The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

ATMs and Debit Payments Go Down In Canada

So, I’m not sure if it’s all ATMs, but I know Interac (our debit) is down. This is also apparently affecting 911 (emergency) calls.

Canada has three providers of phone and internet, everyone else is either niche (satellite) or actually uses their networks. They are Bell, Telus and Rogers.

Rogers is down, with no ETA to being back up. I found out when I tried to call Canada’s tax people (the Canada Revenue Agency) and got “no network”.

The short term point here is to always keep some cash. I’ve got $25 in my pocket, which is less than it should be but at least I can buy some food and so on.

Cashless societies are bad. Not just because it’s easy for the infrastructure to go down for technical reasons or due to some disaster or war or terrorism, but because they are inherently totalitarian. The government or corporations can freeze people out of the economy any time they want. PayPal, Visa and Mastercard have done this repeatedly (many years ago it was Wikileaks, since it’s been people with the wrong political views.)

I didn’t much like the Trucker protests in Ottawa, Canada, but they should have been dealt with by the police, not by freezing people’s bank accounts. That’s tyranny. It was done, I’m fairly sure, because the Ottawa police were sympathetic to the truckers and politicians didn’t think they’d obey orders.

Likewise, many folks who use things like bitcoin don’t understand blockchain technology: it’s inherently totalitarian and its traceable. It’s a LOT harder to trace cash. If you want anonymity, cash is still king. Any society which removes cash is doing so for two reasons:

  1. So they can track much more, micromanage what people spend and shut people and organizations they don’t approve out of the economy easily; and,
  2. So that middlemen (corps, governments if they want to) can take a cut off everything.

I believe we should pay our taxes, but it’s not an absolute value. Black and especially gray markets exist for a reason, and it’s not always a bad thing. In particular, in many countries, including the US and Canada,  you can’t always get a bank account. The cash economy allows those who can’t to survive; it allows those shut out to survive, and gray and black markets put a check on government power to say “absolutely not” to people things really want or need.

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

The more we love to e-cash only, the more our societies, intrinsically, are vulnerable to shocks, to authoritarianism and to rentierism.

Cash is worth keeping and I would go so far as to make it illegal for most businesses to not accept cash. Cash is, in a certain sense, freedom. In another deeper sense money based societies are anti-freedom, but that’s another argument and for another time. If we  use money, we need cash that can’t go down and which isn’t inherently authoritarian.




Germany Is Being Crushed By “Anti-Russia” Sanctions


Open Thread


  1. Bill H.

    Any government which goes cashless will be bypassed by a “black” barter economy. I cannot document it, but I suspect the United States has a massive barter economy going now, populated by the enormous “out of the labor force” population. That’s why there is a “labor shortage.” The lockdowns of the pandemic taught people how to get by very nicely without paying taxes.

  2. Troy

    Well, hopefully this is one more thing for the CRTC to consider in its denial of the Roger-Shaw merger attempt. There’ll be less resiliency if these companies are allowed to merge.

  3. capelin

    Today’s outage might wake a few people up. Older ways tend to be less whiz-bang, and more resilient.

  4. Ché Pasa

    So why doesn’t this happen to the rarefied electronic jots and tittles that are the reality of nearly all the Overclass wealth — and source of their power?

    Electronic economic outages are relatively common for the Lower Orders. My internet, for example, is sometimes hit or miss, and the card readers and ATMs out here in the wilderness are frequently “down.” Why doesn’t that or the equivalent happen to our economic Betters…. or does it?

    As Ian says, the Systems we rely on is actually not that reliable on the one hand and can be — and are– used for nefarious purposes, which are selectively applied in order to exercise power over us — without even requiring force.

    When was the last electronic Systems outage at the Fed, other central banks or Wall Street? They must happen… or….?

  5. V

    It is a shame that most Americans eschew gold in it various forms; bullion, coins, and jewlery.
    Gold should NOT be viewed as an investment; that’s a mistake, IMO.
    Gold is an asset with 5,000+ years of history to back up that description/definition.
    The price on the daily ticker is irrelevant, IMO; because if/when the day comes that you need it; it’s value will be vastly above whatever you paid for it when it comes to what it will purchase in commodities…
    The electronic banking and it’s ilk will be floundering and fiat won’t save you…
    …but, your gold must be physically held by you; no paper allowed…

  6. multitude of poors

    Hope you’re doing okay, $25 is not much.

    And yeah the Cashless push (for quite some time now) has been horrifying, particularly so when those one thought might express more outrage at the insanity of it, are silent). One can’t go to a grocery store and barter for food.

    Cashless is DEADLY, some things can’t be bartered for now.

    So very much going on that is so very ugly and sociopathically insane. No time to respond to any responses just wanted to send a hug to you and anypne else dealing with forced cashlessness horrors, as someone who only uses cash (including checks).

  7. Joe

    Most Mexican people have a heathy distrust for electronic money. Older people don’t trust cash either when they get a head of short term needs they prefer to build a room on the house or maybe pick up a piece of land. credit is considered very suspect and risky. Tourists bring their cards so credit has to be accommodated but it is generally not preferred. The younger generations are being hauled into the credit system with car loans and student lines of credit. Sexy phone apps are sucking in the young too. It is interesting to watch the credit creep. I go there to visit family once a year and see the system is gaining a greater foothold.

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