Most of the turd billionaires trying to buy elections are Republicans. A few days ago we met one who appears to be a Democrat-- crypto multi-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, who also apparently has the DCCC wrapped around his pinkie. Worth $22.5 billion, Bahamas-dwelling Bankman-Fried has been busy spending as much as $10 million to get a random guy, Carrick Flynn, elected in Oregon.
One measly seat in Oregon isn't enough for a multi-billionaire. He just dropped a million dollars into the race to defeat Nina Turner in Cleveland. Ryan Grim did the research and wrote it up for The Intercept on Friday, right ion top of the misguided and shameful endorsement of New Dem Shontel Brown by Mark Pocan's pretend-progressive CPC PAC.
Grim began by reminding his readers that "In a 2021 special election, former state Sen. Nina Turner faced more than $2 million in outside spending by the super PAC Democratic Majority for Israel [run by corrupt scumbag Mark Mellman], swinging the race for Shontel Brown in the closing weeks. In her rematch, Turner faces a new obstacle. A super PAC bankrolled by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, Protect Our Future, has already spent more than $1 million backing Brown, according to Federal Election Commission reports. And this week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC endorsed Brown after having backed Turner last year."
Some have run the gauntlet by simply saying yes to the crypto agenda. State Rep. Jasmine Crockett, running in a Texas district to replace Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, had no history as either an outspoken advocate for crypto or an opponent of regulation but facing the question in the campaign, she sided with the policy positions favored by crypto PACs. The two major crypto super PACs came in with $1 million each, helping to put her over the top.
Protect Our Future PAC, the one linked to Bankman-Fried, has also spent $2 million boosting Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath in her member-on-member contest forced by redistricting. The PAC is also backing Nikki Budzinski in Illinois and has endorsed New York Rep. Ritchie Torres, a crypto supporter.
One of the most outspoken Democratic critics of crypto in Congress is California Rep. Brad Sherman.
Sherman's main opponent is progressive activist Shervin Aazami but there's an Andrew Yang acolyte in the race too and, after nearly year of not having anything to run on other than her devotion to Yang, she's now running an inane pro-crypto campaign... apparently to tap into crypto funding. Grim wrote that "Whether the spending against Sherman will unseat him or not, other incumbents and challengers are observing the dynamic: Opposition to crypto risks an onslaught from the industry, and support of crypto invites a tsunami of supportive spending. Yet the reverse is not true: Opposition to crypto is not rewarded by any organized constituency, and support of crypto is not punished by any organized constituency. That type of asymmetry has long shaped niche policy debates in Washington. Supporters of agricultural subsidies, for instance, spend heavily to get their issue noticed, but there is little in the way of organized opposition to those subsidies-- because nobody cares enough-- so the subsidies sail through Congress."
Last year, Matt Stoller wrote that crypto is essentially "a social movement based on a dangerous get-rich-quick scam." And everyone knows it even if they don't want to say it out loud. "Cryptocurrencies," he wrote, "are a social movement based on the belief that markings in a ledger on the internet have intrinsic value. The organizers of these ledgers call these markings Bitcoin, or Dogecoin, or offer other names based on the specific ledger. That’s really all a cryptocurrency is. There’s no magic. It’s not money, though it has money-like properties. It’s not anything except a set of markings. Sure, the technology behind the ledgers and how to create more of these markings is kind of neat. But crypto is a movement based on energetic storytellers who spin fables about the utopian future to come... It has value in the moment it is traded, but only because there’s a collective belief that it has some intrinsic worth. (There is a wide variety of ‘tools’ in the crypto world, like NFTs, smart contracts, and global computing systems, but they don’t work, and none of them have any use cases except speculation and money-laundering, and even in their idealized form they have no use cases aside from doing stuff you can already do far more easily through existing technology, with a different permissioning model.)"
Both financial crisis reformers and Bitcoin proponents believe that the existing financial order is a collusive arrangement between large banks who are supported by government power. Money laundering, tax evasion, criminal activity, and fraud are fine as long as you are an insider in this system, and the Federal Reserve and various other government institutions will not only not stop corrupt insiders, but will subsidize and bail them out if necessary. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to live with foreclosures, high interest rates on credit cards, and high fees for middlemen in every aspect of the economy.
Indeed, it’s hard to see how our social contract is legitimate or fair. No one went to jail for the financial crisis, and the ongoing parade of scandals is nonstop. Just to take a random story that came out last week, several groups published a finding that the $11 trillion private investment industry is a haven for money laundering. We all know there will be no state reaction to fix this.
So what is to be done? The traditional populist view is that we should reform our social order through politics, things like mass education, elections, and civic engagement. That’s how Elizabeth Warren sees the world. She wants to strengthen the state so it can restore the social order, one that will tolerate less cheating and will involve the rule of law applied to the powerful.
The crypto response is different. The crypto response is to reject the social contract itself as irredeemably corrupt. Their goal is put pressure on the state itself by creating a money-like instrument outside of the public rule-setting capacity of the government. This is framed in the name of consumer choice, as in the state shouldn’t be able to boss you around and tell you what you can do with your money. After all, it’s yours. And anyone who doesn’t buy into this idea is inherently defending a set of collusive bailout-friendly institutions that we sometimes call liberal democracy.
But core to having a state, even a democratic one, is the ability to ban things and use coercion to enforce such a ban. Societies and social contracts are built on cooperative mechanisms, but also barriers and enforceable rules. In this framework, the argument of crypto proponents makes no sense. It is basically, ‘You can’t tell me not to have access to a money-like mechanism, even if the point of this instrument is to defraud people or engage in ransomware attacks, and even if we know that the ultimate endpoint is a giant collapse when people trapped in a liquidity crisis find out that there is no lender of last resort for Bitcoin or any of the other cryptocurrencies. If you do, that’s tyranny.’
In other words, skeptics of cryptocurrencies generally believe that cryptocurrencies are easily manipulated mechanisms to launder money, commit fraud, evade sanctions, empower dictators, engage in heavily leveraged speculation prone to collapse, and ultimately break the state itself. The response to this concern is easy-- exactly how is this accusation any different than the existing order? Surely if insiders are allowed to cheat in our regulated banking system, then why should we treat it as legitimate? Why not build our own financial channels? Yeah, maybe it’s bad, but at least we’re not Goldman Sachs or AIG.
...The amount of utopian bullshit and fake promises on a technology that doesn’t really work as anything but a speculative bubble and money laundering device should be a big red flag. Crypto is a movement based on the theory that the existing nation-state is a system rigged by billionaires, and the right response is to create a different and more corrupt order rigged by different billionaires, money launderers, and dictators. It will of course all end in tears, ironically when the Fed ends its monetary stimulus creating bubbles across the economy. That much we know. But how much ruin this movement engenders will depend on whether and how quickly we can restore the legitimacy of our existing governing systems.