The term “F-you money” has been a part of American culture since at least the 1970s, working its way over the decades from Hollywood to Wall Street to Silicon Valley as people in those industries amassed enormous wealth.
What does F–you money entail? It’s a position of power; it means you have achieved complete ownership over yourself and your time. You are beholden to no one; you can say “F-you” to any who offend you without fear of repercussion.
F-you money is not an absolute amount of wealth, it’s a comfort level. Some say F-you money means being financially independent – having enough money to live in perpetuity on passive income from low risk investments. For others it only means having a few months or a year worth of savings so that you can cut ties with your current job and have plenty of time to find a new source of income. F-you money enables you to attain a level of freedom that is out of most people’s reach.
However, it’s no secret that acquiring traditional wealth puts you on a path of “more money, more problems.” Why is that the case?
Historically, if you wish to have an extreme level of asset protection, you need to employ strategies that are only achievable by the wealthy. These strategies require the creation of complex financial and legal structures that are managed by specialists – and these specialists don’t work for free.
A person with traditional F-you money will have a diversified portfolio to ensure some protection against inflation and single points of failure – the “too many eggs in one basket” problem. The ultra wealthy will also take advantage of countless esoteric tax rules in order to defer and reduce their taxable gains, even going so far as to create trusts that protect assets from capital gains and estate taxes for multiple generations. In some cases they operate in murky legal areas without much precedent, but it’s not a problem if authorities challenge the use of a given strategy – the wealthy will send elite attorneys to do battle on their behalf.
How does Bitcoin fit into all of this? As a completely new asset class unlike any that has ever existed.
Those who are only familiar with Bitcoin in passing tend to see it as a highly volatile speculative investment. Often it is said to be like digital gold. I posit that Bitcoin as an asset is more sophisticated than this simile suggests.
Bitcoin lowers the cost of achieving extreme asset protection to the point that it is reachable by the average person. It taps into a key component of the security model afforded by cryptography – defensive asymmetry. That is, the cost of attacking such a system is far greater than the cost of defending it, thus dissuading an attacker from even trying.
Bitcoin advocates often use fancy words to describe qualities of the system such as decentralization and censorship resistance, but the point always comes down to power and control. As a bitcoin owner you are free to hand control of your property over to a third party specialist in the same way that traditional financial assets are managed by bankers and brokers, but it is by no means required. If you choose to maintain control of your own bitcoin and a third party wants to stop you from using it, the network will not allow them to do so. This is not to say that there are no longer real-world consequences to those who would break the laws of their jurisdiction, but rather that the Bitcoin network rejects gatekeepers.
A Bitcoin user who is exercising the maximum amount of sovereignty afforded to them by the system is beholden to no one when it comes to upholding their property rights. There is no minimum value required in order to attain this position – any amount of bitcoin can be F-you money.
With Bitcoin you can build your own digital bank that has a stronger security model than any traditional bank in existence. A bank that has no physical form to speak of, no single point of failure that can be exploited. There are, of course, challenges to overcome and risks to manage, but the benefits are massive.
With Bitcoin you can create a trust that is secured not by the laws and courts of a specific jurisdiction, but by cryptography and a global network that can resist even nation state attacks. For example, you can lock funds in a digital vault that can’t be withdrawn for decades by anyone, including yourself.
In short, Bitcoin is the first form of property that enables normal people to truly and unequivocally own it. The assertion of bitcoin holders’ property rights need not rely upon authorities nor does it require an army of specialists to defend them. Bitcoin is a system of rules without rulers, in which each participant may rule themselves. If it’s freedom you’re after, Bitcoin is an asset in a class of its own.