By Andrew Langer. April 27, 2021. (The American Spectator).
Alongside the public’s newly found fascination with cryptocurrencies (which only sometimes includes their attempts to try and understand what they are — a process for the teacher akin to trying to explain to an AARP member how to program a VCR back in the day), there is serious debate and discussion among scholars and policymakers about how to look at them and treat them for public policy purposes.
From a public policy perspective, the question centers essentially on assigning “crypto” to one of four different categories. Are they
- Securities? Are they a tradeable “financial instrument” that create some kind of ownership right?
- Commodities? Are they some kind of raw material gained through a resource-intensive extraction process?
- Currencies? Are they some kind of unit of exchange backed by some kind of hard asset?
- Something different entirely, requiring a whole new vocabulary or public policy approach?
All are being considered, and each approach has its adherents and detractors.
The most logical route would be to view cryptocurrency as an entirely new thing (which it is). It doesn’t easily fit into any of the preexisting categories — it’s somewhere, honestly, between a commodity and a currency. Many cryptocurrencies do require intense resource utilization, but they can immediately be used as a standard of exchange.