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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/8/17

We vote for independence, but move towards a cashless society?

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Message Michael Gray

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Pounds Payment
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We will never bow to anyone but ourselves and the rulers we have legitimately designated; we reminded the world of this fact when we voted for Brexit, as Brussel's creeping meddling into our affairs showed they had forgotten who we were. But as cash slowly disappears from our everyday transactions, it is both a symbol of our pride and a not-so-little bit of our freedom which is being chipped away.

There is more and more cash in China and in India. The reason for this is simple: both these countries have booming economies and contain more wealth every year. But in the Western world, the trend is going the other way. Across our own civilizational block, the share of cash transaction is slowly dwindling , while electronic payments are on the rise, to the extent that several countries are expecting cash to go under 50% of all payments made. When this threshold is passed, cash will be a minority payment in volume (most cash payments are small) and in market shares. So, of course, the next step should be getting rid of cash altogether, which many consider we don't really need anymore, since we all have smartphones. Some countries, such as Denmark and Sweden, have even come dangerously close to making the leap. But there are three main reasons why the UK would make a grave mistake by following that path, even if our pound can expect a little turbulence after the Brexit shock.

It is a symbol of our independence. Throughout history, thousands of groups have attempted to form a nation. Some succeeded, often at the cost of sweat and blood, many others failed. And one of the first things nations produce is their money: it is a symbol of their unity, of the fact that one people lives, strives and thrives together. This is the reason why so much attention is paid to the representation on banknotes: our own notes feature the most prominent characters our nation has produced ( currently Queen Elizabeth, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, James Watt, and Matthew Boulton). They blend into our history, or character. Going all virtual would certainly make a few things more practical -- no more finding ruined banknotes in pockets when the laundry exits the washer! -- but it is completely beside the point for anyone who knows anything about the British.

When Brussels starting getting a little pushy with us and forgot about our independence and our pride as a nation, we slammed the door. Hard currency is part of our national pride -- which is one of the reasons why we never gave it up for the euro.

Banks will have complete control of our lives. Of course, anyone in Britain is aware that we have Europe's leading banking system, and is probably rather satisfied of it, when they're not busy bashing bankers around a pint. But no more than the average Britain wants to be subjected blindly to Brussel's power, does he want to stand under a banker's thumb . But that's what will happen if cash goes away. Cash is the only form of transaction which doesn't involve the bank, all others do. This is the main reason why banks are so much in favor of killing cash : it earns them little and costs them a lot in management and security. With no cash, they could prevent bank-runs because Britons would have no way of withdrawing in case of a banking disaster: the money would be locked in the bank. And by making the economy exclusively virtual, banks will have total and absolute power over our finances and our economy. It's a safe bet Britons don't want that.

Finally, we pride ourselves in the care we give the most vulnerable citizens in our society. The United Kingdom has near 200 000 charities , with various donors -- most of whom private individual citizens -- funding them to the tally of 80 billion pounds. "The UK has a long and proud tradition of being one of the world's most generous countries, and it is great to see that this spirit of generosity continues to grow," John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said in an article to the Independent in 2015 .

Even the NHS disaster is a token of the fact we care about each other: the NHS wouldn't take such poundings in the press if people weren't interested in the matter. Now, if we get rid of cash, we will actively hurt precisely those who are in the most need of financial help: the most senior citizens and the destitute. The former, for lack of technological skills and generational obliviousness will be unable to manage their finances; the latter will lose the little finances they have today. Both these categories of people mainly resort to cash, either for generational reasons or because they have no alternative; they would be financially crushed by the disappearance of cash.

Cash is a national emblem. It is the symbol of our becoming men and women, the first day we got paid at the beginning of our careers. It is a symbol of our unity as a people, when we draw the queen's face on the bills. It's a reminder of our resolve facing all sorts of pressures, harsh blows and creeping influence, because still today, we don't buy our groceries with euros, or reichsmarks, we pay in pounds. It's our printed pride.

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We vote for independence, but move towards a cashless society?

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