Bitcoin and Business

Unless you don’t pay any attention to any news at all, you have probably heard what’s going on with Bank of Cyprus in the EU. In case you haven’t heard, the government shut down the banks because they were in danger of bankruptcy. $13B (in US dollars, $10B in euros) in debt, these banks are. In order to prevent people from removing their money from their accounts, the banks were not doing business for about two weeks. It was announced that those who have over 100,000 in euros will have 60% of their money removed from their accounts and the money will go towards paying the bank’s debts. Those who have less than 100,000 euros are safe from the governmental raid, however, people will not be allowed to withdraw more than 1,000 euros and leave the island (source).

There are those that aren’t that alarmed, because it’s said that this is a special circumstance. However, I beg to differ. I don’t mean to fear-monger, because I hate that tactic, but I got a cold, cold feeling in my gut listening to the news on a recent podcast, being talked about on Free Talk Live.

We already know that banks are systems that are controlled by the government, and they have the ability to go in and freeze your account with no warning, garnish your wages for not paying taxes, etc. But, now there’s a precedent for them to go in and do whatever they like, including shutting down a bank and removing money from accounts to pay off debts that have nothing to do with these people. That’s a scary thought, is it not? What’s to say that another government can’t freeze all the accounts, and remove your earnings without your permission? These people earned that money, and 60% of it is going to be taken from them! That doesn’t include whatever income and property taxes they’ve already paid, and other fees from various regulations and what not. Central banks are bad, bad, bad. Fractional banking is bad, bad, bad. It’s just not sustainable in any sense of the word, and it’s being proven time and time again with all the banks and countries that are seeing the consequences of this horrible business model. It’s the worst kind of ponzi scheme, because now the people that have their money in these banks in Cyprus are paying for it. I honestly don’t know what’s worse: the government confiscating money in this manner, or inflation by printing billions of dollars in paper money. The confiscation plan is certainly much more visible.

All of this being said, I think the future of personal finances lies online,with open source, peer-to-peer currency. The kind of decentralized currency that is impossible to inflate. The only such currency that has real traction is Bitcoin. There may be a competitor or two, but it seems that Bitcoin is certainly the biggest contender at the moment, at over $100 FRN per 1BTC. In fact, it may not be a bad thing if there was more than one such currency. Of course, I still see value in gold and silver, but in this digital age where the future has every indication of new and great technologies in an online world, Bitcoin has a huge value. I mean, many of us already use  FRNs through technology. I personally carry very little cash, and instead have direct deposit for my paychecks, I pay every bill online (with paperless email alerts), and I make purchases online and in person with my debit card. I only pull cash out if I see myself needing it for some reason. Because, there’s also ridiculous ATM fees. My checking account is through the bank my school uses to hand out the financial aid, so there’s NO free ATMs. All the ATMs charge at least $2.50 to use THEIR ATM, and then my bank also charges a fee of $2.50 for the transaction. So every time I pull out cash, it costs me at least $5. I’m sure many people can relate to the first part about having very little actual cash on hand, or at least in limited amounts. This is the direction that we are headed as a society, so it only makes sense that a digital currency has immense value. It’s also much more secure than using debit/credit cards online (if someone steals your wallet or purse, they have all the info needed to use your cards, and that’s not the case with Bitcoin).

I think that as more and more people start using Bitcoin for transactions, the more businesses will pick up on the trend and accept Bitcoin as payment, because this is what their customers are doing. Unfortunately, since some bills have to go to the government, such as the electric bill, a government monopoly, those bills won’t be able to be paid in Bitcoin, I don’t think the government would allow it. But wouldn’t it be nice to pay your cell phone bill with Bitcoin?? I think this is where the future is headed, as more and more people realize that their money isn’t safe sitting in central banks, people will have as little in FRNs as possible. This is what I see for the future, and I think it’s wonderful. Of course, there are already businesses that accept payment in Bitcoin! I’ve listed some that I know of, and feel free to comment with more!

To learn more about Bitcoin:
We Use Coins

Places you can use your bitcoins:
DTOM (DTOM Facebook page) Don’t Tread on Meme clothing, silver dime cards, and other items
Savory Scents (I don’t have my website set up yet, but it’s a work in progress! For now, I still accept Bitcoin, you can just contact me regarding using Bitcoin and we can still arrange it. Savory Scents Facebook page) Savory Scents features candles, lotion, dead sea bath salts, and other items
Stateless Sweets (Stateless Sweets Facebook page) Stateless Sweets features the most delicious candy that will ever enter your mouth..the raw honey salted caramels are my personal favorite!
Terra Mater Botanicals (Terra Mater Botanicals Facebook page) Terra Mater Botanicals has a range of products including tea, essential oils, and assorted flower essences.
FPP.cc (FPP.cc Facebook page) The first link will take you to the donation page, but FPP (Free Press Publications) will also accept purchases made with Bitcoin.
Singing Tall Grass (Singing Tall Grass Facebook page) Singing Tall Grass is also working on her website, and she currently isn’t accepting bitcoins as payment, but she plans to accept them when her website is up and running, but you can still go and see what wonderful products she has available! She makes absolutely wonderful organic bath and body products. Everything I’ve tried is amazing, including organic lip balm that’s customizable.
Shire Silver (Shire Silver Facebook page) Shire Silver sells gold and silver in denominations that one can actually use (versus trying to use a troy ounce of silver, for instance)
Shiny Badges (Shiny Badges Facebook page) Shiny Badges makes some awesome pins. Not only that, but you can contact Davi for design work. He’s an awesome graphic designer (who designed my Savory Scents dime cards!!) and I don’t think it’s possible to be disappointed with his work. He also has a book that was recently published by FPP, Voluntary Islam, which you can buy with Bitcoin!

Agorist Communities

I was talking with my friend Jay the other day, and he suggested the idea that what economy really is, is community. I thought about it, and I agreed with what he was saying. I decided to write a blog about it, because I think it’s a great idea. I had actually written a couple of similar blog posts in my personal blog back last year (which you can read about HERE and HERE), in which I talked about the community of Agorists and other small business owners such as myself.
 
There are many things that are a part of having a successful business. For one thing, I think having a good relationship with your customers is the most important aspect of having a business. Customers want to know that you can be trusted to deliver a product or service in a timely manner. Communication is key, because if there are any issues, you need to keep in contact and make sure the customer knows why something may be delayed. If these kinds of issues are dealt with kindly and promptly, the customer is likely to come back. The reason I’m saying these things is because it all ties back to economy being community. I realize that these are things that corporations like to spew, and like to pretend that they are important, and some are even good at providing good customer service. However, we all know that at the end of the day, all corporations are about is money.
 
It’s a valid point, to be sure, to be worried about money, since that’s our livelihood; how we pay our bills. But, I feel that, as an Agorist, people are equally important. Maybe, even more important. Agorists are of a different, higher caliber than those in corporations, since we truly do care about people. We see value in different ways. You can trade a coffee table for a dresser, if you would like. I think what also sets us apart is that we don’t compete with each other. I make jewelry sometimes, and I have a couple of other friends that also make jewelry. We don’t trample over each other and try to steal customers, because we know there’s no need for that. For one thing, we all make different styles of jewelry. We cater to different customers, and we have different customer bases. But you know the amazing thing? In addition to not competing, we all promote each other. We work together. Anything else, and that reminds me of what corporations do: try to undercut the “other guy” and steal customers. That’s the type of business bloodshed that makes me despise corporations. It disgusts me to think that that’s a valid business model, since there’s plenty of business and customers to go around, to make enough profit for business owners to live as they wish.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I understand good competition, but getting dirty isn’t a Voluntaryist way of thinking. If you think about it, trying to steal customers is the opposite of what we try and preach here, in this wonderful society that practices such principles as Voluntaryism and the Non-Aggression Principle. How so? Knowing what another business does and their customers and using that to manipulate customers to taking their business elsewhere is a form of aggression. It’s not physical aggression, but it is aggression, trying to take away someone’s customers in such a way that’s nefarious. It’s potentially taking away from the livelihood of another peaceful person. In fact, this type of behavior reminds me of a corporation, by taking customers away from the smaller businesses, and forcing them out.
 
Yes, there’s value in receiving monetary gains in your business, whether it be FRN, Bitcoin, silver, gold, etc. Of course there is. But, I believe that economy is the same thing as community; meaning, we help each other survive and thrive, because no business owner couldn’t make it without people. Those of us in the same type of business may help others, by giving them ideas and ways to market their business, because we may have different customers and different ways of doing things. At the end of the day, it’s the community that makes your business run.

Introducing…

As a new Don’t Tread on Meme blogger, I thought I would introduce myself, a little bit about agorism as it relates to me, and how I came to be part of such a wonderful community. I started hearing about Anarchism first, and it was really ground breaking for me, and how I think about the world around me. Like so many others, I thought Anarchists were crazy skin heads who throw motlov cocktails at cop cars. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s exactly the opposite, and found myself agreeing with so many of the principles I was learning about, such as the Non-Aggression Principle and Voluntaryism.

I never knew what an agorist was, until after I started hearing about Anarchism. I thought it was an awesome concept to go back to bartering, or doing business however two parties saw value in a particular product or service. I have loved every trade I’ve engaged in. I also started hearing about such alternative currencies as Bitcoin. It became clear to me how important it is to start using such alternative currencies, including using dime cards, once I started educating myself on the current economic system the US engages in, and the reasons it doesn’t work, and will never work. It’s a frightening thought, that the dollar becomes less and less valuable (on purpose!!), and that’s what most people use as currency, without realizing how dangerous this system is.

I found myself wanting to start my own business, because I was tired of the mentality of corporations, and how upper management treats their “lesser” employees. I had always wanted to create things, as I’ve always been very crafty. I made an awesome quilt in high school, I’ve made jewelry in the past, and at one point I even picked up a book on how to make candles. I never did anything with it, however. It just sat around in a box somewhere, until a few months ago. I decided I was going to try. I bought just enough supplies to make 54 candles, and decided to see how it would go. I sold all 54 in just 3 days. I then bought enough to make a bigger batch, and here I am. I called it Savory Scents (also found here on Etsy), and I am now the proud owner of an agorist company that makes soy candles and soap, and I hope to make lotions, bubble bath, shower gel, and perfumes in the future.

Seeing how dangerous this economy is for business owners, I fully intend on making some Savory Scents dime cards, through DTOM. I am also excited to be a blogger here, bringing news and information on other agorists and alternative currencies. And, I just have to say, how wonderful it’s been to work with other agorists such as Iris with Singing Tall Grass (also found here on Etsy) and Jillian with Stateless Sweets. I have loved the trades and business we’ve done thus far, and I look forward to any collaborations and business that may come up in the future. If you’re an agorist, I would love to hear from you! I would like to contribute to the growing agorist community, and spread the word on alternative currencies. I went to Libertopia this year, and it’s my goal now more than ever to make this business work for me, and to help others do the same. It was such a great experience, being around so many like-minded people, and I can’t wait for Libertopia 2013, where I hope to meet all of you!