Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Bitcoin? Hooray for Stamp Collecting!

(I'm re-running this article because I just wrote another article for Lew Rockwell that should run tomorrow. Please read: The Bashful Bitcoin Numismatic  I'm sure that, after reading that article, Bitcoin fans will want to kill me!)

When I was a young boy, I loved to collect things. I collected them all; coins, stamps, comic books, baseball cards, football cards, fish, frogs and snakes.

I collected this stuff cause I knew that if I held onto it for just long enough, someday I would get filthy rich off of selling it. Later, I realized that my "just long enough" would have had to be about 250 years.

Let's face it, folks. You can't get rich off of collecting stuff. I don't care what Gary North says, either. Gold!? Pffft! Well you can't eat gold now can you?

So if you have been collecting any of the above mentioned items — in some rose-colored glasses effort to get rich, all I can say to you is start today in trying to find someone dumb enough to pay you even 10% of your money back! Because you have lost all your money.
(That is, unless of course, you have a Marvel Silver Surfer comic #1 in Mint condition! Keep that baby. It's worth dollars!)

One of my fondest memories as a university student was when I was sitting in my room one day and watching the TV news. On the news they spoke about a Mickey Mantle baseball card that had sold for $500 some dollars at a baseball card auction. I couldn't believe my eyes and ears! I had that card back at home.

I dropped whatever it was that I was doing (it certainly wasn't studying) and raced back to my parents home. There I found the card. I took it to a card dealer the next day and proudly tossed it on the counter.

"I'll give you $5 dollars for it." The guy said.

"What!? I saw on TV last night that it sold for $5000 dollars!"

"Yeah, well, that was in mint condition. This one looks like it has been through the washer."

I was insulted. I grabbed the card and headed out the shop.

"Washer, indeed!" I thought, "It wasn't the washer. I had hooked this card up to my bicycle spokes with a clothes pin so that my bike made a 'rat-a-tat-tat' sound when I rode it — Just like a P-52 fighter plane! The 'Cadillac of the Skies.'"

I then went home and looked at my entire collection of stuff. Yes, I had basically beat everything up pretty much (like any normal American kid would do.) I cut out all the cool pictures from my Spider-man comics; carried most of my sports cards in my back pocket when I was running around with my friends....

The only things that were in good condition were my postage stamps. I hadn't cleaned them with some super-cleano silver cleaner that you see on TV, like I did my Mint Collection of Franklin Half-Dollars.

"Darn! For a moment there, I thought I was gonna be rich..." So, depressed, I went back to college and figured that I had better start studying because I didn't want six (or was it seven?) years of college to be a total waste.

Years later, when I moved to Japan, I took my coins and stamps with me.
The Japanese post office is just a wee bit smarter than the U.S. postal service. Stamps of the U.S. postal service sometimes are way off center and the designs are poor. Many U.S. stamps are really cheesy and cheap looking. Japanese stamps usually have a very high quality design and excellent printing.

This is clever, you see, because the postal service wants you to collect stamps. They want you to give them money and then not use the stamps. In Japan, they have special issues coming out all the time — sometimes three times a week! And they also promote the selling of entire sheets of stamps to collectors.

Buying sheets of stamps is a sure-fire way of losing money. My mother-in-law had a friend that worked at the post office way back when. Her friend convinced her to buy sheets of stamps as an investment. She did. And years later, she gave them to me. I took them to a dealer and, even though some of the sheets were 20 years old, they told me that I could only receive 80% of face value.

Then I took them back to the post office and said I wanted my money back. They said that they couldn't give me back my money, but that they'd only trade me new stamps for face value.

Al Hitler received a royalty for each of these sold!
"What a rip-off!"

So now my wife and I are using 20 to 25 year old stamps on all our letters we mail, even today. I guess some stamp-collecting kid might get a kick out of that if they see one.

So I'm back at the post office the other day and I see the new issue of a "commemorative stamp" and it hits me like a ton of bricks! Okay, maybe I'm not the smartest guy in the world, and call me paranoid, but I realized that the government — All governments, use postage stamps as a method of propaganda.

What a scam!

There are stamps commemorating this and that. Showing you just how great is the country you live in.

Stamps showing the great deeds the government has done for us all. Famous statesmen, great leaders, wonderful monuments, holidays, and human achievement.

So this new stamp issue here in Japan, was just a shocker and eye-opener for me! It's the fifty-year anniversary of the "Police Law."

Hooray for the police! Hooray for the post office! Hooray for stamp-collecting!

That did it for me. I'm going to start collecting stamps again! I just can't wait!

There should be some really great ones coming out of Japan and the good ol' U.S.A. in the next few years.

How about these ideas?:

"5th Anniversary of the Fall of Saddam's Statue," or;

"10th Anniversary of the Homeland Security Act," or;

"15th Anniversary of the Patriot Acts 1 through 11" (probably a sheet commemorative.) Or;

"20th Anniversary of George W. Bush's Accession to the Throne."

Wow! A collector's dream come true. And I think you folks in the States had better start collecting stamps too. It's a way to show your patriotism, a way to show your pride.

And who knows, maybe someday your collection will be invaluable as proof of character in an American court of law!

Hooray for the police-state! Hooray for the central-government! Hooray for stamp-collecting.

This article originally ran on Lew For more, please read: The Bashful Bitcoin Numismatic 


Andrew Joseph said...

I collect what you collect, it seems. And you are correct... the average of what one can expect to receive from appropriately graded and priced items is 10% its so-called worth.
I have coins, stamps, sports cards, comics, art... it's only for key issues of anything that you can get more for an individual item.
Me trying to sell 35,000 comics worth about $350,000 - I would only get $35,000. IF I sold it as a set. Selling it piecemeal, I could get close to my asking price - but who has the time or inclination? Coins - stamps - only valuable if you have that one coin everyone wants. Sad really. Still... my son can at least spend a year or two reading my collection. But he can't touch my Surfer!
On the plus side, I do have a Mint condition Silver Surfer #1.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Funny and interesting.

Also, your Bitcoin bit caused me to relate bitcoins to the shiny gold colored round tokens we used to slip into the video arcade machines.

I guess people collect those too.

So now whenever I see the term 'bitcoins' I'll think of stamps and tokens. Ha!

- IndividualAudienceMember

Anonymous said...

It used to be that most stamps had pictures of presidents like Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln, on them. It seems that either many Americans, or the US Postal Service itself, currently seem to detest politicians on stamps.

Perhaps some are starting to wake up.

Comics and stamps also are historical lessons. How much did it cost to mail a letter, or buy a comic book in your youth? What is the value in that?

One used to be able to mail a letter in Japan for not even a few yen, but 2 or 3 sen(銭)! So in roughly 60 years, the price has gone up 3,000%!

Anonymous said...

In light of your bitcoin article being on LRC, I'm a bit surprised to see LRC is considering putting a bitcoin chart on Burt's gold page.

If they do, I hope they put it at the bottom so I don't have to look at it when I open the page.

I made Burt's gold page my start page (because it loads fast) and with the tiny laptop screen I use I only see the top portion.

If they want to change Burt's gold page, perhaps in the spirit of competition, they should create a second page and see which one is more popular?

I'd be more inclined to want a pork bellies chart before a bitcoin chart, maybe they could put that on the new gold page too?

I should've probably posted this elsewhere, ah well.

- IndividualAudienceMember

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