The War on Cash

If you’ve followed Bitcoin at all, you will know that one of the reasons those in authority don’t like it is because “It’s used by criminals, drug dealers and even terrorists!”.

And you have likely heard the rebuttal to that argument, that cash is in fact the currency of choice for all illicit transactions, and specifically USD cash.

As a result, plans are well afoot to ultimately create a cashless society, perhaps even criminalise cash in some way.

Like all nasty scenarios there is always a positive counter-weight, so the way you see things developing often boils down to whether you’re a pessimist or optimist.
You see, it’s entirely possible to imagine a totalitarian world that the cashless society could implement – or a world which defeats such intentions via technology.

Imagine for a moment if your government did ban cash (and you can be sure some governments are actively working on this). What would you do?

In a cashless society all your financial transactions would have to be done electronically. That would make it easy for the government to know exactly what you are receiving/earning, as well as spending – and even what you’re spending your money on.

Would there be any alternative?

Right now there are already alternatives, as in Bitcoin, but also in digital forms of precious metals ownership like BitGold, or multi asset accounts like Uphold.

Clearly if your government were to outlaw cash, you would have options. Of course, it’s also possible that governments would attempt to close pathways to those options, as in the buying and selling of gold, silver or Bitcoin.

Would such draconian policies actually kill such options? I don’t believe so. It would simply drive them underground and push up the price accordingly.

Take Bitcoin for example. Yes, it is possible for governments to ban the buying and selling of it. But that would only create a black market for Bitcoin, just as there is for drugs and other “outlawed” things.

With a fully distributed system, there is no single point of failure and no particular person, company or entity that can be closed down or arrested.

Bitcoin itself cannot be stopped, any more than drug-taking has been stopped, or the Tor network has been stopped. Sure, buying and selling it could be more difficult, but that would just drive up both demand and the value of the system. With Bitcoin you don’t have to “cash-out” once you have it, but could use it to buy and sell stuff using networks of other Bitcoin holders, like the soon-to-be-released Open Bazaar.

Humans are endlessly innovative and adept at finding ways around controls, especially when their very economic lives are at stake. So while the cashless society carries risks, it cannot be seen as an absolute death knell of freedom – not as long as people are driven by self interest, which is hard-coded into our DNA.

For a comprehensive overview of why and how a cashless society could emerge, the following is worth a read.

Cashless Society War Intensifies During Global Epocalypse

 

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