Blockchain: Open Source Money

“Blockchains are simply distributed transaction processing engines. The technology allows data to be stored in a variety of different places while tracking the relationship between different parties to that data. Most people trying to explain blockchains like to compare it to a ledger. Anytime someone makes a transaction, such as a currency changing hands or a new device being added to a network, it is recorded in the chain and anyone can track what has happened. This is why law enforcement is so keen on Bitcoin—the digital footprints are easy to trace.” Fortune tech, Stacey Higginbotham, May 29, 2015

What if we lived in a world where global access to money was available to everyone? Money can zoom around the globe at the speed of digital as a peer-to-peer decentralized and cooperative process – no top-down banking system needed. Trust relationships happen automatically via digitally signed, permission-less transactions, destroying the inevitability of poverty. Would this represent a giant step for humanity?

Such is the utopian dream of tech developers. The next generation of computer networking gears up to surround the world for the greater good. Welcome to the intended blockchain (financial) transformation of the world.

Ignore it at your own peril.

My article of May 2016, The Power Behind the Throne, discusses the mostly under-reported, yet steady advancement, towards a cashless society via blockchain technology, and my thoughts about who really benefits. It could end up as the giant leap for the banking industry, gaining omnipotent control over our financial transactions. A Bloomberg article, Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash, May 2, 2016, cited representatives from Nasdaq, Citigroup Inc., Visa Inc., Fidelity, Fiserv Inc., Pfizer Inc. and others in attendance.

Enter 2017 and the documentary produced to inspire and excite: The Blockchain and Us. Some say that 2017 will be the year this technology moves into the mainstream; others say it’s just too risky.

The infomercial-type documentary introduces “leaders” from countries around the world who extol the virtue of open source money, the grassroots, and bottom-up cultural game-changer begun by Bitcoin in 2008. Blockchain technology and its potential impact is likened to how the introduction of the airplane changed society; the structure of the financial services industry, alone, is said to transform 100% to digital within 20 years. Additionally, blockchain technology is expected to:

  • Affect every industry as a “value” platform with military-grade cryptology
  • Create a generational shift in technology, an opportunity capable of “lifting people out of poverty”
  • Accommodate what they called, “smart” contracts
  • Exert a profound shift in how the Internet could be used to create new forms of value and new ways of transacting value
  • Generate more jobs due to automation

There you have it…Blockchain and Us. Yet naysayers, such as myself, cannot see the commensurate personal benefit. Surrender the paltry financial privacy we have left via cash to the Goliath banking industry? It occurs to me we may not have a choice since the “little” people appear to be the revenue units simply along for the ride.

That said, using cash and paying as you go, has obvious and maybe not so obvious benefits:

  • Choice
  • Transaction privacy
  • No bank-interest charges (overdraft, credit cards, loans, lines of credit, etc.)
  • Possible 5% vendor discount upon request
  • Fiscal responsibility that credit use has destroyed
  • Curbing the instant-gratification mindset easy credit encourages
  • More personal time when keeping up with debt means working harder/faster

I think living in a material world makes is easy to forget that the complete definition of wealth includes more than stuff. The intangible wealth of personal well-being and peace of mind are priceless until they are overlooked and under-valued. Instead of the utopian dream, imagine this:  We no longer make purchases we don’t need, with money we do not have to impress people who do not really care about us. If more people would make a habit of using cash, we could strengthen our own money-management skills towards building real wealth, and also send a message to those who own the gold.

 

The Cumulative Effective-Tax Rate

Early Americans would roll over in their graves if they heard about modern-day America’s topsy-turvy departure from many of the hard-won freedoms and liberties of the American Revolution. They would be unable to make sense of all the different taxes we pay today, and especially the government’s legal entitlement to a portion of an American’s labor via an income tax. There was no such tax on labor for the earliest Americans; it was unconscionable to tax someone’s personal property, which one’s labor was then considered. The concept of paying one’s “fair share” did not exist until after mid-20th century.

In general, operating expenses of private corporations and the federal, state and corporate-county municipal governments are passed on to the end users (public) in the form of taxation.

A partial list of the transparent as well as all the unseen hidden taxes include: federal and state income tax, county taxes, federal and state sales tax, accounts receivable tax, alcohol tax, alternative minimum tax, building permit tax, cigarette tax, corporate tax, dog license tax, education tax, estate tax, excise tax on imports, food license tax, fuel permit tax, gift tax, hotel tax, inheritance tax, inventory tax, car rental tax, IRS interest charges, IRS penalties and levies, license tax, labor tax (withholding), marriage license tax, Medicare tax, municipal state tax on insurance premiums, worker’s compensation and unemployment tax, property tax, recreational vehicle tax, sales tax, self-employment tax, road usage tax for truckers, school tax, Social Security tax, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), telecommunications tax, travel tax, utility tax, vehicle licensing registration tax, vehicle sales tax, watercraft registration tax, well permit tax, hospitality tax and last but not least, the hidden tax of inflation of a debt-based central banking system and all finance charges.

I’m sure I must have missed something!

While on a TV talk show in 1981, President Reagan mentioned that 46 different taxes contributed to the price of one loaf of bread. Imagine how many more taxes have been added since then. How many taxes and fees are hidden in an airline ticket? Seldom considered is how the cost of doing business has the effect of decreasing one’s purchasing power as more and different kinds taxes make up the retail price you end up paying.

The total of the multiple costs of doing business becomes the retail price. Throughout a company’s chain of events from production to sales and marketing, labor costs take a huge bite; they are the wages, taxes and fees imposed on the labor of every employee from the factory-floor worker to CEO. Materials, essential resources, and the interest amounts on a company’s business loans are all rolled into the price you pay.

Americans take a beating from taxes that now appear to exponentially erode earnings (personal property). “Bracket creep,” as it is called, over time automatically moves a taxpayer into new, higher tax brackets. For example, in 1970, private pensions and Social Security retirement were not considered taxable income, though today, they are. These sort of official changes often move people into a higher income bracket with subsequent increased amounts due to state and federal governments.

What if mainstream media routinely reported on the cumulative total of what everyday American pays annually in taxes? Would you connect the dots to the direct impact this has on your personal finances, e.g., actual disposable income and increasing dependence on credit? The addition of all taxes, transparent and not so transparent, (hidden taxes mentioned above, upfront fees and regulation costs of federal and state regulatory compliance, federal fines (like what British Petroleum passed on to consumers after the Gulf oil spill) lead this writer to the educated guess that the average American pays somewhere in the range of a cumulative 30 to 60 percent of their annual gross earnings in taxes, depending on their tax bracket.

Are you powerless when it comes to this topic? I don’t think so. Knowledge is power, and power can lead to informed action.

Cashless Society, India, and Big Brother

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” ~H. L. Menken

I'm FreeThe short story is that American banking and government institutions are partnering on a do–or-die- global ultimatum to shift all countries from cash to digital currency. The ultimatum is that if a country does not play ball by cooperating, they lose out in trade since digital will become the default platform.

Quietly, India was chosen to kick-off off the campaign. The so-called “financial-inclusion” drive that started in India November 9, 2016, is anything but. Additional promotional language states the goal to create “a holistic ecosystem approach” to solve the merchant and customer issues limited by cash-only systems. Translation: Think…Big Brother.

This well-thought out globalist scheme was not simply the brainchild of India’s Prime Minister Modi.

“In early November, without warning, the Indian government declared the two largest denomination bills invalid, abolishing over 80 percent of circulating cash by value. Amidst all the commotion and outrage this caused, nobody seems to have taken note of the decisive role that Washington played in this. That is surprising, as Washington’s role has been disguised only very superficially.”  ~Norbert Haering, Global Research, 1 January 2017

The shock and hardship resulting has been palpable since India is one of the most dependent countries on a cash economy, especially for the millions of very poor. Literally overnight more than 80% of the value of cash in circulation was extracted, nullifying all 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes. Now street vendors and the poor, in general, suffer ever more. India has become the guinea-pig harbinger of a cashless future, spun as an effort towards new economic opportunities. But… for whom?

The primary partnership with the country of India is India’s Ministry of Finance and The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Beyond Cash report is their source document (globalinnovationexchange.org/beyond-cash) but it does not end there. To expand and execute digital payment in India, the US/India partnership introduced, Catalyst: “Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership” “to digitize economies” and to make “everyday purchases cashless.” (cashlesscatalyst.org)

Not surprisingly, the war on cash has been mounted mostly by payment providers in IT services. Their plan, obviously, is to make more money directly from digital payments or downstream from data, also of benefit to governments. Some of the bigger players are the Better Than Cash Alliance, the Gates Foundation (Microsoft), Omidyar Network (eBay), the Dell Foundation Mastercard, Visa, and the Metlife Foundation.

In 2012, the above mentioned umbrella organization, Better Than Cash Alliance (betterthancash.org), was established with the byline: Moving from cash to digital payments to improve people’s lives. With generous donors, the Gates-Foundation and the Master-Card-Foundation, its membership is of  large US institutions: Mastercard, Visa, the Ford Foundation, USAID, the Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network of eBay-founder Pierre Omidyar, and Citi, to name but a few of its 35 members.

There you have it. It’s only a matter of time until we hear of the next country with a fate similar to that of the most-unfortunate Indian people. Will the big dogs continue to use the surprise-attack strategy to ensure no one messes with their campaign? The momentum builds in the interest of international business community to eliminate cash, increase digital payments, and to expand the ability of payment service providers and mega corporations to track every penny you spend. Are you ready for the “financial inclusion” of a “holistic ecosystem approach” to improve your life? Ha!

Special Report 2017

Add New Revenue Streams“No matter what the politicians and monetary authorities say, the buying power of the dollar continues to decrease, with its current value 95 percent lower than it was in 1913.” The American Institute for Economic Research, January 2009 Cost of Living Report.

There’s a funny saying apropos to my Woodstock generation: Getting old is not for sissies. So true and don’t I know it! The same goes for achieving financial wellness – not for sissies.

Financial wellness takes more than balancing your checkbook, making your credit card payment on time, and investing in the stock market. It takes courage, the courage to consider and to follow a formula for success that is likely never to come out of the mouth of a traditional financial planner.

What I have studied and learned about money over the past 35 years is that making fully-informed and sound financial decisions involves more than meets the eye. The all-important first step is to get the big picture, the history of money. Yet there appears to be no educational emphasis to do so, and for good reason, given those who benefit.

However, with a snapshot overview of how we got to the financial pickle we’re in as countries, businesses families and individuals, the lights go on and new strategies make sense.

In today’s post-meltdown economy, I offer this formula for true financial wellness.

•    Historical context regarding money and how it works
•    A priority of paying down debts
•    Inflation-adjusted to actual, not official, rate of inflation
•    Multiple streams of cash flow
•    An emergency fund other than credit
•    Learn to live within your means
•    Low to no use of credit
•    The courage to stay the course

I have recently rewritten my free Special Report, The Baby Boomer Backup Plan to further provide relevant information about personal finance in today’s economy. This 14 page document is not only for those of a certain age, though they are the most at risk at this time. No catch; just thought my report might help you with your New Year’s Resolutions. Click here: Free Special Report to get your PDF copy. I will send it directly to your inbox once I hear from you.

Post-Truth: Facts Pale by Comparison

inflation cartoonChuckling to myself, I could not pass up the opportunity to highlight the Oxford Dictionaries’ international word of the year for 2016, post-truth, an adjective defined as:

“relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Why was I chuckling?

Since 2002 my research, writing and consultation to help everyday people learn the whole truth about money, wealth and the economy has fallen mostly on deaf ears. As often as possible I source public-domain Federal Reserve and U.S. Government agency information, statistics and graphs to expound upon the realities of actual inflation, economic policies and central-bank money mechanics.

But it does not seem to matter how “official” my sources are when it comes to who wants to know.

The problem, as I have analyzed it over the years, is that the corporate, for-profit financial services industry appears to enjoy an open-ended, evergreen marketing budget when it comes to “educating” the public on topics of money, wealth credit, debt and the economy. Frankly, I cringe every time I hear the supposed facts and advice of conventional financial wisdom replete with critical contextual omissions. So-called objective facts about money and the economy are half-truths at best when you are not made privy to the big picture.

As defined, and in this case, post-truth is the conventional financial data and advice that simply reinforces erroneous existing beliefs, while appealing to the emotions (Chase Freedom, use credit to pay for a wedding, get rewards, etc.). Self-preservation and the need for growth is the name of the financial-services game when it comes to shaping the scope of monetary facts that get passed on to the “consumer.” What is in your best interest, ultimately, is not their concern, as is the case with for-profit entities.

Buyers beware.

I’m not saying that industry professionals are evil and out to get you. Not at all. Probably most advisors, consultants, bankers, traders, etc. mean well, yet they unwittingly disseminate pricey financial advice no longer relevant to the economic times we live in, and often based on incomplete data, in my view. They suffer the same limitations to their knowledge-base as everyone else via their industry education and training.

After meeting R.Buckminister Fuller, reading his book, Critical Path, and then  co-producing the last leg of his speaking tour in1983, my eyes were opened.  There was no going back. I needed to dig deeper into the history of monetary issues.

Post-truth is not a new concept. For me it began way back in 2002 when heading out on my journey to revise common knowledge about money, wealth and the economy. It has been an uphill battle but that said, I thank you, my readers, for your interest, and, some of you, also, for your business. Your insights about and success in applying the practical steps of The Quality Life Plan nourish me and give me hope.

Perhaps one-by-one people will discover the merit of another way to think about, earn, save, spend and invest money. Perhaps word will spread to help give more people the opportunity to experience financial relief and wealth-building by taking advantage of a sound, out-of-the-box personal finance approach.

Meet the New Boss Same as the Old Boss

FEDSorry to have to break it to you. The truth is that President-elect Donald Trump is not anti-establishment. Certainly he is the opposite to Hillary Clinton in many ways; he will bring different policies to the country and a new look to the White House. Yet these two are only opposite in the same way day is different from night. Day and night together make up one 24 hour cycle of a calendar day. Similarly, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton together comprised the whole of the 2016 presidential election.

What I’m trying to say is that, all things considered, these two are just two sides of the very same nothing-really-new coin. How could I imagine such a thing? To date, Hillary Clinton and now president-elect Donald Trump have both shown they are beholden to the Federal Reserve Banking System – the root cause of all things financial in the U.S. I concur with what Nassim Nicholas Taleb, philosopher and author of the book, The Black Swan, once said,

“What we need to do is break the financial community’s grip on society.”

In all probability, a Donald Trump presidency won’t break that grip. Certainly a Clinton presidency would perish the thought. The Office of the President intersects with, but does not have final authority over, Fed monetary decisions or policies. Yes, a president can elect new members to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and also the chairperson and vice-chairperson for a new term. And yes, these elections give a president potential influence over the direction of monetary policy, but that’s it.

I like to use the analogy of nesting dolls to further illustrate my view. When considering the man-made systems of the world (scientific, political, educational, monetary, health, etc.) as nesting dolls, the largest/outside doll would represent the monetary system. The political system then fits neatly inside it as the 2nd largest, 2nd most powerful, and so forth. As such, the monetary system asserts an overriding impact on each and all other man-made systems.

In 2007 we learned something about the Fed from Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.

“The Federal Reserve is an independent agency, and that means, basically, that there is no other agency of government which can overrule actions that we take.”

“No agency” includes the Office of the President. Yet somehow many believe the political power of a president “trumps” all, including that of the financial sector. (Pun intended.)

We learned more about the Fed the year following Alan Greenspan’s statement. In 2008 Bloomberg LP sued the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to discover which banks they had bailed out and for how much. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System appealed in 2009, arguing that they met the requirements of Exemption 4 of the FOIA request because the Federal Reserve Banks in question were “persons,” i.e. private corporations; therefore disclosure would harm them. Though the Board of Governors lost the appeal and turned over documentation in 2011, what they submitted has been reported to have been mostly inconsequential to Bloomberg LP’s FOIA request and expectation.

But wait…there’s more. As the prime mover of all things financial, the Fed, no matter the truth of its legal structure, remains the bottom-line issue when it comes to U.S. economic success. That means no president, no matter how opposed to the one before them, is ever truly anti-establishment until and unless they take on the Federal Reserve Banking System.

A monetary system which issues currency that literally depreciates like a car (worth approximately 3 cents today) and decreases purchasing power at the register at an alarming and accelerating pace cannot be trusted. Quietly and systemically it undermines long-term economic growth and stability for everyday Americans. Since financial giants benefit from the current economic set-up, this awareness is not popular. It’s money that rules the world, not politicians.

The Wealth Effect Failure

uneven playing fieldPeople tend to increase spending when the prices of their stock market and real estate assets rise. They perceive it as an increase to their financial security. This is known as the wealth effect.

“The wealth effect is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to spend more as the value of their assets rises. The premise is that when consumers’ homes or investment portfolios increase in value, they feel more financially secure, so they increase their spending. Conversely, when consumers see the value of their homes or portfolios fall, they tend to spend less. The wealth effect attempts to explain why consumers might change their spending habits even if their income and fixed costs have stayed the same.” ~Investopedia

Monetary policymakers consider the increased consumer spending that follows a rise in the price of assets to be an indicator of economic recovery. But is it really and does the everyday family benefit? What is the reality?

  • Higher home prices (significantly increased since 2008) make home ownership  more unavailable to more people. Home ownership is at its lowest rate since tracking began in 1963.
  • Higher home prices also put rental property prices out-of-reach to more people.
  • Home sales in 2016 are not broad-based and people-driven as they were in 2008, albeit via sub-prime loans. Now a large percentage of homes sales are cash sales of homeowners and investors (domestic and foreign) who need somewhere to park assets. Banks offering low interest rates remain an unattractive option.
  • Additionally, the 2016 big bump in home sale prices and purchases are pocketed in 3 main areas of the United States due to the presence of the U.S Government, government contracts, and technology companies: Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco where tech employees can get home loans based on their stock option prices.

In April of 2016 GOBankingRates.com created a survey they called: Financial Burdens Survey. The respondents ranked their personal finance issues according to the six categories the survey provided. Interesting to me is that a category called, personal debt, was totally absent! Here are their six categories:

•    High cost of living
•    Healthcare costs
•    Insufficient income
•    Taxes (income, property, and/or other taxes)
•    Retirement savings
•    Higher education costs

runaway cost-of-living

Not surprising, one in four Americans responding to the survey said the “high cost of living” was their most challenging personal finance issue. Not only do salaries and wages fail to keep up with the cost-of-living (since the 1970’s) but also the killer – personal debt – takes a growing bite out of incomes.

The wealth effect is a smoke screen. It distracts from any focus being put on the flaws of the monetary system. Rising asset prices favor the haves who own assets (minority), while extracting precious resources from the have-nots (majority).

More decent-paying jobs can certainly help; but alone, jobs cannot make it “right.” Why? The independent-of-governments central banking system pulls the strings. Simply put: The money they issue is systemically devalued via a mathematical formula decreasing money’s purchasing power. Anyone who has studied this, as I have, knows that nothing short of a system overhaul could possibly bring back long-term economic recovery. Even if everyone had a job, their hard-earned money over time will purchase less and less.

The good news is that by this knowledge you can rethink the best ways to earn, spend, save and invest to ensure the most quality in your life with the least amount of stress. That is, until really real change takes place at the monetary system level.

Presidential Candidates, the Fed, and Status Quo

work harder earn less

The battle for President of the United States between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump rages on towards the finish line, nasty as ever. Despite blinding differences, they each seem to rely on an historically-authoritarian style of delivery (based on dualistic thinking) to underscore their obvious superiority over the other:  Insider/outsider, right/wrong, good/bad, black/white, smart/stupid, experience/no experience, etc. Yet does Nero fiddle while Rome burns? Methinks yes. Like an unattended, festering wound, deeper causation of a messed-up world undermines the lives of everyday people both left and right.

“Church of the Sacred Fed”

A September 2016 Truthout article by Dean Baker, Hillary Clinton and the Church of the Sacred Fed, only confirms the ongoing reluctance to tackle the larger issue of a broken monetary system. Mr. Baker shares the disparate views of the candidates to launch his description of the Fed’s inner workings via funny religious metaphors such as Robert Rubin’s “doctrine of the sacred Fed” and the “anointed” referring to members of the Federal Reserve Board.

Hillary Clinton is said to have “denounced” Donald Trump for his comments calling on the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates. Apparently, however, this was not her real reason for denouncing him. Her real reason was:

“You should not be commenting on Fed actions when you are either running for president or you are president.”

Disappointing but not surprising, the article fails to venture beyond the Fed’s shoreline to reveal the skewed mathematical mechanics that drive a global monetary system, and the erosive damage to economic stability left in its wake. You see, anyone who makes the effort to learn about how central banks work (The Fed for the U.S.) discovers that, today, only the deep state of powerful self-interest (typically those at the top of money pyramid and their governmental cronies) actually benefit…and not by accident; whereas everyday people lose ground little by little over time.

In my view, this exchange between presidential candidates of differing perspective on the Fed exists safely within the shores of the status quo since there is no money in truth. Will the root cause of the lack of economic growth, increasing poverty and homelessness, incomes not keeping up with the cost of living, mounting personal debt and the stress that is literally killing people, ever be revealed and understood so genuine solutions might be put forth?

I wonder.

Can Mounting Personal Debt and Economic Recovery Coexist?

Drowning in debtThe saying “The proof is in the pudding.” applies to proving if America is in an economic recovery…or not. My view all along has been that there’s no way America could be in a recovery phase due structural mechanics of how central banks issue currency into existence, especially given the post-meltdown extravagant dump into the system of newly-printed money via Quantitative Easing (QE). This Wizard-of-Oz official monetary strategy, I believe, has led most Americans merrily down the yellow brick road.

Reality? According to a recent study released June 8, 2016 by CardHub.com CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou, personal credit-card debt for 2016 is expected to surpass that of the years leading up to the Great Recession of 2008. Here are some of their additional findings.

“We paid off $26.8 billion in credit card debt during the first three months of 2016, which isn’t as good as you might think, considering that it’s the smallest first-quarter paydown since 2008 and nearly 25% below the post-recession average.

“This first-quarter pay down covers just 38% of the $71 billion we added to our tab in 2015.

“With 8 of the last 10 quarters reflecting year-over-year regression in consumer performance, evidence is mounting to support the notion that credit card users are reverting to pre-downturn bad habits.

“The first quarter of 2016 shares a lot of similarities with Q1 2007, including the pay-down amount, its size in relation to the previous quarter’s build-up and the charge-off rate at the time. That is not good news for consumers, considering the financial turmoil that followed the last time around.”

CardHub’s projection for 2016 is that, for the first time ever, Americans will collectively hold about $1 trillion dollars in outstanding credit-card balances. Breaking it down, that’s approximately $8500 per household, almost exactly what it was in the last quarter of 2007 ($8463 according to the Federal Reserve), just prior to when the bottom fell out of the economy.

Does a growing personal-debt bubble mean we are headed for another crash?

Logic would tell us that economic recovery and increased personal debt cannot exist at the same time, in the same space. If there really was a recovery, wouldn’t households have enough money to at least pay down debt and not grow it? So if you’re seeing what I’m seeing, you also get the blatant contradiction between an official pronouncement of recovery and the hard evidence of increasing personal debt.

The only winners here are the credit card companies raking in an average of 15% interest on money borrowed. The solution for the people, as I see it, is to accept the fact of a downward spiral in the macro economy (due particularly to the failure of incomes in keeping up with the cost-of-living), and learn how to succeed anyway.

Go with the flow.

How to earn, spend, save and invest today requires rethinking due to money’s systemic loss of value. My research tells me that the everyday person cannot depend on a for-profit financial services industry to have their best interest at heart. Though creative ways to protect you and your family from the ravages of enslaving debt exist, most financial planners probably won’t tell you about them because the training and education they receive is a direct reflection of their link to the banking industry.

I believe we are on our own in regards to truthfully assessing economic reality, and need to increase our financial IQ in order to consider and apply creative financial strategies capable of establishing long-term financial stability. That is, instead of blindly trusting all of what the financial “experts” encourage us to do.

The Power Behind the Throne

The Effect of a Debt-Based System“And the banks–hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created–are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) 2009

Could anyone actually miss that the United States is in a presidential election cycle? I don’t think so. As November draws closer, the election of a new president consumes more of the news and more our conscious awareness. People protest, and are concerned about how the next president, his/her ideas and power, will affect the course of history.

Yet, all the while, the true monopolistic power thrives behind the throne, unnoticed and un-protested. The banking industry acts as if it is but a humble service industry (financial services industry), while actually the master system of all American systems, political, educational, environmental, agricultural, health, and legal. It hopes you never peak behind the curtain to discover who really pulls the strings.

In 2009, I wrote about the Use-Cash Movement in the United States founded by small-business owner Chaz Valenza. However now, with “swiping” to pay for most everything, using cash shifts increasingly to an “old school” approach. What’s more, as we speak, banks are exploring ways to end cash use altogether. A May 2, 2016 Bloomberg article, Inside the Secret Meeting Where Wall Street Tested Digital Cash, reveals a new development in moving towards a cashless society. So why all the secrecy?

“On a recent Monday in April, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions gathered for a private meeting at the Times Square office of Nasdaq Inc. They weren’t there to just talk about blockchain, the new technology some predict will transform finance, but to build and experiment with the software.”

The event, put on by a San Francisco company, Chain, is one of many start-up software companies determined to digitally transform the monetary system. Their spin? Cash transactions take precious time to process while digital transactions are instant. And in a world where credit access has conditioned the consumer mind to expect instant gratification, a digital monetary system appears to be a likely next step.

But…but….but… What about choice? What about the personal privacy cash provides? Fugetabout it! Just more old-school silliness, right?

I like to share the Barnum and Bailey Circus analogy: If you want popcorn while under the “big top” and it costs $15.00, you have no choice but to pay the price. The banking industry, also, has become the only game in town; those who own the gold make the rules and so rule the world, including, in my opinion, the President of the United States.

However the same voluminous intensity of emotions, protests and assertions over potential presidents is nowhere to be found. For some reason most people simply go along, are not paying attention, are too incredulous to do their own research, or only mention the sacrilege of a ruling monetary system in hushed tones. This may never change but just in case; here are some of personal benefits of keeping cash alive.

•    Transaction privacy
•    Personal choice
•    No bank interest charges (overdraft, credit cards, loans, lines of credit, etc.)
•    Possible 5% vendor discount upon request
•    Fiscal responsibility that credit use has destroyed
•    Ending the instant gratification mindset credit use has encouraged
•    More time when you don’t have to work faster/longer to keep up with debt

Though using cash is just one small response to a behemoth debt-based and often predatory banking industry, the personal benefits alone, including greater peace of mind, make it worth the effort. Imagine: We no longer made purchases we don’t need, with money we do not have to impress people who do not really care about us.

If more people were willing to make a habit of using cash despite the convenience of digital transactions, we not only could strengthen our own money-management skills towards building real wealth, but also send a message to those who own the gold.

“Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, (so) that mistakes – excusable or not – can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic – this is the key political argument against an independent central bank… To paraphrase Clemenceau: money is much too serious a matter to be left to the Central Bankers.” Milton Friedman, American Nobel-Prize-winning economist, 1912-2006