-"In praise of cash"
> is a utopia where money cannot leave – or even exist – outside the banking system, but can only be transferred from bank to bank.
How do people in a cashless economy pay for stuff that demands discretion, and that which they don't want documented or traced back to them?
Example: Buying weed or drugs or underage alcohol, maintaining mistresses or paying for sexual services or anything else that is either a social taboo or is downright illegal? Are you telling me that everyone in Sweden is a 100% law abiding, obedient 'good' citizen and hence they don't have a need to be able to transact from time to time using a relatively discreet currency = cash ?
1. Those that are currently illegal: The intention if that you DON'T pay for those any more.
2. Those which are "taboo". You bank/card statement is something private; it's not gonna be public (they aren't not either). If you pay for sexual services, most likely (a) Whomever you pay would probably have a non-obvious name for bank statements, (b) Should keep records private. As it is today, if that person wants to blackmail you collecting evidence, they still can.
Would be trivial to accept and process these payments.
Another avenue might be some kind of mutual fund. A building society for the grey market. One where your paper trail would tie you to a fund used for illicit goods, but not directly to your particular flavour of illicit good. That'd require a great deal more work though... And comes with the obvious risks.
Final thought there's always replacing cash. After all cash is just paper we all agree has value. If the underground markets can find a similar good with similarly agreed value that might work. I've heard of phone scammers requesting their mark's buy gift cards/vouchers. Presumably they're monetizing the voucher on their end somehow.
The goal of a cashless society seems to be more in line with the even greater transparent creation of money. These "we can track criminal financiers!" soundbytes sound more like the cursory glance reason you'd give the public.
Largely cashless societies recently seem to have either been deeply entrenched in the financial industry, or rife with wider corruption. Both of those will want to continue in a clandestine manner. The law might not apply to the rich, but you can bet you'll be slapped down for not at least trying to hide it. I can't imagine a system cashless or otherwise that didn't have at least some mechanism to move wealth without fanfare.
Utopia - a fictional concept where, yes, you can have 100% law abiding citizens.
Wow. That is a great point that, honestly, never even crossed my mind. When you think about it from this perspective it becomes rather unsettling. I have, and still do I suppose, loved the idea of a cashless society because of its convenience, but this makes me feel very conflicted now. What an insane idea actually ...
HN (About a year ago):
Banning cash is such a monumentally bad idea its a miracle of modern propaganda that a single person is willing to even consider it. From negative interest rates to ubiquitous tracking of your every move and purchase (by stores, banks, governments, and whoever else they choose to share the information with), to the total paralysis society would face from any sort of blackout or network disruption, to limitless technical vulnerability by hackers, eliminating cash is truly one of the worst ideas ever conceived. Its bad enough that the government enforces a legal monopoly on currency. Extending that monopoly to digital-only currency is a huge step in the wrong direction for business, commerce, and freedom.
Rather, they permit officers to seize any amount they believe may have been involved in criminal activity.
Such as this yesterday, which was less than $1000.
The complication is that the onus is on the owner: the money is guilty until proven innocent.
If an officer makes the assumption that you were on your way to buy drugs, they can seize the $100 in your wallet.
I was commenting about this post:
> But don't carry over $1,000 in cash either because it can be seized without cause.
Which was clearly about a hypothetical 1000 USD limit.
And how are you going to block mesh networking, you can send bitcoins via QR code even.
I simply do not trust every monetary transaction to be logged and tracked, as I know about structuring laws (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structuring) and civil forfeiture.
Plus, if an economy goes cashless, they can easily have negative interest rates and such other financial games. No thanks, I'd rather pay for things with real money.
Corporate control too. Every electronic transaction you make gets recorded and cross referenced so advertising companies know who you are and how to reach you.
Posit that most of society doesn't understand how money is created and destroyed. "Real money" is a falsehood as far as most human beings see it.
Cashless has many benefits, watching this phenomenon play out it my home country (quite sure we have more cashless then Sverige), why should typical cash businesses like hairdressers get huge tax benefits from being cash only over the business next door?
Its undeniable that some businesses gain huge advantage from avoiding cards.
If you have a problem with taxation then address that with the powers that be rather than supporting those who sidestep the law at the expense of everyone else.
'Why should that person over there benefit from free speech while I am censored? We should go censor that person too.'
Do you really think a society where the government and corporations have complete control over your wealth will turn out ok over the long haul? What if you are born into a political system that you want to take no part of and wish to exit from it? Too bad, your Commune-Dollars are just 'leased' to you and not really your property, please read the terms of service you signed up for by being born in this country. Oh, suddenly you don't want to leave the country because we own your entire life? That's great -- Add another citizen lock in.
This is ridiculous. I pay cash (mostly) because I don't want my purchases cross referenced against my identity.
If I buy a beer, I don't want that cross referenced against my car insurance. If I buy condoms, I don't want that referenced for my health insurance.
If you give people the power of all this information, they'll figure out a way to use it and make money off of it. I want to preserve my anonymity as long as I can.
Heck, we've had a long history of this. If all my music is listened through Google or Amazon, it's easy to trawl through and figure out who is "subversive" based on their musical tastes. See the McCarthy trials.
It may be the case that people need to carry around cards like they are cash. That is, to keep a card at home or in a bank box that's tied to some other account with emergency funds.
It does say something terrible about our current bank system that nearly everything takes a least day if not a week to process, but keeping around cash won't change that.
Cancelling cards is effortless, and for the CBA, ANZ and Melbourne, your new card will arrive tomorrow, unless it's a weekend.
As to immediate concern for money, you can walk into a branch, and walk out with a card, after verifying identity.
You don't wait weeks. It can take hours.
If you have access to a no-fee credit card, you can also have a back-up at home.
It's probably a good idea to have some cash at home, but you can do the same with cards.
I disagree that you are more aware of what you're spending with cash.
I am more aware of how much I'm spending on what when I use my card, since I now have a list of transactions and locations. With cash, unless I keep receipts, or write down what I bought, I don't know what I spend my money on or where I spent it. I only know how much I spent.
When you only have a fixed amount of money in your wallet, you physically see how much you have left after every payment. To me it's obvious you are more aware.
That's quite an understatement for (the quite famous?) Dan Ariely:
>Dan Ariely (Hebrew: דן אריאלי; born April 29, 1967) is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University (source: Wikipedia)
As an economist it feels like an insult to call him a "psychology PHD researcher"
I can track better what I'm spending with a card, which means that I can plan my spending better.
Also my subway card is linked to my ID (I case I lose or break it).
If you guessed that the party currently in control also has ties to the cashless card provider, you'd be right (but probably not surprised!)
Australia is a very corrupt country, run by criminal opportunists.
Probably the only place where I use cash now is Sunday markets, but even there, most places now take card.
Interestingly, there's also a few places here which are either cash or contactless card only, including the cinema.
I bet there are some hurricane survivors recently who are glad they had cash.
So if you don't learn this (to me one of the strongest and still most important) lesson as a kid, which effect will it have on your spending behavior in the long term?
Right now I live in China and it's really interesting what happened here. Everything was done with cash 5 years ago and you couldn't use international cards anywhere, but now everything is paid with (apps) alipay/wechat. Even beggars use them.
Honest question - is a cashless society empirically better than one in which you have the option of using cash?
Edit: Corrected spelling of country adjacent to Greece, replacing name of city adjacent to Disneyland's hometown