from an expert in the field:
David Wolman (
www.david-wolman.com) is a contributing editor
at Wired magazine. He is also author of the book The End of Money
(Da Capo Press, 2012).
Is renting a home
better than buying?
EVERYPLACE YOU look,
people have embraced electronic cash—bank accounts,
credit and debit cards,
online shopping, gift cards,
direct deposit, even sending money back and forth like text messages—or
at least accepted its inevitability.
Paper bills and coins are rapidly being
eclipsed by a flood of recent innovations, most of
them connected to mobile technology. Soon
you’ll be buying products by merely saying your
name to the clerk, or purchasing camping supplies for your teenager’s video-game avatar, paid
for with a virtual currency called Bitcoin.
Why the groundswell of anti-cash? Because
physical money isn’t just germy, carbon intensive
and expensive to manufacture, deliver, store,
secure, count, inspect, recount, redesign and
remanufacture ad nauseam. It’s also the currency
of choice for Taliban fighters, drug lords in
Mexico and tax evaders everywhere, whose success at not paying means those of us who do our
share have to pick up the slack.
Cash is also under fire from companies and
government institutions that aren’t thrilled with
its wider costs. This is why most airlines have
instituted the “cashless cabin” policy, many coun-
tries have already eliminated their smallest-value
coins and personnel on U.S. military bases use
something akin to a debit card (Eagle Cash). It’s
why an E-Z Pass toll booth makes a heckuva lot
more sense than fishing for loose change from
under the car seat.
Percentage reflects votes
received by January 15, 2013.
Are social media actually
making us less social?
YES: 82% NO: 18%
from an expert in the field:
votes received by
December 31, 2012.
Martin Brinkmann is an online journalist and founder of the consumer
news website Ghacks Technology News (
SUPPORTERS OF A cashless society speak a lot
about such benefits as
crime reduction, the elimination of tax evasion and
counterfeiting, and a reduction in the costs of producing paper money and coins. However, most of
these benefits are countered by negative implications for consumers and small businesses.
Criminal activity would not necessarily be
reduced in a cashless society. Robbery, for example, would simply shift to the Internet as hackers
find new ways to break into accounts. Checking
your account balance and transactions would
become an even more important daily activity,
taking up even more of your time.
And while cashless spending will probably
encourage some people to overspend (the way
they already do with credit cards), it may also
cause more people to spend less. Fees for elec-
tronic transactions, either indirect (the mer-
chant is charged) or direct (you are charged),
mean that you will pay more for goods and
transactions. The lack of privacy associated
with having every transaction recorded and
traceable will discourage people from making
purchases and donations they don’t want to be
openly linked to. What will happen to those
retail areas where people find affordable goods
by paying cash? If the country goes completely
cashless, will a large part of society revert to
bartering goods and services?
Opinions expressed are those of
the individuals or organizations
represented and are presented
to foster discussion. Costco and
The Costco Connection take no
position on any Debate topic.