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I remember my first credit card vividly. For months, I had been attempting to woo my local bank. “Give me a card,” I begged. “You can trust me.” My pleas fell on deaf ears.
Then one day, after all but giving up, I found myself at Gap. (As I recall, I was there to purchase a pair of skinny jeans.) While fumbling through my wallet at the checkout counter, the cashier asked me if I wanted to apply for a Gap Visa. “Sure!” I replied. After an instant vetting (what the heck did they look up, anyway?), they awarded me an account. The physical card arrived in the mail a few days later. What benevolence! I’ve had the card for years.
Think about that. I am a bastion of trust (trust me on that one). My finances have always been solid. I have a pleasant appearance. The only thing holding me back from getting a credit card was my youth. I had to wait a long time for someone to give me one.
And it’s not just credit cards. Banks often require parental permission to open savings and checking accounts. In general, young people have restricted access to the entire financial system—credit and otherwise.
You can’t blame the banks, though, or the credit card companies. They have to assess risk somehow. And to them, I was risky business. But how could I prove my trustworthiness if I was never given the chance? It’s a classic chicken-and-egg problem.
As a society, we want to lead young people to financial independence. We want to teach young people about financial responsibility. Yet the current financial paradigm fails miserably. Young people have to overcome immense hurdles to build credit and gain access to credit cards and reasonable loans. On the other hand, credit card culture can be detrimental to those who lack financial common sense. Debt entraps millions.
If only there were some way to empower young people to prove their trustworthiness without exposing financial firms to unnecessary risk.
That’s where bitcoin comes in. No trust barriers exist. Young men and women don’t have to bend over backward to prove themselves. Transactions are peer-to-peer and instant. Anyone can download a bitcoin wallet and use it. Forthcoming applications of the blockchain—such as smart property—inject this trustless paradigm with an additional dose of democracy.
The professed aims of the Democratic Party discussed above—undermining Wall Street’s privilege, enabling artists, promoting civil rights, and advancing global development—are things that people of all political leanings care about. Bitcoin is in a unique position to address each and every one of these issues in a positive way.
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