In a recent TV appearance, talk show host and comedian Bill Maher took aim at cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, bucking a wave of optimism that has driven the crypto market cap past the $1 trillion threshold.
During an eight-minute speech, Maher poked fun at cryptocurrencies, describing the growing interest in crypto as a “mania around the country”. He said the popular refrain that “the train is leaving the station and people better get on” has sent many people investing into something they hardly understand.
He went on to enumerate several trusted companies that have jumped in with both feet, mentioning Microsoft, Tesla and Etsy as some of the bright examples, along with PayPal, Starbucks and so on.
Cryptocurrency is like Tinkerbell's light – its power source is based solely on enough children believing in it. And unfortunately what is real is that its growth could single-handedly push global temperatures above the tipping point of 2°C. #Bitcoin #Mining #ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/ZyPsuKdXEI
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) May 1, 2021
Maher explained that one-in-ten Americans had used their stimulus checks to invest in cryptocurrencies, with many options, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin all named during the segment.
“There is one called Dogecoin”, Maher explained, “which started as a joke, which is the same as all other cryptocurrencies, because the whole thing is a joke”.
Dogecoin: The Easter Bunny cartoon cash
Maher went on to criticize Dogecoin, arguing that it had no product and no real-world application, but yet, it had achieved market caps bigger than those of Ford and Kraft. He may have a point about Dogecoin, but this has not stopped the currency’s buoyancy today.
Dogecoin has reached an all-time high of $0.69 following news that eToro and Gemini are both backing the currency.
In the segment, Maher provided his arguments as to why the cryptocurrency lacks any substance. He drew parallel with the current financial systems, acknowledging its drawbacks and the imperfection of capitalism.
Maher highlighted the fact that in capitalism, “you no longer needed to manufacture goods or provide a service to generate money, but at least that money had to originate and be generated from something real, somewhere, to which cryptocurrency say: “No, it doesn't.”
He then went on to quote Warren Buffett, who has been one of the most outspoken critics of cryptocurrencies, arguing that they provide zero real value.
American billionaire Charlie Munger, who is Buffett’s right-hand man, called Bitcoin’s success “disgusting” possibly antagonizing a lot of people who had tuned in to watch the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting.
“It's like having an imaginary friend that is also a banker”, Maher continued, quoting another analyst and argued that creating value where there is no underlying value could lead to the same effect as the 2009 economy crash.
Essentially, the market crashed not because housing lost its value, but because bankers were too busy trying to generate more money on betting against how much houses would cost later on.
“There is something inherently not credible about creating hundreds of billions of virtual wealth with nothing ever being accomplished, product made or service rendered”, he said.
Think of the environment
Maher similarly broached the topic of cryptocurrencies eating into resources, such as electricity. It’s a topic that has been widely debated in the community, with some proclaiming the Proof of Work algorithm as an environmental threat and others arguing the opposite, because of the stimulus for renewable energies that has come out of it.
Of course, Maher's argument strikes home with some viewers, but the truth is he's only broaching the topic and running it through a cleverly-written monologue, and he is only highlighting potential issues with crypto rather than giving it a properly considered insight.
Maher took a shot at Tesla and questioned how the company could be intent on saving the planet, but then invest in Bitcoin and contribute to the high-electricity consumption the currency generates.
The punchline Maher used was to single out Bitcoin investors who claim to be all for conserving the environment and cited a report by Nature, which claimed that Bitcoin's growth could single-handedly lead to the tipping point where the planet warms by more than 2°C, eliciting serious consequences for the planet.