In brief

  • Roger Ver spoke last night during the Virtual Blockchain Week conference.
  • The libertarian, crypto evangelist said people ought to be able to run their own businesses they way they want, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Ver sees "peer-to-peer electronic cash" as the path toward economic freedom.

Roger Ver, formerly known as Bitcoin Jesus until he switched his preaching to Bitcoin Cash, wants the coronavirus lockdown to come to an end. 

"The lockdown is a disaster," Ver said in an email interview with Decrypt. "It is one of the worst things to happen to the US in a long long time. Arguably worse than 9-11."

Ver, a staunch libertarian, believes in economic freedom. And that can’t happen in a country where the government is telling people to stay home. According to Ver, the lockdown is "both morally and legally wrong."

Similarly, Ver believes people should be allowed to run their businesses the way they see fita view that the libertarian shared last night with the attendees of the Virtual Blockchain Week conference.

Toilet paper, at any cost

Ver is not a fan of current anti-gouging laws, which dozens of states in the US have enacted in response to the crisis brought on by the new coronavirus.

“With coronavirus, they are literally telling people at what price they can or can’t sell their toilet paper for,” said Ver during the conference.

“Anybody who studies economics knows that any time you have price control, that leads to shortages. You need to have the prices transmit the information as to what people want and what people don’t want, and if you block those prices that need to change, you block that information to the economy.”

Ver should know a thing or two about business. Early on in the history of Bitcoin, he invested in several Bitcoin companies, including cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Kraken. Now he owns wallet company Bitcoin.com.

His libertarian beliefs appear to have shaped much of his business thinking. In 2017, he was looking to raise a billion dollars to create his own libertarian country, where there would be no central authority telling people they can’t do things like sell drugs. 

Crypto will change the world

On Wednesday, Ver’s presentation centered on the values of economic freedom. According to him, people who live in countries with more economic freedom lead better lives. And the road to economic freedom is through cryptocurrencies and free markets, said Ver.

For instance, while authorities in the US are cracking down on people who hoard N95 masks and resell them at exorbitant prices, Ver gave examples of where you can buy items freely: OpenBaazar, a decentralized marketplace; LocalBitcoins, a Bitcoin marketplace that matches people up to buy and sell crypto; and darknet markets. 

“These markets let you trade with people all over the world,” he said, before going on to praise the value of Bitcoin Cash, a hard fork of the original Bitcoin cryptocurrency. “At Bitcoin.com, we can pay people all over the world with Bitcoin Cash. And we don’t have to report to the bank, or worry about banks holding up the flow of money.” 

He promoted “peer-to-peer cash”—a term that he used in place of “cryptocurrency” as a way to reach those freedoms.

“We have seen the narrative shift a bit over the last couple of years to this digital gold store of value thing, if you want to participate in it that’s fine, go ahead and you can do that,” he said, but cautioned that it doesn’t bring the same benefits of economic freedom to the entire world. 

“What brings the benefits of freedom to the entire world and economic growth is peer-to-peer electronic cash systems, not peer-to-peer, store-of-value systems.”

‘Babies are dying’

Ver listed examples of countries with the most economic freedom, such as Hong Kong and Switzerland, stating that “these are places people want to live.” Conversely, he stated that places that without economic freedom, such as North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba, are places people don’t want to live. 

“In North Korea, they literally have armed guards to prevent people from escaping,” said Ver.

Other benefits of countries with high economic freedom include high per capita income, better literacy rates, fewer wars, higher self reported happiness, and better life expectancy, Ver said. 

“People on the internet love to make fun of me saying babies are dying. Well, take a look,” he said, pulling up another chart. “In countries with more economic freedom, fewer babies die at childbirth. If you want to advocate for more babies surviving being born, you should advocate for more economic freedom.”