The views expressed in this article do not reflect the views of the U.S. Military, Department of Defense or U.S. Government.
I’ve been around soldiers for nearly a decade. Bitcoin seems like a natural fit for the American service member, and yet, so few of them can get over their skepticism and choose to invest. My hope for this article is that it can work its way through the ranks of all services to help our servicemen and servicewomen make a better life for themselves and a better future for their families.
Bitcoin will make your life measurably better in a multitude of ways: It will serve as a defense for your freedom as you serve to defend others’; it will serve as a defense to your purchasing power, as there is virtually no way military pay can keep up with inflation. Lastly, it will provide you with the economic opportunity that you likely never had, as that’s one of the major factors that drive people to enter the military in the first place.
I was one of the lucky few. I worked hard in high school and was fortunate enough to stumble onto West Point, attending a four-year college for free in exchange for years of service. I found bitcoin through a series of unusual events leading me to start buying seriously just before the COVID-19 crash in 2020. Again, through some luck and serendipity, I found my way into a graduate school program with the Army, allowing me to obtain two master’s degrees from a reputable university in less than 18 months. All paid for by the Army. The military can be an incredible sacrifice at times, but it can also serve as an incredible opportunity for personal development and societal advancement.
Bitcoin is your icing on the cake if you play your cards right. It is your best opportunity to make one of your best opportunities even better.
In Defense Of Freedom: Bitcoin As An Ideology
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”
An interesting part of military life is the oath that we swear with every reenlistment or promotion; swearing allegiance, not to an individual, not even to the government, but to a document created over 200 years ago. Much like the Constitution, Bitcoin itself is an idea, a set of rules laying out a set of governing principles in order to enforce fairness and freedom equally for all participants.
The principles of Bitcoin, much like those laid out in the Constitution and subsequent amendments, are fundamentally about freedom. Bitcoin was born out of the chaos of the 2008 financial crisis, seeking to preserve the freedom to store value and transact freely.
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past two years of falling down the Bitcoin rabbit hole, it’s that you don’t really own anything. Even if you pay off the mortgage or your car, what happens if you stop paying your taxes on it or fail to renew your registration? The government will seize your property. As evidenced by the recent Freedom Convoy protest in Canada, once seemingly liberal Western democracies have shown that they will freeze your bank and investment accounts, without hesitation, for supporting a political movement that the ruling class does not agree with.
Simultaneously, payment processors like Mastercard are developing carbon-footprint tracking technology which they are embedding into their credit card interfaces in order to rate each transaction you make based on its carbon score. One option allows users to opt into a program which cuts off your ability to spend once a carbon limit has been reached. This raises a number of questions in my mind, most chiefly: How long until features like this become not only standard, but mandatory in order to use their services?
Bitcoin fixes this.
Bitcoin is the first thing I actually own. I hold my own keys making it incredibly difficult for anybody to access my funds and essentially impossible to “freeze” my account. Furthermore, Jack Mallers, CEO of the Bitcoin-focused company Strike, partnered with some of the largest point-of-sale device companies in the world to enable bitcoin payments in stores at thousands of locations you probably use on a regular basis. The freedom to transact and maintain your self-sovereignty just got a whole lot easier.
In Defense Of Purchasing Power: Bitcoin As A Better Way To Save
The baseline for military pay raises come from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Employment Cost Index, essentially indexing the average cost of employment in the private sector to try and keep military pay rising in conjunction with the private sector. The issue here is twofold. First, the data is trailing and roughly two years behind by the time the pay raise is enacted. This is largely due to the legislative process. The second issue associated with this method is that private sector wages have not kept pace with inflation, so using that as the baseline measure still means that costs are rising faster than your wages. A 4.7% expected pay raise for 2023 is nice, but in the face of an 8.5% inflation print from March 2022, you are effectively taking a 3.8% pay cut.
With the growing deficits and government debt, I don’t see any mathematical way that military pay can keep up with inflation, let alone the political way, as the government will likely be pressured to reign in spending in order to help combat inflation measures.
To add insult to injury, even if inflation normalizes back to that 2% annual level that the Federal Reserve so desperately wants, the lower rate is being compounded off a higher base of prices, still leaving you behind as prices grow steadily over time.
Bitcoin fixes this.
As a digital bearer asset with absolute scarcity, your share of the monetary network cannot be diluted with money printing if you own bitcoin. Over time your wealth and purchasing power can continue to grow, and with enough time in the market, bitcoin is expected to greatly outpace inflation as adoption continues. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, rather a better way to save. As little as 1% of your pay per month into a bitcoin allocation could have a significant effect on your financial situation. There are a multitude of ways of automating this process as well so you don’t even have to think about it. A technique that I currently use is a savings allotment I set up directly in MyPay which buys bitcoin for me every month in the Strike app’s “pay me in bitcoin” feature.
While short term price action may seem volatile and scary, if you zoom out and keep a long-term focus, your small monthly, weekly or daily bites into bitcoin will pay off over the years, effectively creating a pay raise for yourself, allowing you to continue your service without sacrificing purchasing power.
In Defense Of Stability: Bitcoin As A Generational Equalizer
As prominent Bitcoiner, Greg Foss, likes to point out, central banks will never stop printing money because it is a mathematical impossibility to service the current federal debt load. What this means for normal folks like us is perpetual asset price inflation as the new dollars entering circulation bid up the prices of those assets first. This phenomena is known as the Cantillon Effect and is one of the biggest drivers of economic inequality.
Every dollar that gets printed not only devalues your hard-earned savings, but simultaneously makes it harder to get ahead through investing. Your dollars buy fewer stocks with every Thrift Savings Plan contribution. It becomes increasingly more difficult to purchase a home, as inflation drives up prices much faster than other sectors of the economy — and certainly faster than your pay can rise. How are you supposed to land on your feet when you get out of the military if the foundation of your financial house is built on a constantly eroding bed of sand?
Bitcoin fixes this.
As one of the last free markets that exist in the world, and one with absolute scarcity, it opens you up to the possibility of asymmetric returns. With the stock markets highly correlated to the rate of money printing coming out of the Fed, I see investing in stocks as a long and bumpy ride to end up at status quo: you may end up with more dollars in absolute terms, but you’re not necessarily better off in terms of purchasing power.
Many of the soldiers that I’ve come across joined the Army to escape a life with little opportunity, to pay for college or make a better life for themselves. I originally joined because I didn’t see any way to pay for college without a massive and crushing debt load that I would have to carry for years, if not decades. With inflation and the stock market going up in lockstep with the rate of money printing, I no longer have faith that traditional markets will take me to where I want to be.
Through redirecting my investment and saving streams into bitcoin, I have been able to truly build a strong economic base which allows me to worry less about money and enjoy my life more. I am more present with my family and a more attentive father to my children. Additionally, the asymmetric returns over time are expected to greatly outpace all other investments. With growing developments in collateralized lending, you don’t even need to necessarily sell your bitcoin to benefit from it. I recently funded a kitchen renovation using a loan from BlockFi, collateralized against my bitcoin stack. The possibilities are endless.
I see this opportunity as one of the best in my lifetime to truly build generational wealth, to leave my children something when I die and to ensure that they can live a better life than I did. Bitcoin gives me hope for the future because of this.
In Defense Of Hope: Bitcoin As A Better Tomorrow
Bitcoin has fundamentally changed the way I see the world. Every purchase is scrutinized, and yet I feel more financially secure than I ever have in my entire life. The path I have chosen to follow has once again given me optimism for a better future with my family. My hope for you is that you seize your opportunities in the military and make the most of them, while simultaneously seizing your opportunity for financial stability and generational wealth. Change your present so you can change your future. Fix the money, fix the world.
This is a guest post by Mickey Koss. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.