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Jan 12,2007
Shortchanging the blind
by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Late last year, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Treasury Department to redesign the nation's paper currency to accommodate the blind. A redesign makes perfect sense, but the government doesn't see it that way.

Four years ago, the American Council of the Blind filed a lawsuit arguing that American currency was "inaccessible" to blind people and violated a law prohibiting discrimination in government programs against people with disabilities. Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled in late November that the government was discriminating against blind people by producing bills of the same size that can't be distinguished by touch. The judge ordered the Treasury Department to start working within 30 days on possible solutions such as printing bills with foil, raised numerals, perforated dots or denominations in varying sizes. The government appealed last month.

Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper money, only the United States prints its bills in identical sizes and colors for all denominations.

It's something most of us never think about, but stop and consider: Paper money is a huge part of everyday life. Imagine shopping, buying lunch, paying a bill or taking a cab without being able to identify the denomination of bills. You wouldn't know a $1 bill from a $10 bill - or, for that matter, a Benjamin.

Reprinted from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

1121 times read

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  • Very good and interesting article! Not only would such a change help the blind it would also have a great effect on the counterfeiting of our paper money! It makes me wonder greatly why a government which has went to great lengths and expense with watermarks and implanted threads in our currency as a means to supposedly counter act the counterfeiting, yet blatantly refuses to embrace this Court's directive which would help that of our sightless citizens? I believe there is much more at play here than perhaps meets the eye. Here on our South West border with Mexico counterfeit currency is rampant! And it continues to be rampant despite all of the watermarking and added threads to it. Down here we have two economies, Alien Smuggling and Narcotics Trafficking, EVERYTHING else is simply a byproduct. Given the huge sums of cash these two enterprises bring in, and the fact that the organizations are made up of crooks to begin with, it shouldn't be surprising for you to understand how easily this counterfeit currency is put into circulation? Both the Narcotics and Human Smuggling organizations are made up of ''extended cells'' which include a whole bunch of not-the-sharpest-tools-in-the-shed, who get paid piecemeal for whatever small part of the smuggling operation they are involved with. It's all broken down into ''legs'' and then a given amount of money agreed to based upon poundage or head count be it dope or people. A ''foot guide'' a person which leads a group of smuggled people through the desert may be paid, lets say $150 per person in his group for a leg which takes two days to complete. For simple figuring lets say his average group of smuggled Aliens is 20 people. After his two days in the desert and his group delivered to the ''Load-out Zone'', where the next leg begins, he is paid $3000. Quite often this payment is made in the dark of night and in a somewhat hurried manner. Even in good lighting a lot of this counterfeit is hard to detect for the unknowing, let alone these often illiterate foot guides, load car drivers and drop house caretakers. Often they even knowingly except a portion of their payments in counterfeit by way of simple fear of upsetting the higher ups of the organizations. Much of this countefeit is undetectable by the ''marker pens'' which bussinesses have relied on for many years as a means of detecting them, as too are the more advance scanning machines for such. When a person then places on top of that, the fact that many of these Smuggling Orgonzations operate legitimate bussiness, and generally operated in areas near to and involved with Interstate traffic, a person can quickly see how the counterfeit is funneled out of the imeditate area by this unsupecting freeway traffic bying fuel, rooms, meals or a host of other such activty. However it doesn't end there. Some of the ATM machines are in fact used as a means to launder both legal tender (although illicted funds) and to pass counterfeit bills. Again unknown to the unsupsecting, many of these machines are in fact owned or filled with currency by these same Smuggling Organizations on and near this border and interstates. All of this has been taking place for several years now and despite the large amount of Federal law enforcement in these areas, not a damn thing has been done to address it, it has only grown. Somehow it's not surprising for me to learn that the government is against making changes to the currency which would not only asist the blind, but might also foil all of this rampant couunterfeiting. John
  • (Posted on January 14, 2007, 5:21 pm John)

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