Yesterday (18th July 2018), saw two separate House Committees discuss cryptocurrency in general, as well as specifically talking about Bitcoin. While the debates reached no clear conclusion, it has shown the general ignorance of the US’s elected officials on these topics.
House Financial Services Committee
The second committee to debate on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin was the House Financial Service Committee, with the purpose of discussing potential uses of all virtual currencies both within the US and in international markets. It was during this debate where Democratic Congressman, Brad Sherman (California), suggested that: “We should prohibit U.S. persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies. Mining alone uses electricity which takes away from other needs and-or adds to the carbon footprint. As a store, as a medium of exchange, cryptocurrency accomplishes nothing except facilitating narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and tax evasion.”
Not only is the above statement demonstrably false, but it is the same attacks that have been levelled at cryptocurrencies since their inception. There is no reliable way to measure the amount of electricity used for mining currencies, and extensive research has been done on the use of Bitcoin, all suggesting that illegal activities represent less than 1% of the total transactions.
Making Bitcoin illegal would prove disastrous for the American economy. At a time when increasing number of people are turning to cryptocurrency as a source for investment, as well as a viable alternative payment method, making the technology illegal would cut off huge sources of future capital, not just for the American economy, but for businesses and individuals alike.
House Committee on Agriculture
Earlier in the day, the House Committee on Agriculture debated issues in the cryptocurrency market, with reference to the futures of the expanding virtual currency space. In this debate, many members were rather general and vague about the topic at hand, perhaps owing to a lack of knowledge on the subject. However, the general tone was positive, discussing the potential benefits of cryptocurrency, along with the potential investment opportunities it might bring. Republican Congressman for Texas, Michael Conaway, stated: “Our committee has a deep interest in promoting strong markets for commodities of all types, including those emerging through new technology.”
Not only does this show the inconsistency of America’s stance on cryptocurrency, but that fact that no one was calling for it to be made illegal shows that Brad Sherman’s comments are not in the majority.
Again, no clear conclusions were reached during this debate, but let’s hope that elected officials, from America as well as the rest of the world, do some research before making any absolute decisions on these matters.