Louisiana cemented itself as the most privacy unfriendly state in the union when it passed a bill last week banning the use cash in all secondhand transactions. The shocking move is both a blow to financial privacy and the right to hold personal wealth. It’s the latest in a string of troubling moves by banks and lawmakers to strip financial freedom from hardworking Americans.
With the passage of House Bill 195, the State of Louisiana has banned the use of cash in all transactions involving secondhand goods. State representative Ricky Hardy, a co-author of the bill, claims that the bill targets criminals who traffic in stolen goods. In order to catch a handful of criminals, he reasons, the entire population must lose the basic right to financial privacy and the management of their own wealth.
According to Hardy, “It’s a mechanism to be used so the police department has something to go on and have a lead.”
The bill prohibits cash transactions by “secondhand dealers,” which include garage sales, flea markets, resellers of specialty items, and even non-profit resellers like Goodwill.
Curiously, it specifically exempts pawnbrokers from the ban. Yet pawn shops are notorious as places that criminals frequent to convert stolen goods into quick cash.
The bizarre set of measures seem deliberately designed to obscure the real purpose of the bill.
As lawyer Thad Ackel notes, the bill requires:
. . . secondhand dealers to turn over a valuable business asset, namely, their business’ proprietary client information. For every transaction a secondhand dealer must obtain the seller’s personal information such as their name, address, driver’s license number and the license plate number of the vehicle in which the goods were delivered. They must also make a detailed description of the item(s) purchased and submit this with the personal identification information of every transaction to the local policing authorities through electronic daily reports. If a seller cannot or refuses to produce to the secondhand dealer any of the required forms of identification, the secondhand dealer is prohibited from completing the transaction.
It becomes clear that the aim of the bill is not to aid law enforcement in catching criminals, none of whom would be ever stupid enough to turn over such information.
The real intent is to feed the government’s insatiable hunger for tax revenues by completely stripping law-abiding citizens of financial privacy in secondhand transactions.
By doing this, every detail of every transaction can be fed directly into police files.
This troubling development in Louisiana parallels the intensification of the war on cash by the Federal government.
Last month it was reported that the U.S. Justice Department ordered bank employees to snitch on customers who withdrew $5,000 or more.
In a speech, assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell called on banks to “alert law enforcement authorities about the problem” so that police can “seize the funds” or at least “initiate an investigation”.
The move is a troubling blow to freedom and carelessly strips law-abiding citizens of hard won rights.