When I was a kid in the late 1970s, I bought a copy of the mega-seller The Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey’s end-times book. I had not been raised with any of those ideas. They set my brain on fire. Eventually the fire burned out, but after I became a serious adult Christian, I realized that the predictions in the Book of Revelation are not fanciful, or the province of TV evangelist types, but are meant to be taken seriously by the entire people of God. In other words, though I no longer believed in the Rapture, or read the newspaper as I did when I was twelve, looking for signs of the End, I still needed to take seriously the prophecies of the End of Days.
I specifically remember back then, as a kid, wondering how the so-called “Mark of the Beast” would work. In Revelation 13, the “Beast” is the name for Satan’s regent, a man who will lead a world government. There are two beasts in the prophecy, one serving the other. St. John writes (Rev 13:16-17):
And the second beast required all people small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark — the name of the beast or the number of its name.
That made little sense to a kid in the late 1970s. How could any government control whether or not people can buy or sell? Even back then, I was smart enough to know that with cash, there is always the possibility of an unofficial economy. About the “mark of the beast,” I recall today that the Evangelicals I read in 1979-80 were talking about literal marks on one’s forehead or hand, or maybe microchips. Maybe so, but I read more recently that the Romans would tattoo slaves on the hand or the forehead, so they could never, ever be free. They would always be recognized as slaves. It seems to me that the prophecy might be interpreted as symbolizing becoming slave to a global system.
I try not to spend too much time thinking about that stuff. End Times speculation is a rabbit hole. I spent way too much time in my late adolescence reading those books and thinking about that stuff. I believe that one of these days, there will be an actual End Times scenario, but I also believe that it’s way too easy to get lost in fevered speculation about it, and ruin your spiritual life.
Nevertheless, when I read things like this White House press release from the other day, it all comes back, bigtime. Here’s how it starts:
President Biden often summarizes his vision for America in one word: Possibilities. A “digital dollar” may seem far-fetched, but modern technology could make it a real possibility.
A United States central bank digital currency (CBDC) would be a digital form of the U.S. dollar. While the U.S. has not yet decided whether it will pursue a CBDC, the U.S. has been closely examining the implications of, and options for, issuing a CBDC. If the U.S. pursued a CBDC, there could be many possible benefits, such as facilitating efficient and low-cost transactions, fostering greater access to the financial system, boosting economic growth, and supporting the continued centrality of the U.S. within the international financial system. However, a U.S. CBDC could also introduce a variety of risks, as it might affect everything ranging from the stability of the financial system to the protection of sensitive data.
Notably, these benefits and risks might vary significantly based on how the CBDC system is designed and deployed. That is why Executive Order 14067, Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets, placed the highest urgency on research and development efforts into the potential design and deployment options of a U.S. CBDC. The Executive Order directed the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in consultation with other Federal departments and agencies, to submit to the President a technical evaluation for a potential U.S. CBDC system.
Today, OSTP is publishing its report, Technical Evaluation for a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency System, which lays out policy objectives for a potential U.S. CBDC system and analyzes key technical design choices for a U.S. CBDC system. The report also estimates the technical feasibility of building a CBDC minimum viable product and describes how a U.S. CBDC system might affect Federal operations. The report makes recommendations on how to prepare the Federal Government for a U.S. CBDC system. Importantly, the report does not make any assessments or recommendations about whether the U.S. should pursue a CBDC, nor does it make any decisions regarding particular design choices for a potential U.S. CBDC system.
A CBDC would mean that the US Government controlled all transactions in this country, digitally. The press release goes on to say that the government would still try to preserve a role for cash. Don’t you believe it. The government understands perfectly well that if it has the power to control every financial transaction in this country, that it can require all who wish to buy or sell to conform, or be cast out of the economy. This is how we are going to get an American version of China’s social credit system. If the US Government decides that you are a “threat to democracy” because of your political views, your religious beliefs, or anything at all, all it will take is the push of one button, and you will be a non-person, unable to buy or sell.
This is not paranoia. This is the truth. We already see a version of this at work in China.
From a different US Government document outlining policy objectives of the CBDC:
The CBDC system should support payments to and from the public sector and equity-advancing initiatives, such as the administration of social safety net programs. However, use of the CBDC system should not be mandated. Offline capability should be incorporated, and the role of cash should be preserved.
Again, don’t believe for a second that they will preserve the role of cash. The temptation to power and control is too great. Since “equity-advancing” is to be a key part of this, what happens when Washington policymakers decide that people should pay different prices for goods based on their race? Don’t think for a second that they won’t do this. Elites have already absorbed the illiberal progressive view that justice requires discriminating on the basis of race and other unchosen factors.
You will not be able to use your CBDC account to buy goods or services that the government decides are not sufficiently green. You will not be able to use your CBDC account to buy goods or services from vendors that “violate human rights,” according to the US Government’s definition of same. Under this administration, this is the government that has raised people like Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, pictured below at the gym he co-owns (featuring a blasphemous Satanic Last Supper window), to a senior position:
Do you really believe an administration that raises someone like this, and Sam Brinton, and Rachel Levine:
… would hesitate to use the immense power of the CBDC to punish dissenters — all in the name of defending “human rights”? Of course they wouldn’t! As conservative as I am, I would absolutely refuse this tyrannical power over anyone — even Daskalakis, Levine, and Brinton. It is certain to be abused — and those who deploy it will tell themselves that they are using it for the sake of Good. We are keeping the homophobes and transphobes from buying or selling. We are keeping the racists from buying or selling. We are keeping those who would destroy our democracy from buying or selling.
Think of the control this gives the state. Think of how it will be able to enforce conformity by holding ultimate economic power over the American people, at the most intimate level. Imagine going to the grocery store to buy milk, and being told that you can’t, because the government has de-activated your card. When you ask the government why, they tell you that it was recorded that you went to a bookstore last year and bought some titles that have now been ruled “subversive” and “anti-democratic.”
“But they were on sale,” you protest. “They were legal then.”
“That may be,” replies the bureaucrat. “But they are illegal now, and presumably you still have them on your shelf. Because you bought them with your CBDC card, we have a digital record of that purchase. The algorithm now judges that because you bought those books, you are an untrustworthy person. Now, if you would like to restore your social credit, there is a procedure. It’s going to require you bringing those books to the nearest Democracy, Equity, and Inclusion office, as a first step. May I help you get started?”
You don’t have to be a Christian or an End Times believer to recognize that a CBDC would represent totalitarian tyranny. Being able to control whether or not people in a country can buy or sell is the ultimate ring of power. You would not need to have a formal police state if the algorithm compels people to police themselves so they can earn their daily bread. You would not need to have a formal police state if the government could steal your entire savings with the push of a button, if they declare you an Enemy of the State.
The CBDC is how we all become slaves to the system. The Chinese central bank is already experimenting with this, with the “digital yuan.” Other central banks may follow. Read the documents from the Biden administration. It makes a lot of sense from the point of view of efficiency. But it is a trap. If the United States ever adopts a CBDC system, liberty is over. Here’s a speech by one of the Federal Reserve governors who is skeptical of a CBDC, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.” His point is that there is no practical need for such an instrument. So why do it? I’ll tell you: centralizing power.
Take a look at this CNBC explainer about digital currencies. Note that the way it works is that you will have to use your phone to generate a QR code to buy things. Note also that the US will be under pressure from China and other countries whose central banks are well on the way down this road.