"I should have been: Dozens of smart people with sympatico worldviews to my own eagerly explained to me how the creation of an online "blockchain"—a reliable yet anonymous ledger of transactions—had the potential to change the world.
"And I would have been: Had I shelled out, say, $2,000 on this innovative, anti-inflationary currency even a lazy six weeks after I was introduced to it, today I would be sitting on 28,571 bitcoins, the equivalent at press time of over $212 million in cash.
"But I didn't."
Read the whole glorious saga of bitcoin won and lost by your libertarian brethren right here on the day that the cryptocurrency might break 10,000. I promise FOMO, schadenfreude, and other complex emotions:
One of the bitcoin-wealthiest libertarians I spoke to for this story, who asked to be identified as "Jason," says he took what he admits was a crazy risk by sinking around $100,000—about half of what he'd made flipping Southern California real estate after starting with a small inheritance—into bitcoin in 2011. Its price rise has allowed him to live a very interesting life of travel and to give generously to liberty-oriented causes (as well as more traditional philanthropy, such as ending tropical diseases). His burn rate is $20,000–$30,000 a month.
Yet if many libertarians managed to go from rags to riches by being early adopters of bitcoin, the holders of this new wealth have been stubbornly elusive. An oft-derided radical edge of the American political spectrum may have finally notched a win with an absurdly huge potential financial upside—but the specific winners are, by and large, anonymous.
I managed to find and communicate with around two dozen people whose libertarianism made them aware early of bitcoin's awesome potential. It turns out that converting early awareness and even early adoption into fiat-currency mega-wealth was a good deal trickier than envious boat-missers like me might have guessed.