Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Rollin' the change...

I'm pretty ambivalent on the "dollar coins" issue. I generally don't carry a lot of small-denomination folding money with me, and so Ed's post resonated with me.

But, then again, I've waited tables, and have had a lot of friends who were bartenders and shoe models, so Weer'd's post did too.

Thinking it over, I reckon Elmo Iscariot has the answer here. Inflation has outrun our current denominations to the point that the penny is practically useless, the nickel not much less so, and the quarter carries about as much weight as a paper George Washington did when I was in high school (where I earned the princely sum of $3.15 an hour at Kroger's.) Fed.gov needs to suck it up and admit that our century-old currency model has finally been outpaced by inflation.

Seriously, I cashed in a 12oz. coffee can's worth of assorted change the other day; a weight of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that outmassed any long gun I own; and the fifty-something bucks I got back wouldn't have covered dinner for two at a moderately swank restaurant, or bought two-and-a-half cases of name brand cola had they not been on sale...

25 comments:

og said...

Been used to dealing with loonies and twonies in Canada for ages now, and for vending machines and etc. it's a good thing.

OTOH, the real issue, as you point out, is the blasted inconvenience of toting any quantity of the stuff.

Part of it is the buying power. When I first began to drive,five silver dollars would almost fill the tank of my Valiant. When my father began to drive, five silver dollars would buy a well made suit, or a usable quality shotgun.

While I never was a big fan of the Arches, I have all but stopped eating there forever, because you can barely buy a burger and a drink for a fiver. Once you could get the burger the fries, and the drink, and get change from your dollar, remember the ads?

Until we get onto some standard other than paper, it makes more sense to me just to knock two zeroes off the whole thing and start again. Anything less than a dollar, is a dollar. And the official language of the nation will be Sewedish. Also, everyone must wear their underwear on the outside.

WV: Spealdex. the brand of elastic in certain athletic supporters.

DanH said...

Personally, I love the dollar coins for a very simple reason...vending machines.
I cant even count the number of times ive gone to grab a soda at work and had nothing but the most mutilated dollar bill to try to talk the machine into taking. Machines are surprisingly unsympathetic.

Anonymous said...

I buy/sell $10K-$20K of gold and silver every week, including coins like the dime-size turn-of-the-century $2.50 gold Indian at about $200 and the nickel size $5 at $400. Last week the bag of WWII era Mercury dimes had accumulated to $200 in face value, which was about the size and weight of a five pound sack of sugar, and I liquidated them for about $5000.

Everything you need to know about the foibles and fantasy of our currency system, and maybe even our monetary system itself, is in the paragraph above.

AT

Zendo Deb said...

150 years ago or so the US issued half-cent coins. Then that didn't make sense.

Along about the time you saw ashtrays full of pennies at checkouts, you knew they didn't make sense anymore either.

The problem with the current dollar coin is that it is too likely to be confused with a quarter. Needs a better design

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

When on deployment, I of course carried around plenty of the local money. In places like Japan, Scotland and Italy I carried two batches of coins - local money (for use in town) in one pocket, and US money (for use on base) in the other. Had no trouble at all getting used to the weight of a pocketful of 50p and one-pound coins, not to mention all of the acacompanying small stuff.

I'm all in favour of trading paper $1 notes for coins. And of getting rid of all those useless pennies, too.

WV: cycenfr. Don't ask me - I don't speak Welsh....

Anonymous said...

I disagree, I just cashed in last years change collection. A big gulp and a (small) creamed corn can I set next to the washing machine, and Empty the change from my pockets into. It was enough to keep me in gas for a month+. Or pay my water bill for a year.

Graybeard said...

Anonymous 2154 nailed it. How about if we demand they have real commodity backed money - something that they can't create a quadrillion of when the mood hits them?

Years ago, I ran across a story by a guy who tried to use a $2 bill in a Taco Bell - it was all he had.

The clerk acted like it was funny money and wanted something else. Guy asked what the problem was and the clerk answers something like "you know". Guy refuses. Clerk calls manager. Manager says he wants something else. Guy replies it says legal tender on it and that's good enough for me. Manager threatens to call LEO. Guy says, "go ahead".

LEO shows up, asks what the problem is, and the clerk and manager triumphantly show him the $2 bill. Officer says, "so?" Eventually realizes pimply teen aged clerk and barely not teen manager don't know what a $2 bill is. Teaches a little lesson. Guy gets tacos for free and his $2 bill back.

I have a $2 bill on my dresser. It might well stay there.

Jayson said...

I live way out in the outer suburbs, and i haven't had a machine NOT take any dollar bill offered for several years. So I have to wonder why machines where you are keep screwing it up.

I don't like dollar coins. I tried, but i just don't like it. And when our Obamar Republic gets really cranked up, those coins are gonna weigh a damn ton in a wheelbarrow.

Jenny said...

When the only reason anyone has to accept our pieces of printed paper and plated zinc at the grocery store is the *heh* "full faith and credit" of the gov't, it's wise not to go messing around with the design. Can't let that illusion of stability slip too awful much.

Woohoo said...

I have a simple idea: if I can't reach in my pocket, pull out one to four coins of a given denomination and buy a Coke, that denomination is probably worthless. For purposes of this test, we'll presume the canned variety. Which means the penny, nickle and dime must go.

I would make the new system of currency 25¢, 50¢, $1 and $5. They would range in size from the current dime to the current dollar. And if anyone complains about the weight, we beat them with wiffle bats until they put their big boy pants/big girl panties on.

Lanius said...

In Czech Republic, we have the equivalent of $3 coins. A fifty crown coin.

Bills were phased out, as the coins last longer and are thus cheaper. And a couple of these coins are enough to get a decent meal and two beers.

Also.. they make awesome poker chips.

Mikael said...

In sweden, our largest denomination coin(10 swedish crowns, equivalent to about $1.35) is actually smaller than the next denomination down coin. It's also thicker, and a different metal(probably mostly brass, looks goldish). It replaced the same denomination paper bills, our smallest bill now is 20 crowns($2.70).

WV: tymefore - Time for what?

Tam said...

Graybeard,

"Anonymous 2154 nailed it. How about if we demand they have real commodity backed money..."

Well, sure. And we should demand they flap their arms and fly too the moon while we're at it. (I don't know whether to use a "Winking" or "Sad" emoticon here...)

Sport Pilot said...

All of this coin discussion is not far away from being moot.We are far closer to a debit/credit all purpose standard than one would think.Science Fiction?

Lanius said...


All of this coin discussion is not far away from being moot.We are far closer to a debit/credit all purpose standard than one would think


On one hand, a cashless, fish-tank economy would mean black markets and grey markets would be very, very risky.. on the other hand, the potential for abuses of state power would be great.

It could work in Norway, but it'd suck hard in the US. Must be something in the water.. Your officials seem to have a real God complex problem going on..

Anonymous said...

"(I don't know whether to use a "Winking" or "Sad" emoticon here...)"

Well, lessee...your coffee can of coins buys you a $50 meal, while mine made the mortgage payment, the car payment, the truck payment, all the utilities, a week's worth of groceries, filled up the gas tanks and left me with about $2K in hand. Oh, and that's after taking my Baby out for that $50 meal, with a couple margaritas and a nice tip (all for about 30 of those Mercs, a stack the size of a pack of Tums). Well, it was really business money, but you get the picture.

Yeah, I think that calls for the sad face. :(

But what the hell, we can still joke about it, yes? ;)

AT

Anonymous said...

Old fashioned cash guy and I hate the Aussie $1 and $2 coins when I'm over there. One work day of stopping at the servo, pub, and grocers leaves me with a pile of weight in my pocket that's awkward to carry around. Plus, currency exchange won't turn coins into US $ when I head home. My Aussie pals don't really want to buy them from me 'cause they hate carrying them too. Agree with the earlier post, make the money worth something again, problem solved.

Boat Guy said...

I'm with Jenny. This cloth crap in our wallets is worth less and will soon be worthless.
Keep your nickels Tam, there's more than $.05 with of nickel in them.
"Ballistic wampum" may be come the coin of the realm

Anonymous said...

My dad once told me that the only thing that pennies are good for is to keep you from getting more pennies.


--Greg

1911Man said...

When I lived in Finland, they outlawed their penny. Prices on individual items could still be posted to include pennies e.g. $1.37 (using $US for simplicity), but whatever the grand total was at checkout, the pennies got rounded off per a posted table.

No fuss, no muss, no re-tagging or re-stocking. Just no damn pennies at checkout.

Too bad we're stupider than the Finns...

elmo iscariot said...

Unfortunately, public resistance is only one part of the barrier to a sane currency redesign. Since vending machine companies can block coin developments for even the most trivial reasons, I honestly expect the Treasury will pick Plan C: just keep doing the same thing until the point is moot. Every year more purchases are made by computer-handshake, and clearly the Deciders aren't averse to making coins that have no function except piling up to be exchanged for real money. The only difference is that quarters will join pennies, nickels, and arguably dimes as jar-money.

Striking pennies is the numismatic equivalent of paying Mint workers to dig holes and fill them in again. Why should we expect our government to be uncomfortable with that system?

Anonymous said...

Shoe models get tips? Or is that a euphemism for something else? I don't want to admit my mind is in the gutter.

Crucis said...

Geez! I remember my first, non-college, job I had paid a grand sum of $0.95/hour. I handled semi-molten aluminum at an extrusion plant.

Frankly, though, I already have enough metal in my pocket to insure I don't rise to the surface if I ever fell into water deeper than I'm tall.

I'll pass on the "new" dollar coin.

Anonymous said...

If you think a penny ain't worth much, wait'll you hear the outcry when postage stamps go up by one or two cents.

Rob J

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Just checked the coins in my pocket. I'm currently carrying five pennies, three nickels, two dimes, nine quarters and seven dollars. The weight of the wallet and cell phone in my other pockets is much more noticeable than the coins.