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How Bitcoin Empowers the World with Alex Gladstein

Apr 2, 2024

How Bitcoin Empowers the World with Alex Gladstein

How Bitcoin Empowers the World with Alex Gladstein

Key Takeaways

In the 7th episode of Scarce Assets, co-hosts Andy Edstrom and Jesse Myers engage in a profound conversation with human rights advocate Alex Gladstein. Gladstein, noted for his ability to eloquently express how Bitcoin empowers and safeguards human rights, delves into the concepts from his book "Check Your Financial Privilege." The episode is a deep exploration of the financial and energy disparities that exist globally and how Bitcoin serves as a tool to address these inequalities.

The discussion begins by highlighting the financial privilege that roughly a billion people enjoy by living in countries with strong currencies and democratic governments. In stark contrast, the remaining 7 billion people suffer under authoritarian regimes or deal with weak, unstable currencies that often lead to devaluation and inflation. Gladstein points out that alongside monetary technology, access to energy is a fundamental building block for freedom. He details how Bitcoin is uniquely positioned to provide sound money and harness otherwise untapped energy resources, which can be transformative for countries plagued by currency devaluation and energy scarcity.

Gladstein’s narrative is supported by compelling case studies from his travels to places like Malawi and Kenya, where Bitcoin mining is being used to purchase excess energy from local power sources. This not only prevents waste but also provides a market-based framework for expanding energy access and electrification in these regions. This approach illustrates a stark departure from traditional aid and concessional financing, which often fosters dependency rather than sustainable development.

The conversation also touches on the broader implications of Bitcoin in terms of international trade, government sanctions, and the current state of humanitarian aid. Gladstein argues for a shift from collective punishment strategies to more targeted, localized approaches to advocacy and aid. He emphasizes the importance of grassroots movements and education in the global spread of Bitcoin.

Best Quotes

  1. "Sound money and access to energy, I think, are the two building blocks for freedom." – Alex Gladstein
  2. "Bitcoin is like this piece of technology that comes in and provides a market-based framework for people to make money and do business and do well by harnessing all of that otherwise wasted or stranded or orphaned or just untapped, unrealized energy." – Alex Gladstein
  3. "That's what financial privilege is. Financial privilege is not even needing to think about that. Financial privilege is not even needing to know about that. Financial privilege is not even like being concerned with that at all." – Alex Gladstein
  4. "Bitcoin is this thing that like, attacks inefficiencies, it like attacks corruption, it attacks exploitation, and then it like, fixes it." – Alex Gladstein
  5. "No governments are human rights organizations. They're nation-states that have different incentives." – Alex Gladstein
  6. "I don't ever want to work on something that's like trying to beg some government to do something... I really want to devote my time and energy to positivity and to liberating people and to creating permissionless technology and supporting it." – Alex Gladstein
  7. "Bitcoin is the single best ESG investment ever in history." – Alex Gladstein
  8. "Bitcoin is relentless and it's not going to stop... It's not going to just be this little, like, 'Oh, cool, we have some freedom money over here'... it won't be satisfied, not until it completes its quest to just destroy central banking." – Alex Gladstein


The podcast episode offers a profound insight into the world of Bitcoin, not just as a scarce asset, but as a catalyst for human rights and economic freedom. Alex Gladstein's expertise shines through as he discusses the transformative impact of Bitcoin on individuals living in oppressive and economically unstable regions. The conversation underscores the significant differences in financial and energy privilege around the world and how Bitcoin stands as a beacon of hope for those who have long been excluded from the traditional financial and energy ecosystems.

The overarching message is clear – Bitcoin has the potential to level the playing field, providing sound money and energy access that can lead to self-sufficiency and freedom. The stories shared by Gladstein convey a future where Bitcoin's influence extends beyond investment portfolios, becoming a cornerstone of global economic empowerment and sustainability.

As the world prepares for the next wave of Bitcoin adoption, the insights from this episode present a compelling narrative for both skeptics and proponents to consider. Bitcoin's journey is far from over, and its role in shaping the future of human rights and economic freedom is just beginning to unfold.


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