The Cashless Society – A Digital Trojan Horse
By Kyle Rearden from the Last Bastille blog
By: Kyle Rearden
June 29th, 2014
Many people herald the current digital age, some of whom openly welcome (what they consider to be) the inevitable arrival of ubiquitous micro-chipping, in all of its purported glory. Yet, what if some bureaucrat possessed the ability to just turn off your chip on a whim, based upon his so-called “rulemaking authority?” This would be worse than having your bank accounts frozen, for you wouldn’t have any other form of money to fall back on; if it continued long enough, then you would have your electricity cut off, you would not be able to buy groceries, and your mortgaged home would be foreclosed upon (or alternatively, you’d be evicted from your apartment). The implications of giving someone else that much power over your own life merits serious reflection upon the capabilities of such technologies in the first place.
A cashless society, simply put, is “a society in which purchases of goods or services are made by credit card or electronic funds transferral, rather than with cash or checks.” So, right there, the definition itself tells you that the cashless society is totally electronic, and more importantly, digital. Remember, the baby-boomers grew up with checks and cash, whereas Generation X grew up with plastic cards and wire transfers. Scott Shay coined the term econgularity (a portmanteau for the economic singularity), which he defined as:
“[A]n unfortunate approaching moment in time when our current technological snooping prowess, the ease of big data manipulation, and our sprint to a cashless economy will converge. This will happen in such a way as to permit governments to exercise incredibly powerful control over all human behavior.”
Whether the unimpeded cashless society will lead to the econgularity, or is the economic singularity, is an academic difference at best. The takeaway here is that the wholesale digitization of money will ultimately benefit tyrannical governments at the expense of the people, because they control the technology directly themselves, or otherwise indirectly through their multinational corporations.
Historically, tyrants have always wished for a cradle-to-grave dragnet surveillance mechanism with which to intimidate and rule their captive populations. With the advent of information technology, those who have an unmitigated lust for power can do so with relative ease and near total impunity. Modeled off of panopticons (such as the Presidio Modelo), the interlocking virtual networks of financial institutions, social media, and various databases effectively form an amalgamated version of the Orwellian Big Brother.
Applying the Hegalian Dialectic as a formula, the federal government has used the lame excuse of “terrorism” to construct a digital panopticon that the Administrative Agencies will use as their easiest investigative tool. Back in November of 2002, Fox News reported:
“A massive database that the government will use to monitor every purchase made by every American citizen is a necessary tool in the war on terror, the Pentagon said Wednesday.”
I don’t remember any enumerated power in the United States Constitution that delegated to either the Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court the duty to “monitor every purchase made by every American citizen.” At about the same time, the New York Times reported that:
“Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database.’” [emphasis added]
Excuse me, but isn’t the constitutional purpose of the military to “suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions?” Oh, wait, that’s right…it’s the militia whose supposed to do that, because, remember, even though Congress has the power “to raise and support Armies,” there is supposed to be “no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years” [Art. I § 8], which kind of begs the question as to why there is a U.S. Army or Pentagon at all, but I digress. There is nothing in the Constitution that permits thewarfare state to go data mining, and as icing on the cake, Joe Sansone commented that:
“The Information Awareness Office (IAO) seeks what it calls ‘Total Information Awareness.’ The agency has even adopted the new world order symbol of the pyramid with the all knowing eye hovering above it that is seen on the back of a one dollar Federal Reserve note.”
Although I am not a big fan of learning the intricacies of symbology, even I am disconcerted how indiscriminate random surveillance can be used in much the same manner as H.G. Wells described back in the late 1930s. The end result of such a program of dehumanization would probably look something like Finland back in 2003:
“When Tom Huppunen takes the bus to class every day, the government knows the stop he gets on, the stop he gets off and the time he does so. When Anna Komonen makes a call on her cell phone, the phone company not only can record her call but it can also pinpoint where she is standing at the time she makes it. If she is ever under investigation, the police can use global positioning system, or GPS, technology to watch her every move, or at least that of her phone. And when Mikko Valimaki was pulled over by the traffic police for speeding last summer, they simply punched a few numbers into a database, found out how much money he makes and fined him accordingly. Welcome to Finland, where almost everything the citizenry does happens under the government’s watchful eyes.”
Suffice it to say, widespread acquiescence to such ubiquitous invasions of privacy is the desired end for tyrants to accomplish in this arena, for it sets the stage later for even more oppression, as targeted individuals would be fretting about how they are going to justify their actions before some pot-bellied bureaucrat. This is not to say anything about the uncanny profitability of governments and corporations buying and selling the intricate details of your life to each other, as well as to foreigners. Regulatory capture, much?
How is this panopticon to be coercively enforced? The answer to that is biometrics. Whether due to shoplifting, identity theft, social welfare fraud, Alzhemier’s disease, or counterfeiting, the Establishment will waste no excuse to set the Hegelian Dialectic into action. In the early 2000s, KEYE-TV, a local CBS-affiliate right here in Austin (the capitol of Texas), issued a newscast about how Kroeger’s grocery stores in the nearby Bryan-College Station area were beta testing fingerprint authentication technology that were linked to either your credit, debit, or checking accounts (also, either your telephone number or your driver’s license would act as a password). This was all being done in the name of preventing “identity theft,” the result of which is acquiescence to gross invasions of privacy. Towards the end of the news report, the anchorwoman offhandly commented that at least citizens weren’t linked into the Austin Police Department’s database, to which the weatherman joked in response that citizens were not yet at this point, but then admonished her by saying “don’t tell them the secret!”
If you’ve ever seen those ink pads at any bank, where if you try to cash a check without having an account at that bank, they will insist that you give them a thumbprint on the check itself; this is emblematic of what Harvard law professor Glenn Cohen described as “function creep,” which he defined as where an invention was introduced for one purpose but then used for something quite differently in the future, “like social security numbers” as he put it. This incrementalization is used by the government to slip under the rug something that would be wholesale rejected by the population had it been introduced all at once. So, how would a social engineer acclimatize the public to give digital fingerprints at the grocery store? By mandating earlier that inked fingerprints be given on checks by those who do not have a bank account, of course.
Biometrics isn’t just limited to fingerprints, unfortunately. As Clyde Crews wrote:
“Biometric technologies — voiceprints, retina, iris, and face scanners, digitized fingerprints, and implanted chips — can benefit us. Such technologies will soon be used in cell phones, mobile computers, cars doors, doorknobs and office keys — basically everywhere. Biometrics can bolster online commerce, help locate a lost child, and transmit medical information to doctors. They promise increased privacy by preventing identity theft.”
With such a glowing description of the technology itself, Crews goes on to say that the only real danger is the government using the technology for its own nefarious ends. Crews portrays the technology as the result of the free market, but is it really? Alfred Hermida wrote:
“Biometrics is a nascent industry, which analysts say is worth between $240m to $400m. Rival technologies are vying for lucrative government contracts. These include fingerprint and facial recognition, but also iris recognition, which looks for a pattern in the eye, and hand geometry, which analyses the layout of the hand.” [emphasis added]
Considering the heavy role the military-industrial complex plays in the development of biometric technology, I am left to conclude that it is the government intervention in the market that is the real reason why biometrics is being pushed so damn hard.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there is also the microchip agenda to consider as well. In 2002, Reuters reported that Applied Digital Solutions, the creators of the VeriChip, were encouraging people to get implantable microchips. They even went so far as to advertise for a “Get Chipped” nationwide promotion intended to literally encourage the mass chipping of Americans. Three years later, Amal Graafstra voluntarily had an RFID microchip implanted into the web of his left hand for non-medical purposes, such as for keyless entry to his car and as a login to his computers. By the time Graafstra had been chipped, both CNN and BBC had already run stories about how scientists are developingimplantable brain chips to slow down, or potentially reverse, Alzhemier’s disease.
Perhaps those Christians really were correct when it came to the mark of the beast as being a stamp on the hand (or in the mind) of nearly all people, without which no one could buy or sell. Fast forward about a decade later to 2012, when Brandon Turbeville reported that:
“Recently, India has launched a nationwide program involving the allocation of a Unique Identification Number (UID) to every single one of its 1.2 billion residents. Each of the numbers will be tied to the biometric data of the recipient using three different forms of information – fingerprints, iris scans, and pictures of the face. All ten digits of the hand will be recorded, and both eyes will be scanned.”
I guess it was only a matter of time, as the US military had already battle-tested facial recognition software upon hapless Afghans and Iraqis. Of course, such diabolically invasive biometric technology is being rolled out in India to allegedly halt “social welfare fraud.” Maybe if the Indian government didn’t have a massively bureaucratic welfare state, then there wouldn’t be a “need” to legally mandate its citizenry to be fingerprinted and scanned like tax cattle. But that can’t ever happen here in America, right?
Would the mostly digitized Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) ever be replaced by another fiat government currency, in order to forcibly implement the cashless society against the American people even more? Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a “United Future World Currency” coin at the G8 meeting back in 2009. Based upon the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which are implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Medvedev’s coin is a prototype for a global currency. In light of the austerity imposed by the World Bank and IMF upon subjected nations, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that super-state currencies (like the proposed Amero) would be used as a stepping stone towards something like Medvedev’s coin. Bretton Woods, much?
Unfortunately, FRNs are fractionally reserved and lended to the United States federal government at interest, which is the backbone mechanism of central banking. Seeing that the Amero or Medvedev’s coin would require an even more centralized central bank, (much like the European Central Bank that issues the Euro), such does not bode well for either our freedom or the future of sound money. Combine this with an concomitant socialist oyster, and what you find yourself in is a situation whereby people who accept welfare entitlement handouts are doing so using a currency that is worth less than nothing; a kind of debt money, if you like. Those who rely on food stamps are not issued checks like they used to be, but instead receive electronic deposits on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.
Shopping, as a tedious consumerist drudgery, has already become cashless and high-tech. What initially began as convenient and accessible online shopping (such as through the ever useful and often cost effective Amazon.com and eBay.com), morphed into supermarkets implementing “smart tagging” as early as 2003. Smart shelves, smart clothes, smart tires, and even smart shopping carts have all been implemented on the alleged grounds that doing so would deter “shoplifting,” thereby invoking the Hegelian Dialectic yet again. This technology is only possible because of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, which uses radio frequency waves to transmit information, and is also the same foundational technology for human micro-chipping. The idea here is to build an “Internet of Things,” whereby nearly every single mass-produced item can be cataloged and traced all throughout the supply chain, into the customer’s own home, and then back out again into the landfill.
Another key use of RFID technology is what has been alternately referred to as contactless payment or near-field communication (NFC). Without even swiping your credit or debit card, NFCs like Visa payWave are used for the sake of convenience; yet, NFCs are not just limited to plastic cards, for they can also be used via smartphone as well (NFCs could also take a form like the wristwatches in Hong Kong). NFCs such as Google Wallet, MasterCard’s PayPass, PayPal’s smartphone app, the iZettle app, and the Square card-reader are just a few of the currently available ways someone could use their plastic card or smartphone to digitally transfer funds.
Some people might think that the digitization of money is emblematic of their undefined notion of “progress,” but what are the real world consequences for such a top-down method of trade? In November of 2012, Patrick Henningsen wrote that:
“It has long been the dream of collectivists and technocratic elites to eliminate the semi-unregulated cash economy and black markets in order to maximise taxation and to fully control markets. If the cashless society is ushered in, they will have near complete control over the lives of individual people.”
In September of 2013, the Times of Israel reported that the Israeli government is planning to eventually ban the use of cash in order to deter “tax evasion” & “money laundering” (are you beginning to see how this game works?). Nine months later, Gregory Baskin reported that:
“A cashless society experiment in the United Kingdom resulted in mixed reactions from merchants on June 21, 2014. The project took place in a shopping district in Manchester, England, where electronic-only payments were the stated preference. On that day, Beech Road boasted the moniker of being the United Kingdom’s first-ever cashless shopping area. The exercise was the brainchild of Handepay, a card payment processor. Some business owners and managers liked the prospect of a cashless society while others did not. Some displayed signs informing customers they had opted-out of the experiment. Others, however, felt the eventual elimination of cash in society to be inevitable, adopting an ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ attitude toward the event.”
This system is going to be thrust down your throat, whether you consent to it or not. At this juncture, it’s only a matter of time; it’s already happened to the Indians, the Israelis are next, and the British were subjected to beta testing as of last week. What makes you think that Australians, Canadians, or even you Americans are going to be immune from this growing cancer of the cashless society?
Presumably, what if you were able to rearrange your life to the degree that you only used cash to buy groceries and pay bills? Even then, you’re still going to have to be vigilant, because there are tracker chips in the $100 bills, which the government claims are there to deter “counterfeiting.” Remember, only 3% of the M1 money supply is cash, so you’re going to be in the stark minority of consumers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there, for those foil strips in the $20 bills may have indeed been replaced by embedded RFID chips.
What is the fall-out from the cashless society? Surely, such a domineering system would be virtually impervious, wouldn’t you think so? Last October, EBT cards experienced a nationwide malfunction. Whether it was due to the government shutdown, or a computer system upgrade, the difference is immaterial; the moral of the story is that everyone on food stamps was temporarily cut off from buying groceries. Considering the fact that ~ 82% of the ~ 315,000,000 Americans are urbanized, such an overly centralized method of payment only spells even more of a disaster should there again be something as minor as an digital snag, no matter how temporary.
Consider also the monsters people conjure up in their own minds. Why should a mugger risk exposure and injury to himself when he could digitally pickpocket you instead? If you doubt me as to whether this is possible, I would encourage you to take notes of the predictive programming elements in the game movie version of WATCH_DOGS before telling me that I’m full of it. Similarly, in a grid-down scenario of any kind involving a (perhaps, formerly) cashless society, not only would everyone be unable to purchase the necessities they need to survive, but also the fact that everyone’s life savings would have been wiped from the servers, given enough time. Wouldn’t you think that the people affected by a prolonged emergency like this would be happy about it?
Probably the most important idea to understand is the fact that the cashless society is inimical to sound money. The characteristics of sound money require anything that functions as if it were currency to be:
- Transportable (a medium of exchange)
- Divisible (a unit of account)
- Fungible (units are interchangeable)
- Durable (degradation resistant)
- Recognizable (preferably, counterfeit resistant)
- Expensive to bring into circulation
- A store of value, and
I seriously doubt that digital FRNs, or their future replacements, satisfy all these necessary characteristics of sound money. Digitized currencies are only as durable as long as the power stays on, they have no inherent value (but only in the sense of what they are able to buy in the moment), and they are certainly not anonymous. Remember, 97% of the money supply is digital; so, digitized fiat currency is the problem.
Should you close your bank account, in light of the incremental “function creep” inherent to the cashless society? Before you do, consider easing yourself off of banking first. Determine whether or not your credit and/or debit cards are NFC or otherwise RFID readable; if so, ask your bank whether they offer plastic non-RFID cards (like they used to). If not, consider cutting up those cards and sticking to your checkbook only. Next, cash out your certificates of deposit, and then close all your bank accounts. Ideally, the goal here is gradually ease yourself off of banking entirely until you are “unbanked” without setting off any red flags, if at all possible (at least until such time as free banking has been reinvigorated within the remnants of the free market).
Doing this successfully, though, also requires practical experience in using alternative financial services (AFSs). Whether they be in the form of money orders, traveler’s checks, or prepaid debit cards, AFSs might just offer you a way to step in and out of the police state control grid at will. However, be forewarned that the government has been trying to clamp down on some AFSs; thus, there is the possibility of controlled opposition being in play, so just be careful using them.
Alternative currencies present quite possibly the best chance any of us realistically have in side-stepping the cashless society. Physical cash is still useful, but you’ll need to block whatever tracer chips they may have put in some of the bills. There have been some successes with placing the bills in envelopes of aluminum foil, and RFID blocking wallets appear promising as well. Despite what some doom-and-gloomers might reasonably infer, there is no solid economic reason to suspect that cash will be phased out because it is still useful for low-price purchases, garage sales, flea markets, and farmer’s markets, all of which require cash in order to trade; the only way cash would become extinct is if the American federal government imitated Israel in her effort to outlaw cash itself.
In addition to cash, there is also specie, such as gold bullion and silver coins, as well as local paper currencies. As of today, the spot price for gold is $1,316/oz and silver is $21/oz. I personally consider gold to be better for savings and as backing for privately issued local currencies, whereas silver would be more ideal for common day-to-day trade. Local paper currencies such as time dollars (such as the self-issued barter credit known as theAnarcho-Jesse Labor Note, which also contained Jesse’s job skills and email address printed on the bills), or product vouchers (such as Canadian tire money, which is often referred to as Canada’s second national currency), are cash alternatives to FRNs. Barter networks, such as the LETSystem, are another promising avenue; but, if you want to go really old school, then learn how to use an American Indian trading blanket.
The cashless society has been in the making for over a decade, so nobody has any excuse anymore to claim that it’s a rumor, other than ignorance. We should remind each other that governments do not have rights; only people do. So, feel free to shop at thrift stores to avoid RFID tagging on clothing, or microwave a $100 bill, if you feel like it. It’s one thing to use FRNs because it is the “coin of the realm,” but it is even worse to use a digitized version of it. In order to defeat central banking, it is also necessary to rebuke the cashless society because they are tied at the hip, for all intents and purposes. Should you choose to become an advocate of sound money, then go physical.