It will probably come as no surprise to readers to learn that Sweden, that paradise on earth, is leading the way into another Elysium of social “freedom” and “equality.” You might even mockingly call it “financial social justice.” A recent New York Times article discusses Sweden’s push to get rid of cash entirely. It paints a disturbing picture.
Despite the fact that the number of electronic fraud cases in the country reached 140,000 (more than double the number from ten years ago, according to the Ministry of Justice), officials are determined to force the population to use plastic, credit, or electronic means to pay for goods and services. Some banks, apparently, don’t even dispense or accept cash.
The threat, of course, lies in the fact that now every single financial transaction will leave a record, and will be monitored. If something is being recorded, then by definition it is being monitored, despite attempts by the authorities to massage away this distinction. It is simply a matter of degree. And as always, such an “innovation” is being wrapped in peals of praise about how much it is going to “help” everyone.
Why This Is Not Good
Besides the privacy problem, which alone should be sufficient reason not to implement the plan, there are other compelling reasons “going cashless” is not a good idea:
1. It will marginalize elderly people and poor people who are used to paying for things in cash, and are deeply suspicious (with good reason) of electronic payment systems.
2. It will encourage people to spend frivolously, since paying for things on one’s smart phone is fast and easy. This will likely contribute to debt problems, gambling problems, and all sorts of irresponsible behavior. A student interviewed at the University of Gothenberg admitted that if she had a 500 krona note, she would think twice about spending it; electronic payment brought little to no psychological hesitation.
3. Holding physical currency (paper money or coin) doesn’t really cost the holder anything besides inflation. But digital currency in banks can get eroded very, very easily with fees, charges, and all the other games that banks like to play.
4. Are banks really willing and capable of handing all the millions and millions of tiny transactions that would happen every day? From my fifteen years’ of experience with dealing with banks, I’ve learned that the average bank dork can’t even organize a roll of toilet paper. It’s difficult to see how the average bank is going to be competent enough to handle all these transactions efficiently. They are going to charge everyone though the teeth for their learning curve. Just you wait.
5. Digital currency would be vulnerable to disruption by fraud or terrorist attacks.
6. Moving to digital currency might even speed up the demise of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. There are huge amounts of dollars in circulation abroad. It is possible that holders of dollars abroad would sell them quickly, as a reaction to the uncertain future of the electronic world.
Not surprisingly, the government and big business are working hand in hand to see that this dream becomes a reality. What is the real reason it is being pushed? It all comes down to power, control, and profits: that is, the government wants more power, and big business wants to make more money.
Government And Big Finance Loves It
By turning everything into a digital transaction, the banks are guaranteed the ability to make huge amounts of money on fees. They will be taking a cut on everything that moves in and out of their hands, which means every single thing. Leif Trogen, an official at the Swedish Bankers’ Association, has basically admitted as much.
Of course, the plan is being lauded by claiming that not having cash around helps to “protect” people from random robberies. But now the entire population is going to get robbed by the banks and the government.
Apparently, cash now represents only about 2 percent of Sweden’s financial transactions. In the United States, this figure is supposedly 7.7 percent, and in the Eurozone, 10 percent (I find these figures hard to believe).
Regardless, the government has given the plan its tacit approval by doing nothing to stop it. As noted above, electronic payments leave a crystal-clear record, and this assists in population control and tax collection.
People are also now going to be bombarded with intrusive solicitations for money for all sorts of things. Picking electronic pockets is even easier than picking regular ones. This whole idea of “safety” is a lie promoted by the government to justify its policies.
One disturbing story tells us all we need to know. During one recent church service at the Filadelfia Stockholm church, the church’s bank account number was projected onto a large screen, and parishoners were asked to take out their smartphones and donate. Anyone not complying would attract attention. Churches are noticing that donations have increased dramatically as a result of these new types of collection tactics.
The last thing Sweden needs is more conformist pressure.
A lot of this talk reminds thoughtful observers of the days when governments told us how great it would be for everyone if we de-coupled our currencies from the gold standard. Paradise, we were assured, was just around the corner. Governments would be able to print more money. More liquidity would mean more prosperity. All sorts of spending could take place without any financial discipline.
And yet people today work harder and harder for less and less. Maybe what they really should have said was that getting off the gold standard would be good for the elites and for governments, but not for the citizens. I am not necessarily saying that we should go back to the gold standard, but there should at least be some way of imbuing a currency (even a fiat one) with confidence.
It is difficult to feel confident about a glowing number on a computer screen that you can’t see or touch.
Currencies Need One Of Two Things
But perhaps the best analysis here is to look at history. As I see it, any form of currency must have one of two things to succeed:
1. People must believe in it, and have faith in its integrity. This is the basis of all paper money (i.e., fiat currencies) issued by governments today. Whether such faith in governments is justified is a separate question.
2. The currency must have some intrinsic value itself (i.e., gold, silver, copper, etc.). This is the old-fashioned type of money. In the old days (at least in theory), all money was backed by some precious metal.
When we look at digital currency, we could argue that it possesses neither of these requirements. At least paper money could be held in the hand or in the pocket. Digital currency is about as ethereal as one can get. It is difficult to see this as more “trustworthy” than paper money. And it goes without saying that digital currency will not be backed by precious metals.
When all is said and done, it is difficult to see this as yet another scheme by governments and banks to control us, monitor us, and make us pay for the privilege.