Inflation apparently has struck protest payments.
Most coin collectors probably remember reading stories from time to time about people who pay fines or disputed bills with cents.
Counting the sheer number of coins and handling the bulky weight makes the receiver work hard for the sum involved.
In the last few days a story appeared on the internet about a man who made a protest payment of his property taxes that supported public schools.
He paid a Pennsylvania township $7,143 in $1 bills.
My reaction was twofold.
At first I had expect to read another payment-in-coin protest story. When that didn’t prove to be the case I thought about how far the dollar bill has fallen in public esteem if paying property taxes with it is now considered a form of protest.
I suppose the next step in American monetary arrangements will prompt news stories that begin something like, “Man pays bill in cash rather than with a credit card for a lunch that he claimed was under cooked.”
If paying cash is now being considered a punitive gesture, it won’t be long before the many coin collectors who still do so become known as the angriest people in town.
I for one still pay for many things in cash simply because I feel it is important for me to see what is out there in circulation.
I don’t take it to extremes. I have left a dollar coin as part of a tip from time to time, but mostly I just go with the flow of most popularly used coins and paper denominations.
That means I start the day with pockets empty of coins and my wallet has notes in it no higher in value than $20.
But I am not crazy. I am not going to forego the use of a credit card for sums that would clean out my wallet in one transaction.
This self-limitation alone means that in the years to come, cash transactions will become less and less frequent and significant for me.
I still pay for lunch using cash.
The bill comes to $8.39 if I order the daily special at the Crystal Cafe. I leave a tip of either $1.35 of $1.36.
The amount varies because if I receive a copper cent in change, I keep it, rather than leaving it on the table. I have wondered how many copper cents I would encounter in this way. The answer is not many. I haven’t had the gumption to count the cents that have accumulated over the last few years, but simply looking at the depth of the coins in the cottage cheese container that I have been putting them in tells me they are not really worth counting.
Lunch and gasoline at the local filling station now account for the two largest purchases that I still make using cash.
Some probably think I am wasting an opportunity to run up some frequent flier points that could be accumulated if I paid for these transactions with a credit card.
Call it the price of research.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”