Our fragile communications and economy

Over at Agora Financial, a libertarian investment and publishing firm based in Baltimore, their editors and writers have been sounding alarms about the signs of the FedGov (and the EU and others) pushing a “cashless society.”

One in which plastic cards, chips (RFID etc.) and other technology, has replaced the funny money we all have grown accustomed to: little green pieces of paper with pretty (or ugly!) pictures and numbers; tokens of base metal with a tiny amount of copper, pretending to look like silver (or even gold – remember the Susie B Anthony dollar coin back in the 1980s?).

Just as government scammed us, about 1964 or so here in the Fifty States, by replacing silver – real money (“God’s money” according to Robert Kiyosaki, together with gold) as they had done with gold back under FDR’s fascism in 1933. Now they want to remove fiat paper and pot metal tokens (“coins”) from the hoi poi.

We’ll talk about the “why” later. But first, let us talk about the point Agora made regarding doing without cash. In a VERY recent case study.

Two days ago, as I write this, somebody made a VERY expensive mistake in the Black Hills of South Dakota (our home). Whether it was OneCall (811 – the buried utilities service location people) or the excavator, a massive set of fiberoptics lines (a cable) got cut. Instantly thousands of customers of MidCo (MidContinent Communications) lost their telephone and internet connections. Tens of thousands of Verizon Wireless customers lost THEIR cellular phone service and (if they used it) their internet connection via smart-phone.

This interruption of service lasted about four hours as field techs raced to repair/replace the cut fiber-optics lines and others worked to reestablish crucial links. During that four hours, there was NO service, in a day and age when credit-cards, debit-cards, electronic-checks and other means of conducting transactions DID NOT WORK in an area with 150,000 people: stretching the full length (north to south) of the Black Hills, and half its width.

Fortunately, NOT ALL businesses, including banks and government agencies, use just those two providers of communications services. But for those who do, NO SALE. NO PAYMENT. NO GOODS OR SERVICES. For example: no fuel. No fast food. No groceries. No medical items. And more. In many places the fuel pumps and the vending machines and cash registers DID NOT WORK. No way to call 9-1-1 for a fire or a medical emergency. No way to get backup in case of a crime or an accident. Phones for tens of thousands DID NOT WORK.

The Black Hills is on the upswing in the usual summer tourist season, building up to the first 10 days of August and the STURGIS/BLACK HILLS MOTORCYCLE RALLY. (The 82nd, this year, I believe.)

The entire Black Hills normally has a year-round population of about 250,000. During Rally, this can explode to nearly eight times that: as many as TWO million people. Filling the motels, the campgrounds, the famous places like Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave and Devils Tower (on the Wyoming side). The gaming halls of Deadwood. The highways with the roar of Harleys and lesser breeds of motorcycles. (Many of us call that the sound of freedom – at least freedom of the road!)

AND filling the pocketbooks, the wallets (figuratively) of hundreds of thousands of Pahasapan business-owners and workers. Gross income during the ten days of Rally has been calculated and estimated at 300 dollars per day – 2100 per VISITOR per WEEK. If it is just a million (a very slow year) that is 2.1 BILLION dollars. Yeah, small change and rounding errors for the FedGov, but vital to a quarter-million people here in Flyover Country. A good year can see that hit 5 BILLION. That is 300 to 600 million bucks a day. Even with fiat funny money, that is a lot.

Fortunately, this was not Rally week, but I quickly guestimate that four business hours without a phone and credit card connection for just a third of the businesses in the Hills probably cost around 10 million dollars in missed or delayed sales. And maybe a lot more. If it was the excavator that cut that line, he is likely to get fined $30,000 to $50,000 including the repair costs. No comparison to what they cost the community.

Because that IS the point. Money – even the fake green stuff and pretend-shiny coins is REAL. It doesn’t exist only in cyberspace or on (fallible) computer memory. But as the Black Hills incident (and dozens daily around the world) shows, the internet is fallible. And fragile. That cable that was cut can be cut in hundreds if not thousands of places, with all of a couple of minutes of work with a backhoe or loader – or even a drill. Four hours? Six hours? Major inconvenience and significant cost. Done over and over or where repair crews can’t get to it or keep on top? MASSIVE troubles, and AMAZING costs. Including people injured and dying due to collapsing systems, and worse. And NO WAY to buy anything if we are a cashless society and dependent on a plastic card or an RFID chip.

Today, even soda machines ($1.20 a bottle) and PARKING meters ($1/1 hour parking) use plastic: debit or credit. And even if you CAN pay cash inside the convenience store, the fuel dispenser (fuel pump) needs internet or at least wi-fi connections to work. The Black Hills is a major Stateside hub for a national bank with a huge credit card customer base of millions of people – and they didn’t even have phone service!

Now, we don’t have to think just of an EMP from a nuclear bomb or an attack on Wall Street, as a collapse of a paperless, cashless, coinless economy. So, explain to me WHY DC and crew (including London and Wall Street) want us to go cashless?

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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2 Responses to Our fragile communications and economy

  1. Mr. Slave Larry says:

    It’s all about control. Collateral damage such as described above is acceptable, as Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright would say.


  2. Eric says:

    Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay and commented:


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