Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Women aren't the problem

The failure of the Susan B. Anthony dollar was largely attributed to its quarter-like size and appearance; it was originally hendecagonal to get around this very problem, but coin people would only take round. It was replaced with an identically-sized -- identical to vending machines -- Sacajawea dollar, which was gold colored, but proved no more popular.

I had a New Year's Resolution in 2006 to stop using paper dollar bills. I found that it was impossible to regularly replenish my store of dollar coins, and it lasted no longer than the average New Year's Resolution.

But, yesterday, I went to a postal vending machine. Along with transit vending machines, these are the only reliable sources of dollar coins -- seriously, even banks don't carry them. And, I had kind of a surprise waiting for me. John Adams was on my dollar. They'd given up on women! They're testing the waters to move into founding fathers full time!

Now, Mint, listen to me. I'd like to make two points:
  1. I don't have a problem with putting women on coins, and I don't believe it's your main barrier to acceptance. Lincoln, Roosevelt (the polio one -- March of Dimes, and all,) Jefferson, Washington, Kennedy ... it's not a sequence in which the next member is easy to guess. It's an important honor to be commemorated on the coin, but given who gets the medal of freedom, we're used to honors being handed out arbitrarily.
  2. They really are the same size as a quarter. I know metal is expensive and heavy to ship, but we need clear distinctions between our coin sizes. There are a world of sizes between the nickel and the quarter! The dime has already broken down the monotonic relationship between size and value! I know the vending machine people have already adapted to the SBA size, but they're not your main customers.
  3. Forget the previous points. The only point worth considering is that as long as you keep giving us bills, we'll keep using them. Voluntary dollar-denominated-currency switching is going to work as well as the Clear Skies Initiative. It's been twenty years since the SBA dollar, and that was pretty late in coming! You have to take paper dollars out of circulation.
Now, I think the way to make money on this is to find some better way to carry change. I do know someone who simply throws change away, as it's too much of a bother. I spend a lot of time struggling to retrieve change for a purchase, and sometimes accumulate great piles of it.
I'm thinking it's time to bring back the coin purse.

No comments: