Who would have ever thought that the United States government would want to shut down economic freedom? That they’d want to make life difficult for an informal payment system challenging the authority of its falling dollar and circumvented the thievery of its central bank?
Everyone sane? I thought so.
Not content with imposing over-reaching money laundering rules on its own currency, branding innocent people and cash users as terrorists and criminals in the process, the US is now set to impose its anti-money laundering rules on virtual currency. Quelle surprise!
These new rules mean that anyone who issues or exchanges the increasingly popular Bitcoins – a decentralized currency traded peer-to-peer with no central network to subpoena – or any other online curency will now be regulated the same way as traditional money-order providers, such as Western Union. This includes stringent bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000.
Whether you like Bitcoins or think they’re a scam, the reality is millions of people are fed up with the government’s bumbling in destroying the value of our money. They’ve found a way to circumvent the system by trading something of perceived value among themselves. But governments don’t like not being the only game in town.
All around the world, governments are fighting a war on cash to make people fall in line. Italy and try to pay for anything other than a slice of pizza in cash. Governments in the eurozone are cracking down by imposing legal ceilings on cash transactions – sometimes as low as 100 euros – to force you to be on their radar. They want to know everything you’re doing, all the time, so they can tax, regulate, and – if they deem appropriate at the moment – punish you for it.
Of course, it all sounds oh-so-reasonable when you say that all these new laws are designed to stop the mob from washing their money, or terrorists from shipping it back to the big guy’s hut somewhere deep and dark far away. The US, using its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is crying foul about Bitcoin be used to commit crimes. It’s the same argument they use with cash. If only they could shut down anything untrackable, they could wipe out all crime.
Yet every economy in history shows that when governments regulate more in an effort to wipe out their invented social ills, the activity flourishes on the black market. People got their drugs before Bitcoin and they’ll get them after. The real issue is that they want to stomp out any dissent or anything that gets in the way of their agenda to control the economy.
For a group that wants to invigorate the economy and prop-up small business, putting heavy regulations on Bitcoins doesn’t exactly sound like the right path. Any issuer of similar coins, even Facebook Credits, will have to register as Money Service Businesses and report any dirty deeds to the government. Just like other poorly thought out and invasive laws, the lines of who must register and who is exempt are amazingly vague. “Suspicious activity” will require forms to be filled out and filed with the Money Gestapo.
Just what is suspicious? Basically anything that indicates you may not be paying your “fair share”. If you’ve ever been sent to the purgatory of the “back room” at airport customs for carrying “too much” cash or just looking at the immigration guy the wrong way, you know what I mean. Suspicious will become whatever agenda the government wants to wipe out at the moment. Basically, these new rules on Bitcoin will force its users to become a bunch of tattletales to Big Brother, and empower a new layer of bureaucracy to treat you as a criminal because you don’t fall neatly into their dream world where everyone is tracked 24/7.
Bitcoin users have determined for themselves that it’s more desirable to trade goods and services paid for by ones and zeros than use fiat currency. They’re individuals assuming the risks as pioneers in this new system of payment. In a free economy, who cares except a government hellbent on monitoring your every move and using plausible-sounding lies to sell their Orwellian plot to the masses?