Visa, Mastercard & X

"Sometimes the seed of an idea forms in my head, and I simply can't sleep until I plant it." - Grizwald Grim

Debit Card Per-Transaction Fees are Eerily Like a Sales Tax
Oregon doesn't have a sales tax, but if I drive across the river into Washington state, a portion of my purchase there goes to the government. If I use my debit card for that transaction, a portion of my purchase also goes to the big banks.

Cash is Inconvenient
If I buy something with cash, I have to deal with change - not so with a debit card
If I get robbed while carrying cash, it's pretty much gone - not so with a debit card, at least so long as they don't beat my pin out of me. Then, my understanding is that I can report it as stolen and it magically won't work anymore
If I don't carry cash, when a homeless person asks me for change I can say "I don't have any" without lying

Debit Cards Require Infrastructure
That's why mine has a MasterCard logo. Credit cards paved the way and built the infrastructure, and then it was convenient for even small banks to (probably rent) use that infrastructure for debit cards.

Infrastructure is one of the many things the government is supposed to deal with
Is the infrastructure used for data to travel from the store to the bank really all that different from the road that my car uses to travel from the store to my home?

If the government can print money, they can surely print plastic cards. If the transaction fees we already pay are pretty much like a tax, the government can certainly call the fees for it's plastic cards a tax. Once the infrastructure is paid for it's the brand new source of income that the politicians are so desperate to find - but the beauty of it is that it won't really hurt. The merchants can just keeping taking the hit as a cost of doing business like they have been for years, and as the government would benefit from money circulating through the economy it would be in its own best interest to either have comparable or lower rates than Visa and MasterCard. 

Of course, there will be ramifications - particularly for Visa and MasterCard and the big banks.. but hey, it's not our fault they didn't save that bailout money for a rainy day..or did they?