I am finally reading the Sunday paper dated March 11, 2007. It's a few days late. And in the business and money section an article really jumped out at me screaming Big Brother. It said "Cashless society by 2012?" the Visa Chief is being quoted. The story can be found at the Independent Online.
The predictions that there would be a cashless society, have been around for a while of course. Famously they have always been part of science fiction stories. Science fiction stories talk about the time in the faraway future, where people will have a number tattooed onto their arm and that becomes the identifier for everything, money included. Money has been represented by shells, coins, notes, stones, tokens, necklaces, etc in the past. Now it is going towards plastic only, with the plan that actual cash should be fazed out by 2012.
This particular thought really scares me. And it is probably a surprise that this could be scary. However, a fair amount of the informal economy runs on cash only. That is, cheap labour which is often performed by illegal immigrants, gets paid in cash. People whose earnings are limited, might not want to put their money into a bank for fear of losing it, or because they live from day to day. Often it is also because their meagre earnings get reduced by bank charges.
It also means that now the authorities, read Inland Revenue Services, will be able to track every single cent that anybody ever earns or receives. This includes the home craft item somebody might sell at a market to augment their income or the extra work somebody does to augment a small state pension. If that income is discovered they might loose a pension, which they can't actually live on, hence the extra bit of work they perform.
But that is not really the main issue here. I am not against the fact that we need to pay fair taxes, at least not in this article. It is more the fact that with this move the authorities will be able to track everything you do, from buying a hotdog to using a public toilet where you need to insert a coin, now of course swipe a card. Every move you will make that involves money, and most everything in life regrettably does cost money now, would now be trackable. Big brother will be able to follow every step you take. And don't for one moment think that Inland Revenue Service doesn't have access to the banking details and transactions of its registered tax paying subjects. That's what is so scary.
Anja Merret lives in Brighton, UK. She has recently started a blog and writes on issues that interest her from self-improvement to tech stuff for amateurs. Anja has had a varied and interesting career journey. She started as a high school teacher, changed professions to become an admin manager at her late husbands law firm because this allowed her the flexibility to look after her small children at the time. After many years she left this position to try her hand at an art gallery, moved across to public relations and finally found her niche in education again managing a computer training centre for many years. During this time she also involved herself in writing standards and qualifications in the new media field. 10 months ago she moved from South Africa to join her younger daughter. She now writes a blog and also looks after the business interests of her daughter who is a Flash and Accessibility expert. She has BA (Hons) MBA degrees and on rare occassions she feels like a frustrated wannabe academic.