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Letter: Lawmaker disagrees with cryptocurrency editorial

 


Dear Editor,

In a piece written on May 26, the editorial board of the Green River Star asserted the “State should back away from crypto” as “none of this will benefit Wyoming in the long run.”

I have to say, I couldn’t disagree more.

Wyoming is at a crossroads. We have long relied on our trifecta of industry – energy, agriculture, and tourism – to fund our state and local governments and employ our residents. Those industries will always be important to the fabric of our state, but that shouldn’t prevent us from welcoming other emerging industries to the Cowboy State.

In its attempt to discredit the industry, the board makes a number of assertions that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

I’m not sure what the board means by “mirror schemes involving pyramids” as that would imply that digital asset markets are a) protected by gatekeepers and b) purchasing digital assets makes someone upstream richer. Both points are patently false. While exchanges and institutions exist to make accessing digital asset markets easier, no intermediary is necessary. Furthermore, at least in the cases of Bitcoin and Ethereum, no single individual is getting rich because people are buying more of those assets.

I like to think of digital assets as more of an investment vehicle, like a stock or a hard asset like land. Different assets serve different purposes, just like different digital assets serve different purposes. A digital asset like Bitcoin isn’t influenced by the actions of one individual or a small group. It is decentralized. It is like cattle. The actions of one rancher can’t change the price of cattle across the country.

The board also asserts “entire scams have developed using the hype around cryptocurrency,” and I’ll give them that. Yes, there are scammers in the cryptocurrency industry, but instead of letting the status quo stand and empowering them to continue scamming consumers, we should implement regulations that prevent them from perpetuating these scams. U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis recently introduced a digital asset framework bill that does just that.

Furthermore, the board fails to recognize that cryptocurrencies and digital assets create opportunities for those who have not been well represented in the traditional financial markets. It also creates opportunities for a state that has all too often been left behind when it comes to new economic opportunities.

It’s hard to say what the impact of the digital asset industry will have on Wyoming, but it’s bold to say that none of this will benefit Wyoming in the long run. Additionally, the University of Wyoming is currently the only Division I university with a blockchain program. We are going to start graduating students with the ability to work in this industry and they are going to realize that they can stay in Wyoming and raise their families because of the way we positioned ourselves early on.

It is important for people to voice their concerns about new technology and industries, but to discredit an entire industry based on a small subset of bad actors is irresponsible. Consumers are protected when truthful information is easy to come by. I would welcome further conversations from anyone on the Green River Star editorial board on this topic. The State of Wyoming should responsibly chase economic opportunities that present themselves, and I look forward to the prosperity we could experience because of the steps we’ve taken in this space.

Rep. Mark Baker

Green River

 

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