It’s a strange time to be a cryptocurrency enthusiast. By any rational calculation, the value of Bitcoin and other alternative money relative to government “fiat” currencies should be hitting unheard of highs right now. Yet Bitcoin seems stuck in a perpetual spiral around the US $40,000 mark and most other cryptocurrencies are similarly flat.
What’s up with that?
Last week, Canada’s self-proclaimed “temporary” dictator, Justin Trudeau, made it clear that established, government-created money kept in established, government-regulated institutions like banks isn’t safe if its owner disagrees with — or is just thought to disagree with — even a “liberal democratic” regime.
This week, established, government-regulated investments worldwide are flopping back and forth in price as investors try to figure out whether the politicians are about to take us over the edge into the world’s largest pointless and evil war since 1945, which would certainly entail both further investment turmoil and actions by governments to tax/inflate away, or in some cases just openly freeze or seize, your wealth.
If you think these things don’t affect you, the thing you’re doing that you think is thinking isn’t.
If you’re not moving your disposable cash into cryptocurrency or metals — which also seem to be running relatively flat pricing — you’re pretty much just begging Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, and a host of lesser gangsters, to rob you blind.
One caveat, which the Trudeau coup made explicit: Holding cryptocurrency doesn’t protect you if you keep it in exchanges with “custodial” wallets that can be frozen on orders from politicians.
To the extent that there are “old sayings” in a financial milieu that’s just entering its teens, one of the biggest is: “Not your keys, not your crypto.” If you keep your Bitcoin or other assets in the “custodial wallets” of government-regulated exchanges, they’re not safe.
The good news is that there are a number of “non-custodial” wallets available for download. They’re easy to find (Google is your friend).
These wallets don’t store your cryptographic keys; those keys are always in your hands. Your “account” can’t be “frozen” or “seized” — the app is just an interface for sending and receiving, not an actual storage location. Even if the app stops functioning, you can use your keys to reconstitute your wallet elsewhere, or just keep it on paper until you want to move cryptocurrency out of it.
The politicians keep proving you can’t trust their money, or their intentions. So don’t.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.