Having worked in fintech for some time now, one thing that never ceases to bother me is the cloud of ignorance that shrouds the true nature and value of much of what has been developed in this industry. More than anything, the ignorance serves to tarnish the legitimacy of technological breakthroughs, hamper the positive growth of the industry and provide economic opportunity to those willing to cash in at others’ expense. 

The technology behind blockchain and cryptocurrency is not exactly the easiest thing to grasp, so, as far as the general public is concerned, it is quite understandable why there would be a disconnect between how the technology works and what people know of how the technology works. The threshold is demanding, and for some people the cost outweighs the reward. And that’s okay. For others who want to intellectually engage with what is happening in crypto, the internet is rife with educational resources that will further you in your efforts. 

The issue I have isn’t really with people not knowing a lot about crypto though, it is with people perpetuating the lack of knowledge about crypto. Especially when the people doing the perpetuating should know better. 

At this point, I feel like every week someone new is comparing the “risk” presented by using cryptocurrency with that of another 9/11. This time it was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo, who is Trump’s second Secretary of State, went on CNBC last Tuesday to talk about the trade war with China and other national security concerns. 

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Following in the illustrious footsteps of Congressman Brad Sherman (interestingly a Democrat whereas Pompeo is a Republican), Pompeo used his platform to spike the proverbial crypto kool aid with a 9/11 dose of fear and paranoia. How did this “Crypto=9/11” meme get started? When you start hearing different beltway creatures belch up the same tune, chances are, they are part of a concerted effort. 

In order to rid ourselves of this stupidity, let’s take a quick excursion into the erroneous muck from which it spawned. 

First, while being a Congressman doesn’t necessarily mean you are intellectually gifted — nepotism aside, it usually means you aren’t so dumb either. In Brad Sherman’s case, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law, so he’s probably not an idiot.  Where did Pompeo go to law school? Also Harvard. And then after serving in Congress he became Trump’s first CIA Director. So even more than being well-educated, Pompeo from his role as head of the CIA knows a few things about national security and, presumably, 9/11. 

Now, 9/11. We don’t really have to go too far afield here to illustrate why the connection is asinine. In Pompeo’s words, “Look, the risk with anonymous transactions is that one that we all know well. We know this from 9/11 and terror activity that took place in the 15 years preceding that where we didn’t have good tracking, we didn’t have the capacity to understand money flows and who was moving money. We need to preserve a financial system, a global financial system.” 

According to the Center for a New American Security, the 9/11 terrorists “used banks in the United States extensively. Hijackers opened accounts in their own names and conducted small transactions that were hidden by billions of dollars flowing through the formal financial sector.” The 9/11 hijackers also took flight lessons in the United States and otherwise left a remarkable trail of breadcrumbs leading up to the attacks. That they succeeded in their terrible goal has much less to do with their hiding skills than it has to do with the American government’s incompetence. An incompetence, by the way, that was on full display in the subsequent Iraq War.

That’s it for Part 1 of Max’s Corner today! Be sure to keep it with CryptoDaily for the second part tomorrow (29th August) at 20:00 BST!

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