You’re alone on a dusty desert road. You’ve just run out of water. A hot sun bakes down on you relentlessly from above. Your mouth is dry and you wonder how long you’ll be able to keep it up. The nearest town is a mirage on the horizon, ten miles away. It will be a long walk. You may not make it.
In one hand, you have your car keys. Your car is parked right next to you. It’s a beauty. It works, is full of gas and everything about it runs like a dream, even the air conditioning. There is just one problem. The year is 2008 and eco-wackos have taken over this particular stretch of the desert. They don’t like technology, they don’t like money, and they don’t like cars. They haven’t outlawed cars completely, that would be inconvenient, for they use cars a lot themselves. They realize that without them the world would come to a halt. Nonetheless, for all realistic purposes, cars have been banned. You can only drive one if you fill out a form in advance. Gasoline can only be purchased if you state your purpose on yet another special form. Private ownership of cars has not been made illegal, but the local media still runs headline stories about so called eco-criminals. As a result, most cars are kept at home, hidden in the garage. When people venture out, they do so on foot.
Here’s the choice you are facing:
Do you hop in your car and zip into town like a breeze? Or do you start the ten mile walk on foot, with no water and only the baking sun for a companion? If you walk, you may not make it. If you drive, the townspeople may label you a criminal because these days anybody driving a car is said to be a bad guy, or so government propaganda would lead us all to believe.
If you think this little tale borders on the absurd, consider what Tom Paine would think of today’s regulatory environment were he, by some wonderful time capsule, to arrive at a western financial institution. Tom Paine would want to start a second American revolution immediately if he ever heard of Currency Transaction Reports. Thomas Jefferson would join him before he could comply with the IRS reporting requirements and file a form 8300. And Benjamin Franklin would first demand that his face be removed from the hundred dollar bill and then lecture far and wide on the civil liberties of free men and women, on their inalienable right to handle their money in whatever way they see fit, free from outside interference.
To the founding fathers, the fact that people today can no longer freely do what they want with their money would sound as outlandish as our 2008 eco-wacko story sounds to you. Still, there is a continuing trend in developed countries throughout the world to deny
everyone the basic right to financial privacy. In our modern world, almost any undesirable, with very little effort, whether a government tax inspector, a disgruntled business partner or greedy ex-spouse, can form an all too clear picture of your financial affairs. This information can in turn lead to an even more detailed sketch of your personal life, your loves and habits, perhaps even a vice or two you would rather keep private.