Dr. Riste Simnjanovski is a tenured professor of public administration at California Baptist University. Most recently, his published research explores digital assets in the public and private sectors.
Dr. Scott Dunbar is a tenured associate professor and has administered master and doctoral-level degree programs. His research revolves around the topics of burnout, work/family balance and work/family conflict.
Part One: Um, Anyone Gonna Clean This Financial Mess Up?
In 2002 the Long Island, New York rock band Taking Back Sunday released a song entitled, “You’re So Last Summer.” A section of the song’s lyrics state:
“The truth is you could slit my throat
And with my one last gasping breath
I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt.”
The song references personal relationships, however, I (and this is Riste talking here, please don’t take this perspective out on Dr. Dunbar or Bitcoin Magazine) view the lyrics directly correlated to fiscal policy and the subsequent carnage and destruction they orchestrate.
In Keynseian economics, big banks, irresponsible corporate leadership, overleveraged hedge fund managers and unscrupulous politicians habitually “slit the throats” of American consumers and then wait for the masses to apologize for bleeding on their taxpayer-funded shirts; this apology typically arrives in a federal bailout for their greed, stupidity or arrogance. Quantitative easing (QE) benefits big money … so will quantitative tightening (QT); they always win.
Let’s relive the 2008 Global Financial Crisis for a moment. Remember, this was the event that triggered corporate bailouts during a time in which the American unemployment rate neared 10%. The Treasury disbursed $441.8 billion of the $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout. A decade later in 2018, the Treasury had put $442.7 billion back into this fund after making a $900 billion profit. How in the world did the Treasury profit during this horrific economic climate?
The federal government literally scooped up shares of corporations; companies that taxpayers would eventually bail out. The shares (stock) purchased were at bankruptcy level prices, i.e., pennies on the dollar; the Treasury then offloaded those shares when the stock prices inflated, and in many instances, directly sold back to individuals who funded the bailout in the first place. What a mess.
BlackRock borrowed billions at nearly 0% interest, purchased homes with the gigantic loans all across the United States, priced out millions of potential homeowners and indentured an entire generation to a lifetime of monthly rental payments or homelessness. Again, the entire process was bankrolled by taxpayers; none of whom saw any benefit.
Instances such as the 2008 financial crisis reveal that loose fiscal policy, nepotistic leadership and a robber baron corporate mentality, negatively impact the daily lives of regular individuals. This negative atmosphere is felt across the world, as markets have become globally integrated. The U.S. dollar peg or status as a reserve currency equates to any American financial crisis becoming a global financial crisis. U.S. inflation at 8% means that the EU will print at least an 8% rate soon enough, and so on.
Is there a better way, a solution to mitigate this exhausted and worn-out financial mentality? Enter Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s success is, in part, a byproduct of an exhausted consumer base which seeks to put their faith and trust into an alternative system. We would propose that taxpayers are burned out as a result of the habitual financing of ineptitude and greed.
The topic of “burnout” has flooded researcher projects over the past few decades, including, but not limited to, the fields of work, family and faith. We want to explore burnout from another perspective: finance. Specifically, we want to apply a working definition of burnout to financial arenas (classical and current) in order to attempt to explain why some Bitcoiners adopted BTC and why many may never return to the system that burned them out.
We will conclude with how Bitcoin remedies a broken monetary system and, in the same vein, how a resulting mass adoption of bitcoin addresses financial burnout nationally and internationally.
Part Two: Defining Burnout
Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter defined burnout as “…a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job.” This same definition could be applied and adapted to financial burnout as well for consumers.
A proposed definition might resemble something along the lines of, “Financial burnout can be defined as a prolonged response to chronic monetary stressors.” We would suggest the proverbial “slitting of consumers’ throats” and the subsequent “waiting for apologies via bailouts,” fits our proposed definition of a chronic monetary stressor.
Monetary stressors are emotional tensions related to our finances and financial performance. You can experience this right now by asking yourself if you currently have enough money to retire at the age of 60 and, if you’re over 60, by asking yourself — how am I doing financially?
These simple questions can lead to a plethora of overwhelming sub-questions. What if the market crashes? What if inflation continues to increase? Why is my grocery basket less full? Why is gas so expensive? Should I lower the risk tolerance of my portfolio? Am I diversified enough? Can I invest and still afford college for my kids? Could my wealth be confiscated? How can I invest for the future when I can’t even cover the costs of the present? If you’re not already burned out, you might be on your way.
According to research conducted over the past few decades, burnout is comprised of three distinct dimensions:
- Emotional exhaustion
- A lack of personal accomplishment
Do any of these dimensions resemble your adoption of bitcoin? How about recent rug pulls? How many new Bitcoiners were minted during these types of events?
Emotional exhaustion occurs when a person is unable to recover, both physically and mentally. Have you reviewed multiple reputable sources for financial information, direction or indicators, only to find they often contradict one another? How about that 100-plus page investment disclosure?
Which articles, authors and advisors should you believe? Have you ever read an investment disclosure cover to cover? The actual process of research and validation is exhausting — nevermind that one should do this quarterly for every investment they hold or as homework for potential future investments. Of course, as the market changes there is a never-ending barrage of solicitation. This exhaustion can lead to depersonalization and addiction; we propose that the barrage and solicitation are nothing more than financial pornography at this point.
Depersonalization, also known as cynicism, takes place when a person takes a cold, hard view of his or her work and the individuals in the work environment. Taking the example in the previous paragraph, we may become cynical of all financial sources and push them away.
You can also witness this cynicism any moment of the day on Twitter. Cue the cynicism of individuals who have had their throats slit by a system and are now refusing to apologize for bleeding on someone’s shirt; or ones who have witnessed this and have vowed to save others from the slaughter. We look forward to the anti-throat-slitting financial memes someday in the near future. We propose that Bitcoin protects your financial neck.
Next, lack of personal accomplishment refers to an individual’s inefficacy in the workplace; in other words, the work performance diminishes. In finance, this may result from doing exactly what the experts suggested, only to have a 401k implode prior to retirement, a once-guaranteed pension face insolvency or witnessing inflation whittle away one’s purchasing power. In the previous paragraph we touched on how exhaustion can lead to depersonalization, and how this depersonalization may lead to the distrust of once-trusted financial sources.
These dimensions, from our perspective, play a role in why many consumers are turning their backs on traditional finance, legacy banking and mass media news anchors.
Ironically, research even exists where finance professionals have experienced burnout, and not just their clients. Apparently, even some of those that have been tasked with the “throat slitting” are coming to their moral senses.
Research has also been conducted in the fields of faith. They’re not alone. One would begin to assume that humans are being burned out in a variety of ways, and as such, the dimensions of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a lack of personal accomplishment reach well beyond even what academia suggests is significant.
Society, from our perspective, is burned out with the games financial institutions (and their cronies) have played for far too long; however, no alternatives existed, until Bitcoin.
Part Three: Bitcoin Fixing Finance
Beginning in 2009, the Bitcoin protocol, slowly and methodically, has provided an alternative for consumers (and more recently countries) who have experienced financial burnout with the current legacy system.
From simple aspects of brick-and-mortar banks being closed on nights and weekends, to rejected business loans, embarrassingly low interest rates on investments or countries unwilling to surrender sovereignty, Bitcoin fixes finance. The only throats that potentially get slit by the Bitcoin protocol are those who may have been holding bloody knives in the past.
In an employment field, when one experiences burnout, they can seek employment at a competitor or even outside their current area of expertise — in a legacy financial system, no alternatives ever existed until Bitcoin.
If one didn’t want to own real estate, then they could own stocks, bonds or mutual funds; perhaps they could purchase futures contracts or short stocks they despised, but in the end, they were all interconnected with a legacy system. Countries pegged to the U.S. dollar were in the same predicament on a larger scale. There was no escape. Even the gold and silver bugs eventually had to exchange their physical bullion for fiat.
We would propose that what we’re witnessing is the first “financial turnover” in human history. A systematic change where consumers, clients, countries, etc., have a viable and non-correlated alternative to an entire ecosystem that has burned them out. This must be horrifying for the legacy financial system and its stakeholders.
In our definition of financial burnout, we proposed that the culprit was a “prolonged response to monetary stressors.” These stressors might be articulated by Bitcoin adopters as frustration with: inflation, deflation, retirement planning, a lack of corporate ethics, currency manipulation, quantitative easing, a distrust with political entities or something else entirely (i.e., habitually having your financial throat slit and then being forced to apologize for bleeding on a politician’s shirt might be included here).
In spite of everything, Bitcoin provides an opportunity to completely extract oneself from the financial stressors and protect an individual’s financial throat.
Bitcoin HODLers have a different and unique mindset versus those clinging to the legacy system. As a result, while prices fluctuate versus fiat currencies, Bitcoiners simply accumulate more. When the bitcoin price drops versus fiat, HODLers accumulate additional bitcoin with each purchase, and as they add satoshis, they habitually reassure themselves that what they have is an insurance policy against reckless federal spending and immoral legacy corporate leadership.
Bitcoin HODLers relish when bitcoin prices fall; they don’t panic, they accumulate more. Again, this must be horrifying for a legacy system; why aren’t the regular people selling like we want them to? Every forced sale of bitcoin equates to additional satoshis and bitcoin being locked away in cold storage. Bitcoiners can wait a decade or more for the world to play out. In America, elected officials survive or perish in two- to four-year cycles. (Dollar cost average for an advantage.)
Bitcoin fixes finance because the protocol isn’t finance. Bitcoin doesn’t have a CEO that can be brought up on corruption charges; Bitcoin doesn’t have a brother-in-law who is a governor of a state; Bitcoin doesn’t have an aunt who is a senator; Bitcoin doesn’t have stakeholders who benefit when times are turbulent; Bitcoin simply is. One bitcoin equals one bitcoin.
In a world that is completely burned out, the financial arena is no different. Consumers, clients and outsiders alike, have become exhausted watching financial arenas systematically decimate a middle class of hard-working and socially supportive people. They’ve had enough.
As the legacy system works to spread their influence into the “crypto” space; their intentions are clear. Terra (LUNA), UST, and the other 16,000-plus centralized projects are not worth your financial attention. We recommend against exposing your financial throat to these fiscal butchers.
We propose that as financial markets continue to melt down, as CEOs continue to make mistake after mistake, as politicians continue to plunder the coffers of their constituents and as another proverbial financial throat gets slit, every event will burn out another person or country. That person or entity will seek an alternative; bitcoin is that alternative.
The Bitcoin ecosystem welcomes individuals who have had their personal accomplishments stolen; individuals who are emotionally exhausted; sovereign countries who no longer want to bend the knee or kiss the ring; individuals who have been depersonalized by a legacy system designed to indenture them … and Bitcoin keeps their shirts clean and necks safe in the process (well, depending on who you are). Stay safe out there. Again, suicide and violence are not the answer.
This is a guest post by Dr. Riste Simnjanovski and Dr. Scott Dunbar. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.