Former congressman Ron Paul shared his opinion on Bitcoin and the future of virtual currencies in a Q&A session on the Quora site on Wednesday – as usual, Paul brought his own libertarian flavor to the discussion. 

The ex-representative (R-Texas) is widely-known for his conservative and libertarian views. Paul has been a vocal critic of the US government's fiscal policies, especially the existence of the Federal Reserve, the tax policy, the military–industrial complex, and the War on Drugs. 

Money monopoly 

Ron Paul stated that he is very interested in the subject of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin since he views them as a counterbalance to the US dollar. Referring to the money system today as being “terrible” due to the Federal Reserve’s and the US Government’s duopoly over the nation’s money supply, which allows them to “purposely counterfeit and debase” the currency, Paul sees any alternative forms of exchange as much needed competition. 

In true Libertarian fashion Paul even welcomes any substitute for the US dollar, saying that no restrictions or taxes should be placed on any alternative currencies. He equates the prohibition of other currencies to a cartel, which often benefited the privileged few at the top. He cited the 2008 bailouts of the financial system (TARP) as the rest of the country sunk into a severe recession as evidence. 

Bitcoin is the first step 

While Paul admitted that he doesn’t see Bitcoin as “true money,” he certainly views it as promising and as an introduction to real competition for the US dollar. In his words: 

“Though I don’t personally believe that Bitcoin is true money, it should be perfectly legal and there should be no restrictions on it, there should be no taxes on it. The people who operate Bitcoin would, of course, be prohibited from committing fraud but the people should be able to have competition whether it is a basket of commodities or cryptocurrencies – it should be perfectly legal. For this to operate, we need to have freedom from government intervention when it comes to the Internet. I am concerned that the government ultimately wants to curtail the Internet and there have been attempts to do so.” 

Challenging the status quo 

Paul sees a two pronged approach in challenging the status quo in competitor-currencies and the Internet. Indeed, the Internet has been a liberating tool which has challenged authority’s opinion due to everyone’s ability to post their own, as recently stated by Andreas Antonopolous at the 2014 Bitcoin Expo in Toronto. Antonopolous also made a direct comparison of the Internet decentralizing information to Bitcoin having the same potential with currency. 

“The internet is the salvation for those of us who believe in liberty because it is an alternative way of getting around the system not only in the spreading of our ideas in this instance but in in terms of getting around the monetary system on the whole if they do permit crypto-currencies and other forms of transactions. So, this is something that we should all be concerned about whether we endorse it or not,” said Paul. 

Paul emphasized that the power of the Internet, i.e. the freedom of sharing ideas and information, along with competing currencies could give rise to a true grassroots movement that will challenge the government monopolistic system that favors the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and poor. 

You can read Paul’s full Q&A session here.

Expert commentary

Blake Anderson: "Ron Paul is a very smart man but I don't think that he understands the value system of Bitcoin and the protocol. I don't think of his misunderstanding as being due to lack of effort or intelligence but the fact is that Bitcoin is a new solution to fault tolerance limitations that persons outside of the computer science field cannot easily fully grasp the gravity of."