Listen, if you’re one of the people who helped funnel some $40 billion into U.S. equity funds in January and now you’re having a little buyer’s remorse after watching incredulous as U.S. stocks put up their worst weekly showing in two years, remember this: you could have bought Bitcoin at $20,000 in December. In other words, it could have been worse. “Bigly” worse.
Here, this chart should make you feel a little better:
But even as Bitcoin and the cryptoverse more generally succumb to the reality of being, well, of being not real and thus subject to disappearing altogether in the face of a regulatory clampdown and new bans on crypto purchases using credit cards, the ridiculous headlines continue to pile up.
Early last month, for instance, we were regaled with tales of a drunken sausage fest aboard a 1,020-foot ship traversing the Malacca Strait en route to Paradise Beach in Phuket, where professional Call of Duty players-turned crypto tycoons were “treated” to a pep talk by John McAfee. And then there was “The North American Bitcoin Conference” which began with nearly a dozen hours of presentations and ended with 5,000 attendees heading to a pussy-grab-a-thon at a 20,000-square-foot Miami strip club.
As amusing as those stories most assuredly were, the New York Times is out with something even sillier although in this case, “surreal” is probably a better descriptor.
According to a truly bizarre piece out on Friday, “dozens” of crypto entrepreneurs have decided to build a literal utopia in Puerto Rico where they imagine they’re going to establish their own city “where the money is virtual and the contracts are all public.” The idea, they claim, is to “show the rest of the world what a crypto future could like.”
Based on the admittedly sparse details, you can count me a bit disappointed, because based on the whole Paradise Beach story and the strip club boondoggle, I was kinda thinking “a crypto future” would involve Tron-esque cityscapes, massage parlors where topless Sophias give happy endings for Ripple tips and giant talking billboards featuring stream-of-consciousness-style ramblings from Supreme Leader John McAfee.
Alas, the Times paints a picture of an island cult run out of a monastery. To wit:
For more than a year, the entrepreneurs had been searching for the best location. After Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico’s infrastructure in September and the price of cryptocurrencies began to soar, they saw an opportunity and felt a sense of urgency.
So this crypto community flocked here to create its paradise. Now the investors are spending their days hunting for property where they could have their own airports and docks.
Until the Puertopians find land, they have descended on the Monastery, a 20,000-square-foot hotel they rented as their base and that was largely unscathed by the hurricane.
Apparently, these people are spending their time getting drunk on the roof of this abandoned building while waxing philosophic about how their dream to build a utopia aligns perfectly with the locals’ dream of cleaning up after a devastating hurricane.
Matt Clemenson and Stephen Morris were drinking beer on the Monastery’s roof one recent evening. Mr. Clemenson had an easygoing affect and wore two-tone aviators; Mr. Morris, a loquacious British man, was in cargo shorts and lace-up steel-toed combat boots, with a smartphone on a necklace.
“It’s only when everything’s been swept away that you can make a case for rebuilding from the ground up,” Mr. Morris, 53, said.
“We’re benevolent capitalists, building a benevolent economy,” said Mr. Clemenson, 34, a co-founder of Lottery.com, which is using the blockchain in lotteries. “Puerto Rico has been this hidden gem, this enchanted island that’s been consistently overlooked and mistreated. Maybe 500 years later we can make it right.”
That’s right. Puerto Rico is a historically irrelevant place that has been “mistreated” by natural disasters (like hurricanes) and “overlooked” by manmade disasters (like Donald Trump – remember the paper towels?). Now, only one thing can save this “enchanted” paradise. And that one thing is this delusional band of crypto millionaires:
The cynical among you might be inclined to think they chose Puerto Rico not because of a desire to somehow right the “wrongs” inflicted by harsh weather, but rather because it’s a tax haven. And you know, you’d be right.
“When Brock said, ‘We’re moving to Puerto Rico for the taxes and to create this new town,’ I said, ‘I’m in,’” one of the monastery residents quoted by the Times said, referring to Brock Pierce, the guy in the middle above and the self-described “leader” of this “movement.”
So yeah, they’re going there “for the taxes”, but it’s also about the people. And about rebuilding the island. It’s just that right now, they can’t really explain how the people or the island are going to benefit. But really, it’s all about the hurricane. Here’s the Times again:
They chose Puerto Rico because of the hurricane, and they come in peace.
As if there weren’t enough punchlines in this already, the real kicker actually comes at the very beginning of the Times article but as usual, I like to save the punchlines for the end, where they belong. And on that note, I’ll leave you with one final excerpt from the NYT piece:
They call what they are building Puertopia. But then someone told them, apparently in all seriousness, that it translates to “eternal boy playground” in Latin. So they are changing the name: They will call it Sol.