I’m all right Jack, keep your hands off my stack.

Israel Malachi

I don’t believe anything I experienced as a child was as thrilling to me as the day my father took my brother and I downtown to the bank to open our first savings accounts. The year was 1969, savings accounts were paying 6% interest, the Prime Interest Rate was 8.5%, the economy was pretty hopeful, America was riding high; we had put a man on the moon! I remember carefully studying my bank-book, imagining all of the future entries that would be made, making money for me, as I saved for the future. Six cents for every dollar I saved! What a delightful premium!

Fast-forward to the present day. Obama’s America, Janet Yellen’s Fed. In January 2016, Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate from a range of 0% to 0.25% to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%. Interest rates have been hovering around 0% since the “Financial Crisis” in December 2008. This rate hike may not stick around for long, there is not a significant indication that the economy is getting any better, try as the Obama administration might to skew the numbers favorably. Unemployment numbers are lower, for example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but a significant portion of unemployed people are not being counted because they have given up looking for jobs. The official number is 4.9%,  but in reality, the unemployed number 94,610,000 people, or nearly 40% of the labor force. The movers and shakers on Wall Street and at the banks know this, and they just aren’t buying the notion of a boisterous, bustling recovery.

What to do, what to do? Well, many ideas have been proffered by many geniuses, but the two things that loom on the horizon as a real possibility are the most ominous. First, it has been suggested that the Federal Reserve Board has been considering negative interest rates, along with a ban on cash. (if you can believe that!) Recently, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers published an op-ed in the Washington Post about getting rid of the $100 bill. Prominent economists and banks have joined the refrain and called for an end to cash in recent months. The reasoning is almost always the same: cash is something that only criminals, terrorists, and tax cheats use.

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, recently confirmed rumors that the 500 euro note was on the way out in the first step toward the elimination of cash in the European Union. Also, the French government tightened restrictions on cash payments and stepped up monitoring of high-value withdrawals. Since September, French citizens can only make cash payments of €1,000, down from €3,000, while cash withdrawals or deposits exceeding €10,000 in a month are automatically checked by money-laundering authorities.

Reading this, perhaps you might say, “Why not? I use credit cards and my phone for most purchases any way, cash is just a nuisance for me.” Think about it for a minute. What does it mean when interest rates are negative? It means that the banks CHARGE to hold your money. It is like a tax on your bank account that is paid to a private entity, which, by the way, has been upheld as constitutional by the Roberts Supreme Court in it’s decision in King v. Burwell, (the ruling upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare, labeling it a “tax” even though the tax is paid to private entities. {insurance companies}).

So, here is how it could play out: cash is no longer allowed, (The State of Louisiana passed such a law last year, regarding secondhand stores, by the way.) the Fed goes to negative interest rates to “jump-start the economy”, then all of a sudden, Joe Average is PAYING to use HIS OWN MONEY. He can’t rush to an ATM to withdraw it, because there are severe limits on cash-holding, if not an outright ban. Think this could never happen here? Think again. Look at all of the liberties we have freely surrendered in the past fifteen years, since September 11. I think it is not a question of “if” but “when.”