Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Brett Scott pulls back the curtain on the cashless society, and notes that it (like so many "financial innovations") is largely the result of banks seeking profits with no interest in how they harm people who don't have money to burn:
Financial institutions, likewise, are trying to nudge us towards a cashless society and digital banking. The true motive is corporate profit. Payments companies such as Visa and Mastercard want to increase the volume of digital payments services they sell, while banks want to cut costs. The nudge requires two parts. First, they must increase the inconvenience of cash, ATMs and branches. Second, they must vigorously promote the alternative. They seek to make people “learn” that they want digital, and then “choose” it.
Digital systems may be “convenient”, but they often come with central points of failure. Cash, on the other hand, does not crash. It does not rely on external data centres, and is not subject to remote control or remote monitoring. The cash system allows for an unmonitored “off the grid” space. This is also the reason why financial institutions and financial technology companies want to get rid of it. Cash transactions are outside the net that such institutions cast to harvest fees and data.

A cashless society brings dangers. People without bank accounts will find themselves further marginalised, disenfranchised from the cash infrastructure that previously supported them. There are also poorly understood psychological implications about cash encouraging self-control while paying by card or a mobile phone can encourage spending. And a cashless society has major surveillance implications.
The UK government has chosen to champion the digital financial services industry. This is irresponsible and disingenuous. We need to stop accepting stories about the cashless society and hyper-digital banking being “natural progress”. We must recognise every cash machine that is shut down as another step in financial institutions’ campaign to nudge you into their digital enclosures.
- Reade Pickert and Alan Bjerga note that any economic recovery in the U.S. has largely left behind the working poor, leaving tens of millions of people reliant on the food stamps which the Trump administration wants to take away.

- Nicole Mortillaro explores the record-breaking temperatures which are endangering lives around the globe. But Peter McCartney writes that instead of treating climate change as the threat that it is, Canadian governments are still subsidizing the industry which relies on making matters worse - including through ongoing giveaways to liquid natural gas operators in British Columbia.

- Finally, Drew Brown calls out the Libs for reinforcing the Cons' attempt to negate the humanity of large classes of immigrants. And Shanifa Nasser reports on the hate-based beating of Mohammed Abu Marzouk as the price of validating the political choice to demonize minority groups.

No comments:

Post a Comment