Almost 10 years ago – on Dec. 12, 2013 – I traveled into the city for errands and a bit of Christmas shopping. One of my stops was a Target store (no, I no longer shop there) where I purchased about $12 worth of items.
Five days later, the news broke that Target had been the victim of a massive data breach involving malware that harvested customer names, credit debit card numbers, card expiration dates and CVV (the three-digit security code). Up to 70 million credit and debit cards were breached between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 of 2013.
The repercussions from this data breach were massive – not just with the $18.5 million multi-state settlement Target eventually paid (at that point, the largest ever for a data breach), but in the scramble among customers to secure their information lest they become subject to identity theft.
It was therefore a huge relief to remember I had paid for my $12 of purchases in cash.
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At the time of that data breach, my husband and I were already transitioning toward an all-cash lifestyle, but after this event we went all the way – or at least, as far as we could. Our use of credit and debit cards decline precipitously. We have lived a cash lifestyle ever since.
Interestingly, last week I made some purchases (with cash) at an Ace Hardware in a nearby town. We’ve been part of their “Rewards” program for years – purchases are tallied, and rewards cards periodically issued – so it surprised me when the cashier didn’t ask for my rewards information. “It’s because Ace was hacked nationwide for ransom,” she told me. “We can’t order merchandise or tally Rewards points or process online orders. Customers are worried about their credit card information.”
Needless to say, we have never, not once, regretted the decision to embrace a cash lifestyle. Since paying with cash reduces the chances of identity theft, we no longer pay anything by credit unless absolutely necessary, with the exception of the occasional online purchase. We even opted to stop writing checks, except when paying our monthly bills by mail. Since we don’t have smartphones, we’ve completely missed the Venmo, Zelle and Cash App revolution. Nope, for us it’s old-fashioned money all the way.
But the time is coming when this choice may be snatched away from us, thanks to the increasing push toward the “convenience” of digital currency. Despite whatever pretty words the government uses, there is no question digital currency is a horror show waiting to happen.
There are many risks. Digital currency would be vulnerable to hacking, technological glitches and power outages. Any hiccup in the system would mean your funds are not available “at this time.” When regional disasters happen with widespread power outages, no one in the affected areas would be able to exchange currency, adding additional distress on top of existing misery.
As proof of this, consider last week’s crash of the direct-deposit system, with all major banks affected. People couldn’t pay their bills because their paychecks weren’t in the system. Where is all the “convenience” now? Will digital currency somehow be magically exempt from hacking, power outages, or glitches?
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When fiat currency is phased out, everyone will suffer. You can no longer tip your hairdresser or drop a few bucks into a homeless person’s cup. You can no longer sell unneeded items at a yard sale or send your grandkid a $10 bill in a birthday card.
Digital currency will allow the government to seize assets at will. Forget those middle-of-the-night FBI raids; just click a button, and the victim has nothing. The mere threat of this possibility will be enough to bring all but the most die-hard rebels into line with the régime.
“The temptation to abuse direct power over digital cash will likely be too much for the government to resist,” writes Lawrence Walters of the Walters Law Group. “Naturally, the potential censorship concerns resulting from this power extend far beyond the online entertainment industry and could be utilized against any person or business who refused to toe the line and submit to the government orthodoxy of the day. … History shows that the government has a strong incentive to financially punish those who cross uncertain lines in the production and publication of controversial content, even without a criminal conviction.”
Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in an interview: “If you can move every human into a digital concentration camp, empty their bank account any time you want, and tell them what they can and cannot spend money on, you’ve got complete control.”
If you think the term “digital concentration camp” sounds extreme and over-the-top, think again. If the government decides to punish you, you’re toast. You can’t pay your power bill, so your electricity is shut off. You can’t pay your water bill, so your water is shut off. You can’t buy gas, so you can’t drive. You can’t pay your rent or mortgage, so you’re evicted. You can’t pay your property taxes, so your (paid-for) home is seized. You can’t buy food. Forget medical care, that’s out of the question.
This cascading series of events can happen literally at the push of a button. You won’t be jailed, but you won’t have to be. Your life will become a living hell.
The creepy thing about digital currency is there is no evading it. It would permeate literally every aspect of every person’s life, no matter how off-grid or remote they may be. Some say a barter society will spring up – and indeed, I expect that to happen almost instantly – but you can’t barter for car insurance or property taxes or other government requirements.
Of course, America is not the only nation facing this issue. Apparently, Australia is the first Western nation to go completely cashless at major banks. This push by other governments to financially enslave their people is spreading.
For those of us who prefer cash, we can only keep clinging to our greenback habits as long as we’re able. Once that opportunity passes, what then? Only time will tell.
But one thing is certain: Hacking will only increase in scope, ambition, and sophistication when everyone is forced to tap their cards for every transaction.
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