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No cash, no freedom?

I like to listen to oldies on the radio. It suits me, but I would never claim this to be the future of music.

In the field of public policy, Lawrence Summers, former Treasury secretary has dusted off another golden oldie: Abolish the $100 bill.

For good measure, he says the newer denomination, the 500 euro note, which did not exist before 2002, should be abolished as well.

He has the cover of new study just released by Harvard business school.

What little that is revealed in Lawrence’s Washington Post column simply boils down to two things: name calling and creating inconvenience.

He points out that the 500-euro note is nicknamed the Bin Laden in certain circles.

I guess that is supposed to send shudders down our spines and we should all rise up and demand the 500 euro be abolished as a blow against terrorism.

If name calling doesn’t work, then there is the inconvenience argument.

Summer’s column points out that $1 million of value in 500-euro notes would weigh just 2.2 pounds, whereas the equivalent value in $20 bills is 50 pounds.

Take that terrorists.

Do you think ISIS, with its often videoed caravans of shiny new Toyota trucks would be hindered by hauling around an extra 47.8 pounds to make a $1 million payment?

I doubt it.

But let’s say this logic is sound.

Then we should demand all paper money be abolished and use only Presidential dollars. Perhaps the weight of those would cripple the terrorists.

Better yet, abolish everything above the penny. That will really teach ’em.

The reality of Summer’s column is not fighting terrorists, but it is a stalking horse for those who advocate the abolition of cash.

In the name of fighting terrorists, are we ready to give up our freedom to make cash payments as we as individuals choose?

The retort always will be if you have nothing to hide, what difference does it make if the government knows every transaction you make every single hour of every single day of your life?

It is a slippery slope.

If you are law abiding, what difference does it make if you give up your freedom of speech, your right to bear arms, or your other freedoms?

It will be OK, they say. You are law abiding.

I’m not buying what Lawrence Summers is peddling.

There might have been an excuse called ignorance in 1969 when the $500 bill and higher denominations were abolished.

Did you notice? It crippled the bad guys, right?

If it worked then, why do the present problems exist?

Why are we seeing Summers prescribing a treatment that obviously has already failed?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you’ll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.

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One Response to No cash, no freedom?

  1. Vachon says:

    The only thing I hate about $100 bills is when someone tenders them for a purchase far less than a $100. But then, this is true for $20 bills too because they’re sucking up all the $10s and $5s from my till 🙂

    But I agree with you. If anything, we ought to resurrect the $500 and $1000 denominations to reflect declining purchasing power though, again, as a cashier, I’d be loathe to receive them.

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