Inspired by Jim Epstein's reporting in the latest (all new! redesigned!) issue of Reason, a cryptocurrency activist has set up a project to help get bitcoin mining rigs into the hands of poor Venezuelans.
The idea is simple, as they explain at their site VeMine: Donate bitcoin to help buy plug-and-play USB bitcoin mining rigs to distribute to Venezuelans who are barely surviving on government aid. In most places, these little devices are curiosities, barely worth the electricity it costs to power them. But in a place where the official currency is virtually worthless and electricity is virtually free, a couple of small miners won't make anyone rich, but they could generate enough extra to make a real difference or at least build some buzz around bitcoin as a longer term solution to government currency manipulation. The guys working on the project—VeMine founder Ira Miller, GitGuild ambassador; Randy Hilarski, 200 Social co-founder; Randy Brito, Bitcoin Venezuela founder; and Erik Voorhees, ShapeShift founder—say explicitly that they were inspired by Reason's story to reach out to people who were suffering.
A video posted by Joanna Andreasson (@joannaandreasson) on Nov 18, 2016 at 11:49am PST
In a country where cash has lost much of its value, and food and other necessities are dangerously scarce, bitcoins are providing many Venezuelans with a lifeline. The same socialist economics that caused the country's meltdown has made the energy-intensive process of bitcoin mining wildly profitable—but also dangerous.
Meanwhile in another hemisphere earlier this year, Reason's reporting brought to light the absurd arrest of Austin Yabandith, a 17-year-old high school student facing child pornography charges for consensually sexting his 15-year-old girlfriend. Publicity generated by Robby Soave's account of the case helped Austin's mother raise enough money to hire an expert lawyer—she says Reason's story might just have saved Austin's life.
The best way to fight the over-criminalization of perfectly normal teen behavior is to call out the cops when they try to put kids like Austin in jail, and Reason's efforts on this front are second to none.
What's cool about these examples is that they aren't just about libertarian policy change, though Reason strives for that every day! They're about connections between individuals, free people reaching out to help each other in extremis.
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