Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cash Money, Now and Forever!

Some in the mainstream media are eager to celebrate the end of cash. They want to eliminate cash from the world and replace it with credit cards.

If cash isn't used, then the government is disenfranchised from the economy, which sounds good to conspiracy theorists, but consider for a moment the alternative methods proposed for paying for transactions. Using a card of any kind, whether it goes through Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, or any bank enriches a private corporation, which then accrues immense wealth and power. Some of these corporations are already wealthier and more powerful than some states in the United States and some countries in the world. These private tyrannies remain unaccountable to voters or to anyone other than a small group of large stockholders or private owners. They can and will do whatever the hell they can get away with.

The choice between cash and cards is an easy one. Cash for me, thank you very much, whenever I can. Most merchants I know are happy to receive cash, and some of them offer a discount to those customers that pay with cash, because otherwise the merchant has to pay the credit card company a transaction fee. I don't know what rock the writers searched under to find these strange business owners that don't like cash.

Calculating how much cash to pay, how much change to make, and storing the little coins and paper are all helpful and restorative exercises for the brain. Using the brain is a good thing. I like to perform simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Sometimes I like to do simple algebra as well. These tasks are fun, not boring or difficult. As for cash itself, it can be beautiful, when designed properly. My favorite coin is the Walking Liberty, and my favorite bill is the 1976 two-dollar bill with the interesting scene on the reverse.

Making everything as easy as splat is a bad idea. A transaction needs to be slow enough to permit people to stop and consider what they are doing when they make a purchase. Cash is a powerful defense against the impulsive purchases that cards encourage. I wish that paying for things took ten times as long as it does now, because few would then buy the useless plastic crap imported from China and sold at Wal-Mart.

If the lazy idiots and conniving capitalists win this war they are waging against cash, then I will mourn the humble little coins and bills that used to circulate, those elegant symbols of our Republic and its long history, so useful for the education of children and reminders of the great minds that shaped our world. The death of money would be a long nail in the coffin of our democracy.

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