Coin Job | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Coin Job

Cost-benefit arguments aside, there are other reasons we need a dollar coin.



I want an American dollar coin. Not just any American dollar coin, not the inferior attempts of Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea coins, but a respectable American dollar coin with a quality alloy. I want the finest American dollar known to humanity. I want it here, and I want it now.

Not content with this unreasonable demand alone, I also want the wholesale destruction of all American dollar bills. Why? Because a quality dollar coin deserves the kind of respect only exclusivity can afford. That kind of respect demands the elimination of all equal-worth competitors. Besides, George already has a monopoly on the quarter, not to mention a shared holiday.

I realize there are other current issues of more pressing demand. We want to know if our vice president can aim a gun. We’ve got a war. Our Legislature’s wrestling not only with the possibility of a tax cut but toying with the origin of life.

Never mind. When larger problems like fostering world peace prove too much, we might as well sweat the small stuff. An American dollar coin worthy of this great nation is at least doable. It’s also a fantastic idea.

First, it’ll save us all money. U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing figures show that 95 percent of all notes printed every year are used to replace already-existing notes, and 45 percent of those printed are $1 bills. That’s because of all U.S. currency, the $1 bill boasts the shortest life-span, a pathetic average of 18 months. The U.S. General Accounting Office estimates that maintaining our current supply of dollar bills costs $224.7 million per year. Replacing all $1 bills with dollar coins would save us $522.2 million per year. Chump change compared to the cost of war in the Middle East or Bush’s lavish Medicare prescription program, I know, but money all the same.

Second, we’re in dire need of something'nay, anything'to remind American consumers that money still has physical properties removed from the nebulous nature of credit cards and symbols of a balance sheet. At the end of the day, people remain impressed by physical scale and size. Recall the news reports of those handfuls of elementary schools that asked students to throw all their pennies into one massive pot so they might learn the value of small amounts accumulated over time? Only a fool would think that exclusive use of dollar coins would lead Americans to pay off credit-card balances, or government to balance its budget. At the same time, other international currencies where the one-unit denomination exists in coin form only'British Pound sterling, Australian dollar, Euro dollar, the Canadian Loonie'carry far less personal and national debt than we do. There’s something about coins in pocket that remind you of the obvious'you’re carrying money. Don’t buy the arguments or complaints of people who’d rather wad bills. It’s all sixes. Four dollar coins and change will weigh you down more than four dollar bills. But given the choice between a one-dollar coin and quarter in pocket versus five quarters, which would you prefer? Thought so.

As a third reason, launching a new currency launches debate about national values. In a nation that professes to value money so much, that’s both appropriate and inevitable. The U.S. Mint’s 1979 attempt to launch a dollar coin gave us a small national debate about feminism when Susan B. Anthony landed on its face. Too bad the coin’s design couldn’t sustain her legacy. The damned thing felt and looked too much like a quarter. The second time around, in 1999, we got a small lesson in Native American history when Sacagawea posed with papoose in tow. Alas, the alloy smudged easily, robbing Sacagawea of due luster.

Both times, however, the fatal mistake was not ridding us completely of the dollar bill. Follow through on that threat, and think of the money we’d have saved.

Not surprisingly, last year, Congress announced it wants to make the same mistake thrice: issue dollar coins without nixing the paper bill. In a campaign similar to the 50 State Quarters series, our mint will issue four new dollar coins beginning in 2007. Adding disappointment to insult, the choice of art for each coin is yawningly predictable: the chronological order of U.S. presidents.

But why stop at the dollar coin? We could insist that our mint hire cutting-edge designers for a complete redesign of the national currency. Instead we’re content with a similar boring look, year after year. No wonder we spend as much as we do. Subconsciously, we want to get rid of the stuff.


City Weekly turns another page, and another. Notice the difference?

The halls of corporate power are full of dictums.

After the dictum that you must create an identifiable brand follows the dictum that you’ve got to change it from time to time with the occasional chisel, or even jackhammer.

So what’s new? A police blotter, for one (“Blotter Fodder”). In some news markets, these rise to the level of art form, depending on the skills and resourcefulness of the reporter compiling them. Staff writer Shane Johnson has assumed that holy mantle. We’ve got a bevy of lists (“The Ocho,” “Get Active Listings”). And we’ve got “The Missionary Position,” which is not a forum for offense but a showcase for insights and adventures of life lived outside Utah, taken back home again.

If after making your way through these pages, and changes, you want to send us phlegm, outrage, insight, or even the occasional blood oath or domesticated peeve, go ahead. We also take tips, compliments and the occasional rave. But mostly, we hope you enjoy these new additions.