Federal Government · investing

Can Bitcoin Be Regulated?

One of the great cultural nuances of the internet is how everyone can be right. Providing you are convincing, or at least look the part, most effective dissent will get chucked out the window, along with any need for respect. In point, we have the prototypical messaging of the Bitcoin-promoting community, which often argues that digital currency is beyond government regulation or control due to algorithms and encryption. They have some credibility, but as with all things deemed to “beat the system,” there are major exceptions which must be considered.

To start, the idea that crypto transactions can simply fly under the radar is muddled by known IRS actions. The federal government has already issued warnings to thousands of people about failure to report crypto gains to the IRS, and significant penalties lurk for those who flaunt such warnings. We also have the recent indictment of John McAfee for allegedly hiding cryptocurrency assets. Thus from a reactive standpoint the State is already gearing up for the long haul fight.

Perhaps more immediately, reports suggest the government seized around $1 billion worth of Bitcoin connected to the controversial Silk Road marketplace, whose founder Ross Ulbricht was given a life sentence for numerous alleged crimes. That’s a small but noticeable chunk of the overall coin value, and it’s not the first time Uncle Sam has held a stake. Other governments such as Bulgaria have snapped up digital currency in the past, with the leaders in Sofia holding 200,000 bitcoins at one stage.

Ruling out these sorts of criminal situations, what of the more obvious methods for centralized regulation? Governments could begin requiring trading firms like Coinbase to meet specific standards of licensure and tax reporting, much as investment companies are required to do. They might also go after crypto miners, placing restrictions or taxes on their Morian mainframes These are hardly out of the question when we examine the history of the State, and its insatiable desire for money.

By this I don’t mean to suggest crypto is a bad idea; in fact, I own a great deal and will continue adding. Just avoid becoming too drunk on the swill of lolbertarianism. As Ronny boy might say, “The government wants what it wants.”

Culturalism · Federal Government

What Happened To Liberal Values?

Since January 2017, we have been subjected to a deluge of hand-wringing over liberal ideas and constitutional freedoms. Such lamentations have certainly existed before, but never with the same obsessive dedication as in the age of Trump. It is almost as if people believe these principles are suddenly at stake, while under prior regimes they remained safe.

But there is one problem: they have never meant anything, or least not in the way most people think. Sure, one can cry about the Constitution and the Rule of Law, yet neither amount to much unless they are defended, unreservedly. Spectators seem to think we can somehow maintain the general concepts absent any substantial sacrifice, and in the process invalidate all which is at stake. The battle is lost in their thoughts, and thus nobody lifts a finger.

The most evident indictment on this question is that of private property. While liberalism can lay claim to allowing a certain degree of social barbarism in the name of free expression, its adherents have no place to flee on the matter of individual sovereignty over possessions. America was founded largely on this basis, with our Constitution borrowing heavily from the writings of John Locke, perhaps the greatest advocate of property rights known in the Western world. In his own words:

“Every man has a property in his own person.  This nobody has any right to but himself.  The labor of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his.”

The very notion of being able to own something without threat of feudalistic seizure by some petty monarch has become sacrosanct in the broader liberal world, despite attempts to erode through acts such as eminent domain. Crimes of trespassing are still regularly enforced, and theft is considered a serious crime in most jurisdictions.

Until now. For all that the liberal republican system has promised to safeguard rights, the riots and looting of the last several weeks shows its agnostic opinion of self. Businesses or cars immolate and merchandise streams from the shelves unpaid, as scarcely soft murmurs escape the lips of the liberty-promoters. Police cannot respond, soldiers are warned against reacting, and politicians condemned for trying to bring order. Yet somehow, we are still implored to believe in the existence of these principles.

Even anti-skeptics must admit it is nearly impossible. The very essence of liberal religiosity requires that people can live without fear of losing their “pursuit of happiness” to the enraged mob of our current year, and edgy suspicion grows every day, with atheistic reactions not far behind. A spiritual awakening seems necessary to stem the tide, if only it can come. Of course such a development requires the will to act, and the liberal order has not anything close.

So softly the Republic burns.