Under Suspicion

Stumbled across another lamentable sign of our times the other day.

Like most American safety innovations this is one more hoop seemingly designed to frustrate simple living. No, better, constructed and implemented to show the public that our praetorians remain vigilant.

And misguided nonetheless.

Visiting the bank because a bill needed paying, and despite ease and access of paying from home or mobile device, I prefer heaving my physical presence into a mortar and bricks building in order help keep human beings employed, one of the remaining tellers informed me that such cash transactions now required displaying ID.

I failed handling the news with aplomb. That said my hot response seemed perfectly suited for the cool imbecility presented.

The impetus behind this measure was one more intended to thwart money laundering. Sure. Drug cartels and terrorist cells could be funding their operations with any and every fifty buck cash payment. Goes to reason. Enough of those transactions daily and it amounts to serious money. Over a decade or two.

Doesn’t grandma make a perfect mule? Who’d suspect some gray-haired old lady looking to settle last month’s credit card bill of secretly bolstering a criminal organization with that remittance? The bank which issued her card? The same who already has record of her purchases? No doubt her renewal to Cat Fancy is merely a clever ruse that contributes to “the bad guys.”

Or the rare child whose parents seek instilling early financial discipline and responsibility by having him or her deposit a portion of afterschool earnings or allowance into an account. A deposit slip alone no longer suffices accompanying that 20 or 30 dollars he or she slides across to the teller. Now the transaction demands the depositor proves him- or herself. Hopefully the kid has a debit card so the PIN can be keyed in or else there’d better be some form of government issued verification. A vouching parent or guardian just won’t do. After all they also could be in on “it.”

Of course the above is absurd. Made further so by exaggeration, though not by much.

Here is the state into which our current security mania has devolved: tracking every dollar in order to ascertain whether that money has been honestly acquired and is intended for legitimate purposes.

Isn’t this the sort of overbearing vigilance the former Soviet security apparatus once practiced?

Fourth of July is a fine time to write about this recent banking procedure. After all, Americans have overreacted so much since last decade’s attack to make the Founders slap their foreheads and spin in their graves.

The Colonists actually fought against the impositions we today willingly accept. Our acquiescence should make us ask why, indeed, did our forbearers shake off the Crown’s yoke if only we today bend beneath unnecessary burdens of our own devising?

Settling bills with cash won’t fund worldwide terrorism. The nation already has plenty of safeguards installed to prevent questionable transactions. At least on the everyday level. And what’s more everyday than discharging the cable bill?

This newest hurdle won’t impede illegal or criminal dealings. However, like measures imposed upon airline travelers, it will transform the immense majority of banking customers into suspects the same way our security theater has turned nearly every air passenger into a suspect.

How did we all become probable felons? Have Americans become so cowed that the indignity of these affronts upon our persons are accepted because nebulous, at best, fears request our kowtowing to them?

While no credible threats exist government asks we nonetheless yield and submit to individually minor depreciations of our character. Over time these sorts of mindlessly obeyed intrusions devalue us through numbing accumulation.

The hindrances at the security sluice, and now teller window, prevent next to nothing. All these procedures create are nuisances and inconveniences for honest people. In truth, haven’t those malefactors dedicated to disrupting our world developed evasive methods almost moments after government announced its newest safeguards?

Most of these safety techniques only impinge our lives. Meaning, indeed, the terrorists have won.