Could Cashless Stores Violate Personal Liberties?

Could Cashless Stores Violate Personal Liberties?

( – Across the country, cashless stores are gaining in popularity as debit cards, credit cards, Paypal, Apple Pay, and other forms of digital payments are becoming more favorable and accessible.

As a result, the reliance on technology is empowering a cashless movement among businesses as they seek to become more efficient and profitable.

However, some governments are saying there are limits to how far businesses can go to accommodate cashless stores.

In 2019, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia passed legislation to prohibit cashless stores. Legislators said that discriminating against consumers who prefer to use cash over other payment forms limits their personal choices and liberties.

In 2017, an FDIC household survey found that nearly 25% of American households do not have a checking or savings account. If they did, then they obtained financial products and services outside of the banking system.

In 2019, Pew Research said that most underbanked or unbanked Americans are “lower-income households, less-educated households, younger households, African-American and Latino households, working-age disabled households, and households with volatile income.”

Connecticut State Rep. Holly Cheeseman (R-East Lyme) said that a cashless society could limit someone’s civil liberties. For example, victims of domestic abuse are hurt when businesses won’t accept cash. Their abusers may monitor their purchases or cancel their debit or credit cards — leaving them in an even more vulnerable situation.

Government Abuse

In a 2013 study by MasterCard, they reported that, at that time, 80% of consumer transactions in the US were completed with a debit or credit card. While that may be a statistical fact, there are also other serious civil liberty issues for both those who make transitions with cards and the 20% who don’t use the banking system.

If stores become totally cashless and if cash ceases to be a tool for the public to use, governments could gain unprecedented information on its citizens and have more spying power than ever before.

There is little evidence to suggest that the government will be able to restrain itself from abusing its power. Recent history with warrant abuses by the FBI, IRS scandals involving the Tea Party in 2012, and allegations of other government improprieties involving the National Security Agency demonstrate this abuse of power.

Another problem is that local, state, and federal law enforcement have been abusing their seizure powers under “civil forfeiture” laws for over a decade. They take money first and ask questions later. It’s perfectly legal for them to do based solely on suspicion without proof.

In a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday, co-executive director of the New Economy Project Deyanira Del Rio said:

“Cash shouldn’t disappear. People should have their choice protected and preserved, and we need stronger access from Congress to make sure people are protected in the decisions that they make.”

Do Cashless Stores Have a Benefit to Society?

There are no questions that there are benefits that come from a cashless society. However, every benefit comes with some level of government intervention and a reduction in personal responsibility and liberty.

For example, the government, or even those who provide the digital transactions, could ban the sale of cigarettes, sugary drinks, gambling, or a host of other “sin” behaviors. That could have a positive impact on the cost and delivery of healthcare.

But, at what cost do the benefits outweigh the loss of freedom to make our own decisions?

America was founded on the idea of liberty. The very definition of liberty is a constraint on government.

If a society chooses to go cashless, we will not be restraining the government. Quite the opposite — we’ll be empowering it to impose more of its will over our lives.

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