“We can hold on to the way it’s always been done, or we can drive innovation. We have to be willing to embrace the future.”
With a population of some 67,000 people, sitting about 70 miles east of Memphis, there’s nothing particularly cypherpunk about the city of Jackson, Tennessee. But Mayor Scott Conger realizes that it can benefit from embracing Bitcoin nonetheless, just like any other city in the world.
“I’ve been interested in Bitcoin for a while, but it’s been from a distance as a spectator,” Conger told Bitcoin Magazine. “In the past few months, I’ve gotten more interested and I am always looking for ways to make Jackson better and to stand out. I’ve started having conversations with people. The more conversations I have, the more interested I become.”
Conger got the attention of the Bitcoin world with a series of tweets this month. He put laser eyes on his profile picture, announced that he’s forming a “blockchain taskforce” for the city and noted the forthcoming, equitable industrial revolution that will be brought on by Bitcoin adoption. Specifically, Conger is exploring ways that he can offer cryptocurrency-based payroll conversions for city employees.
“We already offer our employees a deferred compensation opportunity for their retirement,” Conger explained, comparing the wealth protection potential of bitcoin to more traditional forms of savings. “Those options are great, but we need to expand our options for our employees to utilize dollar-cost averaging to increase and enhance their portfolios.”
Bitcoin-based payroll services would be novel, but it’s an option also being explored by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. (Conger and Suarez have established something of a Bitcoin-forward mayor bromance.)
But Conger is also looking into the possibility of mining bitcoin to add the asset to Jackson’s balance sheet. Currently, his team is assessing the initial investment and energy costs, but he seems optimistic about the potential.
“The benefits could be exponential,” Conger said of a city-based bitcoin mining initiative. “We can potentially get to a point where we are not only funding municipal projects from mined coins, but we could also benefit from our local energy authority by mining in off-peak hours, which will allow them to plan and regulate the energy output.”
Though Conger is still exploring the potential that Bitcoin can bring to Jackson’s municipal services, he is positive about ways that the transformative technology can help its citizens. It’s another indicator in just how early we are in the process of hyperbitcoinization that his openness and optimism makes him a standout among the country’s legislators, many of whom are more focused on finding reasons to restrict the use of Bitcoin. Conger said that he is hoping for a larger attitude shift among these legislators soon (while potentially making a reference to “The Avengers” film franchise).
“I think it’s easy to find the 14,000,604 ways something won’t work,” he said. “Leaders have to find the way it will work. We can hold on to the way it’s always been done, or we can drive innovation. We have to be willing to embrace the future and create a vision on how to get there.”