Are you curious about bitcoin? I was, and that led me to attend the October meeting of the Bastiat Society, Jacksonville chapter, at Posting House on Wednesday. Guest speaker was Nick Baldwin, and his talk was very informative. Naturally, the topic of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto came up. Discussion of “fiat currency” also arose. There is one absolute about meetings of the Bastiat Group Society in Jacksonville.
You will never be bored. These gatherings attract bright minds and curious intellects.
Baldwin presented an overview of bitcoin—its origins ascribed to the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto no one has conclusively identified, the fact it is censorship resistant, the fact it is noninflationary. Baldwin used slides to explain aspects like private keys and public keys, and the significance of decentralized currency. He answered questions patiently, even questions as naive as my own.
I asked how do you get started with bitcoin?
I learned you can do that by a variety of ways. Among them, you can purchase bitcoin with your own dollars via your bank account, and someone can also gift you an amount to get you started.
Baldwin touched on bitcoin mining and that is a truly fascinating topic, but I think you could devote a whole program to that alone. There’s an overview at Investopedia about Bitcoin mining, and it also covers the public record comprising the blockchain.
Once the presentation ended, lively conversation ensued. These gatherings are like salons of yore where all manner of intellectuals gathered to discuss topics of the day and philosophy. I heard the book The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin mentioned a couple times. That book has become a popular canon of sorts for libertarians and free market types, but it’s a target for statist publications. I haven’t read it, but I plan to simply because I’ve heard it discussed by critics and fans enough to spur my curiosity.
Most of the people who attend these meetings have at least one major thing in common—embracing the free market as opposed to a market dominated by government. The meetings aren’t political—instead, they touch on different economic theories and principles of basic freedom.
The group, founded by Rebecca Day (my daughter), a self-employed musician, is named for the French economist and author Frederic Bastiat. If you’ve never read his works, you’re missing out on works that are timeless and relevant to today more than 150 years after they were written. Bastiat died young, but he was so prolific his ideas still impact economic thinking. Above all, most attendees I’ve met are the opposite of so many youth who command a lot of media attention today—these attendees are most definitely not into socialism.
Bastiat said it best:
“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.
We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
All in all the October meeting and the bitcoin presentation were so interesting that time flew more quickly than we realized. The venue, Posting House in the San Marco area of Jacksonville, was new to us and frankly, we found it amazing.
We could choose from an excellent selection of brews or wines, and to my personal delight, I could get what is arguably the best cup of coffee I have ever had served to me here other than at my home. The cheese and appetizer trays are very tasty, and they come in a neat pre-packaged container ready for the picking. Our tray had Brie, cheddar, dates, raw almonds, grapes, and a pack of lightly crunchy crackers. The prices were extremely reasonable. The staff was friendly and very accommodating—this is a great place for a meetup or just sharing some wine or beer with friends.
Rebecca is already planning the next chapter meeting shortly before the winter holidays. I’m looking forward to seeing these folks again and, as always, to learning something new. We may never know who Satoshi Nakamoto really is, but we do know that the fiat-free currency he conceptualized will be with us for quite some time to come.
(Kay B. Day/Oct. 11, 20019)
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