Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hard to see the sense in this

In this age, when everyone is entitled to everything, it was hardly surprising to see the other day that a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the Treasury Department is discriminating against blind people because they can't tell the difference between a $1 bill and a $20 bill. Not suprising, perhaps, but stupid. The argument from the government, according to the Associated Press, is that while the current currency causes problems for blind people, they have adapted. The American Council of the Blind, which brought the lawsuit, wants the Treasury Department to spend God knows how much money to print bills of different sizes, or give the various paper money raised markings or other "distinguishing features." Yeah, and while we're at it, why don't we, the taxpayers, fork over the money necessary to give each blind person in the country a valet who can make sure that when they're dressing, they don't mix stripes and plaids. C'mon. According to the AP report, the court said that the government "might as well argue that there's no need to make buildings accessible to wheelchairs because handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask passersby for help." That's a load of steaming crap. There's a big difference between someone having to say to a clerk or a fellow customer, "Hey, is this a one or five?" and having to crawl up three flights of stairs. The government is correct in that blind people have found ways to deal with the currency problem. It's just one of many challenges they face and, in comparison, probably one of the smaller ones. There's also the question of what would happen to vending or change machines if this currency overhaul is forced upon us. Some of them take various denominations, and changing the size or other attributes of paper money might require a total retooling of those machines. We're talking billions of dollars to switch them over. And not all blind people are clamoring for this. The National Federation of the Blind said, basically, that "we're OK" with the current money and sided with the government. If this ruling stands, I think I'm going to file a lawsuit seeking damages because, as a slow, fat person standing a shade under 6 feet tall, I was never able to achieve my dream of playing professional basketball. I think I should have had an accommodation to change the height of the rim from 10 feet to 8 feet so that I could dunk like Shaq. Now I just have to decide how many millions of dollars in damages to ask for in my lawsuit.



Blogger Ellipses said...

While I don't agree that we should change the size of our currency (that would require a much greater change in the machinery that produces it) I do think there should be a non-visual marker as to what the denomination of a bill is. We are the 1 country out of 182 that prints paper currency that makes all of its denominations both the same size and color. I favor using a foil stamp located in a different place on different bills and in different shapes. We are in a rotation now where every few years we change the appearance of our bills to thwart counterfeiting. The textural indicator would not only distinguish a bill to a blind person, but could also serve as an anti-counterfeit measure if there were other information contained on it, such as a hologram.
Though this is mostly for convenience for those who are visually impaired... it would also make it safer for them to use cash without as much fear of being duped (though it would still be pretty easy, at least while the older bills are in circulation)... however, I would be in accordance with doing NOTHING to our currency if the following condition were met:
Anyone caught "ripping off" a blind person may be strung up behind a horse and drug through town until they are dead.


May 22, 2008 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I like the horse idea. Seriously, what you suggest in terms of a tactile aid sounds like a viable plan, though I'm pretty sure it would still add to the cost of making our money and might create some issues with vending and change machines. But it sounds much less disruptive than the different-sized cash.

May 22, 2008 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Well, the way I figured... Since we change how our money LOOKS every few years, the impact on vending and change machines should be minimal. From what I understand, they (the machines) "read" the bill optically and probably just look for certain static markers. As long as those markers remain in place, the machine shouldn't have a problem... And if that is NOT the process, one must assume that the optical reader in those machines would have to be reprogrammed any time a new bill designed is issued anyway. Will it add to the cost of making money? Probably... but it seems as if there is a cost for ANY action on the part of our government... even if that action is inaction. Let's say we were to leave all of our currency alone forever... I guarantee you could find a study that would show that the cost of NOT changing anything would be X Gadgillion dollars due to increased counterfeiting... As I pointed out in the recent poll on the same issue, a lot of blind people "mark" their money in some way anyway... I think we could address one issue (counterfeiting) in a way that is symbiotic with another issue (blind people)...

May 22, 2008 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what do we do to stop discriminating against the colorblind? Print all road signs in B&W? I feel for our blind brothers and sisters, but this is not a viable plan. What do they do in other countries?

May 22, 2008 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

My sister is legally blind. For eight years, she was engaged to a man who has been completely blind since the age of three. In those eight years, I never heard him complain about not being able to see.

I was fascinated by this guy. He has a master's degree from Pitt in computer programming. He graduated second in his class. He managed to navigate the maze of streets of downtown Pittsburgh. He rode buses.

One day, I noticed that he wore a watch. I thought to myself, "Why in the hell does he wear a watch?" Finally, my ignorance and curiosity got the better of me and I asked him what the purpose was of wearing a watch. He simply replied, "So I know what time it is." I couldn't take it. I asked him how in the hell did he know what time it is? He lifted the crystal of the watch and felt the numbers and hands. It was a watch designed for blind people. He was never late.

After learning about the watch, I just had to know what he did with his money. Another very simple answer: each bill is folded a different way. A one might be folded in half crosswise. A five might be folded in half lengthwise. I ten might be folded in three. I don't know if there is a standard way or if it's up to the individual, but it worked for him.

What I'm getting at, and the majority of blind people who are against this lawsuit agree with, is that they don't need this kind of meddling "help." I think it's insulting to them to imply that the government needs to coddle them to make itself feel or look better.

May 22, 2008 at 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spelled: L-i-t-i-g-i-o-u-s

Pronounced "America"

May 22, 2008 at 7:53 PM  

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