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Old 08-01-2009, 05:22 PM   #61
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That's weird. The last time that I tried to use a Visa card at Costco,the clerk said that they didn't accept Visa cards. Are you suggesting that the clerk was wrong?
No, I think what he was saying is that it is the case that he could use an AMEX card, indicating your statement that COSCO only takes their 'branded' card is incorrect.
When I used to shop there we also always used an Amex card. Could be that they don't accept Visa but do accept AMEX.
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:04 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Rustward View Post
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that we are all being watched -- we aren't. But once someone has been declared a "person of interest" there are many information sources available.

You are right about the unethical behavior and I agree in that I am more concerned about what is happening in plain sight.

Billion used to be a big number.
No problem. But as far as I am concerned, if the govt needs to track a "person of interest", and some of these mechanisms help them to do that, I'm all for it. Get the bad guys. I'm just not very worried if someone could track my purchases in the course of a legitimate investigation. If they are doing illegitimate investigations, then I think we have more things to worry about than our CC transactions.

Now, that assumes good checks/balances and good ethical procedures for determining who is a "person of interest". Just like we have had wire taps and search warrants for years - good things if they are after bad guys, bad things if they are violating free citizen's rights.

Oh well, looks like we have drifted pretty far off topic


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Old 08-02-2009, 07:59 AM   #63
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I'm sure the govt has a whole dept pondering the implications of my portable air compressor and salmon purchase What *is* that subversive up to?
It's not the gummint that is all that interested in you. I've worked with the FBI, Secret Service, and a couple of other three-letter agencies. They are so swamped with work they don't have time to even think about your air compressor/salmon purchase. At least, the ones I worked with on computer crime stuff were.

However, the marketeers and advertisers are very interested in that. They are thinking, "how can we get him to buy a more profitable air compressor or salmon? How can we most efficiently target this guy with advertising to get him to buy more air compressors, or failing that, how can we get him to buy every known accessory for it? Or maybe we can get his brother to buy a bigger one...."

The databases and data mining capabilities of the advertisers make the gummint's abilities look like green eye shades and a ledger book illuminated by whale oil.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:03 PM   #64
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In days of yore -- the 1970's to be exact -- I returned to the US after a stint in the Army and started graduate school as a Computer Science major (as an undergraduate I was a math major). I still remember one graduate seminar I attended. I don't remember who the speaker was; I only remember what he said. He was part of a government study with the following charter: Suppose you worked for the KGB in the Soviet Union and were tasked with the job of finding the best way of keeping track of the citizens of the USSR.

According to the speaker, the conclusion of the study was that the best way was to abolish cash and issue credits cards to everyone and force all merchants to use a "mechanized" credit card terminal that reported all transactions to the appropriate authorities. This seems damned close to what we have now in the US.

I'm not particularly anti-government or paranoid, but cash seems to be more virtuous than commonly supposed.
They could figure out a bunch more stuff about me more easily by simply hacking my facebook account. Or my email. Or ISP logs.

Security through obscurity!
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:06 PM   #65
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It's not the gummint that is all that interested in you. I've worked with the FBI, Secret Service, and a couple of other three-letter agencies. They are so swamped with work they don't have time to even think about your air compressor/salmon purchase. At least, the ones I worked with on computer crime stuff were.

However, the marketeers and advertisers are very interested in that. They are thinking, "how can we get him to buy a more profitable air compressor or salmon? How can we most efficiently target this guy with advertising to get him to buy more air compressors, or failing that, how can we get him to buy every known accessory for it? Or maybe we can get his brother to buy a bigger one...."

The databases and data mining capabilities of the advertisers make the gummint's abilities look like green eye shades and a ledger book illuminated by whale oil.
True enough. But marketers can't charge you with crimes.

Ha
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:45 PM   #66
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They could figure out a bunch more stuff about me more easily by simply hacking my facebook account. Or my email. Or ISP logs.

Security through obscurity!
I'm surprised how many people think that by mentioning the Internet they've trumped my argument. I don't have a facebook account, so nobody can deduce squat about me from my facebook account. 99.44% of my email these days consists of messages from online merchants -- with whom I've done business in the past -- who are desperate for business given the state of the economy. The evil overlords could, for example, deduce from my email that I wear shoes. I can see the conversation now:

Agent A: This Dudester guy wears shoes !!!
Agent B: We got him now !!! [evil laugh ]

Let's return to the subject of this topic -- the cashless society. If cash is abolished, then there must be some kind of replacement. The consensus of the people who've posted on this topic seems to be that credit cards will be the replacement. If everyone who buys stuff -- which is basically everyone with a few exceptions such as people in comas -- has to have a credit card, then you've got a surveillance system far superior to the Internet. I don't have to have a facebook account -- I don't want one. I don't even have to have access to the Internet. Even if I have access to the Internet, I don't have to use it. I got along just fine for most of my life without access to the Internet. The Internet doesn't make a very good surveillance system; it's not universally used.

But if I want to eat in the cashless society, I've got to have a credit card (or some equivalent from the standpoint of surveillance such as a gift card). In other words, credit cards trump the Internet (sorry Internet fanboys). And to maximize the effectiveness of credit cards as a surveillance system, the credit card has to work everywhere including Costco.
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:45 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by Dudester View Post
I'm surprised how many people think that by mentioning the Internet they've trumped my argument. I don't have a facebook account, so nobody can deduce squat about me from my facebook account. 99.44% of my email these days consists of messages from online merchants -- with whom I've done business in the past -- who are desperate for business given the state of the economy. The evil overlords could, for example, deduce from my email that I wear shoes. I can see the conversation now:

Agent A: This Dudester guy wears shoes !!!
Agent B: We got him now !!! [evil laugh ]

Let's return to the subject of this topic -- the cashless society. If cash is abolished, then there must be some kind of replacement. The consensus of the people who've posted on this topic seems to be that credit cards will be the replacement. If everyone who buys stuff -- which is basically everyone with a few exceptions such as people in comas -- has to have a credit card, then you've got a surveillance system far superior to the Internet. I don't have to have a facebook account -- I don't want one. I don't even have to have access to the Internet. Even if I have access to the Internet, I don't have to use it. I got along just fine for most of my life without access to the Internet. The Internet doesn't make a very good surveillance system; it's not universally used.

But if I want to eat in the cashless society, I've got to have a credit card (or some equivalent from the standpoint of surveillance such as a gift card). In other words, credit cards trump the Internet (sorry Internet fanboys). And to maximize the effectiveness of credit cards as a surveillance system, the credit card has to work everywhere including Costco.
I guess I don't see what your point is. Like you, the government is going to find out I buy things like shoes and food and gasoline. They've got me now!??

If you don't want to use credit cards, then don't. There will always be a black or grey market in goods. Barter. Grow your own food. Get prepaid credit cards or gift cards. So many ways to circumvent this imagined government conspiracy tracking system you have concocted.

Do you sweep your cars regularly for gps tracker devices? Are you sure your house isn't bugged and that your phone isn't tapped? You don't use an unencrypted cell phone or portable phone to talk on, do you?

I know my 4th amendment rights regarding unlawful searches and seizures. Warrantless searches and seizures that don't fall within one of the existing exceptions are excluded on 4th amendment grounds, along with all the "fruit of the poisonous tree" that follows from the illegal search/seizure.
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Old 08-03-2009, 10:06 AM   #68
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We use cash for everything that isn't online pay. The way my brain works, I have to feel the pain of spending cash to maintain a handle on it. And I do really well!
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:12 AM   #69
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I guess I don't see what your point is. Like you, the government is going to find out I buy things like shoes and food and gasoline. They've got me now!??

If you don't want to use credit cards, then don't. There will always be a black or grey market in goods. Barter. Grow your own food. Get prepaid credit cards or gift cards. So many ways to circumvent this imagined government conspiracy tracking system you have concocted.

Do you sweep your cars regularly for gps tracker devices? Are you sure your house isn't bugged and that your phone isn't tapped? You don't use an unencrypted cell phone or portable phone to talk on, do you?
One purpose of a surveillance system is to track people's whereabouts. For example, suppose Joe Blow buys some twinkies at a 7-11. From the standpoint of surveillance, the important thing may be that Joe Blow is at the 7-11, not that he bought twinkies. This seems to be a scenario that pops up on TV cop shows quite frequently. For some reason, everyone seems to think that their shopping habits is the key point. Not necessarily.

You say that you can always circumvent the system by buying a prepaid credit card. Pray tell how? Remember that we're talking about a cashless society that uses credit cards to make purchases. If I had a credit card, why would I want to buy a prepaid credit card (remember the purchase of the prepaid credit card is linked to my credit card)? Perhaps you might argue that you could barter for the prepaid card with, say, chickens. I don't see it. Why would I want to sell you something that makes your life convenient, namely a prepaid credit card, for something that makes my life inconvenient, namely chickens? Barter only works if both parties want to barter.

You ask "Do you sweep your cars regularly for gps tracker devices?" I'll answer that with a question of my own. Why would I want to bother? I've arranged my life so that I can meet almost all of my daily needs by walking. I drive my car about one or twice a month. I spend $10 to $15 on gas about every 1.5 months. It wouldn't be cost effective to put a GPS tracking device on my car. But I use my credit at least once every 2 days. Tracking my credit card would be MUCH more cost effective.

You also ask "Are you sure your house isn't bugged and that your phone isn't tapped?" The answer is that I don't have a clue. I don't care. I live alone and don't talk to myself. I also hardly ever use the phone. Bugging my condo or phone would have revealed the following facts about me:

1) I like to watch "Burn Notice" on TV
2) I ordered some blood pressure meds from the local pharmacy (this was about the only voluntary phone call I made)
3) A politician called and asked for me to vote for him in the primary
4) A lady called and asked me if I wanted to sell my time share (I don't own a time share; I have no idea why she called me)
5) I get an average of 1,456,945.3 phone calls a month in which the caller elects to not leave a message and hangs up.

Once again, bugging my domicile wouldn't be very cost effective.

Another one of your comments: "So many ways to circumvent this imagined government conspiracy tracking system you have concocted." Who said anything about the government being involved? I didn't. I'll allow that the government could be involved but not necessarily. One scenario that has always bothered me is the possibility of a health insurance provider monitoring food purchases to evaluate one's dietary habits. You eat too many doughnuts, guess what? Your health insurance premium goes up. I'm just cynical enough about the health insurance industry to find this scenario plausible.

Let's suppose the government wants to get involved in the fun. What's attractive about a credit card system that supports the cashless society? At least two things:

1) It supports much of the infrastructure functionality needed for a surveillance system.
2) The private sector pays for it. No cost to the taxpayer. Cost effective. It's kind of like the phone system. The phone companies own it, but the government gets to use it for phone taps. What a deal.

At the very minimum, there would be a strong temptation for the government to get involved if the cashless society came to pass.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:32 AM   #70
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One purpose of a surveillance system is to track people's whereabouts. For example, suppose Joe Blow buys some twinkies at a 7-11. From the standpoint of surveillance, the important thing may be that Joe Blow is at the 7-11, not that he bought twinkies.
As a law abiding citizen, I think this is great. It could be used to remove me as a suspect in a case by providing a legitimate alibi, and may help to catch the actual bad guy. What's not to like?

As I said before, if the power is being misused, we have much to fear from much simpler methods.



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One scenario that has always bothered me is the possibility of a health insurance provider monitoring food purchases to evaluate one's dietary habits. You eat too many doughnuts, guess what? Your health insurance premium goes up. I'm just cynical enough about the health insurance industry to find this scenario plausible.
You should study Occam's Razor - you keep trying to explain things with complexities rather than simplicities. My health insurance provider already has access to records on my height and weight. Ruler and scale and paper record, no high tech required. That will tell them much more than a purchase of Twinkies at 9:21 on Feb 19th, 2006. Geez, I could'a been buying them for a party rather than my own consumption. And maybe I exercise to work it off. Take off the tin foil hat.


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Let's suppose the government wants to get involved in the fun. What's attractive about a credit card system that supports the cashless society? At least two things:

.... The private sector pays for it. No cost to the taxpayer. Cost effective.
As a taxpayer, I say "yeah!!!!"

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Old 08-03-2009, 11:55 AM   #71
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You should study Occam's Razor - you keep trying to explain things with complexities rather than simplicities. My health insurance provider already has access to records on my height and weight. Ruler and scale and paper record, no high tech required. That will tell them much more than a purchase of Twinkies at 9:21 on Feb 19th, 2006. Geez, I could'a been buying them for a party rather than my own consumption. And maybe I exercise to work it off. Take off the tin foil hat.
According to my word processor, you took 477 characters (including spaces) to refute my comment that had 322 characters (including spaces). Perhaps you should study Occam's razor yourself. You appear to be multiplying entities unnecessarily.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:58 AM   #72
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For those worried about run-away spending and money management, we've been virtually cashless for years now. We had some of the first check cards (issued by USAA) which you could use just like a credit card without having to enter a PIN. Early 90's. Cash is for vending machines. Everything else now goes on the best rewards card (currently the USAA AmEx).

I have noticed that many places no longer require PIN #'s for smaller purchases. Very convenient!

For those of you with a paranoid streak, don't forget all those tracking strips in your cash......
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:13 PM   #73
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For those of you with a paranoid streak, don't forget all those tracking strips in your cash......
heh-heh - yup, better handle that cash with latex gloves, would not want to have any of your DNA be detectable on that $20. After all, the cashier will say "Oh yeah, some guy came in here last week and bought donuts. I remember because he insisted on paying cash! Yep, cash register receipt right here says he bought the donuts last Tuesday, 9:22AM. $20 tendered, I gave him $10.22 in change, had to go into the safe to get that. Oh, here's a scan of the bill, we don't get many of these, wanted to make sure it was legit".

I read somewhere they can embed a camera in a piece of paper now

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