“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin.” – Ernest Hemingway
As a paleoconservative, I find my political lineage in classical liberalism, also known as libertarianism. I voted for former congressman Ron Paul, and I continue to support many of the ideas that he spent a political career espousing. On several occasions, I attended Ron Paul gatherings, where I was introduced to many then-fringe ideas that are now mainstream conversations. One such conversation is monetary policy.
The libertarians were always hyper-focused on the role of the Federal Reserve Bank as the lender of last resort, and its role in the creation of the booms and busts of the business cycle. It has remained their assertion that every recession and depression of the last one hundred years finds its origin in the national monetary policy of the Federal Reserve System. Looking to history, they have pegged the end of most civilized nations to the debasement of their currency. In times when the value of the currency was tied to the weight or purity of the metal that it was minted with, insolvent governments would often cut corners by mixing the metal with cheaper metals to make it stretch and create the ability to mint more money.
Since 1971, and the end of the Bretton Woods agreement, the United States dollar has been delinked from precious metals like gold and silver, and this has created an unfettered printing press that is the equivalent of the monetary debasement of civilizations past. This currency debasement, which we now refer to as inflation, is a function of the government manipulating prices by flooding the markets with increasingly worthless money in an attempt to drive the consumption of goods and services. Consumers are now feeling the repercussions of this as the government locked the labor base in their homes and injected the economy with newly minted cash. In the United States, more than thirty-five percent of all money in its 245-year existence was printed since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
One way in which the libertarians have hedged against this government-created inflation has been to invest in precious metals like gold and silver. Gold and silver are relatively stable investments but not great growth strategies. Another way they have sought to protect their savings is by investing in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. Bitcoin is volatile, but it has been an excellent growth strategy for early adopters.
I must admit that I viewed Bitcoin much the same way many investors probably view Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) now. I didn’t necessarily see the value in investing in a fiat (unbacked) currency as volatile as Bitcoin when a more stable U.S. dollar was king. The libertarians got the last laugh. Had I purchased ten thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin ten years ago, I would be sitting on nearly forty million dollars’ worth today.
So what is a cryptocurrency? Simply put, cryptocurrency is de-centralized digital money. It is a store of value that derives its worth based on what other users are willing to pay for it. Its value can be manipulated in much the same way that the stock market can, by large stakeholders buying and selling in quantities that drive market reactions. However, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have one killer advantage that government-backed currencies do not. Cryptocurrencies often have a finite supply of coins that will ever exist because they were capped at the time of creation. They’re also registered in a decentralized database called a blockchain.
So why am I bullish on Bitcoin? First, it is well established, now having been in circulation since 2009. Second, there is ample infrastructure available for sharing and even withdrawing cash from Bitcoin, as Bitcoin ATMs exist around the country. Third, many businesses accept Bitcoin as payment. Finally, Bitcoin provides some security and autonomy as a non-centralized form of payment.
If you watched what transpired in Canada as a response to their trucker convoy, it is reminiscent of what many Americans experienced following attendance at the Stop the Steal rally on January 6, 2021. The Canadian government declared dissent illegal and then seized the financial assets of participants and donors to the convoy. Middle-class individuals who didn’t attend but dared to donate in protest of COVID mandates found their bank accounts and credit cards frozen and were doxxed by the state press, who printed their names in the papers.
One way to protect free speech and dissent is to decentralize these donations by sending them via anonymous transactions with cryptocurrency. Assuming that you store your cryptocurrency offline and not in an exchange, there is no way for a third party to confiscate your assets without physically confiscating the devices on which your cryptocurrency is stored. The Canadian government made every attempt to confiscate the cryptocurrency of these nonviolent dissenters, but software providers of digital wallets rightly responded that they have no personal data to share. They literally do not. App-based digital wallet data is stored encrypted on user devices and not in the cloud.
Historically, governments have had a poor track record when it comes to protecting free speech in the form of monetary donations, but the collusion between the state and the private sector is perhaps even more insidious. In the case of the trucker convoy, multiple platforms had to be enlisted after the crowdfunding donation site GoFundMe first accepted ten million in donations on behalf of truckers and then refused to release the funds at the behest of the Canadian government. What’s worse, GoFundMe suggested at one point they were redirecting these millions in donations to charities of their choosing. It wasn’t until several U.S. state attorneys general got involved that GoFundMe agreed to refund the donations.
Politicians and activists have found a good measure of success in de-banking individuals and businesses that espouse ideas contradictory to their own by pressuring the private sector. Agree with him or not, MyPillow magnate Mike Lindell was recently de-banked from his banks for his public position on the election of 2020. Social media network Gab.com was not only de-banked from multiple financial institutions at the urging of organizations like the Anti-Defamation League but also de-platformed from near every business vendor for refusing to police speech on its network. They survived largely on cryptocurrency donations for several years.
There are implications beyond free speech at stake when it comes to cryptocurrency. Wars have been started to protect the hegemony of global currencies. In 2011 emails between Sidney Blumenthal and then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Blumenthal recognized Moammar Gaddafi’s gold stores and ambitions of a pan-African currency as the impetus for then–French president Nikolas Sarkozy’s invasion of Libya.
More recently, Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, has sought to reform the government of El Salvador and make it a haven for freedom in a world with encroaching totalitarianism. One of his first measures was to institute Bitcoin as legal tender. This has caught the attention of U.S. politicians and put El Salvador in the crosshairs of the government as a threat to U.S. financial interests. One of the lead sponsors of proposals denouncing this move is Idaho’s, Senator Jim Risch. One can only speculate whether the concern arises from challenging the hegemony of the U.S. dollar or merely creating a Central American economy favorable enough to no longer export migrant agricultural labor to the U.S.
It is clear that governments and central banks view cryptocurrency as an existential threat. It enables financial transactions where they are no longer a central player. Crackdowns on dissent that coincide with crackdowns on cryptocurrency suggest that governments view cryptocurrency itself as a form of dissent. Perhaps we’re not far off from the Communist Chinese policy of simply banning cryptocurrency altogether?
Recently, the Biden Administration has stated its intent to regulate cryptocurrency, and why wouldn’t they? Crypto is performing well better than the dollar they’ve been entrusted with. In the meantime, why not go and buy some Bitcoin? There is no better form of political speech than one that enables financial freedom.
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