February 26, 2012

NEVERMIND RESENTING THEM...:

The End of Money: A new book asks: Why do we need cash at all? (Farhad Manjoo, Feb. 24, 2012, Slate)

Cash is ridiculous. Like hugging or shaking hands, money is one of those social constructs that you're better off never thinking about too deeply, lest you begin to wonder how someone decided that this should be how things work. Imagine the first guy broaching the idea: Hey there, brother Jebediah! Instead of growing my own sorghum--sorghum being what I imagine we all ate in olden times--I was wondering if you'd like to toil a few hours longer to grow some extra for me, and in exchange, I'll give you ... some of these pieces of metal! Deal?

It sounds like a prank, right? [...]

Wolman picks a side in this fight: He hates cash, and he talks to several smart people who aggressively make the case against paper. Cash is inconvenient. It can't be traced or insured; if you lose your cash or if it's stolen, that's that. It's expensive--think about all the costs involved in producing, moving, protecting, scrutinizing, and reissuing bills and coins. Wolman cites a study that estimates that by switching from paper-based currencies to electronic ones, countries could save about 1 percent of their gross domestic product annually. That's about $150 billion a year in the United States. Cash is also dirty, both literally--all your bills are contaminated with germs and drugs--and legally, a key enabler of the criminal underworld and mass tax evasion. If we didn't have paper money, we'd probably have less crime and better-funded governments.

I'm right there with these arguments. As part of his research, Wolman tries to live without cash for a year, and for the most part, he's able to do so without major problems. That's the story of my life; I keep almost nothing in my wallet, and I resent the few local businesses that insist on cash transactions.

...you have to assume they're either running a tax dodge or laundering money for the mob.

Posted by at February 26, 2012 7:56 AM
  

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