Bitcoin Will Make 'Civil Asset Forfeiture' a Sad Joke (Op-Ed)

The Washington DC-based organization Cato recently announced some “good news:” that civil asset forfeiture – that is, state seizure of a person's home, car, and bank accounts – has been “abolished” in New Mexico.

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Bitcoin Will Make 'Civil Asset Forfeiture' a Sad Joke (Op-Ed)

The Washington DC-based organization Cato recently announced some “good news:” that civil asset forfeiture – that is, state seizure of a person's home, car, and bank accounts – has been “abolished” in New Mexico.

Not mentioned in the report, however, is that New Mexican bureaucrats will not be giving up the thievery. Nope. It's just that now they'll jump through a few more legalese hoops before they send in the guns. So all told, probably two or three fewer people will have their lives destroyed this year. Maybe. If the court dockets are jammed.

In other words, the “good news” from New Mexico is a shiny red ribbon placed atop a piece of shitcake. But does wrapping shitcake in red ribbon make it any less shitty?

The Bitcoin Response

Interestingly, Cato's announcement became a topic of discussion on the Bitcoin subreddit.

And why would anyone think that cryptocurrency – magical Internet money – could protect property? It all comes down to an understanding of the different forms that property can take, and the knowledge of more than one way to protect it. In the words of redditor kwanijml, there are better ways than shiny shitcake to “virtually deny the state from being able to do what it wants to do.”

image of magic internet money
 

And that's precisely where Bitcoin comes in.

Self-Banking and Smart Property to the Rescue

What if your property were digital and therefore impervious to men with guns? Or, if physical, what if your property were passphrase-protected so that it was useful to you and only you?

These are the two forms of property protection that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have to offer. And unlike the legislation whimpering out of New Mexico, Bitcoin's promises actually have teeth.

The first – digital property – is the kind of property that many savvy people are opting for these days. Sure, you could have a large house, three cars, and a summer bungalow with a pool and tennis court, but these assets are rather difficult to travel with. They're also difficult to protect.

 

But what if you could take the monetary value of all these assets and just carry it around in your brain instead? What if instant and global access to US$5 million was achievable with a passphrase that only you know? Such is the offering of a Bitcoin brain wallet. It's self-banking at its most sophisticated.

Or maybe you're the physical goods type. Maybe you want your assets piled high and wide. In that case, what if the steering wheel of your Tesla wouldn't unlock unless the driver enters a private key? What if the electricity in your smarthouse wouldn't turn on without it? What if your pool released flesh-eating piranhas onto keyless trespassers? (Weird example, but you get the picture.)

This is the promise of smart property: physical goods equipped with computer chips which only offer full accessibility with the owner's private key.

The Road Less Taken

Of course, one is always free to pass on the property-protection services offered by cryptocurrencies. One could just continue pushing for state legislation, or as one redditor said, take “one step forward and two steps back.”

After all, three hundred years' worth of petitioning governments for protection has finally solved our problems, right? . . . right?

Or if you're the wild and daring type, you might instead seek to protect your assets with sophisticated self-banking and – when it gets here – advanced smart property. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. You might not have to wait long. As they say, keep calm and crypto on.


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