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Old 26th January 2012, 01:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cash for Scrap metal banned

Has anyone noticed a change in the law that has been proposed:Scrap metal laws to be tightened to tackle theft
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Cash payments for scrap metal would be banned, as they led to "anonymous, low-risk transactions" for thieves and meant "poor record keeping" within the industry, Mrs May said.
I understand why they want to try to address the problem of metal theft but I worry that this is the beginning of the phasing out of cash altogether. Afterall, a distinguishing feature of cash as a means of payment is that it is anonymous and therefore going to be the preferred modus operandi for criminal transactions. So don't the above reasons apply to banning cash transactions for anything else? Wouldn't it be better for crime prevention in general if the use of cash were banned altogether?

If so, is this something we should be worried about?
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Old 26th January 2012, 01:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Not really. While it's true that cash is widely used in the black economy, it's also very important in the real economy (where there's less of a problem: the big high street retailers tend to look to corporate schemes to avoid paying tax, for example).

Given the widespread anger at the recent attempts to abolish the cheque**, I don't think any government would want to face the furore (and possible loss of votes) that trying to ban cash would bring.


Frankly, given the disruption caused by the stealing of cables*** and the upset caused by stealing war memorials, getting some sort of a grip on scrap dealers is the least that can be done.



** - *shakes a fist at the Post Office*

*** - This is far from new. In its early days, Mercury (as was) suffered quite a lot of problems when their fibre optic cables were damaged by people thinking they were copper cabling. The example I heard of was fibre being stolen from railway rights of way in the North East of England.
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Old 26th January 2012, 02:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Does anybody know if there are other commodities that cash transaction have been banned for or is this the first?

Either way I think it could be a slippery slope. I don't imagine for one moment that the government is poised to dispense with cash in one fell swoop but the pretext of fighting crime could be used to ban cash transactions for many other commodities. Once you have a precedent, particularly if this is seen to be successful, it will be quite easy to extend it to other commodities.

And of course, the more things that you can't use cash for, the more it ceases to be what it is supposed to be: money; a medium of exchange. And the less claim cash has on being actual money, the smaller the step will be to banning it altogether.
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Old 26th January 2012, 02:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

What's this about a cash-strapped metal band? Is this another effect of music piracy?
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Old 26th January 2012, 02:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Eh banning cash wouldn't stop the criminal element - they'd just shift to using transaction methods that allow for more anonymous payment methods. Heck they could simply open and close accounts under false details if needed and transfer the money around. Heck do it enough times and you make a massive papertrail to bog down the police.


Personally I think the main drive to stopping cash would be so that everyones money has to be tied up in the banks or in investments. Keeping the banks from being closed down and also preventing a rush on the banks should they have any future accidents. Since you can't demand your money if there isn't any

But honestly money as cash is still widely in use; even though I hardly use the stuff myself I'd hate to be left in a situation without it. 20 in the pocket lets me pay cabby or train fair (well provided I only want to go one stop away -- shakes paw at rail prices!) or heck any market stall.
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Old 26th January 2012, 02:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Dancing around money laundering regulations and opening multiple bank accounts just to allow you to sell scrap metal probably comes under the heading of more trouble that it's worth.

The idea seems to be, make life difficult enough to deter the opportunist thieves looking for quick cash. The large scale organisations can be tackled with other means. Of course the opportunists will now switch to stealing something else.
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Old 26th January 2012, 03:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

I've seen what your talking about done here in the states, but with checks not cash, and by the retailers not the government.
when "your check's in the mail" and writing bad checks became all too common ways to duck out of actually paying, and when debit cards started making using a pen oh so inconvenient, checks started going out of style. starting at the top and trickling down (the only kind of tickle down I have ever seen with money trends is how to spend, not actual cash flow) through restaurants and boutiques paying with check started becomeing not an option. card or cash is the way to go now.
so you cant write a check at the grocery store on Saturday night secure in the thought that it wont be cashed till Monday afternoon, you run your card or the computer scans your check and talks to the bank's computer and your money is withdrawn just as if you had run your card. No need to burn old unused check books that you had to pay for, no need to ask every clerk you check out with what the date is, no need to sign your name to what you purchase (unless your card is credit). makes spending money easier and more anonymous feeling.
but since the grocery store is tracking my purchases so that it can spit out useful coupons for me, and my bank is tracking my purchases so that if I suddenly start spending all my money they will freeze my account till I call and tell them that "no my card hasn't been stolen, I'm trying to go broke" there by protecting me from identity theft. I dont think that even cash would let a body buy and sell anonymously any more.

Do I think they are trying to do a way with cash? sure, but it wont happen. People like cash, you can see it and touch it. cant do that with virtual money (not that paper and coin money is any less imaginary). even though its mostly worthless and the fedral government here doesnt do anything to stop the "crime" of distroying it, they cant get ride of the penny because the few times its come up for vote the people go in an uproar "NOT OUR PENNY! HOW WILL WE BUY THINGS FOR $4.99?? WE WILL HAVE TO PAY $5 FOR IT!!" and then go back to putting them on railway rails or into those machines that will make a souvenir out of it for 50cents, to vacuuming them up and letting them litter the streets because they are not worth picking up if you drop them.
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Old 26th January 2012, 04:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Actually, unless something changed, most of the big supermarkets over here have also forced a stop on any cheques - they simply won't take them any more.

That said I'm not too sad to see the end of cheques, I can certainly see how in a world with debit and credit cards as well as cold hard cash, that the cheque was becoming less and less useful. Most places now prefer to wire you money via direct bank transfer whilst most shops would prefer large payments in a card or cash - cause a cheque can so easily bounce.
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Old 26th January 2012, 04:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

I think we are heading towards the end of physical cash, though it'll be a long time going. But it may be that a form of digital cash will replace it (which already exists on the internet) if a universal system can be established.

The anonymity of cash is an important freedom and I'm sure governments around the world would like nothing better than to abolish it, but as has been pointed out, economies depend on small cash purchases as much as bigger card purchases and they won't put those at risk.

I don't think this particular measure has any ulterior motive. The recent upsurge in metal theft - particularly cable theft - is a very real problem, and can have, especially when it's from railways, dire consequences, so I can understand the desire to address it. Whether this measure will have any real effect, though, is another matter.
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Old 26th January 2012, 10:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Government won't be able to do away with "real" money until they can fully decide how the digital world is going to work. Already there is the major problem that digital based goods are so easily devalued next to physical goods and also very easily copied and re-distributed.

Next to that you've peoples own personal freedoms - people who want to be able to share and treat their digital goods just like physical goods - and then mixed along you've got those who want to abuse the system.


They'll have to sort all that out before they can shift our main economy toward it. However chances are the world will move faster than government; convenience inventions will overtake.
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Old 26th January 2012, 11:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Cash for strap metal banned?

Perhap's people will clasp on to it in future?
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Old 27th January 2012, 12:20 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

I think the key thing that distinguishes the scrap metal market from other markets, and so makes Fried Egg's slippery slope worries less of a concern, is that there's no evidence trail with scrap metal transactions made using cash - because, of course, you just melt down the war memorial plaque, or copper cables, and then there's no evidence of the original (illegal) source. If there's a requirement for a paper trail in terms of the payments, this provides at least some hope of the police being able to trace forwards from those who steal the stuff to those who buy it off them.

However, as the British Metal Recycling Association have said, the potential problem with the proposed ban on cash transactions is that it may simply drive them underground to unlicensed scrappies. We'll see...

Last edited by Patrick Mahon; 27th January 2012 at 12:21 AM. Reason: Edited for typo!
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Old 27th January 2012, 12:29 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

It isn't as if you can hide a scrapyard. Okay, I suppose someone could let it be known to the thieves that there's going to be a container waiting somewhere for a short period of time, but at least those sort of dealers won't be able to say that they were mistaken about the source of the stuff.

There will always be crime, and a lot of it will go unpunished, but the least we can do is to make it as difficult for the thieves to operate as we can (without going all draconian).
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Old 27th January 2012, 10:00 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

personally I say make it too easy for thieves to operate and they will stop.
what drove MegaMind to create Titan? the vacuum of power that made it all to easy for him to be a villain.
I think that the levels of crime would fall dramatically if it was too easy and too petty to commit crime. You would lose all the criminals in it for the thrill and be left with just the few who are committing crimes to survive.
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Old 27th January 2012, 10:02 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Cash for Strap metal banned

Completely unrelated to the issue of scrap metal but here is another government attack on "cash" in the Telegraphy today: Paying cash in hand is 'diddling the country', says HMRC's Dave Hartnett.

This is about tax evasion but it's clear the governments don't like cash much these days. Ultimately they don't like the fact that it can change hands without them knowing about it. I'm convinced that it's days are numbered. Governments have always been intent on increasing their control of the money supply. They will not hesitate to make any changes they can that gives them more control of it and how it is used, if they think they can get away with it.

I just wonder whether some form of black market currency would emerge in the absense of an officially sanctioned cash.
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