Former U. S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas prophetically said of the importance of personal privacy in America, “The privacy and dignity of our citizens [are] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [persons] life…” Few of us remember that debit/prepaid credit cards were first introduced to us in 1966, according to marketplace.org 8/18/2011 report. The report also stated the in 1990 prepaid/debit card usage in America was a mere approximate 300 million transactions. And by 2009 their usage had ballooned to nearly 37.6 billion transactions. A recent study by the San Francisco Fed reported the just 32% of Americans used cash for transactions, with 27% debit/prepaid cards, 21% traditional credit cards. In fact the little secret to most of us is that the United States is currently ranked #8 in the list of Top Ten Cashless Countries In The World. So, in just over 2 ½ decades the use of paper currency has nearly gone the way of the 8-Track music device in America.
I know that many of you are saying, so what? Especially if you are someone who has grown up in the digital age. If one were to listen to the Media going cashless is a trend occurring throughout the world. Canada, the U.K, Belgium, Sweden, India, and others have already leaped at the chance to remove paper currency from the populous. It is just a matter of time before America succumbs to the inevitability of the new world order of the global community. They would have us believe that going cashless is the only way to combat the dreaded “Black Market Economy”, tax evasion, & counterfeiting. And of course, the “c” word, convenience, is used to promote how private citizens and business owners won’t have to be burdened with having to handle nasty, filthy paper currency, or having to keep up with it or maintain it. Oh, how marvelous and simpler our lives would be if we no longer had to deal with paper currency. Yea.
Have you noticed that fewer and fewer merchants, toll roads, parking meters, and public transit systems are accepting cash? Huumm…! In the July 14, 2017 article by chainstorage.com it reports that the credit card giant VISA is willing to dramatically grease the slide, “The credit card giant has announced a new initiative, called the Visa Cashless Challenge, which will incentivize small merchants to move away from cash payments. Using an application-based format, Visa will award approximately $10,000 each to 50 eligible U.S.-based small business food service owners, including food truck owners.”
It seems as though while the vast majority of us are being distracted with relatively insignificant matters such as, whether or not the Russian government favored Trump so much more than Hillary to infiltrate each of the individual 50 States’ electoral systems to get him elected, whether or not OJ Simpson will be paroled, if LeBron will stay with the Cavs, or whether or not the person in the bathroom stall next to your 7 year old daughter is truly a woman, we seemingly have quietly been put on a course to forever lose having the paper Dollar in our hands. Even the most passive observer amongst us should ask, why? and what are the consequences?
In 1977 the government was issued the findings of the U.S. Privacy Protection Study Commission which stated some interestingly noteworthy findings; the 1974 Privacy Act was too vague and did not go far enough to protect personal privacy by stating that the Act, “should be applied to the information practices of [such] organizations by legislation, administrative action, or voluntary adoption of such requirements and principles, and report on such other legislative recommendations as it may determine to be necessary to protect the privacy of individuals while meeting the legitimate needs of government and society for information.”; “Every member of a modern society acts out the major events and transitions of his life with organizations as attentive partners. Each of his countless transactions with them leaves its mark in the records they maintain about him.”; and “as records continue to supplant face-to-face encounters in our society, there has been no compensating tendency to give the individual the kind of control over the collection, use, and disclosure of information about him that his face-to-face encounters normally entail.” Inexplicably, none of the recommendations of the study’s findings were enacted by the Congress.
Despite the rosy picture that is being strenuously painted for us by the proponents of this agenda, the answer boils down to me is the issue of personal privacy in America. And the U.S government and “the Powers that Be” know it. The Founders of this great and amazing country placed such a value on individual privacy that they included it in the Bill of Rights at number four, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Emphasis on the right to be secure in our persons and effects shall not be violated. The ability of each of us to purchase something, anything, from the most insignificant to the most significant, should only involve you, the purchaser, and the seller of the item. Period! By abolishing even the free choice of operating in such a private manner and being left with only to include a third party anonymous data keeper and the government will lead to the surrendering of all personal privacy. The government will know everything about you, from what toothpaste you purchase, how many vacations you do, or do not, go on, where you go, and how much it cost you to get there, how many houses or property you own and how much you paid for them, and where they may be located. With such knowledge of your financial affairs, and since it would be completely digital, what’s to prohibit the government from arbitriarly either limiting, regulating, or eliminating your use of or access to your own money? That’s a lot of power for the government to have.
Though many of us may be under the false notion that the removal of cash from the society will only effect the so-called rich and wealthy lose sight of a couple of important points; First, the U.S government is surviving strictly due to the fact that it can PRINT the money that it needs to function and pay off it’s enormous debt; second, it is the poor and elderly who are most psychologically attached to paper currency, so they will be the most negatively affected by it’s removal just for basic everyday functioning; and third, the majority of Dollars are held in foreign banks, not domestically. The removal of them will have vast negative reactions internationally, with foreigners dumping the Dollar quicker than the Germans did the Mark during the Weimar Republic, and possibly reverberate back home to us in the form of dramatically higher interest rates and or hyper-inflation.
It is the steady incremental removal of individual privacy that is being pushed upon us in this wave of “the cashless society”, and thus the abolishment of the existence of the very tenets of America’s founding principles of individual freedom. As Benno C. Schmidt, Jr. noted scholar and former President of Yale University stated, “Privacy is absolutely essential to maintaining a free society. The idea that is at the foundation of the notion of privacy is that the citizen is not the tool or instrument of government – but the reverse… If you have no privacy, it will tend to follow that you have no political freedom…”