Monday, April 25, 2016

Week of 04/25/2016

Dear Federal Government: Stop Messing With Our Money!
This is an open letter to the US Government.
I know that you guys have been ignoring people like me for years.  You haven’t listened to what I’ve said for the past twenty years, and I’m reasonably sure that you probably won’t start to listen to me anytime soon.
But if there is any part of you that still watches free-thinking libertarians like myself and could still relay a message to your boss, President Obama, it’s this:
Please leave our money alone!
I’m not talking about taxes or regulations or even the way that you allow all of these different private entities you regulate to impose fees on top of fees on us that steal more and more of our hard-earned money for their own largesse.  Those are subjects for you to ignore on a different day.
No, I’m talking about your new fetish to change the look and feel of our currency.
Look, I get the idea that you want to make it difficult, if not impossible, for people to reproduce it and spread counterfeit currency.  I mean, it’s bad enough that the Federal Reserve can get you to pump out as much as it wants without any accountability whatsoever and make the bill almost worthless.  So I really don’t mind it too much if you want to make the image in the front a little bigger and maybe off-center, add a few security layers in the paper, even change the ink in certain spots.
But where I have the problem is when you decided to change the images on the bills.
When I first saw the opinion articles in the Huffington Post whining about how there should be a woman on the face of our currency, I thought that maybe the Treasury Department was going to start issuing new bills.  Maybe bring in the $3 bill, or invent a $25 bill.
Andrew Jackson is out on the $20 bill.  Harriet Tubman is going to take the place of our seventh President of the United States.  And Lew apparently wanted to replace Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s most influential Founding Father, with Susan B. Anthony on the face of the $10 bill.  Thankfully there’s a popular Broadway musical about Hamilton, so that is keeping him on the face, but Lew now wants to substitute the Treasury Building image with a rotating collection of influential women.  And the $5 bill will also have a rotating collection of images, only from historical moments.
And even our pennies aren’t safe, because Lew wants to get rid of them altogether.
And I have a problem with all of this.
First, let’s get this out of the way: I have no problems with putting a woman, or an African-American, or a Native American, or any other kind of minority on the face of our currency.  But only if we are talking about a new kind of currency bill.  Why not have a $25 bill?  Why not bring back the $500 bill?
And it’s not like we’ve never had women on the face of American currency.  There are still plenty of Susan B Anthony dollar coins in circulation, along with the new coins featuring Sacagawea.  Vending machines still accept them.
But why take this time to demonize and shove out American presidents from our currency to replace them with other figures?  Why spend time circulating hate on Hamilton, who sold America on the very principles that this country was founded on, not to mention was an opponent of slavery?  Why demonize Jackson to validate substituting Tubman?  Granted, he signed the law that shoved several Native American tribes westward, but he was far from the first nor was he last to do that.  If a President could be kicked from a banknote because they pissed off some segment of the country, then Abe Lincoln would have been booted from the $5 bill because he pissed off the Civil War loonies here in the South!
But let’s get brutally honest here... by playing all these games with our currency, by booting out old Presidents and memorable images of our country and putting in swappable figures and images, you’re actually trivializing our currency.  You’re making it seem worthless to us all.
I realize that our quarters have become a collector’s game with all of the various state images on the backsides of the coin, but that doesn’t mean you should translate that into our banknotes.  We don’t normally use quarters to pay for groceries or for other essentials.  We do use the $5 and $10 and $20 bills for that.  I can clearly see some families having domestic fights in the near future because a family member needs to break into “Daddy’s dollar collection” to get money to buy food or to fuel up the car so they can go to their underpaid job.
I should point out that you’re not making it difficult to counterfeit when you play this game.  Quite the contrary, you’re inviting very creative people – and believe me, being able to accurately replicate currency would require an artist – to come up with their own take on that currency and be able to pass it off easier than if there was a standard design for all banknote denominations.
Picture this: someone comes up with a $50 bill featuring President Barack Obama on the face.  The store manager says “No, that’s not a real bill,” but the forger can then say “But wait, this is the brand new design that I got straight from the bank, and you have to recognize it because it’s legal tender!”  Given all of the changes that you’re about to do to the $10 and $20 and $5 bills, do you really think the store manager will want to find out if this is also valid?  Or do you plan on having some kind of mass-publication to tell people which images are “valid” for each denomination?  That can get pretty expensive if your successors follow your legacy of catering to the vanities of special interest groups.
Oh, and it’s interesting that while you’re busy changing the images on the front and back of the bills, you’re not removing the stain of the Cold War that the Christian extremists managed to slip into all our bills back in the 1950’s.  Yes, I’m talking about removing “In God We Trust” on our bills, which was added only because of a campaign of fear-mongering from Christian Dominionists.  News Flash, federal government: the Cold War is over.  We won.  It may not look like it if you watch Fox News, but we really did win it.  Funny how you’re eager to accommodate other special interest groups, but not the growing segment of the populace that have no official religious denomination in their lives.
And don’t tell me that this is the “future” of our currency, because we know what the future really will be.  It’ll be online, with either bank-issued credit accounts or bitcoin.  Either one that owns you, or the one you can’t control.
But trivializing our current currency and making it into collectable “Monopoly Money” to appease the special interest groups won’t hasten that future.  It’ll only show our government’s disrespect of the very economic system that President Hamilton came up with, and the same system that President Jackson tried to defend he vetoed the resurrection of a centralized bank.  And that is probably a bigger insult to their legacies than substituting their likenesses.

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