The Queens Politician Who Wants to Give New Yorkers Their Own Crypto

Assemblyperson Ron Kim wants his constituents to be self-sovereign. The trouble is, his constituents don’t know what that means.

A member of the New York State Assembly representing District 40 as part of the Democrat and Working Families parties, Kim has been a fierce advocate for progressive politics and a surprising voice for crypto advocacy.

Over the course of his seven-year stint in office, Kim has put forward bills to create local currencies (potentially blockchain based) as well as, recently, a decentralized standard for contact tracing. Kim’s political imagination aligns with the crypto-community. He wants to decentralize power structures and provide technological pathways towards individual autonomy.

“It all boils down to getting people their self-sovereign IDs,” Kim said. “The options that grow out of that are limitless.” This includes establishing a streamlined architecture to pay out public benefits — including COVID-19 relief payments — rebuilding a crumbling public health infrastructure as well as establishing a statewide digital banking system.

See also: Meet the US Senate Candidate Who’s Invested in Bitcoin Since 2013

“I tried a few years ago to talk about the concept of community currencies, which I thought was an introductory concept,” Kim said. “But I realized early on that if you talk about currency as an Asian man, or cryptocurrencies, people’s flags go up.”

“So I pivoted to focus on economic failures and personalizing it by discussing credit card debt, student debt, mortgages, to expose why our market economy is failing us,” he said.

In conversation with CoinDesk, Kim, a measured speaker, framed his technocratic dreams in opposition to the profit-driven systems currently in place. From big banks to big tech, monopolistic firms “extract” value from communities and encroach on individual civil liberties.

COVID-19 both highlights and accelerates these issues, and is the impetus for Kim to…

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