Almost everywhere you go now, stores and restaurants are displaying signs that read something along the lines of not being able to give change due to a nation-wide coin shortage.
On June 11, the Federal Reserve issued a statement announcing coin rationing would begin June 15 because of measures they are placing to protect their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement stated: “Consequently, effective Monday, June 15, Reserve Banks and Federal Reserve coin distribution locations began allocating coin inventories. To ensure a fair and equitable distribution of existing coin inventory to all depository institutions, effective June 15, the Federal Reserve Banks and their coin distribution locations began to allocate available supplies of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to depository institutions as a temporary measure. The temporary coin allocation methodology is based on historical order volume by coin denomination and depository institution endpoint, and current U.S. Mint production levels. Order limits are unique by coin denomination and are the same across all Federal Reserve coin distribution locations. Limits will be reviewed and potentially revised based on national receipt levels, inventories, and Mint production.”
Many people have speculated using cash can be pose a potential danger by spreading the virus. Others have speculated this is the government’s way of pushing us toward becoming a cashless society.
I am not a disease specialist and cannot give much of an opinion as to whether or not cash and coins can easily spread diseases. I will say though, the same risk posed by spending with cash is the same risk posed by using a debit card. The gloves your cashier is wearing have touched everyone else’s debit cards as well as your own. The idea that COVID-19 will be less likely to transfer in a cashless society is utterly ridiculous.
As for going toward a cashless society, there has not been any official word as to whether or not these rumors hold any substance. But I have heard some people say they are in favor of going in that direction and I don’t believe they understand what that would mean for us.
It has long been said that “cash means freedom” and that I believe that to be quite true.
Without cash, the government can gain access to every single one of your purchases, from a single pack of gum to a new house.
I have nothing to fear or hide, but I do enjoy the freedom of knowing I can stow cash safely away where only I know how to find it.
Privacy aside, and that’s a pretty significant factor everyone should consider, the idea of going cashless gives me pause for several reasons. Here’s a small list of reasons why:
• No more odd jobs, such as mowing lawns, to gain extra spending cash;
• No more coins or dollars to put under children’s pillows from the tooth fairy;
• No more local farmers markets;
• No allowance or piggy banks for children to teach them the value of money;
• No more putting cash in the collection plate at church;
• No more stowing away money for a rainy day or saving for something special;
• No more hosting simple yard sales; and
• No more cash from relatives in your birthday card.
Shopping with a debit card is extremely convenient and can save time, when the system is working properly anyway.
In a cashless society, you are giving banks total control of your money and every single transaction you make is recorded. Accessing your money can be blocked if the bank suspects fraudulent activity, which can take days or even weeks to rectify. You will also have no choice but to be taxed on every dollar in your possession.
Another quite obvious reason people should be against a cashless society is emergency situations.
No matter how technologically advanced our society becomes, Mother Nature continues on as she always has. There will still be storms and with storms come the potential for power outages. We should all know by now it doesn’t even take bad weather for technology to go haywire.
I’ll never forget the lesson my fifth-grade teacher gave us during math time. She told us she was working as a Kroger cashier during the epic ice storm of 1994. Power was out for multiple weeks for some people.
No matter the situation, people will always need to purchase groceries to survive. Back then, people carried more cash than they do today, so it wasn’t a problem for customers. Without power, my teacher said they calculated every purchase and its taxes by pen and paper. It took longer but it was necessary to do.
Imagine another severe ice storm, hurricane or tornado in a cashless society. It simply isn’t feasible.
It is my sincere hope the Federal Reserve is being truthful when they say this is a temporary measure during the ongoing pandemic. Cash is important and we should be able to use it if and when we want.
Catherine Kirk is managing editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.