JOHN STOSSEL: 

Silk Road

Ross Ulbricht was a quiet nerd — an Eagle Scout who never cursed.

Then he became a libertarian, and he decided, "I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion."

By coercion, Ulbricht meant force.

He viewed laws against drugs as coercion — government force that stops people from living the way they want.

So he created a website called Silk Road. Silk Road let people buy and sell contraband — mostly drugs — using bitcoin. The site became successful quickly. It soon carried a billion dollars in transactions.

Because Silk Road didn't use dollars, it was also private, said Ulbricht. "The State is unable to get its thieving murderous mitts on it."

But he was wrong. Ulbricht slipped up, using his real name in an internet forum, and the FBI found him and jailed him.

A jury, looking at his former website, convicted him of things like "conspiracy to traffic narcotics." He was clearly guilty of that.

But then Judge Katherine Forrest said that because "Silk Road was a black market of unprecedented scope" she would sentence Ulbricht to "double life plus 40 years, without parole."

That's a longer sentence than many murderers get.       ... MORE



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