Bill Maher used the “New Rules” part of Friday’s “Real Time” to rail against something that actually is pretty bad and should probably be dealt with: Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Maher’s rant concerned both the economy harming aspects of cryptocurrency and the severe environmental effects, so we’ll just get right into telling you what he said.
“New rule: Nothing with ‘crypto’ in the title ever turns out good,” Maher said at the start of the bit, describing what he implied is a boiler room-style “mania” pressuring people to invest.
Maher ran down a list of well known cryptos like Bitcoin, ending the list by saying “there’s also one called Dogecoin that someone started as a joke, but as far as I can tell it’s exactly the same as all the other cryptocurrencies because the whole thing is a joke.”
So first, Maher got into the economic aspect of crypto. “I fully understand that our financial system isn’t perfect but at least it’s real. Apple stock is worth money because Apple makes thousand-dollar phones that everyone buys and then drops in the toilet. But Dogecoin recently rallied to be worth more than the market cap of Ford and Kraft Foods and it has no product and no workers,” he said.
“It’s just Easter Bunny cartoon cash. I’ve read articles about cryptocurrency. I’ve had it explained to me and I still don’t get it, and neither did you or anyone else,” he continued. “I’ll explain why. So there’s these things called Nerds. And in 2008 one of them — we don’t know who because this person or group of persons is still anonymous — made up Bitcoin out of thin air using the fake names that Satoshi Nakamoto, which I think are the Japanese words for ‘Monopoly money.’”
“Now capitalism, of course has always contained an element where instead of actually making something or providing a service for money, you could make money in the exciting field of money,” Maher added. “But we knew when he had to originate from and be generated by something real somewhere. To which cryptocurrency says ‘no it doesn’t.’ Maybe this is why Warren Buffett says cryptocurrencies basically have no value and they don’t produce anything. What you hope is that somebody else comes along and pays you more money for them later on. But then that person’s got the problem. In terms of value: zero.”
Incidentally, Warren Buffet really said that. In fact he has a lot of opinions about crypto, among them that it’s a “delusion,” “worthless,” and “rat poison squared.”
But back to Maher, who said: “Or as another analyst put it, it’s an ‘open Ponzi scheme.’ It’s like having an imaginary best friend who’s also a banker.”
Maher warned that “there is something inherently not credible about creating hundreds of billions in virtual wealth with nothing ever actually being accomplished, and no actual product may or service rendered. it’s like to tinker Bell’s light. It’s power source is based solely on enough children believing in it.”
And that’s when he got to the serious environmental dangers posed by cryptocurrency. “Unfortunately,” he continued, “what is real is the unfathomable amount of electricity those massive supercomputers suck up for their mining. The power being used right now to guess numbers and win imaginary prizes is the same as all the electricity needed to light all of New York state. Except the governor’s office where they use romantic candles.”
“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind. Just one uses more energy than a million Visa transactions, and has the same carbon footprint as 85,000 hours of watching YouTube — what a 15 year old calls the weekend,” he joked.
“Bitcoin uses more energy than Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google combined. I mean cars are bad for the climate, but at least they take you somewhere.”
Incidentally, he’s not wrong about that. You can read more about that environmental damage here. And watch Maher’s full “New Rules” rant on the topic above.