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Op-Ed

Sorry Silicon Valley Liberals, Freedom of Thought Is Too Important to Mess With

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Peter Thiel at RNC 2016

Silicon Valley is on fire because venture capitalist Peter Thiel, after speaking in support of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, is donating $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign through a combination of super PAC donations and funds given directly to the campaign, The New York Times reported.

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Project Include, led by Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, is breaking off its relationship with start-up incubator Y Combinator (YC) in protest against Thiel’s association with YC as part-time partner.

“While all of us believe in the ideas of free speech and open platforms, we draw a line here,” says Pao. “We agree that people shouldn’t be fired for their political views, but…” it appears they don’t really agree. Same for free speech.

Gizmodo writer J.K. Trotter thinks YC president Sam Altman should resign.

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Altman penned a post to elaborate on YC’s choice to keep Thiel on board. After explaining that he is a Clinton supporter and considers Trump as “an unprecedented threat to America” who “shows little respect for the Constitution, the Republic, or for human decency,” Altman goes to the heart of the matter:

“[As] repugnant as Trump is to many of us, we are not going to fire someone over his or her support of a political candidate. As far as we know, that would be unprecedented for supporting a major party nominee, and a dangerous path to start down.”

Altman’s position is reasonable and principled, in the spirit of a quote often attributed to Voltaire:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Needless to say in today’s political climate, Altman is not finding many supporters. There are exceptions though. The Week columnist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, for one, is persuaded that “[the idea] that speech that makes anybody uncomfortable should be prohibited [is] incompatible with liberal democracy as we classically understand it.”

Gobry is no Trump supporter. On the contrary, he called Trump “a proto-fascist” and believes Trump is a person “manifestly temperamentally unfit to be president,” whose campaign “is unhealthily stoking dark forces in the American psyche.”

But Gobry points out that Silicon Valley liberals, in pursuit of their otherwise worthy effort to promote diversity when it comes to underrepresented groups, are endangering the equally important diversity of opinion. Silicon Valley, and America, are what they are because they have tolerated diversity of opinion and encouraged freedom of thought and freedom of speech.

So far.

“Diversity of opinion is painful but critical to the health of a democratic society,” added Altman in a tweet.

We can’t start purging people for political support.

A somewhat unexpected defense of freedom of thought and speech came from Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, CNN Money reports. “We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate,” said Zuckerberg in a post shared only with Facebook employees. “There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault.”

The authenticity of Zuckerberg’s post has been confirmed by Facebook. The first comment in a YC’s Hacker News thread dedicated to Zuckerberg’s remarks says it all:

If everyone looks different but thinks the same, that’s not real diversity.

Shaming and Mobbing Practices Have No Place in a Liberal Democracy

"Culture" of shamingI guess Thiel is one of those persons that, as Zuckerbers says, support Trump for reasons that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault. To my knowledge. Thiel is no racist or xenophobe, and has never sexually assaulted anyone. It’s worth noting that Thiel was the first man ever to say “I’m proud to be gay‘ at a Republican National Convention, and donated $2 million to the campaign of Carly Fiorina (who, for those who didn’t notice, happens to be a woman). To me, raised in the old-fashioned belief that facts count more than empty words, these facts indicate that calling Thiel homophobic or sexist is, to say the least, surreal.

Peter Thiel is a visionary thinker who believes, for reasons that must make sense to him, that a Trump presidency would be good for the nation and the world. I disagree. But we must reply to Thiel’s arguments with better arguments, not with shaming and mobbing practices that have no place in a liberal democracy.

I am not an American, but I have given a lot of thought to the upcoming US elections. As a foreigner who will be affected (like everyone else on the planet) by America’s choice on November 8, and as a friend of America, I hope Clinton wins.

But I don’t condemn Trump’s supporters. On the contrary, I agree with Zuckerberg: almost half of the population of the US support Trump for reasons that, in many cases, deserve consideration.

I agree with Altman and Gobry: tolerance, freedom of thought, and freedom of speech, are among the foundations of a healthy society, among the greatest conquests of modern liberal civilization, and much too important to mess with.

Unfortunately, many US “liberals” – I can’t resist putting the word between scare quotes – are disowning these fundamental liberal values. The “liberal” Politically Correct (PC) thought police keeps harassing all those who dissent with shaming and mobbing practices that are running amok, often with the silent approval of the “liberal Left.” In my opinion, this trend is a dangerous slippery slope to a very bad place.

The Thiel episode is but the last of many similar cases. Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk was recently attacked by the media because… he doesn’t follow enough women on Twitter.

A few weeks ago Palmer Luckey, the creator of Facebook’s Oculus Rift Virtual Reality (VR) headset, was outed as a backer of a Trump fan group called “Nimble America.” Some VR developers said they intended to stop developing for the Rift until Luckey is gone.

But other developers resisted the public shaming wave. One said:

I absolutely support him doing whatever he wants politically if it’s legal.To take any other position is against American values.

Well said.

And don’t forget last year’s BullShirtStorm.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely that of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to Hacked.

Images from Republican National Convention (screenshot) and Wikimedia Commons.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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Op-Ed

Is Manipulation Behind Bitcoin Cash’s Absurd Rally?

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Although you wouldn’t know it by today’s prices, bitcoin cash (BCH) has topped the crypto market leader board this month. The digital currency more than doubled over the span of 18 days, and in doing so far outpaced the broader market. But a closer examination of the value drivers suggest manipulation could be partly responsible for the rally.

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As a reminder, the author has no vested interest in smearing BCH as I believe it to be one of the more advantageous coins on the market today. That said, the circumstances surrounding the most recent rally are peculiar to say the least.

What’s Up with Bitcoin.com?

A Hacked user informed me earlier this week that Bitcoin.com has been using the “BCH” ticker next to the word “bitcoin”. Normally, the ticker “BTC” is reserved for bitcoin, which is the original blockchain we all know about. Instead, the website quotes “BTC” next to the term “bitcoin core”.

In other words, BCH is quoted next to bitcoin and BTC is referred to as bitcoin core. See here for yourself:

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For most readers of Hacked, the distinction is easily discernible, but for new traders the difference isn’t easily gauged.

The first question I have is, how many people bought bitcoin (BCH) thinking they were receiving actual bitcoin (BTC)?

Bitcoin.com describes itself as the “premier source for everything bitcoin.” Although the website doesn’t appear to offer a full-fledged trading platform, users can purchase bitcoin and bitcoin cash using the following link.

It is unclear how long the website has been referring to BCH as bitcoin. For those of us who’ve been following the market for some time, the way BTC and BCH are quoted is certainly strange.

Antpool

A large cryptocurrency mining group by the name of Antpool has also been accused of pumping BCH in recent weeks. The pool announced about six days ago that it is responsible for confirming more than 8% of all bitcoin cash transactions. In addition to confirming those, Antpool is also said to be burning BCH on a daily basis in order to reduce supply and boost prices.

Of course, crypto pumps do not require such elaborate setups to achieve their goals. Pump-and-dumps can be orchestrated rather easily through a chat group on social media. But Antpool does have a large and privileged position in the BCH ecosystem, which has raised suspicion over its recent actions.

Bitcoin Cash is Overbought, According to Tom Lee

Fundstrat’s Tom Lee recently weighed in on the bitcoin cash phenomenon, concluding that the cryptocurrency was overbought. In his view, investors should stick with bitcoin if they had a choice between Core and Cash.

In a segment on CNBC’s Fast Money, Lee said:

“I prefer not to pick winners and losers when we’re looking at cryptocurrencies like bitcoin/bitcoin Cash… Both have merits but if I was putting new money to work today… I would be a lot more interested in buying a lagger that could attract inflows rather than something that’s potentially overbought.”

Bitcoin cash added around $1,000 to its value between Apr. 6 and 23, with prices peaking near $1,600. The cryptocurrency corrected sharply lower on Wednesday and was still declining as of Thursday’s early-morning session. At the time of writing, BCH/USD was down 4.6% at $1,268.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Decentralization

JP Morgan’s Surprise Cryptocurrency Fees are a Reminder of Why Decentralization Is Sorely Needed

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JP Morgan Chase & Co has been hit with a class-action lawsuit by cryptocurrency traders over allegations of unannounced fees and higher interest rates on purchases of digital currencies. Though the allegations have not been proven, extra fees are a tactic routinely employed by traditional banking institutions. In the case of JP Morgan, this has karma written all over it given the way its chief executive has ridiculed digital assets by associating them with fraud.

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Class Action Lawsuit

Traders from across the United States are seeking statutory damages of $1 million for unannounced interest charges and fees on cryptocurrency transactions between January and February of this year. The named plaintiff in the lawsuit is Brady Tucker, an Idaho resident who paid a total of $163.91 in fees and surprise interest charges over a six-day stretch.

According to information obtained by Reuters, the lawsuit accuses the bank of violating the U.S. Truth in Lending Act, a piece of legislation that requires credit card issuers to inform customers in writing of any notable change in fees.

The lawsuit asserts that Tucker tried to resolve the dispute by calling Chase’s customer support service directly. His request was turned down, prompting him to seek legal help. According to Bloomberg, the case in question is Tucker v. Chase Bank USA NA, 18-cv-3155, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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The Growing Case for Decentralization

Depending on who you ask, the allegations against JP Morgan are akin to cryptocurrency fraud not unlike the kind Jamie Dimon talked about while ridiculing bitcoin. But the irony in Dimon’s comments extend far beyond Chase’s latest dealings.

As the actions of Chase bank and other financial institutions have clearly demonstrated over the years, those who control the size and growth rate of fiat money cannot be trusted to do the right thing. As Nassim Taleb argues in The Black Swan, banks have a tendency of losing as much money as they make in the long run due to shady business practices and high-risk ventures. Decisions like these are easy when you are Too Big to Fail.

Decentralization, like the kind advocated by blockchain startups and cryptocurrencies, allows users to trade directly with each other without having to go through a (predatory) middleman. Decentralized systems not only help participants avoid unnecessary fees, red tape and other forms of unwanted intervention, they are virtually impossible to shut down. In this vein, decentralized currencies give people a fighting chance in their battle against never-ending inflation. As we’ve argued before, this is not only a prudent fight, but a noble one as well.

Cryptocurrencies that rely on decentralization offer society a unique value proposition unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. What’s more, their adoption is not contingent upon us leaving the realm of traditional finance – at least, not yet. That’s because cryptocurrency started off as an obscure and esoteric asset class but has since become a value store for investors. Tomorrow, it will become a viable medium of exchange accepted worldwide.

That said, we are still in the very early days of the crypto revolution and it may be a while still before we can conclusively prove people like Dimon wrong. But crypto backers and investors should take comfort in knowing that big banks rarely lead in disruption these days. They have the resources to play catch-up, which they are clearly doing with blockchain.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Altcoins

Will Dash Be the Bitcoin Killer?

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Well, it has finally happened.  We’ve gone a full week with crypto prices showing positive returns.  OMG, what a big surprise; ether is leading the pack, advancing nearly 15% at the time of this writing.  This is encouraging because it shows that perhaps finally value investors are stepping in and helping set a pricing bottom.  

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It hasn’t hurt a bit that stock and bond market investors have become seasick from all the volatility.  Suddenly, a tiny little weekly Litecoin move of +0.46% or even a 2.47% bitcoin cash gain, looks like pure serenity.  

 

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For a while now our focus has been on relative value and there is very little argument that, after the first quarter price collapse, a whole lot of risk has been taken out of bitcoin, ether, Ripple and thousands of others.

The question is where to go and what to go with from here.  The big crypto names are the safe way to go in the short run, but each has become mired in network limitations on scaling and the concomitant cost issues.  

Yes, transaction fees have dropped like a stone from their prohibitively high levels of December but then transaction volumes have fallen by half and more.  That is not the stuff an investor wants to see.

Both bitcoin and Ethereum hope to solve scaling issues with the Lightning Network and Raiden. But for now, if transaction volume were to suddenly rise, the same network limitations would be there.  So even though the big crypto names offer the safest short term options, does that mean we shouldn’t look further out to find value?

Will Dash Solve Bitcoin’s Problem?

Dash emerged last year as one of the most popular and most valuable altcoins. At the time it was considered a real competitor to bitcoin and the leading cryptocurrency of the future. The price of Dash increased from $11 to over $1,430. Dash had a capitalization of over $11 billion at its December peak. Since then it has tumbled more than 80%.  Is now the time to move into Dash? The timing could be very good but before making that decision, we should consider a few things.

Judgement Time

If a jury of its peers were to grade Dash on its performance in 2017, the majority would say it lived up to its billing.  Using Dash, users could send money instantly using the InstaSend feature that allowed for complete anonymity. At the peak, transaction costs were around $0.60, which were dwarfed by bitcoin’s high of $30. 

Since then, Dash fees have fallen to about $0.20, making them attractive for small sized transactions. All alone this represents a compelling feature of Dash.  Add to that the immediacy of InstaSend and you have the makings of a genuine challenge to Bitcoin.

Caveat Emptor

In appraising Dash’s performance it is useful to look at Metcalfe’s Law, which values social media assets based on a formula of network size.  For Dash, it’s network is processing a tiny fraction of bitcoin’s. The limitations of its network have very likely not yet been tested, so proclaiming Dash the speed king is a bit early. There is still a larger issue to consider.

In the case of Metcalfe’s Law we need to include merchants and other service providers that accept Dash as payment.  That is the big hump for them to overcome before overturning bitcoin. So far, after all, bitcoin is accepted by only about 10,000 or so merchants.  

Further progress by bitcoin is stymied by transaction costs that remain far too high.  Even so look at how many years it has taken bitcoin to attract merchants. Dash faces the same hurdles.

In other words, the trick for Dash is the find a way to gain mass acceptance quickly. That is when the huge $11 billion valuation of last December will begin to be justified. Look over your shoulder bitcoin – faster, lower cost competition is looking to eat your lunch. Dash could be one of those.

 Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 75 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Hacked.com and its team members have pledged to reject any form of advertisement or sponsorships from 3rd parties. We will always be neutral and we strive towards a fully unbiased view on all topics. Whenever an author has a conflicting interest, that should be clearly stated in the post itself with a disclaimer. If you suspect that one of our team members are biased, please notify me immediately at jonas.borchgrevink(at)hacked.com.

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