To: Brett Arends
Re: 10 Reasons I'm Cancelling My Credit Cards
July 10, 2011

Good article!

The year is 1979, and I am a graduate student from India working one summer at the DOE in Washington DC on a project to build a special purpose database system for the US government to help it track individuals within the United States. The credit card industry (which barely existed at the the time) had been identified as a mechanism to provide financial transaction data, and frequent but loose identity verification, of individuals, in spite of resistance to a national identity card system. They eventually decided relational database systems were getting good enough to carry all the data and provide significantly enhanced query capabilities over any special purpose DB.

Do I believe the credit card industry is government supported? Do I believe the government has an interest in ditching cash? Do I believe the US government wants to track you, and does? Do I believe that the US government wants all transactions to go through financial instituitions with KYC (know your customer) rules, is terrified of letting them fail, and will do almost anything to prevent it? You can bet I do!

These days it is almost impossible to conduct ANY significant financial transaction in the US without disclosing either your Social Security number, or a credit card number. The US has detailed information on practically every individual's behaviour, and those that do manage to opt out are treated like criminals. The US hardly needs an identity card, you have to prove your identity so often that even if you fake one, you can be tracked by your fake identity because it would be very difficult for you to generate that many fake identities, as well as keep them separate.

PS to all reading this: Do you know it is rumored that Mikhail Gorbachev got access to an unlimited American Express card prior to the fall of the Soviet Union?