Reporting from: Bangkok, Thailand
They say the most aggressive party in any negotiation is the most desperate.
By that logic, the United States government has gotten amazingly desperate. Just in 2013 alone, we’ve seen a few examples of the US government effectively shutting itself down to the public just to make a point. The idea is that, without Big Government working hard for you, your life will fall apart.
So the government shuts down the national parks, tells veterans visiting Washington they can’t visit a war memorial, and even shuts down government websites. My friend who runs a radio station in Chicago, for instance, couldn’t access the FCC website to get basic, self-serve information on when his station should adjust its power.
In theory, it should cost the government the same amount of money to show a text page with useful information as it does to show a text page bellyaching about a “government shutdown” and how they can’t help him.
But a government shutdown isn’t about cost. It’s about punishing people. As if doing business in The Land of the Free isn’t tough enough these days, the government is hellbent on showing retirees, travelers, business owners, and anyone else who will pay attention just who’s boss.
But while the government uses shutting itself down to inspire lots of love for statism, the US government has long been a big fan of shutting everyone else down, too.
Two years ago, they shut down hundreds upon hundreds of websites connected with online gambling, most of them based outside of the United States. Last month, I reported how the government is seizing a New York building they believe – but can’t entirely prove – is covertly owned by big wigs in Iran.
Now, the government has overseen the shut down of Silk Road, a service that allowed people to pay each other with Bitcoins. Silk Road had long been thought to be widely used by drug dealers and other criminals.
I could easily make the case that The Land of the Free has bamboozled everyone into believing it is a free market, when it’s not. Why the federal government has nothing better to do than get involved with two parties exchanging goods or services for an agreed upon price – be it drugs or Tickle Me Elmos – is beyond me.
But the US government’s shutdown of Silk Road is just the latest example of a very disturbing trend. Heck, it’s so prevalent now you can’t even call it a trend; it’s just the “new normal”.
That trend is that the government will evade any sense of responsibility for the heap of statism they pile on the rest of us. If the government wants to stop drug dealers, perhaps it should get the cops up off their tuckuses and have them go find some. The idea that we should all suffer with the availability of fewer services because the government is too lazy to punish the few “bad apples” is ridiculous.
And it speaks to the drastic decline in economic freedom that will undoubtedly continue in the United States.
Just like the ruling elite in American government have made themselves and their crony capitalism allies immune to the bad medicine that is Obamacare, they’ll continue to set policy that disrupts personal and economic freedom and creates more power for them while you enjoy the responsibilities that come with it.
Some in the Bitcoin community have said – as they have for months now – that more regulation is a good thing for the cryptocurrency. For me, this is on par with a group of rabbis sitting down with Hitler in the late 1930s. While I can understand the value of pragmatism, and have practiced it in my own business life, Bitcoin users need to realize the government is not out to help them.
It’s not out the “legitimize” their currency.
It’s not out to make sure Bitcoin doesn’t tank in value (as it did briefly after the Silk Road announcement).
Government has one job: to make its life as a consolidator of power easier.
This is why I spend my life traveling the world to find places where governments have a much more laissez faire attitude. Here in Thailand, the government tried to ban Bitcoin a couple months ago. Besides the fact that most Thais don’t appreciate the digital nature of Bitcoins, their reaction has been to shrug it off as just more acts of a desperate government at work.
The difference is, Thailand isn’t setting the stage for world policy. Thailand can issue all the edicts it wants, but it doesn’t have the power to turn out the lights to thousands of websites on mere suspicion of “wrongdoing” the way the US government can.
Which is all the more reason your business shouldn’t be based in the United States. And in many cases, nor should you.