Re: The Economy Of Plenty

Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 14:37:38 -0700

James North quotes:
> from Mouse Monitor, sept. 1997 by Robert E. Bauman: "The US
> Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
> on May 21, in a little-noticed rule proposal, began the government's
> take-over of all forms of electronic and digital cash in America.
> For the first time the US government asserted direct control over
> all so-called financial "stored value systems," defined as "...funds
> or monetary value represented in digital format (whether or not
> encrypted) and stored, or capable of storage, on electronic
> to be retrievable and transferable electronically." (Official text
> at ) This definition covers so-called
> "smart cards", online Internet banking and any other cash transactions
> in electronic form."

"asserted direct control"? Talk is cheap. How do they intend
to enforce this direct control?

I guess they could do it if they repeal the First and Fourth
Amendments to the US Constitution.

Digital cash works like this: Alice escrows a stack of copper ingots
with Trent, and they agree on a number. Alice wants to be able to
give the stack of copper ingots to some other party without having
to fetch them back from Trent, so Trent and Alice agree that Trent
will surrender the copper ingots to anyone who presents the number.

Later on, Bob gives Alice several bushels of wheat, and in
exchange Alice tells Bob the number. Later on, Bob goes to
Trent, shows him that he knows the number, and Trent gives him
the copper ingots.

This is the essentials, working on the honor system. The rest of
the complex details of digital cash are just mathematical arrangements
to ensure that no one involved can cheat any of the other
parties. But if everyone were honest, then the above scenario
would be fundamentally the same as any digital cash system.
It's just barter with an added layer of written conversation.

Anyway, I think that FINCEN's statement is just propagandistic
talk intended to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, and to
scare non-cryptologists away from using digital cash schemes
that the government hasn't approved of. And the US Federal
government, so far, has shown no signs of approving any digital
cash implementation that it can't break when it wants to cheat.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, folks.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd