Where Liberty meets Blockchain.
Most democratic nations have a winner take all system. This often leads to centralization with most of the power going to a majority group. Countries like the United States and most Commonwealth Countries such as Britain form around two majority political parties that just swap positions back and fourth of who is in the lead. However, in recent years minority groups known as third parties have been growing in number and political power.
The Libertarian Party is the largest third party in the United States and has quickly growing into millions of members in just a few decades. With a lot of that momentum being gained in recent years.
Libertarians, seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.
They believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, the Libertarians defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
Indeed, the Libertarian Party’s preamble creates a solid foundation of ideas that many in the cryptocurrency space could find as common ground.
Many of them didn’t know it yet but blockchain technology offers some potentially amazing solutions that the Libertarian party has been looking for. They just needed help educating their members about this new and emerging blockchain technology.
The Libertarian Party hosts their National Convention once every two years. This year it was to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cryptocurrency is becoming a hot topic among the party, but quality information is scarce, and they wanted as much as they could get.
Edward Trosclair, LiskUSA’s founder, received an invitation to speak in not only a main Panel Event about cryptocurrency, but to also host two breakout sessions on related blockchain topics. LiskUSA saw this as an amazing opportunity to spread awareness and education of blockchain technology, as well as some information about our favorite project, Lisk.
At the convention, delegates vote on the new administration of the party as well as any changes to their platform or rules. Besides all of the party business, it was similar to most conventions. It was filled with many interesting and colorful booths with individuals sharing various ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
There were also breakout sessions being held throughout each day at the convention. These were events held in areas much smaller then the main hall or stage that allowed for more specific topics to be presented on. After presenting the topic it was allowed to “breakout” by opening up the topics to discussion with everyone as well as networking afterwards.
The topics of the breakout sessions were very diverse. Ranging from specific political issues for the Libertarians such as party branding and image, to trans-humanism, sex workers rights, and of course blockchain technology.
Breakout Sessions: The Political Theory of Blockchains
We had the pleasure of hosting two breakout sessions. The first of which was on our new and thought provoking Political Theory of Blockchain.
The presentation prefaces with LiskUSA’s new philosophy on the topic of Political Blockchain Theory. The way that people interact with, understand, and relate to each other is changing. Blockchains can be described as a manifestation of the evolution of human consciousness. Due to this manifestation we are able to use traditional tools and theories for analysis. Thus, we can use the prism of political science to create and develop useful theories on the topic of blockchain.
Comparisons are drawn of a classic city-state to modern blockchain platforms and their cultures. After some analysis one finds many similarities with current projects like Bitcoin, Doge, and Lisk, to classic city-states such as Rome, Athens, and Greece.
The focus of the presentation shifts to what many would consider common political concepts such as Oligarchies, Plutocracies, and Representative Democracy, and how these concepts can easily be used to describe and analyze many existing block-chain systems.
Usually blockchain presentations are filled with a log of technical jargon. In this case, the audience is usually very connected with the content. Everyone in some way shape or form interacts with politics. However, when you explain blockchains to people by focusing on familiar political concepts, then they can easily relate to the new idea being presented to them.
Bitcoin was invented with democracy in mind. Satoshi’s original concept of “one CPU equals one Vote” lays the foundation for Consensus between network participants. We then talked about how proof-of-stake leads to Oligarchies, and then how Delegated-proof-of-stake introduces representative democracy. When explained in this manner, “through the lens of political science,” the ideas of consensus algorithms and blockchain governance can be easily related to.
The presentation was well received and sparked a lot of discussion at the end of the breakout session. We hope to continue to expand on this theory and continue our outreach to anyone who known a little about politics, which is pretty much everyone. So be sure to check back at liskusa.io for more information on this topic as it becomes available.
Breakout Sessions: Cryptocurrency Regulations
The second breakout session was on the thrilling topic of blockchain regulations. Considering the displeasure many Libertarians have with the idea of taxes and regulations; Edward managed to keep the topic as interesting as he could. Sharing lots of relevant guidelines and laws issues by the US government such as the IRS and FinCEN.
He also discussed unfavorable regulations such as New Yorks Bitcoin License that costs over $100,000 to obtain. This License drove dozens of blockchain companies such as trading exchange Kraken out out New York long ago. Even more interesting is that Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, created the NY License then retired from his position early to create a legal firm that specialized in helping companies become compliant. The Libertarian audience made jokes of these kinds of practices within the public and private systems is all to familiar to them.
There of course was good news. Edward made the point of working with governments to make sure they are educated and that favorable laws can be passed, instead of laws that stifle innovation and industry such as the New York License. As an example he discussed some very important and, until now, unprecedented laws that just went into effect in the state of Wyoming.
H.B. 0019 “Wyoming Money Transmitter Act – virtual currency exemption”
The “bitcoin bill,” exempts those who deal-in and exchange virtual currencies from onerous money transmitter licensing laws. In this bill, virtual currencies exempted are defined as those that are a digital representation of value and used as a store of value or medium of exchange that are not recognized as legal tender by the U.S. government. This would allow operators of payment token exchanges to more easily operate in Wyoming.
H.B. 0070 “Open Blockchain Tokens – exemptions”
The “utility token bill,” would provide that a blockchain token that is not deemed a security is specifically exempt from securities legislation as well as money transmitter laws. This means that issuers and dealers of so-called utility tokens can deal freely and not have to register as licensed broker-dealer firms. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the same anti-fraud statutes that apply to securities will apply to those issuing utility tokens.
H.B. 0101 “Electronic Corporate Records”
Could be very important to all businesses and non-crypto enthusiasts alike. It ultimately allows for the recording and storage on a blockchain of common corporate records, filings, voting and accommodates the use of “data addresses” and electronic signatures.
H.B. 0126 “Limited Liability Companies – Series”
Allows the creation of “sub-LLCs” compartmentalized within the general designation to isolate and allocate certain assets and or liabilities to specific members. Finally, Senate File 111 “Property Taxes – Digital Currencies” in effect defines tokens as property and further exempts them from property taxes.
It seems this is a very progressive move that is part of the Wyoming’s 20 years economic development plan. They will be making a transition to keep all of their government records on blockchain based technology. As well as allowing currencies to be used and accepted as legal tender. With laws like these it is obvious that Wyoming is embracing cryptocurrency technology and trying to make it place where the blockchain industry will be more then welcome.
As more people begin work with politicians to educate them on the positive benefits of this emerging technology then perhaps we will see more progressive laws from other states and countries around the world. While it is becoming easier to opt out of government systems, people need to try and work with governments instead of avoiding them so that we can truly bring cryptocurreny and blockchain technology to the main stream.
The Blockchain Panel
Many of the attendees gathered in the Imperial Dinning Hall. Lured by the aroma of delicious New Orleans style food. They had their pick of local favorites such as savory red beans a rice, slow cooked pulled pork, and bbq brisket.
While enjoying the main meal of the day, everyone also had the pleasure of watching the days main panel event. Which was on our favorite topic of blockchain technology, including our very own Edward Trosclair.
The panel consisted of a very diverse and enlightened group of individuals involved in the block-chain and cryptocurreny space:
(From left to right)
Collin Cantrell is a developer and architect of Nexus, a peer to peer blockchain system that uses 3 consensus algorithms. Collins technical background is obvious after listening to some of his comments about various issues facing blockchains today. He mentions the issue of Scalability VS Security and that he wishes to keep a very neutral stance on the issue. “1 MB is obviously too low – can we keep going on forever like that? No, we can’t.”
Collin also calls into question a lot of issues with other platforms such as the Lightning Network and its need for centralized watchtowers on BTC. He continued against Ripple and EOS mentioning that they were rushed and had issues of centralization and security. Collins urges developers to not rush their tech – and instead they should be pragmatic and release good products.
Naomi Brockwell is the MC of around 20 conferences per year, manages a youtube channel, and is a producer with John Stossel. The panel questions started on Naomi due to her great ability to communicate in the space. She had great energy and she showed her passion for the blockchain industry. She had a great input on a lot of the topics being discussed.
Of particular interest, Naomi mentioned the need to innovate the monetary policy and joked that the USA still used an outdated check system. She also talked about the issues of Ross Ulbricht being sentenced unfairly to multiple life sentences for non-violent crimes. She finished the discussion emphasizing the need for the Libertarian Party to team up with cryptocurrency “100%.” It was easy to tell that the libertarians agreed with this statement from the excitement and applause from the audience.
Jeffery Tucker is an editorial director of the National Institute for Economic Research. A managing partner of Vellum Capital, a crypto hedge fund. And also the founder of the Bitcoin Embassy in Atlanta. Jeffery had a lot of great information to share on the panel. He mentioned that cryptocurrency is growing and people like Jannet Yellen of the Federal Reserve are scared that they can’t do anything to stop it. In his words “the jig is up.” He also joked that he liked to hangout at crypto-atms to “meet his people.”
In a more serious tone, Tucker reminded us that the creation of central banks helped lead to WWI. He gained a lot of momentum as he railed against banks and their printable fiat currency for allowing wars, debt, bad money, and inflation to run rampant in our society.
Jeffery finished off by mentioning that he had joined the libertarian party this year which was received with an overwhelming round of applause. Indeed Jeffery was very insightful and we look forward to seeing him again at his Bitcoin Embassy in Atlanta Georgia.
Edward Trosclair is an elected Lisk Delegate, community liaison to Lisk, and founder of LiskUSA which hosts free blockchain meetups and educational events. Edward showed his diverse knowledge of not only the realm of cyber security and blockchain technology, but also his knowledge of past and recent events that help draw relevant conclusions to today’s issues and questions.
Edward expanded on Collin’s issue with scale-ability and security and brought up the “Blockchain Trilema” that consists of “Scalability, Security, Decentralization.” He also explained the origins of the “crypto wars” that were once waged by governments against cryptography until the “cat was out of the bag.” This forced the government to completely retract their laws against cryptography and he mentioned the possibility of blockchain technology doing the same to a lot of other regulations and laws.
A member of the audience had a great question about “backing” and was very interested in understanding what gave cryptocurrency it’s value. The panel even seemed a little unsure of how to fully answer this question expressing various use cases and electrical costs. Luckily, Edward was able to explain the value proposition of the expectation of security and the reliability of transactions that come with blockchain technology.
Gil Hildabrand is a local of the New Orleans area and creator of a quick books program for cryptocurrencies called Gilded. Considering Gil was working on a cryptocurrency accounting program, it was no surprise that his focus throughout the debate was on the financial and monetary use cases of cryptocurrency.
Hildabrand made great points on the need to remove gatekeepers and middle men so that people can transact freely. He also eluded to a bright future of Atomic Swaps which would allow people to swap any currency directly for any other currency; as well as stable coins that would be pegged to existing currency or assets like the USD that are much less volatile then current coins.
He would also like to give a Special thanks to the Moderators: Dr. Howard Wetsman for his well informed questions and Dave Guilford for giving us this amazing opportunity to be at the conference.
(Check out the video if you want to see the entire panel discussion.)
Party Business of Particular Interest: Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road
A lot of the convention involved party business. This involved electing party officials, amending the party platform or rules, and proposing resolutions which are official actions that the party decides on.
One such resolution involved a case that many in the cryptospace are familiar with. The case of Ross Ulbricht , involved in the online black market known as the Silk Road. The FBI taking down this website helped trigger the Bitcoin run-up of 2013 from $100 to over $1000.
Despite the media hype around the case, Ulbricht was not convicted of any violent crimes, and the severity of his punishment stems from conspiracy charges to traffic narcotics.
The party also sees itself as actively fighting against the “war on drugs” that has lead to mass incarcerations of non-violent individuals. Given the party’s stance and the fact that Ross Ulbricht was a member of the Libertarian Party before his incarceration; it is no wonder that they are taking a stand to defend Ross and all those that have been victims of the war on drugs in America.
As a sign of their support, a resolution was raised for the party to take action to official show their support for Ulbricht.
Darryl Perry, chair of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, presented the pardon resolution at the party’s recent convention. It was noted that because Ulbricht’s appeal to the Supreme Court was denied the previous week, his only hope of walking out of prison a free man is from a presidential pardon.
“We need to send a clear message now, and in two years, and in two more years we need to keep sending this message that we have a political prisoner who is serving two life sentences plus 40 years for the crime of running a website, being a libertarian and being unapologetic about doing those two things,” an attendee commented prior to the vote on the resolution, according to a YouTube video of the proceedings. The convention unanimously passed the resolution.
“If for some reason President Trump does not choose to accede to our resolution that we passed today, then I think that we just need to elect a libertarian president in 2020 to get this shit done,” Nicholas Sarwark, Chair of the Libertarian Party, said.
Liberty, Freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, these themes were strong throughout the convention and ones that we related to. It was an fantastic opportunity and experience. We were able to spread the knowledge we had about this amazing new technology; as well as learn a great deal about our political system and the people who wish to bring liberty and freedom to the individual.
We wish the Libertarian Party the best in their upcoming elections and endeavors. Most importantly we look forward to working with many of our new friends that we made at this enlightening experience.