Seriously, No More Cash in 2012

It turns out that 2012 is a kind of magnet for apocalyptic thinking. Justin Wolfers has predicted that the name Cash, currently riding a wave of popularity, will largely disappear by that date. Will actual cash — currency, greenbacks, dineros — survive much longer? David Wolman is the latest in a long line of people hoping the answer is no. While we’ve argued for ditching the penny, Wolman writes in praise of abolishing physical money altogether, in favor of a streamlined, emoney future. The technological solutions, he says, are in place. The policy solutions are, we think, another matter. [%comments]


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  1. JB says:

    Tim James,

    As an employee of a large retailer, I can tell you that during a recent power outage, our cash registers did not work, and we were still open for business. We took cash and check. We added up each transaction on a calculator and then added tax. We couldn’t take a lot of customers at a time, but then again, not a lot of people were wanting to shop. The only ones there were looking for essentials, like food, generators, batteries, flashlights, etc.

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  2. Travis says:

    I still haven’t heard any good ideas for e-transactions between normal individuals. Using gift cards is always mentioned, but how many of us would take a $50 gift card as payment and just trust that it has full value (or any value at all)? And what if you have a $50 gift card, but want to pay someone $5 – would you start carrying around dozens of cards in different denominations? (and if so, wouldn’t dollar bills be more convenient)?

    So far PayPal seems like the only existing method that’s even close to being usable, but I’m sure the black market will come up with a cash substitute almost immediately once it becomes necessary (maybe we’ll go back to “private banks” printing their own money).

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  3. Dave Birch says:

    “Well then, what would be the (functional) difference between a $50 American Express gift card and a $50 dollar bill?”

    If you lose the $50 bill, you can’t call up the Feds and cancel itand get them to send you another one. I picked up a pre-paid euros MasterCard with a chip on it at the airport last week: if you steal if from me, it’s no good to you without a PIN.

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  4. Dave Birch says:

    “Paycheck cashing is a big business with standalone stores all over…I don’t think cash will go away soon. It is too convenient, untraceable, and it doesn’t carry fees.”

    Does not compute Captain… unless check cashing has become a free public service.

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  5. Steve says:

    Before everyone dumps the idea of a totally electronic monetary system factor in the staggering costs by having cash. What does the vast majority off all criminal activity pursue? Answer cash. Crime would shrink to almost nothing if there was no cash to be had. Drug smugglers, street dealers, gangs, prostitutes, illegal gambling, tax evaders, illegal aliens, those that hire illegal aliens, terrorists funded by opium trade, black market activity, counterfeiting etc. etc. All seek cash. No one is going to sell a pound of coke and run the transaction through a debit card. The drastic and immediate reduction in crime would result in billions of dollars saved in the fight against it not to mention the lives saved in the process both law enforcement and victims. Billions would be save in the manufacture of currency even though a lot of those costs would fall to the administration of the electronic system. Sure we have to develop a secure system and a method of being able to pay the baby sitter, boy mowing your lawn or your neighborhood poker buddies. But surely their are ways to do that. We used to write checks when we did not have cash on hand. My point is the up side is so tremendous that to not be pursuing a way to make it work would be foolish. I’m not one to give up my liberties lightly but I’m tired of hearing about the convenience store clerk, father of 3, working a 2nd job getting shot and killed for $50.00 or one of our kids being killed because they accidentally got in the way of a drug dispute. Getting rid of cash would greatly increase the security of every individual and our country as a whole. Tax rolls would swell since cash can’t be hidden. Illegal immigration would decline. The expense to the community and country to fight crime would drastically drop. I could go on. You get the picture. It is worth seriously looking at making it happen.

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