CBDCs: Turnkey Tyranny
Just Say No to Central Bank Digital Currencies
When I talk about central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), there are two categories of people I encounter: those who are thoroughly opposed to the idea, and those who haven’t the faintest idea what I’m talking about, many of whom likely assume I’m a raving lunatic.
So, to further elucidate the idea, allow me to make an assertion: CBDCs are the current biggest threat to your freedom and mine, no matter what country you happen to reside in. They are the linchpin to turnkey tyranny. They’re the hook that snags the fish, and universal basic income (UBI) is the bait. Combined with a globally-recognized digital ID, they create a system from which there is no escape and no recourse.
When and if CBDCs become the only legal form of currency, you will no longer have control of how you spend your money, where you keep it, and even how long you can keep it. Building savings will likely be impossible. Criticizing the government will be easily punished. Your movement and decisions will be limited by a cold and faceless system you can’t question or escape. You will be entirely dependent upon your government, employer, or both. Sounds like fun, right?
These assertions require some defending, of course. CBDCs play a crucial role in a post-Orwellian nightmare of total peonage. But how, and why?
Why CBDCs in the First Place?
There are a few key reasons for the push towards CBDCs. But before we get into why, let’s get something clear: Many, many countries around the world are investigating CBDCs: As of a year ago, some 87 countries were, and more are now. Some are much further down the line than others — including Ukraine, which we’ll cover in greater detail later in the article.
So, why are CBDCs attractive? Here’s one reason for the US, in one chart:
That is total US government debt. Debt in other developed countries looks similar. We’re on the exponential part of the debt growth slope, and it won’t be paid back because it can’t. The fiat currency experiment will come to an end. When exactly it does no one knows, but it will. I’ve gone over this in greater detail in a previous post, which still holds up several months later. Not knowing exactly when the weasel goes pop makes for some suspense, but we can be sure our current financial system cannot last forever.
So, something has to come next, unless we’re back to the stone age and the barter system.
That’s where CBDCs come in. They represent the next phase of money. And for many planners, apparatchiks, capital interests, and bureaucrats, they’re very attractive.
Just to clarify: CBDCs are money issued directly by central banks to a country’s population. They’re entirely digital, hence the name, and they are significantly different from cash. Whereas now you can make digital payments in all sorts of ways, you’re still doing so with government-sanctioned cash.
A CBDC is an entirely different currency in that it doesn’t have a physical form, first, and there is no inherent limit to its creation, second. Recall that central banks are private entities.
How exactly they’ll be controlled and distributed, i.e. via intermediaries like banks or directly, is yet to be seen, but expect digital-only payments that are permanently tracked and recorded in a great big ledger you don’t get to see. Is it that different from current money, you ask? Yes. It’s very different.
Control the Money and Control the People
One big problem with cash, from an economist’s point of view, is no one can control exactly how it’s spent. If Joe Blow wants to blow his paycheck on blow and booze to the detriment of his family and society in general, then that’s his choice. There are no controls on just how he spends it aside from run-ins with the police or arguments with his wife. Contrary to orthodox economic thought, man is not a rational actor.
Imagine, though, you’re a bureaucrat of moderate power with a good heart who simply wants the best for people. Imagine, further, that you could control how Mr. Blow spent his money to better improve his financial standing, that of his family, and of the community in general. If you could do so with the push of a button, wouldn’t you?
The unfortunate truth is that many people, given the above skeleton of information, would — especially if they didn’t have to do so to his face and didn’t know him personally. One could reasonably argue it would be for his own good.
If you agree with this, you’re thinking like the Chinese Communist Party and their social credit system, which didn’t arise entirely out of ill intent.
And therein lies the problem. When one person or group of people decide what is best for another, the path towards tyranny has begun. After all, most despotic actions are undertaken from a place of goodwill rather than malice. Pol Pot thought that, in the long run, he’d be hailed as a hero.
The ironic thing is just how banal and mind-numbingly ordinary the people in charge of such a system are. As Hannah Arendt aptly put it, this is the banality of evil.
To further expand, let’s look to an excerpt from Isabel Pateron’s “The God of the Machine,” published in 1943:
Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. This is demonstrably true; nor could it occur otherwise. The percentage of positively malignant, vicious, or depraved persons is necessarily small, for no species could survive if its members were habitually and consciously bent upon injuring one another.
And so it is. Indeed, the push towards CBDCs will be presented with virtuous ends. It will be coupled with a variety of other control mechanisms like digital IDs that will also be aimed towards publicly noble goals. Chief among these will be convenience, security, environmental protection, and public health.
Would you be surprised to learn that this is already happening? Or, perhaps, where it is happening?
The Diia App: Ukraine Guinea Pigging Digital Democracy
Let’s take a quick look at Ukraine’s Diia app. It’s touted as the Ukrainian government’s everything app, or government in a phone. Yes, it’s actually advertised as such, without a blink of irony. If you’re of any libertarian bent, you may now snort derisively.
I highly recommend reading this May 30 hagiography from the Atlantic Council in full, since the Atlantic Council are about as good a mouthpiece for transnational governance as possible. But here is a valuable excerpt describing the Diia app:
…Users of Diia can digitally access the kinds of state services that US citizens can only dream of, including crossing the border using a smartphone application as a legal ID, obtaining a building permit, and starting a new business. The platform also reduces the potential for corruption by removing redundant bureaucracy, and helps the Ukrainian government respond to crises such as the Covid pandemic and the Russian invasion.
Sounds nice, right? The convenience part is built in. In the countries such services exist in, they have indeed made life easier for many. If you’re American, imagine being able to skip the DMV line and get your driver’s license renewed digitally. Neat!
It goes deeper, though. In addition to the “US citizens can only dream of” part, note the “Russian invasion” part. The Diia app includes an “E-enemy” locator, ostensibly to point out the location of Russian troops. The upshot? Users can also use it to disclose the location of alleged Russian collaborators. Don’t like your neighbor? Why not snitch? It worked great for the Stasi.
That this kind of app is making its “debut” in Ukraine, of all places, should raise eyebrows and lead to questions. If it’s so excellent at clearing red tape, for example, why hasn’t it been tried locally in the US or another European country first? The US has 50 different state-level experimental zones and countless municipalities, so why not there? And is this really new?
Government-to-citizen apps have in fact been tried successfully — in India, for example, which hosts a wide variety of them. But the Diia app is thoroughly centralized and, crucially, is being heavily pushed by the very same trans-nationalists who have staked their reputations and countries’ finances on Ukraine. If that doesn’t smell fishy to you, well, you may just be a fishmonger and used to the smell. Visa, Google, USAid, and Ukraine teaming up? Personally, my eyebrows are trying to climb off my face.
The clearest takeaway here is that Ukraine is being used as a lab rat (again) for this type of government/everything app. And now Ukraine will help to bring the app to other countries, according to Zelensky.
Wait, I thought they had more important things to do?
Keep Track of Your Own Carbon Footprint!
Wouldn’t you be thrilled to keep track of your own carbon footprint? Be able to note just how much self-flagellating you should do based on your daily consumption of sin-bin items like meat and fuel?
Credit where credit is due: Ogilvy did their job above and beyond the call of duty, as that term really stuck. Hey Ogilvy — I’m available for work, assuming your rates are good.
The personal carbon footprint has become one of the cornerstones of the new quasi-religious green movement, in which foot soldiers police themselves and nag or irritate others in as modern a fashion as possible. It’s the second-lamest crusade (the lamest being that of 1204 AD) and, for me, represents the downfall of self-respect. Will we really allow ourselves to be nagged into submission by those who are committing far graver environmental crimes than any individual is? Have people become so convinced that we’re such a horrible species we should simply stop using resources?
Never mind the nagging, though. Via your smartphone, governments will soon be able to track your individual carbon footprint. And will that tie back to CBDCs? You can be sure of it.
A key “feature” of CBDCs is that they’re programmable. That is, they can be programmed in a number of ways, like to expire after a certain time, or to track a user’s purchases and limit purchases deemed irresponsible. That can be meat, fuel, or a number of different high-carbon-footprint items.
Recall how Switzerland threatened to fine citizens who raised their home heating above a certain temperature in the event of a gas shortage? That was real. The “fact check” linked in the previous sentence notes it didn’t happen because there wasn’t actually a shortage. But should there be a shortage? Yes, there will be fines. And you can bet there will be snitching, too.
So, if you’ve reached your monthly allotment of meat, heating, or gruyere? Tough. Time to get some beans or lose some weight. It’s for the planet’s good, after all. But don’t you dare question how much a salvo of Patriot missiles costs, either financially or environmentally.
Are You Up-to-Date?
Vaccine passports failed in many parts of the world, but the idea is far from dead. Rather, governments and transnational organizations are looking to digital IDs to ensure all their citizens are disease-free and up-to-date on vaccines. Yes, “vaccines.” Those things that didn’t work in the last pandemic.
A global health certification is in the works, and it’s not going away. There has been a publicly-facing retreat from an international vaccine treaty, but should there be another pandemic — which seems entirely possible — expect that to change.
Should digital health passports be tied to CBDCs, you can be sure you won’t be able to buy or sell anything, let alone travel, without approval. This was attempted in many locations during the Covid pandemic. What about a disease that’s much worse?
Let’s call things what they are: This isn’t a digital health certificate. It’s a movement license. If it’s anything like the Chinese model, your movement code can go from green to red in a moment’s notice without any explanation to you.
What Happens when AI Gets Involved?
Picture this: You’re expecting a transfer to your bank account, so you open your bank account app. Or, at least you try to. You learn, much to your chagrin, that your bank account is no longer accessible to you and the transfer has been canceled. You later learn that this is because you have spoken out against the government.
Sound like something out of China or a dystopian novel? Sort of, but it really happened and in a Western country: I’m talking about the people in the Canadian Truckers Rally that got de-banked. Banks worked in collusion with the government to make life more difficult for political dissidents in what’s allegedly a free, open democracy. Those decisions were made by humans and most of the world didn’t bat an eye.
Countries around the world are already plagued by faceless bureaucracies unaccountable to their population. A fully human bureaucracy declared a man dead in Romania despite the fact that he was indeed very alive, but failed to protest the declaration in time. How’s that for a fun example?
Again, that’s a human bureaucracy. What happens when the mundane task of bureaucracy gets handed off to AI?
You can expect even less transparency and even less reason than before. If a government AI bureaucrat determines in error that you’ve exceeded your allocation of whatever purchase with CBDCs, or that you’ve spoken out against government policy in unacceptable ways, there is no one to argue with. You’re screwed.
Things potentially get very dark here. What will this look like ten years down the line once the human part of bureaucracy is removed? That’s an open question, and one I dread.
It’s All Coming Together
The combination of smartphone-based digital IDs and CBDCs are a recipe for disaster. It’s an anti-human assault on, well, everything.
And here we should draw the line. That’s the point of this piece. We must reject CBDCs and digital IDs wholesale. Do not use them. Refuse to use them. Make a black market. Barter in whatever. Gold is cool. So is silver. Whatever you do, don’t give into the CBDC game.
Because it will be incredibly convenient. As others have pointed out, we’re looking at an opt-in system of tyranny. You can choose to stay out — it’ll just be mighty inconvenient for you. But that’s only if a majority of people go along with the idea.
Am I asking you to be an anti-CBDC evangelist here? Damn right. Tell your friends, your neighbors, and your relatives about what’s coming and what to expect. Some may think you’re crazy. Some may be already on your side but have been quiet about it for fear of public backlash. Let that no longer be an issue.
What’s the solution, then, if or when our fiat currency craters? We have one already built in. Commodity-based money like gold and silver is just one example of a workable form. Other, non-government issued currencies like Bitcoin offer another alternative. The main story is this: We don’t actually need government-created currency. All government-created currency ends up at zero, anyway. Is anyone using Roman denarii? Or Dutch guilders? Why not? Because they were debased, same as our currency now. We will see the US Dollar the same way at some point in the future.
Decentralization of currency is the way people remain free. Centralization of currency leads to irreparable slavery and abuse. We’re at a rare point in history where we don’t actually need central banks anymore. They’ve done far more harm than good, and it’s time they were thrown into the dustbin of history. We do have a way out — that’s the good news. But the way out won’t happen without mass refusal.
And hey, if we do end up in a CBDC hellscape, there’s one thing to look forward to: The black market will be like nothing the world has ever seen.