Saturday, December 02, 2006

An article in the Washington Post Express newspaper this past Wednesday (November 30th) caught my eye: it noted that a District Court judge had ruled that American currency discriminates against the blind, because all denominations look and feel the same. The judge didn't tell the Treasury Department how to fix the "problem," but did tell it to come up with ways for blind people to tell bills of various denominations apart.

Of course, where you stand on any issue depends on how that issue affects you. Since I'm not blind (although woefully nearsighted), I think this is a silly issue that distracts attention and resources from more important problems that affect more people.

At a time when our education system is underfunded and teachers underpaid, when we're mired in a dreadful war in Iraq, when pollution threatens our environment, when unchecked illegal immigration threatens the very nature of America, when intolerant militant Islam seeks to turn the clock back a thousand years to an imagined paradise, I don't think that whether a hundred-dollar bill is larger or differently-colored or of a different texture than a twenty is particularly important.

Consider the implications of the most commonly mentioned fix: making each denomination bill a different size. Differently-sized bills would require cash register drawers to be reconfigured to hold the various sizes. Vending machines would need to be adapted to accept the assorted bills. Currency presses and cutting machines would have to be redesigned or rebuilt. And the list goes on.

How about a little reality check here? Let's solve the huge problems that affect everyone, and then worry about the smaller problems that, although real, affect a much smaller slice of the population.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


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