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Corporate Coercion and the Drive to Eliminate Buying with Cash


Corporate Coercion and the Drive to Eliminate Buying with Cash

Ralph Nader

Once you’re in the credit card system, lack of privacy and access to your credit are just the tip of the iceberg.

"Visa recently offered select merchants a $10,000 reward for depriving customers of their right to pay by the method of their choice.” (Photo: Flickr/401(K) 2012/cc)


“THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE” adorns all love notes from the FEDERAL RESERVE. While I have my reservations about the Fed (pun intended), that is the game–for now. Don’t be bullied. My default lunch spot is cash only and that is fine by me–the owner gets to keep what would otherwise be skimmed by the banksters in a credit card transaction. In addition, she makes great gazpacho!


I WILL pay by cash or check, seldom use credit cards if I can avoid them


When cash is outlawed, only outlaws will have cash, and I aim to be among them.

As my handle suggests (a bit ambiguously), I am an economist, but from a perspective most people have never heard of thanks to the American Economic Association. “Heterodox” schools of economic thought and theory have been around for more than a century and a half and are rampant worldwide today even in this bastion of the capitalist (“neoclassical”) orthodoxy, which has supported capitalism against all criticism since nearly a century before Adam Smith.

Even the terminology is buggered by those who claim to teach it: Every introductory textbook in economics says, “capital” means producers’ goods, plant and equipment, the goods used to produce other goods. Yet it was economists themselves who a century and a half ago started to use the word to mean something quite different, namely money. A distinction can and should be made–and sometimes is–between “economic capital” (factory buildings, industrial robots, etc.) and “financial capital” (money, or certificates such as stocks and bonds that can easily be sold for cash).

Think what the word “capitalism” really means, especially taking “capital” in its grittier use as "money: An “-ism” suggests belief in or worship of something. Which would you rather worship: money, or community? Or human society as a whole? Like the marketers, who would have you buy fish from a pirate (Long John Silver) and drive a car named after a mythical creature that makes machinery not work (Gremlin), sometimes the economists DO tell the truth.


Mr. Nader. Respectfully. Stop using the old canard “consumer” when referring to moi, a citizen. A citizen who gets that we’re being hosed by a cabal of fabulously rich criminal-types hiding out behind corporate masks. I eat, spit, talk and write. If I’m one of these, then I’m would accept “spitter” (not even in the dictionary, lol) or “talker”, etc. But, if I’m all of these, I won’t pick one to reference all of my being, unless I want to sleaze by an innuendo (I do not in any way, mean you as sleaze, but rather corporate types). I would pick the most respectful, honorable, adjective that best incorporates who a person might be. If I hold as my highest moral virtues: Love. Honor. Respect. Peace. Family. - Then I become the conveyor of such honorable tidings in the language that I chose to use - to another or others whom I my not know personally. Like you and I. Love ya, Mr. Ralph Nader! Goddess help us in 2018, going forward! As citizens seeking justice not “consumers” being hosed.


Card sharks circling


How about a digital currency? P2P transactions with software keeping the identities private on a block chain platform…a mathematical secure system of trust w/o human intervention (once the software is coded).
Just saying.


The probelm with credit cards is that most people don’t now how to use them. Citi has card that pays back 2% and has no monthly fee. AmEx has one that returns 6% on groceries. The correct use of these cards can bring a pretty nice return over time.

The card company refunds yoiu charge if you can’t get to an understanding with the merchant about shitty service. Used that feature myself a few times over the years.

Use them, pay them off at the end of the month. Collect the rewards.


No thanks, all software can be hacked by the right person.


Thanks, Ralph. I saw you talking about hotdogs thirty years ago, and haven’t had a hot dog since.

I think China is far ahead of the US in the use of phone pay. Only old folks are using cash, and they don’t buy much. I think China was reeling from counterfeiters, an issue that phone pay reduced in a nifty way. Me, I’d rather carry cash than my phone.


I don’t know, correct me if I’m wrong but crypto-currencies that require vast computing power to add blocks to chains so you can get a coin also require large amounts of energy for those computations. Bitcoin consumed more than Ireland in 2016, says some Guardian story I’m too lazy to find the link for. It originally sounded like a good idea to me but I feel currency should swing back towards consisting of material objects and goods i.e. the (heavily romanticized) bartering systems of yore as opposed to swinging towards the nebulous, easily manipulatable technocurrencies.


A year or two ago, downtown San Francisco had a major power outage during the business day. For a few hours during the outage, it was a CASH only economy. The lesson should be don’t get dependent on energy intensive payment systems. And always keep cash on hand for these situations.

Also, if a restaurant won’t accept your cash, why not just leave it on the table and walk away?


You’re right.
There are three articles in the January issue of Scientific American on the subject and it included some of the drawbacks you mention of ‘cryptocurrencies’ but it’s a moving field, changing and possibly improving.
The main argument in favor is the present money system is too complicated to understand and control.


douggernaught, Has the Guardian ever looked at the energy used by Visa and Mastercard and American Express servers around the world? It is still early days for Bitcoin and other blockchain payment methods are emerging that allow anonymity and use just a fraction of the energy. And for those who say Bitcoin can be hacked, you have to realize that the code is open source and has been “down in the dirt” with billions of dollars at a stake for years and has not been hacked. The beauty of a decentralized crypto-currency is that there is no one in charge who can turn it off or inflate it. My fear is that the average Joe may not realize that there is a big difference between a decentralized cryptocurrency and what some people think will be called “Fed Coin” - which is basically a centralized slavery coin controlled by the same fools and thieves who have always controlled our money. Beware Fed Coin!


Ummm…isn’t that called Bitcoin?


Good point about VISA and MasterCard, I wasn’t trying to find something wrong about bitcoin and the others, it’s just every time I hear a solution it tracks in the same old planet-killing mud all over our future carpet. Thanks for the heads up about FED coin, I will reasearch that. It sounds miserable and all too inevitable!


Not to mention the wrong ones.


Thanks Ralph. While this may not seem a big deal to most who have steadily become quite comfortable giving up privacy and other degrees of liberty for the benefit of convenience, I’ve been concerned about this for some time.
Technology, coupled with commerce, drives culture. I don’t know if it was ever completely the other way around, but now, given the extent that private interests control not only business but also all public policy, it seems completely beyond control.
Another, somewhat inter-related problem is emerging. Introduced initially as merely an alternative, “self-checkout” stations at chain grocers & big box retailers may soon be the ONLY option for many. I understand some companies are already planning to remove cashiers from their stores. I’ve steadfastly refused to use the self-checkout lines in part because it is enabling the stores to make this other step…the requirement of all-digital cash; but even moreso because elimination of employment opportunities is not something I care to support.


Roger, I love your post. I have been thinking exactly what you wrote for years!


Ralph Thank you, . Nader. You are truly a non corporate pirate.