Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ Affair with Bitcoin

By George Kite

Staff Political Analyst

On November 4th, mayor-elect Eric Adams replied on Twitter that he would take his first three paychecks in Bitcoin. He responded to the Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, who stated in a Tweet that he would take his next paycheck in Bitcoin. Mayor-elect Adams pushed for in his campaign an economic agenda to make New York City more business and technology friendly, part of which is trying to make New York City into the new cryptocurrency hub. Adam’s tweet made a flurry of criticism and support, as cryptocurrency remains a controversial form of currency. 

In the tweet, Adams said, “In New York we always go big, so I’m going to take my first THREE paychecks in Bitcoin when I become mayor. NYC is going to be the center of the cryptocurrency industry and other fast-growing, innovative industries! Just wait!”

Adams was the Democratic frontrunner for the New York City mayoral election, and won against Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa with 66.5% of the vote. With New York City being one of the strongest Democratic places in the country, the Democratic primary was seen as the more important election. The primary election was the first New York City election to use ranked choice voting, whereby instead of voting for one candidate, voters ranked the candidates out of 5, with the first choice being the strongest vote but other candidates were still factored into the vote. Out of 8 rounds, Adams’ won against nominee Kathryn Garcia by a little more than 7,000 votes.

Adams’ victory in the New York City election comes with a great deal of controversy towards his policies and attitudes that reflect much angst with establishment Democrats. During Adams’ campaign, Politico found that Adams’ Bedford-Stuyvesant and Prospect Heights apartments that he used registered to in the election were empty and Adams’ admitted that he hadn’t lived there in years, instead living in a co-op in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Adams is a former NYPD captain and spoke against defunding police departments in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that occured last year. Adams also campaigned in appeals to working class and blue collar New Yorkers, but according to Politico parties and fundraisers in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard; he also vacationed to Monaco earlier in August.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, which is a form of digital currency with no bank or administration. Bitcoin is earned by computers running algorithms that require immense amounts of processing power and time, making the process high in energy consumption. Bitcoin is a very volatile currency and is considered speculative investment; in recent years Bitcoin has become a valuable currency and numerous corporations are investing into Bitcoin mining. Because cryptocurrency in general is very new, there is very little regulation and taxation of the currency, although the new infrastructure bill passed by the Biden administration included making cryptocurrency exchanges be reported on taxes by the IRS. 

It comes to no surprise that Adams’ endorsed Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, in line with many neoliberal policies and attitudes that establishment Democrats hold. New York state currently holds the most cryptocurrency mining in the U.S. according to CNBC, with nearly 20% of all cryptocurrency mined in the country. New York’s cooler climate and power grid makes it favorable for Bitcoin mining, and although the New York state government has introduced proposals to regulate or outright ban cryptocurrency mining none of the proposals have gained steam.

Cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin, is controversial for its dubious usages and environmental degradation. Cryptocurrency is commonly stolen through fraudulent online exchanges, and commonly used by criminals for exchanges and purchase because of its difficulty to track. In addition, cryptocurrency creates a huge carbon footprint because of its energy consumption and need for large amounts of electricity; in fact, numerous non-operational coal and natural gas power plants in New York state have been restarted to fuel power to cryptocurrency miners. Adams’ endorsement of Bitcoin comes as competition with other cities and states to attract Bitcoin and more financial capital, as New York City competes with other states like Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia. Adams’ tweet was to the mayor of Miami as the city and mayor are pushing an agenda to attract more cryptocurrency. 

In a time when New York City faces skyrocketing rent hikes, massive homelessness, increasing poverty, local businesses shutting down, increasing gentrification, and poor public transport maintenance. Adams’ statement that he will be taking his first three paychecks in Bitcoin comes as another silly and ridiculous posturing from an out-of-touch political Democrat elite who are more concerned with enriching the wealth of middle and upper class New Yorkers than more pressing issues. Although Adams will be replacing the corrupted and hated mayor of New York Bill de Blasio, one can wonder how much better Adams will be as mayor, considering that he could easily not pass the already staggeringly low bar that he would have to get over.

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