Cashpocalypse Now

As America creeps toward a cashless future, we make some wildly uneducated guesses about what might help the greenback stay on top.

2021

American idiots

Bitcoin. Cashless restaurants. Automated cashiers. Venmo. The US Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing is scrambling to save paper currency and their jobs making it. They argue that not only is paper money still hard to knock off, but that our society is also in danger of losing face-to-face interactions forever. 

Cash needs to become king, again. These middle managers come to a consensus: Americans want more of their favorite presidents, but with more fun and relatability. Treasury introduces bills with depictions of infamous presidential bloopers: Gerald Ford bonking his head on a plane door, Jimmy Carter facing down a swamp rabbit, George Herbert Walker Bush barfing on the prime minister of Japan, and Barack Obama wearing a tan suit. It has to work.


 

2023

Colorblind voting

It doesn’t. So the Treasury turns to America’s real tastemakers, the public. They launch UPick, an online voting initiative for Americans to submit and vote on colors other than green for money.  With over 5 million votes submitted to help pick “The Colors of America,” UPick is a mild success, but there are some surprising results. Winners include: “Recession Brown,” “America in Crisis Pink,” “The Blood of Patriots Red,” and “Yellow Journalism.” Confusion mounts about whether this is “real money,” as people mistake it for receipts, counterfeits, or Euros.


 

2024

‘America’s Greatest Moments’

Shaken by America’s taste but still committed to UPick, Treasury introduces a next round to choose which of “America’s Greatest Moments” will be featured on new denominations. New images are selected for inflation-created denominations:

$15: The Gettysburg Address

$23: The 20-Year Anniversary of The Simple Life in 2023

$38: Mr. Met’s Birthday

$62: Apollo 13 (the film)

$123: OJ’s Bronco Chase

$280: The Birth of the Hot Dog

$500: Camille Grammer of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Invites a Medium to a Dinner Party


 

2026

Takes money to make money

For the first time, a majority of Fortune 500 Companies are using bitcoin. Confidence in cash has never been lower. The Treasury realizes it’s time to find another source of revenue besides literally printing money. The precious real estate on cash is opened to advertising.

Inaugural ads include a speech bubble next to Washington recommending chia-seed toothpaste, Jackson wearing a Sea-Doo life vest, and Hamilton dancing to his favorite Spotify playlist. It’s regarded by the lessening audience for paper money as “generally tasteful.”


 

2027

Visual inflation

The dam breaks soon after, and every bill is quickly covered in buyable space: QR codes, trivia questions, fortunes, stock tips, coupons, inspirational quotes, and, for some reason, googly eyes. Put simply, it looks insane. The Treasury is rudderless.


 

2030

Smell me the money

Looking for a reset, the Treasury is put in the capable hands of controversial Instagram influencer and designer Chef Club. Chef Club is not an actual chef but, rather, a social media celebrity known for his Photoshop prowess, stolen memes, and seven-second prank videos. He is selected in a UPick landslide as Treasury secretary.

His first change as the new Treasury secretary is to make money scented. “Yosemite Pine,” “V-Day Celebration’s Fireworks and Champagne,” and “Roosevelt Backcountry B.O.” are quickly popular memes, but once the bills are in circulation, pressed against other bills and dirtied through use, they take on new scents that confuse and horrify bill users.


 

2031

Eat the rich

Treasury Secretary Chef Club isn’t slowed. The next step in his currency takeover? Edible money. Bills can be eaten straight, or dipped in hot tea or coffee. The bills are surprisingly delicious and prompt a new culinary and restaurant fad, but an uptick in flu cases along with a major decline in circulating currency causes major headaches.


 

2032

Down the drain

Treasury Secretary Chef Club unveils the new $560 bill, which isn’t a traditional bill but a container full of colorful ooze. But Treasury employees, unused to working with ooze, accidentally pour $17 billion worth of ooze-cash down a D.C. drain. Despite a high-profile rescue mission into the sewer system, criticism and mockery from Congress and the public are quick and fierce.


 

2033

Cashed out

Chef Club is fired. Treasury has its budget slashed by a Congress that is embarrassed by the Department and questioning its relevance. The new secretary issues a series of apologies and, due to the reduced budget, brings back older-run bills, calling them “Cash Classic.”

As a fun incentive, the Department also introduces a limited run of bills featuring fully nude portraits instead of busts. This, too, ends in scandal when once rational citizens fly into a frenzy trying to snap up the rare, naked bills. It also becomes another front in the culture wars, as pundits decry the influence of the “porno bucks” on children. People are certainly talking about cash—like, how to get rid of it immediately. Oops.

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