Total Financial Transparency: the next anti-terrorist step?

Had an interesting idea this week with respect to tracing the funding for these (alleged) terrorist cells…

What would happen if all financial records everywhere were made public to everyone?

Everyone would be able to see what moneys came and went in each bank account. All suspicious bank transactions would be easily traceable. Only the movement of cash would be invisible, and even then, whenever that cash was withdrawn or deposited at a bank, it would leave a trail.

Yes, this strikes directly at one of our greatest taboos. Yes, the private banking industry would freak out. Yes, it would make differences of pay for the same jobs visible (not necessarily bad, IMHO).

And yes, the program would have to be carefully designed to make the knowledge available to all, and also clearly define what areas of knowledge were not visible. And I’m not sure whether this would include matching of purchases with identity as well.

But it would make it more difficult to hide personal financial stupidity and organizational financial unfairness, as well as criminal financial activity. I suspect that would not be a Bad Thing in the longer run.

So, Total Financial Transparency. Bad idea? Good idea? Comments? :slight_smile:

Let me be the first to say Bad Idea. The government has no right to see what I do with my money. Random other people sure as hell don’t. The ACLU would be on this so fast and hard it would make heads spin.

Or to quote from my favorite dissenting Supreme Court opinion (Justice Brandeis in [url=""Olmstead v. US, 277 US 438):

To invade, as a matter of course and without due process, the privacy of every citizen would certainly fall outside what the government is empowered to do by the Constitution. And would really piss off everyone who thinks their financial matters aren’t anyone else’s damn business.

Never happen.

“Hey, Dubya, I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours!”

Yeah, right.


From a social aspect, I think Total Financial Honesty is about as bad an idea as Total Social Honesty.

“How do you like my new hairstyle?”
“It actually looked much better the way you had it before…”

“Do I look fat?”

“Have you been avoiding me?”

See? :wink:

Honestly, from where I sit, you don’t look fat, Duck Duck Goose. Really, I’m not lying.

I would certainly be against total financial transparency. However, I would be for shutting down all the off-shore banking facilities. all of the Bermuda’s, Cayman Island’s, etc. The whole purpose of off shore banking facilities is to a) hide money for illegal purposes b) avoid taxes c) avoid regulators.

Here is another interesting idea: What if people were forced to make their houses out of transparent materials, or always leave their windows open, or some such thing, plus the police could come to your house and inspect it and check up on what you were doing whenever they wanted to without getting a warrant?

This would doubtless help the authorities in combatting terrorism, not to mention many other crimes.

An idea that was featured in a disutopian SF novel titled We.

So Sunspace, I trust you’re in favor of putting barcode on all paper money then? Mind you, this has already been proposed.

Try to think of the intense level of monitoring that could result from such a move. If the code was scanned at each POP (Point Of Purchase) the authorities could literally monitor your every financial move. Give it a little thought. I’m sure you’d be quite uncomfortable about leaving such a paper trail behind you. Would you like for all of your credit card purchases to be public knowledge? The same applies.

This is such a rank violation of so many rights to privacy that I can’t even begin to rant about it at length.

Hmm, I don’t think that’s really equivalent. Fences, doors, curtains, light switches, etc., make your house as private as you want it to be.

But unless you go to the grocery store without anyone being able to see in your cart, borrow money without bank employees looking at your finances, use a credit card without the credit card company knowing of the transaction, have a blank credit report, don’t pay income taxes, and have no checking accounts, retirement funds, Social Security records, personnel records, etc., etc., etc., your finances are not all that private. There are, have been, and will always be untold numbers of people you don’t know working for companies unknown to you who are looking at your money.

Of course, none of them have access to everything; nonetheless, all that information is already out there, outside of your control.

Whereas, the goings-on inside your house are not.

Not true, at least in regard to my dealings with private entities. I can choose to only patronize CC companies, banks, etc that agree to respect my privacy and not disseminate information about me. If they break their contract with me, I can sue them, which does give me a measure of control.

Of course a number of your examples involve dealings with the government, but then, how much power the government should have to invade your privacy was the question in the first place.