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Privacy The Almighty Buck Government

Austrian Minister Calls For a Constitutional Right To Pay In Cash 188

New submitter sittingnut writes: Bloomberg reports that Austrian Deputy Economy Minister Harald Mahrer has called for a constitutional right to use cash to protect their privacy. According to the report, Mahrer said, "We don't want someone to be able to track digitally what we buy, eat and drink, what books we read and what movies we watch. We will fight everywhere against rules," including caps on cash purchases. EU finance ministers at a meeting in Brussels last Friday urged the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to "explore the need for appropriate restrictions on cash payments exceeding certain thresholds," " to crack down on "illicit cash movements."
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Austrian Minister Calls For a Constitutional Right To Pay In Cash

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  • Smart! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @11:49AM (#51494487) Homepage
    Smart for them! Much smarter than today's geeks who want every penny tracked!
    • Re:Smart! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @11:59AM (#51494567)

      "this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private"

      We'll see if that saves us.

      • Because Austria totally used the US dollar.

        • It doesn't matter what currency Austria uses. As long as the U.S. dollar is viewed as a stable currency, it can and will be used if the native currency is viewed as unstable or problematic. That's why the black markets in so many countries operate in U.S. dollars.
      • In the US, that's true. If I owe you $5, and hand you the fiver in my pocket, you are paid in full. If I eat a meal in a restaurant, and get a bill for $20, I can hand over a twenty-dollar bill and I've paid. That doesn't mean cash money can buy anything that's for sale.

        That doesn't mean anyone has to sell anything to you for cash. A sale does need to involve compensation, but the seller can specify any terms he or she wants (and the buyer is free to walk away without making the deal). In particular,

      • "Legal tender" means it's legal to use, and quite specifically NOT that anyone is required to accept it. Otherwise stores would have to accept 10000 pennies, and convenience stores couldn't put up signs saying "no bills over $20 accepted."

        • Legal tender means it must be accepted for debts. Many countries make small coins legal tender only for small debts but as I understand it the USA has no such rule.

          In most purchases money is directly exchanged for goods without there being a debt so legal tender doesn't apply and the merchants can be as picky about payment methods as they like.

      • There is a difference between a debt and payment for services yet to be rendered. The legal tender argument is/was aimed primarily at taxes, tariffs, rent and such to prevent corrupt governmental bodies or landlords from demanding payment in land or other mediums. There is no federal statute that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash un

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      This surprises me. Austria is not known for defending individual freedoms and privacy. I do have one possible explanation: Corruption and moonlighting is rampart in Austria, and those only work well with cash.

    • If only THIS politician were running for American president, he'd have my vote.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2016 @11:52AM (#51494501)

    If people can store cash in their mattress, you can't jack up negative interest rates and force consumers to spend like they should! The flow of money to the 1% would decrease slightly! Won't anyone think of the 1%?

    • by ausekilis ( 1513635 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:49PM (#51494983)
      That's why people are encouraged to diversify. That means storing cash in your mattress and burying some in a coffee can in the back yard.
    • If people can store cash in their mattress, you can't jack up negative interest rates and force consumers to spend like they should! The flow of money to the 1% would decrease slightly! Won't anyone think of the 1%?

      No, you just print more money, and hand it to the 1%. That keeps the money flowing that direction, and devalues the cash in mattresses.

  • New black markets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2016 @11:53AM (#51494507)

    I can't help but to see where a cashless society will only raise new black markets and increase crime. Nearly every form of prohibition brings additional criminal elements with it and a cashless society is a prohibitive society. Hopefully this gets real traction among other nations as well.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:02PM (#51494595)

      “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.”

          -- Someone not popular here. Consider the message, not the messenger.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:16PM (#51494733)

        But I bet she didn't expect this to happen under a government favoring corporations and trying to reduce the liberty of everyone else.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          But I bet she didn't expect this to happen under a government favoring corporations and trying to reduce the liberty of everyone else.

          That book was about the merger of government and corporations! Bailouts and protections of failing companies was most of the plot. FFS, while it's hard to recommend it as the writing isn't great, you shouldn't complain about it if you won't make the effort.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:05PM (#51494623)

      Well if it all goes to pot we can still use tide.
      http://nymag.com/news/features... [nymag.com]

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Well of course it will bring crime. All those who don't conform are criminals. If US code were strictly enforced the entire population would be criminalized. There are laws against everything and laws that require you to do things and most people don't even know about them. I'd like to see all the victimless crime laws gone. Who cares if you don't wear your seatbelt, it's just another hundred dollars in the city kitty. All kinds of stupid ass laws meant to micro-manage our daily lives.

  • Privacy is one important aspect; another one would be being forced to do business with a third party (bank or similar financial institution).

    "Them terrists pay in cash? Let's ban cash! Dem terrists breathe air? Let's ban breathing! And air!"

    • paypal is not a bank and they can take your funds at will. Now do you really want that to happen to you? to your store? to your business?

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Paypal cannot lock you out of accessing your own funds if Paypal does not actually have them. That is, money that you have received or has otherwise been transferred into your Paypal account is the only money that they can potentially block you from. If you routinely transfer money from Paypal to your bank account, and simply do not ever keep a large balance in your Paypal account, then the amount they could ever block you from accessing is minimal. One has to weigh for themselves the transaction fee c
        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          They can reach into your personal bank account and take what they want. you grant them that permission. I have yet to find a real bank that will allow me to have a one way street with paypal.

      • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:53PM (#51495009) Homepage

        paypal is not a bank

        That's not what I've been told when I worked at eBay/PayPal (years before the recent corporate split). Although not a bank per se, PayPal does fall under banking regulations. What that meant for the IT department was that we had to keep eBay assets and PayPal assets separate from each other. (Assets being anything with an asset tag such as laptops and monitors; cables, keyboards and mice were interchangeable.) Also, if you worked for PayPal directly and not eBay/PayPal, your credit record has to be much cleaner than average, no bankruptcies in the last ten years, and any adverse downward changes in credit score can result in immediate termination when your credit report gets periodically reviewed.

    • by Flavianoep ( 1404029 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @01:01PM (#51495071)
      What? Paying cash in a terraced place?
    • That's just great -- it's those kinds of people that just suck the air out of a room.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:00PM (#51494575)
    Now if the European Commission only had any respect for its member nations' constitutions...
  • What is the current situation with prepaid SIM cards in Europe? Do you need to show identification to purchase them? In the US you don't (currently), not sure about Europe.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Do you need to show identification to purchase them?

      It depends on the country. I've had to show a passport in Athens and I've paid cash, no questions asked, in Munich. All within the last 5 years (so laws may have changed more recently).

    • In the UK they get handed out in airports - no ID is required. Spain is very different (as far as I know) since the Madrid train bombings.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:18PM (#51494751) Journal

    Good. And, more specifically, the right to pay for things anonymously, much like you have the right to speak anonymously.

    It isn't about thwarting justice. It is about forbidding government the tools of tyranny, including the ability to filch through your stuff and activities at will until they find something they can tag you, uppity person, with.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Good. And, more specifically, the right to pay for things anonymously, much like you have the right to speak anonymously.

      It isn't about thwarting justice. It is about forbidding government the tools of tyranny, including the ability to filch through your stuff and activities at will until they find something they can tag you, uppity person, with.

      For me, paying cash is about reducing the amount of money I have to pay for things. When I pay in cash instead of credit, I reduce the costs the merchant has to pay their bank by between 2 and 6% That means a merchant can charge me less and make more of a profit in the mean time. It's a win-win.

      For small amounts, cash. For large amounts (I.E. $2,500 to my mechanic) I will do a bank transfer or direct debit. Having run my own business and experienced the sheer joy of being bent over sans lube for acceptin

  • by PinkyGigglebrain ( 730753 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:44PM (#51494941)
    The Minister probably realized that all the electronically transferred bribes^wcontributions they have been getting from various lobbies, special interest groups, etc. could be traced more easily than a bag of small unmarked bills..

    Though even a bag full of cash can be traced to a fair degree by the serial numbers on the bills.
  • Austrian economics minister supports Austrian economics, film at 11.

  • Truth be told... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:52PM (#51495003)
    The idea that a law is needed for this just makes me wish the asteroid would hit the "reset life" button on earth already,,,
    • Re:Truth be told... (Score:5, Informative)

      by GbrDead ( 702506 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @01:54PM (#51495461)

      There are laws against this. For example, in my country (an EU member), you are not allowed to pay in cash for anything above 2564.1 euros. Otherwise you are presumed to be laundering money. The limit was higher until recently. And it will only go down, despite inflation...

      • Re:Truth be told... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Friday February 12, 2016 @02:22PM (#51495679)

        I once paid 12,000 dollars in cash for a car. The guy wanted 15,500 but I kept counting 100's until he folded at 12G's. Nowadays they'd take it away and make me prove I got it legally. I wish George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and all those guys could see what these fuckers are doing nowadays. They'd spit on 'em before they slid hard cold steel through their guts.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          They'd spit on 'em before they slid hard cold steel through their guts.

          History shows they'd just shoot em and move on.

      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        I have lived in a few EU countries, and well this doesn't sound right. I have had no problems with 5000EUR, even at the banks or with landlords. And that was just 1 year ago. My kaution was even paid back in cash, and i paid rent in cash. In fact i found Europe far more a cash place than the US.
  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <dirk@one.net> on Friday February 12, 2016 @12:58PM (#51495041) Homepage

    While I generally agree with him (less for privacy purposes and more for not paying a transaction fee to a credit card ever time), making it right would add a lot of potential problems to it. For example, what about online only transactions? Would Ebay or Spotify be required to somehow accept cash payments? I am all for companies not being forced to go electronic only, but I also wouldn't want to try and force every company to have to accept cash either.

  • I'm not sure about Australia or the US or EU or wherever someone might live, but in Canada no-one is obligated to accept Cash for anything. A Constitutional Amendment so stating would actually mean a fundamental change in how business and debts are settled.

    Which is why I don't believe this Amendment will get anywhere at all in Oz.

  • It's been a growing trend for politicians and society in general to view cash transactions as the realm of illicit trade. Take news reports of people having their money confiscated by state police in Tennessee because they were carrying so much. And there's no reason to carry that much money except to buy drugs or some other illegal good.

  • If you exceed this threshold, you must be a drug dealer or terrorist and will be charged with money laundering then investigated.

    If you fail to exceed this threshold, you must be a drug dealer or terrorist and will be charged with money laundering then investigated.

    See also: "structuring [wikipedia.org]"

  • In the USA there is (or at least was) a cap on how much a person could contribute to a political campaign. If there is a law that all transactions must have the option of payment in cash then what happens to the caps on political contributions? I suppose there could also be a law that any payment to a political entity must have record keeping to prevent... what would you even call this? Is it "abusive" contributions?

    Personally, I do not believe there should be a cap on political contributions. I suppose

  • The cash register was invented by a saloon keeper who grew tired of bartenders tapping the till and not the keg.

    The downside to doing business in cash has always been the need the need to embed expensive physical defenses against fraud and theft. The merchant will need a safe or a vault. Alarm systems. Video. Perhaps an armored courier service.

    Every transaction leaves a trail.

    Given time and patience all but your most mundane purchases can be traced.

  • Cash is the ultimate roadblock for a long-term Negative Interest Rate Policy.

    If the price of storing your value in a bank is 5% of the stored value per year then you will likely reject that "service" - unless you do not have a choice. This is the real reason the fascist union is pushing for the eventual total removal of cash. They can't just announce a ban of cash without a real risk of protests and even riots. This is why it's done in small steps.

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