Few people realize that governments and banks no longer believe that your money belongs to you. The world is deep in debt and what money a person thinks they have could, at some point, simply be confiscated, the moment it goes into a bank account. Whilst it is true that, for the majority of people, a trip to the bank to make a withdrawal is a simple process, there may soon come a time when the banks decide that ordinary people cannot simply withdraw their money without providing a good reason, as customers of HSBC recently discovered.
HSBC Bank quietly made a change to their policy in November 2013. Customers were not told about this change but they are beginning to find out about it now; withdrawals of large amounts are only permitted once the customer provides justification for needing the funds. This is being done in the name of protecting the customer from fraudulent transactions. “we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimise [sic] the opportunity for financial crime.” HSBC says. “We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account.” The bank stated, additionally, that it may require customers to provide “evidence” of what the money will be used for.
Stephen Cotton attempted to withdraw £7,000, a little over $11,500, from his HSBC account in the United Kingdom. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 program Money Box, he recounted how staff at the branch refused to allow him to withdraw the money without an explanation of why he needed it, in addition to proof. In this case, Mr. Cotton intended to repay a loan from his mother. The bank demanded he produce a letter from her, verifying this. Cotton then found himself in the position of haggling with staff over how much he could actually withdraw; finally, he was allowed to take out £3,000.
This was not an isolated case. The truly disturbing aspect of these incidents, however, is that HSBC is not being honest about the reason behind its new policy. Customers are always required to produce identification when making a withdrawal; were the bank skeptical about the true identity of the individual attempting to withdraw funds and concerned that the withdrawal might be fraudulent, it would surely not even allow the individual to take out even $100 – or $50. The real reason behind such policies is that banks – and the governments that control them through regulation – do not believe that private citizens actually have any right to claim that the money in question belongs to them. According to a BBC News report, Douglas Carswell, a British Conservative Member of Parliament, says that such regulation of banks “…basically infantilises [sic] the customer. In a sense your money becomes pocket money and the bank becomes your parent.”
In reality, private citizens are being conditioned to believe that, once their money is in the bank, it really no longer belongs to them and they do not have the right to simply withdraw as much as they want, anytime they choose. If there were ever a better argument for American citizens to retain the right to keep and bear arms, it is difficult to think of.
Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, is credited with once pointing out that the problem with Socialism is that, eventually, “you run out of other people’s’ money.” The truth of this has been proven over and over again and, as Europe and North America sink further into debt, as a result of burgeoning government spending on social welfare programs, public-sector employee pensions and benefits, as well massive corruption and misuse of public funds, governments are seeking to shore up their financial positions by appropriating what money private citizens still retain after taxes. Nations facing bankruptcy have to find more money somewhere. In the United States, the policy has been to simply print more and more money which, of course, devalues all dollars in circulation. The unavoidable end result of this policy is massive inflation which is, in reality, a tax on every individual. Other nations, such as Cyprus, have already made the decision that they can simply take a percentage of the money deposited in the accounts of private citizens. In 2013, European Finance Ministers gave the go-ahead for the Cypriot government to levy private bank accounts up to almost 10 percent, as a condition to a financial bailout.
The printing of money – ingeniously termed “quantitative easing” – pumps money into the financial system which, in turn, artificially boosts the stock markets. The fact that, in the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has recently hit record highs bears no relation to an improving economy – since the US economy is not, by any indication, improving – but, rather, is a direct result of money-printing. Ultimately, therefore, only the wealthiest benefit from such policies, whilst everyone else struggles with an ever-increasing cost of living. The economy enters a downward spiral as companies lay off more employees, leading to fewer and fewer people participating in – and contributing to – economic activity. In the United States, an increasing number of Americans are now living in poverty – more than 47 million; a similar number now receive food stamps, paid for with money that has no real value; more than 19 million people are no longer in the labor force, which allows the government to pretend that unemployment is falling, since they no longer count these people in the statistics; no longer in the labor force is not the same thing as officially “unemployed.”
Additionally, median household income has declined every year since 2007, according to figures from the US Census ACS data. It is worth noting that, whilst President Barack Obama and his supporters continue to insist that United States’ latest economic woes began under his predecessor, the downward trend has continued every year of Obama’s term in office, despite massively increased government spending which, the nation was promised, would stimulate the economy and put the country back on track. Claims that the problems were of someone else’s making ring hollow when one’s own actions continue to make those problems worse and even more unsolvable.
In the five years that Barack Obama has been President of the United States, the US national debt has risen by some 6.7 trillion dollars, compared to a rise of around 4.9 trillion during the eight years of George W. Bush’s Presidency. Ultimately, there must come a time when nations such as China decide that they are unwilling – or unable – to lend the US any additional money; at that point, further printing of dollars will immediately lead to unthinkable rates of inflation and the federal government will have no choice but to acquire dollars from other sources. America is the depository for much of the gold currently in existence, above ground. Much of that gold, however, belongs – in theory – to other nations. Germany has already requested that its gold be repatriated but the Federal Reserve has been unable to hand it all over. The truth is, every nation’s gold reserves have been traded over and over again, on paper, and it is virtually impossible, now, to determine who’s gold belongs to who.
World governments, collectively, are in debt to the tune of almost $54 trillion. The US national debt is now $17.3 trillion; the United Kingdom owes just short of $2 trillion; China, $2.4 trillion; Germany, $2.8 trillion. US debt, as demonstrated by these numbers, is staggering and completely unsustainable. Every American should be truly terrified every time they hear a politician arguing against spending cuts.
With no ability to continue to print money, no gold reserves to sell and no more loans, the United States government will – at some future time – have no other choice but to confiscate the wealth of private citizens. For the wise private citizen, credit unions, coffee jars or mattresses may become the depository of choice for his or her hard-earned dollars. One should think carefully before filling out that next deposit slip; unless government spending, borrowing and printing are not severely curtailed, there may well come a time when the money you put in the bank may no longer belong to you.
Editorial by Graham J Noble