Monday, June 14, 2004

Where's my $1000 dollar bill?

With the Patriot Act, and Son of the Patriot Act, we are on our way to new depths in freedom.

First of all, let's face it, there's no such thing as true Freedom. And by that I mean the adolescent mantra, "I'll do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want." You can't. You can't even approach it, even as an ideal; we can only live little pieces of it as an illusory bit of the ideal. (Why, because we humans are all power hungry monkeys, but that's another Rant)

"What does this have to do with money?" If you're asking this, you probably aren't aware of the vast paper trail you're leaving through your life.

Every purchase you make, every time you use your grocery store card, buy gas at pay-at-the-pump, or even use PayPal, you make a record of money transfer. Someone with adequate resources could learn anything about you there might be to know. If you're a law-abiding citizen, you have nothing to hide - only criminals use cash, right? They're the ones with briefcases full of money who go off to overseas banks to open secret bank accounts. They're the ones with so much money from drug deals they can't do anything with it. And don't forget the terrorists - terrorists use cash too! Cash must be evil, then. A clear indicator of someone who might want to do Bad Stuff.

That's why they made a law about not moving about more than $10,000 - so they could catch the gangsters laundering their money.

Money Laundering: Why is it dirty? Because criminals touch it and they are dirty! No, because it was untaxed.

They say follow the money if you want the root of a motivation. This is it. The US tax code has had the unintended consequence of taking away our freedom. The IRS has high motive to track the movement of cash through society in order to properly tax income of individuals. You can't actually give someone a big chunk of money either because there's a tax on that too.

According to the CPI calculator, in 1945, when the $1000 bill was last printed (it was taken out of circulation in 1969), that denomination was worth close to $10,222 in today's money. You could buy a car with a single bill of money. You could carry the equivalent of a million bucks in your pocket. (OK, it'd be a big pocket). But even then, the $10,000 bill was still in circulation -- a stack of ten of them would be a million in today's dollars.

But you can't any more, not because the government wanted to crack down on gangsters, but because they wanted their piece of you. If you buy and sell and pay our employees with cash, how is the IRS to know how much income you have? Are they simply to believe you're lying ass? (The gangster, er, drug dealer, er, terrorist thing sounds good, though, doesn't it?)

We are fast on the way to the cashless society. In a couple of decades, it wouldn't be too surprising to find that all anonymous forms of transacting business are illegal. When this world comes to be, then all the tools will be in place for anyone with a power trip wet dream to completely control you.

How free is that?

The interesting thing is, that by simply replacing income taxes with consumption (or value added) taxes, it all disappears. Sure the Justice Department will flop around on the deck for a few years trying to maintain it's grip on your data warehouse, but without the IRS to back them up, they're really not a political force. (See now how they are desperately trying to hold on to the power granted them with the Patriot Act?)

Good old currency should come back, albeit in modern form. We'll see the advent of anonymous credit/debit cards preloaded with as much cash as you would like to put in them. Encryption techniques can even prevent the anymous cash card from being tracked from purchase to purchase. You could give your entire fortune to a favorite grandchild in the form of that card, or you could give it to a random bum on the street. Perhaps it will be called a "Jovian Credit Disk" (if you get that reference, you're a nerd). And the government would always get it's piece when the money is spent - what more could they ask for?

I'm thinking I should be put on the new $1,000,000 bill.

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