After a flurry of bill-signing throughout the week, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis signed into law two more measures on May 12—one banning central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the state, and the other protecting the privacy of gun buyers.
Allowing centralized digital currency would give too much power to the federal government, DeSantis said at a press conference in Fort Myers. And credit card companies shouldn’t be able to flag transactions of gun retailers and purchasers, he said, before signing the two bills.
The Biden administration is considering the implementation of CBDC, which is much like cryptocurrency, but controlled by the Federal Reserve. Use of it would quickly lead to a “Big Brother” situation, with the government tracking Americans’ purchases, DeSantis warned.
It was a reference to a fictional tyrant and symbol in the dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” by George Orwell. In the story, “Big Brother is watching you” is a slogan used as a warning to keep inhabitants submissive to the complete control of the totalitarian state described in the 1949 work.
Former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who faces fraud charges over the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, arrives at the Manhattan federal court in New York on Feb. 16, 2023. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters) Use of CBDC could lead to the federal government withholding funds, in an effort to fulfill social agendas, DeSantis said. For example, the government may control how much gasoline a person was allowed to buy, or whether someone could purchase a gun.
It could tie the use of money to “social credit scores,” like those used in China, he said. Social credit scores can be used to rank citizens, meting out punishment for unauthorized behavior, and rewarding actions considered good or acceptable.
With the signing of Senate Bill 7054 into law, CBDC was banned in Florida, because the state’s uniform commercial code does not accept it within its definition of money, DeSantis said.
The bill also forbids using CBDCs issued by foreign government reserves and central banks, including China’s digital yuan.
A worker at the front desk of Prince Ski Town Hotel checks the phone behind a sign saying “digital renminbi (e-CNY) is accepted” in Zhangjiakou, China, on Dec. 4, 2021. (Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images) Senate Bill 214, which DeSantis also signed, “combats efforts by woke credit card giants to monitor the transactions of firearms retailers” through Merchant Category Codes, his office said.
It also imposes fines for violating the state’s consumer protections against gun owner registries.
The merchant codes are retailer-specific, “and a business that sells firearms and sporting goods would be subject to this new code, regardless of their overall sales,” his office said.
DeSantis noted that sporting goods stores might sell guns but lots of other outdoor merchandise as well.
According to his office, “three major credit card companies have said that the use of MCCs would allow them to ‘manage risk’ and assisting in ‘combating gun violence’ by tracking consumer behavior, which is an extreme overreach into the private purchases of a consumer.”
DeSantis, in his remarks at Fort Myers Technical College, tied the CBDC ban to the gun purchase bill and other actions he’s taken as Florida’s chief executive. He signed a bill on May 2 banning the financial industry’s use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores.
State actions in favor or against ESG. Source: Standard & Poors “Our bill, the law that’s now been signed, protects Floridians against discrimination. It protects you against things like social credit scores.
“It makes sure our pension funds are not being manipulated by ESG criteria. Retired cops, retired teachers—their pension should be run to get the best return on the investment, not to try to impose a political agenda with their money,” he said.
Large Wall Street banks and other corporations using ESG criteria, he said, are “trying to change the country without accountability, and that’s wrong. So basically, what we’ve said is no social or economic transformation without representation. You have a right to pass judgment on policy. Our ESG bill is really fighting back against that.”
President Joe Biden announced last year the government would study the CBDC concept, DeSantis said. “And I don’t think they would have done that if they didn’t intend on implementing this.”
DeSantis said a “digital dollar” would be controlled by an agency like the Federal Reserve.
“I think they want to crowd out and eliminate other types of digital assets like cryptocurrency because they can’t control that, so they don’t like that.”
‘Not Conducive to Freedom’ Crypto has become a significant financial industry in Miami.
Once the government has a central digital currency, he said, “they’re going to be able to have the window into what you’re doing with the money and the ability to control where that money is going.
“They could block you if you filled up your gas tank too much. Hey, they’re fighting global warming. You can’t do any more. Maybe you bought a firearm last week. I don’t want you to buy another one this week.”
“So that would empower the government to do a lot of things that would not be conducive to freedom.”
Americans want to be able to conduct their business “without having the government know every single transaction they’re making in real-time,” he said. “And sometimes the government will do things where they provide a benevolent rationale for what they’re doing. But it’s really nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“Well, central bank digital currency, this is a wolf coming as a wolf. This is something that will be a massive transfer of power from individual consumers to a central authority And that’s just fundamentally antithetical to a free society.”
A movement has begun for the states to permit CBDC by adding it to their respective uniform commercial codes. “We looked at that and said, that ain’t gonna fly in Florida.”
It may not take off in some other states.
The Texas Senate is considering a bill that would allow Texas to issue its own digital currency backed by gold which the state would buy and hold in the Texas Bullion Depository, a facility that already exists in the Lone Star State.
This file photo taken in 2014 shows a modern-day replica of the “Come and Take It” flag in Gonzales, Texas. (Carol M. Highsmith/Library of Congress) The Texas bill has safeguards that protect it from legislative use. Proponents see it as a way to circumvent Biden’s digital dollar, which conservatives fear could be manipulated by the federal government or used for surveillance.
DeSantis railed against a “massive out of control bureaucracy” that imposes enormous amounts of law never passed by Congress. And it’s done so recently in everything from regulating coal and natural-gas power plants to home lending.
People with good credit, he said, will be charged more to help pay for people that have poor credit. “That’s social engineering. That’s bad economics, but it was never approved by the people’s representatives.”
Representatives of different activist and business groups thanked DeSantis and the legislature for the protections.
“We’re fighting back against the overreach of credit card companies, a veiled attempt to create a national gun registry in our country,” said Matt Kennedy, owner of the Alamo gun range in Naples and chief operating officer of the Pint & Pistol range in Cocoa.
“Our businesses would be negatively impacted by credit card companies that single out and track firearms and ammunition sales.”
Shirley Wattral, Florida state director for the DC Project/Women for Gun Rights, alluded to the harrowing experience that changed her mind about gun ownership.
“It wasn’t until I was kidnapped and terrorized for 15 hours by a man who claimed he loved me that I decided it was time. I needed to be my own defender. I purchased a firearm, and I trained.
“You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with digital banking? It’s simple. It’s freedom.
“I know what it’s like to be stalked, to be controlled, to be oppressed. And to lose my freedom.
“CBDC allows the government to take the very characteristic of a domestic abuser. They will be able to track me financially, control my finances if they chose to. And basically control me.”
With Kennedy’s business named after the Alamo, he noted one of Texas’s earlier state flags contains a lone star and “a cannon with the statement, ‘Come and take it.’”
Florida’s action, he said, is “the 21st century embodiment of the spirit of the Alamo. Rather than, ‘Come and take it,’ I’d like to take artistic license to invite the rest of the United States to emulate the state of Florida, and ‘Come and partake.’ Let us stand together against the violation of any and all Constitutional rights.”
Darlene McCormick Sanchez contributed to this story.
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