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Libertarian PorcFest vendors eager to charge in bitcoin

  • Tracy Ward of Austin, Texas sells Pinkie's Paleo-tillas, for cash, silver or bitcoin. She likes alternative currencies because, she said, they keep the government out of her business. (TO GO WITH BIZBitCoin-cm-070714

    Tracy Ward of Austin, Texas sells Pinkie's Paleo-tillas, for cash, silver or bitcoin. She likes alternative currencies because, she said, they keep the government out of her business. (TO GO WITH BIZBitCoin-cm-070714

  • For BIZBitCoin-cm-070714<br/><br/>Sign at the event

    For BIZBitCoin-cm-070714

    Sign at the event

  • Tracy Ward of Austin, Texas sells Pinkie's Paleo-tillas, for cash, silver or bitcoin. She likes alternative currencies because, she said, they keep the government out of her business. (TO GO WITH BIZBitCoin-cm-070714
  • For BIZBitCoin-cm-070714<br/><br/>Sign at the event

Hunter – he goes by only one name – is a trusting guy.

He trusts his fellow porcupines, the libertarian-leaning participants in an annual campout hosted in the North Country by the Free State Project.

For the weeklong Porcupine Freedom Festival in Lancaster, he left out pitchers of juice, coffee pots and cups 24 hours a day at a busy pedestrian intersection for people to purchase if they get thirsty after a long political debate around the campfire.

He didn’t keep track of how much money he should take in per pot, and offered the drinks on the honor system. He left a QR code for them to scan and move bitcoin into his account as payment. Because what he doesn’t trust, he said, is the federal banking system.

A soft-spoken Army veteran who uses few words, he says he just never got the message that he’s supposed to listen to rules.

And he wasn’t alone. You could buy tortillas, Italian ice, a temporary tattoo – or a real one – using bitcoin, an alternative currency not tracked or monitored by the government.

This was the 11th annual PorcFest, and the second at which Neal Conner of Manchester, a volunteer for the event, has noticed a visible presence of bitcoin payment options. In past years, he’s paid for food, T-shirts, guns, or ammunition from vendors at the event with gold, silver or ammunition.

Bitcoin is different from silver, gold and bullets in one major way: It has no physical existence. It’s an entirely digital currency that lives and moves online. Transactions, when they’re for tangible goods like a cup of Hunter’s coffee, usually involve a buyer scanning a QR code that activates a swap of equivalent bitcoin for the price of the coffee. New bitcoins are “mined” when computers unlock the algorithms to verify each transaction made.

People could use one of four bitcoin ATMs set up at the campsite, which accepted dollars and transferred the equivalent bitcoin into the buyer’s online wallet.

Right now, one bitcoin is worth about $600. The transaction fees are lower than for PayPal or the major credit card companies.

But at PorcFest, the philosophical argument was at least as popular as the financial one.

“For me, it’s a been a good investment, but also I know when I use bitcoin I’m helping to undermine corporatist central bankers. I’m depriving them of their power to manipulate the currency by using an open source, free method of payment that is really going to open a lot of opportunity for people in the world,” said Conner, who works for a Manchester-based company that made three of the bitcoin ATMs at the campground.

“Last year its presence (at PorcFest) was palpable,” he said. “This year, it was pretty much mandatory if you wanted to be a vendor and get a lot of commerce.”

In fact, the only vendors not accepting bitcoin were the ones operating three professional food trucks – two of whom came from out of state to sell traditional fried fair-style food because of the size of the event. The third was there for the political atmosphere as well as the crowd, but hadn’t yet set up a bitcoin account.

Tracy Ward of Austin, Texas, didn’t hesitate to explain why she accepts bitcoin for her fresh handmade tortillas.

“I like bitcoin because it’s not controlled by the banking system. It’s a way to get away from the government. They can’t get at the money I make in bitcoin,” she said.

Between five and 10 of her regular customers in Austin pay in bitcoin every time, she said.

Scotty Cline, a 24-year-old student from Orlando and owner of Scotty’s Italian Ice, said he never had a customer request to pay in bitcoin before hanging his shingle out at PorcFest.

“It’s something I’m very excited about, but it’s not something other people in Florida know about yet,” he said.

Drew Phillips of San Francisco attended PorcFest to represent Bitcoin Not Bombs, a website that helps nonprofit groups adopt bitcoin as a way to accept donations.

Bitcoin owners are a narrow donor base for those charities, “but alternative currencies are the wave of the future, and we offer a way for those charities to get ready for it to be adopted on a wide scale,” he said.

Personally, he’s skeptical bitcoin will be that widely adopted alternative currency of the future. He’s moved his own financial transactions as much as possible to alternative currencies, including silver.

“I’m just tired of central banks. This allows me to do commerce on my own terms, without having to file forms and interact with the government at all.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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Legacy Comments5

Always amusing how people who have no clue what they're talking about are so quick to pontificate ignorantly. Firstly, bitcoin isn't a ponzi, its a cryptocurrency with an intrinsic value based upon the proof of work established by the processing of data in the block chain, commonly referred to as "mining". Like gold and silver, bitcoin has intrinsic value because it represents work done in the past that appreciates in value into the present. Fiat money, like the US dollar denominated Federal Reserve Notes, is inflationary because it represents work done in the future to pay off the debts that back it, future work that is discounted back in time into the present. Secondly, the Federal Reserve itself recognises the superior nature of cryptocurrencies, and dedicated a quarter of its last board of governors meeting discussing how to facilitate member banks being able to handle bitcoin payment processing. Major corporations are accepting bitcoin, like Overstock.com, 1-800-Flowers.com, among others. There is even a bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund launching on Wall Street that everyday people can invest in to profit from the bitcoin revolution.

Talk about someone having no clue. Without a link to real money exchange rates the commercial acceptance of Bitcoin is only a pipe dream. As far as your intrinsic value, that is total hog wash. One simply has to look at the Bitcoin Web site and their FAQs that talks about the volatile nature of Bitcoin. To really throw a monkey wrench into your post 60's mentality. There is a very good reason for the Federal Reserve to be talking about this. As it stands now a very large percentage of the workforce is paid by direct deposit and in turn pays their bills online or with a Debit card. Less and less hard currency actually trades hands anymore. I never pay bills with cash and if I have written 20 checks in the last 5 years I would be surprised. I think actual money will be phased out in the near future and replaced with the "credits" that you see in SciFy movies.

"“I like bitcoin because it’s not controlled by the banking system. It’s a way to get away from the government. They can’t get at the money I make in bitcoin,” she said." Gee, Tracy Ward from Austin, Texas. Now that you gave your name, home location and motivation to the reporter, I'm sure the government has no reason or ability to get into your business.

I thought the same Neal - state your name, where you live and how you are committing tax fraud in the paper! I wonder if Tracy Ward drove up here on those tax paid for roads or went to tax paid for schools. The only real use for these bitcoins that I can see is just that - Tax evasion. Like the old "bearer bonds " that contain no name. Trade or sell them without paying any taxes on profits. Also similar to the pyramid scams where the early people make the money and the last in get stuck with nothing.

Whatever happened to Bernard von NotHaus' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Dollar ? (to read later) as I saw at the Gunstock Porkfest, Jr. I think it was a few years ago. And see this: http://beforeitsnews.com/banksters/2014/01/nofiatcoin-new-alternative-currency-takes-on-bitcoin-and-the-banksters-2434018.html for: "Whilst Bitcoin is not backed by anything and only has the value people choose to place on it, and fiat money is backed by something of negative value – debt that we have to pay off to the central banksters – NoFiatCoin is backed by gold held in vaults around the world, and can be redeemed for real gold or silver by its users! "

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