This is an opinion editorial by Luke Groom is a West Point graduate, Army Engineer Officer, JD-MBA Candidate at Northwestern and part-time strategy associate at Marathon Digital Holdings. His views do not represent any of his organizations.
Within the Bitcoin community, U.S. military service members are sometimes viewed with suspicion. I don’t know where this suspicion comes from. Maybe the libertarian elements of the community are against things that remind them of Big Government. Maybe Left elements of the community are against things that remind them of guns and violence. Maybe people think we are infiltrating the Bitcoin ranks to secretly further the interests of the Military Industrial Complex. I can only speculate. For me, the transition from service member to Bitcoiner is obvious. I will outline three reasons: freedom, responsibility and code. Throughout, I will refer to “military service members” and “Veterans” interchangeably, because they are the same people, just at different periods of life.
First, the key value which drives many young men and women to join the military is the same key value that Bitcoin promotes. If you ask someone why they chose to serve in the military, and continue to dig into their answer, somewhere in there is almost always a desire to promote liberty and freedom. At its core, Bitcoin is freedom money. It is free from debasement, free from political influence, free from seigniorage, free from centralization, free from manipulation and free from compulsion. Most people join the military because they value liberty. They value free markets. They want to fight for the “Land of the Free.” Sure, actual results may vary, but the desire is there.
Consider that we have centrally controlled fiat money, capable of debasement, political influence, theft via seigniorage and manipulated pricing via fixing of interest rates. Consider that fiat money is at least half of essentially every transaction. That means that not only do we not have a free market of money; we don’t have a free market of anything! Imagine the disillusionment of a service member who has dedicated their life to fighting for freedom, only to realize that we live in this unfree, manipulated-market world. Then they learn about Bitcoin. Becoming a Bitcoiner means voting with your energy in favor of free markets and all the freedom that Bitcoin represents. They realize that if they put their energy into Bitcoin, whether their purchasing power goes up or goes down, they are fighting for freedom, just like their inspiration to join the military to begin with.
Second, most Veterans crave increased personal responsibility. The military is great for teaching young people responsibility. Get up. Make your bed. Exercise. Go to work. Wear the right thing. Be on time. Be reliable. Be accountable. Lead. Follow. Take care of your buddies. The military has built in forcing functions to teach responsibility.
There comes a time, however, when you want to take the training wheels off. You want to show your personal responsibility without someone looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re doing it right. You want more than five options for your retirement investments. You want to shout, “I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly!” Bitcoin aligns with that desire. You have to do your own research. You have to take responsibility for custody (or responsibility for counterparty risk). You have to accept the volatility in its conversion rate to fiat. There’s no safety net in the Bitcoin market, and that increased personal responsibility is liberating for many Veterans.
Last, every Veteran swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. As I’ve gone through law school, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for that document. We live in a polarized country. I’ve seen a lot of that country first-hand, living in Chicago, New York, Missouri, North Carolina and Washington. I’ve lived in the city, the suburbs and small towns. I’ve worked with millionaires and with people without a sat to their name. I’ve shared meals with people who have lost friends fighting overseas and with people who have protested at Army bases. Our citizens look different, sound different and have vastly different values. With citizens who are so dissimilar, what is holding this country together?
I would argue that the Constitution holds this country together and defines who we are as a nation. The Constitution is less than 5,000 words of code that set-in motion the protocol that is the United States of America. We have since seen that code soft forked in the form of amendments to the Constitution. We have seen layer upon layer of government built on top of that code, in similar ways that layers are being built upon Bitcoin. Some could successfully argue that we have seen the code ignored or misinterpreted beyond recognition. However, this code is at the heart of our country. Every service member swears to support and defend, not a man, not a military industrial complex, but that Constitution. For Veterans who have already sworn to possibly give their lives for the sake of one code, the step to embrace code-based money is natural.
Finally, my Veterans Day would not be complete without thanking a Veteran or two. Thank you, Anthony Pompliano and Preston Pysh. Without you two, I might still be thinking that Bitcoin was “probably nothing.” Happy Veterans Day.
This is a guest post by Luke Groom. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.