Why complete abolition of cash is BAD
(because it can forbid you spending YOUR money)
On June 26th, 2020, italian journalist Stefania Maurizi criticized an article arguing that “Cash is for corrupt people, tax evaders and illegal work” with a good Twitter thread. This post is my own translation of the main points of that thread, which deserve greater diffusion.
That article argues that “After all, who cannot do without cash? Tax evaders… drug dealers, corrupters”. This is FALSE.
While its reduction is absolutely legitimate, the complete abolition of cash is NOT a battle to establish a more civilized society.
Back in 2010, in a flash and without any legal action, ALL credit cards, banks, etc., blocked the accounts of Wikileaks. The crime? Having published the US diplomacy cables.
In a few hours, WikiLeaks found ALL its credit cards and PayPal accounts blocked, and ALL major banking groups refusing to lend money, WITHOUT any judicial basis, without a single formal accusation, without any judge issuing any order.
A whole journalistic organization was instantaneously cut off from any possibility to engage in financial transactions, without having committed any crime, without any judicial measure, without any possibility of appeal.
Had the same thing happened to any other news organization, from the New York Times to Repubblica or Fatto Quotidiano (major italian newspapers), it would have been a scandal leading to a general mobilization. But this was WikiLeaks, so everything was allowed, and without any solidarity from any other newspapers.
Had the same thing happened to any other ITALIAN journalistic organization, including the major newspapers mentioned above, that organization would have died in a few months of bankruptcy. But this was WikiLeaks, that in 2010 was already using cryptocurrency, had 5 million followers and the geekiest readership in the whole world.
That is why not only WikiLeaks managed to survive the blocking of ALL its accounts, credit cards, etc… thanks to those millions of techie readers who know how to use cryptocurrency, but came out (financially) stronger, in the end.
The impossibility to use standard digital payments led WikiLeaks to use bitcoins, that in 2011 were worth about 6 Euros each and at time of writing go for about twelve thousands Euros.
Cryptocurrency saved the news organization that the greatest world power wanted dead.
This of WikiLeaks is just one of many more possible examples of why total abolition of cash is bad.
In his book on the Snowden files, Barton Gellman tells how, in order to do that job, he bought new computers paying CASH, and so did other journalists and I (Maurizi) who had to work on the same files (in order to not be tracked, I guess). A Pulitzer Prize-winning scoop was GREATLY helped by the possibility to make CASH payments.
The automatic answer to all this may be that normal people care more that mafia members, drug traffickers and tax evaders do not escape.
OK: I’m also interested in sending them to jail and I agree with the REDUCTION of #cash, but NOT with its ABOLITION.
A totally cashless society creates more problems than it solves. That is why, in a country surely not afraid of technology as the United States, a respected organization for human and civil rights, ACLU, fights against the abolition of cash, and asks everybody to Say No to the “Cashless Future” - and to Cashless Stores.
ACLU does not fight the abolition of cash because it is in league with the mafia, or because it sympathizes with narcos and drug dealers, or tax evaders. ACLU does that because a society in which there is NO alternative to electronic payments is NOT a society capable of guaranteeing social justice and privacy.
Or inequality, for that matter: electronic payments exclude anyone who does NOT have economic stability, anyone on the fringes of society.
Electronic payments also destroy any possibility to go to specialist in sexual diseases or serious psychiatric illnesses, without this information going to your banks, etc.
Finally, and again, electronic payments exclude any possibility to carry out deeply anti-establishment political, journalistic activities, etc., because banks and credit cards may play to those journalists the same trick they played with Wikileaks.
Image source: Why the cashless society endangers our privacy
(This post was drafted in July 2020, but only put online in August, because… my coronavirus reports, of course)