A few politicians that are known for thinking creatively about policy spoke to attendees of the Bitcoin 2022 conference in a panel titled “Overcoming Idea Inertia.”
The panel was moderated by David Zell, the director of policy at BTC Inc and a co-founder of the Bitcoin Policy Institute think tank, which strives to educate policy-makers about Bitcoin and its potential for the country. The panelists included Dr. Jo Jorgensen, who was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president of the United States in the 2020 election; Andrew Yang, who was a presidential candidate in the Democratic primary during the 2020 presidential election; writer Allen Farrington; and journalist Gleen Greenwald.
Yang ran on a platform of universal basic income (UBI). He has been a public proponent of Bitcoin and his super PAC, Humanity Forward Fund (Humanity FWD), accepts Bitcoin Lightning donations via OpenNode. Greenwald has recently learned about the importance of Bitcoin through an interview with Alex Gladstein.
The panelists started the conversation on the topic of changing national discourse.
"It shouldn't take someone running for president to have a new idea get out there,” Yang said. He went on to share statistics of a disaffected population, adding, “62% of Americans don't feel like the duopoly is working and want to move on from it."
The panelists agreed that there needs to be a different path forward than the current duopoly.
“There are so many perspectives that aren’t accounted for in our media and our politics," Yang said.
Jorgensen went on to say, "I’m finding that with bitcoin ... you've got republicans who are saying let's go back to the gold standard and the democrats who don't care about money at all besides spending it. We've got to get rid of monopoly and have free market money."
In discussing the state of the media and the way the public views it, Greenwald shared, "The public has validly lost so much faith in corporate media and news."
He believes the reason that people are looking to news sources outside of the mainstream is that people are curious.
"Joe Rogan is curious and open, and I'm finding that's what people increasingly want," Greenwald said.
Greenwald sees the value of Bitcoin in the ways it fits with the freedoms most important to him.
"All of my causes of freedom of speech and anti-imperialism fit within Bitcoin," he said.
Jorgensen recognizes how a Bitcoin standard would fundamentally change government spending.
"Look at the $1,400 checks they sent out," Jorgensen said. "If we were under Bitcoin, could they have done that? No, you can't just print bitcoin."
The conversation shifted to UBI when Yang commented, "For the record, I quite liked the $1,400 checks."
Farrington agreed with Yang’s assessment of the underlying need for UBI, explaining, "I’m very sympathetic to the idea of UBI because I see UBI as being a political response... to a problem which I see is ultimately economic and ultimately which Bitcoin solves."
Sensible regulation seems likely, according to Yang, who predicted that, "In the next six months, there is going to be a whole new set of policies where bitcoin and other cryptocurrency is concerned and we need to keep those laws on the side of sanity."
Bitcoin is another way that the public has an opportunity to move away from the left-right duopoly. Greenwald elaborated, “One of the people who brings up the dangers of bitcoin the most, is Hillary Clinton. And now Donald Trump is echoing the same points… Anything that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree is so threatening to the prevailing order is something that you should at least be interested in learning about.”
The path forward is with Bitcoin. Greenwald continued, "Bitcoin offers the ability to solve so many of those problems which both the left and right should be really excited about."
Jorgensen agreed, “Of course Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are on the same side because they’re on the side of big government."
The conversation moved on to discuss privacy with a focus on advocate Edward Snowden.
"We have a right to privacy and the government shouldn't be looking at everything we do," Jorgensen said.
Greenwald shared a little about his experience meeting Snowden.
"When I met Edward Snowden in 2013 in Hong Kong, I had been talking to him for several months developing a relationship with him," he said.
Greenwald pictured Snowden as an older, disgruntled security expert who was tired of the injustice and was surprised to realize he was actually a 29 year old who had his whole life ahead of him.
When Greenwald asked Snowden why he chose to become a whistleblower, "He ultimately said to me, we know we're all going to die but the ultimate question is, how are we going to live?"
The system is made to suck people in. As Greenwald put it, "There is a huge incentive system that's designed to co-opt you. You really have two choices: you can either be supportive and complicit or you can devote yourself to subvert it."
Jorgensen agreed when she said, "I don't want to live in a world where some are more equal than others.”
Farrington has a similar driving force.
"What motivates me is I feel like I have a very strong sense of what will happen if we don't win," he said. "Central bank digital currencies are coming... It's an aspiration, a particularly dystopian aspiration."
Third-party candidates offer a possibility for alternative solutions. Jorgensen closed the panel to great applause when she said, "On the campaign trail I said I would pardon him [Snowden], Julian Assange and Ross Ulbricht."
Bitcoin 2022 is part of the Bitcoin Event Series hosted by BTC Inc, the parent company of Bitcoin Magazine.