To be fair, Mr. Libertarian brought up questions regarding tracking and practicality, but at the end of the interview he lets slip that he doesn't give a shit about electronic money as such: he just doesn't want the government to do it. Anna Maria Tremonti is no Eleanor Wachtel but maybe her producers - Pacinthe Mattar and Shannon Higgins - could have put her together with guys who don't worry about Sweden turning into Nazi Germany or North Korea. Particular complaints about this show broaden into a complaint about the program as a whole: interviews are too credulous, guests can often be marginal and agenda-driven, and what The Current tries to get done with two competing viewpoints is often ably handled by the As It Happens crew interviewing the right person. If you require the examination of Sweden to make your points about digital currency - presumably there are people at the Royal Canadian Mint to speak to about it - there are Swedish people right there in Sweden with some political pull who might have a handle on both the technology and privacy issues.
Moaning about the show aside, digital currency is interesting. After Debt it's hard not to view cash with suspicion: it can be kindly viewed nowadays as a tool for resource distribution but of course various manipulations of the tool - rent-seeking and bricks to the head for instance - can cause distortions in distribution that kill people. Even without the bricks. Is digital money going to be better or worse for an equitable society? Is it being adopted for cost-savings? Why are those cost-savings necessary? Are legions of dumbass security guys necessary for you to transfer $60 000 held in your cell phone? What if you walk too near a magnet with your digital money? Will this make people go even more bananas about precious metals? Will minor illegal transactions like buying drugs be possible? Can swap meets at the rec centre be held without electronic payments involved? Can you sell tomatoes out of a truck by the side of the road? Will giving your grandson $100 for his birthday be monitored as a taxable benefit? Will it be possible to throw a buck to the guy begging outside the liquor store or does he need a USB drive? Can people rob you via Bluetooth?
Mr. Consult Hyperion has a pretty readable blog even if the main page is too spartan for its own good. On it, this:
The headline of this NYT article sums up the frustrations of a lot of people. I was talking to my son about some sort of party that he's organising with some friends. They're hiring a hall and having some local bands play - they've done this kind of thing before. The whole thing is being organised on FaceBook and he asked me why he could send money to his friends through FaceBook as well. I don't have an answer. He doesn't use PayPal, doesn't have a cheque book, has a debit card but some of his friends don't have bank accounts (and in any case he doesn't know their account numbers). I told him to use PingIt, but he can't install PingIt on his iPhone because it's been jailbroken. What he wants is a stored-value account linked to his FaceBook profile, that he can load from his debit card and send money instantly to any of his FaceBook friends. Surely it's only a matter of time.Yes, what I require is that the good folks at FaceBook know when I transfer money from person to person. THEY'LL be protective of my privacy.
It's worth following the link to the RCM's contest page: the winners receive their prize in gold.
I should probably link to this other CBC item about a movement to make Sweden cashless.