More Bang in the Buck?

Editor’s note: The following editorial appeared Friday in the Hartsville Messenger:

Officials with the Government Accountability Office, which serves as the official congressional auditing agency, recently released a report outlining how $4 billion could be saved over the next three decades by doing away with dollar bills entirely and replacing them with coins.

Goodbye, George. Hello, Sacajawea.

Most Americans, however, are not entirely sold on the idea of replacing the dollar with what will amount to pocket change. Like many things, however, what most Americans think doesn’t necessary have the value that it once did.

Along with the GAO report, federal Mint is preparing a report for Congress showing how changes in the metal content of all U.S. coins could save money, too. A House subcommittee hearing this month focused on a plan to gradually take dollar bills out of the economy. One proposal would be to take bills out of circulation as they wear out and then not replace them.

Granted, $4 billion is a lot of money, whether in coins or bills. By federal standards, however, it’s not that sizable an amount when spread out over 30 years. Admittedly, it is still hard to dispute the economic argument.

Canadians made the switch to $1 coins – known as a “Loonie” because they feature a picture of a Loon – in 1996. Our neighbors to the north liked the idea so much the added the $2 coin, affectionately known as the “Toonie.”

Americans will most likely be not so accepting

For years the government has pushed the dollar coin and the idea has simply not cashed in. For some reason, a dollar bill, crisp or wrinkly, seems like more money that just another coin in your pocket.

This dollar vs. coin diatribe may, however, to out to be a moot point. With the advent of the Internet and the debit card, we are becoming a cashless society. In years to come the only money we may see could be on “Antiques Roadshow.”

Until technology ends the use money entirely, we’d like to see the dollar bill stick around.