May 20, 2008

American money discriminates against the blind.

I blogged about the district court case in 2006, and now it's been upheld by the Court of Appeals.
The U.S. acknowledges the design hinders blind people but it argued that blind people have adapted. Some relied on store clerks to help them, some used credit cards and others folded certain corners to help distinguish between bills.

The court ruled 2-1 that such adaptations were insufficient. The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there's no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.

Courts can't decide how to design the currency, since that's up to the Treasury Department. But the ruling forces the department to address what the court called a discriminatory problem.

[The American Council for the Blind president Mitch] Pomerantz says it could take years to change the look of money and until then, he expects that similar-looking money will continue to get printed and spent. But since blindness becomes more common with age, people in the 30s and 40s should know that, when they get older, "they will be able to identify their $1 bills from their fives, tens and twenties," he said.
This might be a good time to get rid of $1 bills and force everyone to use all those $1 coins we've been resisting for years. Wouldn't that save taxpayers a lot of money?
While the government has been fighting to overturn the lower court ruling, it has been taking some steps toward modifying U.S. currency for the visually impaired.

The most recent currency redesign of the $5 bill introduced in March features a giant "5" printed in purple on one side of the bill to help those with vision problems distinguish the bill.
Oh, that's why we got the purple 5? I was wondering. It's so garish — and ungreen — but I guess that's the point.

Here's my suggestion: Let's just have $20 bills. That's all I ever get from the bank or the ATM machine. I don't want anything larger. Does anyone? $1 bills should have been retired a long time ago — and we've already got the coins — so it's really only about the $10s and $5s. Get rid of them too! Let the government make a $10 and a $5 coin and be done with it. If it's a bill, it's a $20. Problem solved. Blind people happy. It's a golden opportunity.

91 comments:

Fatmouse said...

I have in my wallet right now thirteen bills of various value. They weigh nothing, fold up into almost nothing and stay where they're put.

The notion of dragging around a equal-valued pile of heavy-ass coins in their place, which jangle around, scratch up my cell and fall out at every opportunity makes me want to shove a roll of Susan B. Anthonys up a treasury official's backside.

Americans have show time and time and TIME again that they don't want goddamn dollar coins, and would just as well get rid of coins altogether. Hell, I think that's why you see "Tip" jars at counter-service restaurants that have no business expecting "tips" for a minute's work - people would rather throw their change away than carry it around.

And stop messing with the damn colors! If we could actually vote on it, I think 90% of people would demand their greenbacks return.

chickenlittle said...

How about embossed Braille on the bills?

Palladian said...

Funny that they think the Treasury department discriminates against the blind. Considering the aesthetic quality of the currency and coinage that's been designed and produced by the government in the last 10 or so years, I'd assumed that their entire design staff was blind. Really, they've uglified our currency beyond belief. The new nickels are perhaps the ugliest coins we've heretofore produced, though almost everything they're producing these days is a new exercise in clumsy substandard carving and clunky design. It looks cheap which given the current value of the dollar is perhaps intentional.

AJ Lynch said...

Make blind people happy?

I don't think so Ann. That won't happen until John Kerry is president and makes them walk again.

Palladian said...

And metal coins are a terrible idea, as is assuming that all the cool people want to charge everything. The great thing about cash is that it's anonymous.

I propose a Democrat-style solution to these problems: assign to each and every blind person a civil servant who will tell them what bills they are using. They could also perhaps offer a little spending advice. Hell, why not assign a government worker to each and every American, who could tell you how to spend your money, how much to eat, what you should be driving and so on. The government needs to accommodate everyone at all times! That's Change We Can Believe In!

Justin said...

We could just make each denomination a different size. That seems to be the simplest solution.

I'm not sure how a giant purple '5' helps the blind, though.

SteveR said...

If the bill reader at the self checkout at the grocery store can tell a twenty from a five, it could easily be made into a small portable device the visually handicapped could carry around.

Problem solved. Blind people happy. It's a golden opportunity.

As a male, coins are a PITA. If they *have* to use curency instead of a debit card, then use a reader. It won't be any slower or heavier than sorting through a handful of coins trying to pull out $15.76.

john said...

Why bother with all that, Ann, when you just have to wait till next January and the new occupent of the WH will be able to make change for everyone?

Smilin' Jack said...

This might be a good time to get rid of $1 bills and force everyone to use all those $1 coins...

Yeah, let's make everyone carry around a pocketfull of heavy, ugly coins. I don't think so.

Better idea: let's get rid of all currency, coins and paper. Nowadays even a dog can get a credit card, so let's use them. Think of all the productivity we'll gain if we don't have to wait for granny to hunt around in her purse for the exact change, not find it, and then wait for the arithmetically-challenged cashier to make change anyway.

Palladian said...

"Better idea: let's get rid of all currency, coins and paper. Nowadays even a dog can get a credit card, so let's use them."

Yes, let's make sure that government and business can track every single purchase we make, right down to a cup of coffee! We're already practically there, so why not just give in completely?

vbspurs said...

This is going to sound strange, as I was a numismatist when I was a kid, but I hate coins.

Okay, I only hate the one pound coin.

I hated it when the pound note was phased out, and even though I was around 8 or so, I remembered the nostalgia I felt immediately.

Curiously, prices felt like they skyrocketed immediately. The measure of our economy was suddenly the 5 pound note. It's ghastly. Don't do it, Americans.

Besides, how many times do you have had to reinvent the 1 dollar coin?

Ike. Susan B. Anthony. The Native American. All the Presidents now.

It doesn't TAKE. Americans don't like it, especially men, I fancy.

Used to be a volunteer at the Lighthouse for the Blind. As much as a sighted person can, I know the realities of being blind. But there are other ways of addressing this problem, as some commenters noted above.

Cheers,
Victoria

AJ Lynch said...

I am with you Palladian. I don't want the govt to know I get all my news from the National Enquirer (and this blog of course).

rhhardin said...

This might be a good time to get rid of $1 bills and force everyone to use all those $1 coins we've been resisting for years.

The Sasquatch dollar comeback.

Simon said...

I also wrote about it when the district court decided it, concluding it was among the most asinine rulings in recent memory, and I see nothing that change that conclusion skimming the majority opinion.

Will said...

I like the new presidential dollar coins. I like the reverse of the Sacagawea coin, but the obverse is entirely too twee. I have no objection to retiring the dollar note in its favor.
However, losing the 5 and 10 dollar notes is unrealistic. And I like using the 50 and 100 dollar notes from time to time. Frankly, we should think about resurrecting the 500 as well.

Pastor_Jeff said...

I think the court got it right. It is an issue of fairness and accessibility.

Although I recall reading somewhere that it would be cheaper to give every blind person a bill reader than to change over all the cash registers and bill readers. Maybe if we just modified the length slightly instead of the height or overall design ...

And nobody wants dollar coins. Sacagawea was no more popular than the Carter Quarter. Did you know there are Presidential Dollar coins? I didn't until I got a Washington in change. When I spent it, the clerk was as unaware of its existence as I had been.

And the Mint is redesigning the penny. The penny! We lose money on every one we make, so let's spend money redesigning them and make even more!

ajf said...

Dollar coins make strippers cry.

rhhardin said...

Schnitzler would become incomprehensible.

Ich habe deinem Begleiter ein Zwanzig-Francstück gegeben.

Ann Althouse said...

Look, I don't like coins either, but you are supposed to manage your coin supply and minimize the number you have (or dump them in tip jars or in a bowl at home to take to the bank to add to your account).

You have your credit cards and your $20 bills. You might have at most: one $10 coin, one $5 coin, four $1 coins, three quarters and a few dimes or nickles or pennies. Pay in a way that reduces the number of coins you have at any one time. It's not that hard.

Skyler said...

My wife is deaf. Deaf people have been helped immensely in just the past few years by technology. Before I met my wife she didn't have a phone. Now she has a sidekick and a blackberry and never goes anywhere without it. She's now able to communicate well with anyone, especially with her video phone provided by Sorenson, via our tax dollars.

I agree with the other poster here. There's no need to make all the world adjust to assist a tiny minority. Why not provide reasonable technology to help the blind detect their own money?

The blind have bigger problems than just money, I'd imagine. They need a guide for anyplace they go, unless they've rehearsed it extensively, and they are always going to be dependent on the graciousness of strangers to some extent. As much as we can reasonably reduce this, we should.

Redesigning all money or forcing all of us to carry coins is too much. I do my best to avoid coins and my life is happier for it. I dread money in Europe because of the need to carry so many darn big, heavy coins.

SteveR said...

Currency not curency, but you knew that. The problem with "sizing" bills is not insignificant, although I can expect a blind person would be more sensitive to minor differences in size.

reader_iam said...

you are supposed to manage your coin supply

"Supposed to"? Sheesh.

Smilin' Jack said...

Yes, let's make sure that government and business can track every single purchase we make, right down to a cup of coffee!

Every minute a government minion spends scrutinizing my Starbucks charges is a minute he won't be spending doing something truly destructive. You're welcome.

Pastor_Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastor_Jeff said...

Hey, we can't just go on using the same sized bills and rejecting coins and think the rest of the world will say, "OK."

Skyler said...

You might have at most: one $10 coin, one $5 coin, four $1 coins, three quarters and a few dimes or nickles or pennies.

I love ya, Ann, but this is written as only someone who carries a purse could write.

You've just required me to carry about a dozen coins, most of which will be quite heavy. They clink and at that quantity will tug at my pocket malforming my trousers.

Currently I almost never carry more than three or four coins. I do everything I can to get them out of my pocket as soon as possible. I throw away pennies, they're not worth the time or effort to roll up or carry. (After a year of collecting them, I used to get about five dollars of pennies, and that's not worth it.)

I usually have anywhere between 3 and 8 one dollar bills in my pocket and any number of higher denominations. I try to keep some ones on hand so I can buy a soda or a candy bar from a machine if I need to, so that often means more than five ones on hand. Can you imagine carrying that much metal around all the time? Not me.

I despise walking around clinking. This is an absurd plan.

vbspurs said...

Dollar coins make strippers cry.

Aww. In honour, I propose putting Anna Nicole Smith on the one dollar coin.

Cheers,
Victoria

George said...

American money discriminates against Americans.

It's not so much that our peso has lost value, it's that the quality of many products we buy has become commensurately worse.

I heard a Chinese factory owner in an interview say, "You want it to last 18 months. We build it to last 18 months."

Ain't that the truth!

bearbee said...

The demand for industrial metals - copper, tin, nickel, other - by emerging economies is causing the price to explode.

How 'bout currency recognition software given to each person? Maybe Steve Jobs can get it down to a size carried on a key chain.

Sheepman said...

I think Ann's suggestion makes sense if you got rid of pennies and nickels - that way there wouldn't be too many coins.

Most non-Euro, European countries haven't gotten rid of their smaller coins. In Norway, where I live, the smallest coin is worth about 10 US cents. It works well. Sales tax is included in prices, so most goods are priced at "rounded" figures. At grocery stores you can get sums that require rounding up or down, but that is not a problem.

Finn Kristiansen said...

You might have at most: one $10 coin, one $5 coin, four $1 coins, three quarters and a few dimes or nickles or pennies.

Where do we put our drugs, cell phones, jolly ranchers, mp3 player, lighters, and pocketknife if our pockets are full of coins?

That's absurd. The suggestion is nothing more than the feminization of the American male pocket. Hands out of my pocket with your ideas of change.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, yes, Sheepman is right, especially about the pennies. The government should eliminate them.

(But please don't throw them in the trash. That upsets me.)

Revenant said...

The funny thing about this is that we're rapidly moving towards a cashless environment. The only thing I use actual folding money for is paying for lunch. Everything else gets paid by debit card, credit card, or (in rare cases) check.

Anyway, if this asinine ruling makes it all the way up to the Supreme Court, Congress will simply change the law. It would cost too much to comply with it.

Simon said...

Pastor_Jeff said...
"I think the court got it right. It is an issue of fairness and accessibility."

It is an issue of no such thing. It is an issue of whether the government is compelled by existing law (specifically, the rehabilitation act) to make such changes, notwithstanding that Congress obviously didn't think so since it's repeatedly considered and rejected legislation since the Rehabilitation Act that would force this policy change.

The place to make the case for the fairness and accessibility is in the policy-making branches, not federal court. This ruling ought to be seized upon by the McCain camp as the latest in a long line of judicial activism, an example of those "special interests" Obama keeps bleating about pushing their agenda through the courts when they can't push it through Congress.

J said...

"Get rid of them too! Let the government make a $10 and a $5 coin and be done with it"

I think you've been spending too much time with Europeans. Purses aren't going to catch on with the male half of the population any time soon. Expect resistance to this idea.


"And the Mint is redesigning the penny. The penny! We lose money on every one we make, so let's spend money redesigning them and make even more!"

One word - volume.

Will said...

As for the penny redesign: one more word -- Seignorage.

Original Mike said...

It seems like just yesterday, Ann, you were seeking advice on how to do without a purse. Then you write this.

As others here, I avoid using a credit card when cash will do. I do this mainly because I find it a great budgeting tool (out of cash? Time to stop spending.) but I also like leaving less of a trail for the data miners (and ID theives).

And I shudder to think how the 20 something grocery teller who can barely make change now would respond to dumping bills for coins.

P. Rich said...

AA said: I don't want anything larger [than a 20]. Does anyone?

Never lived in Vegas, or anyplace with similar activities, I see. The 100 is the basic unit of currency in the casinos.

You're pissing up a rope with your arguments, Althouse. Given that you are a member of the female species, that must be an awkward exercise - though no doubt you've improved through regular practice over the years.

Skyler said...

Will, thanks for the link on Seignorage. I wondered why they were so focused on making new coins.

Eli Blake said...

Nowadays even a dog can get a credit card, so let's use them.

I try not to.

Here are some reasons why I prefer cash:

1. You're paid, no need to worry about paying for it next month.

2. Nobody is going to get hold of the serial numbers off your currency and defraud you.

3. Since credit card companies charge a 'convenience fee' to retailers they generally pass this back onto the consumer. In most cases they raise the prices for everyone but some places (like service stations that give a 'cash discount') you will get to pay that extra fee yourself.

4. You lose a twenty dollar bill somewhere, you lose twenty dollars. You lose your credit card someplace then you have to make a whole bunch of phone calls and scramble to cancel it and then sit around waiting for a new one.

5. If you give a tip in cash, you can hand it to the waitress and be sure she gets it. You put it on your card, then whether she sees any of it at all or what the policy is, is up to the restaurant.

6. There is no record stored on some hard drive somewhere if you pay cash, so nobody (be it a marketer, a government snoop, or a criminal) will know what you bought, how much you paid for it, or where you bought it from.

7. You don't have to worry that some computuer malfunction or some human decision will suspend your cash and make it no longer valid.

8. You can open your wallet, count your cash and know right away whether you can afford something.

vbspurs said...

That's absurd. The suggestion is nothing more than the feminization of the American male pocket. Hands out of my pocket with your ideas of change.

But Finn! Look how manly Penhaligon's male coin purse is!

In case you don't do black, like my father's was, you have your choice of:

Tan
Ruby
Violetta
Rosa

Come on. Violetta. I know American males will adore it.

Cheers,
Victoria

Pastor_Jeff said...

Simon,

I will admit that you are the legal scholar and not I, but I fail to see how the court has overstepped its bounds. Congress wrote a broadly-worded law guaranteeing access to benefits of the operations of government agencies.

If Congress does not desire for the law it wrote to apply in the case of monetary design, it can write another law or amend the current one to so state, can it not? That Congress rejected laws to redesign currency does not answer whether the 1973 law implies access to currency for the visually impaired. Congress is capable of being in violation of its own laws, after all. And the judicial branch is charged with making that determination.

The place to make the case for the fairness and accessibility is in the policy-making branches, not federal court.

And if Congress refuses a legitimate accommodation according to its own laws, what then? Isn't it the court's job to offer relief? The court is not inventing new rights here, but applying the law Congress wrote. That it's written so broadly as to suggest this kind of relief is Congress' fault, not the Court's.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatCA said...

Yes, this is a case of cherry picking minutia of everyday life and litigating them to the betterment of life for ever smaller niche minorities--who as Skyler says are better off relying on themselves rather than on government--without a thought to unintended consequences or the propriety of guaranteeing equal outcome versus equal opportunity.

Case in point: I once worked in an 8-story building filled with government workers, at least one of whom was confined to a wheelchair due to a birth defect which rendered his legs small and useless. A smoke alarm went off, and we streamed down the stairs. At one of the lower floors, the gentleman sat in his chair and his co-workers agonized about how to get him down. We all stopped in our tracks but I could feel the hundreds of people behind me surging forward. I could hardly stand up as the surge grew. Finally someone screamed "Pick him up!" and a couple guys picked him up, chair and all, and we made it down the stairs without being trampled.

What if he had been heavier? What if he were alone? I think of the people in chairs who died in the Twin Towers, and I think, is this "equality" for the disabled or deadly foolishness?

Kev said...

We could just make each denomination a different size. That seems to be the simplest solution.

I think this was discussed at the '06 post on this subject here. It would require retrofitting every change and vending machine in the nation, and you can imagine the cost of that.

We could just make each denomination a different size. That seems to be the simplest solution.

Maybe. But if you want to avoid the above problem with change machines, that's not the answer. Someone suggested keeping the height and changing widths, but I wonder if that would be a sufficient difference for blind people to tell them apart.

(An interesting aside: At the college where I teach, the vending machines started accepting credit cards this year. They don't give receipts--and you have to push "finished" at the end so that you're not buying the rest of the school a drink all day--but they've proven to be convenient. I was surprised at how many times I was thirsty this semester and didn't have $1.25 in any denomination.)

Palladian said...

Until the nasty Victorians and especially the Edwardians (men's formal garments are the ossified remains of this benighted age) ruined everything, purses were carried by most everyone. I carry a small bag most of the time, which holds, among other things, my notebooks and drawing books, writing and drawing tools, my Nikon, business cards, grooming supplies, etc. There's nothing "feminine" about being efficient and prepared wherever you go. The briefcases, attaché cases, portfolios and portable computer bags that men carry are nothing more than the expanded purse. And there's no shame in that.

I think you see more bag-carrying men in urban areas due to the lack of cars. In other places men simply keep stuff stashed in their automobile.

Ann Althouse said...

By the same token, for many years, I avoided carrying a handbag and I still enjoy going out with my hands free. And women are usually more concerned about things that make the pockets bulge. So I get the pocket thing.

vbspurs said...

Until the nasty Victorians and especially the Edwardians (men's formal garments are still the ossified remains of this benighted age) ruined everything,

I don't know I'd be too hard on Victorians-cum-Edwardians. Before them we had powdered wigs, codpieces, and stiletto heels, and those were the men.

purses were carried by most everyone.

In the British Army, if an officer was caught holding (just holding, mind) a parcel or bag, he could be reported to his colonel-in-chief. Because of our class consciousness, it was thought only those in trade held parcels.

I think you see more bag-carrying men in urban areas due to the lack of cars. In other places men simply keep stuff stashed in their automobile.

Or, if you're Cameron Silver you can get a bespoke Hermès bag.

Just $11,000.

An important subtext, because that would equal a heck of a lot of coins.

Will, thanks for the seigniorialism link. A practical argument, at last.

Cheers,
Victoria

Skyler said...

We could just make each denomination a different size. That seems to be the simplest solution.

Yeah, smaller sizes, sure. Then the one dollar bill can get cut down and passed to a blind man as $100.

Or braille? I know most people would be flattening them out, and if they were torn would still not help the blind. I don't know anyone that will throw away his dollar bills because the braille is worn, so how will the blind benefit from that?

Smilin' Jack said...

1. You're paid, no need to worry about paying for it next month.

Look up the "time value of money." Or better yet, just send me some money and I'll send it back to you next month.

2. Nobody is going to get hold of the serial numbers off your currency and defraud you.

No, they're just going to mug you.

3. Since credit card companies charge a 'convenience fee' to retailers they generally pass this back onto the consumer. In most cases they raise the prices for everyone but some places (like service stations that give a 'cash discount') you will get to pay that extra fee yourself.

I haven't seen a "cash discount" in years. Instead, I get a cash refund from my credit card company for every dollar charged. The money for that, as well as for the convenience fees, comes from the cash customers--also known as "suckers."

4. You lose a twenty dollar bill somewhere, you lose twenty dollars. You lose your credit card someplace then you...
lose nothing.

6. There is no record stored on some hard drive somewhere if you pay cash, so nobody (be it a marketer, a government snoop, or a criminal) will know what you bought, how much you paid for it, or where you bought it from.

They will if you forget to wear your tinfoil hat and the CIA uses its mind-reading rays on you.

tullydoc said...

Pastor Jeff @ 1:11:

Hey, we can't just go on using the same sized bills and rejecting coins and think the rest of the world will say, "OK."

LMAO. If no one else got it, I did.

Original Mike said...

I read an article a few years ago about the finance community despairing because people were not interested in pre-paid cash cards (or whatever they're called). One guys sales pitch for the cards: It frees you from the "inconvenience" of cash!

Pogo said...

I haven't seen a "cash discount" in years.

Because it's illegal. We all enjoy the "benefit" of paying for everyone else's use of Visa and Mastercard.

Palladian said...

"Before them we had powdered wigs, codpieces, and stiletto heels, and those were the men."

I can dream, can't I? Where's Sir Archy?

Freder Frederson said...

I think this was discussed at the '06 post on this subject here. It would require retrofitting every change and vending machine in the nation, and you can imagine the cost of that.

Of course it wouldn't. Most vending machines only take one denomination--generally dollar bills, so it wouldn't be a big deal. And of course, practically every other country on earth has different sized bills for exactly the reason we are discussing--yet they have changers and ATMs that work perfectly well. I imagine that retrofitting machines that take and dispense cash is probably a lot less expensive than you imagine (as they are already designed to accomodate foreign currency with minor modifications).

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The whole idea is insane to spend billions (maybe?) to change our currency system to accomodate a few people who are blind. The expense, not to mention the confusion.

I was in Ireland when they went from a pound/pence system to a decimal system. For Victoria, I have proof set of the new coins which are quite beautiful with Celtic designs on them (which the blind STILL can't see!!!). No one knew how to make change as there were still the old notes and coins in circulation and we couldn't figure out what a new coin equaled in the old currency. We all just stood stupidly around when trying to pay for a sandwich or a beer, confused, frustrated and ended up picking coins from each other's hands. "Ok...I guess that's about close" "Whatever" /shrug

I'm short....I'm disadvantaged and discriminated against. I DEMAND that all kitchen cabinets and bathroom counter tops be lowered by 5 inches....IMMEDIATELY.

vbspurs said...

I can dream, can't I? Where's Sir Archy?

Mmm, Sir Archy in a codpiece.

Sorry, where was I? Ah, yes. Codpieces could act as coin purses. I think that's how the Scots sporran evolved.

More seriously, this topic of getting rid of coins as so many other countries have done has spidery connotations. One argument is about adhering to other cultures' ideas of standardisation.

The RoW also wants Americans to do day/month/year not month/day/year, and to get rid of Imperial and go over to Metric, at last. And what's up with you people not celebrating May Day officially? Labour Day in September, are you nuts? Or just arrogant?

Sheesh. This American Exceptionalism has GOT to end. You stick out too much with your non-bulging pockets.

Cheers,
Victoria

george grady said...

Look, I don't like coins either, but you are supposed to manage your coin supply and minimize the number you have (or dump them in tip jars or in a bowl at home to take to the bank to add to your account).

Unfortunately, this vastly overestimates the mathematical capabilities of much of our populace. And, as passe as actually teaching kids how to add and subtract is in our schools these days (that's what calculators are for, right?), I don't foresee the situation improving.

vbspurs said...

/getting rid of coins, ie., getting rid of dollar bills.

DBQ, how lovely. I wouldn't mind seeing them one day. My stamp and coin collections, however, are sadly neglected.

WAIT! Are stamps not discriminatory towards the blind too?!?!11!

Cheers,
Victoria

Tully said...

We kicked the cost & retrofit thing around when this case first showed on the radar.

There are about 400K ATM's in the country, and 7.5 million vending machines, many of which take multiple denominations of currency. All would need some retrofitting.

Tully said...

Oh, and those figures were somewhat old when we first grabbed them, so the number of machines is now certainly higher. But it makes a convenient floor for figuring.

Palladian said...

"And of course, practically every other country on earth has different sized bills for exactly the reason we are discussing--yet they have changers and ATMs that work perfectly well."

Oh well in that case! I mean, how can we keep not doing the things that practically every other country on earth does and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK?!

Freder pays for the changeover.

bearbee said...

Yeah, smaller sizes, sure. Then the one dollar bill can get cut down and passed to a blind man as $100.

The larger the currency denomination, the larger the bill size.

How 'bout shaped currency,e.g., a ten dollar bill in the shaped of a 10.

Or various denominations in differing textures or thickness. Of course then that could be a problem for those who have lost sensitive feel in their fingers tips.

Pogo said...

After we change the money to accomodate the blind, I want to:

1) change college entrance exams to accomodate my brother, who is retarded but I thought he should get a law degree.
2) change pro sports so that uncoordinated skinny dweebs can play running back; a robo-suit should work.
3) Silence all radios and iPods to accomodate the deaf. If they can't hear, neither should you, you elitist asshole.
4) change restaurants to make all food equally bland, so that no cook has unearned advantage over another
5) deaden all olfactory senses to accomodate those afflicted with anosmia
6) let's just go all Harrison Bergeron on everyone:

"THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General."

vbspurs said...

"THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal."

Lord, even if I am in cryogenic suspension, let me live to see that day!

Bearbee wrote:

How 'bout shaped currency,e.g., a ten dollar bill in the shaped of a 10.

All the best counterfeiters will be in the 2nd grade.

Hey speaking of which, did you guys see the Austrian film, The Counterfeiters?

Gives you a renewed appreciation of printed currency.

Anthony said...

I am probably one of the few males who likes dollar coins. Way easier to put in a vending machine. I buy a roll whenever I can and then grab a couple every morning to use in the soda vending machines at work. They work much better than trying to smooth out (or wrinkle? who knows what the rule is. . .) a dollar bill so the machine will accept it.

Revenant said...

And of course, practically every other country on earth has different sized bills for exactly the reason we are discussing--yet they have changers and ATMs that work perfectly well.

Obviously it CAN be done. It would just be expensive to accommodate, and frankly it isn't worth the expense. Blind people can pay for hand-held scanners to identify denominations if they need to.

Titan said...

"And of course, practically every other country on earth has different sized bills for exactly the reason we are discussing--yet they have changers and ATMs that work perfectly well."

Oh well in that case! I mean, how can we keep not doing the things that practically every other country on earth does and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK?!


I think the point was that many other countries have found a way to do this, despite the fact that they have vending machines. Try Googling Australian money. The Australian blind rely on the different thicknesses/texture of the bills. It's surprisingly effective. I could put my hand in my pocket, touch my Australian money, and pull out the bills I needed.

(The bills are also different lengths, but I found this less useful because I needed to it was more relative.)

vbspurs said...

I could put my hand in my pocket, touch my Australian money, and pull out the bills I needed.

Trust an Aussie to cite the sensible option out there. That might work for blind people, if phased in slowly.

Abrupt changes are horrid.

Swedes to this day remember the confusion of "Dagen H".

That was the day, 3 Sept 1967, when Sweden changed over from the British style of driving on the left, to the right-hand drive.

Chaos.

Palladian said...

"The Australian blind rely on the different thicknesses/texture of the bills."

The first sensible suggestion I've seen.

Some of the newer currency in the US has raised printing already... isn't there a way to incorporate this into a solution?

Palladian said...

Regarding textured paper, I'm sure that Crane & Company, the makers of the paper for all US currency, are more than up to the task.

P. Rich said...

OK. Pet peeve re the disabled:

Airport waiting room, 200 tired travelers, 1 person in a wheelchair. Ready to board. Half the people are standing. Everyone is put on hold while the one disabled person, who is already comfortably seated, is slowly and carefully boarded first. Then the other 200 get to move.

Question: Why can't a seat be reserved, the passengers boarded, then the wheelchair bound person seated last in the reserved seat? Their real choice is sit in the wheelchair, or sit in one of those wonderful airline seats. They're never carrying luggage, and they wouldn't be inconvenienced. But apparently inconveniencing 200 other people is just peachy. Everybody go "Awwwwww.", then realize that the airlines aren't engaging in rational social behavior, nor are they utilizing efficient queuing theory.

Fe. Fi. Fo. Fum. I smell a liberal...

/end-rant

blake said...

And the Mint is redesigning the penny. The penny! We lose money on every one we make, so let's spend money redesigning them and make even more!

Not quite. A penny does cost more than a penny to make, true, but it's used many, many times in its life.

Snopes has a good breakdown of this if you're interested.

Palladian said...

"Why can't a seat be reserved, the passengers boarded, then the wheelchair bound person seated last in the reserved seat?"

Because the wheelchair-bound person would sue the hell out of the airline for discrimination, and probably win. Until the 200 non-wheelchair-bound people start suing, nothing will change.

Joe said...

I used cash today for the first time in at least six months (yes, I've had the same $5 bill in my wallet all that time) and it was for parking that took only cash. I don't think this would have been an issue for blind.

For my purchases, I use the green of AMEX and a Mastercard if they don't take AMEX (which is very rare, to my surprise.)

Pastafarian said...

It costs $0.062 to print a bill; it costs over $0.07 to produce a quarter-sized coin, and that's with current metal prices -- which are increasing dramatically already, without tying up tons of zinc in the money supply.

Changing bills to coins would be penny-wise and pound-foolish, in my opinion.

Pastafarian said...

Oh, and about the discrimination: I think that the continued existence of mountains constitutes discrimination against quadraplegics. Walkers can hike up them, or climb them; but quadraplegics must roll around them. I say we bulldoze every damned one of them flat as a pancake.

Elliott A said...

Without $1 bills, it would be impossible to have a folded Benjamin over a large stack of Washingtons and look wealthy.

Seriously, raised numbers in one corner would make the money harder to counterfeit.A worthwhile unintended consequence.

We could also get rid of cash altogether and go to "cash cards". They have begun using them in Australia and are required for vending machines. Nobody robs the vending machines. As with gift cards, they could be registered and replaced if lost. Stealing them is worthless since they have a pin.

About 10 years ago, the Virginia courts ordered the state DOT to lower every emergency callbox in the state since folks in wheelchairs couldn't reach them. They found a better answer: they gave all wheelchair bound drivers a cellphone with an emergency number preprogrammed. Maybe there is a proactive answer for the blind which would solve the problem without requiring wholesale changes in the currency.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

We could also get rid of cash altogether and go to "cash cards".

But ....but...but... if we did that how are people going to hide their income and particpate in the gowing underground economy.

I'm not joking, since if the Dem's get in power, I know many who are planning to become...ahem..less visible.

vbspurs said...

I'm not joking, since if the Dem's get in power, I know many who are planning to become...ahem..less visible.

I was perusing this option for ahem...a friend.

There's a debit card where you don't have to submit to a credit check to get. Unfortunately, you do have to give your SSN. They say they do not report how much you have in the card, to the IRS, but I don't buy that.

There are benefits to having ones for blue-collar workers like waiters/waitresses, barbers/stylists, valets, etc.

There's something more substantial and respectful to receiving a dollar bill, than a coin. Eh, just a minor point, but sometimes blue-collar folks get left out of the equation...

Cheers,
Victoria

Skyler said...

Everyone is put on hold while the one disabled person, who is already comfortably seated, is slowly and carefully boarded first. Then the other 200 get to move.

. . . Everybody . . . realize that the airlines aren't engaging in rational social behavior, nor are they utilizing efficient queuing theory.


P. Rich, that is one of the most petty and pathetic things I've ever heard. The plane leaves at the same time whether this individual boards first or last. The destination is still reached by all passengers at the same time. Besides, getting that person seated and his needs seen to before a hundred others bombard the flight attendants with their chaos certainly does make sense.

You should really do a self examination and try to understand why you think you are so important that you can't wait in a comfortable gate lounge while someone who can't walk is getting some assistance.

Eli Blake said...

You guys never see a cash discount? I could name at least three gas stations where I've seen one recently.

smilin jack:

Look up the "time value of money." Or better yet, just send me some money and I'll send it back to you next month

Yeah. Let's do some math, OK? It costs you 42 cents in postage to mail it in. Right now if you keep it in most savings accounts the interest rate is 1% yearly, so 42 cents in monthly interest represents a yearly interest of $5.04 (just to cover postage) which means you need to charge $504 per month just to earn enough interest to break even. So I could see that if you are talking about charging a large purchase like a refrigerator or something but if you charge a couple of meals and some gas on it each month and think you are making a profit by keeping your money in the bank for a month then you are truly being foolish. In fact, this assumes the most optimistic scenario that you charge the stuff immediately after the due date. If we instead assume that the average purchase is on there for half a month, then you have to charge over a thousand dollars a month (and pay your full balance every month) just to break even on the postage. And most people who charge over a thousand a month swiftly end up owing a balance, and then the 'time value of money' works all right-- for the bank that issued the credit card.

And as for getting your 'cash back,' you are foolish to think you're getting anything back. Discover card charges most retailers about 6%, and they give you 1% back. Ever wonder why fewer retailers accept Discover? It's because Master Card and Visa charge THEM less because they aren't giving you 'cash back.' But they are still charging the retailers a small percentage, and it gets tacked onto the price of everything you buy! It amazes me how people seem to understand these 'hidden costs' when they are taxes, but don't care about them when they are something else.

So let me put it this way: If the Government was charging the retailer a 6% tax, pocketing it as profit and then sending you back 1% (while the retailer added the tax to the price of everything), so that you were paying an extra 6% in order to get 1%, would you have a problem with that? Well, that's exactly what Discover card is doing.

Trumpit said...

Quarters and dimes used to be made out of pure shiny silver; they were beautiful to behold. That lasted until 1964 when the coins were changed to cheap pot metals. Pennies were made out of shiny, luscious, almost pure copper, until the price of copper made a penny worth more than a penny. A gold coin, like a $20 eagle gold piece is a fantastic treasure. Platinum coins are the ultimate. At least we still have aluminum coke cans.

Tragic really that the masses are left with cheap and ugly coins to use and look at on a daily basis. Functionality has taken over where authentic metallic aesthetics once was the norm. I hate what are coins have become. We are our coins: tarnished and base.

Michael_H said...

Coins? Get rid of them completely.

The old men in my extended family all stand around at family gatherings jingling the coins in their pockets. It's enough to drive everyone else batty in about three minutes.

Paper money is fine. Debit cards are better, but paper money placed in the right palms gets a lot of small things done in this world.

bearbee said...

Some stats on the number of persons blind or visually impaired based as of '94-95.

Total 10 mm
VI 8.1 mm
legally blind 1.3 mm (80% with some useful vision)

Do the newer bills with larger numbers and color overcome most difficulties? If so, hand scanners for the remaining might be a cost effective solution.

P. Rich said...

Altogether now, Skyler: Awwwwwww...

Absence of reason, as you so clearly demonstrate by your negative remarks, is why such situations exist in the first place.

"The plane leaves at the same time whether this individual boards first or last. The destination is still reached by all passengers at the same time. Besides, getting that person seated and his needs seen to before a hundred others bombard the flight attendants with their chaos certainly does make sense."

False on all fronts. But then facts aren't really relevant to your victim-oriented worldview, are they?

You, or someone exactly like you, were expected. It's like leaving out sugar to attract and study flies. Thanks for providing the cheap entertainment. Move along now.

Smilin' Jack said...

Eli Blake said...
Yeah. Let's do some math, OK? It costs you 42 cents in postage to mail it in.


You still pay bills by mail? My God, people like you should be stuffed and put in museums, somewhere between the caveman and ancient Egyptian exhibits.

And as for getting your 'cash back,' you are foolish to think you're getting anything back....blah, blah, blah....

I've got over $400 in my Discover cashback account right now, and you don't. Sucker.

Skyler said...

P Rich, you're clearly a troll.

Revenant said...

You guys never see a cash discount?

Years ago, yeah.

But they are still charging the retailers a small percentage, and it gets tacked onto the price of everything you buy!

It gets "tacked onto the price of everything you buy" even if you pay with cash.

It costs you 42 cents in postage to mail it in.

I pay by automatic monthly withdraw from my checking account. There is no fee.

knoxwhirled said...

Really, they've uglified our currency beyond belief

agreed. The result of design by committee, doubtless.

knoxwhirled said...

you are supposed to manage your coin supply and minimize the number you have

???

not how I choose to spend my mental energy