If you were to peruse the articles about Bitcoin by mainstream media outlets, you would be led to believe that it is a type of currency that only drug users/dealers and tax evaders use for all sorts of devious business. No upstanding, patriotic, tax paying, red- white- and blue-blooded American would even consider engaging with the crypto-currency unless they are criminals. Who actually wants privacy when it comes to their transactions these days? Sounds suspicious…
Now, it’s safe to assume this mysterious currency arising from the obscure corners of cyberspace and unregulated by central banks or governments can be used for certain black market transactions, but safe is not necessarily accurate. Cash is still king for many of these activities simply because way more people know about it and use it regularly. But you always hear about the illegal stuff you can buy with Bitcoin, and a question your average person may have is, “What can I buy with it? I don’t have any interest in buying anything on the Silk Road, and have no idea how to access Tor anyway.”
Well, the good news is you don’t need to know anything about how Bitcoin actually works in order to use it for transactions. I have limited experience accepting Bitcoin for fire performances, buying T-shirts with them, trading them for delicious sweets, and buying precious metals. Alas, I’m just one subversive individual, so surely there must be others who navigate the gray and white markets with Bitcoin.
So, I reached out to other users because (of course) there’s a bunch other ways you can spend your Bitcoin that don’t involve what some consider illegal activities. Justin Frost of Frost Homestead sells fertile chicken eggs that ship nationwide, saying, “What could be more benevolent and harmless than the humble chicken?” Very few things are as benevolent and delicious, that’s for sure.
Chicken eggs aren’t the only healthy food you can buy with Bitcoin; raw, local honey is another. Bees Brothers based in Utah sells nutritious raw honey and other delectable concoctions for Bitcoin. Another gentleman, Ron Helwig, sells Shire Silver cards with a 3% discounted rate for purchases made with Bitcoin. I’ve seen other vendors take this approach, so oftentimes it does pay to use Bitcoin for transactions. Precious metals are becoming more accessible to Bitcoin users, and so are precious stones. One person mentioned buying sparkling topaz with Bitcoin. That’s right, you can buy awesome shiny objects, too. Gyft allows users to accept gift cards and buy books and other products from Amazon in Bitcoin, and we are seeing an increase in services connecting Bitcoin transactions to more familiar and widely known businesses. You can even buy a large variety of electronics online with Bitcoin at https://www.bitcoinstore.com/.
But, let’s say you’re not as internet savvy or prefer to do business in person, how can Bitcoin be used in at brick and mortar establishments? The Guardian did a great video on how the currency is expanding in Germany in pubs and other shops. Davi Barker wrote recently about attorneys in Israel accepting Bitcoin, so if you need to lawyer up and want to pay in Bitcoin, you totally can (at least in Israel). As far as professions go and despite certain feelings towards the law interpreting class, it can’t be argued that lawyers aren’t a widely used and demanded resource. It is only a matter of time before this catches on in this country on a larger scale, and in certain states like Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and New Hampshire Bitcoin is widely embraced.
Another friend who lives in Nevada uses Bitcoin to buy breakfast and lunch at multiple local cafes, pay his cell phone bill, and even pay rent. The company he uses accepts rent on over 700 properties. They obviously don’t believe Bitcoin is some illegitimate currency used by more “unsavory” elements in our society, and even for those who use it for black market transactions, I’d nary make the case that what they’re doing is necessarily an immoral thing. I’m also cautious not to rebrand Bitcoin as a currency only acceptable for white market transactions because products offered through other markets can be just as valuable to consumers and average people do have incentives to get into Bitcoin because of its burgeoning legitimacy in more recognized forms of trade. This is all good news for Bitcoin despite discussions of crackdowns and regulation.
Bitcoin users realize the threat of state interference, though, and as technology remains several steps ahead of laws innovations will continuously multiply and becomes more easily accessible to the average person even if Bitcoin is eventually quashed somehow by overzealous politicians and legislation. Outsmarting tyrants by using ever-evolving technology is becoming easier and easier, and while I always try to balance my optimism with a healthy dose of skepticism, the fight for financial freedom is becoming more complex as other crypto-currencies like Litecoin break into the scene. Whether you use Bitcoin, Litecoin, or other alternative forms of currency, they all seem like a better alternative to the dying petrodollar. The threat they pose economically to the paper money Ponzi scheme is real, yet subtle, and it is within this subtlety that wise serpents can strike at the root of imperialism, corporatism, fascism, and many other “–isms” we face.
Original content by Meghan, copyleft, tips welcome