There are some ideas that just won’t die. The dollar coin is, apparently, one of them:
U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi is co-sponsoring legislation introduced Tuesday that would phase out the $1 paper bill and replace it with a $1 coin. The move, the Wyoming Republican said, could save taxpayers billions and reduce the federal deficit.
That’s because coins last far longer than paper currency. Coins circulate for about 25 years, on average, while each $1 bill has an average lifespan of 4.7 years.
The switch would save about $5.6 billion over 30 years, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued last year.
If memory serves there have been a number of attempts at getting a dollar coin to take hold over the period of the last 40 years:
- The Eisenhower dollar in the late 1970s
- The Susan B. Anthony dollar in the early 1980s
- The Sacagawea dollar (and variants) in the early 2000s
- The President series dollars beginning in 2007
The only one of those that served any really useful purpose was the Eisenhower dollar. Las Vegas casinos stopped issuing their own tokens and used Eisenhowers instead. We’ve got, literally, billions of unused dollar coins sitting around in storage.
The beneficiaries of a new dollar coin would, presumably, be mine owners (if you’re wondering why this story originated in the Casper Star-Tribune). I strongly suspect that any amounts that might be saved by issuing them would be overwhelmed by the costs, particularly to vending machine manufacturers.
Here’s my proposal. Let the federal government issue a new dollar coin. On one side would be an image of P. T. Barnum, encircled by the words There’s a sucker born every minute (which he almost undoubtedly did not say). The coin should be gold-toned (in honor of something he actually did say: I am a showman; no amount of gilding can tarnish that). On the reverse side there should be a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge. Possibly with a For Sale sign superimposed.