Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Greecing the Skids

When we think of money, our minds automatically conjure up images of paper bills with presidents on them, and, to a lesser extent perhaps, the loose change of quarters, nickels, and dimes.

Strange that we think that way, because how much do we even use those things anymore? Other than a newspaper here and a soft drink there and maybe a couple of dollars at a garage sale, I would suggest that our reliance on actually currency – the kind you can hold in your hand or jingle in your pocket – is virtually non-existent.

Think about this for a second: In today’s world of checks, debit & credit cards, Paypal, direct deposit, and online payments, it is 100% possible to live your life without ever touching any actual money at all.


I can readily admit that I rarely ever carry cash myself, other than a few dollars that I keep on hand for “emergencies”.

It might give us pause to wonder, do we even need cash anymore?

December 22, 2009:
National Irish moves to cashless banking

National Irish Bank has written to thousands of its customers this month informing them of a “new style of banking” in which branches will not handle over-the-counter cash transactions.

The letter says branches will no longer handle cash withdrawals and lodgements, night safe lodgements and foreign currency cash. Branches will continue to lodge cheques, drafts and postal orders and issue drafts.

February 9, 2010:
HIGHLIGHTS-Greek FinMin unveils tax reform, wage policy

"From 1. Jan. 2011, every transaction above 1,500 euros between natural persons and businesses, or between businesses, will not be considered legal if it is done in cash. Transactions will have to be done through debit or credit cards"

July 4, 2021:
United States Outlaws Use of Hard Currency (from the novel What So Proudly We Hailed)

In the past, whenever two people wanted to make a transaction, they agreed on a price and money was exchanged for goods or services. The entire event was contained solely between the two people involved.

When a transaction was made electronically, however, there were actually three parties involved; the buyer, the seller, and a middleman who transferred funds from one account to another.

No one doubted the convenience or safety of electronic transactions because they were easy, and it was much safer than carrying cash, but no one had ever questioned the role of the “middleman” either, or more specifically, the power that the middleman had to decide whether the transaction should occur at all.

Of course, those “middlemen” had always held a rather benevolent position in the past. They didn’t cause problems because they wanted us to use their services, and they knew we had the option to forego them entirely and just use cash instead if they made things difficult for us.

But that was just it; we didn’t have the option of cash anymore.

Every transaction was now required to go through that middleman, which gave them the final authority to approve or disapprove as they saw fit. The power to buy or sell had been taken away from the actual buyer & seller, and transferred instead to these unknown, unseen middlemen.

And the funny things is, that power? That unbelievable power? We had just given it to them.

Not so funny, was that they now began to use it. Who was going to stop them?

You're right. Probably never happen.


Meg said...

I really like that excerpt from "What Proudly We Hailed"

Is that your writing?

Blaine Staat said...

Hi Meg, yes, it is; thank you! It's hard to judge your own work, but I can say with all honesty that it's pretty good. Dark though, and scary; all the more because so many of the concepts introduced in the story seem to be making appearances in the real world in one form or another. If you liked "1984", "Brave New World", "Anthem", et.al., you would probably like WSPWH also. If nothing else, it will make you look at the world in a different way.