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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Cash Society

Has anyone else out there noticed it? Suddenly I am paying for services I have not yet received. Sometimes, I can't write a check for groceries (thanks, Whole Foods) and sometimes I can't even pay for something with my check card (thanks, National Car Rental for making a miserable day). It is more and more common to have checks cashed immediately, which is no problem if you have money in your account. How ironic, then, when Gap would not return cash to me when I had to return jammies that were too big for my granddaughter! I had to wait for their check in the mail. What all this mean to me is that our "cashless" society is over. Money is always an agreement between two people about how much something is worth (thanks, Colin, age 6, for explaining that to me). But when times are tough, only the real thing will do. Holding those bills in your hands, you can buy most anything but a rental car.

I have been telling friends and family for decades that we are in a long, slow inflationary depression. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. Ironically, Greenspan kept salaries low to suppress inflation. He should have checked the prices people had to pay. If you're making the same amount of money, but everything keeps costing more, that's inflation! A neighbor of mine in California once gave me a handful of bills that she brought over from Germany. She remembered the time in the German economy when people had to take their paycheck and cash it, then take wheelbarrows full of money to buy a loaf of bread or a few eggs. The Marks are just stamped over with Tausend Mark (thousand)or Millionen Mark (million) or even Milliarden Mark (billion). I don't know how societies break out of these cycles, but I am certain the government does not bail out the little guys.

Does anyone else out there wonder why the oil companies can continue to charge exorbitant fees for their products? Isn't there a bit of a monopoly? How many new oil companies have you founded this year? Have you even heard of any? Why didn't rates go down for telephone services when the industry was deregulated? Wasn't that what they said would happen? How about insurance and medical costs? The last time they even stayed the same was when Hillary was trying to grapple with a solution to that problem.

I may be misinformed here. After all, I spend most of my waking hours trying to reach learners who have difficulties learning even the most basic academic skills. If you can explain this to me, I'd be happy to hear from you. Be sure to leave a comment.

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