US $1 coins

There was an odd story doing the rounds this week – apparently, despite the fact that Americans don’t like using them, the US government is pushing ahead with the production of one dollar coins. And because people are refusing to use them, the coins have been piling up at the US Federal Reserve to the point that it’s fast running out of space to store them.

But this isn’t giving anyone the hint to press the STOP button on the minting press so these coins are just going to keep on coming out and out and out until they’re flowing out of the Federal Reserve windows like a jackpot win on a Las Vegas slot machine.

So it would seem that someone needs to do a much better job in convincing Americans that one dollar coins are better than one dollar notes, and as no-one else appears to be doing the job with any success, I’ll give it a go.  

old US dollarThe first time we went to America, one of the first things my boyfriend and I did on arrival in Manhattan was go into the oldest, biggest, grandest American bank we could find and each swap one of our tatty green paper dollars for a shiny silver dollar. In reality they were old and a bit worn (like in the Marilyn Monroe song) but to us the dollar coin was the ultimate symbol of America. Several years later and I still have mine (but not the boyfriend), so I’m finding it hard to understand why Americans, having lost them, might not want the coins back. 

Here in England, the pound coin replaced the note back in 1983. My friends and I all liked it instantly. It was substantial and solid. We felt richer when our pocket-money was paid in these gold coins and were glad to see the back of all the grubby, sweaty green notes. It also had the psychological effect of making the notes we did get seem much higher in value. 

[I just read something about Margaret Thatcher saying the pound coin wouldn’t be very popular and that the note would have to stick around too. Maybe that’s why we liked the coin so much – anything to prove that evil old bat wrong.]

I suppose one complaint might be that coins are heavier than notes, but then you rarely have more than four in your pocket – any more and you just swap them for a fiver (a note).

In contrast there are lots of advantages. You can use them in vending machines and put them as deposits in shopping trolleys. They make a great noise when you throw them in charity collection buckets and you never get given one that’s still clammy with the sweat of the person who held it before you. Best of all, when you lose one, there’s always a chance that it will remain lost for hundreds or thousands of years and that you will have played a vital part in a future historic find. You don’t get that with a note.

new US dollarSo, good people of America, if I still haven’t convinced you to start using these dollar coins, I suggest you read the article below – particularly the bit about it being ‘the law’ that these coins continue to be manufactured regardless of whether you want them or not.

You might as well start using them because one way or another,  you’re paying for them.

BBC: Why the US keeps minting coins people hate and won’t use


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