The person on Oakland mayoral candidate and former tech exec Bryan Parker's staff who granted this interview made a very serious mistake. No one—you'd hope—is going to vote for a man who thinks the cure for American poverty is Bitcoin.
There are already some decent reasons to opposed Parker in public office: he opposes an increase in the minimum wage, touts trickle-down economics, and made this corny YouTube video. But more alarming than all that is his crazy-blind faith in Bitcoin, an unproven technology Parker says will lift up Oakland's poor, who exist in numbers greater than the state average in California. Parker opened up about his daft economics in a new Q&A with the San Francisco Chronicle:
What I'm doing is engaging in the fight on poverty, which is a big, ambitious goal. What is one of the ways you get poor people into different habits? You start getting them to save more, get them online. (Bitcoin) is a way of using modern technology that's helpful in doing that.
For me, these are tools for people better running their lives and potentially something that the government can use.
Could we see a day where people are paid out in bitcoin? Absolutely. In early days, people were probably paid out in little pieces of gold.
Because the thing the poor need most is an added factor of irrationality and risk.
It's unclear how those living in poverty will get dollars that can be converted into Bitcoins to begin with, but let's just give Parker the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the poor can serve as virtual amusement rides for their neighbors across the bay, beaming GoPro streams of blue collar existence to Oculus Rift headsets at The Battery. Maybe Oakland's poor will learn to code. As long as it's not a raise in the minimum wage—just trust in the power of BTC. After all, Parker sure practices the kind of confidence in crypto-currency that he's preaching on the campaign trail:
Q: Your campaign accepts bitcoin donations. Have you received very many?
A: There's been relatively few. And I take no currency risk. We convert it immediately into dollars.
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