Friday, January 12, 2007

Accepting pesos

Steven at Poliblog has been following the story of a Texas pizza chain that is under fire for accepting Mexican pesos. I agree with his assessment that this is good old fashioned American capitalism at work. In fact, mega-corporations on the border—even Wal-Mart—already accept pesos at some stores.

What strikes me is that for being such a rich, powerful, and swaggering country, we often show a tremendous insecurity. Hearing Spanish or reading it in official documents makes us afraid. If you accept pesos, then you’re “unpatriotic.” I’m still trying to figure that out. You do a legal transaction, receiving money you wouldn’t otherwise get because it was stuck in a drawer, in a capitalist transaction on the basis of supply and demand. Isn’t that the American Way?

Racism is certainly part of it, but alone does not explain it. We proclaim diversity but don’t like the change that accompanies it. We keep up a blind insistence that we’ve done things the same way for years, and this is why we’re successful, so we shouldn’t change, ignoring the fact that it’s all a myth. For example, we want to believe (a la Samuel Huntington) that WASP ingenuity makes the country go ‘round, willfully ignoring the fact that the economy would come to a standstill if the immigrant population stopped working for us.


Anonymous,  10:16 PM  

I agree Dr. Weeks. I saw that story yesterday on and thought that was a great idea. I wish there was a Pizza place did the same around Charlotte. I've got about 60 pesos I could get rid of for some good pizza.

Anonymous,  7:04 AM  

I can't understand why anyone would object to this. What's the difference between accepting pesos and accepting Canadian dollars (as is common in Seattle, Buffalo, Detroit, etc)? The same people who are complaining about this would complain if they were outside the US and found a store in Mexico that did NOT accept dollars (which in itself is impossible). Oh wait...given that 80% of Americans don't have passports, the complainer probably have never stepped foot out of the country.

Greg Weeks 8:40 AM  

It is entirely possible that all the attention this is getting will actually give other businesses the idea to try it themselves. A great promotion would be to accept currency from anywhere in the world for one day.

Anonymous,  12:32 PM  

I tend to agree with the majority of what everyone has written here but one of the reasons many businesses don't accept foreign currency relates to the cost/inconvenience of exchanging it. On a border town or state it makes perfect sense but in other locations it is just an inconvenience.

Greg Weeks 2:09 PM  

I would say that supply will meet demand. If businesses feel it's too much of a hassle and no one will care, then they won't do it.

gkissel 4:29 PM  

So if accepting pesos is "good old fashioned American capitalsim," then why isn't a pizza chain freely negotiating salaries with employees (that may be below the "minimum wage,") also considered "good old fashioned American capitalism"?

Greg Weeks 4:43 PM  

Well, in a way it is. But it's also illegal, while accepting pesos is not, so exploiting workers illegally bothers me in a way that foreign currency does not.

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