On Tuesday an appeals Court ruled paper money discriminates against the blind. Since I'm quite sure paper money cannot take a position on the subject, clearly it was the U.S. Treasury that was at fault for its short sightedness. Having given the case a good look the appeals court refused to overturn a lower court ruling.
It would appear to me that the court system should have recused itself entirely based on the conflict of interest in the case since there is a long standing tradition of blind justice making impartiality most difficult.
Nevertheless the court did rule 2 to1 that it is entirely possible for the government to design paper currency so that the blind will be able to easily discriminate between different denominations.
While the court took issue with the government's lack of sensitivity on the subject they felt that sensitivity could easily be added to the paper currency by the use of a textured surface or varying the size of the notes as is commonly done in other countries that are more sensitive than our own.
The American Council for the Blind sued for such changes but the Treasury Department has been fighting the case for about six years. "I don't think we should have to rely on people to tell us what our money is," said Mitch Pomerantz, the council's president.
Unfortunately for all of us what our money 'is' only deals with a small aspect of our currency problem. The more pressing issue has to do with what it's worth!
Sheldon Liber is the CEO of a small private investment company and the principal for design and research at an architecture & planning firm. He writes the columns Chasing Value and Serious Money. Disclosure: sometimes I can be silly.