An extract from my latest bank statement of June 2028:
It has come to the government’s attention that your recent purchases have not been entirely healthy ones. Despite repeated health warnings you continue to buy alcohol and unhealthy food products. Therefore, from this month we will be deducting a $350 fee from your account every month to be placed in a health and funeral fund account. This way you will cease to be a burden upon society if, as expected by our statistical analysis department, you are to die earlier than someone of your age should.
Regards Department of Financial and Social Compliance
Carefully chronicled underneath this official statement was every single purchase I had made on my credit card in the last month, individually itemized.
They included: the chewing gum I had bought at the train station shop one morning, (spearmint), plus the garlic curry I had home-delivered the night before, (beef); the six glasses of beer I had drunk on a number of Friday nights at my local hotel, (full strength); the hot chicken rolls for lunch purchased from the local takeaway outlet, (with barbecue sauce); the pork sausages I bought from a butcher, (0.510 kilo’s); even the packet of condoms I got from a chemist shop in the city, (medium size).
It’s 2028 and I’m pining for the time when we still had cash: bundles of fresh, crisp notes you could smell the ink on before you arranged them in your wallet; shiny silver and gold coins you could jangle in your pocket, as if to remind yourself you are still alive. Now there are no notes, no coins; all gone…
Welcome to the cashless society. We should have seen it coming.
Governments were making loud noises for decades about the need to control the cash economy and maximize the tax system, and with advances in technology that opportunity quickly arose. It’s now a question of control: influence over how people spend their money, regulating how income is dispersed.
Now, governments and financial institutions can see everything you buy, from that box of nappies to the bottle of fine scotch you planned to drink on your birthday. They can track every little thing you do in every hour of your life. If they fear you could be a financial risk to the health system, they might be inclined to target you, attempt to influence you to change your eating habits, your drinking habits; your life habits.
More disturbingly, once your money is permanently in electronic form how do you keep it safe? You can’t simply withdraw it from your account. There is nowhere for it to go. If there is a catastrophic market crash your money can be swallowed up by that recession. There is no cash to stuff in your mattress for a rainy day. All you have is a balance in a bank, and how do you know it will always be there for you?
Your money floats around in electronic oceans or seas, let’s call them the blue sea and the red sea. With the blue sea all is fine, times are good, the nation is prospering. You go about your business of life with little daily worries. However, one day in the future the sea will turn red. Through whatever causes, whether they be a product of war, natural disaster or some other calamity, what was yours in your nation-determined bank account is now frozen by the government of the day, and you are left in limbo. The powers that be will decide what will become of your assets. Perhaps they will be diverted for the greater good of the nation.
It is only now you come to understand how you have always been under the control of forces you failed to acknowledge. They have the capacity and will to regulate every action of your life. The freedom you thought you had is an illusion.
They now know everything about me: what I eat, what I drink; my sexual preferences; my likes and dislikes; I wouldn’t be surprised if they know things about me I am yet to discover.
Oh, to have some notes in my wallet, some coins in my pocket, instead of this one lousy plastic card. To not be constantly scrutinized for every purchase I make by some faceless bureaucrat in the bowels of our controlling administration who records my every move.
Oh, to be free from drowning in the red sea.