There is a brilliant little scam being proposed in the UK.
Andy Haldane, who apparently is a big knob in the Bank of England proposes that we do away with cash.
On the face of it, that's not a bad idea. Just think – no more pockets weighed down with loose change, no more coins being lost down the back of the sofa or clogging up the washing machine filter, no more fivers being caught in a gust of wind and whisked off down the street? No more losing money.
Back in the Good Days cash was king. There were no plastic cards that you could stick in a yoke to pay a bill. If you wanted to send cash to someone you had to send a cheque. If you wanted cash late in the evening your only choice was to find a friendly barman or shopkeeper who would cash a cheque for you.
Then along came the ATM and cash was available 24 hours a day, assuming you could find an ATM.
Over the years I have found I am using less cash each day. I buy a shed load of stuff on the Interweb, including my weekly groceries, and naturally that is all paid electronically. If I am booking my holidays in Cork, it's done by electronic transfer, as is the return of my deposit. The great joy about all of this is that it is instant and involves no hassle such as finding a bank, or having to post cheques [and buy stamps and envelopes] and things. The only time I use cash is when I am making small purchases or in the pub or when I'm making a transaction that is strictly "off the record".
Let's look at the other side of the coin [as it were].
The reason dear Mr Haldane wants a cashless society is in fact an insidious little scam.
Interest rates are at rock bottom at the moment in an effort to boost the economy. People are still not spending their money however so the low interest rate isn't low enough. The ideal [from the banks’s point of view] is to lower interest rates below zero. The effect of a negative interest rate is that you now have to pay the bank for storing your cash instead of getting interest. The net effect is that people will either pay that fee or else withdraw all their money and stick it under the mattress. But if there is no cash then that option is out. You have no option but to pay them their blood money.
Of course the gubmints would love this idea too. No more black market. No more paying cash to avoid tax. No more Man with a Van selling bootleg fags outside the Dole Office. Not only will they know precisely how much everyone has, they'll know precisely what you're spending it on. The gubmint and the banks would have total control over your financial affairs.
Nice Mr Haldane can go fuck himself.
I'm sticking with cash.
[with thanks to Ian who pointed me in the right direction]