Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Centralization of Israel and a Cashless Society

Centralization in Israel is a two-headed coin (or perhaps a two-headed monster). There’s no doubt, that so many bureaucratic activities go much smoother in Israel than they do in America, because we have ID numbers and cards that are linked to everything. Of course sometimes that doubles the frustration when obvious things need to be manually duplicated over and over for no reason. On the other hand, that centralization provides no flexibility or safety net. Having problems with one government office can easily spill over to an unrelated one, since you’re linked together everywhere on file. And then there is the basic issue of personal privacy and civil liberties. Now the Israeli government is attempting to implement two extreme decisions that threaten civil liberties more than ever. The first we’ve talked about in the past, which is the biometric system that is currently being tested. God forbid that should ever become mandatory. Right now, even though your personal bio-data is out there with different organizations, there is still some semblance of privacy and protection because of the separation that naturally exists between your health fund, the army, the government, and so on. But once that goes away, there goes your privacy. You will have no control over your personal information at all, and you’re reliant on the government, which as we know, is not the most effective of protectors of personal data. The second move is just as scary. The Israeli government is actually considering trying to find a way to abolish cash. There was a unanimous cabinet decision to explore how to do that (Hey Naftali Bennett, I didn’t vote for you to lose my civil liberties – remember that come election time). They want to get rid of cash, and give everyone rechargeable “cash cards” that will allow the government to track every single transaction you do. EVERY SINGLE TRANSACTION. I can’t even begin to describe the civil liberties and privacy violations that implementing this system will create. And if they actually believe this will get rid of cash, or the black market, they’re even stupider than I thought. Bitcoin, gold, barter… you name it. Smart (and dumb) people will find their way around it. Not to do illegal transactions, mind you, but simply to protect their privacy away from the government’s snooping eyes. And then we’ll all be criminals, because of a dangerous legislation which is an intrusive attempt to suck more tax money out of us and spy on us, and not just spy directly, but with data mining too, to study our purchase and transaction behavior, and find every last penny they can suck out of us and understand what we do with it. I guarantee one thing. If this legislation passes, if the party I voted for, and the ones I didn’t, don’t stop this in its tracks, I will do everything (legal) to make sure those people do not get elected again, and be replaced with people who do care and understand the importance of civil liberties and fear the tyranny of government.

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Akiva said...

Better and worse than you think. Data quality in government departments is low. They regularly have to implement procedures to deal with conflicting, incomplete, and inaccurate data received from other departments. And their actual integration methods are 15-25 years out of date and only very slowly being upgraded. Updates about you are arriving 1-18 months after they actually happen.

The bad news is they already have way more data than you realize. Waaaay more. And I'm not talking about at security agencies, even Bituach Leumi and the Misrad HaPanim, etc. And the access to that data is poorly controlled.

The only good news is, generally speaking, their IT levels are sufficiently limited that it would be challenging to do much with the data. (Of course, they could just hire a bunch of consultants, throw a lot of money at them and have them do something with it... oh wait...)

IsraelP said...

We have no civil liberties. Our liberties, such as they are, are at the pleasure of the government.

The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

This happens from time to time. It will be shot down. The cashless society is just impracticable. How would you give a shekel to a beggar? Will the Chabadniks who collect charity at the Kotel sit there with an ipad and a card swiper?

JoeSettler said...

SMS or smartphone app will do. You won't need a physical Cash Card, just a Cash ID number.

JoeSettler said...

You won't even need a special Cash ID number. Your Teudat Tehut will do. Easier to track you that way.

Tourists will get a temporary one when they enter the country.


For ease of use, maybe they'll offer you a free QR code tattoo when you supply your biometric data.

Avraham said...

Sorry to veer off topic, but didn't you and Jameel endorse Likud?

JoeSettler said...

Jameel did.
I was wavering between HaBayit HaYehudi and Michael Ben-Ari.

Josh said...

Another Bennet mistake to add to the ever growing list. Just for the fact that you cannot give three coins of tzedakah during morning shacharit because your cellphone should be off and because you are davening during the darkness because Bennet agreed to extend summertime but your daily minyan starts at 6am anyway.

Attached is an 'op-ed' from July that appeared Globes written by head of Verifone that holds a large chunk of the card reader market (and looking for more). His point that we should all strive for cashless society because it increases tax revenue and decreases crime. He points out to European countries that are almost there.

Anonymous said...

What is most disturbing is that the Jewish state wants to lead in this big brother ???. The people have to show their disgust with this before it ever gets implemented.

MAOZ said...

Trying to pull the quote out of my head, but doesn't it say -- maybe in Sanhedrin 97-ish -- that ben David won't come until not a coin can be found in a pocket?

Anonymous said...

Maoz, we pray Moshiach comes already. Things are getting darker by the day. What you wrote makes sense which makes Moshiach T'zdkeinu's arrival even more urgent. Then the world will know there is only Hashem to rely on - Ein Od Milvado.

Holy Hyrax said...

>What is most disturbing is that the Jewish state wants to lead in this big brother ???. The people have to show their disgust with this before it ever gets implemented.

I find this to a problem with nations declaring their pride that they are a true democracy. Problem is, democracy is just a tool. LIBERTY, should be the goal, not democracy. When you have liberty as your backbone, insane big brother policies like this would have a much harder time seeing the light of day.

Anonymous said...

Holy Hyrax: Very true! Well said.

yonason said...

"Josh said...

Another Bennet mistake to add to the ever growing list."

At what point do we stop giving them the benefit of the doubt?

They are not making "mistakes." They are making deliberate conscious choices. They aren't ignoramuses, but cold calculating schemers who are doing what they think is good for themselves and their cronies, not for us.

Consider Ariel Sharon, who lied about what he would do about Gaza, right up until he did it.

Make no mistake - they KNOW what they are doing, and a part of their game plan appears to be consistently to keep us from knowing what exactly they are up to.

I don't trust any of them.

What then should we do? I haven't any idea, except to trust Hashem, and follow His lead.

Personally, I'm keeping my eye on some of the worst of them, to see what happens. After all, we are told that "with the crooked Hashem acts perversely."
But with those who are simple in their faith, and turn from evil to do good, He is their support.

Good Yom Tov

Anonymous said...

All for this idea!
1) can you imagine taxes cut in half? Or even by a third? Those of us that faithfully pay our insanely high taxes will br thrilled
2) my hunch is that the black market in Israel is far, far greater than in other countries. Where do you think the money to buy real estate is coming from? Years and years of "shachor" which is money people need to get rid of. One of the best ways to do this is via large purchases.
3) can you imagine what it would do to Israelis reputations when they are no longer viewed as sneaky, deceptive, rip-off artists? Imagine an Israel where every transaction is above board and honest...
4) massive blow for terrorism and organized crime
5) cops can sit by a computer and determine almost everything about you and me already; without cash the threat of discovery will likely encourage the public to be a bit more scrupulous.
6) bartering is not as simple as it seems. If you are a shiputznik and I am a dentist and I ask you to build me a deck that costs 15,000NIS in exchange for 2 implants , 3 extractions and 3 crowns which take me 4 hours to do and your work takes 20 hours, I'm certain you will not think that it's fair.
7) the consumer will not only enjoy dramatically falling retail prices but will also be able to see very clearly how much the markup is on items he never could have known before. ( a box of Telma flakes probably has at least an 100% markup.

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