Former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul believes that a call by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) to ban cryptocurrency purchases in the U.S. is a terrible idea.

Appearing on CoinDesk Live at Consensus 2019, Paul discussed a number of topics surrounding the cryptocurrency space, including his belief that the federal government should leave the it alone.

“Detail wise, I don’t know what they’re doing yesterday or today, but I do know they’re watching,” he said. “Whether it’s gold or peanuts or silver or whatever, they will not just give cryptocurrencies a free ride.”

He dismissed Sherman’s call for a ban during a Congressional hearing on May 9. “I look for colleagues to join with me in introducing a bill to outlaw cryptocurrency purchases by Americans,” Sherman said at the time.

Paul called the House Financial Services Committee member “just another thug in Washington.”

“They happen to believe they know what is best and they will run the show. They want to be the boss, they’re dictators, and he’s not unusual,” he said, adding:

“He’s very typical in all degrees in all issues, whether it’s a social issue, like a few years ago when they decided the worst thing in the world is smoking marijuana.”

“People like him are driven by power,” he said.

“I think anarchy comes from the Brad Shermans of the world, because they break down the world and that’s how you have anarchy in [Venezuela], because of [too much government],” he said.

He noted that one of the reasons lawmakers and regulators may be looking at cryptocurrencies in particular is due to the fact that they “challenge the status quo of the monetary system.

New vs old

That being said, Paul indicated that the present U.S. monetary system and economy may be running on borrowed time, citing high debt levels as one example.

“The system we have today is not viable, it’s out of control, the amount of debt that’s building up we might end up with the dollar but not the system,” he said, pointing to issues such as social, military and corporate welfare as reasons for this.

“That is the system, and we are flat out broke, we’ve been broke for some time,” he said. “There will be liquidation, when the debt gets this big, the debt has to disappear.”

Crypto may play a role in preventing this he said, adding:

“I don’t know how it will evolve and I don’t know the technology but I’m enthusiastic about the alternatives and the competition and the … way it’s set up, that’s what they promised, is limitations.”

That being said, the main challenge is “choice.”

Individuals need to be able to develop and use alternatives, he said.

Asked what sort of cryptocurrency policy he might have if he was running for president, Paul said he would advocate for what is essentially a light-touch regulatory regime, saying:

“I can only speak for myself but I think it’s pretty important is not to come in and the first two to three options on cryptocurrency are ‘one’s better than another and we want to manage it,’ no, you turn it loose … you try to keep the government out of it as much as possible.”

“There’s probably more regulators on the financial markets than I would have but if you didn’t have anybody punishing people who defrauded people, there’s still a lot of fraud,” he said, though he noted that regulations haven’t prevented fraud either.

Ideally, he’d like to decentralize regulatory authority, so that agencies based in Washington, D.C. or New York City don’t control the rest of the nation’s startups and businesses.

“Government should be so small that nobody has a financial advantage to being there,” he said.

Ron Paul, Pete Rizzo image by John Biggs for CoinDesk

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