France will soon be monitoring social media accounts to catch suspected tax evaders. The endeavor could label anyone as suspicious who so much as posts a “taxation is theft” meme or a poses with a nice car. The country’s budget minister, Gérald Darmanin, called the court-approved experiment ‘one more tool to fight fraud.’ Exemplified by this move toward dystopian financial surveillance is the economic elephant in the room: fiat monetary systems are not only broken, inefficient, and financially unsound, they’re also immoral.
Also Read: Crypto’s Counterpunch to U.S. Hegemony and Empire
No Means No, Except When It’s the State
Every ethical transaction between peaceful humans involves informed consent. From romance to retail, exchanges that are forcefully perpetrated on another individual without agreement are rightfully identified as violent. Should your local department store charge you for an item you don’t want, and then leverage violence to obtain that “fee,” they’d be shut down in a heartbeat. Should someone in relationship demand access to your body against your will, that relationship is clearly abusive and should be ended immediately.
Why then, when it comes to governments and money, is there a kind of shut off switch in people’s brains regarding morality? After all, when the government demands taxes to pay for a war or shoddy service one doesn’t even want, they do so with very real and credible threats of violence. Don’t wish to support a war killing innocent people? Too bad. Pay your taxes or end up in prison. Resist your kidnapping and end up dead. Local police department brutalizing people? Well, too bad. Support them or be extorted for said support. Wish to make a competing currency? Nope, try again. You need the permission of the rulers to do that.
When it comes to state money, commonly known as fiat currency, competition is not allowed. We must use fiat currencies non-consensually, or see our ability to survive and thrive in the world severely mitigated, or even cut off altogether. Crypto is much different. People may use various cryptos as they please, or not. Competition is allowed and even encouraged when it comes to these currencies, and there’s generally no caging, kidnapping or other violence threatened by developers. In this sense, bitcoin can be seen as a currency of consent, where the creepy, overbearing, violent monetary designs of the state are already outdated, inefficient, and most critically, immoral.
French Government to Trawl Social Media
As noted above, the French constitutional court has recently green-lighted a three-year ‘experiment’ to the end of combating tax fraud, which gives tax officials legal power to incorporate monitoring of publicly shared social media in attempts to stop tax evasion. The implementation is part of 2020 budget considerations, and budget minister Gérald Darmanin took to Twitter Saturday to praise the ruling, saying the trawling of people’s Facebook and Instagram accounts is ‘one more tool to fight fraud.’
When the idea was being discussed last year, Darmanin mused to local TV media that tax officials:
…will be able to see that if you have numerous pictures of yourself with a luxury car while you don’t have the means to own one, then maybe your cousin or your girlfriend has lent it to you, or maybe not.
While monitoring of publicly disclosed data in and of itself is not violent, what makes France’s new initiative truly disturbing are the motivations. A violent fiat system demands violent enforcement. This means harassing, robbing, and even kidnapping people who although non-violent and peaceful, simply don’t wish to pay for something. The new self-described French experiment will creepily peer into people’s social media with a suspicious eye to find new victims. As Darmanin stated in an interview with newspaper Le Figaro:
If you say you’re not a fiscal resident in France and you keep posting pictures on Instagram from France, there might be an issue.
Regarding similar practices in other countries Darmanin notes that “I’d like to point out that there is nothing extraordinary here, other countries are already doing it, such as the United States or Britain since 2010 for example,” according to a November report by Reuters.
It’s a wonder what business it would be of any normal, sane person where a stranger lives and why they post pictures from France, or with a nice car, but the folks at the tax authority have made it their specific concern for financial reasons. However, even the budget ministers don’t have such a great track record when it comes to tax compliance. Only recently former budget minister Jerome Cahuzac was sentenced to two years in prison for tax fraud and money laundering himself.
The Far-Reaching Tentacles of the State
The violence of fiat doesn’t stop with fiat money. It’s cramping the potential of crypto as well. There are a great number of crypto capitalists and entrepreneurs just chomping at the bit to provide innovative and useful services to a willing and hungry market, only to be crowded out and shut down by state interests and state threats of violent law enforcement. In recent months the EU’s 5th anti-money laundering directive (AMLD5) has been in the spotlight for inspiring everything from crypto startup shut downs to restrictions on the purchase of gold. The regulatory mafia has also famously twisted major crypto service provider Coinbase’s arm, until the company was forced to divulge private customer information to the IRS of around 13,000 users, or face a possible shut down.
A common attack on crypto by regulators is that it is used for illicit purposes. But so what if it is? So is every single neutral tool under the sun. These are problems that must be dealt with, to be sure, but adding more violence to the mix can never help. The U.S. dollar is still the reigning champion by far when it comes to financing human rights abuses, anyway. The issue here is much more fundamental.
Government monetary systems and their native currencies have violence built into them at a policy level. They have economic insolvency and debt as foundational mechanisms for use. In almost every area of life people see clearly enough to rightly proclaim violations of consent are wrong, and yet money and the state get a pass. It’s time to be logically consistent, and add money to the ethical purview of this clear observation. Consent — free market exchange of crypto — is something the world wants and needs to become more independent and economically free, and this is why the state is creepily fighting tooth and nail to suppress it.
What are your thoughts on France’s proposed method for combating tax fraud? Let us know in the comments section below.
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