This is the first in a possible series of miserable old cow posts. So you're welcome to pop off somewhere else, make a cup of tea, and read something more entertaining.
Now where was I? Oh Yes...
The year is 2030. Like most people you're a contract worker. Your wife stays at home with the children, as all workers are now expected to be completely flexible - after all, the market never sleeps - so you're on call 24/7, thanks to the iphone23. It no longer makes financial sense for mothers to work as there's very little State support for children now: the Government started cutting child benefit in 2009 to help bail out the Irish banks, and eventually it was abolished completely. A small welfare payment is still available to the children of "the most vulnerable" but since you have a job, your family doesn't get it.
Anyone from 2010 would think that you have a great life: a nice house, a good job and a happy family. But your house is rented, because almost no-one can get a mortgage any more - like most people your income varies from month to month. Your most precious possession is your bank card: despite the €1,000 tax you have to pay the Government for the pleasure of owning one. So why have one at all? Everyone has to have one, because cash and cheques have been abolished.
That's right, no more money.
EU and business interests started pushing for this way back in the early years of the 21st century, and after a spate of Tiger Kidnappings of bank officials, the idea started to gain momentum in Ireland. Cheques were the first to go and over a period of ten years cash transactions were gradually replaced by electronic transfers. There was very little protest: consumers were told that a cashless society would be cheaper, safer, more efficient and more convenient.
They weren't told about the drawbacks. No cash = no power. And if there is no power, there will be no cash: imagine how much money ESB workers will be earning in 2030? They will be the landlords of the future. Everything you purchase will be recorded on-line, for every hacker to find. Bank charges will be 'regulated' no doubt, but in whose interest? All companies will demand payment by direct debit 'for your convenience'. If the direct debit means you go overdrawn, you pay. If you lose your bank card, you pay. If the banks computers accidently wipe out your balance, you have no money for food. If you have no work, the bank charges pile up and you still have no money for food.
This was the situation facing you in September 2030 when you're called into the office one Monday morning. It's bad news, there will be no work for 3 weeks. Your head starts to spin. This is really really bad. As a contract worker you won't get any unemployment assistance. Suddenly you've no income. But all those direct debits will just keep on rolling out and as you go into the red, the bank piles charge upon charge. Your parents can't help, they're still stuck in negative equity after the house price crash that followed the Irish bank crisis in 2007.
Nightmare time, so what do you do?
I hope that it won't come to this. And even if it does, I think that a subculture will develop, everyone will barter, car boot sales and farmer's markets will be huge, and perhaps an alternative currency will be introduced. People always find a way to cope. But I want to hang onto my money!