Forcing Cajuns to Go Cashless
With the passage of House Bill 195 into law, the State of Louisiana has banned the use of cash in all transactions involving secondhand goods. State representative Ricky Hardy, a co-author of the bill, claims that the bill targets criminals who traffic in stolen goods. According to Hardy, “It’s a mechanism to be used so the police department has something to go on and have a lead.” The bill prohibits cash transactions by "secondhand dealers," defined to include garage sales, flea markets, resellers of specialty items, and even non-profit resellers like Goodwill. Curiously, it specifically exempts pawnbrokers from the ban. But of course, pawn shops--and not rented stalls at local church flea markets--are notorious as places that criminals frequent to convert stolen goods into quick cash. So what gives? Are the authors of the bill and those who voted for it ignoramuses--or are they deliberately obscuring the real purpose of the bill?
The answer is clear once we examine the other provisions of the bill. In fact, the bill goes far beyond banning cash transactions. As lawyer Thad Ackel notes, the bill requires:
. . . secondhand dealers to turn over a valuable business asset, namely, their business’ proprietary client information. For every transaction a secondhand dealer must obtain the seller’s personal information such as their name, address, driver’s license number and the license plate number of the vehicle in which the goods were delivered. They must also make a detailed description of the item(s) purchased and submit this with the personal identification information of every transaction to the local policing authorities through electronic daily reports. If a seller cannot or refuses to produce to the secondhand dealer any of the required forms of identification, the secondhand dealer is prohibited from completing the transaction.
So the aim of the bill is not to aid law enforcement in apprehending criminals, none of whom would be ever stupid enough to turn over such information. The real intent is to feed government's insatiable hunger for tax revenues by completely stripping law-abiding citizens of financial privacy in secondhand transactions, every detail of which is fed directly into police files.
This troubling development in Louisiana parallels the intensification of the war on cash by the Federal government. Last month it was reported that the U.S. Justice Department ordered bank employees to snitch to the cops on customers who withdrew $5,000 or more. In a speech, assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell exhorted banks to “alert law enforcement authorities about the problem” so that police can “seize the funds” or at least “initiate an investigation”.