Before I quit watching TV, I used to cringe when I would see those debit card commercials. You know the ones- everybody is bumping along at lunch until the record scratches, movement stops and somebody has backed everything up because he had the audacity to pay with cash. Even in the public schools the children are being taught to pay with a number (or fingerprint) instead of the old fashioned way. (And people wonder why many young adults can’t make change at a shop.)
Talk of a cashless society and the privacy concerns that come with it has generally been regarded as conspiracy theory chatter. Not any more. BBC News has been openly and actively discussing the possibility and I’ve seen Asian reports of cell phone wallets. Here’s a quick video:
The bankers have been using government to put the screws to people for generations but can you imagine what a cashless society will do? It will require that merchants disclose all financial information to the bank to be permitted to do business. It will raise costs as merchants have to pay a fee- discount rate variable depending on credit score- on all transactions. For the person who has need to eat (and which of us doesn’t?), it will track everything from your greasy cheeseburger to your tofu salad. It will bring every transaction to scrutiny by a taxing authority. After all, if you can’t buy food and other necessities with cash there’s no sense in working for it. You will have to ask permission to live.
I don’t mean to sound a doom and gloomer, after all the banks are saying that there are no plans to end cash right now and that the current system is voluntary. I certainly don’t live “off the grid” – I have my own credit cards (paid in full every month) that I use for convenience but there are some things for which cash must be paid. (Hint: One of those things is a different kind of green and I’m almost certain that fighting the War on Drugs will be cited as a clarion call to help usher in this idea.) When I hear many world “leaders” calling right now for some sort of global correction to the world economy, it makes me worry that something like this will be attempted very soon. I think that there’s just enough blind nationalism (who’d have ever thunk I’d be happy for blind nationalism?) left in the world to stop it but who knows? We may very soon see our system of currency change into a very beastly thing.