“The End of Money” by David Wolman

The title of the book by David Wolman, “The End of Money”, should not be accepted literally, as it mostly refers to the end of cash: Banknotes and coins. The author refers to the incident which happened in Ireland in the beginning of May, 1970, when during over half a year the bank system was completely frozen and no operations could be accomplished via it at all. The reason for such a long-lasting stoppage was the demonstration of the employee’s total disagreement with the work in the bank. The unions of the indignant workers brought to a halt the entire national banking system turning the life for thousands of citizens into a nightmare. Irish individuals, and especially companies, had to go through the days without any access to the conveniences of the contemporary monetary system: Bank accounts did not work; cheques could not be cleared; no one could even withdraw the needed cash or transfer money, and the list can be continued.Bottom of Form

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This troublesome situation inspired David Wolman to write his interesting book where he shared with the readers a new opportunity: A life without cash is possible. Certainly, that for the majority of people the only thought about the effects on the economy which the stagnancy of the banking system can cause seems to be catastrophic. No wonder, the reaction of the Irish people was not very different, however, to my surprise, the reality was actually the opposite. The Irish Central Bank made a stunning conclusion in the official review of the issue stating that the economy of the country continued to function properly without any decrease in the overall economic situation of Ireland. Moreover, the economic analysts could clearly see the upsurge in the economic potential of the nation.

People were not lost: They turned back again to using the private IOU system which allowed them to receive some money under the written promise of returning them. It is difficult to find such people who could believe that there is any possibility in the modern world to use the old system, however, the system worked effectively proving that neither high technological development nor powerful modernization of all sectors can hinder people from leading a good life. It must be more than true that the human brains and body are arranged in such a way that we can adapt practically to any conditions.

 David Wolman’s book shows how easily the world can be changed to a completely new way of life. No cash at all will not mean that people would become poor or overly-controlled by the government, however, it would mean that people can get rid of many problems like losing a wallet full of money or having their money stolen. The world where people are cash-free can be also defined as a clear-world: The scientists have proved long ago that money are very dirty, and contain many dangerous bacteria which can easily become a cause of some disease like flue or allergy. Once I even heard a story about a man who spend thirty years without getting ill even with the simplest influenza due to the fact, as he explained it, that he was washing his money every day.

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It was very interesting for me to read all counter-arguments of keeping the cash, as soon as the idea cross my mind, I found it to be quite innovative and very efficient approach to not only keep one’s health in better condition, but also an opportunity for the government to save more money for the state treasury as fewer workers will be needed to make money, and there would be no demand in so much cotton (75%) and linen (25%) to produce banknotes.

Wolman dedicated the entire chapter to the disadvantages of a no-cash life, too. Its name is “The Missionary”. The author describes the meeting with a prophesying pastor in rural areas of Georgia who sincerely believes that the secrecy of cash payment is all that ordinary people have between them and economy where each commercial move could be supervised, and therefore controlled. However, many people probably do not understand the negative side of this situation and continue to go for cleaner and more modern way of life. I cannot share the concern of the prophesying man as I am doing nothing which I can consider harmful to the state and for which I can carry some punishment. On the other hand, I recognize the possibility of reducing the financial crimes when no cash can be transferred as bribes or used in the shadow economy (both of which are especially strong-felt in the developing countries or, particularly, third-world countries where people buy diplomas at the universities, give money to the doctors if they want to be correctly diagnosed and cured, or pay the traffic controllers and policemen in order not to be fined, put into jail, and sent to court).

“The End of the Money” has its flaws, too. The author seems to be in a close touch with some parallel world from where he gets his statements to prove the ideas. Of course, it just seems to be a fictional way of expression Wolman’s innovative ideas, however, writing about a serious possibility to change our economy into an electronic substitute that can bring many benefits to various sectors of humans’ activity should have been treated more seriously, and not relied to the mystical views of some prophets. Furthermore, Wolman’s fresh treatment of the monetary history as well as the avoiding of the essential questions concerning the real destination of money and its way of work was more substantive flaws.

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However, the author’s innovation should not be demolished with some minor flaws as nothing is perfect anyway. Moreover, what humanity considers a flaw in the present-day society, can appear to be an advantage in a couple of years – when the people will grow enough mentally to be ready to accept just another change into their lives. Despite its title, David Wolman's interest is definitely less in money than in the perspectives which open for substituting banknotes and coins with electronic payments. The book is a great introduction to the new system which can be installed in many countries as soon as the governments recognize its effectiveness.

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