Monday, April 3, 2017

Pepe the Frog might save Venezuela from socialist hell

 Desperate times call for desperate measures. 

The Venezuelan economy, led by President Nicolas Maduro, has completely tanked under socialist rule. Extreme government regulations meant to help poor citizens have had the opposite effect. Price controls for basic grocery items have resulted in unimaginably long lines. The Latin American nation depends heavily on oil exports, but their state-owned oil company has reached record lows in production due to mismanagement. The Venezuelan economy is in total free fall as President Maduro, a former bus driver, fails to deliver any solutions.

However, Venezuelan citizens have been finding extreme, and very innovative, ways to deal with their failing government. Given one of the highest inflation rates in the world, people are abandoning the Venezuelan currency for other forms of exchange. Many have adopted Bitcoin to mask their transactions from the government and to protect their businesses from skyrocketing inflation.

Not long ago, someone began issuing “Rare Pepe” digital trading cards with Bitcoin value as a joke. What began in jest quickly became something much more serious for the troubled nation. The Rare Pepe cards exploded in popularity and took on a life of their own.

Pepe memes show variations of a humanoid frog and are closely associated with the political alt-right in the United States. These Rare Pepes were meant to be played as a trading card game. People could issue their own cards and have them processed through the Rare Pepe Foundation. Players can trade their cards through a Bitcoin-linked exchange.
However, it soon became clear these Rare Pepes had something Venezuelan currency was greatly lacking: scarcity.

Untied to the failing economy, Rare Pepes have been able to keep businesses afloat. 

“We’re based in Venezuela, and our business has been saved by Bitcoin many times,” an anonymous Venezuelan developer told Crypto Insider. “In that timeframe, thanks to Bitcoin related business, we’ve grown our employee base from just 5 to 10. We’ve air-conditioned our office. Year-over-year we’ve been improving, so we’re banking big on Bitcoin and now over Counterparty assets.”

The businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, paints a much brighter picture of his company than the others around him. Approximately 80 percent of nearby offices have been forced to shut down due to the collapsing economy. For him, however, the Pepe memes have saved his business.

These green frog-themed trading cards have been issued by...
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