Bitcoin

U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis Is All In on Bitcoin

The Wyoming Republican says cryptocurrency will spur renewable energy, protect privacy, and possibly save the dollar.

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The Bitcoin 2021 Conference in Miami in early June wasn't just a celebration of the end of the pandemic and an opportunity for cryptocurrency and blockchain true believers to gather up close and maskless with more than 10,000 fellow travelers. It was a watershed moment for a technological and cultural movement whose goal is nothing short of the separation of money and state.

Bitcoin emerged just a dozen years ago, when a pseudonymous genius shared a nine-page paper on an obscure email list, and now it's the third-largest currency on the planet, according to Deutsche Bank. In another 12 years, we may look back on Bitcoin 2021 as the Woodstock of the crypto generation.

Headline acts included former Rep. Ron Paul (R–Texas), who embraced cryptocurrency despite his long history as a gold bug; Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who said "the internet needs a native currency" and pledged billions to develop necessary infrastructure; and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who suggested the bitcoin subculture is poised to go mainstream the same way skating did in the 1990s.

In between panels and talks by major bitcoin figures such as Erik Voorhees, Nic Carter, Elizabeth Stark, and Robert Breedlove, the DJ Diplo, sex-tape entrepreneur Paris Hilton, and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather added celebrity sizzle and attendees heard the first jailhouse interview with Ross Ulbricht since he was given an effective life sentence for creating the pioneering darknet site Silk Road, which helped bootstrap bitcoin in its early years. On the final day of the conference, El Salvador announced it would become the first country to accept bitcoin as legal tender.

One of the biggest—and most surprising—breakout stars of the conference was Cynthia Lummis, a 66-year-old freshman Republican senator from Wyoming. From the stage and in an interview with Reason, Lummis forcefully made the case that bitcoin not only provides a legitimate alternative store of value and medium of exchange but would act as a check on the devaluation of the U.S. dollar and other currencies through the runaway creation of fiat money. She also believes that the growth of bitcoin—mistakenly assailed for its heavy use of electricity—is acting as a spur to create renewable energy in places such as Wyoming, and she extolled its privacy features in a world of increasing surveillance by governments and corporations.

Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie; shot and edited by Noor Greene.

Photos: Caroline Brehman—Pool via CNP/picture alliance / Consolidated News
Pool/Reuters/Newscom, Seth Browarnik/startraksphoto/Cover Images/Newscom.

Music: Sax Rock and Roll by Kevin Macleod, Film Music, Future is Now by Lux Inspira, Artlist.

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  1. It seems to fluctuate in price too much to be a currency.

    1. So you just displayed your lack of knowledge, and your ignorance is your cover for being obtuse.

      1. Does the dollar drop 50% in a month or two? 10% in a day?

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    2. We’re still in the very early stages. What was the correct price of an Amazon stock in 2002?

      Besides, with the constant devaluation of the dollar, there will never really be a “steady price” in terms of dollars.

  2. And does bitcoin have an army to protect it? What happens if it’s outlawed?

    1. What happens to anything which is outlawed?

      They can’t effectively outlaw pot, which requires space and time for growing. How can they outlaw zeroes and ones?

      1. “Bitcoin fell more than 10% after Musk’s tweet in May. ”

        That’s an issue if this is your currency.

        1. Did Musk tweet about using an army to ban bitcoin?

          1. That’s the point. What happens when the people with an army turn on bitcoin?

            1. I give up. What does happen?

        2. Pick your goal posts ahead of time. Otherwise your just a buzzy little fly to swat down.

          1. I’m posing questions for discussion. I don’t actually care one way or another about bitcoin.

            1. A discussion doesn’t involve changing the subject like that.

      2. They can’t effectively outlaw pot, which requires space and time for growing. How can they outlaw zeroes and ones?

        But they can sure make it miserable for people who try to transact in it.

        1. Not really. They can make it miserable for people who want to transact in it AND fiat. They can attack the offramps for sure. If you stick to using btc there’s almost nothing they can “do” to you.

      3. If they outlaw zeros all progressives would have to be arrested

  3. “… will spur renewable energy …”

    So, Bitcoin is something like the republican free-market version of the green new deal?

    Even though the nick guy interjects that bitcoin is mistakenly assailed for its heavy use of electricity, so if that’s true it’s hard to see how the market will cause this “spurring” towards renewable.

    But if bitcoin is a way to get republicans interested in renewable energy, it might just be worth it. But it probably won’t work for libertarians, because as the nick guy says, the energy concerns about bitcoin are all mistaken. I’d just like to be able to buy a high end video card at a reasonable price, but I’ve been unable to do so for the past several years because the miners have kept the prices high the entire time. Same thing for desktop PC power supplies. For both of these components, I’m still using parts from 2016. There has been no market adjustment to increase competition and lower prices for these components during the past 5 years, at least.

    1. Is there any case to be made for the assertion that bitcoin is not a heavy consumer of electricity? Does anyone sincerely believe that it will encourage renewables?

      1. From what I’ve seen it’s not so much “encouraging renewables” as it is “encouraging people to use energy that’s currently being wasted”. A few days ago I read about a bitcoin mining operation that’s powered by steam from a volcano. Earlier I read about one using the vented gas from oil fields. This type of mining is basically “free” when it comes to energy usage. I expect we’ll see more of this in the future.

        1. https://nypost.com/2021/06/11/el-salvador-volcanoes-to-power-bitcoin-mining/

          El Salvador President Nayib Bukele — just hours after the country’s legislature approved the “Bitcoin Law,” making it the first to accept Bitcoin as legal tender — revealed Wednesday that the nation’s state-owned geothermal electric company will harness volcanic energy to mine the cryptocurrency.

          Bukele said the country is already designing a mining hub that will use “very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable” energy from volcanoes to power the operation, which effectively would be a bank of super-powered computers that solve the complex mathematical equations required to mine Bitcoin.

          1. I’m not sure if it’s viable over the long term, with the state providing free electricity to bitcoin miners, most of whom accomplish nothing, while charging everyone else for the electricity necessary for lighting and other uses.

    2. Renewable are a crap source of energy

      1. The sun is pretty good. It’s been shining constantly, without let up, for billions of years. You have a better source in mind?

  4. Lummis is a right wing hack, playing politics for self-enrichment. Are you surprised?
    I live in Wyoming and the ignorance in the state is jaw-dropping. When asked directly why sex education in Wyoming did not include ANY instruction on abortion Lummis replied, “I don’t want these kids to know that abortion even exists”. Fathom the depths of stupidity involved in reaching that conclusion… Lummis likes citizens who are dumb and easily controlled/destroyed. Are you surprised?

    1. Not seeing a problem.

  5. ‘Finance (CCAF), Bitcoin currently consumes around 110 Terawatt Hours per year — 0.55% of global electricity production”

    That’s an incredible amount of energy for a digital currency. Why is it tied up with energy useage? Seems wasteful.

    1. A lot of the energy to mine bitcoin can’t actually be transmitted to power much else.

        1. Use google and look it up.

          1. Electricity from renewables can’t be transmitted? There are some things even google can’t explain.

            1. Electricity from renewables can’t be transmitted arbitrarily long distances, or by means that are not available.

              1. It’s called “physics.” Widely available on the internet, if you’re interested.

                1. Are bitcoin miners closer to sources of renewable electricity than other consumers? Or have transmission capabilities not available to other consumers? Is that what you’re driving at?

                  “It’s called “physics.”

                  You may call it physics. I call it hype, or hockum for variety’s sake.

                  1. Yes, the are frequently closer to sources of electricity than other consumers, for the expressed purpose of using power that cannot be used for other purposes (and therefore cheap) to mine bitcoins.

                    This is all available on google. Don’t take my word for it.

                    1. Facts aren’t wrong just because you don’t understand.

                    2. I see what you mean, thanks to your linking to an article about the issue. Bitcoin miners are moving to places like Sichuan, China so they can use cheap electricity. Essentially the miners are subsidized by the Chinese government which spent billions of yuan constructing hydro electric projects. I question the long term viability of such a strategy. Others will also want to avail themselves of cheap electricity for uses other than bitcoin mining, and the Chinese government is busy constructing transmission infrastructure, including HVDC, as a part of their belt and road initiative.

    2. “Why is it tied up with energy useage? ”

      Verifying transactions involves a race between bitcoin miners to solve increasingly complex computations. The winner is rewarded with bitcoin. The losers get nothing. Their energy consumption is entirely gratuitous. That’s my understanding.

      1. It illustrates the difficulties of automating trust. We put our money in banks or accept dollars for things because we trust them. Bitcoin attempts instill trust by computation.

      2. Thanks. Interesting as hell. So at some point there’s won’t be anymore bitcoin to mine because the computations will be too difficult and time consuming to solve?

        1. I’m not sure. Bitcoin transactions are already much much slower than Visa transactions and I would assume will become slower in the future, but I’m just repeating what I’ve gleaned from what seem to be sober minded internet sources.

        2. So at some point there’s won’t be anymore bitcoin to mine because the computations will be too difficult and time consuming to solve?

          Yes, at some point there will be no more Bitcoin to mine, but it’s because the base code only allows for 21 million coins to ever be mined. Theoretically 50%+1 of owners could “vote” to increase that limit, but that would really just split things into BTCv1 and BTCv2.

          1. Or people could, you know, just start using one of the infinite number of alternative cryptocurrencies, most of which are more energy efficient and faster already.

            1. Exactly. Today, your bitcoin is worth eleventy thousand dollars per coin, tomorrow it’s MySpace.

              1. Just like your dollar

          2. “Yes, at some point there will be no more Bitcoin to mine, but it’s because the base code only allows for 21 million coins to ever be mined.”

            What confuses me is that if there is no more bitcoin to be mined, then transaction verification will grind to a halt, That would seem to lead to the freezing of the entire system.

            1. The miners will still earn bitcoin by mining the blocks, because transaction fees are included in the prize. And presumably in the future the network will be able to handle massive amounts of transactions, resulting in a nice bundle.

      3. Once all the bitcoins are mined, the mining cost will go to zero.

        1. How will transactions be verified? What am I missing?

          1. https://hbr.org/2021/05/how-much-energy-does-bitcoin-actually-consume

            Many journalists and academics talk about Bitcoin’s high “per-transaction energy cost,” but this metric is misleading. The vast majority of Bitcoin’s energy consumption happens during the mining process. Once coins have been issued, the energy required to validate transactions is minimal. As such, simply looking at Bitcoin’s total energy draw to date and dividing that by the number of transactions doesn’t make sense — most of that energy was used to mine Bitcoins, not to support transactions. And that leads us to the final critical misconception: that the energy costs associated with mining Bitcoin will continue to grow exponentially.

      4. Not exactly. Their energy is still used securing the network, which is the most vital function the miners have.

  6. Crypto will spur renewable energy in the sense that biotech will be advanced to the point where human beings will be used to mine it instead of computers. I see that as the end goal of the environmentalist religion and it will dovetail nicely with their desire to control currency and everyone who uses it. *adjusts tin foil hat*

    1. There’s already a crypto out there that “pays” you for walking around. I’m sure something like you say will be in the future.

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  8. And by “spur renewable energy” she means “use so much energy to verify transactions” that every US state will be forced to copy California’s public service ads to “Keep California Golden” by not using electricity from 4 to 9 PM every day.

  9. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who said “the internet needs a native currency” and pledged billions to develop necessary infrastructure; and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who suggested the bitcoin subculture is poised to go mainstream the same way skating did in the 1990s.

    Sort of an odd collection of misfits to be spokespeople for crypto-currency.

    1. Jack dorsey later said that his support for bit coin was in part to lower the value of jew gold

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