Be careful what you wish for
Plus: What's next for Ukraine?
When I was in college, I worked for a bank for a couple of years. I wasn’t a teller; I was in operations doing computer stuff. One of my projects was consolidating Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs). See, if you deposit more cash than $9,999 into a bank in a 24-hour period, it’s reportable to the government. It doesn’t matter if you break up the deposits into $2,500 bags and go from branch to branch. It doesn’t matter if you deposit $8,999 one day and $2,000 the next. In fact, if you do those things, you better be prepared to explain to Uncle Sam why. An explanation, for example, is that you run a burger joint in two locations, or perhaps a chain of token-operated carwashes.
If you try to subvert the CTR system, it’s called “structuring,” and it’s a federal crime. In 1987 when I implemented a CTR system, this was a new law; now it’s baked in to every banking system in America. The purpose of the law was to catch drug dealers, who tend to accumulate a lot of cash, and would launder it through banks in creative ways.
As our banking system has evolved, including the Orwellian appellation “Bank Secrecy Act” we have enjoyed much more convenience in access to our money and services. At the same time, the government has enjoyed more access to our information and everything we do. If the government wanted to crack down on, say, gun dealers, they could use the banking system to do that. Of course, it would affect legitimate businesses the most, while criminals continued to ply their wares in cash and cypto. It takes quite a large bureaucracy in Washington to monitor all of this, of course.
There are thousands of banks in America; Canada has like, five.
When the foppish dictator of Canada decided to crack down on truckers whose greatest crime was double parking in Ottawa, because those people were declared to be defective, deplorable, and unvaccinated, it was no problem at all to freeze their money. In fact, it was super easy, barely an inconvenience.
There are people in the U.S. who wish for a Canadian-style Matrix Architect, who plans out where the red-pill swallowers go, and gives Zion’s residents the illusion of freedom. They would love to have a federal Emergencies Act in effect at all times. Many of these people are Republicans who defend George W. Bush’s global surveillance and gulag network, in the name of the “War on Terror.” Just like the CTRs rose out of the “War on Drugs,” now we have all kinds of wars to enable the government’s nose in everything we do, sniffing out those who walk a different line than the authorized one.
Former President Donald Trump loved emergency measures. He tried to use all kinds of emergency powers to divert money to build his wall at the southern border, to determine which countries could send people to the U.S., and who needed “extreme vetting.” At the bitter end of his term, Trump considered using the military to seize voting machines, where zero evidence existed of foreign hacking, to impound them and invalidate their results until a culprit could be found.
This all reminds me of a cartoon panel describing the difference between the CIA, the FBI and the KGB.
There seems to be a lot of KGB-envy going on in supposedly open, western nations. It’s easier to find any bear and force the facts to fit the narrative than to simply live and let live with people who don’t agree with the master plan.
If the government can’t squash free speech, then certainly Google and Meta can, while the government cheers them on (and collects their data in some massive warehouse for later “analysis”). If the U.S. government can’t stop people from donating to Canadian Freedom Convoy truckers, then certainly GoFundMe can, at the polite request of the Canadian government, while the U.S. government nods in agreement. If those who gave money to GiveSendGo in defiance of the Canucks need to be outed by illegal hacking, then the FBI can sit back and pretend it’s not a crime.
When the next populist Poo-bah is in power, craving the efficiency and immediacy of Vladimir Putin’s governing style, all these seemingly urgent matters of national security and rooting out bad people will become a Monkey’s Paw for our nation and our liberty. There is no First Amendment in Canada, and the one here is only as strong as the people who should protect it.
We need to be very careful what we wish for, especially when we wish to emulate our courteous, efficient, metric system loving, velvet-jackbooted northern neighbors.
What’s next for Ukraine?
What’s key here is the territory claimed by the two newly carved out republics, that Ukraine hasn’t recognized by the way, is larger than the territory their militias control. That means the Russians will have to, umm, expand the borders to provide—checking notes—security for these fledgling states.
I expect that fully 20 percent of Ukraine will be gobbled up by the Russians, with some kind of border extending from the northern Luhansk region down to already-annexed Crimea. This is to give freedom of movement over land to Russian forces.
They may push out a “demilitarized zone” all the way to the Dnieper River, effectively bisecting the country. Of course, the “demilitarized” part of the zone would only apply to Ukrainian forces. The Russian “peacekeepers” would remain fully armed with T-90 main battle tanks to ensure the zone remains “demilitarized.”
Yes, this is a full-scale war, and blood will be spilled, though since 2014, lots of blood has already been spilled—about 14,000 killed in just the Donbas region. If Kyiv resists too much, I expect Russian troops in Belarus to shoot south to Kyiv and sack the capitol, or at least surround it in a siege. This strategy should be familiar to American military historians. We used it during the Mexican-American War in 1846.
By September, 1847, after battles throughout Mexico and a siege of Puebla, American troops captured Mexico City and forced them to sign the Treaty of Cahuenga. Basically, America got New Mexico, California, and Texas (later treaties resolved border disputes), and Mexico got its country back as long as it kept playing nice with us.
Putin is doing the exact same thing to Ukraine, which was fondly remembered in Moscow as part of the glorious USSR. The current dictator of Russia isn’t so moved by communism, but he is nostalgic for the glory of empire-building. A student of history, Putin didn’t have to look much further than the globe’s hyperpower, the United States, to get his bearings.
Of course, America is much more genial these days, now that we’ve defeated the Fascists in World War II, the communists in the Cold War, and the terrorists in the War on Terror, the Gulf War I and II, and the Taliban in Afghanistan (oops).
We should certainly take a more active, moral stance on the carving up of Ukraine by Russia. But the America-is-bad apologists, along with the who-cares-about-Ukraine nationalists are both preaching that we are either too impure, or too self-important, to offer aid.
Maybe Mexico can help. They get it.
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