Every week it seems, a bureaucrat, a technocrat, or a lawmaking body somewhere does something or says something so boneheaded or frightening that it makes me think, “Yep—gotta have an escape hatch.”
Two popped up in my newsfeed last week:
- Texas has passed a law that will essentially deputize ordinary citizens—including people who live outside of Texas—to sue abortion clinics in the state. (Note: This dispatch has precisely zero to do with the third rail that is the abortion debate.)
- The general manager at the Bank of International Settlements, the central bank for the world’s central bankers, said this: “We don’t know who’s using a $100 bill today [but] with the [forthcoming digital currencies] the central bank will have absolute control…”
Those scare me because they say privacy and liberty are increasingly unimportant tenets of 21st century society.
Let’s start in Texas…
Under the new law, ordinary citizens who identify and successfully sue an abortion clinic over an “illegal” abortion (defined under the new law as any abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat, usually at about six weeks of pregnancy) will be awarded at least $10,000.
Like I said at the outset, this has nothing to do with the abortion debate itself—I’m not weighing in on that. Instead, this has everything to do with the mechanism Texas has chosen to enforce its law.
Setting average Americans loose to monitor, track, and report activities that one faction of government doesn’t like reeks of an Orwellian, post-war East Germany, where neighbors spied on neighbors, then reported back to government and police.
In a country that prides itself on freedom and liberty, deputizing vigilantes to pursue a personal or religious (or even anti-religious) agenda against their opponents is the beginning of the end.
What if this ill-fitting shoe were on the other foot?
What if a state like, say, California or Massachusetts deputized citizens and paid them $10,000 per victory to uphold America’s “separation of church and state” clause by suing public schools that invoke a morning prayer, or by suing churches that send out missionaries to evangelize on public streets? Would that be OK?
It becomes a very slippery slope very quickly—a slope that can only end in rancor as both sides seek to reshape laws to fit their view of what they think America should become.
That’s precisely why countries all over the world and all across history have split apart. Neither side respects the other, and ultimately cannot tolerate the other having any say in “their” country.
Then comes the geographic cleaving.
On to the Bank of International Settlements, or BIS…
This is something I have warned about over the past year as the move quickens toward central bank digital currencies, aka CBDCs. China is the farthest along among major countries in actually releasing a CBDC—the digital yuan—for broad use. But scads of countries are looking at this. The U.S., Singapore, New Zealand, the U.K., the eurozone, many others.
These CBDCs are our sovereign currencies like the dollar, euro, yen, or whatever, but they will exist only as bits and bytes on the blockchain, just like cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or Ethereum. In the future, these currencies will replace the paper money in our pockets and this has major implications for our privacy.
For all the good that cryptocurrencies offer, their big flaw is that the blockchain is just one ginormous whiteboard with everything that ever happens written onto it.
Just recently, for instance, billionaire crypto advocate Mark Cuban posted a tweet about a non-fungible token, a type of crypto known as an NFT. The tweet included the token’s blockchain address, and a resourceful TikToker was able to backtrack all the way to Cuban’s wallet to see exactly what crypto he was holding.
In the era of digital currencies, government eyes will have purview over every single penny we earn and exactly where we spend our money.
Centralized financial surveillance is going to be a big problem.
Physical money is a private affair. Government has no business knowing what I buy and where I buy it. And, early on in the transition to digital currencies, you might see government grudgingly acknowledge that by allowing us to convert digital dollars into physical cash and go about our life with a degree of privacy.
But at some point, physical cash goes bye-bye. The outward rationale will be saving the $1.1 billion annual cost of printing coins and notes. The behind-the-curtain rationale, however, will be the Wizard’s lust for knowing who is spending what in his kingdom, and where they’re spending it.
Frankly, this is why I have my own escape hatch—my own Plan B—in mind. It’s part of the reason I own physical gold and silver. Government will never be able to stop the trade in that, even if the trade must happen on the DL.
Same with crypto.
To fully cut off the cryptoconomy, governments acting in concert worldwide would have to shut off the internet, and that’s not going to happen. It would not only destroy the global economy so dependent on the internet, it would negate the government’s own CBDCs.
Chaos would ensue.
So crypto will only grow stronger and more relevant in an Orwellian society where Big Brother has come to life, and he knows you’ve subscribed to Netflix and you’re probably watching Sex/Life!
When it comes to government overreach, history has proven that necessity is the mother of circumvention.
I hope you think about these things because they are not inconsequential.
They will have very real impacts on society and each of us as individuals.