Everybody’s talking about bitcoin. That shouldn’t be too surprising, because bitcoin is catching on with the public as a versatile new form of currency — and who’s not interested in talking about money? Although the market value of bitcoin fluctuates like any commodity, demand shows no signs of vanishing. Unfortunately, much of the recent bitcoin conversation focuses on its potential for illegal activity, especially after the conviction on several criminal charges of the founder of Silk Road, an anonymous Internet market that allowed users to use bitcoin to buy and sell drugs and other contraband. Some are now calling for government regulation of bitcoin’s use.
Bitcoin’s use in illegal activity is far from unique, though. The $100 bill and other U.S. dollar denominations have been widely used in underground transactions for as long as the federal government has printed money, explains Atlas Network’s Sound Money Project Fellow William J. Luther Ph.D. in U.S. News & World Report. We easily recognize that dollars have widespread legitimate uses, and so does bitcoin, Luther argues.
“The government would be mistaken to discourage monetary competition on the grounds that some bitcoin users will purchase illicit goods or avoid paying taxes. It would also be hypocritical, for the dollar is still the criminal’s currency of choice. So long as the United States continues to produce cash — and $100 bills, in particular — it has no business regulating bitcoin.”
Bitcoin may seem perplexing to newcomers, but it’s important to understand how this relatively new digital currency facilitates innumerable transactions that are perfectly legal and legitimate. Who could be using it? Where do you get it? How does it work, and why? That’s why Atlas Network recently caught up with Naomi Brockwell, founder of BitcoinGirl.org, opera singer, producer at the Moving Picture Institute, and policy associate at the New York Bitcoin Center, and asked her to explain the basics in these two engaging new videos, “Bitcoin 101” and “Why Bitcoin?”
Learn Liberty, an educational video project of the Institute for Humane Studies, also released a new video last week by Jerry Brito, law professor and executive director of Coin Center, explaining the basics of Bitcoin — “from how it works, to how many there are, to who can benefit from it.”
Read William J. Luther’s full analysis, “Dark Dollar Dealings,” in U.S. News & World Report.