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What has the government ever done for us?

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It made me smile when watching Billions during an exchange between Chuck Rhoades (the Attorney General) and a bitcoin miner in Episode 1 of Series 5 (nerdy).

The reason I smiled is it reminded me so much of this fantastic piece of comedy from Monty Python’s the Life of Brian

And then it made me sit and think that we are pretty much in that position today: What’s the government ever done for us? Well, they provide education, policing, armed forces, health services, roads … Apart from that, what have they ever done for us? Well, they make sure you have access to doctors, refuse collection, buses, firefighters and other emergency services. Apart from that, what have they ever done for us? Taxes?

It’s a great conversation, but similar to the one I have with my children.

Why is the sky blue? Because it is sunny and we have no clouds. But why is it blue? Because when it is sunny, you can see the sky. But why is it blue? Because the colour of our sky that covers our world is blue? But why is it blue?

I quite enjoy these conversation tbh, as it makes you think.

What is the dollar backed by? Why is the dollar believed in so much? What’s the alternative?

Well, the main alternatives would be other currencies backed by roads, health, police and infrastructure. That would lead you to the euro, pound and yuan. But the argument against this is what about a currency backed by the network? A democratic currency backed by the people?

This is the argument made by Libertarians against the State: Why do we need a state-backed currency?

The answer lies in why money was invented, a subject I return to often. Money was invented by governments to control society. If you have no government behind a currency, what does that mean? The answer is that it means the network controls society.

This always brings me back to eBay and Amazon and the fact that reviewers and star-ratings control the network. If you have 5* reviews, then you’re worth it. If you are 3* or less, then you’re not.

We have these review mechanisms on Uber, IMDB and other services now, so how much note do you take of them? If, like me, you think meh, this has a 3* review, don’t bother then you’ve discovered the new regulator. It’s called The People. Can The People  replace The Government? Well, that’s the question we are all grappling with when we look at decentralised finance (DeFi) versus centralised finance (CeFi).

The answer to that question is: what has the government done for us?

I’ll think about that one.


What have the Romans ever done for us?

REG: What have they ever given us in return?!

XERXES: The aqueduct?

REG: What?

XERXES: The aqueduct.

REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

COMMANDO #3: And the sanitation.

LORETTA: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?

REG: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.

MATTHIAS: And the roads.

REG: Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don't they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads--

COMMANDO: Irrigation.

XERXES: Medicine.

COMMANDOS: Huh? Heh? Huh...

COMMANDO #2: Education.


REG: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

COMMANDO #1: And the wine.

COMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah...

FRANCIS: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

COMMANDO: Public baths.

LORETTA: And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

FRANCIS: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let's face it. They're the only ones who could in a place like this.

COMMANDOS: Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

REG: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

XERXES: Brought peace.

REG: Oh. Peace? Shut up!


Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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