Friday, 15 May 2020 19:00
Estonian Life No. 19 2020 - Tõnu Naelapea
Now that is a term for money that is hardly ever heard these days but is still very applicable. An internet search revealed its Biblical origins and the fact that it was in common usage from the 16th century on. The Free Dictionary defines it as money acquired by dishonorable means, referencing St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus (1:11) where the apostle chides and criticizes those who teach things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake. Later the term, ironically, was used for money in general.
Relevant today, as unscrupulous scamsters gouge the public, hoarders sell their wares for massive profit and those taking advantage of the all-pervasive atmosphere of anxiety are bilking the gullible on the internet. Makes one ashamed to be a member of the species.
However, it is not the criminal aspect today that suggested the title here. It is that most retail outlets allowed to operate are refusing to take cash. Because it is dirty, it might carry the dreaded coronavirus
And here is where we enter into an interesting argument. Many of us, knowing that cash is legal tender, not wishing to use hackable credit, debit technology do not like this approach. Yet have to go along with the merchant’s request for it is understandable. It took a major hack two weeks ago to delve further into the legalities of not accepting cash. The Beer Store’s computer system was compromised and as of writing they are presently accepting only cash.
As one who prefers cash transactions, distrusts on-line purchases, rightfully so considering how historically criminals have penetrated even the best online firewalls, security, the undersigned felt vindicated. Until coming across the following line while researching the issue on the net. In 2017 CBC reported, “even though it is legal currency, the Bank of Canada says it is not mandatory for Canadian businesses to accept cash”. What? It certainly is in the U.S. The almighty dollar cannot be refused. Here though, according to our central bank, both parties must agree on the form of payment. Methinks the merchant has the upper hand. Reference even then to a desire to move to a digital, paperless world is made, certainly the case today.
Because of physical distancing, the shutting of bank branches and the interminable line-ups even at ATMs one was forced to register, sign up for internet banking. Many of us distrust the system, ATMs are shunned, and cash is preferred. As is banking in person. But we are given no option. Even our local Circle K will not accept cash for four liters of milk. Somewhat stupid to use a debit/credit card for such a picayune sum.
We have long known that money was dirty. Most of us had that hammered home in childhood. Curious, how in the middle ages it was standard to test gold coins by biting on them. The softness of gold was key – counterfeit coins would break your teeth. However, no one in their right mind would put paper money in their mouth. Cashiers have gloves, and those that do not always seem to have hand sanitizer available. So why the over-reaction? Most of us have legal tender in our wallets. If the virus, as speculated, hangs around for 72 hours then those bills by now should be COVID-19-free. Sure, toddlers put lots of things in their mouth but as our coins are essentially worthless there are few if none lying about as temptation.
Perhaps some are making a mountain out of a molehill. Those, who like me, distrust the digital world, internet financial transactions, prefer cheques and cash over other options are also guilty of stubborn reaction, certainly not to the extent that some in the community outside are expressing. And it must be emphasized that the virtual world, digital transactions depend on electricity. What will happen if there is a lengthy power failure, or hackers are even more successful? King Cash saves the day.
No one can predict when financial stability will be regained, never mind the assurance that the virus has been held at bay. But until that far away day the consumer, already stretched and concerned about the unavailability of many household items and foodstuffs should not be financially hindered. No matter what the Bank of Canada says. The one time that it is better to be a yank than a canuck. Remember what American shopkeepers used to believe. They had prominent signs by the cash register – words still in use – In God we trust. All others pay cash. Man does not live on beer alone.Tõnu Naelapea