The author of the bestseller Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger, is at a fancy party in New York City. He is talking to a friend when a magnate passes by. His friend says to him: J.D, that guy who just passed makes more money in a year than you have ever made with your book. To which, Mr. Salinger replies: but I have something he does not have. What is that? Asks the friend. Enough says Salinger, enough.
I have made several Google searches on this story and have not confirmed it is true. But I like it a ton and constantly share it with friends. I recently shared it with a dear friend, in the context of Bitcoin, and specifically the hodl culture. He mentioned how bitcoiners often feel they don’t have enough BTC and always want to buy more; how they would never want to sell their stash.
I like Bitcoin. It can diffuse political power, abolish the taxation of the poor via inflation, and provide better pricing and a more efficient market. I think Bitcoin is good for the world. Yet, my friend’s conversation reminded me a little bit of the One Ring to rule them all.
I am currently reading the Lord of the Ring with my kids, and I have perfected my impersonation of Gollum. As my friend and I kept talking about the _hodl _ culture, I interrupted with my Gollum voice, “my precious, yes, yes, my precious.” That Ring is scary. The holders of the One Ring not so much have it, as it has them.
Long-term holders are an essential component of the bitcoin network. In a sense, they are scarcity validators: they are the social counterpart to the algorithm that limits the minting of BTC to 21 million. By holding, they say: I believe the 21M limit is true, and I am acting accordingly. Their long-term holding is also rational: they expect others to think the same at some point, which will further raise the asset’s price.
Hodling is good for the bitcoin network’s health, and I would say for the world at large, but also, maybe it is bad for people to _hodl _ too much and too tight because it turns them into Smeagol, maybe even into Gollum?
What the Ring shows is that owning a thing can be a nuanced affair. In one sense, the Baggins have the ring. In another sense, the Ring has them. The same thing may happen with Bitcoin.
Judaism has the idea of Shmita. Every seventh year, the land must rest fallow, and whatever grows in it is given out for free. In Judaism, the land is yours, but not in the same way we think about land ownership in modern, capitalistic societies. With Shmita, people are both an owner and a steward of the land: they own the land to their benefit and the benefit of others.
So here is a different way to think about hodling . Some of that BTC you own is yours to keep and enjoy. But at some point, you must be able to say enough; otherwise, the BTC starts owning you, like the Ring owned Gollum.
Still, you want to keep all that Bitcoin to protect and promote the Bitcoin network. In doing so, you can think of yourself not so much as the owner of that BTC, but as the keeper of those coins. You will keep them safe and out of the market, but they are not yours anymore.
The Bitcoin that is not yours is of whomever you decide. Maybe at some point, you give them to someone who will hodl as well as you. Or you gift them to people in need who can make good use of them. Or maybe you want to distribute them equally to everyone in the Bitcoin network, in which case you could burn them and lower the available supply.
You have the BTCs, but they are not all yours, because at some point you say alongside Salinger, I have enough.