By Lowell Ponte
The United States is quickly turning “cashless,” buying most things from automobiles to hamburgers via bank loans and credit cards. Americans carry more than a trillion dollars on what should be called “debt cards.” Banks love cashlessness, in which more and more of what we need is not earned or saved, but borrowed for high interest.
Government is even happier with the fast-arriving cashless society. Cash can be hidden, despite your bank being required to spy on you and report any odd financial activity. Government wants every transaction you make to be taxable, trackable, hackable, blockable, and used to empower Big Brother.
Cashlessness in surprising ways gives vast power to government. Days ago, for example, liberal Democrat New York State Comptroller Thomas J. DiNapoli, who controls where the state invests its $209.1 Billion pension fund, sent out a letter. It went to institutions behind our credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, American Express, Discover Financial Services, and others.
DiNapoli’s message was about as subtle as a guy wearing a pinstripe suit, black shirt and white tie saying: “You gotta nice place here. Too bad if anything happened to it. But maybe I can provide you some protection.”
DiNapoli suggested that these companies should consider whether gun transactions should be classified with restricted high-risk purchases like pornography, illicit drugs, and cryptocurrencies. “If gun violence continues unabated in society,” he wrote, “public outcry…may grow and create significant financial risk for the company.”
DiNapoli suggested that these companies look into implementing ways to block credit card purchases of firearms, ammunition, and gun accessories. The implied threat was clear: stop extending credit to gun and ammo buyers, or risk having New York State investment money taken away from your bank or credit company because the left wants to ban guns.
The Federal Government has already tried such intimidation, as Craig R. Smith and I explained in our 2014 book Don’t Bank On It! The Unsafe World of 21st Century Banking. President Barack Obama implemented “Operation Choke Point,” which threatened regulatory problems for financial institutions that did not withhold banking and credit services from firearms and ammunition sellers, among others. Such sellers were to be cut off even if they had never been found guilty of any criminal wrongdoing.
This was the naked weaponization of regulatory power to injure or kill ideological targets. Consumer Research analyst Beau Brunson noted that Operation Choke Point “used reputational risk as a tool for bank coercion.” Now so does DiNapoli. With “cashlessness,” when customers have no other way to buy, such nuclear warfare can crush businesses and products.
In August 2017 President Donald Trump stopped Operation Choke Point, but as The Hill wrote, “a program terminated unilaterally can be resumed unilaterally.” On the day Progressive Democrats regain power, this is one of ten thousand kinds of authoritarian force they immediately will reinstall.
Sweden had been enthusiastic about becoming the world’s first “cashless” society. Now they are frightened at the power this gives government – not only their own, but Russia’s should it launch an invasion by hacking, scrambling, or shutting off Sweden’s computer networks as it did Ukraine’s, leaving Swedes helpless, without access to either cash or credit.
If a “cashless” government becomes authoritarian, it can not only monitor and tax everything you buy, but also ban purchases – ranging from foods it deems unhealthful to guns it deems dangerous. Without approval of the beast, you will be denied the ability to buy what you want and need. Purchasing or repairing once-legal firearms can instantly be made impossible.
This authoritarian step-by-step plan makes people depend on credit cards, and on renting things instead of owning them. Then it outlaws cash as something only outlaws use. Then government can control what people are permitted to buy by regulating and intimidating banks and credit card companies. The future will eventually rediscover the Framers’ Constitutional money. We will return to the 5,000-year tradition of precious metal that needs no government or computer to give it value. We will learn again that gold and free are not “four-letter words,” but two words that go together.
For an amazing interview with veteran think tank futurist Lowell Ponte, contact Sandy Frazier at 1-516-735-5468.
For a media copy of Craig R. Smith and Lowell Ponte’s latest book, Money, Morality & The Machine: Smith’s Law in an Unethical, Over-Governed Age, contact David Bradshaw at 1-602-918-3296.