On Atlas from Colombia and Bitcoin Charity

On the evening of April 20th 2020, after designating the winner of my quarantine musical contest, I’ve had the chance to discover a rare phenomenon of charity among bitcoiners. And no, the situation was not similar with the cases of Andreas Antonopoulos and Hodlonaut. If the former was a donation to reward years of community service and the latter was an act of defiance against Craig Wright’s habit of suing bitcoiners, today’s instance was a purely random act of generosity.

Started by S3 E8 guest and 6.15 BTC meme artisan American Hodl, the initiative seeks to make Atlas’ day a little better. There is no greater purpose to it, other than rewarding somebody who tries really hard to acquire his own piece of financial sovereignty. And a donation of 0.01 BTC (1 million satoshis) from American Hodl has kick-started an entire charitable movement. As of now, it seems like the community is trying to help Atlas get a full bitcoin (as detailed by Brave Island in his tweet which also features of proof of donation).

Who is this Atlas guy from Colombia and why did he become the focal point of Bitcoin Twitter? Well, he describes himself as a man who works hard in a country where the average wage is $2500/year and tries to put his savings in Bitcoin to avoid being once again robbed. According to a screenshot he posted, he is using the Blockchain.com mobile wallet and has spent two months to accumulate 268.260 satoshis (about $19.05, at today’s rate).

I wasn’t very much aware of the case before Sovereign Sentinel, the lucky number 98 who got randomly picked to receive 20k satoshis as part of my contest, told me to donate his prize to Atlas. Which I did.

Previously, I’ve only skimmed past American Hodl’s donation post and recommended Atlas that he should get a better wallet (he posted a screenshot of a Blockchain.com mobile wallet, and generated a legacy address that’s most likely the only one that the application ever uses).

Little did I know that a random act of generosity would turn into a larger movement, and a few hours later even Trezor would reach out to Atlas to offer him a hardware wallet.

This whole mobilization is just incredible – and at the time of Bitcoin block height 626778, Atlas has received 0.61 BTC ($4369) from 167 outputs. For a Colombian worker who earns the minimum wage, this is the equivalent of almost 20 months of work – almost two years!

If the plan to turn Atlas into a full coiner succeeds, then his brief confession to American Hodl has successfully enabled the most important component of a free, permissionless, and decentralized economy: charity. And if you would like to contribute with a donation for Atlas’ cause, send your satoshis to this address: 1KHG7xXffaDwtU3UqbBXmTMVCMjkJRvnpg.

Why the case of Atlas from Colombia matters

There are multiple reasons for which this kind of random act of generosity is extremely important and valuable. First and foremost, it reminds bitcoiners that they are in a position where they can help the less fortunate people. And by sending them bitcoins, they actually demonstrate one of the most powerful use cases of a decentralized currency: fixing the inefficiencies of governments.

Secondly, making donations helps tone down the “toxic” culture and offers more nuance. Refuting “blockchain industry” scams and having a libertarian perspective on the world doesn’t necessarily imply an absence of compassion for some of the most serious problems of humankind. Just because bitcoiners are negative about events and phenomena that surround them on a daily basis doesn’t mean that they can’t be charitable.

And last but not least, charity is the voluntary value transfer that only works. On the long term, bitcoiners will be in a privileged position that allows them to fix some of the injustices of the world. If some people have amassed enough wealth to live in prosperity for generations, they can and should become aware of the ways in which they can help others.

In “The Wealth of Nations”, Adam Smith also presented charity as an efficient economic transfer where the wealthy receive prestige and distinctions, while the poor get to benefit from resources that they otherwise couldn’t acquire. With Bitcoin, this can happen seamlessly and with a greater sense of responsibility.

This random event only proves that there’s more to the picture than meets the eye and bitcoiners have the capacity to help in ways that governments wouldn’t. There’s a lot of power in making donations and identifying charitable causes, and one can only hope that initiatives like BitGive will see a resurgence. If not for greater purposes and ideals, then at least for struggling individuals. There are lots of people in the world who work hard on their dream and could use some aid or support.

As suggested by American Hodl himself, there is another important takeaway from this story and it’s about the value of a bitcoin. There will only ever be 21 million BTC – and if/when these bits of digital gold become the global reserve currency, then only a distinct elite will own a full coin.

By showing how much of an effort it takes to donate 1 bitcoin, the value proposition is reinforced. We are only 11 years into the existence of the Bitcoin network, and its native currency is already so precious and in-demand that only one unit can significantly improve the life of an individual.

More than 130 donations had to be made to reach the 0.61 BTC milestone. And as time passes and the world understands the value of bitcoins, it’s going to get increasingly harder to become a wholecoiner. So Atlas from Colombia, this is your lucky day!

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Vlad Costea

I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

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