Fears of Digital-Only Money System Exemplified by Puerto Rico Crisis

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is in serious trouble after Hurricane Maria completely annihilated a great majority of the nation’s infrastructure.

There are currently calls for an outpouring of support for the territory, which is completely without power during their time of rebuilding.  This has created a humanitarian crisis the likes of which few have even experienced as drinking water, food, clothes, and medical supplies are all in a state of heightened demand.  Puerto Rico has even put out calls for American truck drivers with CDL licenses to travel to the island to assist in recovery efforts.

One particularly disturbing aspect of the nightmare in Puerto Rico is the lack of cash, and the adverse affect that the domination of digital currency has had on recovery and survival efforts.

“Residents and tourists were counting their dwindling banknotes in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which crippled the electrical grid and communications network, turning the Caribbean island into a largely cash-based economy.

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“The New York branch of the U.S. central bank, which oversees and makes funds available to Puerto Rico’s financial institutions, said it was prepared for another surge in cash demand and could rush more banknotes to the island if necessary.

“ATMs are slowly re-opening a week after Maria, the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 90 years, caused widespread flooding and badly damaged homes, roads and other infrastructure on the island of 3.4 million.

“The New York Fed’s cash distribution operations were working and it had adequate stocks to meet the needs of lenders and other firms on the U.S. territory, a spokeswoman told Reuters.

“‘Demand for cash is extraordinarily high right now, and will evolve as depository institutions regain power, armored car services are able to reach branches, and ATMs are once again active,’ the spokeswoman said.”

Americans around the country, as well as in Puerto Rico, have been finding themselves increasingly dependent on digital money in order to participate in modern society.  This is due in no small part to the preference of the enormous American banking and retail industries who find themselves able to increase profits by decreasing the liability of maintaining cash reserves.

However convenient this turn to theoretical wealth may be, our modern age if fraught with cyber peril as well.  Should a government entity or hostile hacker so choose, the entire nation could be left with no way to purchase goods or services, effectively enslaving us all.

Puerto Rico’s widespread loss of power, while far less nefarious than either of those scenarios, illustrates the concern over our nation’s growing dependence on digital dollars perfectly.

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