I found this item on Huffington Post this morning. Not a very bright look at a possible future. It covers many of the observations and complaints we have expressed over our morning coffee. MSNB also carried this which is an nice surprise since the mainstream media usually carries the more panglossian stories of how the recession is 'over' and things are looking up.
The Washington Times had this story about the 'unbanked' population in this country. This one links the problem to an underground economy that is largely cash based and often evades taxes even if the commodities and services are legal. I have heard other stories about this 'problem' but none of them mention some pertinent facts that have arisen in my own experience. During my brief 'career' as a bank teller I had an account with the bank I worked for. Free checking there required the account holder to have either funds automatically deposited or a minimum balance of a couple hundred dollars. That wasn't hard since the bank had electronic deposits for its workers and the take home pay was above the minimum balance requirement. That all ended when the job ended. No more automatic deposits and I couldn't maintain the minimum. I had forgotten about those requirements until the first month my balance dropped below the minimum and got hit with a whopping maintenance fee. I would have closed that account long before if I had remembered. I am not 'unbanked' because I opened an account at a different bank when I first moved to this area long before that miserable experience as a teller. One of the attractive features of the account was free checking and the only requirement: being over 50. Several times over the last ten years I would have had to close the account if the bank had charged a maintenance fee because the fees would have eaten a significant portion of what little was in the account. That is the real problem behind the unbanked--not black market activity, illegal alien status, poverty, or ignorance. But nobody wants to talk about it.