The Cost of Convenience

Why you keep lending money to Starbucks

Illustration by Vault49 for TIME

Generous as I am, I hadn't counted on becoming a lender to government agencies and Fortune 500 corporations. You probably didn't either, but let me explain why you are. On a typical day, I get to work by way of New York City's magical subway system, paying my fare with a MetroCard, which is the only way you can get on the train. After leaving the Rockefeller Center station, I buy a coffee with a Starbucks app on my mobile phone. In Time's cafeteria, my cash is no good--I have to pay for lunch by swiping my corporate ID card. If...

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