The Bill Clinton-appointed former Secretary of the Treasury, Larry Summers, has launched an attack on privacy and freedom at the Washington Post’s website: “It’s time to kill the $100 bill.”
Summers has since been president of Harvard University. He certainly tells us what is on the minds of the plutocrats who run this country.
Even better than unilateral measures in Europe would be a global agreement to stop issuing notes worth more than say $50 or $100. Such an agreement would be as significant as anything else the G7 or G20 has done in years. China, which is hosting the next G-20 in September, has made attacking corruption a central part of its economic and political strategy. More generally, at a time when such a demonstration is very much needed, a global agreement to stop issuing high denomination notes would also show that the global financial groupings can stand up against “big money” and for the interests of ordinary citizens.
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Summers’ propaganda move is not merely a power grab. It is also an act of desperation. There are plenty of signs that we are headed toward another financial crisis. If or when that happens, it seems likely that banks will stay solvent by raiding depositors’ accounts (as was done in Cypress). If so, it is important to make it as difficult as possible to remove money from the banks.
The claim that to “kill” the hundred-dollar is “for the interests of ordinary citizens” is an outrageous lie. I am struggling to make ends meet but I use hundred dollar bills all the time. It is the easiest way to transfer funds quickly from one bank to another without having to wait days for the funds to become “available.”
Money, remember, was a societal innovation that liberated humanity from barter. Under barter, two people will only trade when they want what the other possesses. But certain things that were endurable, divisible, measurable, and transportable were recognized as widely desirable. Then, because these items were desired by many for their own sake, as commodities, they became universally desirable for trade. Money came into being. Usually, precious metals came to be used as money.
Suddenly, amassing livestock, land, or slaves was no longer the only way one could become wealthy. One could work and save incrementally. One could sell one’s belongings (liquidate them) and move away from a local tyrant and take one’s wealth along. One could even hide it.
Now that the state has gratuitously usurped control over money from society. They have gotten us dependent on their money and banking so now they can constrict our freedom by taking away the use of some money. This is a more foundational attack on privacy and freedom than the government’s opposition to encryption. Money is as important to liberty as the recognition of the right to bear arms.
Make no mistake. Summers is promoting an evil idea. Just like gun controllers, he reasons from the need to stop criminals to depriving honest citizens of their rights.