under new “Suspicious Activity Reporting” guidelines from the FBI, paying for small purchases in cash should be considered a suspicious activity, perhaps tantamount to reading aloud from the Anarchist’s Cookbook in a public space. The flyers, which offer guidelines to the public about how to determine if that strange man in the coat is plotting to blow you up or merely homeless and crazy, were recently distributed to businesses under the FBI’s “Communities Against Terrorism” program.According to IT World:“Using cash for small purchases like a cup of coffee, gum and other items is a good indication that a person is trying to pass for normal without leaving the kind of paper trail created using a debit or credit card for small purchases.”The flyers, which were posted online by the political watchdog group Public Intelligence, either contain reporting guidelines which are so obvious as to be useless, or target behaviors that most normal people engage in on a daily basis.Anonymous cash is a necessity for a free society, as I wrote in 2010, responding to anti-terrorist efforts to move to a cashless society:The ones that benefit are the those selling the cards and the readers. And the policy-makers who want to see the flow of cash to find — supposedly — drug lords and terrorists, but secretly want to know everything about everybody.But this is the argument for pervasive surveillance again. In the name of security and safety, they say we should all accept the intrusion of the government into our private lives so that the state can be protected from its enemies. After all, they say, if we aren’t doing anything illegal, why should we care? What have we got to hide?But we have the right to privacy in our doings. We don’t have to say why we want privacy: it is our right.And the shadowy doings at the margins of people’s lives are exactly the point of privacy. The man funneling money to a child born to his mistress without his wife’s knowledge, or a woman loaning money to her brother without her husband knowing: they want anonymous cash. The rich golfer that takes a woman not his wife out on the town has a right to privacy, even if a narrow-minded and moralistic society doesn’t think so.We have known for years — decades — that pot is no more (and perhaps less) dangerous than alcohol, but the laws are slow to change. And in the meantime, millions of people are buying pot. At some point in the near future, the prohibition will end, and it will then become a regulated and taxed commodity, like alcohol. In the meantime, people slip into the shadow world to buy a bag. And they are justified, since laws that are enacted without regard to science and health — that are ideological and repressive — are illegitimate, and the people have the right to run around them.Historically, tyrannical governments have attempted to raise taxes to unsupportable levels, and cash money could change hands without the government being aware: the gray economy. While today’s government may not be engaged in this sort of economic control, the use of traceable digital money would certainly be the sort of economic foundation a tyranny would want.The advocates of total intelligence as a way to catch the bad guys are going down the wrong path. To counter the drug lords, we simply have to make pot legal. And if we contort our free and open societies to counter terrorists’ use of cash, they have won.This is similar to the ‘security theater’ that goes on in our airports: where techniques that do not work are employed to convey a sense of security, and unobtrusive techniques that do work — like the Israelis’ airport security — are not used because of the politics around ‘profiling’. In order to meet some hypothetical threat from terrorists, our personal privacy and free movement are held hostage. At what cost? Who benefits from all the back scatter scanners being bought?I maintain that cash is a prerequisite of a free society. If the authorities start rounding up all the money, and begin distributing smartcards, it’s time to rally in the streets.Cash is not a metaphor for freedom, it is a requirement of freedom. A strong society that accepts human nature without moralizing will always have anonymous cash. Only totalitarian governments — where everything not expressly required is illegal — would want to monitor the flow of every cent.Or to monitor those that prefer to use anonymous cash, and watch their every move.underpaidgenius via Warning: You Might Be a Terrorist If You Buy Your Morning Coffee With Cash – New York News – Runnin’ Scared
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