We Need Freedom of Speech in our Financial Commerce

Mike Gogulski

Note: I always look forward to meeting Mike on my annual trips to Slovakia. SIG
We Need Freedom of Speech in our Financial Commerce

The following article was written by Mike Gogulski and published in Bitcoin Magazine, May 30th, 2013.

Financial commerce, the exchange of money and currency, is indistinguishable from speech. Therefore, it deserves the exact same respect and “freedom of speech” protections afforded to the utterances of the street-corner preacher, the independent journalist, the newspaper publisher, the internet blogger and so on. Financial commerce is speech, and should be free.

Despite all of the “freedom of speech” and “free speech” talk we hear, speech today is anything but free. This ranges from what you can and can’t say in public or in print or on television, to “free speech protest zones”, to speech codes on university campuses and all the way up to the towering insanity of “illegal numbers“.

Today I see the tyrant’s sword unsheathed and poised at the throats of everyone, everywhere who dares to do anything contrary to the increasingly oppressive financial status quo. Bitcoin exchanges are being forced out of business, and criminal charges are likely coming. The United States’ FinCEN is writing law — administratively! — restricting innovative, resilient, peer-to-peer virtual currencies — globally! Somebody telephoned someone at MasterCard, and the next day WikiLeaks could no longer take credit card donations. e-gold was crushed out of existence, along with the Liberty Dollar. The SWIFT payments network was strong-armed into a financial blockade of Iran. And, quite recently, the Liberty Reserve payments system was put out of business and the founders arrested on the criminal charge of money laundering, a “financial thoughtcrime” if there ever was one.

Almost everywhere, the laws and regulations governing financial businesses are so voluminous and so burdensome that only the already super-rich can hope to compete legally in the so-called “free market”. Americans with less than a million dollars’ net worth (not including primary residence) are effectively banned from investing in anything other than “safe” US dollar-denominated securities. Financial privacy has almost completely disappeared, except for the very wealthiest. Cash transactions larger than $10,000, €5,000, €2,500, €1,500,€1,000 and now even €500 are being or have been outlawed in some places. And on and on.

The suppression of financial speech is being used as a weapon of war against the people of this planet just as surely as drone strikes, pervasive surveillance and land mines are and have been.

The time has come to begin separating money and currency from state, irrevocably and irretrievably. Free people and a free world deserve currencies that they control directly.

It seems we are far from perfecting and embodying the free speech ideal. Are we going to continue working to improve ourselves and our societies toward that ideal, or shall we just abandon it altogether to avoid complete hypocrisy?

What do you think? Is financial commerce speech? If so, how? If not, why not?

[This day, 30 May 2013, in Bratislava, Slovakia, I, Michael
Jude Gogulski, do hereby dedicate this text to the public
domain, to the explicit and unlimited detriment of all legal
rights (authorial, moral, economic and otherwise) arising or
adhering to myself, my successors and my heirs, globally and
without limitation, in perpetuity. I pledge that I shall never
pursue violence, legal or otherwise, against anyone using this
text or any part of it in any way they see fit. I encourage
and welcome redistribution of this text in any form or fashion
and at any time.]

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3 responses to “We Need Freedom of Speech in our Financial Commerce

  1. Administrative law has been a normal “Progressive” thing since at least the late19th century (in Britain and the United States – in the French and German speaking lands administrative law is much older). The standard excuse for agencies such as the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC created in 1887) is the need to “control business”, and if anyone continues to complain then they will be told “this is all underpined by an Act” (one of the vague “Enabling Law” style Acts that would have astonished John Locke – and which Dicey and Chief Justice Hewart still opposed well into the 20th century).

    It is true that the American Supreme Court struck a blow against Administrative Law with its 1935 judgement against the National Recovery Administation (General Johnson’s jackbotted “Blue Eagle” thugs who went around attacking business people who refused to obey their orders and wrote out “laws” justifying their conduct under the vague Enabling Law that was the National Industrial Recovery Act). However, President Franklin Rooselt denounced the “horse and buggy” view of the Constitution that this judgement expressed (as opposed to his own Mussolini like view of government power – the NIRA being based on the ideas of Mussolini’s Italy) and the judgement was de fact reveresed by various World War II judgements.

    Certainly in fiancial services there has been little sympathy for the view that they should not be subjected to Administrative Law since the 1930s – after all both the crash of 1929 and the current crises have been (FALSELY) blamed on “lack of regualtion” and anyone who resists ever more regulations is denounced as a tool of the bankers (or whatever).

    Of course the early stages of regulation often benefit the very business interests that high minded reformers say they are out to control. This is because, in the ealry stages, the costs of the regulation are less than the benefits (to established enterprises) of keepin out competition. Later the costs of the regulations become very great even for estalished enterprises – but it is too late to complain then.

    Today many successful people in the financial services industy admit that, due to the modern level of regulations, it would be impossible for them to have built up their business enterprises if they were just starting out in busness. And some people have gone so far as to leave the United States in order to avoid the cost of these regulations (administrative law under vague Enabling Statues).

    Of course this is counterbalanced by the desire for “cheap money” – the money created by the Federal Reserve and lent out to its favourates (denounce the government too much and, totally by coincidence of course, you may find this “cheap money” does not come your way).

    The old idea that lending should be financed by REAL SAVINGS is laughed to scorn by modern bankers – their lending is financed by the Central Bank, and it gets its money by creating it from nothing.

    However, this magic-money-tree basis of finance will come come crashing down – and then the costs of all those thousands of pages of regulations will NOT be counter balanced by the flow of “cheap money” (money from nothing – turned into money for nothing, for those “in the loop”). Then things will change – and change fast.

    For example, office space will suddenly become very cheap in the Wall Street area, and in Central London and……

  2. john warren

    This all makes interesting Sunday morning reading. I’ve taken far more than I can add to Paul’s comment but one recent event some of you might find interesting:

    A few days ago I was chatting informally to several executives from the VW group – boring stuff so began thinking of an excuse to leave. Then out of the blue, one of them mentioned how customer cash payments for cars is now strictly forbidden. Like sheep, everyone present nodded in agreement just like this was the right and only way to do business. Except me of course who said, ‘Why’s that then?’

    The predictable answer ‘money laundering’ was repeated along with the encouraging of other criminal activity – all of which needed to be controlled (get away!). But I kept insisting that it had more to do with state control than it did any of the looking after the people things. I found no one was quite with me on this so added, ‘So if I come into one of your outlets with fifty thousand pounds in a bag which I want to exchange for one of your cars, you’ll refuse the deal?’

    ‘Of course.’ came the reply. ‘The customer has no problem with that Mr Warren, he just takes his money to the bank and pays by cheque.’

    Bingo! That the transaction goes strictly ‘on record and can be traced back to source’ seemed of no concern whatsoever. In my view, only governments want to keep all cash dealings on record. If someone wants to keep his spare cash under his bed why shouldn’t he – why should he have keep it in a bank? If he wants to keep the buying of his new car private why can’t he?

    Not added much to the technical debate but is kind of a ‘hands-on’ example of what’s being talked about.

  3. Yes John governments love control, partly for taxation reasons -but mostly just for the sake of control. Power for its own sake.