4:40 PM CST, December 3, 2012
Congress is considering, not for the first time, getting rid of the dollar bill and replacing it once and for all with a dollar coin. It makes all kinds of sense, and it has for years. Canada did it and survived. But I wouldn't bet a single greenback it will happen in the next four years.
Why not? The arguments for the change are sound but not powerful. It would lower the cost of vending machines by eliminating the need for coin changers. It would reduce the workload of the U.S. Mint because coins last longer than bills.
The Government Accountability Office says it would save $4.4 billion over 30 years, which sounds large but is really just pennies. It's not enough to notice in an economy this large over such a long period. And GAO said the federal government might need to spend $8 million to win public approval and cooperation.
I doubt that's enough to induce contentment. Americans don't like anyone messing with their money. They wouldn't like the idea of having a pocketful of heavy metal instead of a sheaf of lightweight bills. They wouldn't like the idea of dethroning George Washington. Paranoids would have a field day. That's why the idea has been kicking around for 25 years or more and hasn't come to pass.
Any politician who pushes this change is asking for trouble. I'm betting the number who are rash enough to take that risk will be too small to matter.
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