The Humours of change alley
I was recently flattered to be asked how I envisaged the dreaded ‘helicopter money’ working if it were not to simply add further to commercial banks’ already crippling mass of deadweight liabilities and assets, given that not only would printing it up in physical form be tortuous, but that cash itself is only one conveniently heinous crime away from being proscribed altogether.
The first possibility is that the central bank issues requisition vouchers – sorry! – it credits the Treasury in a dedicated internal account and the recipients of Leviathan’s outlays get direct access there too, to funds which are also, of course, legal tender for the whole bestiary of taxes, licences, fines etc.
Effectively, the CB would set up some kind of separate giro bank in parallel with commercial bank system so that which ‘droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven’ would all be ‘outside’ money, i.e M0, just as is today’s wickedly untraceable cash. In fact, this latter, criminal medium could – in the Bitcoin Rogoff dystopia into which it seems we peons must soon be driven – be easily merged into it, then quietly abolished by not being re-issued in physical form, once paid in.
Patently, banks themselves would be in need of a ‘different business model’, but that is something which might have a familiar ring to it, thanks to that insidious concerted seeding of ideas which the elite has learned to practice in order that its most devilish innovations are introduced, not so much with a fanfare, as with blasé acceptance on the part of the carefully habituated can.
Additionally, it would be a trivial matter to insist that all monies held captive in this Orwellian clearing house would not be able to be invested in financial assets, but only spent on (approved) goods, services and the exactions by which the state reduce the pro quo, which its quid would otherwise command. Combine all this with that other well-prepared novelty, the universal income, and the apparatus of control becomes almost complete.
Having sealed the money sufficiently tightly in, those subversively insistent upon what remained of their freedom could now circumvent the rules only by resort to some kind of complicated and increasingly risky subterfuge. Cassel charges – negative interest rates, if you will – could readily be applied to make sure the title-holders kept the claims rapidly circulating. Further, digital niceties could be employed to make the penalties of disuse vary according to the social profile of the holder as well as vary that same money’s purchasing power, depending on how favourably the Panopticon in charge of the accounts looked upon the object and timing of its expenditure.
Once that babbling tributary of the Rubicon had been crossed, other, more insidious forms of social discipline could be effected here too. One could easily imagine that there would be no pay or access for, say , supporters of Trump, Le Pen, Petry or Farage, climate ‘deniers’ or anyone else not approved of by the Davos Dominicans and the social justice Jacobins.
The state could also limit your access to alcohol – or to bacon, or sugar – or make it difficult for you to use proper hydrocarbon energy rather than the desultory output of some Carney – or Grantham approved medievalism.
Big Brother might monitor your online presence to award points, or deduct penalties for what it divines are your attitudes and inclinations. Mixed in with the ubiquity of smartphone and Bluetooth, WiFi and cellular networks, the Internet of Things could be used to score your performance all the livelong day. Londoners will know what I mean when I say that all aspects of life could thus be tracked and charged by means of a universal Oyster card, though others might draw the analogy rather with that of some endless, quest-based RPG which is one is positively compelled to play.
What a Brave New World that would be!
Even before we got to such dark Sci-Fi extremes of intimate, personalised stick-and-carrot ‘behavioural economics’, the mercantilists who, like the proverbial poor, are always with us, would be swift to ensure the new money was not negotiable abroad unless some sort of CB swap mechanism was specifically authorised. That way, the state could become instantly and effectively protectionist in its buying, with the customs department’s methods now made fool proof, on the part of both buyer AND seller.
One could certainly imagine that the PBoC, say, would warm to that possibility: for the rest of us, the heat would be nothing short of a bonfire of our remaining liberties.