[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]
Dear Dr. Steve,
Pierre Poilievre recently said that cryptocurrency was a way to opt out of inflation. But cryptocurrencies have been crashing this month, with Bitcoin down more than 50 per cent from its peak.
Do you think crypto is a good investment?
Buy low, sell high — that's what they say in the investing trade.
With crypto it's more along the lines of: Buy after your libertarian uncle plies you with liquor, sell high, try to find something you can buy with your profits aside from Confederate flag NFTs or more Bitcoin, give up, buy more Bitcoin, go to a Poilievre campaign rally, sip free grape Kool-Aid, meet a bunch of sketchy dudes with disturbing theories about talking lizards and 5G, watch the currency sink like a barbecued zeppelin, wonder if maybe it was a bad idea to buy something embraced by Steve Bannon, get drunk, buy more Bitcoin, etc.
Financial planning is hard. Lord knows the 2022 stock markets aren't doing anybody any favours either. But crypto? Think who you'll be rubbing shoulders with in the crypto treehouse. Surely there is some sort of secret Crypto Club ritual where you have to shoot five Jager bombs, douse yourself in Axe body spray and kiss a little Joe Rogan figurine made out of guac. Maybe it's not logical to make investment decisions based on who else is buying. But then again maybe it is. You wouldn't buy a book called Steve Bannon's 60-Day Plan for a Healthy, Glowing New You.
Someone will also need to do a scientific study soon on the following question: does buying crypto make you look like Pierre Poilievre, or does looking like Pierre Poilievre make you buy crypto? In fact there has been a recent Bank of Canada study on the essential bro-ness of crypto. “Bitcoin ownership remained concentrated among young, educated men with high household income and low financial literacy,” the report read.
In response Poilivre tweeted it was the Bank of Canada that was “financially illiterate.”
It was on. Former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge, like a ruthless competitor in his namesake sport, aimed a blistering groin shot at Poilievre. “That's bullshit,” Dodge said during an appearance on CTV's Question Period. “I have no idea what [Poilievre is] talking about and neither does he, in that regard. On the crypto issue, he’s just wrong.”
Right or wrong, these days Poilievre is Canadian Crypto Bro Number One. Considering recent developments in the crypto market it's amazing that he had a shirt to wear at the Wednesday leadership debate. You have to hope the cab driver made him pay cash. In advance.
Once he arrived on stage Poilievre was certainly made to pay for his crypto love, piled on by several candidates including hard-right candidate Leslyn Lewis, who attacked Poilievre for saying that Bitcoin was a way to “opt out of inflation.” To be fair though, losing all your savings is certainly one way to opt out of inflation. Inflation is no longer an issue when you're completely broke.
There are people making money in crypto though. One of them is Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange. As reported by Wired, Bankman-Fried admitted in a recent podcast interview that crypto functions pretty much like a standard Ponzi scheme — pump up investor fever knowing those latest to the game will eventually be left holding an empty bag.
Not quite the same though. For one thing Charles Ponzi never advertised during hockey games or bought the naming rights for sports arenas.
It's not just crypto either. Dr. Steve cannot be the only one who is disconcerted by the recent trend in TV advertising — the airwaves crammed with sports betting ads, online casino ads, ads that compare crypto to the invention of the wheel.
Dr. Steve misses the good old days when the 30-second lies being told were about becoming popular by buying the right brand of potato chips. Sure, pickup truck commercials lie to you about how buying a real cowboy truck will turn you into Sam Elliott, but at least you end up with a vehicle for your money. You can't say the same for an online casino. (Also, in what universe does the ad line “Our casino games are honed to perfection” make anyone think, “Wow, that sounds like it will work to my advantage!”)
If crypto is essentially a game of chance, will Canada's economic system shift in that direction? Grocery store self-checkouts could be replaced by one-armed bandits. Want to buy some cherries? Keep dropping loonies in the slot till you get three in a row. Want soup? Beat the point spread in at least four NFL games or no soup for you.
It's easy to shrug it all off and say: Here's your handbasket, have fun in Hell. But crypto boy Poilievre has a realistic shot at being prime minister someday. Our dollar is already known as a loonie. Wait till you see how much loonier it can get.
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