Paper currency has lost the utility it possessed when it was created in the 19th century. Originally created to act as a store of value, unit of account, and medium of exchange, the need for and usage of paper currency have awlnaled considerably as we approach the next millennium.

Business is conducted almost exclusively by check or electronic payment mechanisms. Today, consumers use bank cards, checks, and credit cards when making large purchases. Ask yourself this question: When was the last time I paid cash for a purchase over $100? If you are like the numerous individuals I have asked this same question, your answer is, "I have not made a cash purchase in excess of $100 in the last year" or "I have made fewer than five cash purchases for more than $100 during the past year."

The fact is this: Cash exists as a convenience for consumers, not as a necessity. We use cash to make small purchases at the deli, grocery store, or train station.

As a result of the technology explosion during this century, we can now choose whether or not we want to use cash to make these same small purchases. For example, many grocery stores give you the option of paying with cash or using a bank or credit card. Department stores have long accepted other forms of payment.

In fact, most merchants will accept a check for almost any purchase.

In today's society there is only one form of enterprise that prefers to conduct business on a cash basis: criminal undertakings.

If the government were to phase out paper currency in favor of electronic debit cards and checks, it would at once strike the most meaningful blow to criminal practices ever in the history of our great nation.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do individuals rob banks in order to obtain cash?

Is the sale of illicit drugs primarily a cash business?

Are street-level drug dealers totally dependent upon cash for the majority of their transactions?

Are drug cartels totally dependent upon street-level drug dealers for the distribution of their products?

Are most illegal handguns purchased with cash?

Are bribes and illegal payoffs usually made With cash?

Is it easier for a merchant to avoid paying taxes if business is conducted on a cash basis?

If paper currency were no longer recognized as legal tender, would all types of criminal activity suffer a devastating, if not debilitating, blow?

Obviously, the answer to all of these questions is: Yes. Hopefully, one can now see the significant gains for humanity if the citizens of the United States give up the convenience of paper currency. Not only will we help ourselves, but the rest of the free world as well. It is well-known that the currency of choice on foreign black markets is the U.S. dollar. The impact of our decision will-also strike a significant blow at those illicit markets.

The decision, if made, will not only improve the quality of life for every U.S. citizen, it will also bolster our economy by creating new jobs, reducing federal and state spending, increasing tax receipts and lowering taxes.

The government, along with private industry, will face the task of expanding the current electronic payment technology, thus creating a demand for engineering and computer-related professionals, many of whom have suffered under the recent downsizing in those industries as a result of the reduction in defense spending.

Once in place, the new technology will have to be supported by technicians and service personnel, thereby creating a demand for lesser-skilled individuals. These lesser-skilled individuals could receive short-term training in order to qualify for these new positions, offering opportunities for unemployed individuals to be retrained in new technology-based careers.

Due to the inherent nature of checking accounts and electronic debit cards, the commercial banking industry will have the greatest need for new employees. This fact will create additional job and career opportunities for unemployed individuals.

Reductions in the federal budget will be achieved through reductions in the Treasury Department's responsibilities for currency production and maintenance. The Federal Reserve will also see cuts, due to the cessation of its currency operations. All entitlement programs that issue payments via checks will see cuts due to the fact that these payments will be made electronically, greatly reducing processing functions.

States and municipalities will see reductions in their budgets because of the decreased need for special services related to drag addiction and criminal rehabilitation.

To the extent the budget is reduced by the spending cuts mentioned above, the savings could be used to lower personal income taxes and help reduce the federal and state budget deficits. Tax receipts will go up because businesses will no longer be able to operate on a cash basis, thereby underreporting sales and profits. This will result in more sales and income tax receipts.

This solution to many of our problems does not come without problems of its own. Undoubtedly, people eminently more capable of discussing economics, politics, and technology will find flaws in some of what has been stated here. However, the desire is not to offer these comments as the final answer, but rather to focus the attention of these extremely bright and talented leaders on making this the solution.

MGIC Offers Paperless Claims Submission

Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. has introduced completely automated processing of mortgage insurance claims in the X12 format.

The format refers to the standardized electronic claims documentation developed by the Mortgage Bankers Association X12 Group, led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1993. Mortgage lenders filing a claim due to default on a mortgage loan can now send communication industry-uniform information electronically to MGIC, which eliminates claims forms and other paper. This latest phase of MGICs simplified claims processing is called the "X12 Claim".

MGIC is headquartered in Milwaukee.

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