What if cash were eliminated? No one would have a choice. They’d have to have a bank account and use it for all transactions, or they couldn’t purchase goods or pay bills. Governments would thoroughly endorse the idea, because it would mean that, for the first time, they’d have access to all information on your economic activity. Once all your transactions were monitored, those that are “suspect” could be noted and even refused. Total surveillance would be the norm…
BY JEFF THOMAS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CHRONICLES AND INTERNATIONAL MAN
A decade or more ago, I began to discuss with associates the possibility of governments and banks colluding to eliminate physical cash. Back then, the idea struck most everyone as poppycock, that governments could never get away with it.
I didn’t write on the subject until 2015, when several countries had begun to limit the amount of money a depositor could extract from his bank account. At that point, the prospect that central banks might conceivably eliminate cash was looking less like an alarmist fantasy, and it became possible to write on the nascent issue.
In a nutshell, today, in most of the world’s most prominent countries, the people who control banking are the same people who pull the strings in government. A cashless system therefore seemed to me to be a natural, as it dramatically increased both profit and power for both banking and government – an opportunity that can’t be passed up.
The Benefit to Banking
Some banks have been delving into negative interest rates, which is a euphemism for charging you to keep your money in the bank, so that they can loan it out for their own profit. You actually lose money annually by having it on deposit.
Of course, some people accept negative interest rates in order to retain the imagined safety of having their cash in a bank vault, rather than at home. Others tolerate it because they value the convenience of using ATMs and chequing.
But anyone else may simply decide to store their money at home and save the “reverse interest” charges.
But what if cash were eliminated? No one would have a choice. They’d have to have a bank account and use it for all transactions, or they couldn’t purchase goods or pay bills.
Once everyone accepted the concept that bankers had total control of transactions, that this was “normal,” banks would be in the catbird seat. They could raise the transaction fees considerably over time and the depositors would be unable to exit the system.
The Benefit to Governments
Governments would thoroughly endorse the idea, because it would mean that, for the first time, they’d have access to all information on your economic activity. The necessity of allowing people to file for income tax would vanish. In future, they could assess your annual tax themselves and take it from your account by direct debit. They could also begin taxing you monthly rather than annually, “for your convenience.”
And in the bargain, we could anticipate that the charges would be numerous, confusingly worded on the monthly statement and difficult to figure out. That would allow both the banks and the government to periodically effect incremental increases.
Once all your transactions were monitored, those that are “suspect” could be noted and even refused. Purchases at gun shops could be classified as “terrorist-related.” A transfer to a realtor in Panama could be classified as “money-laundering.”
Since the War on Cash has become recognized in the last few years, many people have turned to cryptocurrencies as a means of retaining monetary freedom.
However, as the future of financially pillaging the populace depends on ensuring that the populace have no option other than banks, will governments allow cryptos to flourish?
Not if they can stop it. But can they?
It’s been my contention that banks will at some point, launch their own cryptos, whilst doing all they can to discredit non-central bank cryptos as being potentially criminal.
The Bank of Canada is now considering launching a digital currency that it says would help it combat the “direct threat” of cryptocurrencies. It would initially coexist with paper money, but would eventually replace it completely.
They state further that banknotes are becoming obsolete as a means of payment, creating problems for the banking system as a whole: “The time may come that merchants/banks find it too costly to accept banknotes.”
Translate that to mean that, if you insist on using banknotes, the bank will have no choice but to charge you a premium for their use.
This has come on the heels of the plan by Facebook to release libra, its own cryptocurrency. The Bank of Canada states that “Facebook’s digital offering is losing key backers and facing scrutiny from regulators worldwide, including the Bank of Canada.”
It suggests that central bank digital currencies allow banks to collect more information on Canadians than is possible when people use cash. “Personal details not shared with payee, but could be shared with police or tax authorities.”
And if there are any remaining uncertainties to the benefits of non-central bank cryptos, they added, “Cryptocurrencies may become a direct threat to our ability to implement monetary policy and lender of last resort role.”
On the surface, the statement from Bank of Canada appears to be an announcement of banking progress, for the betterment of depositors. But it’s the first report, to my knowledge, in which a bank declares bitcoin and other non-central bank cryptos as a “direct threat.”
The above statement is a forerunner to declaring non-bank cryptos to be criminal in nature. Cryptos offer the hope of monetary freedom and that can’t be allowed.
At some point, we can expect banks to disallow any payment for cryptos such as bitcoin through central bank cryptos and refuse accounts to anyone who has a history of dealing in non-central bank cryptos. The objective will be to eliminate the possibility that your grocer or gas station, along with any other bank depositor, might accept bitcoin. The intent will be to send bitcoin to the crypto graveyard.
Unlike gold, bitcoin is intangible and cannot simply be stuffed in the mattress until such time as it regains its acceptance for convertibility, as gold has in the past. It doesn’t exist in physical form and only has a perceived value if another party is prepared to accept it in payment.
The War on Cash is a war on your economic freedom. At present, most people still retain the ability to remove their wealth from the system, move it to a more wealth-friendly jurisdiction and hold it to forms that will retain value in the future.
That window may close sooner, rather than later.
International Man: Recently, Christine Lagarde, the new European Central Bank (ECB) head, said the most incredible thing: “We should be happier to have a job than to have our savings protected… I think that it is in this spirit that monetary policy has been decided by my predecessors and I think they made quite a beneficial choice.”
What’s your take on this?
Jeff Thomas: Well, I doubt very much if Mrs. Lagarde includes herself in her comment. She has no intention of losing her own savings, since she’s a member of the ruling class. What she’s saying is that the hoi polloi will have their savings absorbed by the banks and the state and that the hoi polloi should begin now to accept the idea.
As to the tone of the comment, it’s the old ploy of soft-soaping an event that’s going to occur soon, hoping that you can make it seem more palatable before implementing it.
It’s much like the old British comedies in which a woman, instead of saying, “My Mum’s coming to live with us,” says to her husband, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be seeing more of my Mum?” She then spends the rest of the play getting him used to the idea that Mum’s presence would be nice, without telling him that Mum is soon to arrive with her baggage.
Only, the bomb that’s soon to be dropped on Europeans and much of the rest of the world is a fair bit worse than having Mum come to stay. The plan is to remove all savings from the population – to get them accustomed to living hand-to-mouth. Ultimately, it’s the dream of all governments, but it’s often difficult to pull off. Understandably, people tend to rebel against it.
But any government understands that wealth and/or savings represent freedom of choice. The more money you have, the more control you have over deciding your own future. Therefore, a government that wishes to enslave its people will hope to create an economy in which the people have enough to live on but are unable to save. That keeps them dependent upon the government.
International Man: What do you think central bankers are signaling by saying that having a job is of greater importance than savings?
Jeff Thomas: Well, if it’s your intent to rob people of their savings, you might make the blow more palatable if you can convince people in advance that savings are not really so terribly important. Shift the emphasis to having a job.
Not to worry. The nanny state will look after the rest.
The “bomb,” of course, is negative interest rates, the elimination of cash, dramatic inflation and capital controls. Once the populace are locked into the banking system as the only means of facilitating the movement of money, they’ll be locked into the maelstrom that is to come: the systematic control and ultimate impoverishment of the population.
Picture yourself as a plant. At one time, your forebears lived in the wild, then later, in cultivated gardens, but in the future, the intent will be that you shall live as a hydroponically grown specimen, being fed exactly the water and nutrients that your growers prescribe to make you productive… and no more.
That’s essentially what governments tend to seek. If we bear in mind that government is, by definition, no more than a parasite, it stands to reason that any government would want to minimize its effort and expense, whilst maximizing what it can extract from its people.
International Man: Do you think there is currently a war being waged on savers and retirees? Who is involved and why?
Jeff Thomas: I wouldn’t tend to use the word “war.” I think of it more as a programme for greater control over the worker ants. It’s helpful to remember that, historically, leaders have always desired total control over their minions.
All that’s changed in the modern era is that technology now allows that to happen to a greater degree than before. In the future, banks and governments will have the technological ability to monitor every economic transaction you make, down to buying a drink in a vending machine. Once that total monitoring is in place, it’s just a matter of time before your government will begin to take charge of your expenditures, allowing or disallowing them.
Of course, it would be understandable for people in the present day to say, “Oh, we’d never tolerate that,” but it will not only be tolerated, it will be welcomed. The powers that be, through the media, will get people accustomed to the concept that some expenditures are related to terrorism and money laundering, etc., whilst others are racist, sexist and the result of “hate-think.” You’ll still be able to buy a drink in a machine, but you might not be able to move to the countryside or go abroad on holiday. Certainly, you wouldn’t be able to move abroad… and take your wealth with you.
This is nothing new in concept, only in the method of implementation. It’s the age-old totalitarian ideal.
International Man: As governments put their money printing into overdrive and central banks begin instituting negative interest rates, has the war already been lost?
Jeff Thomas: That would depend on which war you mean. If you mean the war being waged over your control over your bank account, then yes, that’s virtually over and they’ve won. If you mean the war over liberty, then no, not necessarily, but the big guns haven’t been brought out in that war yet.
International Man: What do you consider the big guns to be?
Jeff Thomas: Capital controls and migration controls. The capital controls will consist of restricting your money so that it can’t leave your home jurisdiction, so that you can’t have any meaningful control over what you do with it. And the migration controls will consist of a series of reasons why it’s non-patriotic or even criminal to go beyond your home-country’s borders. At first, this will mean that you can’t move abroad, but eventually, it will eliminate most or all travel abroad.
Years ago, I had the task of sheering sheep and I found out that the way to make it easy was to pen the sheep in. Then they give up and accept what you’re going to do to them. Likewise, governments understand that economic sheering is easiest if the sheeple are penned in.
International Man: How do people protect their savings in such an environment?
Jeff Thomas: The phrasing of that question makes it an easy one to answer. “In such an environment,” your goose is cooked. Once the gate on the pen is shut, that’s it. They can sheer at their leisure.
So, the obvious answer and, as I see it, the only rational one, is to escape from that environment before it’s fully instituted. Expatriate your wealth, no matter how great or small, to a country where the government is not building pens for the sheeple.
As the leading nations spiral downwards, there will be an equal and opposite reaction from a host of other countries – they’ll capitalise on the decline of the former “Free World” by creating opportunities for greater liberty within their own borders. They’ll see opportunity for themselves as havens, and increasingly, opportunities will pop up. Some will be temporary in nature, and in fact, some will be outright scams, but there will be others that will offer genuine long-term opportunity.
If I were living in an at-risk country, I’d liquidate everything and get the proceeds out as soon as I could identify a promising target country. Then I’d leave my home country and move to where liberty was on the increase, not the decline.
International Man: Conceptually, that makes sense, but it’s a rather daunting task. How does someone who’s not well-travelled figure out what countries will be to his advantage and which ones he should avoid?
Jeff Thomas: Well, begin by investigating their past history. Do they have a history of stable government? Of respecting the right to privacy and ownership with minimal regulations? Of minimal taxation and monetary controls?
In this category, you might find Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Lichtenstein and Uruguay to be potential choices.
Or do they have a history of governments that make wild swings between capitalism and socialism, between freedom and authoritarianism? Do the laws change dramatically depending upon who is now ruling the country? Do they welcome the expatriate and treat him as more or less equal within the law, or is he treated as an outsider to be bled of his money?
In this category, you might find Uganda, Nicaragua, Greece and Zimbabwe to be places to avoid. The odds are poor that in your lifetime, they’ll be places where you can thrive.
So, turn off the football game and the news. Instead, go on the internet and start investigating. When you’ve figured out a short list, visit your choices if you can. Then pick one where you might want to store your wealth and one where you think you’d most enjoy living.
As the present situation unfolds, you may possibly change your mind and move again, but at least you’d be more likely to be free to do so. You wouldn’t be standing in the pen wondering how they robbed you of your wool.
International Man: Australia has proposed a law that provides a $25,000 fine and two years in jail for those who make cash transactions of $10,000 or more. If passed, the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill could be implemented in 2020.
Do you see this legislation as Orwellian?
Jeff Thomas: Oh, yes, very much so. The claim by the Australian government’s Black Economy Taskforce is that the law will help stamp out tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes.
What we’ll be seeing is a plethora of laws popping up in all the countries that were a part of the post-war prosperity boom – the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe and others. All those jurisdictions dove headlong into the debt pit that the US created after 1971. All of them are now facing an economic crisis as a result.
Consequently, all of them will be creating capital controls. My belief is that each will host several of these laws, and the others will all adopt them. Each law will be justified as protection against money laundering, terrorism, tax evasion, a rising black market or a combination of those scare tactic focal points. As such, the populace of each country will welcome them, not understanding that the real purpose is to have the banks determine how much you’re allowed to spend.
By having each country put forth a portion of the laws, then having all the others copy them, they’ll hope to make the laws appear to be less draconian. After all, how bad could they be, if all these countries support them?
Many of these laws will be based on the assumption that cash will be eliminated and all transactions must be undertaken by the banks. Banks will also be authorised to examine what you’re spending the money on. At first the oversight would relate to large expenditures, but later, it would be smaller expenditures, that, together, make up larger amounts. The outcome would be that all outlays would be suspect and could be refused by the bank. Those depositors who had a history of transactions having been in question would find that all transactions would be monitored in future (as though they weren’t already).
International Man: How can people combat the laws that are coming?
Jeff Thomas: Anyone who lives in any of the countries that are most seriously at risk still has time, prior to the passage of the laws, to liquidate his holdings in those countries. Then he may move the proceeds to a jurisdiction that’s likely to be safer.
If you own a home, sell it now and rent it back from the new owners. That way, you get to remain in the house you like, but the value of your house would have been taken out of the country. That gives you a nest egg elsewhere, in addition to making it easier to walk away from the house after things begin unravelling.
In a crisis, your true net worth consists of the amount of wealth that you have already succeeded in expatriating. So, you liquidate all assets and get the proceeds safely out. If things don’t go so badly, the money can always be repatriated, but if things do go badly, you will have kept your family from becoming casualties.
International Man: Is a cashless society the only way for governments and central banks to continue to wield their power through debt-based paper currency?
Jeff Thomas: No, there’s a host of means which they can employ. In my belief, they’ll use the “shotgun” method – coming at people with a variety of approaches at the same time. That would make it more likely that when people seek loopholes in the system, those loopholes will already be closed and people resign themselves to their fate.
In normal times, they’d be likely to drag the process out in order to be less obvious, but they’re running out of time. The house of cards hasn’t collapsed, but it’s shaking and they’ll want to entrap your wealth as much as possible as quickly as possible.
International Man: The trend toward eliminating cash completely is accelerating. In a cashless society, every transaction can be tracked and centrally controlled.
What does this mean for privacy and freedom?
Jeff Thomas: It means three things. First, it means that they can keep tabs on all your transactions. Your financial privacy is gone.
Second, it means that in future, transactions can be refused if they’re “questionable.” Maybe your trip to Panama has been deemed unjustified by the powers that be. Or your transfer to a bank in Singapore has been deemed “invalid.” In this way, they’ll be able to not only monitor your transactions, but limit your monetary freedom. Those who repeatedly operate outside of the accepted norm may well go onto watch lists, where they increasingly must seek permission to make transactions.
At first, this won’t be as simple as an “allowed/refused” programme. It will be more polite. You’ll receive a notice that says, “For policy reasons, we have been unable to complete this transaction. Please provide additional documentation as to the purpose of the transaction for our records.” They’ll bury you in requests for documentation. You’ll accept the idea that you must provide them with information, and very soon, you’ll become accustomed to pleading with your bank to use your own money as you see fit.
Third, because they have a record of all your transactions, your government can change the method of taxation from an annual voluntary tax payment to a direct debit. I believe that they would soon announce that they’ll be performing direct debits quarterly or even monthly “for your benefit.” Their claim will be that they’re relieving you of the hardship of the annual big hit and replacing it with a series of smaller ones.
You’ll then see a series of debits on your bank statements that are intentionally confusing. You won’t be able to figure out their method for determining the debit amounts, although it will, over time, become apparent that they’re taking more and more.
International Man: What happens once negative interest rates are incurred on deposits?
Jeff Thomas: Well, once you have no choice but to entrust all your transactions to your bank, negative interest rates will be implemented. After that, they’ll rise, again and again. My guess is that you’ll see rates on your bank statement such as 2.371% one month, followed by 2.592% the following month. It will seem very technical and you’ll come to think of it as being like the stock market, going up and down each month “as necessary.” But it will be a scam. It will quite simply be the theft of your money on deposit.
International Man: What should people be doing to combat this trend?
Jeff Thomas: Well, first off, I’d expect that this will begin in the US, EU, Canada, etc., and then spread outward. There are those jurisdictions like Switzerland, the Channel Islands, etc., that are more geared to providing favourable services to their clients than the large powers do. They’ll hold out at first, but once the majority of the world is on board with this scam, they’ll jump on board also. After all, it’s a license to skin you each month. What bank is going to pass that opportunity up? So, in the end, it will go global.
International Man: Do you see any hope for either derailing this system or opting out of it?
Jeff Thomas: As long as the current economic system remains as it is, no. The only escape is to either get out of cash, or move to a country that’s likely to continue to use cash. And the best that will do will be to buy you a bit more time.
Ultimately, this will succeed up until the day comes when there’s a collapse in the system itself.
Some people will try to escape through the use of cryptos. But if cryptos become the one and only loophole, we can be sure that they will be either taken over or outlawed. There’s zero chance that the powers that be will allow for this massive wealth grab to be thwarted by those who deal in cryptos.
I should mention that, at this point, I don’t have any particular vision in mind as to how this might be done, but the Achilles heel of cryptos is that they are exchanged for goods and services at some point. It will be at that point that a red flag is raised and the trader is exposed and prosecuted for “economic terrorism,” or whatever trumped-up term is created at the time.
Cryptos just may be the greatest economic invention of the twenty-first century, and that’s just why they can’t be allowed to go mainstream. All on their own, they can defeat the banks’ most profitable money-maker and that can’t be allowed to happen.