According to Bill Maher, bitcoin is like Monopoly money. He said this in recent days during the Real Time with Bill Maher programme on HBO.
In one of the last episodes, the comedian and host addressed the issue of cryptocurrencies, starting with an anecdote: one in 10 US citizens has used the economic stimulus received to invest in crypto. And the landscape is vast. There is bitcoin, which is the best known, but there is also Ethereum, Tether and the more extravagant ones, among which he mentions “Cum rocket” (cum: sperm) and Dogecoin, which, he adds, was born as a joke.
However, he adds:
“As far as I can tell, it’s exactly the same as all the other cryptocurrencies because the whole thing is a joke”.
Cryptocurrencies according to Bill Maher
The US monetary system, says Bill Maher, is not perfect but at least it is real. He gives practical examples of this: Apple’s shares are worth something because there’s a company behind them that makes mobile phones, and it doesn’t matter if the people who buy them later drop them down the toilet.
Apple contrasts perfectly with Dogecoin:
“Dogecoin recently rallied to be worth more than the market cap of Ford and Kraft Foods and it has no product and no workers, it’s just easter bunny cartoon cash”.
Although it has been explained to him what cryptocurrencies are, Bill Maher, to the applause and hilarity of his audience, claims not to understand it. He then goes on to tell the story of Bitcoin which began with nerds.
“In 2008 one of them, we don’t know who because this person or group of persons is still anonymous, made up bitcoin out of thin air using the fake name Satoshi Nakamoto, which I think are the Japanese words for monopoly money”.
The host goes on to argue that capitalism is money that generates other money, but this money is generated by something real. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, show us that this is not the case.
Bill Maher merely echoes Warren Buffett’s thesis. The Oracle of Omaha argued in no uncertain terms that cryptocurrencies are worth zero. And then he recalls how Nassim Taleb also called crypto a Ponzi scheme.
The problem, he says, is that people who have grown up in a virtual world also believe they can live in it. And in a world where war has become a video game, he explains:
“Cryptocurrency is literally a game. Bitcoins are created by what they call mining”.
Where mining, he adds, is not that of the seven dwarfs and Snow White, but a complex algorithmic calculation that in a nutshell involves one miner in China and another living in the world of the Matrix. But since there is nothing underlying Bitcoin, in his words:
“It’s like Tinkerbell’s light, its power source is based solely on enough children believing in it”.
What is real, he says, is the energy Bitcoin consumes, which would be enough to light up the entire state of New York. A single transaction consumes more energy than a million Visa transactions, and has the same coal demand needed to watch 85,000 hours of YouTube videos. Bill Maher verdicts:
“Bitcoin uses more energy than Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google combined”.
His point becomes even more irreverent when he implicates Tesla by questioning why a company that saves the world by producing electric cars, then destroys it by investing in this energy-consuming money.
The conclusion of his argument is that all those who belong to Generation Z, the millennials, the Silicon Valley, are not environmentalists but money-hungry opportunists who cannot be allowed to say that they care about the environment since Bitcoin can push the temperature up by 2°.
What Bill Maher doesn’t say about Bitcoin
In his 8-minute monologue against Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, Bill Maher omitted some details. The value of Bitcoin is determined by supply and demand and as long as there is someone willing to pay for even a fraction of Bitcoin, Bitcoin will not be worth zero.
Moreover, the problem of Bitcoin’s electricity consumption is a major one, also within the much-mocked Silicon Valley. Behind one of the projects for mining Bitcoin with clean energy, there is another nerd, if one wants to call him that, who goes by the name of Jack Dorsey with his company Square.
This, however, Bill Maher did not mention.