I'll begin with a theoretical demonstrative example.

The Bureau of Land Management (sorry for immediately Americanizing the question, to all the European readers out there, but this idea might not work well in Europe anyways, for reasons that will soon become clear.) manages ca. 250 million acres (1 million , and 2.5 acres to a hectare), a landmass approximately the size of France and Germany combined. The Bureau offers land leases regularly, for a multitude of different reasons. I vaguely remember them offering land for sale at times (which probably means it's never happened), but for this thought experiment, let's imagine that land sales are on the table.

Land prices in America can vary between $1k and $100k an acre (napkin math), depending on where you're looking. Most BLM land is "what homesteaders didn't want", which would probably put it in the lower bound of that spectrum, but let's say that most of it could sell for $5,000 an acre, and that BLM would "set aside" y million acres for this program.

BLM would then create x amount of this coin per acre, and sell an amount of it to investors based off of the amount of land they would be putting up for sale in the coming year/amount of land up for lease. The BLM would promise to accept the coin as legal tender for land sales and leases, putting a minimum USD value to the coin. Most land sales and leases that I know of are auction based, and they usually have a minimum bid amount, so there would be a link between the value of the coin and USD. If they made 10 coins per acre, and set that as a value, then an example auction would have a minimum bid of: 5 acres for sale, min. bid of $25,000 or 50 "coins". This gives the coin a minimum value, backed by a government agency.

Now say we jump ahead a few years, and cryptocurrency hype has driven up the price (government accepted crypto, fiat-backed to some degree), BLM is able to sell these coins for more than it costs them, there's more interest in BLM land sales, also driving up their revenue due to increased bidding on the auctions. 

So, from BLM's perspective, why would/wouldn't this be a valuable path to take?

Also a relevant question, what are the theoretical pros and cons of this cryptocurrency over other existent cryptocurrencies?

(and is there a short word for cryptocurrency, it feels ridiculous writing it out every time)

As I write this all out, I see a number of flaws already. I hope the minimum quality to make a question post is met, though, and I appreciate comments and critique.

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For the BLM:

Pros:

  • Takes land that currently creates little to no value for the US Government, and immediately monetizes it, despite the actual sale of the land maybe being years off.

Cons:

  • If the value of the currency dips below the USD value of the amount of land that it's worth, then investors could buy it up and use it to get BLM land for cheaper than expected. This feels like it would be self-correcting.

In relation with other cryptocurrencies:

Pros:

  • A branch of the US Government would accept this coin as legal tender, which is a level of recognition sought by many cryptocurrencies.
  • There is a minimum value set, which (afaik) no other coins have.

Cons:

  • The government would have the ability to stop the sale of this coin at any time, which removes some of the decentralized aspect of it.
  • There's no clearly defined mining procedure, since the coins are created in correlation with land. So, I don't even know if this is considered a cryptocurrency?
5 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:57 PM

Reasoning about crypto value is difficult, or maybe impossible.  There's a large amount of complexity in

cryptocurrency hype has driven up the price 

which pretty much removes any importance of the rest of your scenario.  

That part also jumped out to me as a leap in logic, but I think there's a case to be made for that scenario, that gives it some chance of happening (~50%). It would be the first crypto accepted by the US government. That's a great marketing tagline, and even if the US created some random crypto linked to gasoline, tobacco, or marijuana taxes it'll probably be hyped. Also, it seems that almost anything marketed as a cryptocurrency leads to speculation, even though this proposal is actually more like a digital asset or security.

That's a great point, thank you for bringing the idea back down to earth.

I wonder if a motivation for this post has to do with Georgist-style land value tax. Turning these land leases into securities will create a market with market prices for the land leases, making it easier to assess the value of, and tax, the land.

There's the issue of differing value of different plots of land. Land isn't fungible, but if large enough swaths of land are similar enough to be grouped up, then it could work.

Hey datscilly, thanks for your two comments. I could very well believe that the ACX-hosted Book Review and later research had tinged my thoughts on this. I still need to understand more of the Land Value Tax to see how something like that could be integrated into this idea.

I think the majority of BLM land could probably be bundled under a similar swath. Alternately, large chunks of land in Russia, Canada, Alaska, South America, etc. could maybe benefit from a similar program. Like I said above, the land has been classically unattractive, but remote work, global internet, a drive out of some cities, and whatever interest this program would generate could lead to the land being seen as much more attractive in the coming decades.