Monday, November 12, 2007

The Nature of Money

I was looking through some photos that I took from Argentina and notice this one of a peso. Every time I travel I inspect the currency to see if there is anything that I can learn from the country that I am visiting. There is usually some stately picture of a historic figure (usually in profile); and if you ask the locals about the person the response is usually a blank stare. People are too busy with their daily lives to be experts on areas that don't affect them. We Americans aren't any better, in fact, if you told Americans that they could get a tax break if we allowed the McDonald's Golden Arches on the back of a dollar bill, I'm sure a large percentage would give their approval. The nature and progress of technology has also increased the separation of money from its place of governmental authority, visibility and pride. For most of my transactions, even when traveling in a foreign country I use my debit card which certainly makes the transactions feel much more commercial than about national institutions or identity. It can also impact us on a more psychological level as it divorces the physical nature of money from our lives and creates a system where a plastic card and a receipt govern our reality of the worth of a product or service. Perhaps historians will look back someday and point to this transitional period from currency to technology as the reason for our higher consumption and lower savings. Anyway, I have to go now and fill up my gas tank, pick up some dry cleaning and buy some groceries and of course I won't forget my debit card.

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