Right this moment, how much cash does the reader have in their pockets, wallet, etc.? Is there enough to buy supper at a fast food restaurant? Can the reader pay cash for a nice looking sweater? Ever use the cash slot at the car wash? Has the reader ever gone shopping only to discover the store is vacant but one can order online? Mariner once went to a store that had a sign: “cashless – credit card only”.

How about the grocery store that has self-checkout? Does the reader pay cash or card or wait to check out with a cashier? What would happen to our society if there were no cash? What would the reader’s net worth be if retailers held the amount of ‘cash value’ you could use instead of the government printing (creating) money? Big credit card corporations try hard to play that role today as new card features include ‘checkbook’ functions. Mariner pays cash as much as possible so that Google doesn’t know it was him; pay cash – who me? never go to that store!

Even as far back as the 1770s, Adam Smith pondered the issue of cash in governments and society. It is Adam who set the playing field for today’s rules about capitalism in several economic books including The Wealth of Nations (1776).

Brett Scott, writing in Aeon magazine, posed this question: “Do bad things like climate change, conflict and corporate greed happen because powerful politicians and CEOs construct it like that, or do they emerge in the vacuum of human agency, in the fact that nobody’s actually in control?” Mariner found the question intriguing; it is a genuine paradox. Is the world’s roiling capitalism a deliberate abuse or is it benign neglect by society?

This paradox can be applied to the cash question – Is the disappearance of cash the result of greedy politicians and corporate profit or is the disappearance of cash because folks don’t care enough to manage cash to benefit society?

Mariner has written in previous posts about the Anabaptist religions whose philosophy about money is more communal; ‘cash is shared within the community and does not belong to an individual’. That attitude certainly is the opposite of the general population’s laissez-faire about how cash is used and permits giant conglomerates to manage their personal financial value.

Mariner has a good feeling about the fact that his income is in cash and belongs to him personally.  The use is between him and his wallet, knowing that the local bank will convert his balance to cash whenever he needs it. Don’t need MasterCard, Amazon and Google telling him what to do with his cash – and keeping some of it for themselves.

Ancient Mariner

2 thoughts on “Cash

  1. Interesting. I wonder when the first use of checks instead of cash occurred. Maybe checks were an intermediate stage between cash and credit cards. As for me, I pay in cash if it’s a small amount, say less than $20, but use a card or PayPay for larger amounts. Online shopping is simply easier and gives me access to a far wider range of products. That, in turn, gives me more time to devote to my research and writing. By the way, I have $37 in my wallet (1 – 20$, 1 – 5$ 12 – 1$)

  2. Yes, I thought about checks as well. I accepted checks with the same mindset that people who sold pigs and chickens found it easier to use coins than to carry home wheat and vegetables in exchange. It was still a dollar-for-dollar exchange. What changes everything is the presence of a middle man, an agent. Our price for something is never the same as the price the agent paid.
    As to storefronts, I am saddened by their demise. It is not only true that ordering online is more convenient, it is also true that one cannot find a product on the street; living in a rural town in the midwest, relatively simple items are not available anywhere except online.
    This subject has interested me as I research a phenomenon called systemic adaptation, the processes that, because of their commonality, we innocently change our culture automatically without considering ethics, environment, economy, etc. Adam Smith was aware that cash had to have an independent value not controlled by the market itself yet today the Googles and large banks over manipulate cash value using unrelated value systems. So everyone changes their behavior without considering the humanist benefits – or abuses.
    Thanks for responding.

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