This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Cashless

I have been thinking about this for awhile, and I mentioned this to Brandy not that long ago, but I recently realized that I spend a lot of my time without any cash on me these days. Not any. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not even any pocket change. At work I pay for lunch and snacks using my employee id card which directly deducts from my paycheck. Most major purchases are online purchases these days. And in almost all other cases where I am out and about and spending money, I use my debit card. Occationally a credit card, but very rarely. Usually the debit card. I almost NEVER use cash any more.

For awhile I was reluctant to use the debit card for purchases under $20 or so and I’d use cash. But I no longer feel that compulsion. I’ll use my debit card to pay for a $1 purchase without thinking twice about it.

There are some places that are still cash only places, but generally I don’t shop there. Having to use cash is a pain. I’ll have to go to an ATM and make sure I have the needed amount of green actually in my pocket.

I used to always keep a certain amount of cash with me at all times, and if I was low I would go to the ATM and get more. But I slowly started feeling less and less urgent about it. I would run out of cash and not bother to replenish my supply until I *needed* to because I wanted to buy something somewhere that did not take plastic. But this is very rare these days.

As I was thinking about it recently, I realized I have gone weeks at a time with nothing in my wallet except receipts. I just don’t have very much need for actual paper cash any more. Money, yes. Of course. But not in the form of bits of paper or pieces of metal that I carry around with me.

You know the last thing that really got me on a regular basis? Vending machines. I needed that dollar bill to get a coke or a bag of chips. But once I didn’t have cash with me regularly, I’d want chips or whatnot and not have any cash. So I’d head to the ATM. But that WOULD NOT HELP. Because I’d get out however much money, but it would ALL BE IN TWENTIES. And guess what, the vending machines where I tend to be don’t take twenties. So I’d actually have to go somewhere and buy something with a twenty dollar bill, just to get change so I could use the vending machine.

Guess what the result of that was? I use the vending machines much much less than I used to. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So anyway, as I sit here looking at my empty wallet, and realizing that it may be quite awhile until something comes up where I *need* to get those little pieces of paper out of the ATM, I am definitely thinking the day is not actually that far off where the use of paper and metal to pay for things will be very rare. It may take it awhile to die completely, but it is coming.

I think right now the longest I have gone with no cash is a few weeks. I bet you soon that will grow to months. Then maybe years.

The complete extinction of “cash” in the old paper and metal forms may take many decades yet. But I bet you that by the time a kid born today is a teenager, they will view spending of paper money and coins as a quaint antiquity. Hell, I bet a lot of teenagers today already think that. Hell, I kind of think that too.

We just have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up.

The Real Dream Ticket(s)

I’m all for it. Add the joint town halls that have been discussed, and I’ll be quite happy.

Fever Dream Tickets
(Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker)

One thing Obama and McCain have in common is that they each have a Vice-President problem. In both cases the choice is fraught with peril. Do you go for someone who strengthens your base or extends your appeal? Do you try for balance or amplification? How do you avoid saddling yourself with one ingrate and a dozen disgruntled spurnees?
The solution is obvious. Obama should ask McCain to be his running mate. McCain should ask Obama to be his. And both should say yes.
A campaign pitting an Obama-McCain ticket against a McCain-Obama ticket would absolutely guarantee a general-election campaign that would be about The Issues and nothing but The Issues.

(via Andrew Sullivan)

A return to the original formulation that the VP would be whoever came in second in electoral votes. I love it! The only thing better would be to go back to the electors actually being real people who made real decisions rather than just being appointed based on the results of some widespread general election and rubber stamping the results of the popular vote in each state.

Alas, none of that will ever happen. Quite sad.