Reporting from: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I’ve told you that throughout history, the players may change, but the playbook of desperate government stays the same.
Just a short plane ride away, the geniuses at the Bank of Thailand have decided to launch the playbook into a new dimension. To chart uncharted waters in their quest for financial control.
Thailand has decided to ban Bitcoin.
That’s a pretty broad missive. But it’s not exactly like governments are known for chipping away at the problem. They go in with full force and shut down whatever they don’t like or understand. And that’s exactly what they’ve done with Bitcoin.
Essentially EVERYTHING related to Bitcoin is now illegal in Thailand.
Buying Bitcoins on the open market? Banned.
Selling Bitcoins on the open market? Banned.
Using Bitcoins to buy or sell goods or services online? Banned.
Sending or receiving Bitcoins from out of Thailand? Banned.
Of course, the Bank of Thailand has no power to make financial laws. They’re merely a central bank. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try and make life miserable for Bitcoin users in Thailand. The idea that a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin could undermine every shred of authority they think they have scares them to death.
Dealing with the state is like dealing with the law of the jungle. When you poke the tiger, he doesn’t ask to sit down and have a rational discussion on the pros and cons of having you for dinner. He simply attacks you with force and that’s it.
That’s how government will react to technologies like Bitcoin. They feel threatened and respond without warning.
Of course, Bitcoin was designed to be anonymous and circumvent this type of government overreach. It was designed to circumvent the nonsense created by the very central bank now claiming to ban Bitcoin in Thailand. I doubt too many Thai Bitcoin users are shaking in their boots.
Since Bitcoin has no central authority, the government can’t put the heat on one particular person or group to bend them to their will. As long as there are people wanting to sell their Bitcoins to other users, there will be Bitcoin transactions, regardless of some silly law in one particular country.
That’s what makes Bitcoin a beautiful idea. If the government doesn’t like a certain type of business or charity, they can call up Visa and Mastercard and order them to stop processing payments for said business. Since countries like The Land of the Free are rife with crony capitalism, these payment processors are often only too willing to comply. Big business is happy to step on smaller business as long as it protects their mutual back-scratching arrangement with the ruling class in government.
Bitcoin takes away that element, and that’s what scares the government so much.
While you may roll your eyes at Thailand banning Bitcoin, remember that bad ideas in government spread. Just as the US has exported some of its worst policies to other countries, Thailand’s latest move will flash the green light for other seemingly free countries who want to shut down the competition a cyrptocurrency like Bitcoin brings.
Consider the quote from an IRS agent who helped shut down Liberty Reserve earlier this year: “If Al Capone were alive today, this is how he would be hiding his money.”
While the US doesn’t have the stones to come out, front and center, and declare it’s banning Bitcoin, you know they’d like to. Instead, they’re forced to lick around the edges, shutting down an exchange here and prosecuting someone there. It’s sneaky, but it helps the US government maintain its veneer as a free country merely punishing “law breakers”.
After all, a brainwashed population is a fiat currency-using population.
Declaring an outright ban is child’s play. The real threat is governments throwing around charges like “money laundering” and “domestic terrorism”, using their kangaroo courts and statist judges to use “the rule of law” to squash Bitcoin. That’s when people will really start to get hurt.
And it’s already underway.
So while you may not worry about Thailand, they are merely the first player into the game of Bitcoin banners. Once a country like the United States gets into the game, they’ll throw all of their resources into tracking down Bitcoin users through sting operations, IRS dragnets, and more.
Unlike other countries which are willing to skip right to the end goal, truly desperate nations like the US are too politicized for that. They’ll treat their own citizens to another game of boil-the-frog while they slowly chip away at freedom.
That’s what makes these seemingly “most free” countries so dangerous. Few see it coming.
In a macabre way, it will be interesting to see what draconian steps world governments take to ban Bitcoin in their own countries going forward. Ultimately, I have confidence Bitcoin users can prevail, but Big Governments of the world won’t make it easy for them, and I suspect there will be some casualties along the way.