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2018-11-25

November 25, 2018: What our nation could be

I realize this blog has a low following, but this is the best platform I have to express myself to the public. This morning's Twitter feed produced a report on the near absence of cash transactions in Switzerland. Over breakfast, I mentioned this to my wife and she wondered why we Americans still relied on cash as much as we do. The answer is fairly simple--we have never implemented a standard.

Here in the U.S. we have Google Pay, Chase Pay, PayPal, iPay, and (because Walmart won't accept anything else) we have Walmart Pay. The ability to use these payment methods is based on a standard called NFC which is available on almost every single cell phone in use today. But the actual payment systems are incompatible and can't communicate with each other. If I want to use my phone to pay for something, I need multiple apps installed and I would need to know which one is accepted at the store I'm in. Also, as far as I know, there's no easy way for me to accept electronic payments if I'm selling books at a convention.

Switzerland has implemented a standard and it's working. My wife then asked a simple question, "Why haven't we done something like that?" Why indeed? This kicked off a whole series of thoughts as my scifi brain created an alternate history of the United States. A history where we had a government that actually used its authority to benefit the people instead of lining the pockets of the rich who don't really need any more money. So where did this take me? Allow me to share a dream with you.

Instead of a nation with multiple types of electronic payment systems, the government steps in and calls for the creation of a single standard. There may be multiple e-pay companies, but a person can choose to use any one of them and they will all work anywhere. If you can't afford to buy a cell phone, you can purchase a small pocket device with the application pre-installed so you can make electronic payments. Problem solved, no more money, no more bank robberies, and robbing a store is no longer profitable because there's no cash to be had.

That was simple. Now let's expand on that a bit. Instead of allowing greed to rule, the United States decides to implement universal health care. Doctors are paid a good wage and take care of anyone who walks through the doors without having to worry if the patient can pay. Drugs prices are fully regulated with the cost of the drug based on the cost of development as well as the cost of the materials instead of how much the drug companies can extort the people who need the drugs. Laws are passed and strictly enforced: Speeding is detected by a network of cameras and people who refuse to slow down have their license revoked. A standard put in place scans a person's driver's license to ensure it is valid and if not the car refuses to start.

Living conditions are guaranteed and slum-lords are severely punished. Companies compete for the loyalty of customers but share information that benefits the nation as a whole. Monetary transactions and business dealings are fully transparent and violations of the law are swiftly dealt with.

Given this type of government (for the people, by the people) and a nation of people who care for each other and work towards the common good instead of fighting over racial and cultural issues, this country would be unstoppable.

But, it's a dream and I know it will never come true except in one of my books.