There’s a trend going on in the U.S., and for that matter in the whole wide world.
It’s one that people for the most part, both here and abroad, haven’t had the time or inclination of late to focus their energies on.
The trend is toward a completely cashless society.
There is good reason to be afraid. The timeline for its arrival is on an accelerated trajectory.
Recently in our own country, the Biden administration moved America closer to the death knell of physical money by its exploration and potential implementation of a government-created digital currency.
Ever since the advent of cryptocurrencies, government officials around the globe have longed to get in on the digital money action.
The best known crypto is Bitcoin, which was created in 2009 by a software engineer who used the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Numerous other digital coins followed, including the second-most popular, Ethereum.
The exchange of cryptos occurs on decentralized computer networks and takes place between individuals who use their virtual accounts.
Cryptocurrencies are shared on tamper-proof records known as “blockchains.”
As most folks are aware, computers and devices hold gobs of information in the form of data. A blockchain provides a specialized manner in which to hold data. It records information in a way that prohibits hacking or alteration.
Blockchain data are not contained within a central server, but instead are shared across a vast network of computer systems.
The Biden administration is pursuing something called a central bank digital currency (CBDC), also sometimes referred to as the “digital dollar.”
In March 2022 an executive order was issued, calling on federal agencies to research a number of topics that include the pros and cons of the digital dollar.
The Treasury, Justice Department, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Securities and Exchange Commission as well as other agencies were asked to contribute to the reports.
After the agencies came up with their reports, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen publicly cited a Treasury Department recommendation that the United States “advance policy and technical work on a potential central bank digital currency, or CBDC, so that the United States is prepared if CBDC is determined to be in the national interest.”
On the current necessity for digital dollars, Yellen explained, “Right now, some aspects of our current payment system are too slow or too expensive.”
So here we are on our way to a world in which everyday money will be held in the form of CBDCs.
According to the nonpartisan think tank Atlantic Council, 105 countries, representing more than 95 percent of global gross domestic product, are currently in the process or have already created a CBDC.
With regard to the inherent dangers of these developments, there is a whole lot to be concerned about.
CBDCs are very different from cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are private and untraceable. CBDCs are controlled by government.
Not only are CBDCs able to collect personally identifiable financial information and track the transactions of each and every individual, they are also programmable.
Programmable digital currency gives government leaders something they have never had before – the ability to limit or even stop altogether the purchases of all persons engaged in the digital currency’s use.
Money spent on things that for whatever reasons are deemed by government as “inappropriate” could be restricted, or said purchases could be totally halted.
How could a plan such as this be implemented? With the flick of a virtual switch.
Programmable currency has the capacity to have a built-in off switch. The government powers that be could then de-activate such digital currency and render it worthless, if they so choose.
Additionally, use of CBDCs would enable all shopping records to be stored in government databanks. Records could then be evaluated and measured against government created standards.
The stored data on purchases could also be used to establish a social credit system much like the one already in place in China.
Thankfully, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are paying attention to the issue and have submitted various pieces of legislation regarding cryptocurrency and other digital assets.
One championed by Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, stands out.
Sen. Cruz has introduced legislation to prohibit the Federal Reserve from issuing CBDCs directly to individuals. The Texas senator’s bill is co-sponsored by Senators Braun, R-Indiana, and Grassley, R-Iowa.
The legislation prohibits the Federal Reserve from developing a direct-to-consumer CBDC, which could be used by the federal government as a financial surveillance tool, among other things.
Should the digital dollar arrive in our virtual wallets, the longstanding U.S. motto that has graced our coin and paper currency is unlikely to be visible.
But it will prove to be more important than ever.