In the early days of Bitcoin, very few people knew the global impact it would have. Some Africans are seeing the benefits from bitcoin mining.
This is a transcribed excerpt of the “Bitcoin Magazine Podcast,” hosted by P and Q. In this episode, they are joined by Marshall Long to talk about surviving the bear market as a bitcoin miner and how the current political scene will not be able to beat bitcoin miners into submission.
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Q: I wanna stay on mining, but I wanna bring the World Economic Forum into the equation for a lot of different reasons that may be true and may not be true. The idea and concept of bitcoin mining seems to be one of the most triggering things for climate activists, for shitcoiners, for anyone who is just against bitcoin. Both the energy usage and proof-of-work mining in particular have been put on the stand. I’d love your thoughts from conversations around proof-of-work from the early days before Mt. Gox. What were the rationales/justifications for proof-of-work. And if someone was discussing proof-of-stake (PoS), how much did you bully them into eventually turning into the super villain, known as Vitalik Buterin.
Marshall Long: So early days, anybody that says they knew Bitcoin was gonna be a huge, major hit is a fucking liar. When I first started mining bitcoin, I was like, “Oh, I could pay off my CPUs and my GPUs by mining the nerd money. That’s awesome.” I didn’t know anything about economics or financial inclusion or any of the good stuff that we now know and love about Bitcoin.
So early, early days it was that. As far as PoS, people only used it as a way to trade shitcoins. Early days on Gox or BTC-e or any of these other exchanges — there was like NXT was like one of the first PoS coins — were just like a thing to try to arbitrage bitcoin against.
It wasn’t anything outside of that. And then papers started coming out where people were like, “It’s less secure, blah, blah, blah.” And then Vitalik didn’t get his way and get his code pushed through Bitcoin, which is a whole nother can of worms, and here we are today. Now that the golden boy has relinquished the proof-of-work dragon, we find ourselves where they try to get us on ESG. That failed miserably because most miners actually use a huge amount of green power.
BlackRock tried to put all these ESG mandates out, so all the other woke capitalists were like, “Oh, We gotta follow this ESG score shit.” That didn’t work. Then you got the war so BlackRock backpedaled on their ESG, so everybody else back pedaled on their ESG and now it’s all bitcoin mining is the devil because “Look at Ethereum, look what they did, why can’t you do it?” And the general answer is “Cuz we’re not fucking dumb.” There’s not much else to say about it.
P: Yeah. It’s pretty infuriating, for me at least. I keep expecting to become desensitized to the lies and the blatant misrepresentation of reality and the facts in order to push the bags of a very specific group of people — which is to say people pushing ESG and anti-Bitcoin narratives — but it just incenses me every fucking time.
Long: Almost every Bitcoiner I know, they don’t have a problem with ESG or green. We like to go outside. We like to breathe fresh air. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with treating people nice[ly]. And the governance part of running a company and not being a crap boss, all that stuff’s good. But when you try to leverage it to coerce people to invest in things that you want them to invest into, that’s the fucking problem. Nobody’s gonna say, “Oh yeah, I would prefer to melt the ice caps and mine bitcoin.” Everybody would probably prefer to be warm in the winter.
There’s no reason we can’t do everything and not be complete pieces of shit about it. The incentives of the fiat, woke nation are completely contorting their messaging and it’s just sloppy at this point. The White House report was a fucking joke. They didn’t even try, they didn’t even try.
They even interviewed Nic Carter and didn’t use any of his stuff. He just did a great podcast with Peter [McCormack] and was pretty interested to hear how they interviewed many other Bitcoin people and didn’t use anybody’s info.
They’re not even trying to cover it up now. It’s a clear, targeted attack. It really doesn’t have any scientific foundation, and the best part is as it starts getting cold in Europe, this is the part of the story where it’s a fuck-around-and-find-out type situation.
P: It’s maddening. As you say, it doesn’t have any basis in actual reality. The specific talking points are so divorced from what’s actually going on and they’re so insane. I feel like there is a trap that is very difficult for me to not fall into, which is when people are like, “Oh, Bitcoin uses 0.5% (or whatever the fuck it is) of the world’s energy.” It’s really hard for me to not debate on that claim. Do you run Christmas lights? Do you dry your own clothes in a dryer? Do you leave your lights on? Do you drive a car? All these things use way more fucking energy than Bitcoin does, just in the United States. But that’s actually the wrong frame. If you get down in the mud, you’ve already lost. The real frame is: If somebody is paying for electricity, if they’re paying for power or if they’re generating it themselves from a product that is considered waste from some other industry, you should be able to do whatever the fuck you want with that electricity.
We give that right to every person in America when they buy power from the meter, but for some fucking reason with Bitcoin, we try to moralize it. It’s because of moralization of stuff, people love to get so bent outta shape about issues that have a moral bent even when it’s totally wrong.
Long: If you zoom out and look at the rest of the globe, it’s a lot easier to see how none of this actually [matters]. I’ve heard Pornhub uses eight times the energy of bitcoin miners. I’d buy it; I’d definitely buy that.
The rest of the world doesn’t have issues like this. I recently went to Africa and started looking at ways that mining can help local communities and stuff like that. The reality is, the Western world’s problems are not Africa’s problems. If the whole global financial sector melts down and Russia bombs the U.S. or whatever, Africa’s just gonna keep doing its thing and will barely skip a beat.
When people start talking about this, I’ll bring up the story about people in Africa [who] don’t use that much power because it’s too expensive, not because they don’t necessarily have access to it. It’s just because it’s a Catch-22 cycle where the generators are only selling power for four to five hours a day cuz people only turn their lights on and charge their cell phones.
Because of that, they’ve gotta charge $.050, $0.60 per kWh. Because it’s so high, the community doesn’t use enough, and so it’s like this circle of terrible incentives. Mining can go in and really tweak those incentives back because there’s no central grid in Africa, so you can’t sell your power at any time as a generator, but if you attach a mining thing to it, now people are starting to get cheaper, more reliable power, and instead of cooking food with paraffin or cooking food with kerosene, which is like a really dangerous fucking thing to do — the amount of people who like get caught on fire for cooking with kerosene are kids who have lung problems from being around kerosene lamps and paraffin fires, it’s really high — now these people who are attached to mini grids that are mining are seeing their power bills reduced greatly, and now are starting to cook with hot plates, electric hot plates and stuff like this. Mining is directly impacting people’s quality of life with no filter. It’s just straight incentive. Everybody makes money. The community saves money. Not many people are gonna say, “Oh, that’s bad,” because most of the power is fucking hydro anyway, so there you go. When you tell that story, people shut up pretty quick.