But the intoxication with New Things and technological possibilities also means that some people want to abolish physical money altogether. And that’s far more concerning.
Why does that matter? Why does it worry me? Is it just because I’m so old-fashioned I have a mechanical calculator that computes using cogs?
Well, I am an old-fashioned man. And that helps provide context for why money came about in the form it did, and why shifting entirely (I don’t oppose electronic money, I oppose it being the only form) into so-called digital is drunken madness.
First off, why did physical money evolve? In the earliest days, wealth was essentially cattle. But imagine going to the shops with fifty oxen because you wanted some dresses. It’s not exactly convenient. Gold, however, is pretty, lasts effectively forever, and scarce enough small quantities are very valuable. Gold, silver, and electrum (a silver-gold alloy) coins soon came into being in Lydia, home of the fabled Croesus. They were easy to move, and if you’re selling wedding dresses it’s a lot easier to slip some coins into a pouch than to store fifty oxen in your pants.
The Chinese first brought about paper money, and a few centuries ago cheques (akin to paper money) came into being.
It was about the convenience of carrying, storing and transferring wealth, and shifted the concept of wealth from sheer physical property (oxen etc) to a more nebulous concept. However, the move to online only is a step away from control as far as wealth goes.
There was a report in the UK a year or two ago from some chap who had an interesting idea of a third employment category between employed and self-employed to cover the gig economy, and an idiotic idea about abandoning real money altogether and shifting purely to electronic.
If you get hacked or your bank goes down, it’s a pain in the arse. If you get that problem when physical money doesn’t exist, how are you going to pay for little luxuries, like catching a bus/train to work, paying for petrol or food? You can’t spend twenty pound notes when paper money isn’t legal tender any more.
Then there’s the control aspect again. Every time you spend, it’ll be logged. The time and location will be known. Perhaps more importantly, tax can be automatically deducted at source (this would be VAT [sales tax] in the UK). But the individual and the state aren’t the only players. Spending money this way requires a third party, perhaps a bank or an online cash-handling firm. They’ll take a slice. Maybe 0.5%. Maybe 2%. After all, they need to make enough to keep in business. If all their prices go up, what’s your option? You can’t go to cash because it doesn’t exist any more.
As mentioned to me on Chrons by Vladd67, this article is well worth a look. It’s about what’s happening in Sweden right now: https://www.techspot.com/news/77555-cash-has-almost-gone-extinct-sweden.html
“Digital currency is far more profitable for banks, as they get to profit from the fees attached to debit cards, credit cards and Sweden’s bank-developed payment app, Swish.”
“Sweden is also at the forefront of exciting new digital payment technologies, including microchips that have been implanted into 4000 peoples’ hands, enabling them to pay via high-five.”
Maybe you consider that ‘exciting’. I think it’s a dystopian nightmare.
Abolishing cash is a demented idea. People are sometimes so focused on what’s technologically possible they fail to consider the negative implications. Just because you could do something doesn’t mean you should do something, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum.
Digital ‘goods’ and money are sold on convenience, but the cost is higher prices and loss of control. Don’t fall for the glib promises of a brave new world. It’s all about sucking the money out of your wallet, then burning your wallet so in the future you don’t even know how much they’ve gouged.