Every Federal Reserve note claims, “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” But who are you going to believe, a blend of cotton and linen, or the Louisiana House of Representatives?
The House has identified the enemy, and it is cash. To save us all from this horror they’ve taken the first step to rid us of its destructive presence by arbitrarily outlawing its heinous use. House Bill 195 makes it illegal to use cash when buying or selling used goods… at least in most cases.
Buy or sell second hand goods at a garage sale, Goodwill, or through Craigslist and you’ll be required to use credit cards, checks or money orders. Go to a jewelry store and keep the cash in your pocket, but go to a pawn shop and cash will do. See? It makes perfect sense so far.
And as if it’s not bad enough that your can’t use cash at the flea market to buy that beaded macramé plant holder you’ve been eyeing, you’ll also be required to provide personal data such as your name, address, driver’s license number and, when applicable, your license plate number. This information will be transmitted to the state authorities and here lies the rub.
In these hard economic times the state is squeezing our opportunities to make a little extra, legal money. Consider the predicament of small business, such as the Pioneer Trading Post in Lafayette that makes its living dealing in “unique second hand items.” I’m not completely losing my mind over the House making my grandmother buy a card reader to sell sock monkeys, old slacks and painted crockery at her Saturday garage sale. But I could over the implication that they are making: that we are all crooks, and this is how they can help the police bring down our neighborhood black markets.
I’m well aware that people steal and sell things like televisions and copper, but there are measures in place to stop these activities that don’t paint us all with the same brush. For years, pawn shops have been required to collect data from customers as do those buying copper. I’m all for giving the police the tools necessary to protect us and our property, but to do so at the expense of personal and economic freedom and privacy, I say we crossed the line that takes us right off of the pages of the Constitution. Or as Ben Franklin put it, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”