By Pat Rooney
Although the 4th of July is behind us, you can still exercise another patriotic duty (other than voting) by using cash in your everyday transactions. As the country’s legal tender, cash represents one of our longest standing freedoms, the freedom to use cash for any purchase. Cash is our medium of exchange that has stood the test of time. It is efficient for many purposes, and anonymous and unfortunately under attack from various governmental agencies and from technology in this digital age. It also suffers from neglect from most of the public, who have apparently forgotten its benefits.
The governments attack on cash is a stealth threat that stems from a desire to make it harder for the illegal drug trade to do business. Since they deal entirely in cash, the Treasury has been systematically lowering the denominations of currency. This forces the drug trade to deal with the bulk of more actual notes when making deals.
The Treasury used to issue $1,000 and $500 dollar promissory notes. Now we are down to the $100 as our largest denomination bill. Recently, Larry Summers, a former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, came out in favor of eliminating the $100 bill as well.
Since cash is not high tech, it is anonymous and this anonymity makes it very important to Americans who want to be free to purchase what they want without other people knowing about it. This is undoubtedly a problem when trying to catch drug smugglers, but it is also very important for Americans who do not want their every purchase to be tracked, analyzed and prompted for another.
Technology is pushing cash as well. Cash’s inefficiencies in the digital age are well documented. The rise of VISA, MasterCard, PayPal , and the like, have rendered cash antiquated at best and at worst obsolete. We as consumers have bought into this notion relying on our plastic and digital devices to pay for almost everything, with the result of using less cash every day.
And there is nothing surprising with this trend, given the technology available today. We will continue to move to more electronic payments in our daily lives. My point is to think about using cash as well. In this world of decreasing privacy, cash is the one tool we should be utilizing to make a difference and to help us keep our freedom of privacy as best we can. Try it. I love giving cash as payments. People get more excited and take more pleasure in the transaction. And for those with overspending addictions, going on a cash basis has multiple benefits such as staying on a budget, and only spending what you have available.
Although not perfect for every transaction, cash needs to be cherished and protected. It is one of our best freedoms of commerce and if we take it for granted and don’t utilize it, there will be voices calling for its curtailment, powerful voices. So, exercise your patriotic freedom and use cash. As we all know the world is changing rapidly and many customs are dropping out of use. Let’s not let using cash be one of them.