Daniel Vizzini

On the Divorce of Medium and Message →

The Internet’s genius is in divorcing the creation of content with the means of its distribution. Newspapermen are not printers, but both are employees of the same corporation. On the Internet, billions create content that is distributed globally by a relatively tiny cadre of anonymous technicians, for little if any cost.

This divorce has greatly democratized content’s creation, for which it is justly celebrated. It has also, with little notice, centralized the means of distributing this content. The entities that control an increasing portion of the Internet’s physical infrastructure seem more motivated by economies of scale than a desire to be censors, but their power is nonetheless enormous. Let us hope they maintain the ethos of the Internet’s academic founders.

The wise man cares about what is good for him. The fool cares about what is dear to him.

— Hindi Proverb (courtesy of Hardeep Maharawal)

Why You Should Use Cash

Arithmetic Exercise: You purchase an item for $6.87. You have two twenties, a ten, three singles, two quarters, a dime, and three pennies. What should you give the cashier in order to minimize the number of your bills and coins? Quick, someone is behind you in line.

The cognizant user of cash answers such questions every day. Technology clearly aids in certain mental faculties (give—yes, electronically—to Wikipedia) but electronic payment has deprived many of what has been the primary impetus to maintain arithmetic. Do not let it deprive yours.

The Little Guy: I use a Charles Schwab checking account that pays me an (admittedly pathetic) amount of interest and reimburses ATM fees. I would also pay nothing to spend money were I to use a credit card.

Given my personal indifference, I have a stark choice: should the merchants I patronize, often small, family-run businesses, pay a large financial corporation for money’s infrastructure, or should that large financial corporation pay whoever provides me with cash—outfits that, from the look of 99-cent ATM’s, are also small and family-run? I take no inherent issue with large corporations, but the choice is obvious.

The Frugality of the Tangible: Personal finance experts advocate putting sensible quantities of cash in envelopes with labels such as “groceries” and “entertainment” at the beginning of the month. Seeing these envelopes thinning will surely induce great fiscal discipline, but I will never be so together on the first. I can say, however, that feeling my wallet thin, and, God forbid, going to the ATM for the second time in two days, provides me with clear, real-time feedback that I should spend less money.

But a credit card gives me free baggage on Delta flights, a twenty-five dollar Gap giftcard, and something to talk to my cowokers about? I allow the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to refute this argument.

Style: My father has massive shoulders, a soothing presence, and sings a melodic bass. He will always be cooler than me. Needless to say, so will the Notorious BIG and Nas. What do these three men have in common? My father carries a money clip, Biggie raps about the Benjamins, not the commas in his monthly statement, and Nas schrewdly uses cash-based financial planning. The Jeffersons go to wifey.

The next time you purchase something for more than three hundred bucks, calmly break out a stack of twenties and throw them down in neat, hundred-dollar piles. The dorkiest among us will feel just a little G.