I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough. Haven’t we learned our lesson yet? Silicon Valley tried to tell us to stop acting like tech is making the world a better place. Apparently everyone in crypto must have either laughed and decided the message was directed at everyone else, or refused to watch a show created by a centralized entity like HBO.
The final straw was an opinion piece published Sunday morning on CoinDesk by Kade Morton, titled “Crypto Jobs? Where We’re Going, We Won’t Need Jobs”. Essentially, Morton argues that there is income inequality (shocking, I know), regular people’s lives aren’t made better by working for wages, employment is slavery (you read that correctly), blockchain exists, and blockchain will bring glorious wonders. Hallelujah!
This is the kind of lazy, irresponsible, and frankly disgusting trash that the crypto community has to start rejecting in force. I’ll be the first to admit — I got interested in blockchain because of the surging prices of late 2017, but I’ve stuck around because the technology, philosophy, and potential use cases are fascinating. There’s just one problem: not a single entity that existed before cryptocurrencies and blockchain came along has been disrupted by their existence and proliferation as of this writing.
First, let’s break down this hideously ignorant thesis:
“So what are we getting in return for work? Not a lot, it seems. Employment is basically slavery. This is not to belittle historic atrocities or the plight of those trafficked for slavery in the modern age. We’ll call employment wage slavery to differentiate it from true slavery.
When people say we should make employment better for employees, they’re saying we should make wage slavery better for wage slaves.”
Don’t worry everyone. Morton is here to tell you that, despite what it may look like, this is NOT to belittle historic atrocities. Glad that’s settled. If you were naive enough to think that life had gotten any better since the early nineteenth century in the American south, then this must be quite the awakening for you. Luckily, we can conveniently turn “working in exchange for compensation” into “wage slavery” to help with your confusion.
Morton clearly wants to call attention to economic unfairness — a good thing, no doubt. But the hasty, unsupported way he arrives at his conclusion and the considerable liberties he takes along the way only serve to sensationalize a badly flawed argument.
The “employment is slavery” bit is just a bad take from an ignorant, misinformed person stretching to fit a conclusion. I’ve read legitimate arguments for a universal basic income to sustain us in the event that robots come and take away all viable human jobs (check out the excellent Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford if you’re interested). This hack piece doesn’t qualify.
And why doesn’t it qualify, you ask? Like the author, let’s skip hastily ahead to the conclusion, a section that was unironically titled “Wonders”.
Did a lack of political will stop the invention of Bitcoin?
Yes, blockchain entrepreneurs should try to make employment better for employees. But that’s like stepping into a cavern with a candle and only acknowledging what you can see with the candlelight.
Everyone working in blockchain should realize the transformative nature of this and other technologies. Some I’ve mentioned and there are many more. We have the ability to create wonders. Not just companies that create a lot of value for shareholders, real world changing wonders.
When your time in this world is said and done, which do you want to say you built?
Let me be clear: I’m glad that the UN used the Ethereum blockchain to send aid to refugees. I think that crypto being used for good has been tragically underreported in favor of price volatility, opinion pieces pontificating over perceived bubbles, and shrill claims of digital currency being nothing more than an instrument of the underworld.
I draw the line at the suggestion that the world has been saved. In case you haven’t noticed, there are still millions of Syrian refugees. Venezuelans are still starving under the rule of an oppressive regime. Even in developed countries, can we really say that life has gotten better as a direct result of the contributions of blockchain technology?
The answer is a resounding no. I’m wildly optimistic that the answer will become a yes. But I’ve had my fill of self-congratulatory, thoughtless commentary that holds crypto’s (lack of) real-world impact on high and we definitely don’t need any more meaningless rallying cry platitudes in this space. If you’ve stuck it out through even one bear cycle in crypto, there’s a high probability that you believe in what’s to come. If you’re a realist, though, you’re willing to admit that crypto hasn’t brought down the targets in its crosshairs or achieved its lofty goals yet. Don’t buy into arrogant trash that calls for celebration before the party has even started.
- South Korea works towards crypto exchange licenses — (Bitcoinist)
- Microsoft fires a warning shot across Bitcoin Cash’s bow — (Bitcoinist)
- Litecoin Cash hard fork is hurting Litecoin’s price — (Business Insider)
- Crypto investors should probably pay their taxes — (Fortune)