Since Parkland, we’ve seen a number of banks change their policies on doing business with firearms manufacturers and retailers. Some have made the decisions on their own and some have no doubt been pressured to cut out gun companies by some of their biggest customers.
Lowell Ponte has been watching this trend and is raising an alarm based on the trend toward an increasingly cashless economy.
Cashlessness in surprising ways gives vast power to government. Days ago, for example, liberal Democrat and New York State comptroller Thomas J. DiNapoli, who controls where the state invests its $209.1-billion pension fund, sent out a letter. It went to institutions that control our credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, American Express, Discover Financial Services, and others.
DiNapoli’s message was about as subtle as a guy wearing a pinstripe suit, black shirt, and white tie saying: “You gotta nice place here. Too bad if anything happened to it. But maybe I can provide you some protection.”
What do you suppose the comptroller wanted?
DiNapoli suggested that these companies should consider whether gun transactions should be classified with restricted high-risk purchases like pornography, illicit drugs, and crypto-currencies. “If gun violence continues unabated in society,” he wrote, “public outcry … may grow and create significant financial risk for the company.”
Hmmm. And how should a financial institution that cares about its image deal with this potential financial risk?
DiNapoli suggested that these companies look into implementing ways to block credit card purchases of firearms, ammunition, and gun accessories. The implied threat was clear: stop extending credit to gun- and ammo-buyers, or risk having New York State investment money taken away from your bank or credit company because the left wants to ban guns.
That’s about as subtle as an unexpectedly long stop at a causeway tollbooth. If it sounds familiar, that’s because that’s basically what Attorney General Eric Holder tried with Operation Choke Point. Holder’s tactic was . . .
…the naked weaponization of regulatory power to injure or kill ideological targets. Consumer Research analyst Beau Brunson noted that Operation Choke Point “used reputational risk as a tool for bank coercion.” Now so does DiNapoli. With “cashlessness,” when customers have no other way to buy, such nuclear warfare can crush businesses and products.
Ponte sees the controls that cashlessness could impose on how companies and individuals spend their money as the tripwire that will get the US financial system off of fiat money and back on the gold standard.
The future will eventually rediscover the Framers’ constitutional money. We will return to the 5,000-year tradition of precious metal that needs no government or computer to give it value. We will learn again that gold and free are not “four-letter words,” but two words that go together.
Uh huh. We’re not quite so sanguine about the prospects of shifting back to a precious metal-backed currency. Particularly if it means government relinquishing controls they may have accrued should we ever get to a truly cashless economy.
Is Ponte all wet? Chicken little or canary in a coal mine?