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Is the Future of the World Dystopian?

Is the future of the world dystopian?
Recent actions by Central banks around the world have left many wondering what NIRP is and how it affects them. Other talk about banning cash has left some to wonder if now is the time to transition to a purely digital cash economy, leaving paper money behind.

The woman, in a desperate attempt to find what she was looking for, raced around the city. She remembered one spot, years ago, back when she was a teenager, where they used to sell it. So, without a second thought, she sped off once again. However, as she pulled up to the spot, the bitter reality set in as once again, there was nothing to be seen. She spotted some shady looking man on the corner that looked like he had nothing better to do and thought to herself, “What the heck, why not try?” Rolling down her window, she called out to him, “Hey there, can we talk?” The man approached her and she whispered, “Do you know where I can buy some product?” The man, looked her over carefully, and said, “Sure, I have what you need. What you looking for? And how can you pay?” The woman quickly flashed him a wad of dirty green papers. “Those look like dollars,” he said, “I don’t take those, no more”. “Please,” she begged, as a tear rolled down her cheek. Feeling sorry for her, he said, “Listen, I know a guy,” and he told her where to go. In a flash, she was gone. Now, if you thought that this woman was trying to buy something illegal, narcotics perhaps, then you would be wrong. This woman had already used up her monthly allotment of credits and was trying to buy medicine and food for her sick child.

If this story strikes you as some sort of future dystopian movie, you would be wrong. Although there are still plenty of stores left in America today that do accept paper currency, the general trend in retail shopping is moving towards digital and online purchases. Regular brick and mortars just can’t compete with tight margins, workers’ demands for higher wages and an ever diligent consumer searching for cheaper prices. Coupled with the general slowing down of the economy, it is easy to see why online retailers are taking over.

As proof of this, a recent article at Bloomberg noted that — “The Town’n Country grocery in Oriental, North Carolina, a local fixture for 44 years, closed its doors in October after a Wal-Mart store opened for business. Now, three months later — and less than two years after Wal-Mart arrived — the retail giant is pulling up stakes, leaving the community with no grocery store and no pharmacy.” A local resident said, “I was devastated when I found out. We had a pharmacy and a perfectly satisfactory grocery store. Maybe Wal-Mart sold apples for a nickel less.” The article goes on to note that this is happening in many other towns as well. “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said on Jan. 15 it would be closing all 102 of its smaller Express stores, many in isolated towns, to focus on its supercenters and mid-sized Neighborhood Markets.” Now, you just have to ask yourself, “If Walmart, the pioneer of the continuously setting new low prices model can’t turn a profit in a monopolistic market, who can?”

What about cash? Surely the mechanism which enables commerce is here to stay, right? The easy answer is yes, but not in the form we know it today. Digital money is taking over, as recent headlines have noted — “Norway's Biggest Bank Demands Cash Ban” or “Bank Of England Economist Calls For Cash Ban, Urges Negative Rates”. In fact, there have been two major op-ed pieces in the Financial Times and at Bloomberg calling for the end of using paper money.

From the FT — “John Cryan, co-head of Deutsche Bank, gave a presentation at a financial technology panel at Davos. In the speech, he cheerfully predicted that in a decade’s time cash probably won’t exist. Yes, you read that right: all those grubby greenbacks and tattered euro bills in your wallet are heading for the dustbin of history. “There is no need for it,” Mr Cryan declared. “It is terribly inefficient and expensive.” Of course, there are some better questions here, such as —“inefficient and expensive for whom?” Banks, of course. But what he really is saying is that bankers don’t have full control. Cash represents anonymity and freedom. No one knows who you are when you buy something and no one can regulate what you buy.

In fact, the FT article goes on to mention this, albeit in a typical top-down manner — “Criminals, terrorists and tax-evaders also tend to use cash for their operations, particularly large denomination bills.” To put that another way, punish and strip the average everyday people of their rights in order to prosecute criminals. As if criminality could somehow be brought to an end through the simple stroke of pen.

Another interesting point in the FT article notes that — “The third factor that could influence cash usage in the next few years is, again, the stance of central banks themselves. As rates turn negative, central bankers … are scrambling to prevent consumers dashing into cash as this not only makes financial transactions less efficient but also makes monetary policy less effective. After all, if people hold physical cash — which, unlike a bank account, is not directly affected by negative rates — central bankers have less control.”

But, how would they enable this transition? Aside from outright banning large denominations? Well, we should turn to the op-ed piece at Bloomberg for the possible answer. “Suppose the central bank charged the banks that deal with it a fee for accepting paper currency. In that way, it could set an exchange rate between electronic and paper money —  and by raising the fee, it would cause paper money to depreciate against the electronic standard. This would eliminate the incentive to hold cash rather than digital money, allowing the central bank to push the interest rate below zero and thereby boost consumption and investment. It would be a big step toward doing without cash altogether.”

So, there we have it. The future is upon us and it will be cashless and the banksters will be in complete control. Oh, and what about those criminals? The ones that refuse to accept this new way of life? Like you, dear citizen? The one that wants to stick to the old timey method of paper money? Well, a recent article at the Guardian recently noted that — “The US intelligence chief has acknowledged for the first time that agencies might use smart household devices to increase their surveillance capabilities.” Putting that another way, using new technology intelligence agencies will be able to see if a citizen isn’t following their orders or uses more electricity or possibly has more eggs than should be allowed as per their  monthly quota. You know, if for some reason they were still able to use cash and buy things offline.

As economies around the world continue to crash, we stand on the precipice of the future. It will be cashless and faceless. Total top-down control will lock people into a joyless life dictated by consumer credits generously given by faceless governmental bureaucrats looking to dominate every aspect of a citizen’s life. To paraphrase Marx — “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, dictated according to central banking policies.” Disagree with the banksters policies? Just as Lewis Carroll wrote in the conversation between the Queen of Hearts and Alice — “Now, where do you come from? Alice replied, “Well, I'm trying to find my way home…” The Queen of Hearts shouted — “Your way? All ways here are my ways!” And if you disagree? Well, like the Queen said, “Off with their heads!”

So, what do you think dear listeners, “Is the future of the world dystopian?”

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