AARP Draws Generational Line in the Sand Over Crypto


“Bitcoin — A bunch of computer code that a bunch of criminals, idealists and speculators agree is worth ‘real’ money. Sadly, its real-money value swings widely, making it impractical except for criminals, idealists and speculators.”

Yes, that’s the snarky definition of Bitcoin that AARP advanced to its readership in an October 8 article. Now, before you write the publication off as immaterial, know that, with 38.3 million readers, it is the most read magazine in the United States. This is where many will complain about generational bias, and, indeed, survey after survey shows that the younger generation has significantly more interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. It makes sense, having grown up in the Digital Age, that they would better relate to the technologies that so many have said will alter the way the world transacts business.

It’s also true, as so many have pointed out, that, instead of attacking a concept which was clearly misunderstood, the author may well serve the magazine’s audience better by analyzing the state of Social Security, a program that may be more legitimately be called an impractical, albeit mandated, investment.

According to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the Social Security reforms of 1983 haven’t lived up to their billing. The trust fund exhaustion date has dropped from 2058 to 2034, and projections from the research suggest that, because Social Security Trustee estimates don’t factor in how “future growth of debt reduces future growth of the payroll tax base,” the fund is in “substantially worse” condition than estimates suggest. Instead, PWBM projects depletion by 2032. The report goes further, stating “[i]f Social Security shortfalls continue to contribute to the federal government’s unified deficits, consistent with no changes in taxes or benefits, we project that the federal debt-to-GDP ratio will exceed 200 percent by 2048, a path that is not sustainable.”

Indeed, in response to AARP’s attack on cryptocurrencies, enthusiasts have been quick to point out the problems intertwined with current economic trends, including those affecting Social Security. It is no secret that 81% of millennials aren’t confident they will ever collect Social Security, regardless of their contributions. But, as it relates to the cryptocurrency community, perhaps there is more to gain from outreach rather than combativeness. Those 38 million AARP readers deserve to know the truth about social security, but it needn’t be used as a cudgel — cryptocurrency is not a net positive just because Social Security is in trouble. Cryptocurrency should be able to stand on its own two legs, and the best way to begin that dialogue is to engage a segment of the population which is, currently, less engaged in our industry.

Yes, industry education is an expensive investment, but the exchanges and digital currencies able to have the conversation and build that bridge would seem to position themselves well in the quest to bring cryptocurrencies to mainstream investors. Rather than attack, perhaps the industry, in this case, is better off with an open dialogue.

Richard Gardner

CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and cryptocurrency exchanges.

CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and cryptocurrency exchanges.