Bitcoin, the currency, remains controversial, but the possibilities of its technology as an automated public ledger is beginning to gain universal respect. A technology that allows trading value instantly without the friction of requiring third-party trust and is impossible to counterfeit the results has many obvious uses, including government. In fact, cryptocurrency technology could actually make governments a whole lot more transparent.
While it’s true that bitcoin transactions are ‘anonymous’ because senders and receivers are represented by long strings of numbers (wallet addresses) instead of personal data, its public ledger logs every transaction to provide ultimate transparency. Don’t confuse anonymity with privacy: anonymity means ‘we know what you’re doing but we don’t know who you are’, while privacy means ‘we know who you are but we don’t know what you’re doing’.
The U.S. government seems to be increasingly outlawing both anonymity and privacy for citizens while it simultaneously becomes more secretive. This path is truly the antithesis of a free society. Yet, this lack of transparency for government and privacy for average citizens can be reversed if the government embraced bitcoin technology.
For example, imagine paying at the gas pump and the funds are immediately dispersed to the proper accounts; to the gas station’s wallet, $.20 per gallon to the federal government roads’ wallet, and about $.30 per gallon to your state’s road wallet (exact fuel taxes here). Not only is this far more efficient than current systems, but let’s follow this through a bit more. Now imagine that the government’s wallets are public where anyone can view income and expenditures in real time. Talk about transparency!
On a larger scale, imagine if the income tax was replaced by a flat sales tax. All taxes would be collected and accounted for instantly and efficiently at the point of purchase. Tax evasion would be impossible, so there would be no need for the State to spy on the private financial transactions of free people, nor to selectively enforce their policies in an unfair manner. Additionally, if each agency’s wallet is public, cronyism and corruption is likely to diminish greatly and even disappear altogether over time.
Yes, I know, it sounds Utopian, idealistic, and makes too much sense to believe government would ever adopt this. A system that relies on waste, cronyism, corruption and control would obviously oppose this level of transparency no matter what the public benefits are.
Another possible application for this technology as it pertains to governing is voting. Projects like BitGov are seeking ways to use a decentralized consensus network for elections and referendums. Theoretically, all voters would get a “votecoin” that they transfer to their preferred politician’s name on election day. The algorithm’s security and public ledger would make voter fraud a thing of the past.
On an even bigger level, if a government adopted a cryptocurrency as its national currency, it could provide complete transparency for governments, and it’d be impossible to finance wars, private industry bailouts, or a massive surveillance and police state without the consent of the governed because the supply of money is fixed. In short, it would eliminate bribery.
Stefan Molyneux explains in the video below, that the war on terror costs more than all of the world’s gold put together. Without the Fed’s ability to print endless sums of money, the war machine would die because there is very little market demand for war.
What do you think, are we ready for an open-source government?
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