#147 The Digital Dollar Deceit

the christian economist dave arnott

#147 The Digital Dollar Deceit

As the Christian Economist, I worry about the threat to privacy posed by central bank digital currencies. 

The US government first issued paper currency in 1861.  For over 160 years, we have used dollars as our currency.  You might even say, cash has been king. But it might be replaced by another king: The digital dollar, issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.  


A Fiat is More than a Car

In the context of cars, FIAT is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino.  Worth coming to class, I didn’t know that.  But, we’re talking about fiat money, not cars.  In this context, Fiat means “Let it be done.”  In economics it means an arbitrary or authoritative command.  Many currencies still have the face of the national sovereign on them.  It recalls the classic case when the Pharisees were testing Jesus by asking if his disciples paid the temple tax.  In response, in Matthew 22 Jesus asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”  Oh, a couple observations: They were testing Jesus, who we believe was God.  Not a good idea.  And we often miss the most important part of that verse.  Jesus responded, ”Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” is the first part.  Now the important part, “…and render unto God what is God’s.”  That means you and me.  We are made in the Image of God, which I unpack in podcast #32 by that name.  So, the coin goes to Caesar, and we go to God.

But, back to the Fiat idea.  The king or queen issued the currency, so he or she was in control of it.  Samuell Gregg, writing in his book For God and Profit, pointed out that the king could call money value up or down, depending on whether the debt was owed to him, or from him.  You’re welcome to notice that the government is now calling the money value DOWN, via inflation, because its debt has increased from $20 trillion to $30 trillion in just a few years.  


The Great Reset

Writing in the Epoch Times recently, an article by John Mac Ghlionn is titled A Digital Dollar is Coming: Americans should be concerned.  He says, “A large number of Americans still believe, somewhat naively, that cryptocurrencies are the future of finance. They’re not… central bank digital currencies are the next step in the evolution of money.

I challenged the World Economic Forum in podcast #112 titled The Great Reset.  My basic argument is that Christians believe in two great resets: 1. Christ came to earth as the god man.  2. He’s coming back.  Those are two great resets.  In the meantime, how are Christians expected to produce and distribute goods in a scarce environment?  My work as the Christian Economist is to seek answers to that question.  Unlike cryptocurrencies, which are decentralized and designed for privacy, digital currencies are centralized and public. They are, in many ways, the antithesis of cryptocurrencies; because they are NOT private.  

The United State is one of over 100 countries who are looking into digital currencies.   Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell generally support the idea.  But Mr. Powell’s comments are most concerning. He said, “A digital dollar would be both “identity verified” and “not anonymous.”  Oh….so the idea that you and your banker are the only ones who know about your transactions is a thing of the past. 

Hillsdale College produces an annual conference called the Free Market Forum.  At the meeting last year, I listened carefully as a bright young man made the case for digital currencies, because of their security aspects.  Maybe it’s because I’m older, but I wondered aloud whether the federal government was going to allow the entry of a competitor to their own currency, which they control through the Federal Reserve Bank.  I know the Fed is supposed to be independent, but I’ve produced two podcasts showing how they are not very independent.  Maybe my prediction is coming true.  There is talk about a digital currency from the Fed, that will be interlinked with other currencies.  

You know what’s not far behind?  The multinational tax cartel that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen tried to institute about a year ago.  I called this The Tax Cartel in podcast #75 by that name.  And, that’s what it is.  So if this proposed new digital currency is aligned with other national currencies, Ms. Yellen will see this as a prime opportunity to spring her tax cartel trap on the developed economies of the world. 


Big Brother

Digital IDs will undoubtedly be linked with a person’s financial transactions, as well as their social media activity. Furthermore, digital IDs could certainly be used by governmental entities to provide Big Brother surveillance of individuals.  

China has already produced a system for issuing social credit scores.  Think about how that could be used.  The government would know what soap you buy, and how much alcohol and the brand of cigarettes you purchase.  And, important for Christians, they would know how much you gave to your church and other para-church organizations.  You know that pro-life clinics have been attacked since the repeal of the Rowe vs Wade decision.  It would be very threatening for others to know how much you gave to those pro-life clinics. 

The IRS is already upping their game.  They just got the funds to hire 87,000 new agents.  If there is a digital currency, those agents will be provided the tools to audit every one of us.  My podcast on that recently was #140 titled The IRS Targets the Proletariat.

In economics we understand that people exercise their own self-interest.  The interest of the government will be to design the digital dollars so they won’t work with products they disagree with.  Or, it would be easy for them to set limits on your purchase of meat or gas or other items they determine are detrimental to the environment.   And they can seize your bank account just like they did with the truckers in Canada, simply for disagreeing with a policy of the politician currently in office.

Is it the mark of the beast?  I don’t think so, but you’re welcome to interpret it as such.  Revelation 13:16-17 tells us, “The beast forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

Quoting Mr. Ghlionn from the Epoch Times again, “…It is not difficult to imagine a world where every U.S. citizen will be required to have a digital ID to carry out a number of— if not all—online transactions and perhaps even a social credit score. All in the name of safety, of course.”

In New Testament times, the Roman government controlled people in this manner.  Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to be taxed, or for a census, depending which version of the New Testament you’re reading.  But the reason was governmental control.  It produced verification that allowed citizens to conduct business in the Roman world.  The digital currency will produce the same tracking mechanism, but at hyper speed and power in a digital world.    I’ve already given the Feds lots of data to be a part of the Global Entry system that allows me to go through a shorter line when I return to the US.  There’s another one now called “verifly.” Like the Blob in the 1958 science fiction movie, the government is like the Leviathan in Job and Psalms, but this one continues to feed on information. 


Self Interest & the Fallen Nature

I’m not much of a conspiracy guy.  After living in Dallas for 45 years, and reading a couple books on the John F Kennedy assassination, I still think Lee Harvey Oswald was simply one crazy person with a gun.  

But, as an economist, I tend to look at life through a self-interest lens.  And as a Christian, I understand the fallen nature.  Thus, it’s easy to predict how some type of personal information tracking system will emerge from the digital dollar deception.

As a guest on The Situation Report recently, I thanked my host Jeremy Stalnecker for his service in the Marine Corps.  That’s because political freedom is not free.  It has to be maintained.  Economic freedom is not free either.  It has to be diligently maintained.  The Greeks told the story of Sisyphus, who was condemned to roll a stone up a hill every day.  When he returned the next morning, the stone was at the bottom of the hill.  Sisyphus helps us understand the nature of things, because they always roll downhill.  Political, economic, and religious freedoms naturally roll down.  We have to push them back up every day.  


Information Privacy

I’m looking for a used pickup.  So, now while scanning information on the web, I get ads for used pickups.  You’ve noticed this too.  At our church home group, we were entertaining each other recently with examples of how advertisers seem to know what we’re interested in.  Well, they’re tracking the websites you visit.  You think political actors want to know this?  Yep.  And through digital currencies, they will see where you buy products and services. 

While writing Biblical Economic Policy with Sergiy Saydometov, we found ten Biblical Principles of Economics.  Number five is Use Honest Measures.  The exhortation is found in a few different places in the Old Testament.  This one comes from Proverbs 16:11, The LORD wants weights and measures to be honest and every sale to be fair. Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; he made all the weights in the bag

Central bank digital currencies are not honest weights and measures.



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