Barbra Streisand And Bitcoin: How Political Missteps, Censorship And War Are An Opportunity For The U.S. Today
Part One: The Barbara Streisand Effect
If you haven’t explored the California Coastal Records Project (resource), you should. The website hosts nearly half a terabyte of images, approximately 100,000 in all, which include, obviously, the California coast, and spans much of the Oregon and Mexico borders as well. Some areas are omitted for national security reasons, for example Vandenberg AFB, however, much of the state’s coastline is included in the project’s database. Beyond beautiful coastlines, the database also houses, and makes publicly available, images of properties overlooking the Pacific Ocean; including Malibu estates, to the chagrin of some celebrity and high-profile residents.
In early 2003, Barbara Streisand sued Kenneth Adelman as well as the now-defunct Pictopia.com, for what the lawsuit alleged was, at the time, an invasion of privacy. Prior to the lawsuit, which sought to remove the residence’s images from the database (and all public records for that matter), the estate of Barbara Streisand, according to legal records, had been viewed (downloaded) a total of six times from the website — that is not a misprint, literally six times. How many times would you guess that the images were viewed or downloaded after the lawsuit made front-page news?
Within one month of the case becoming national news, the images were downloaded over 420,000 times (and this was during the early internet era), the exact opposite of what Streisand and her legal team had intended. The news eventually went global and less than 10 months after the original lawsuit was filed, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the case, however, the irony of the case still resonates today as a result of unintended consequences.
Nearly two decades later, in many fields of study, The Streisand Effect is still a prominent topic of discussion and people continue to view images of the property — again, exactly the opposite of the original objective. Attempted censorship drew attention. Streisand’s attempt at suppressing information was and continues to be a catastrophic disaster. Broad fields beyond the obvious (journalism, public relations or communications) such as politics and business continually add examples of failed censorship events; many of which have backfired against an organization or individual attempting to suppress an idea, concept, topic, event or innovation. Local, national and international examples add to the growing field and rekindle the topic (source).
In an article from 2015 by Sue Curry Jansen (USA) and Brian Martin (Australia) titled “The Streisand Effect and Censorship Backfire” (source) the authors identified five tactics used by censors in an attempt to reduce outrage. Again, in many instances they typically backfire, especially when the audience is aware of the manipulation attempt(s). These tactics, as cited in Jansen and Martin’s work are:
- Hiding the existence of censorship;
- Devaluing targets (the individuals or groups) of censorship;
- Reinterpreting actions by lying, minimizing consequences, blaming others and using benign framing;
- Using official channels to give an appearance of justice; and
- Intimidating opponents.
Sounds familiar right? There are some people (truckers, supporters, citizens and free thinkers) who continue to work in defiance of the Canadian Prime Minister’s directive, that may be the next example of the Streisand Effect playing out now. The irony of bringing together liberals and conservatives is profound for so many reasons, too many to list here but you get the idea. These events had Canadians from all walks of life seeking refuge out of their country and their legacy banking system; and they have non-Canadians questioning if they’ll ever set foot in the country in the future. The five bullet-points above are playing out in lock-step, however, an informed society now sees beyond the censorship, targeting and intimidation tactics, and they’re turning to Bitcoin. Canada, I’d like to introduce you to Barbara Stresiand; she has a story to tell you.
Part Two: Push-Pull Factors
In most Geography 101 classes, students are introduced to “Push-Pull Factors.” There are demographic, economic, political, ecological and migrant flow sub-categories and the Venn diagram begins to get a bit muddled the more one digs into the details. For the purposes of this explanation, let’s break them into two categories, natural and human-made. In the simplest sense, “push factors” repel people, and as such make living difficult, uncomfortable, unbearable or impossible to continue in a specific location. Push factors literally “push” inhabitants out of a specific region or locale. This is where Elon Musk leaving California for Texas makes sense; and why a once proud Canadian is now on Zillow exploring real estate options in the United States.
Natural push factors might include, but are not limited to: erupting volcanoes, flooding, earthquakes and habitually inclement weather. Conversely, human-made push factors might include, but are not limited to: taxation, violence, crime, lack of adequate health care, poor local economy, excessive bureaucracy (red tape), martial law or a lack of opportunity or prosperity for residents.
Pull factors sit on the opposite end of the spectrum: These attributes “pull” (attract) people to them. Elon Musk was “pushed” out of California but he was also “pulled” into Texas. These factors can, in most instances, be the inverse of push factors. Pleasant weather and abundant natural resources are examples of natural pull factors; additionally, upheld freedoms, low taxes, low crime, good schools, exceptional health care, expedited or limited processing of permits and abundant employment opportunities are examples of human-made pull factors.
The push-pull factors could be visualized in a variety of ways, but most obviously is with moving trucks or caravans of people migrating to a new destination in hopes of abandoning one that is less desirable.
So what in the world do Barbara Streisand or push-pull factors have to do with the Bitcoin community or those Canadians fighting for their economic lives? Whether world leaders acknowledge that these factors exist or not has no impact on the fact that a push-pull crypto and residential war was at hand. Manipulation tactics of the past only illuminate censorship agendas and drive even more people to distrust the government, explore bitcoin ownership and subsequently, cold storage for the asset; again, the exact opposite of the intended objective.
In the U.S., states with a general understanding of these factors are working to incentivize (pull) crypto talent (coders, businesses and beyond) to their cities and states; paradoxically, some states do not even realize they’re in a battle as they “push” talent away.
The entire country of Canada, with the stroke of a pen, became a global “push factor” for many residents and a push-factor country for future Bitcoin retirees. The U.S. federal government hasn’t gone that far, but they may, and if they do, they’ll have their own states’ perspectives and opposition to deal with. An Executive Order, historically, has had a way of either righting the ship or shitting the bed; we’ll see how this plays out, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
Wyoming, for example, has aspirations of housing 5% of the global Bitcoin hashrate by the next halvening; make a note to search for a wonderful article by Amanda Cavaleri on Bitcoin Magazine’s website (source) for more on that. Wyoming sees itself in a war for migrants fleeing neighboring states; couldn’t the U.S. do the same for neighboring countries?
As Bitcoin exits the infancy phase and matures, U.S. states positioned with freedom at the forefront, supported by naturally abundant energy and/or favorable tax incentives (Wyoming, Texas and Nevada are obvious, but New Mexico, Utah and Colorado are not to be left out of the conversation) are literally “pulling” (attracting) cryptographers, coders, miners, crypto businesses and entrepreneurs to their states — and now, possibly pro-Bitcoin and no-coiner Canadians as well.
This is in addition to entrepreneurs who have noticed this shift and are forward-thinking. Planning of housing developments, restaurants and the required infrastructure necessary to retain new inhabitants are already in the works. These states will also be attracting Canadians who seek asylum from the current developments in their own country. U.S. politicians, please pay attention. You have an opportunity to attract not only the brightest minds of this generation, but also a group of people who are hardworking, decent and looking for opportunity.
In order to keep and retain people and businesses, states (and countries) will need to continue to incentivize residents to not only stay, but to flourish, expand and hopefully retire in their states (and country for that matter). What incentives do some Canadians have for staying in their own country now?
Incentives might include tax law, designed to attract (pull) new residents — low or zero percent taxes on income, low relative sales taxes and/or low or non-existent capital gains taxes at the state level. For some Canadians, a push factor might mean that they have their property taken because of their personal beliefs, without due process. Many regular Ukrainians and Russians will also be exploring options for relocation. These moments will define countries that provide opportunities for individuals in need; Opportunity should be apolitical.
At a minimum, a country or state that is agnostic in how an individual spends their time or currency (so long as they are not infringing upon others’ freedoms, of course) is a start. Moreover, a region where individual freedoms are upheld, even if political leadership disagrees, is a foundational aspect of the United States — these attributes have the potential to draw the greatest talent, wealth migration and geopolitical shift the world has ever seen. I genuinely believe the U.S. could become the global leader in the digital asset space; politicians just have to provide breathing room for innovation.
The ball is in the American court at this point, whether they choose to embrace the Founding Fathers’ original intentions of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness or side with the Canadian directive. There is a massive opportunity to open the country’s arms to people seeking freedoms not available in their current region(s).
Note that Canada does have opposition and that their Prime Minister does not speak for all its citizens. Nor do I; I’m just a free voice (for now) in the U.S., with one perspective. Same for Russian citizens; we cannot assume that all people from all areas think alike and as such, a country open and willing to allow differing perspectives provides freedoms only dreamt of in other places of the world.
Currently, Malta, Portugal and Puerto Rico are destinations the crypto-wealthy are migrating to in attempts to reduce or eliminate their tax burden as they spend or exchange their crypto assets for fiat currencies. Canadians, take note here when hunting for a new home in regard to financial flexibility, but you’ll also have to consider exploring nations with a proper Constitution, a Bill of Rights or equivalent.
Some of you may have had your wealth seized, but your talents cannot be taken — those gifts, work ethic and knowledge go with you, wherever you go.
In the future, Bitcoin will provide you with an opportunity to avoid these wealth-transferring events and allow you to ensure your prosperity outside censorable financial systems.
Some of your peers may have already made this decision. So have some states and countries seeking your attention. Puerto Rico, for example, currently has a 0% capital gains tax and a 4% income tax rate on residents (assuming anyone wants to sell their bitcoin). But your personal freedoms are at stake as well: Ensure those aspects of life are considered if you relocate.
What is to prevent future Texas, Nevada or Wyoming crypto retirees from leaving their respective states in hopes of lowering their tax burden in their final years of life? In truth, nothing; these crypto-entrepreneurial states may fall into the same complacent trap California, New York and now Canada have — time will tell if they learn from the mistakes of those before them. Note: crypto-friendly countries/regions, in a hidden war for talent with Malta and Portugal, include: Switzerland, Slovenia, Singapore, Malaysia, El Salvador, Hong Kong, Germany and Belarus.
Future Canadian refugees (yes, I called them refugees) are taking notes as they plan their exit. The physical Ukrainian and Russian distance from the shores of the U.S. creates a difficult trek and as such, neighboring countries, in the short term, have the opportunity that the U.S. has with regard to Canada: Only some are sufficiently well off to make a journey halfway around the world.
So, if they do arrive, what states will new immigrants call home? And will they stay, flourish and/or retire there in the future?
Wyoming, Texas, Nevada and other American states will face the same hardships (i.e. mass outward migration) that New York and California face today (and one Canada will face soon) if they are not careful. Likewise, each crypto-friendly state will not only need to have abundant energy sources, a competent and talented workforce, a thriving and supportive infrastructure, each state will need to be able to compete for the economic spending of retirees.
What good to the state tax board is a millionaire or billionaire in California if they migrate to a competing state with their retirement portfolios and then proceed to patronize businesses, purchase homes, vehicles, etc., outside of the state in which income or investments were earned or matured? Likewise, what good is a Russian millionaire if their rubles are worthless? Russians lost as a result of overnight inflation; Canadians lost to government theft.
In Canada, funds were literally seized, however, those assets are only a snapshot of the future potential of these people. All Canada did was ensure a lifetime of distrust from not only their own people, but future potential citizens who have removed “Canada” as a future place to call home, build a business and/or retire in. In Russia, bank runs are an increasing possibility.
There are rumblings that people have canceled Canadian vacation trips based on the actions of a single person. What economic toll will censorship have on a country; and what economic opportunity exists for a country willing to allow its citizens true economic freedom?
Canada is on track to lose the heart of its economy if they continue to demonize their workforce. Similarly, California is on a track to determining what a 10% (or more) income tax on zero (i.e. never having realized gains in the state) is, and if that policy was worth losing to a state or location with a 4% income tax — remember, these regions are competing for potentially millions, billions or trillions (if inflation keeps up) of dollars of future realized income. While Canada and California are different, they are also a lot alike in their political pursuits and resulting human exodus.
California and New York are prime examples of legacy states that benefited from a tech boom (California) and a digitized analog financial boom (New York), but haven’t adapted to a changing climate of remote workers or digital assets. These states are also the ones that stand to lose the most economic, political and cultural influence of the next generation.
Canada is in a similar boat. The push-pull wars between regions such as California and Texas, New York and Florida, or Canada and the US, go well beyond current political party preference. The headlines of Liberal versus Conservative make easy clickbait for ad revenue; however, the discourse is much more complex than is available in a handful of characters. The same goes for the decision many Canadians will face when considering to abandon their home for promised freedoms that will be honored elsewhere.
These migration wars, once won, will go beyond shaping the economic landscape of the United States, Canada or the world; victorious states (or countries) will provide the next generation of thought leaders in a variety of political arenas and economic forums.
Regions (or countries) which successfully attract and retain pro-crypto (freedom) individuals and businesses will directly influence cultural trends for decades to come. California, with its multitude of tax laws and impediments to entrepreneurs, stands to lose more than just a handful of millionaires or billionaires in the fight; California has already begun to lose television and film to competing states, what is next?
I posit that the state is on the brink of losing its political and cultural influence on the country and the world. Some may welcome this change, others may not. Given the choice, I don’t believe the U.S. government would like to relinquish its dominance in global leadership; embracing digital assets is the most likely direction. And while I’m sure Centralized Digital Dollars are only a few years out, Bitcoin’s dominance will not be undone through centralized projects.
Canada has already done enough damage that the effects will last generations; the distrust will not be forgotten and the Streisand Effect of financial seizure only ensures more citizens will seek refuge outside traditional channels. Their failure is a global opportunity. Similarly, people seeking refuge from Ukraine and Russia want opportunity, freedom and security; exactly what Bitcoin proponents suggest the protocol offers.
Part Three: Canada, Streisand And Bitcoin
The events that were unfolding in Canada last month are a testament to the fragility of freedom; this month, Ukranians and Russians are in the same boat. I could postulate here, dissect each event, propose solutions, correlate other countries and remind readers of the history around mass manipulation throughout the pages of history, but I won’t; in the end, it doesn’t matter. What’s the phrase? Something along the lines of, it’s easier to manipulate someone than make them realize they’ve been manipulated…
So instead I’ll pose a question, something you’ll have to answer for yourself. What do you seek in this world?
Odds are, the answer revolves around freedom in some fashion. In the lawsuit Streisand filed in 2003, freedom won. Canada attempting to censor regular people will probably backfire for a multitude of reasons; the conflict between Ukraine and Russia may have a similar outcome — the opposite of what was intended if we can fast-forward history.
Dictators, while often victorious in the short term, are despised by their people, even many in their own inner circles; typically it’s just a matter of time.
The United States has an opportunity to become a refuge for people from around the world, not just their neighbors to the north, seeking a free society and a free economy. A welcoming country could potentially gain appreciative, hardworking, kind and intelligent people who are willing and potentially able to bring a net positive gain to a society, as they work to escape chaos.
Moreover, the financial missteps of previous governments has a growing number of people wary of fiat currencies and as such, a country open to its inhabitants owning Bitcoin would be a positive for that country.
Be wary of politicians who say otherwise in regard to Bitcoin. Odds are they have a financial incentive for censorship.
If the United States were a lighthouse, I’d suggest it was time to actually illuminate the light and remind the world of what type of a country they actually are. There are ships at sea looking for a home; pay attention to see if the American lighthouse turns on or stays in the dark.
This is a guest post by Dr. Riste Simnjanovski. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.