• D. Randall Faro

Can't Bank on It

Do you ever wonder what the world’s coming to? Of course we do. But now and then one comes upon something necessarily filed between incredulous and ludicrous.


I went into my bank today, plopped a hundred-dollar bill on the counter and asked for ten ten-dollar bills in return. No go. Wouldn’t do it.


Permit me to explain. I did get my tens . . . but only by depositing the hundred dollars (the big bill) into my account and then withdrawing one hundred dollars in tens. When I was told that this was now the mandatory practice – allegedly throughout the U.S. banking world – I was momentarily speechless. It takes quite a bit for that to happen. The branch manager – a savvy women who has helped me negotiate various banking muddles – came over and did her best to transform my incredulity into understanding. Didn’t work.


If this now supposedly standard-across-the-board practice is for real, that means you and I cannot, for instance, take a fifty into a bank where we do not have an account, and ask for five tens in return. The same goes for a check made out to you or me. No bank where one doesn’t have an account will cash it. And even at one’s own bank an endorsed check can only become cash in hand by depositing it in one’s account and then withdrawing the amount.


The explanation has something to do with tracking terrorist money, drug money, counterfeit bills, and maybe under-the-table-IRS-no-see money. I never used to concern myself much with Big Brother watching me . . . but by my lights this is over-the-moon crazy. Is Homeland Security or the FBI or the CIA or NASA or Barnum and Baily’s Circus mandating this, or are the banks getting so ripped off that money isn’t treated like money anymore. Seriously, folks, are we (or banks) really in such bad shape that a proven non-counterfeit bill (machines can easily do this) cannot be accepted at face value?


I don’t believe one has to be a banker, a government bureaucrat, an accountant, or a statistician to judge this new banking scenario to be over-the-top loco. I can purchase a thousand-dollar high-powered semi-automatic rifle from a private individual or at a gun show without a background check or having to register the weapon. But I guess that makes sense vis-à-vis the new banking rules fiasco because there is no constitutional amendment ensuring my right to own and trade government bank notes.


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