mfioretti: cash*

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  1. In this article, we ask if the legal foundations on which the Aadhaar operates match up to the requirements of a program that is likely to touch the lives of all citizens of India. Can we, as citizens of India, be satisfied that there are enough checks and balances in the functioning of Aadhaar?

    This is important as we have already started seeing implementation problems in the form of failure of bio-metric authentication, server and connectivity problems, cryptic error messages, and the irrevocability of the bio-metric, all of which have left the Aadhaar number holder and intended recipient of a subsidy without any remedy. As well, in the absence of an over-arching privacy law, our regulatory surveillance architecture is heavily weighted in favour of the State leading to the very real possibility of strengthening mass surveillance with little regard for the effect on individuals' rights to privacy.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-03-27)
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  2. In Norway, the Norwegian bank DNB has taken the lead. And since politicians in general are trained to do as financial capitalism bids, we can say with almost total certainty that legislation banning cash will be passed. If cash payment is banned by law, we will no longer have money. Or rather: we will no longer have any control over our own money. Whether we’ll be able to use them or not, will be decided by the banks and the authorities. We can no longer withdraw money from the bank and hide them under the mattress, even if the banks should introduce a five percent negative interest rate. And if the authorities decide that a certain person should be blocked from their account, they cannot buy as much as a bus ticket or a piece of bread. The totalitarian society on steroids.

    This neo-fascism, or this post-democratic society – or whatever we should name this nightmare – is matched by the draconic legislations against so-called “fake news” and the introduction of public-private censorship bodies. As noted before, a militarization of opinion formers worthy that of a dictatorship, is taking place. And it is happening without the slightest protest from those who supposedly support the freedom of the press and free speech.
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  3. countries such as Bulgaria and Romania, which have recent histories of currency instability and financial crises, also are quite heavy users of cash.

    But the real point isn’t that Germans love cash. It’s that—for the same historical reasons—they loathe debt. (Armchair anthropologists have also long noted that German word for debt—Schulden—comes from the word for guilt, Schuld.)

    Levels of consumer debt in Germany are remarkably low. German aversion to mortgage debt is part of the reason why the country has some of the lowest homeownership rates in the developed world. Just 33% of Germans said they had a credit card back in 2011. And most of those hardly ever get used. In 2013, only 18% of payments in Germany were made via cards, compared to 50% in France and 59% in the UK.

    The national preference for cash, then, seems to be the flip side of aversion to debt, which, in turn, can be interpreted as a sign of deep-seated doubt about the future. (German businesspeople are also notorious for their pessimism about the future.) And fear of the future, of course, is rooted in the past.

    In other words, the German tendency to settle up in cash undeniably reflects the fact that for much of the last century, Germany has been either on the brink of, in the midst of, or struggling to recover from, disaster.
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  4. Cash has its uses for small transactions – a chocolate bar, a newspaper, a pint of milk – which, in the UK, are still uneconomic to process by other means. It will always be the fastest and most direct form of payment there is. I like to tip waiters, for example, in cash, knowing they will receive that money, without it being siphoned off by some unscrupulous employer. I also like to shop in markets, where I can buy directly from the producer knowing they will receive the money, without middle men shaving off their percentages.

    It also has its uses for private transactions, for which there are many possible reasons, and by no means all of them illegal. Small businesses starting out need the cash economy. Poor people need the cash economy. The war on cash is a war on them.

    If you listen to the scaremongering, you’d start to think that all cash users are either criminals, tax evaders or terrorists. Sure, some use cash to evade tax, but it’s paltry compared to the tax avoidance schemes Google and Facebook have employed. Google doesn’t use cash to avoid tax. It’s all done via legislative means.

    Cash means total financial inclusion, a luxury the better-off take for granted. Without financial inclusion – and there will always be some who, for whatever reason, won’t have it – you are trapped in poverty. So beware the war on cash.
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