Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Massachusetts Firm Fights to Keep Dollar Bill

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For over 100 years, a family-owned Massachusetts company has repeatedly won the contract to produce the paper for this nation's currency. Crane & Company won their first contract in 1879 and today they are the sole producers of paper for United States currency.

Last year the U.S. Treasury produced more than 1.8 billion dollar bills, and with recent legislation introduced to end the dollar bill, called the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act (COINS), you can see why Crane & Company would object.

No sooner had the legislation in favor of the coin been introduced, than the two Senators from Massachusetts had introduced their own bill, called the Currency Efficiency Act, to benefit the family-run business from their home state by protecting the dollar bill.

In this day and age where everything gets lobbied either for or against, it's not surprising to see political groups being formed on both sides of the issue.

Dollar Coin Alliance

On the side favoring the dollar coin, we have the Dollar Coin Alliance. Their mission is to save "American taxpayers billions of dollars by transitioning to a one dollar coin."

Their members include the likes of the Citizens Against Government Waste, the United Steel Workers, the International Association of Machinists, and various mining, transportation, and coin-op groups.

Americans for George Coalition

But the dollar bill advocates have their own group as well. Known as the Americans for George Coalition, they claim their mission is to "ensure that the citizens of the United States maintain the ability to choose their preferred currency." In other words, they simply oppose any move to eliminate the dollar bill.

The Americans for George Coalition members include none other than Crane & Company, as well as the International Plate Printers, Die Stampers, Plate Makers and Engravers Union of North America and the Alabama Forestry Association.

Other members include the likes of WheresGeorge.com (makes sense), Mt. Vernon Ladie's Association (obviously backers of George), Domani Restaurant (tips), STITI Taxi (tips), Matt's Big Breakfast Restaurant (tips), Caffe Appassionato (tips), Great Clips - Seattle (tips), Bingo World (huh?), Atlantic Bingo (again huh?), and other various small businesses.

Obviously, businesses where tips are common feel that we won't be tipping as much if we switch to dollar coins. I wonder if that happened 24 years ago when Canada replaced their dollar bill with the Loonie?

Screw the debt,
I don't want my pockets to jingle

So it appears the fate of the dollar bill and the dollar coin is now strictly a political fight and no longer about doing what's best for the country by working to lower our debt. I have heard it said that we are the only developed country that has not replaced its lowest denominated bill with a coin.

Although polls do show most Americans favor the bill over the coin (my wife included), this was also the case in other countries as they did away with their bills. After just a few short years as the public became educated about the savings, they eventually flipped and began to support the coin over the bill. It seems reasonable the same would happen here.

United Steel Workers to stiff waitresses?

So who will win out? The steelworkers and machinists? Or the waitresses and bingo parlors?

And if the coin wins, does that mean the waitresses will start getting stiffed on their tips? I know it will be a little more trouble tipping at the Gentlemen's Club.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Godless SBA Dollars?

While much has been made in the press and in blogs about "Godless" Presidential dollars, this isn't the first time that dollar coins have been caught up in a godless controversy.

In 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollars were issued to replace the much larger Dwight Eisenhower dollars. Once again a controversy would erupt over the motto "In God We Trust," only this time the issue was in reverse.

Susan B. Anthony was a leader of the women’s suffragist movement and an equal rights advocate. In 1878 she helped draft the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allowed women the right to vote, although it took another 40 years before enough of the states ratified it.

In 1972 Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). However as a 1979 deadline approached, the ERA still needed to be ratified by at least 38 states to be added to the Constitution. As the deadline approached, it seemed only fitting that the new dollar coin should depict a well known equal rights advocate.

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But no sooner had the coin been issued than a controversy erupted over the motto "In God We Trust."

While Susan B. Anthony is still well known for her support of women's rights, what isn't so well known is that she is believed to be an atheist and atheist groups soon took up the cause to remove the motto.

(Ironically, it was President Eisenhower, who was being replaced on the dollar coin, who signed the bill into law that created "In God We Trust" as the National Motto.)

While she never called herself an atheist, her personal diaries and letters do reveal her to be at a minimum agnostic.

In one letter to her sister about another sister Hannah's death ("The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony," by Ida Harper 1898, p.516), she reveals a final conversation with her dying sister in which she states, "I could not dash her faith with my doubts, nor could I pretend a faith I had not, so I was silent in the dread presence of death."

A female admirer of Susan B. Anthony and head of an atheist group petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to have the motto removed from the coin. Had she succeeded, we would be collecting SBA dollars today by two types, one of which would certainly be referred to as "Godless."