Cashless Stores Welcome Discrimination

After much deliberation and consideration of how cashless stores would affect businesses, labor, and the community, I feel as though the authorization of cashless stores in the City of Philadelphia would promote and nurture inequities among residents. These factors are all contingent upon each other. I applaud New Jersey for taking the noble lead in denouncing cashless stores. Though our technologies are evolving, we must remember that not everyone has equal access to these conveniences. Because of this, we have a moral imperative to even the playing field for the most vulnerable. If we allow for the perpetuation of cashless stores, I fear that these inequities would spiral further out of control.

First and foremost, cashless stores discriminate against the poor, who are more likely to only have access to cash rather than the credit cards, debit cards, and mobile banking options that are required for cashless stores. Though those in favor of cashless stores argue that they will improve neighborhoods and make shopping more convenient, but I beg to differ. Those of a lower socioeconomic status already face considerably more challenges when shopping for affordable goods and easily accessing resources. What happens when we restrict this access even more by prohibiting those who only have cash from shopping in certain stores? In turn, this will negatively influence business performance, as a smaller amount of people will be able to shop in cashless stores. This holds especially true for stores in more impoverished areas, thus enforcing the standards for gentrification, since higher market rates will displace the poor from their own neighborhoods. Even with proponents of cashless stores positing that they will combat theft, the risk of this is not as high as discrimination.

Labor would also take a toll. As automation and self-checkout become more popular, humans lose their jobs. These low-skilled jobs are frequently held by those with less education and lower socioeconomic status. Therefore, cashless stores would discriminate against the poor once more by putting them out of jobs. Though I can see the merits of cashless stores, I believe that they would cause more harm than good when contemplating the effects on business, labor, and the community. Certain features of cashless stores could be advantageous to Philadelphia, but I am still wary of their complete allowance. In the future, I can see us having discussions about having the option to go cashless in a store, but in the end, cash and human workers must always be present in one way or another.

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