Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Show Me the Money

Here's a experiment for you to try the next time you're at a grocery store. Put on a pair of glasses that totally fog your vision or close your eyes altogether and try to pay your bill with good old US Currency. Is that a 5, a 10 or a 20 you're got in your hand? No clue? Thank the US Treasury for their outdated currency. Unlike other countries who have brightly colored or different-sized bills, ours is available in green. And if you don't like green, there's always... green.

A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge recently ruled against the government, stating that they did not do enough to aid the blind and the visually impaired when it came to equal access to US Currency. The judge ordered the goverment to come up with new means to help those who are visually impaired conduct the monetary affairs of everyday life.

The Bush administration is challenging the ruling. Their excuse is that it will too costly to redesign the money (though they just went through redesign and ignored the American Council for the Blind's repeated pleas to make the money more user friendly. They also said such changes would make it easier to counterfeit (huh?)

When I lived in Hong Kong, the $100 note was red (worth about $13 U.S.) It was easy to spot, along with the other colored currency. No brain power required, even if you've had a few too many Fosters before closing time. I can easily tell a 10 from a 20, but then I have good eyesight. My mom-in-law does not. She's very nearly blind, but quite independent. She has to paperclip her money to separate her bills one domination from the other.

The government says she should just use a debit or credit card. These idiots should be blindfolded and turned loose at a grocery store checkout. I can barely read the displays. My mom-in-law can't see the keys. Handing the card to the checker means she'll have to sign a slip, which is equally hard to read.

Change the currency, guys. We waste a ton of money on other less worthy projects (that bridge to nowhere in Alaska, for instance). All of us are getting older. You can damned well bet the currency will become senior friendly the moment the folks in the Treasury Department develop cataracts.

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