Updated: Jun 21
Miami 2023 - The worlds largest Bitcoin Conference
It was our first time at the Bitcoin Conference in Miami. This years event was allegedly less well-attended, but the quality of the attendees was said to be higher (with the exception of some wizards who shall remain nameless) and the focus was decidedly on Bitcoin.
We wanted to share some highlights with you.
For those how have not visited Miami, it is hot, hot, hot. Bring cool, loose clothing and prepare to sweat outside and freeze inside. The locals are relaxed and friendly and the food is delicious. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on Washington Avenue which has a beautiful rooftop pool. Our only regret is that we weren’t able to spend more time up there.
Just a block and a half away is Espanola Way, filled with lively bars and restaurants, great music, great food and great cigars.
The Women’s Brunch
Prominent Bitcoin news presenter Natalie Brunell, of the Hard Money Show, hosted a women's brunch that gathered roughly 250 industry insiders. The event was meticulously managed by Addie McMurtry and Lana Miles from BTC Media, who ensured a flawless execution of the gathering.
The attendees boasted impressive names from the sector. Among them were Alana Mediavilla, currently filming Dirty Coin, a documentary exploring Bitcoin mining. Hannah Rosenberg, the co-founder of Velas Commerce, was also present. Velas Commerce assists companies in integrating lightning payments into their operations, and Rosenberg is also an educator for a 'Lightning for Developers' course at the Saylor Academy.
Other notable participants included Kelly Estes, a co-creator of the film 'God Bless Bitcoin,' DJ Valerie Love, the co-creator of the 'Satoshi Opera', and Natalie Smolenski from the Texas Bitcoin Foundation.
A big focus this year was on Bitcoin Mining with an entire section devoted to mining companies and panels throughout the day focusing on Bitcoin mining. Gridless, BTC Mining Museum, Cleanspark and NiceHash were all there. For highlights check out @CoinDad Twitter feed.
Bitcoin Art Gallery
A veritable assembly of politicians marked their presence at this year's gathering, engaging audiences with powerful rhetoric and policy discussions. Notably, former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, known for her outspokenness, delivered an influential speech, voicing her opposition towards Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). Vivek Ramaswamy, a rising figure in the Republican ranks, currently competing against Donald Trump in the party primaries, was another prominent attendee.
However, the most notable highlight of the event was undeniably the powerful address delivered by Robert Kennedy Jr., the nephew of the late John F. Kennedy. As a key challenger to incumbent President Biden in the Democratic primaries, RFK Jr. took an assertive stance, articulating robust support for Bitcoin and voicing his disapproval of CBDCs.
His speech, which garnered significant attention and sparked fervent discussion, is transcribed below for a thorough perusal. Crucial to note are the main tenets of his campaign pertaining to Bitcoin, which have been distilled into key points: Self-custody of Digital Assets: He would defend the right of individuals to maintain self-custody of Bitcoin and other digital assets, asserting that the private keys should be treated as personal property, akin to car keys or items in a physical wallet. He firmly opposes any government intrusion into these personal cryptographic components.
Right to Run a Node at Home: He will uphold the right to operate a Bitcoin node at home without being subjected to Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements. His emphasis is on preserving the decentralized nature of Bitcoin, which he sees as crucial for democratic values.
Neutral Regulation of Energy: He advocates for a neutral approach to energy regulation, specifically opposing policies such as President Biden’s 30% tax on energy for Bitcoin miners. He supports the right to refuse smart meters at home to ensure privacy.
Maintaining US as a Global Hub for Cryptocurrencies: He is committed to making the United States the global epicenter for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. His aim is to reverse any government hostility toward the industry and retain innovation domestically.
Sensible Crypto Industry Regulation: He acknowledges the need for some degree of regulation in the crypto industry to prevent manipulations and insider trading. He emphasizes the unique status of Bitcoin as a decentralized currency, rather than a security, which should shape its regulation.
Reconsideration of Crypto-related Prosecutions: He plans to review cases of individuals, such as Ross Ulbricht, to determine if their prosecutions were based on actual crimes or were disproportionately aimed at stifling the cryptocurrency sector. He will consider issuing pardons if it is found they were unjustly targeted.
“Hello Bitcoiners. There are a lot of people, who are not in this room, to whom Bitcoin may seem an issue that's too trivial for a presidential campaign. David Bailey, at a party that we were at last night, asked me how I was sold on Bitcoin, and I told him that it happened to me in an instant when I saw the truckers what happened at the truckers strike in Ottawa. A few months before that I had gone to Italy and I'd given a public speech to a large crowd in Italy about the dangers of digital currency and particularly programmable currency that could be used by governments to enforce to punish bad behaviour in combination with surveillance systems and facial recognition systems, that the government would know when you were doing something wrong and could change your credit card and this is what's happening in China where you could only purchase groceries within maybe a 5 minute walk of your home.
I said that hypothetically, and I think six weeks after I made that speech I saw that very thing happened to the truckers in in Ottawa. As most of you know that trucker strike was a peaceful demonstration of people who were demanding rights that are sacred and are taken for granted for every American. The right to be free of government mandates the right for free assembly, the right for free speech, the right to petition our government all of those things that we take for granted and nonetheless and it was a peaceful demonstration and the Canadian government fiercely repressed the truckers protest.
Government officials declared a state of emergency, they suppressed free speech, perhaps most alarmingly they froze the bank accounts of hundreds of protesters and their supporters who they identified using surveillance and data monitoring technologies some of these unlawful and none of these peaceful protesters at violated any law. They had not been charged and had not been convicted, but suddenly they found that they could not access their money their bank accounts to pay their mortgages or to feed their families.
When I witnessed this cataclysm, this devastating use of government repression, I realised for the first time how free money is as important to freedom as free expression. A government that has the power over citizens when they are disobedient will inevitably turn our entire country into serfs.
It is the ambition of every totalitarian regime to exercise complete control over every aspect of our lives we live at a time now that technology has dangerously expanded the capacity for governments and corporations to control our lives. Distant, impersonal multinationals and authoritarian technologies have usurped the realms of human activity at once private or held by community. They monitor our every movement, our communications, our every transaction and the technologies they use to monitor us can also be used to control us.
Led by the United States, liberal democracies across the globe suddenly pivoted during the pandemic and used that crisis as an excuse to trample essential constitutional rights and freedoms. Government suspended the rights to free assembly, the freedom of worship, property rights, trial by jury and they censored free speech in the name of combatting misinformation and disinformation. We lost our freedom to travel, the mandates cost us even sovereignty of our own bodies.
Some might say well those were just temporary restrictions and temporary suspensions of our rights, but the constitution has no pandemic exception. By the way, the framers of the constitution knew all about pandemics. There was a malaria epidemic that decimated the armies of Virginia during the Revolutionary War and a smallpox epidemic that froze the army from New England at the very time when Benedict Arnold had led the capture of the city Of Montreal and because smallpox decimated our force, we were not able to hold Montreal. Otherwise, Canada today would be part of the United states. The framers knew that at the time and not only that, but after the end between the end of the Revolutionary War and that ratification nine years later of the Bill of Rights there were epidemics in almost every city in our country. Smallpox epidemics, cholera epidemics, yellow fever epidemics, that killed 10s of thousands people and yet the framers did not put any epidemic exception in the constitution. They wrote the constitution, not for easy times, but for hard times.
During the civil war when we lost 659,000 troops killed in battle on both sides. It is the equivalent of 7.2 million today much world than what happened in COVID, when our country was being torn apart and came this close to being ripped apart. When Abraham Lincoln did the right thing and tried to suspend habeas corpus to prevent confederate infiltrators from inciting riots in the northern cities he was told by the Supreme Court you can't do it, it is in the constitution it doesn't matter how bad the crisis is you cannot suspend the constitution.
And yet, we saw this very, very dangerous precedent that we now have. We as American citizens are now facing in our country and happened during COVID, where the government established a new precedent, which is that if it has a good enough excuse the government can now take away all of our freedoms. And guess what? There is always a good excuse, whether it's to stop a new disease, prevent the next pandemic, to protect us from misinformation, to prevent domestic terrorism to stop hate speech, to prosecute a war, or to fight climate change. But, all of these reasons can easily turn into pretexts. Control over the public starts, perhaps as a means, but it always becomes an end.
It is part of the unstated and seductive ideology of totalitarianism that utopia will come through exercising perfect control over society and that works well as long as the good guys are in control, or your guys are in control.
Bitcoin is a bulwark against precisely this kind of government and corporate expansion and intrusion. In fact, it has been used it has been used to bypass oppressive government controls over the monetary systems as in Canada and Myanmar. As president I will make sure that your right to hold and use Bitcoin is inviolable.
First I will defend the right of self-custody of Bitcoin and other digital assets. You should be able to own your own private keys the same as you own the keys to your car or on your wallet. Your wallet whether it's in your pocket or in your computer, is your own. I don't think the government has the right to demand access to your Bitcoin key or indeed any of your passwords. To say otherwise is to cede essential territory to the surveillance state.
Second I will uphold the right to run a node at home. KYC requirements should be applied at the level of banks an exchange is not at the level of nodes, otherwise it would be become impossible to run the software. The whole point of Bitcoin is that its decentralised anyone can run a note and it's important not only for Bitcoin, but for democracy to be decentralised.
Third I will defend neutral regulation of energy. President Biden’s 30% tax on energy for Bitcoin miners requires an invasive surveillance apparatus to monitor what is happening in individual computers. It sets a terrible precedent in which everything that you do that requires electricity must now be monitored by the government. That's why I also support people’s rights to refuse smart metres in their homes.
Fourth I will make sure that the United States remains the global hub of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Major established companies like PayPal, Fidelity and Block are investing heavily in Bitcoin related software development. Some of the best engineers and coders in the tech industry work in this field and we want to keep them here in America. I will reverse the government's growing hostility toward this industry and keep innovation at home that leads to my fifth point.
Fifth, events like the FTX calamity prove that some kind of regulation of the crypto industry is needed. My administration will consult with knowledgeable people like yourselves to establish sensible jurisdiction and governance. For starters we must recognise that Bitcoin is not a security and should not be regulated as such Bitcoin is in a class by itself is why decentralisation (I'm told now that there are 40,000 nodes) prevents a lot of the insider trading manipulation and pumping dump schemes that plague other cryptocurrencies.
Sixth I will carefully consider whether individuals like Ross Ulbricht were prosecuted, I will consider whether they were prosecuted for actual crimes, or as a means to crack down on crypto. If they had been unjustly made an example I will consider pardoning them and I will act very quickly to do so. Before I conclude I'd like to say something about the environmental criticism of Bitcoin it may be unpopular to say here but even all those criticisms are exaggerated they have some degree of validity. It’s exaggerated because Bitcoin miners chase the cheapest energy, they have to do that for economic reasons, and Bitcoin mining tends to go with the energy is the least expensive drawing a lot of vital base load as well as excess peak generation of renewable power. But I think Bitcoin miners can still do a lot better and I encourage you in this industry to expand your use of pro environmental energy techniques such as capturing waste methane and using waste heat, which I know many of you are experimenting with, we environmentalists will continue to pressure you to improve.
However, whether or not the criticism is valid I want to make one thing plain, the environmental argument should not be used as a smokescreen for an agenda of suppressing Bitcoin.
And let me repeat that: energy you should not be used as a pretext for suppressing Bitcoin. Totalitarians hate anything that they can't control, and they will use any pretext necessary to control it. I am aware of an eerie parable to the COVID years when public health became a pretext to obliterate our basic rights and freedoms. The COVID public health emergency is gone now and we must not now replace it with some new set of rationales that further the decades long erosion of our freedoms.
Finally, I'd like to clarify a couple of things I am not an investor and I'm not here to give investment advice or to promote Bitcoin over other cryptocurrencies or other currencies. That's the job of the free market not the president of the United States.
My interest is:
One I am an ardent defender and a lifelong defender of civil liberties and Bitcoin is both an exercise and a guarantee of those freedoms.
Two Bitcoin is a major generator of the kind of innovation our country now needs.
Three Bitcoin embodies two of my highest ideals of transparency and trust. Americans have come to distrust the government including the way that it has manipulated our money supply for the benefit the very rich and to prosecute endless wars.
Bitcoin is a neutral currency beyond the ability of government or indeed any authority to manipulate. In our current system nearly all of our transactions are transparent all right, they're transparent to government and corporations, but their machinations and activities are not transparent to us, they are opaque. Bitcoin makes every transaction transparent to everyone it might therefore be a harbinger of a future in which the government is transparent to the people and that would be democracy.
Now, I’m proud to make an historic announcement, but first if you can please pull out your cell phones our campaign will be the first presidential campaign in history to accept Bitcoin donations through the lightning network and today we move one step closer to the future, today we show the world the power and the durability and the flexibility of Bitcoin.
I want to conclude by saying as almost everyone in this room is aware of the link between Bitcoin and democracy and freedom, and as why almost everybody I had met, that I meet, who is involved in Bitcoin is passionate about it. They're not passionate because it's an interesting currency. You're passionate because of the deep representation of a deep need that we have for liberty and democracy and the promise that this innovation has to guarantee those virtues.
We are now living in this age of turnkey totalitarianism with this emerging technology which can empower totalitarian regimes and our job is to try to build and fortify democratic institutions at the same rate as that totalitarian instruments are being expanded in their power. Things like AI which really are going to threaten democracy at its base we need to not be chipping away at our democratic institutions, we need to be fortifying the ones that exist and building new ones, and the biggest most important one on the horizon is Bitcoin because it can't be manipulated.
All of you I know are here, again, not because you love it currency, but because you love our country, love democracy, love freedom, and in that sense your support of Bitcoin puts you in the same category as the framers of the constitution that gave us that bill of rights, that created these democratic institutions and you are the current manifestation of that impulse. So, thank you all very much for everything that you do, and thank you for being part of this movement.”
It’s a Wrap!
The event closed out at The Oasis club with a set from DJ Valerie Love…
…and of course, a swim at the beach the following morning before departure.
Next year’s event will be held in Nashville. See you all there for Bitcoin Nashville 2024! Early bird tickets are on sale now.