Thursday, 18 February 2016

Common sense about cash from Cory Bernardi

I'm a regular Cory Bernardi reader. I quite look forward to his "Weekly dose of common sense" email letter; not because I often agree with the conservative Senator's views but because he challenges me to think about my own.
Like this week with some comments about money and a cash-less society. Senator Bernardi gives a warning that's deserves consideration.
He wrote:
Dear Richard,Today I am going to write about money. More specifically, what the government wants to do with your money.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning that Australia is ‘on an unstoppable march towards a cashless future’; with the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Alex Hawke MP saying that a move to a purely digital currency “will lead to countless benefits for all Australians in convenience and security, and will save billions in transaction costs every year”.
He’s correct that it will enhance convenience for many and will save government huge amounts of money but he omits one very important aspect of such a change – our right to privacy.
I have repeatedly warned over the years that the move to digital currencies will begin in Europe (it is already being trialled in Sweden) and spread throughout the world. The justifications will include those points made by the Assistant Minister but will soon include the ‘need to fight the flow of funds to terror organisations’.
Whilst these may be noble and worthy aims, they are mere excuses. The real reason governments want to impose an all-digital transaction economy on us is so that no aspect of the financial system is beyond their scrutiny. To put it plainly, it’s about taxes – and every government wants more of them.
Governments have an insatiable hunger to gorge themselves on taxpayer dollars.
The political elite consider that they know how to spend your money much more effectively than you do and thus no level of taxation will ever fully sate the leviathan of government. There is always a new program, a new agenda or a new initiative that promises to be an amazing success if only enough money is thrown at it.
The evidence is quite the opposite and frankly, every year sees me come to the same conclusion: whenever the government steps in to fix a problem it ultimately creates an even greater one.
And so, as the unsustainability of the great socialist experiment of the welfare state becomes clearer by the day, governments across the world want to make sure that no transaction can escape their net.
They don’t want cash kept under the mattress or buried in the back garden. They want you to be forced to keep it electronically in a bank where they can charge you for the privilege via negative interest rates.
A digital currency will mean no transaction, however small, can escape the tax demands of government.
Some readers will think this abundantly fair, and so it may be - if we could trust government to act in our interest instead of their own. However, there is an even more dangerous aspect to such a proposal.
The digital currency process will mean that almost every aspect of your financial privacy is gone. There will be a record of every dollar spent, every item purchased and every donation made. Is it really the government’s business what food you purchase or what medicines you use? Seemingly simple daily choices could have a large impact on your life because every aspect of your spending data would be detailed for scrutiny.
It’s not too far-fetched to imagine an application for health insurance to reference your spending history in relation to fast food, alcohol and tobacco. Your lack of gym membership could count against you in seeking medical treatment. Perhaps you’ll be effectively blacklisted from employment opportunities because you donate money to a particular organisation.
In short, nothing would be beyond the examination of government. Any safeguards built in to the system would ultimately be diminished as the tentacles of government continue to expand into every aspect of our lives.
The best opportunity to prevent such expansion is at the very point of inception. The move to a digital currency is just getting started. If we are to safeguard against it, the time to act is now.
Until next week.
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Cory Bernardi
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