The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers-and the Coming Cashless Society

The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers-and the Coming Cashless Society

The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers-and the Coming Cashless Society

The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers-and the Coming Cashless Society

Excerpt

On Christmas Eve 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab began the journey he thought would take him from this world into the next, and into the awaiting embrace of six dozen virgins. He carried nothing more than a small duffle bag and, in his underwear, the ingredients for plastic explosives. If not for some fumbling on the part of the aspiring bomber and the reflexes of a few passengers and the crew, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 would have exploded somewhere over Watford, Ontario.

Eight days earlier, Farouk Abdulmutallab stood at an airport ticket counter in West Africa. With $2,381 in cash he purchased a one-way ticket from Lagos, Nigeria, to Detroit, connecting through Amsterdam. Pardon me for my ignorance about the inner workings of the global war on terror and airline ticketing procedures, and for a line of reasoning that promises to infuriate the ACLU, tax-evading militiamen, the U.S. Treasury, and the Russian mob, but I have to ask: in the post-9/11 age, who uses $2,381 in cash to buy a one-way ticket to the other side of the world besides crooks and terrorists? Think of all the mileage points lost!

Money is no object. Maybe so for a lucky few. Except, of course, money is an object—tearable, flammable, even wearable. It’s also an object of obsession, inquiry, aspiration, remorse, delight, disdain, curiosity, and just about every other sentiment imaginable. Money takes different forms, too: credit and debit cards, checks, money orders, lottery tickets . . .

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