, and many years of petroleum, any argument that there is not enough energy is misguided at best. In a marketplace there would never be such a worry as “Is there enough?” There would instead be a question of “How much exists at what price?” The marketplace handles scarcity well. It is government that imposes artificial barriers on the handling of such needs as energy to fuel economic development.
No one is saying Facebook uses too much energy, yet it has more than a billion people using its network each day. There are, in contrast, thousands of computers operating on the bitcoin network at any given moment.
No one is saying online pornography uses too much energy, yet it is a dominant use of the internet.
No one is saying these things, because we have long considered it a person’s right to decide how they use their resources. They get to say what they do with their time and their money, not someone in Washington, DC.
What business does a US senator even have reaching into this area of life and saying that?
From time immemorial, bad folks have been figuring out how to take other people’s property from them, and good folks have been figuring out how to protect people’s property. “Thou shalt not steal” is not “Thou shalt not steal unless you are a US senator.”
Government has long extorted money from people with the threat of jail. Sick of this process, revolutions have often occurred in which people freed themselves from oppressive, thieving governments. The American Revolution was seen as a tax revolt by many participants. People wanted government’s hands off their property. It wasn’t long after the revolution that Washington, DC, was extorting a great deal more in taxes than any king across the Atlantic had ever demanded of his subjects. Even worse, in 1913, a form of servitude was added to the US Constitution with the implementation of the income tax in the Sixteenth Amendment, a policy by which a portion of a man’s labor was to belong to government.
Man has the ability to decide what has value to him and to operate accordingly. What has economic value to one may not have value to another. Economic value is subjective. What Elizabeth Warren and many others are really saying is, “I decree for myself the power to decide that economic value is not subjective, but objective, and based on the decisions of government.”
This is the heart of socialism: governmental control of an economy. When tried, this always fails. It removes the important tool of price, which shares so much information in a marketplace and is necessary to the individual, and instead lets a committee engage in brute-force central planning.
This is very harmful to society.
It is telling that Elizabeth Warren wants people to have their weed and their porn, items which enfeeble and harm, but she doesn’t want people to have their bitcoin.
*About the author: Allan Stevo is the best selling author of The Bitcoin Manifesto. He is also the author of Somewhere Between Bratislava and DC and the forthcoming 17 Nov 1989. He writes specifically on Slovak culture and generally on Central European culture from an Austrian-School perspective at 52 Weeks in Slovakia.
Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute