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February 23, 2016

Why Big Government Liberals Want to Stamp Out the $100 Bill


Liberals and proponents of big government increasingly use “fighting crime” as an excuse to invade our privacy and restrict our freedoms. The latest example could be the effort to eliminate high-value currency.

The European Central Bank (ECB) recently announced it will consider getting rid of high-denomination European Union currency, specifically the €500.

Larry Summers, an economist and former Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, supports the move, claiming it would help government to fight crime. Writing in the Washington Post, Summers says, “Even better than unilateral measures in Europe would be a global agreement to stop issuing notes worth more than say $50 or $100.”

Actually, it’s already hard to get $50 bills, so Summers may be halfway there without even trying.

But dropping both the $50 and $100 would leave Americans with nothing larger than the $20 bill—which leftists want to redesign by removing President Andrew Jackson’s picture and replacing it with a liberal woman. Then Americans might not even want to carry twenties.

The immediate problem with Summers’ suggestion is the size of the denominations. The €500 bill is worth nearly five times the $100 bill—about $450 at current exchange rates.

The $100 bill, by contrast, isn’t large. A date night at a nice restaurant can easily eat up a C-note, as can a trip to the grocery store or filling up an SUV when gas was more than $3.00 a gallon. Without the $100, people who use cash would have to carry around a wad of $20 bills—an inconvenience that might drive everyone to shift to debit and credit cards. And maybe that’s the real goal.

Unlike cash, credit and debit card purchases leave an electronic trail—one the government can easily track.

The U.S. is in the middle of an important debate over privacy and security. Law enforcement officials tell us they must have access to personal data in order to protect us. Those concerned with preserving our Fourth Amendment privacy rights have often challenged those assertions.

That’s the issue at the center of Apple’s disagreement with the FBI, which wants access to the San Bernardino terrorist’s information on his iPhone. Cell phones create a wealth of personal information, and so do financial records.

If the government eliminates large-denomination currency and Americans are essentially forced to shift to credit or debit cards for most of their financial transactions, the government could easily track just about every dollar you spend. It would just need to get permission from, or a court order for, your bank or credit card company.

All it would need is an unscrupulous presidential administration or a nanny-state liberal—think Michael Bloomberg and his effort to make sure you aren’t drinking sugary drinks—who wants to know what people are doing. And some might argue we already have that.

Larry Summers may believe eliminating the $100 bill would help the government fight crime, but it would also pave the way for more government intrusions on our privacy.


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