Forbes bucks conventional wisdom on Libra, e-cigarettes

Steve Forbes‘ latest contributions to Forbes magazine take on two recent controversies. First, he discusses Facebook’s focus on an alternative currency.

[R]egulatory pressures have forced a number of companies that were partnering with Facebook on this project to drop out.

And this gets to the real reason the idea of Libra is so troubling to so many politicians, government bureaucrats, banks and economists the world over: Libra could do to central banks what Uber and Lyft did to the taxi cartels—bust up their monopolies, or, to coin a phrase, give them a run for their money.

Libra would be backed by a basket of currencies and gilt-edged financial instruments, thereby overcoming the biggest flaw of other cryptocurrencies today—their instability. Four thousand years of experience demonstrates that gold would be the best tie, but Libra’s basket would still be vastly superior to anything else out there.

When Libra is up and running, a Facebook user could obtain a digital wallet called Calibra and could then send units of Libra to another Calibra wallet-holder anywhere in the world. The results would be instantly revolutionary. Under our current system, it’s expensive to wire money across borders, not to mention the hours or days it takes for funds to clear. Banks would be cut out of the process entirely!

Forbes also tackles vaping.

You’d never know it from all the lurid headlines in recent months about the seeming epidemic of deaths from “smoking” e-cigarettes, but vaping is actually a public-health godsend for smokers. The hysteria surrounding vaping says more about the peculiar fevers of our times than about the realities of puffing e-cigarettes.

Those deaths we hear about didn’t result from normal e-cigarettes but from tainted contents, particularly the active ingredient found in cannabis. The cries for prohibiting vaping make no more sense than banning milk because a few bad characters peddled adulterated versions.

The truth is that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. It lets users get nicotine without all the other carcinogenic contents and carbon monoxide that come from smoking cigarettes. Vaping is far more effective in helping people quit inhaling tobacco than are all the other props, including nicotine patches. Moreover, with many vaping devices, users can choose the level of nicotine they vape, including none at all. Vaping has enabled countless numbers of smokers to give up cigarettes and countless others not to take them up in the first place, thereby saving millions of lives.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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