Michael Schaus

Say hello to Big Brother. . . Again. As if the information collected through the NSA, IRS, and FBI weren’t enough, the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (does that Orwellian named entity not give you the full body shivers?) has decided that government does not have a stranglehold on the spending habits of enough Americans. As a result, the Bureau, which was created as part of Dodd-Frank, is planning on monitoring up to 80 percent of all debit and credit card purchases – roughly 42 billion transactions. (Ironically, the agency has not released how much this data mining program is expected to cost us taxpayers.)

According to the Washington Examiner, “if CFPB officials reach their stated ‘performance goal,’ they would collect data on 42 billion transactions made with 933 million credit cards used by American consumers.” The agency has not spelled out in any detail why they feel such a massive data mining operation is needed. . . But I’m sure that just like the NSA domestic spying program and the TSA’s body scanners, it is for our own good.

With billions of dollars being spent by Washington on pet projects and questionably beneficial expenses, maybe it would be more useful for government to track its own spending habits before taking a peek at ours. After all, the Federal Reserve gets to keep its balance sheet hidden, while the SEC, IRS, CFPB, and the rest of the Regulatory-Alphabet-Soup expand their powers over the rest of our financial affairs. Heck, reporters have to fill out a Freedom of Information Request to track down most government spending; is it too much to ask that government be expected to do the same before looking into my spending habits?

Moreover, the new accumulation of data seems inherently ripe for political manipulation and potential corruption. Big government begets big corruption, as is evidenced by the IRS scandal, the NSA constitutional abuses, and politically motivated Department of Justice investigations. Now the Orwellian named Bureau dedicated to protecting Consumers will be going “all NSA” in an effort to keep us financially protected from. . . Something. I’m already feeling better. Aren’t you?

Michael Schaus

Michael Schaus is communications director at the Nevada Policy Research Institute and is responsible for managing the organization’s messaging with the public, the media and NPRI’s membership.

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