Table of Contents
SPEECH TITLE: Fiat delenda est
SPEAKER: Jimmy Song
CONFERENCE: BALTIC HONEYBADGER 2022
Welcome to the bear market! Doesn’t seem like one right here. The entire place is full, you got a whole bunch of people standing in the back very excited to be here.
Three years ago, I gave a talk here how Bitcoin changes incentives and I wanted to point out what the current system incentivizes and what bitcoin incentivizes and how they were better. Since that time and starting 2020, I started to say this phrase: “Fiat Delenda EST”, at the end of every show that I do, at the end of my newsletter and everywhere else “Fiat Delenda EST” and I wanted to explain this phrase a little bit more because if you know Latin this phrase doesn’t make any sense.
Carthago Delenda EST
The phrase “Fiat Delenda Est” comes from this phrase “Carthago Delenda EST” and it means Carthage must be destroyed. That is due to this man Cato the Elder and he was a Roman Senator and at the end of every speech that he would give in the Roman senate he would end with this phrase “Carthago Delenda EST” which means “Carthage must be destroyed”. Why was he saying this? It was because Carthage was a rival to Rome. He was a Roman Senator and he realized that Carthage was their mortal enemy and if you study some history, you know that they were involved in the Punic Wars with each other, Carthage and Rome and Hannibal was a Carthaginian general, who brought elephants down the Alps and attack Rome from the north which they totally didn’t expect.
Anyway, they were mortal enemies and what Cato the Elder was saying was Rome wouldn’t be able to expand until they destroyed Carthage. In fact, we don’t know that much about Carthaginians for that reason because Rome ended up destroying Carthage and not only did they destroy they didn’t just go and sack the city, they pulverized the city, they turned it to dust and to make sure that the Carthaginians couldn’t rise again they salted the fields around the city so that nothing would grow. That’s how much they hated Carthage and that’s why I say “Fiat Delenda EST”.
Anyway, let’s look at the word “fiat”. This is Genesis 1:3 from the Latin Vulgate (the Latin Bible) and “dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux”, “and god said “let there be light” and there was light”. So that phrase “fiat lux” means “let there be light”. That’s where the word fiat comes from and in fact, “fiat” means “let there be” in Latin. It’s a verb but we use it in English as an adjective. So, what happened there? Well, what happened was that
“Fiat money” means “let there be money”
It’s money created “by decree” and that’s why we say “fiat money” as an adjective instead of a verb. So really “fiat” means “by decree” or creating something “by decree” by saying so. And really that’s the big problem here and that’s why I say “Fiat Delenda EST” because it is creation by decree.
I’m not god so if I say “let there be steak” a steak doesn’t magically appear in front of me, right? If I wanted a stake in front of me, I would have to either go buy that steak or raise a cow and butcher the cow and you know sear the cow and then I would have a steak in front of me. It requires work, it requires action, it requires energy and time. Creation by decree is more or less impossible for human beings just to do without those things like time energy and effort.
So what the fiat mentality does is it gives you this illusion that things will just happen by decreeing something. It’s man’s deception that they can create something through just saying so. And the key question that we have to ask is who or what makes it so?
Because in the end, somebody has to do the work. You can’t just decree something to be so and it magically happen. Somebody or someone has to make that happen. They have to put in the time and effort. They have to do something and ultimately that usually means requiring force of some kind, force or violence of some kind. And I know Latvia used to be part of former Soviet satellite state or something like that, it required a lot of force in that era to make people do things. The people up on high would decree that there be a building in some place and then somebody else would have to go and build all that stuff and figure out how to get all the labor and so on. Unsurprisingly that didn’t go over very well. This is the major reason for revolutions, when you force people to do things, when you decree that they must do something for you…
Fiat money was sort of like a brilliant alternative if you think about it. It gives you this sort of soft mandate through money printing. It makes you do something through the illusion that it’s a market force by paying you to do it. We all know that inflation is theft. It’s taking your purchasing power away. But by using fiat money it makes it seem like you’re obeying market forces. They’re paying you to go do something, when in fact, they’re stealing from you and then paying you to do something. It’s a very soft power but it’s also extremely infected. This is how I like to divide how the two systems between the East and West after World War II were different. The people on the Soviet Union they were very hard authoritarians, they made people do stuff. In the west, there were soft authoritarians and they used fiat money to do so and had this illusion that it was market forces at work when it really wasn’t. So instead of demanding people do something, they really kind of got tricked. You stole from everybody else to pay people to go do something. Really, you were just stealing the whole time.
And you might say at this point what’s wrong with it? All these people are happy about receiving the money and doing all this and you know generally it’s been prosperous in the West for the last 50 years or so, what’s so bad? Well, here’s what’s bad. First, it centralizes power, significantly. Because the theft is very subtle and obvious. The centralized power just keeps growing. It gives this very gentle authoritarianism but it’s still authoritarianism, you’re being made to do stuff that you don’t want to do and in fact, it gets the people in power to think that they should have more power because they’re so benevolent in distributing the money. Really, it’s a soft form of slavery. The people in the East had a hard form of slavery, where they had to do something or else they would go to the gulag. In the west, it was a soft form of slavery, where they would pay you using the money that they stole from you. It’s a really neat trick if you think about it and kind of brilliant.
Second, it’s bad because of anti-civilization incentives. Cheating and theft become very widespread in any sort of fiat money system. I had a friend a while back who managed in high school to get access to the school’s grading system. It’s usually a closed system but somehow he got access to it. He was able to change his own grades and of course that meant that you didn’t have to study and he was able to be lazy and he would still give himself A’s afterwards. Of course, he couldn’t shut up about it, he told his friends and his friends were like “hey I’ll pay you some money if you can change my grades”. Of course, he did. Then you know some cute girls found out about it and they would ask him really nicely and he would go change their grades. Soon the entire school knew about it and of course he got caught, got expelled from the school and he had to transfer high schools and figure something out from there. But that’s what cheating and theft become, it debases the entire system. You think anybody trusted straight A’s in that school after that? Fiat money while it lasts, it acts as sort of like a cheat code to the entire system and if you’ve ever played a video game with a cheat code, you know that deep inside it’s not that satisfying to beat it right. I remember playing SimCity and giving myself like two billion dollars and I could build whatever I wanted. It’s not a very satisfying end to the game. But that’s what people prefer because it’s a lot easier. What you’re not realizing is that you’re debasing the entire system by doing that. As a result, bureaucracy grows like cancer and destroys civilization.
Ubiquity of politics
That leads to my third point, politics becomes ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. The reason is because rent-seeking positions are by nature political. All of these bureaucratic positions, where you’re not really doing anything you’re just like rubber stamping something, you’re essentially taxing transactions for your own benefit. That’s a very desirable job, because you don’t have to work that hard. Everybody wants those. How do they get distributed? They get distributed through politics and the way you get certain political positions is by having the moral high ground and how do you get the moral high ground? You claim to be a victim. It’s no surprise that there’s like a victimhood olympics going on. “I’m a victim, no, I’m a victim, you should give me money, you should give me money” it happens because of fiat money. That’s the society that we’re under right now. Then it becomes like all about appearances. You can claim victimhood status only if you identify as like a seven-foot-tall-black-woman or something. It becomes all about appearances, not about truth. Because if you can get enough people to believe that you’re a victim that’s good enough, you don’t actually have to be a victim. That means that politics penetrates absolutely everything. We’re becoming more and more extreme politically these days. There’s a reason for that. It’s because of the money. It does that by nature. There’s this giant prize out there for whoever wins. Of course, they’re going to fight very hard and dirty in order to get it.
Fiat must be destroyed
Fiat must be destroyed because fiat is all about enslavement through money printing, it’s a soft form of enslavement, a brilliant form of enslavement but it’s still enslavement. Leads to the destruction of productivity and it’s based on lies. You can’t run any sort of economy on lies it just doesn’t work. But here’s the solution, we have Bitcoin and if you contrast that we know that it’s freedom money, you can do whatever you want with it, no one’s forcing you to do anything and you’re not getting tricked. It incentivizes building and production and finally it’s based on truth. It’s not based on lies. So, when I say fiat must be destroyed I say that because it’s true. This is our biggest impediment to civilization thriving. If we want to grow as a society, as a civilization, fiat must be destroyed. “Fiat Delenda EST”.
So what does it mean to destroy fiat?
Here’s some suggestions:
First, we must absolutely destroy the entitlement mentality. This is very prevalent today largely because of fiat money but every entitlement means that somebody has to do the providing on the other side and they must be enslaved for your entitlement. You might think, you’re entitled to health care but some doctor or nurse or pharmacist they have to provide that care and you have to enslave them to do it in some ways. Now you might do it in a soft way through fiat money printing which most of these countries that provide for you healthcare do. But that’s not a good trade-off.
Second, we must punish rent seeking. This is what everybody wants to do. The best and the brightest over the last 50 years, they’ve all been going into investment banking. Why? Because it pays so well. We gotta punish and shame these people. It still bothers me that so many people have so much reverence for someone like Warren Buffett. Think about like a hundred years ago who are the most admired people? Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, people, that created stuff, invented stuff, instead, the people that we admire now, they’re money managers! Seriously? He’s calling bitcoin rat poison but he needs to be shamed for other things. Like the fact that he just moves money around. He’s not providing anything.
Third, make truth great again! It’s the only way a market economy works is if people respect the truth. Everyone’s sort of like going on lies. It doesn’t work. You can’t believe a convenient lie, you have to be committed to the truth. This is how we destroy fiat and prevent the theft that’s been happening to all of us. “Fiat Delenda EST”!
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