It is not only in the United States that plans are being forged out to abolish cash money. This debate is being re-initiated in Europe as well. What comes in as harmless as “cash-free”, on closer inspection turns out to be an attempt to put the screws on the citizens all over Europe. George Orwell would be cringing.
rl. Cash, which was originally a substitute for gold, represents an easily transportable method of payment. For work performed or items sold, one would receive an equivalent amount in the form of cash money. With this – “my” money – I could then automatically buy other things or services. For example, goods for my livelihood or services such as dental work or the service of a car mechanic. This cash could also be used to pay taxes.
Now, if all purchases and sales are handled via “credit cards” – therefore cashless – I will no longer have an equivalent amount in my hands, but a small plastic card with a chip, which also can be manipulated and controlled at any time.
Now one could argue: Why, that’s a good thing. It is practical, it is clean and there will no longer be any criminal deals.
But let us consider the matter further. It becomes interesting when my “nest egg” will no longer be available under the pillow or can no longer be given to the nephew as interest-free loan with a handshake. My money is now stored on a smart card. This smart card is managed by a bank or the government.
Now, what happens if the central banks such as the ECB, FED or SNB carry out a radical negative interest rate policy? Under my pillow my savings would have been spared. But with a negative interest rate, funds on my virtual account will be debited month after month. Therefore I’m forced to spend my money, so it will not simply be forfeited. Just as many governments would like it. A nest egg becomes impossible and with the plastic card, the chunk for the nephew is mercilessly destroyed even without my nephew ever having spent any of it.
It is well known that currently little or no interest shall be awarded and that Switzerland has already introduced a “soft” minus interest-rate policy.
It gets even worse. Asking an ironical question: Is it not harmful for me that I often buy cigarettes or liquor? Such purchases could now be stopped centrally via a plastic card. No purchase possible! The imagination produces many more far-reaching ideas of what could happen. The decision of what is good or bad for me and what I can do with my money, would be taken by others, no longer by myself. Any purchase or every sale I make, will be registered as personal data.
Undreamt-of possibilities arise for new taxes: since the purchase of certain products might be taxed directly. But even banks could impose new charges for certain transfers.
In the recommended paperback “Bargeldverbot. Alles was Sie über die kommende Bargeldabschaffung wissen müssen” (Cash ban. Everything you need to know about the upcoming abolition of cash), the authors, Ulrich Horstmann and Gerald Mann describe the already completed steps as well as possible scenarios towards the short-term abolition of cash. The paperback was initiated by a presentation by noted Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff in November 2014 at the Munich Ludwig Maximilian University. He praised the “advantages” of a cash-free society against the backdrop of the current financial crisis and made concrete proposals on how cash could be abolished.
Horstmann and Mann demonstrate that the current financial crisis of the US and Europe most likely leads to a radical negative interest rate policy (4–5 %). They also describe the economic considerations behind it. Savers are to be forced, to invest their private assets in consumption or in investments, with the fiscal target, to thereby artificially stimulate the economy.
Among other things, the authors describe a media campaign in Sweden in 2010 that was targeted on abolishing cash (“cash-free now!”). Cash has been described as unsanitary and has been simultaneously linked conceptually with mafia and arms deals. Purposefully, images were and are put into circulation which should associate negative associations with cash. Anyone who paid with cash should come under suspicion. And who wants that?
Some EU countries like Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium and France have banned cash transactions beyond 1,000 or 3,000 euros in recent years. In countries like Switzerland, Austria or Germany, however, cash is very popular. In these countries, the plans to abolish cash have therefore met with stronger resistance. At the end of their book Horstmann and Mann do not stop at their original analysis, but call for protest against any government plans to ban cash as a dangerous restriction on civil liberties. One countermeasure alone is to continue to pay with coins and notes! In Switzerland, the issue of cash-abolition has also been launched. The radio program might have provided the original impetus for it. The program called “Criminal and expensive? Cash in investments”. In this fictitious theatre play, cash was judged and ended up with a very positive verdict. This time it is ending with a positive outcome for cash ... (Swiss Radio SRF, Magazin Trend on 7 November at 8.13 am). •
Ulrich Horstmann, Gerald Mann. Bargeldverbot. Alles was Sie über die kommende Bargeldabschaffung wissen müssen, Munich 2015
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