Today I listened to the podcast, What Bitcoin Did episode 17 with Samson Mow. Samson did well to present the Bitcoin vision as contrasted with the BCash vision.
Some of the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ questions posed by the podcast host Andrew did come off with a bit of a socialist undertone and to my mind, a false sense of balance. From my viewpoint, it was giving the BCashers too much credit. But maybe that’s just the Bitcoin ‘Core’ maximalist in me speaking. I agreed with Samson’s sentiment that BCashers present BCash in a dishonest light:
The main problem I sensed underlying the questioning was this idea that on-chain layer 1 priority transactions should be affordable to all people, always, and they should have the same level of security provided by cold storage. Even where they are from a developing country with lower income. But Samson was put into a tough situation when answering this, as we generally recognise Bitcoin needs a fee market to survive long term. While we want the fees on layer 1 Bitcoin to be accessible, there can be no guarantee or central planning of this.
Optimistically, here are different ways this could play out instead:
- As spelled out in this fascinating Lightning Labs post, Lightning User Experience: A Day in the Life of Carol
Ideally, users like Carol will manage balances, payments and deposits without having to understand the underlying technology, and the experience will be cheaper and more convenient than existing payment technologies (checks, credit cards, physical cash, etc.)
- People might rely on their retail crypto-bank app to run the bitcoin wallet and lightning node ‘behind the scenes’ for them – thus rendering the layer 1 transaction fee less of a problem as it would be batched up for spending by the crypto-bank.
- People stay on ‘layer 1’ Bitcoin, running their own full node and using Bitcoin for the large transactions only, such as buying a house or a car. Bitcoin kept in a vault / deep cold storage as a family store of value.
Sound money and capitalism is the mission. There’s not an obligation to make everyone equal or to give them equal right to the high priority fast transactions. This is the simple reality of designing Bitcoin to be government-resistant. Attempts to naively scale on-chain will risk the centralisation, and eventual co-opting of Bitcoin by government.
To me, this expectation for everyone to have the best level of convenience and security with no cost trade off is almost reminiscent of when socialist people blame capitalism for needing to work to live. In their view, they are ‘wage slaves working for the man’ so they can get food, shelter, clothing etc. But really, this is the problem we are in due to nature. It’s not the fault of the capitalists, and if anything, the capitalists are helping alleviate the problem. They’re the ones making us wealthier overall to have enough food, shelter and basic necessities like Wi-Fi and social media to shit post on.
So too with nature, it’s not the fault of Bitcoin, Bitcoin core developers or Blockstream that the government is out there, and if given a chance to co-opt Bitcoin, it will do it.
If you’re interested in further discussion on Bitcoin’s future and fees, I recommend you see Rusty’s post: The Three Economic Eras of Bitcoin. I think Rusty shows great foresight in the discussion, to show that once this current subsidy era ends, there may come another battle to inflate Bitcoin beyond the original supply. For this reason, a fee market should develop.
Ultimately, Bitcoin will not bend to the will of people who say ‘gib me’. It will continue being the hardest money to ever exist. We will all have to adapt to that.