Tuesday, September 16, 2008
A Cashless Economy
I've never used a debit card. So I scarcely get the clowns in front of me in supermarket checkout aisles who use them. Yeah, I guess if they have impaired *credit* they have to use them. But I've seen people I know have credit cards use *debit* to pay for things like groceries and whatnot. If you are going to pay your credit card bill every month, what difference does it make if it's a little bigger. You're going to just pay the bill from your checking account anyway, no?
I guess I am a little gun-shy on debit cards because my wife had her wallet stolen once and they withdrew $500 off one of her ATM cards that we didn't even know had a debit function. She got the money back, but it was disconcerting how fast the thief did this. The wallet was stolen during her yoga class and my wife cancelled everything the minute she got out (1 hour?).
The other thing that I only a little bit get is when retail cashiers ask debit card users if they want "cash back". According to my googling there are no direct fees involved on the consumer. Does the merchant get a small percentage of the transaction? Why would the store want to deplete its cash? Does this make the manager feel safer or lighten his deposit load? Someone can enlighten me as I am too uninterested to research it.
Sometimes I feel like I (and my Luddite jabronis from South Philly) are the only ones who have any cash on them. I can't stand - if on principle alone - these buffoons who I see swiping $3 off their debit card at Starbucks.
So I got to wondering if muggings have gone down as our economy has gone CASHLESS???
Again, no research, just a query. But I'll bet humans today are less likely to have a knife and a wallet-demand pulled on them on the street than they were in ages past. So if it weren't for a few BILLION DOLLARS in annual credit card fraud one could argue that cashless-ness has reduced crime!
When I moved to Philadelphia in 1992 one bit of head-scratching advice I got from a local was this:
If someone pulls a gun on you, DON'T give them your wallet.
BUT, if they pull a knife on you, hand it over.
Because they won't use the gun but they sure as hell will stab you.
Years later I still don't understand the advice.
Now, in my nine year stint in the City of Brotherly Love I only had one knucklehead pull a knife on me. It was a very big piece of metal; and he waved it at me in broad daylight (noon?) on Pattison Avenue. I saw him coming all the way and jumped out into the middle of the street. There was no way he was going to catch this nimble cracker!
If it happened today I could safely hold my ground and probably convince the gentleman that I only used *debit and PayPal*.
Now watch this poor old guy in the clip below get mugged for a whopping $2 at McDonalds. The Moronic perp knocked him unconscious and thus couldn't even get the guy's PIN:
This clip reminds me of an incident in Brooklyn. Every time I parked our car on the street, it was an automatic to put anything of value in the trunk. One time I left a collapsing chair - like a lawn chair - on the back seat. It was worthless. In fact my wife was given it at some corporate event. The next day when I went to get the car somewhere down in Cobble Hill I found the window smashed and the chair gone.
The lesson was, it's not whether what I left on the seat actually was *valuable* - it's whether or not some Moron might deem it so!
After watching that guy above get walloped I'll be hard-pressed to turn my back on any knucklehead for quite some time.
NOTE - There seems to be some web debate over the true meaning of jabroni.