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A Loonie for America?

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About 20 years ago, there was talk of introducing a “dollar coin” to the American currency. Of course, we had the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, but it was small and silver, and people were confused between it and a quarter. It seems like a lifetime ago, but our editor, Ray Geiger, championed the idea of a dollar coin in the pages of the Farmers’ Almanac, touting the potential savings to the American public.

Since then, a new dollar coin has been introduced. It’s gold in color, instead of silver, and is larger and thicker. It has failed to catch on, though, largely because the dollar bill remains in circulation.

Yesterday, I heard a renewed call for eliminating the dollar bill and going with a dollar coin only. Canada did this in 1989, two years after introducing its “Loonie” dollar coin.

The economics of doing so are clear. A dollar bill lasts 17 months, while a coin has a lifespan of 30 years. If you look at the costs, the United States could have saved $350-$500 million if it had replaced the dollar bill when in the early 90s, last time Congress discussed it. A report I saw recently indicates that the elimination of the dollar bill would save the US government approximately $5 billion over time.

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Below is our original article, which ran in the Farmers’ Almanac during the early 1990s. Things have changed quite a bit since then, but I think the basic idea is still sound. Traditionally, the public has been split 50/50 about this kind of currency move. Where do you stand? Let me know what you think below!

Ditch the Dollar and Pocket the Change

You’re parched. It’s a sweltering day and you need a drink. You find a soda machine. You reach in your wallet to pull out a dollar. The bill is wrinkled, crinkled and pale. But you’re thirsty and it’s the only dollar bill you have. You give it a try. No good. The machine spits out the aging bill and keeps your cold, thirst-quenching soda.

Has this ever happened to you?

In addition to the dollar bill becoming a nuisance, it is also costing American taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s why in 1990 the Farmers’ Almanac proposed that we ditch the paper dollar and pocket the dollar coin!

According to the Federal Reserve Board, we could save between $395 million and $500 million each year if we enacted the dollar coin legislation which is currently being considered by Congress. How could we save so much money? The most obvious savings comes from the money saved through the production of dollar bills versus dollar coins. The average life of a paper dollar is 17 months. The average life of a coin is 30 years!

Last year, we informed you that the One Dollar Coin Act, sponsored by Rep. Jim Kolbe and Sen. Pete Dominici, was being addressed by Congress. With the changing of the guard in the White House, we were informed that this bill has been turned over to the Banking Committee and is waiting for a final vote from Congress.

To avoid the fate of the Susan B. Anthony, the bill calls for the minting of a gold-colored coin, slightly larger in size than a quarter. It also calls for the new dollar coin to have smooth edges for the visually impaired. Originally, the Farmers’ Almanac suggested that the dollar coin be designed to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery, but since 1992 is long gone, the 1993 One Dollar Coin Act calls for the coin to commemorate our veterans of war.

So once again, the editors of the Farmers’ Almanac are asking you to write to your senators and representatives and ask them to ditch the dollar, so you can pocket the change! After all, producing dollar bill after dollar bill doesn’t make a lot of sense!

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1 Draike { 02.28.13 at 5:10 pm }

As a Canadian retailer, I can say (in my opinion) that $1 and $2 coins have helped our economy significantly, simply because people have no problem spending their pocket change. You can have over $10 in change and not hesitate to part with it whereas a $10 bill might make you hesitate a bit to spend it; I liken it to chips in a casino.


2 Mary Shell { 03.12.11 at 10:43 pm }

We already have loonies in DC, so why not make it our dollar currency? All ideas to cut costs & reduce the deficit are good ideas, and this one definitely has merit!

3 LRice { 03.11.11 at 5:45 pm }

I have had coins put in the vending machine and the machine never put out a soda. So much for that debate but, the dollar will eventually be replaced wheather it is a coin or universal monies. That’s my take on that. LRice

4 matt { 03.09.11 at 9:19 pm }

keep the dollar. it wouldnt make any difference if it did save billions it would just be wasted in some other pointless way no matter what they tell you. if you take away the dollar then whats next on the list? matt mrgn

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