2 January 2016

How to force a cash-free numismatic policy to people

Say you are a government that wants to control every single transaction done in your country. How can you achieve this? Here are the steps.
  1. You make sure that subdivisions of your basic coin (cents, say) become rarer and rarer until they vanish completely.
  2. You instill the idea that money is counted only in terms of integers. There is no 38.51 units, but 39. In the US, for instance, there are still pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and they still have a certain value. But, you should convince people that your country is more progressive than the US and that there is no value to decimals
  3. You make sure that banks in your country carry no coins.
  4. Ditto for cash of any denomination. Banks become cash-free organizations.
  5. You punish those who still want to use cash. For example, those who want have cash for their businesses must pay a fee of 20%.
  6. If someone insists in storing cash in a bank, then you make sure that he has to file a monthly report of how much cash he has.
All these steps have been taken by Sweden. And so, little by little, there will be no cash in the country. Everybody, regardless of whether they want it or not, must use a credit card (or some form of electronic transaction). Unlike the US or the UK, credit cards are not free. I am charged something like 50 US dollars per year for a credit card. (The cost is 0 for my US credit card.)

What about security, some ask. Surely, electronic transactions are not 100% trustworthy. But no problem: in Sweden, there is no such thing as consumers' rights. If, say, your credit card is stolen and used by someone else then it is your fault. The bank or credit organization carries no responsibility. So, it's a great system for those who issue the cards, bad news for those who use them.

But why would anybody want such a system? Who benefits? Again, the answer is simple. You, as a government, will have full control of even the tiniest transaction. You know who gives what to whom at any point of time. And that, at no cost and no responsibility: you have transferred all responsibility to individuals: they are responsible if something goes wrong, not you, the government.

But your governmental psychologists warn you that this system will not work if people realize your motives. So, how do you make sure that this will not happen? Again, very simple. (The solution has been found and implemented by Sweden.) You make people want this change by convincing them that they are a society of the future. And that it's the smart thing to do. You know, more than anything else in the world, individuals want to be smart. If they are convinced that they're smarter if they use electronic cash, then the job is done. And they have. Everyone goes around chanting the mantra "we are the most smart people, because we will soon have no cash (not like those idiots in Japan who still use small coins-ha ha)".

Some examples of what is going on. (References available upon request, but here is an account of the story as picked up by the Dec. 26 2015 issue of the New York Times. 
  1. Cafe owner in Uppsala gets penalized for having cash deposits. 
  2. Church-worshippers pay money to their gods via a machine called kollektomat.
  3. Some homeless people carry credit card readers.
  4. There is no way to get coins from a bank.
  5. There is a way to get coins from a private company, but they charge money for that.
The most scary thing of all of this is that individuals will apparently carry full responsibility for any fault in the system.

The brave new world?

Church worshippers send money to their god via mobile phones or similar electronic gadgets. This reminds me that Greek priests already communicate with god via mobile phones.
P.S. The system is not fully functional yet. In Sweden, public toilets cost. In order to urinate, for example, at the Stockholm Central Station you must use a10 SEK (about 1.20 USD) coin. But if you only have a 20 SEK note, how do you get change? The bank? No, the bank will not make change. You need coins in order to urinate (or defecate). I've seen people desperately going around trying to hold their bladder and I secretly smile: "You, foreigners, don't you know that you never go out without a couple of 10 SEK coins? You never need them for anything else, except for going to the toilet."

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What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
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Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
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