Sometimes we find that obstructionism and chaos are actually necessary to prevent the concentration of power in governments and corporations …
Benjamin Franklin once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
While this quote is often used within the context of privacy or state security, few realize that Franklin was really concerned about the compromise of legislative powers and taxation. The context of the comment was a dispute between Pennsylvania’s elite, the Penn family, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly who wanted to tax Penn property to finance a defensive frontier posture during the French and Indian War (Safety). Franklin was concerned that the Penn family was putting pressure on the Governor to keep vetoing the proposed taxation and believed that such pressure compromised the ability of the legislature to govern (Liberty).
In today’s context, let us consider that electronic payments – convenient as they may be – can serve as the basis for government tyranny and corporate evildoing on a massive scale.
By eliminating physical funds, you are at the mercy of those who create and manage the electronic payment systems and a government that regulates their business activities.
Not to mention that single entities, like Amazon and Walmart, who will be able to manage large blocks of commerce in the future are more susceptible to government legislation and interference (extortion if you will) to preserve their own enterprise. Already, one can safely assume that the myriad of former government intelligence people embedded in the security departments of such companies are more than willing to do favors for their former colleagues – whether or not the result is admissible in a court of law. For those who wonder why I didn’t include Google, it is because Google lacks a distribution mechanism and is merely a discovery tool that be quickly being overrun by searches on Amazon and eBay.
One can easily imagine taxation legislation giving everybody a ten percent “haircut” in all electronically-stored funds to provide additional revenue to a government that already out of control. A government that has proven it is incapable of prudent funds management with its profligate spending. Not to mention the inherent and special interest waste, fraud, and abuse of government-funded programs.
Even worse, with the lack of restrictions on what can be done with payment data, one can imagine blackmailers, extortionists, and even businesses, exploiting human foibles for profit. Directing targeted advertising to gamblers or the users or prescription drugs with impunity. Directing inappropriate investment opportunities to those who have purchased scams or near-scams previously. Or, insurance companies adjusting premiums upwards based on medical payments or the purchase of “risky” merchandise like weapons and ammunition.
Blockchain solutions such as Bitcoin which provide anonymity by cryptographically secure peer-to-peer transfers are not the answer as any financial funds transfer methodology can be criminalized and regulated out of existence.
Imagine the risk to individual liberty and security, or political chaos, if governments had physical access to all value instruments or that companies could purchase data regarding individual transactions indicative of your individual behavior and activities? Or, paraphrasing Ben Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Convenience, deserve neither Liberty nor Convenience.”
It is time to re-think the future in human terms rather than strict corporate opportunities. Is you current employer susceptible to being regulated out of business. It has happened before and it is certain to happen again.