Consequences be damned, I suppose:
A federal judge said yesterday that by keeping all U.S. currency the same size and texture, the government has denied blind people meaningful access to money.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson said the Treasury Department has violated the law, and he ordered the government to develop ways for the blind to tell bills apart.
“Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations,” Robertson wrote. “More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired.”
Perhaps I’m missing the importance of this issue, but it seems to border on folly. How pervasive is this problem, really? But I’ll assume that the court’s ruling is not only correct, but reasonable. What are the impacts, economically?
For example, how much effort and expense will be involved so that I can use one of the soon-to-be-redesigned bills to add fare to my Metro card? It took months for WMATA to reconfigure the machines to work with the most recent redesign. I can’t wait to see the fare hikes that will come out of this.
What about cash registers? Wallets? The ramifications are numerous. Of course, much of that has to do with size changes, which the Treasury is apparently not obligated to undertake. Okay, but there will be impacts.
Of course, it’s also useful to remember that cash use is becoming less common over time. That’s not a license to discriminate, if one-size-fits-all money is discrimination, but is the court merely remedying yesterday’s problem? I think it is.