Dear Bill Gates, Please Shut Up About Bitcoin

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Published : March 14th, 2021
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Category : Opinions and Analysis

Gregory Bergman

Editor-in-chief, CapitalWatch

Look, Bill, let me start by saying I am a fan.

You wouldn’t know it or care to know it, but I am. And not because I am into or understand tech or care about any of that. On the contrary, I like you despite—not because of—horrendous inventions like Excel. No, I am a fan because we on the left need billionaires like you. For every Koch brother, we need a Gates. So, thank you, and keep up the good work. Now, just zip it when it comes to Bitcoin and its environmental impact. Please?

Oh, Bill, you have no idea how much I have defended you over the past few years. I have argued with friends over your wealth, friends who believe that billionaires—irrespective of how they use their money—should not exist, and are, as AOC says, a policy mistake. (Somehow, they have little to say about Oprah or celebrity billionaires they like.)

I have also defended you from people I know who are convinced that your polio vaccination efforts in India (and support for Covid-19 vaccinations worldwide) are part of a sinister plot to create mass sterility to depopulate the Earth in an effort to buy up all its resources. Now, I would think that, if buying up resources is your game, you would want more people, rather than fewer, to fight over said resources, raising demand and lowering supply—such is my retort to these accusations. These people then say that while in the short-term this is true, in the long term the situation reverses somehow (maybe so many people die you can buy everything up and then wait for the repopulation to occur?). Anyway, I don’t get it, but apparently, this nefarious plan will pay off monetarily in about 200 years, they say.

Talk about playing the long game. I’m all for long-term investing, but 200 years?

And that isn’t all. I have even defended you to my mother, who is convinced that your philanthropy is all Melinda’s doing and that, at best, your wife made you into a generous person. I mean, come on. It is still (half of it anyway) your money. You should hear her go on and on about Bezos’ ex and what a hero she is for giving away a few bucks. Women, amirite?

Since I always have your back, maybe you can do me a favor and shut up about Bitcoin. I get it, the world is burning, and doom is imminent. I am not being sarcastic; the world is in peril from climate change. We need to get off fossil fuels, stop eating meat (for obvious moral reasons as well), stop clear-cutting forests and tend to our seas. But Bitcoin? Come on, Bill. Bitcoin is the future and, more importantly, I own some.

In an article for The New York Times, you were quoted saying, “Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind, and so it’s not a great climate thing.”

Now, I won’t dispute the veracity of this. I didn’t really know what Bitcoin actually was or how it was “made” until my little brother (who is a bit suspicious of your agricultural efforts in the developing world) explained to me in plain English just how much electricity is consumed mining this electronic gold. Computing power takes power—and Bitcoin mining depends on a lot of computing power. But hey, if we can make clean-energy cars and commercial planes, can’t we figure out how to clean up Bitcoin mining?

Jack Dorsey of Twitter (and Square) along with many other climate-conscious left-leaning cool billionaires think so. He was quoted in the same Times article as you, saying: “We believe that cryptocurrency will eventually be powered completely by clean power, eliminating its carbon footprint and driving adoption of renewables globally.”

Yes, Bitcoin mining will have to get cleaner, but of all the many contributors to climate change to worry about, can you just leave Bitcoin alone?

We get that you are also a Bitcoin skeptic even “unrelated to climate issues,” but you should know that many cool liberal billionaires—Dorsey and Musk and Jay-Z just to name a few—love Bitcoin (okay, Jack seems a bit weird). After so many decades of just making money being a nerd, you are finally one of the cool kids. Don’t blow it. And, considering all I have done for you, this is the very least you can do for me.

So, keep sounding the alarm on climate change, but shut up about cryptocurrency. On second thought, considering the insane conspiracy theories surrounding you and your foundation, keep badmouthing Bitcoin—it will only accelerate its rise.

Gregory Bergman

Editor-in-chief, CapitalWatch

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