humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

Tech bros: Bitcoin is horrible, it's a scam, it has no purpose except laundering money, etc

Human rights advocates: Bitcoin is essential

“One could almost excuse the 25 technologists who wrote the anti-crypto letter for not understanding the global impact of bitcoin,” Gladstein said in an interview.

For context, Alex Gladstein is the chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Foundation.

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@adam is the letter this article references a response to some particular bill being considered by Congress? or what’s their goal with it?

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin As far as I know it's not in a particular bill, but just to the general question of "[how] should we regulate cryptocurrencies?"

The legislative concerns seem to be about providing guidance about reporting requirements, how much it can be leveraged, and disclosures/transparency. There are already Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws in place to deal with people using cryptocurrencies in crimes.

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin One risk of not passing legislation is that if it's not easy, or even possible, to use digital currencies in the US, companies will set up shop abroad and the money will there. At that point legislators have almost completey lost control.

The risk of pushing orgs abroad is not just hypothetical. "Fidelity Investments has launched a spot BTC ETF in Canada and does not intend to wait for the SEC’s decision."

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin The biggest barrier I see to people using digital currencies is that every transaction is a taxable event, which is a huge burden.

It means that when you buy a hard drive from NeweEgg, or order a couch from, and pay in any digital currency, you're obligated to:
- record that as a securities sale
- decide which coins you were using
- record the cost of those coins and when they were purchased
- report this on tax forms

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin Imagine if every time you bought something at the grocery store with a credit card you had to do something similar (document where those dollars came from, when you earned them, be prepared to back all this up with documentation, etc.).

Hardly anyone would use credit cards if that were the case. And those who did might try to skip out on their reporting responsibilities. This means that tax revenue doesn't come in like it should.

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin They cite the reason they treat digital cash this way as being based on the fact that it's not being used like a currency. Catch 22.

On the flip side, with the rapid appreciation of the assets, there's good reason to tax them as unearned income (capital gains). So it's tricky. The sweet spot seems like it'd be figuring out a way to reduce/eliminate the paperwork burden for small amounts and continue taxing big "earners"

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin and I already know some people are going to disagree and say it shouldn't be taxed at all, or any differently than cash. That's fine. We can have that debate.

But I'm not really interested in hearing from people who are unwilling to attempt to find common ground and work to an improved situation.

That's not a dialog, and there's no way to make any progress there. That's people just being angry and shouting on the internet.

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@adam in some ways i think the “taxable event” stuff is overstated. IRS isn’t gonna audit the average person for failing to report a $50 gain when they use Bitcoin to buy goods (no, seriously, i know this to be true: i have a decent sample of people around me who use bitcoin for small, discreet payments (wink) – small scale tax evasion isn’t exactly a new thing, though maybe Bitcoin bumps this practice from 10% of the population to 20%, idk).

the IRS will pursue people who invest large sums of $USD into BTC and then cash out $100,000 to their bank account. part of me is skeptical: that the “taxable event” scare is large investors trying to fool the average Joe into being against the capital gains tax. i’m sympathetic to the view that “the law should be written so that the average person isn’t committing a crime every day”, but i don’t think this fully accounts for the amount of scare we see around these regulations.

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin Oh, I'm sure people can absolutely get away with not reporting every transaction and paying capital gains, but I believe it contributes to average people being scared away.

Once you have coins, it's honestly really easy to use, but there's still a stereotype of digital cash being really complicated. If the IRS said "it's just a currency", it's not going to turn everything around, but it would be another step toward more adoption.

re: humanitarians weigh in on bitcoin 

@colin I have nothing to back up this position other than anecdotal evidence from people I know.

Other things I hear are things like "what even is a bitcoin?" (which is always followed by "I'll stick to gold. I can hold that in my hand". Maybe someday I can get better at explaining it and I'll get them comfortable enough to convert some of that gold 😆 )

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