Bitcoin and the Opioid crisis
I came across this article about how bitcoin is "fueling" America’s Opioid crisis the other day.
Now let me just start by saying that I don't dispute that Bitcoin is being used as a means of exchange for drug dealers. But let’s dig a little deeper here and expose this article for the sensationalist drivel that it is. Drawing inferences between a huge spike in deaths, and the uptake in an emergent technology is akin to just reaching out to any statistical coincidence. Give me enough time, and I could probably overlay some data that shows that climate change is to blame for synthetic Opioid use because of arable land decline. OK, so that’s being a tad sarcastic but you get the idea.
Which is why I find cryptocurrency so enlightening at the moment. It’s as if the whole industry is taking the moral high ground, and this stuff is just washing off like water on the proverbial ducks back. Fire as many shots as you like, this ship just isn’t going to sink. Smear campaigns have always been run when technology came into competition, just take a look at Edison. The guy was a hack and a fraud who ripped off other people. But deceiving people now isn’t as easy as it was back then:
The times they are a changing indeed. We have the internet for one and can do our own research.
Anyways, so I had to smirk when I saw this, and knowing nothing little about Opioids I just googled the subject for ten minutes, read a few articles, my peer review on this was light I must admit. But I just wanted to highlight it as a point.
First article to come up:
Fair enough there is a correlation between the increased adoption of bitcoin and Opioid overdoses if you go and find a graph showing adoption rates of Bitcoin. Lots of scary graphs to present. Again, all of this is fact, not disputing the connection.
So, let’s google "understanding the Opioid epidemic" (like any decent journalist would to get a fair understanding of what is actually driving this sudden increase, particularly in the last two years.
More graphs, but more importantly, the focus of their work:
The actual influx in Opioids into America is very much a mute-point. If you don't solve the issues driving demand, then this demand will always be met by supply, and drugs dealers will always find a way to get it to the users. I'll get back to that point in a short while, but for now, let’s carry on our 10min google search:
Well, thank you Vox for finally getting to the ugly truth of the matter:
Campaigns have been implimented for tabacco sucessfully, but when it comes to Opioid's there seems to be this reluctance to move on a postition that has netted the pharmaceutical companies millions if not billions at the expense of people getting hooked on these, and then just getting more heavily dependent on them.
It has blown up in their faces and they just seem content to sit on their hands. The last part of this section is particularly jarring:
So here is another graph:
And the real scumbags, must be Bitcoin and drug dealers right? For giving peopel easy access.
But let’s not point fingers at the government for allowing the epidemic to get out of hand. No, let’s make this about a new technology that we don't understand and fear. Because up until now, fiat currency has always prevented massive spikes in drug abuse right?
And yes, as I said drug dealers will be using Bitcoin, why, because suddenly it allows them to make money off of drugs more easily? Hell no, people have been able to do this long before bitcoin came along:
Take Pablo Escobar for example, here are some fun facts about how much money he was able to make before Bitcoin was even a concept in someone’s mind:
Would he have made more money if Bitcoin had been around, maybe. Would it have increased people's consumption of Cocaine at the time? Mmm, maybe try looking at the real social and economic issues. The market was flooded with cocaine, getting paid wasn't his issue. It was trying to get it into legitimate business and ventures, and that audit trial is still true of crypto. So, let’s just take a step back from this whole vision of evil crypto filling our wholesome world with poison.
More people are dying from Opioid overdose now because they were allowed to get hooked on them in the first place. This has driven up demand, as the government has failed to step up and take responsibility and work at curbing the issue from getting out of hand. And it has in a big way. If Bitcoin had never been invented then drug dealers would still have found ways to exploit this growing demand, and pushed synthetic products onto the market. Simple economics. The dealers would still be supplying the same amount of product to the market whether they got paid in cash, bank transfers or Bitcoin. Would you catch more of them, maybe. Would others step in to fill their place. Yes. Why because whether they make 2000% profit, or 20,000% profit. They are still going to supply a market if it exists in the first place. You don’t solve the issue by reporting on how the drug dealers get paid, you solve the issue by figuring out why there is such a demand in the first place.
Tarring Bitcoin in some bullshit fashion isn't going to change the fact that more people are dying from drug overdoses than ever before. Supply is driven by demand, not the other way around. That’s just simple economics. The US government created a powder keg situation, now it’s looking for scape goats, and allowing journalists to print this sort of nonsensical crap, statistics and white noise that means absolutely nothing.
There are numerous articles that would even suggest that laundering crypto is harder than the already established systems that have been put in place by Cartels and their accountants for years.
So yes, by all means find an angle to get a story. But the whole crypto bashing is getting a tad old now.