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Life as performance art

Life as performance art


By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

The closest I’ve come to a cashless society was my late uncle, who either never managed to have his billfold with him or carried only $100 bills back when most businesses couldn’t “break” them for smaller change.

But then, I’ve never been to Sweden, where cash is rapidly being relegated to history books. Some think England will be a cashless society in a decade. America may not be far behind.

I can understand why the unholy trinity of lawyers, bankers and government want us to move to all-plastic.

Lawyers can be paid nicely for writing laws and regulations, bankers can reduce their workforce in favour of computers, and the government can track our income and spending.

No more “cowboy” contractors willing to do a job for being paid under the table, or stores never recording all their sales incomes. How un-American is that elected officials are devoted to finding new ways to tax everything?

The real problem a cashless society creates falls, as usual, on the poor, young and elderly. No business charges a fee for paying in cash, but many have posted notices that they will not accept charges under 5 or 10 dollars, and banks have been wickedly inventive tacking on fees for using plastic. I’ve never seen any institution proudly announce that they have reduced their fees; they just keep adding more.

The real danger of a cashless society is not passing on the value and virtue of thrift as a way of life.

Remember when you were growing up and received your first allowance, or had a small part-time job. You made some money — not much — but you were marching toward adulthood thanks to it.

Before you could let those coins or bills burn a hole in your pocket, you found yourself on the receiving end of The Talk — not that talk, but the other one about saving your money for the future,  putting it aside for a rainy day and delayed gratification.

Parents wanted us to learn how to save, contribute to worthy charities and keep our purchases modest. It wasn’t fun, was it?

Many of those grownups had either lived through the Great Depression or heard about it from their parents, and knew the impoartance of saving money. Pennies, nickels, dimes and the rare quarters went into a piggy bank or Mason jar, and after a while we were taken to the local bank.

There, an officer — maybe the manager or bank president — solemnly helped us fill out the paperwork, and we were handed a brand-new savings passbook. We were led to the counter where tellers stood behind metal grillwork, counted out our money – Twice! — then carefully wrote the first entry into our little book.

Maybe it wasn’t as much fun as investing in over-the-counter stock such as candy bars and pop, but there was a real sense of pride and accomplishment.

For a long time the post office got in on the act by selling savings stamps. For a dime or quarter we could buy a stamp, lick it and put it on a square in the little booklet. Once we had it filled we could turn it in for an $18.75 U.S. Savings Bond. In seven years it earned interest and could be cashed in for $25.

That almost seems corny now because we’ve been sold a load of organic fertilizer by the unholy money trinity who believe cash is the antichrist and will try to excommunicate anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

Time to rise up, throw off the barricades and rebel against this trend and protect our endangered species.