Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Nobody Asked Me, But: Currency Conundrums

A penny for your thoughts. There will be pennies from heaven. Wait till the penny drops. Stop trying to nickel and dime me. The buck stops here.

What do all these expressions have in common? Most people who have passed the age of consent will recognize that they are all pithy sayings that refer to some form of cash currency. On the other hand, there is a generation or two coming of age which has not the foggiest notion what this concept of cash is all about. Welcome to the cashless economy.

This has gone way past the era of cash or credit card. In case you haven’t noticed, the choice of VISA, Mastercard or American Express was last spotted riding off into the sunset. Nowadays, many transactions are being handled by apps on smart phones with nary a single coin or bill changing hands or a card being swiped.

I, on the other hand, like the jingle-jangle sound the coins in my pockets make as I stride along the sidewalks of Ganges. I exalt in being able to pay with exact change at the grocery checkout as I fish one last quarter free of clinging lint buried way down in my deepest pocket. Nothing gives me more pleasure than unfolding a few crisp bills from my trusty wallet and carefully counting them out in front of the cashier while the shoppers behind me scowl with impatience.

I realize that I’m in the minority. With the exception of a few other dinosaurs like me, most of the population seems to welcome the “cash not accepted” mindset, which is beginning to dominate retail establishments. With all the e-transfers and QR code scans being used by so many, it’s hard to sometimes realize that legal tender, or whatever is replacing it these days, is actually changing hands. It’s no wonder that so many are having serious problems keeping afloat financially and staying out of debt. How do you know that you’re broke if you can never really keep track of when your assets are going up or down and by how much? 

I’ve been considering writing a screenplay depicting the new, cashless economy. It will be about a bank heist, similar to Dog Day Afternoon or The Italian Job, but more in tune with the modern reality. Here’s a synopsis so far:

A man walks into a bank, steps up to the teller and whispers that he has a gun in his pocket and this is a stick-up. He wants all the unmarked 100- and 50-dollar bills put into in the empty gym bag he has placed on the counter. He warns the teller not to try anything funny or someone will get hurt. The teller informs him that his request would be impossible to carry out because the bank no longer deals with cash transactions. 

Undaunted, the robber asks the teller what the bank has that is valuable. The teller informs him that the bank deals mainly with bitcoins now, to which the robber orders that the gym bag be filled with as many bitcoins as it can hold. Again, the teller tells the robber that bitcoins are a virtual currency that does not actually have a physical manifestation and so they could not be stuffed in the gym bag. 

Now confused, the robber argues that there must be something still valuable in the bank vault. The teller replies that the banks have done away with safes and vaults and that all the crypto currency is now kept digitally. The robber, getting angrier by the minute, threatens the teller to put the hard drive containing all the crypto currency into the bag. 

He is frustrated again to learn that the bank no longer has hard drives because everything now is stored on the cloud. The robber reaches into his pocket to give a glimpse of the firearm he is carrying and warns the teller, “You’ll soon be on the cloud if you don’t give me what I want.”

 The robber, by now almost reduced to tears, pleads with the teller to find anything of value that he could still steal. He is told that there are these new commodities called NFTs which are becoming very popular. The teller doesn’t really understand what these Non-Fungible Tokens are (nobody really does), but they allow you to own the ownership to valuable art, although you still don’t own the art. The bank robber tells the teller to forget the NFTs and walks dejectedly out of the bank only to find that his getaway driver has long ago abandoned him. Luckily, an Uber car delivering pizza to the bank is willing to trade a ride and a cold Hawaiian pizza for the empty gym bag.

I’m still looking for investors to help finance the project. All donations must be made using real cash. I will accept all legal tender, ranging from copper pennies to coins that date all the way back to the Ming Dynasty in China. Loonies and toonies are always welcome, but special credit will be given to donations made with two dollar bills.

Nobody asked me, but don’t expect me to be panhandling in front of the liquor any time soon while holding out my hat for a few spare bitcoins. I’m also unlikely to break open my virtual piggy bank to free up a handful of crypto currency. I’d rather be handling Kryptonite than crypto. As for NFTs, I think I’ll hold off on these suckers until I figure out what exactly it means for tokens to be non-fungible. I’m not completely certain about it, but if you want to take a chance on these, I suggest you keep a tube of anti-fungible ointment on hand.

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  1. Cash in your pocket represents money that you own and can spend as you wish. In the case of digital currency, the state, or whoever controls the technology can dictate how, when or if you will be allowed to use your money. Digital transactions are tracked and monitored by state and corporate entities alike. Digital currencies are a form of social credit tokens – not money.


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