The new money will be called NexGen™
June 20, 2002 12:40 PM   Subscribe

The new money will be called NexGen™
The Treasury and Federal Reserve make it official: Starting in 2003, U.S. currency will have pretty colors. But they don't say which colors! I say we MeFis oughta lift our voices high with suggestions on what colors our $100, $50, $20 and $10 bills should be.
Is anyone else creeped out that they call the money "NexGen"? It sounds so ... Orwellian.
posted by Holden (102 comments total)

 
The orwellian part is that the federal government has anything to do with our money in the first place; not what they happen to call it.
posted by dagny at 12:47 PM on June 20, 2002


I wonder if this will fail as miserably as the Sacagawea dollar. Yes, I am also a little creeped out by NexGen... it sounds like something the government will be able to use to track transactions.

Personally, I don't think the government should be making any money.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:47 PM on June 20, 2002


The introduction of additional colors will also help consumers to identify the different denominations.

Whew, am I glad about that! Those numerals did absolutely nothing to help me identify the different denominations.
posted by CreequeAlley at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2002


Is anyone else creeped out that they call the money "NexGen"? It sounds so ... Orwellian.

Actually, it sounds like Next Generation to me. Maybe I'm not reading in as much as Holden is.
posted by the_0ne at 12:52 PM on June 20, 2002


These people do not inspire confidence. I mean after the Susan Anthony affair you'd have thought that they had some sort of plan. Well, if so, I imagine they would have pulled it out before scrapping the coin we never saw. What a phenomenal waste of time and effort.

And, now, they change the cash for the first time in some megaboss number of years and then they want to do it again less than ten years later?

If they were smart and thought just like me, they'd scrap the one dollar bill. I know everyone hates this idea, but the trick is to bring back the $2 bill at the same time. That's win-win-win. Almost anyone who wants small bills would be happier with $2s. And then the dollar purists could be forced onto the Sacagawea.
posted by Wood at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2002


The money isn't called "NexGen", the design is. And the government doesn't "make" any money - we all do, each time we put our money into a bank, and the bank loans it out to others, thereby doubling the local money supply. Either re-take economics 101, or read Cecil's explanation of the concept.
posted by yhbc at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2002


I'm surprised they're keeping it the same size, as it's impossible for blind people to identify demoninations. I guess it would be too hard for all the vending machines to accept different sized dollars.
posted by aacheson at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2002


I think we should get to vote for the new colors, like we did with M&Ms (the vote is in, by the way).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:54 PM on June 20, 2002


Check out the treasury department's hip url (linked from the end of this article). At least one bureaucrat out there has a sense of humor.
posted by ook at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2002


If they were smart and thought just like me, they'd scrap the one dollar bill. I know everyone hates this idea, but the trick is to bring back the $2 bill at the same time.

the $2 is apparently still alive and well:

The redesign of $10 and $5 notes is still under consideration, but a redesign of the $2 and $1 notes is not included in the plans for the NexGen series.

so why do we never see them?
posted by damn yankee at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2002


So why did the Sacajawea dollar fail anyway?
posted by Charmian at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2002


This is probably only the beginning. There already exists, for example, technology that would allow tiny radio-frequency ID tags to be inserted into paper money, allowing it to be tracked (sensors could detect bills from up to 1 meter away) and uniquely identified.... (The Economist had an article on it a little while ago.)
posted by mattpfeff at 1:01 PM on June 20, 2002


The introduction of additional colors will also help consumers to identify the different denominations.

Whew, am I glad about that! Those numerals did absolutely nothing to help me identify the different denominations.


Actually, scanning my waller for the new red $20 would be much easier than sifting through a wad of green. What we really need is to get rid of the damn worthless penny. And while I'm at it, please calculate my tax into the price listed, instead of at the register. Simple things to make life easier, faster, and colorful.
posted by mad at 1:02 PM on June 20, 2002


yhbc: Yes yes yes, but the U.S. government also has this nasty tendency to make its own. It's especially easy since there is no gold standard.

So why did the Sacajawea dollar fail anyway?

People did not want to use it.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:03 PM on June 20, 2002


I wonder what AMD makes of this.
posted by majick at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2002


please calculate my tax into the price listed, instead of at the register. Simple things to make life easier, faster, and colorful.

So that way when the prices rise you wont be able to tell if the business or the government is raising the price.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2002


Maybe they can just restore order to the change pocket by making the nickel half the size of the dime and the penny about one quarter the size of a dime. Then the penny would simply disappear of its own accord.
posted by Wood at 1:05 PM on June 20, 2002


So why did the Sacajawea dollar fail anyway?

Short version: paper lobby didn't want to pull the dollar bill, the only way to make the switchover feasible. (The vending lobby, generally pro-coin, got outclouted.)

Oh, and yes insomnyuk, apparently some creepy bearded men thought it was part of Hillary's Evil Communist Plot to take over their minds with liberal thought waves. Or something. Sheesh.
posted by feckless at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2002


feckless: give me a break. I saw the Sacagawea dollar everywhere. It slowly started to disappear. People did not want to use it, lots of storeowners thought it was fake. It is possible that lobbyists and governments don't have total control over consumer preference.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2002


Finally. I remember reading about the possibility of colored US money back in like...1985. Jeez. Talk about wheels of beaurocracy.
posted by Su at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2002


Three little and two big reasons for the failure of the Sacajawea dollar:

1. The Treasury rolled it out with a big, splashy PR campaign, including having it distributed first by Wal-Mart stores. This certainly got people's attention, but it also created the impression that the dollar coin was only a promotional item, and that after the promotion was over it wasn't legal tender. It's reported that some Wal-Mart cashiers were telling people "we don't take those any more" after the rollout was over.

2. Some segments of the population were upset and/or confused by the promotion of the coin as the "golden dollar". They either thought it was gold, and saved it, or knew it wasn't gold, and distrusted the gummint for trying to tell them it was.

3. At least in the northeast, many people were convinced that the coin was all a plot to shut down the Crane Company, the sole supplier of paper for U.S. greenbacks and a major employer. Many chain stores and entire towns have or had a "policy" of not accepting the coin, even though it was legal tender.

But the big two still are:

1. Congress expected it to co-exist with the paper dollar, as already mentioned, deluding themselves all over again. See Anthony, Susan B.

2. Because the coins were new and different, your grandmothers thought they would be "valuable" some day, and hoarded them as fast as they were released. Millions of coins were and still are being issued, but precious few were respent. Until any issue of coin or bill actually starts circulating, it will fail as currency.

Sorry for the long post, but I like this topic - unfortunately, on preview, typing long posts prevents me from reading prior comments, and responding directly to them. I think I covered most of them, though.
posted by yhbc at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2002


nobody wants a 2$ bill 'cause there's nowhere to put it in the cash register.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 1:15 PM on June 20, 2002


please calculate my tax into the price listed, instead of at the register.

And also, many businesses sell items to ship out of state or "to the trade" with tax-free status. So some would and some wouldn't and prices would never make sense. (How fitting that we're talking about this on quarterly sales tax reporting day. Blech.)

Anyway, so when they redesign the money again in 7 to 10 years, what are they going to call that project? DoublePlusNextGen?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:17 PM on June 20, 2002


/me salivates at the idea of the return of AltCaps.
posted by jcterminal at 1:17 PM on June 20, 2002


No, people don't like the $2 bill because they're unnerved by the extra foot under the table in the drawing on the reverse side.
posted by Holden at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2002


yhbc: You mean this crate full of Ohio quarters ain't worth more than 25 cents a piece? Dammit. I was trying to corner the market.
posted by ColdChef at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2002


mad said: Actually, scanning my waller for the new red $20 would be much easier than sifting through a wad of green.

Boy, I wish I had that problem. The twenties in my wallet are usually pretty isolated and easy to spot.
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2002


What's a "twenty?"
posted by ColdChef at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2002


i'm probably among the minority but i'd prefer to have an electronic card that was linked to my bank account rather than dealing w/cash. i love cold hard cash but having a credit card/paypal hybrid would be very convenient. i've seen companies out there already trying to market something like this but it hasn't taken off. i know there are issues w/the goverment tracking every purchase i make but at this point i've already practically given up. they know everything about me already and filing a tax statement every year, having a mortgage and watching my bank deposits are a big part of that.

btw, i seriously wish they would release the $500 bill again. it's nice for socking money away and it's probably why they stopped producing the large bills(drug laundering anyone?). also, i was loving the Sacagawea dollar. i would get a bunch of them when i went to the bank and keep them in my ashtray for tolls. they are very very convenient.
posted by suprfli at 1:22 PM on June 20, 2002


Actually, scanning my waller for the new red $20 would be much easier than sifting through a wad of green.

My cousin from Canada remarked once that the reason their bills are different colors is so that when you've been drinking, you can still tell if you have enough for one more.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:26 PM on June 20, 2002


1. Get rid of all coins.
2. Minimize/discourage use of paper bills (of whatever color).
3. Establish ubiquitous debit card acceptance and other "e-money" solutions.

I still have never seen a Sacagawea dollar except on tv.
posted by rushmc at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2002


why is it that the only women on our money are on the dollar coin that no one wants to use? they couldn't put sacajawea on the $5 or $10 bill, no. they kicked susan b. off the dollar coin and put her there. is there some "only one woman in circulation, please" rule?
posted by witchstone at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2002


It is possible that lobbyists and governments don't have total control over consumer preference.

Sure, but in most (all?) other countries successful switches to coins were made by phasing out the bills. No phaseout, chances much lower.
posted by feckless at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2002


I wonder if they will follow in the footsteps of the Euro by depicting things that don't exist, like those weird bridges on the back of their bills?

On the fronts I can imagine the portraits of Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Tom & Jerry. On the backs stuff that never happened like "The Destruction of the Death Star", or just out-an-out advertisements like "Britney Drinks Pepsi!"
posted by kablam at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2002


i know there are issues w/the goverment tracking every purchase i make but at this point i've already practically given up.

There are ways to make it anonymous. Admittedly, there are all sorts of issues, technological and social.

About the only usage that has really caught on to date are the long distance calling cards with pre-paid time limits.
posted by rushmc at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2002


is there some "only one woman in circulation, please" rule?

Aha! That would explain why it is so hard to find a date!
posted by rushmc at 1:33 PM on June 20, 2002


I still think the Big Head bucks look pretty odd. For a given denomination, I certainly see more of them than the older bills, but my perception of them as funny-looking hasn't lessened. I'll scream bloody murder if the deuce ever gets changed, as it's my favorite (extra foot or no) and the current design is hard enough to get as it is without moneyfactory.com discontinuing it.

As for non-green cash: I like the current inks. I just can't imagine seeing Big Ben's giant head done up in yellow or what have you, and full-color cash looks so tacky. I'm fond of the staid, stodgy appearance of US currency and color-coding the stuff would make it look too much like all that worthless furriner cash for my tastes.

I definitely draw the line at multiple sizes of bill, though. That's just downright silly.
posted by majick at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2002


"NexGen"? It sounds so ... Orwellian.

I think they should call it Beatrice
posted by machaus at 1:35 PM on June 20, 2002


why is it that the only women on our money are on the dollar coin that no one wants to use?

That's not true, the Eisenhower dollar also failed. I believe there's also a JFK fifty cent piece which isn't really used either. So there you go, it's actually 50/50 with the failed women coins to the failed men coins.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2002


And then the next generation could be called Ceatrice, then Deatrice...
posted by Holden at 1:38 PM on June 20, 2002


Where's George? "Do you ever wonder where that paper money in your pocket has been, or where it will go next? This is the place to find out."
posted by piskycritter at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2002


i'd prefer to have an electronic card that was linked to my bank account rather than dealing w/cash.

This is called a "Check Card" and it does exactly what you describe. I had one for a few years before my wife finally convinced me to get my first credit card.

Off topic: Why is it that the more you use your credit card (borrowing money from someone else to pay for stuff) the better "credit" you have, and the more money you get to borrow (say, for a mortgage)? How does that make sense when a person who never has to borrow money to pay for stuff ought to be considered fiscally more responsible?
posted by plaino at 1:44 PM on June 20, 2002


They should put more recent Americans on the money for a while:

$5 -- Dr. Martin Luther King (good enough for a holiday, good enough to be on money); back of the bill, civil rights marchers

$10 -- George + Ira Gershwin; back of the bill, Brooklyn Bridge

$20 -- Georgia O'Keefe; back of the bill, flowers, cow skulls, Santa Fe pueblo scene

$50 -- Edwin Hubble; back of the bill--the Hubble with galaxies, etc.

$100 -- Gen. George Patton; back of the bill--America's military kicking ass

Who would you put on the designs?
posted by gimonca at 1:44 PM on June 20, 2002


I believe there's also a JFK fifty cent piece which isn't really used either.

I believe the JFK 50¢ was never intended to be used much, and was just a token effort to remember the assassinated President.
posted by piskycritter at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2002


sounds like a Fark photoshop contest if there ever was one.
posted by panopticon at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2002


plaino, I think the answer to your question is that credit issuers don't want a customer who is fiscally responsible, but rather one who prefers regularly paying interest on a long-held balance.
posted by majick at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2002


i'm probably among the minority but i'd prefer to have an electronic card that was linked to my bank account rather than dealing w/cash.
You mean like a debit card? I don't know if they exist in the US, but in the UK at least you usually get a Switch card with your current account, which you can use in most places that take credit cards. Unlike a credit card, it takes the money straight out of your current account, so the only limit is your current balance, and more importantly you can't use it if you don't have the necessary funds in your account.
Is that what you were thinking of?
posted by chrismear at 1:50 PM on June 20, 2002


The usability of american cash blows. Has anyone here saying the green is just dandy ever gone outside of the country?

I was most impressed with Australian money. All sorts of different colors, small plastic security windows, all different sizes so the blind could discern, and made of a plastic fiber that doesn't wear out or break down. It was easier to use, and harder to counterfeit.

Oh, and they made a point to put a man and a woman on every single denomination.
posted by mathowie at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2002


I like money of colour but I do recognize how it could mess up a lot of rap songs. I really like the look of the new Canadian $5 which shows outdoor ice hockey and $10 which shows a peacekeeper. The bills feature braille embossing so that people who have poor or no eyesight can still distinguish them.

BTW: We have $1 and $2 coins. The loonie and toonie. No problems with people accepting them.
posted by srboisvert at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2002


it's actually 50/50 with the failed women coins to the failed men coins.

Well, the first big failure was of the twenty-cent piece (no kidding). People didn't like it because it looked too much like a quarter and was too close to the same size, and, lets face it, wasn't all that useful. It had the generic "Liberty" figure on it that all coins did in the 19th century, so we'd have to put it in the failed women category.

Come to think of it, all the old Liberty coins could now be considered "failed women" coins if you look at it that way ...
posted by yhbc at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2002


BTW: We have $1 and $2 coins. The loonie and toonie. No problems with people accepting them.

Yeah, but when those things start filling up your pockets, they get damn heavy, they make noise, and they look faux gold. I don't have a problem using them, but it makes it a real pain to carry around ten dollars in small denominations.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:02 PM on June 20, 2002


From here: ...the "new currency design," are to incorporate "conceptual" features that have been developed to counter the issuance of bogus bills, among them what the government refers to as "covert, machine-readable features" that will not be apparently identified to the public.

Covert/machine-readable features? Perhaps these features should be read to mean that some type of electronic devices will be present in the currency?
posted by quam at 2:02 PM on June 20, 2002


The Belizean dollar bill has a picture of a coral reef. So purty...

Maybe U.S. currency could have heroes like MLK on the front and pix of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and the Everglades on the back.
posted by Holden at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2002


You mean like a debit card?

Yeah, I believe they offer these free with every bank account at just about every major bank, actually... As a PLWC (person living without credit), mastercard/visa debit cards are my only non-cash payment options. I dream of the day when my debit card can be implanted in the back of my hand and I'll never have to see our ugly hideous unsavable American money again (though I love getting the Susan B coins at the Post Office and Penn Station. It brings me back to a time when we thought the ERA was going to pass... Sweet feminist nostalgia...).
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2002


"I don't know if they exist in the US, but in the UK at least you usually get a Switch card ..."

Switch doesn't exist in the US as far as I know, but debit cards are readily available from nearly every bank, often at no cost. The cards are issued as Visa or MasterCard (mainly the latter that I've seen), and are thus accepted with something close to universality. Most banks place a daily cap on the purchase amounts -- usually something on the order of a thousand bucks -- in order to limit the potential fraud with a lost or stolen card. Funds are drawn directly from the checking account with the typical 2 to 3-day delay in merchant card processing.

I use my debit card heavily, although not as heavily as cash.
posted by majick at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2002


2. Minimize/discourage use of paper bills (of whatever color).
3. Establish ubiquitous debit card acceptance and other "e-money" solutions.


In the lowest income brackets, use of banks is not the norm. There is a general mistrust of banks, there is a lack of accessibility to banks, and there is also the fact that anything more than a passbook savings account is likely to incur a monthly fee. Unless you have a high balance, of course, then the fees which you could much more easily afford are suddenly waived. How convenient.

Those who aren't earning much to begin with have largely found that it is more in their favour to cash their checks (for a smaller fee in toto) at check-cashing establishments (found with ease in low-income communities) or with local merchants than it is to give up more than $100 a year for a bank account.

If their cash was no longer welcome, they would need to have some mechanism by which to electronicise their income which would probably need to be independent of the banking system unless it came with a whole new set of banking regulations regarding fee structures. Neither option seems like a very good idea.

That's not even addressing the cost for equipment, telecommunications upgrades and increased accounting needs for small businesses which are currently cash-only to upgrade to an electronic cash system. Or the question of what to do when the inevitable communications or power failures happen.
posted by Dreama at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2002


You mean like a debit card?

It would be cool if debit cards could be used in vending machines and fast food drive thru windows.
posted by gyc at 2:31 PM on June 20, 2002


3. Establish ubiquitous debit card acceptance and other "e-money" solutions.
yeah, but how do you slide that into a g-string?
also, children love cash: saving it up in the old piggy bank, piling it up, etc. think of the children!
posted by witchstone at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2002


Forgive the self link, gyc, but the bottom of this story that I wrote a year ago describes how Speedpass and McDonald's teamed up to allow people to buy fast food with a transponder connected to a credit or debit card.
posted by Holden at 2:43 PM on June 20, 2002


Obviously, this the opprtunity that the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project has been waiting for. Ron on the $10 doesn’t bother me, as long as Lincoln stays on the five and, say, FDR gets to be on the twenty.

i'm probably among the minority but i'd prefer to have an electronic card that was linked to my bank account rather than dealing w/cash.

I know we’ve established the existence of the debit card (Really, 007, you should use your Visa™ Check Card), but is the Visa the only option? Is the UK’s switch any better, or different?

On preview: Debit cards can be used in some vending machines & drive-throughs; it ain’t necessarrily cool so far as I can see...and as for people using check cashing houses instead of banks, here’s an interesting article on the subject (at Reason)
posted by sherman at 2:47 PM on June 20, 2002


I use my debit card (not a Visa cheque card) issued by my bank for nearly all purchases, including drive through at McDonald's, Burger King etc.
posted by futureproof at 2:53 PM on June 20, 2002


The usability of american cash blows.

Surely that is overstating it a bit? I've used it all my life with nary a problem. There may be room for improvement, but "blows?"
posted by rushmc at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2002


GYC: Um... here in Provo they can.

Everyone else: I want different colors, different sizes, and someone to replace Andrew (that bastard) Jackson's face... maybe Justice John Marshall or Chief John Ross would be a nice replacement.

: )
posted by silusGROK at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2002


This is called a "Check Card" and it does exactly what you describe.

i knew someone was going to reply w/this but i thought i was clear enough in my statement. i like check cards but i can't pay my friend $5 w/my check card. i want a mechanism that i can exchange money w/a friend through that card and his card. ie, take $5 off my card and put it on his card.

i saw something like this on the show fresh gear. a company developed a mechanism that you can do this through your palm pilot and send money to others via infra-red. i know there are others out there like this but i thought it was sodta cool. i'd like to see something similar but the size of a credit card that fits in your wallet.
posted by suprfli at 3:05 PM on June 20, 2002


Suprfli, PayPal started out as that company that allowed you to beam money from one Palm device to another. They eventually dropped that capability.
posted by Holden at 3:09 PM on June 20, 2002


If their cash was no longer welcome, they would need to have some mechanism by which to electronicise their income

You raise some good points, Dreama, but they are social and technological problems, and I think they will be resolved in time. Bits are cheaper than atoms in the long run, so the switch will be made. Lower income people were early adopters of the pre-paid long distance cards. A transient "cash" system not dependent upon banks would actually be quite a good fit for that lifestyle. But they would need a repository for their income *somewhere.*
posted by rushmc at 3:10 PM on June 20, 2002


btw, to clarify myself further i'd really like to see an electronic debit that can pass between 2 people and not just businesses. i love using my debit card at the grocery store and for gas. i go in, get want i want and withdraw it straight from my bank. for larger expenses i usually use a credit card as a means of "protection" so if the merchandise is faulty or an online place doesn't send me what i ordered i can dispute it w/my credit card company.
posted by suprfli at 3:12 PM on June 20, 2002


There may be room for improvement, but "blows?"

Mr. Haughey probably said this because there isn't a websafe hex color that matches the green. And the font isn't Verdana... :-)

The Sacajawea dollar failed for me because it's a hideous portrait of her that is scaled too awkwardly for reduction to the coin size. The gold-tone coating becomes tarnished and ugly after a short circulation, and they look cheap- like something from the Franklin Mint. They're also too heavy to carry around if you have a lot of them- anyone ever use a 20 dollar bill for a 5 dollar purchase in a vending machine in the New York subways or at a post office? You feel like a pirate weighted down with doubloons for the rest of the day.

I have to also weigh in as someone who doesn't want the currency to change. Colored paper currency is usually ghastly, different sizes would make it difficult for vending machines (they'd all have to be upgraded, which would be very expensive). And I love the old-fashioned engraving work of the classic American bills. It says 'money' to me like no other design would.

btw, i seriously wish they would release the $500 bill again

500 and 1000 dollar bills seem only useful if you're Monty Hall... "Jay, show them what was in the pocket of those Haggar slacks they turned down... A 500 dollar bill! And you chose curtain number one instead. Carol Merril, show the Lupinis what they chose.. A family of baby goats!" *honk*

Do we really want the spending of money to be lightning-quick? Perhaps that extra millisecond it takes to sight-identify a bill is a positive thing... Perhaps it makes one think, subconsciously, about what they're buying... On second thought, almost no one uses cash anymore anyway (except me, since my libertarian self distrusts credit/debit cards) so maybe I'm a dinosaur. Monopoly money, here we come...
posted by evanizer at 3:32 PM on June 20, 2002


500 and 1000 dollar bills seem only useful if you're Monty Hall...

And there I was thinking that Monty Hall was the Loyd Grossman of personal finance, dumped by the USA on unwary Brits. We are united by a common enemy.

Why is it, though, that Americans get as uptight about their refusal to follow the rest of the world in moving to user-friendly money (different sizes, different colours, coins for everyday purchases) as they do about not taking football to their hearts? It's as if it sets off all the patriotic anti-guvviment genes that send people up to the mountains, armed to the teeth in defence of their liberties.
posted by riviera at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2002


BTW: We have $1 and $2 coins. The loonie and toonie. No problems with people accepting them.

I'm eagerly anticipating the $5 coin! That said, I hardly ever use cash, I debit 95% of my purchases.
posted by krunk at 3:52 PM on June 20, 2002


Who would you put on the designs?

Top of my list: Mark Twain. (I like the idea of a skeptic gracing our currency.)

Nikola Tesla. (take that, Edison)

Eleanor Roosevelt.

Watson and Crick.

Aaron Copland.

And replace Clinton with Ken Lay on the $3 bill.
posted by kurumi at 3:56 PM on June 20, 2002


i have to admit that the one thing i like about paper money is that i seriously do think more about spending it. i have $20 or $60 in my wallet and then i decide to buy something for $20 and i see my little money stash in my wallet dwindle and it makes me sad. when it's a debit card and i buy a 12 pack for $10 i start thinking on a larger scale like "i have X amount in the bank so what's the big deal blowing $10 or $20?"
posted by suprfli at 3:58 PM on June 20, 2002


Let's start a campaign to get one of the new bills done in MeFi blue!
posted by rushmc at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2002


Two dollar bills are great for strippers and silver dollars for tipping that cute waitress.
posted by Mick at 4:07 PM on June 20, 2002


"You feel like a pirate weighted down with doubloons for the rest of the day."

Evan, you just hugely brightened the remainder of my day. Thank you. Folks don't the word "doubloon" in conversation nearly enough for my taste.

"Why is it, though, that Americans get as uptight about their refusal to follow the rest of the world...?"

Honestly, it's the simple fact that green dollars look like something with monetary value and the rest of the world's cash looks like a board game component. This outlook is probably reinforced by the fact that a US Dollar is good just about anywhere, and generally stronger than other currencies. Never underestimate America's sense of self-importance.

Do remember that at least we've always had decimal currency in the US, barring that 8-bit aberration.
posted by majick at 4:15 PM on June 20, 2002


I'm with the debit-card crowd, but I'd like something that is stand-alone in respect to my bank account. I mean, there's no way that you can replace cash with something that isn't at least as anonymous, safe, and convenient.

Anonymous, because there are those purchases that you don't want big brother (or anyone else) knowing about. Safe, in respect to potential loss in case of theft (you can't lose more than the face value of your money if you get mugged, what about your Amex card?) And convenient in the same way that a person-to-person cash transaction is convenient.

Unfortunately, it'd still have to be secure in respect to abuse of the system. Being a regular attendee of my local 2600 meeting, I can almost guarantee that any electronic cash system (that was anonymous and safe) would only be secure until the first hardware-junky laid his hands on it.
posted by fnord_prefect at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2002


I think it was Dave Barry who said something to the effect of "American money is the only paper money in the world that doesn't look like it was designed by children". Differently-colored bills would be a step towards Fisher-Price® money, IMHO.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:48 PM on June 20, 2002


Hmmm. First of all, the colors will only be added as "subtle backgrounds"; the govt. has assured that the bills will remain recognizably green.

As for a redesign "so soon", the fact is that printing (and thus counterfeiting) technology is moving along at a very fast clip, and only constant periodic redesigns will be able to keep up. This round, they're putting in things that were considered for the last redesign round but rejected as too expensive or unnecessary at the time. Now their effectiveness also translates into a cost-effectiveness. The Treasury has long been concerned that with color printers and copiers all over the place, the focus of counterfeiting would move from professionals with their own expensive engraved printing plates making tens of thousands of twenties to casual counterfeiters making themselves a few hundred at a clip.

Really, the roughly 70 years that our currency remained mostly unaltered was lifetimes by the standards of the rest of the world. We only think money shouldn't ever change because it never did. Nowadays, it's going to have to keep changing to stay a step ahead of the fakers.

Personally, I'd like to see our money get as inventive as some other countries. There was a great NOVA story a while back that looked at the new designs and security features, as well as the existing ones. (One of the most important is the secret formula for the rag-based paper, with just the right blend of red and blue fibers, on which it's all printed.) They showed off the designs of some of the now-obsolete Dutch currency, which was amazingly inventive. I wouldn't expect anything so creative for US money but seeing some change isn't something I object to.

Also, with Canadian currency being replaced by coins, remember that the loonie is like a US 67 cent piece and the toonie a mere 135 cent coin. I think we could succeed with the Sacajawea dollar if we had the guts to dispose of George.

And by the way, I strongly suspect that people in other countries don't actually think their currency looks like monopoly money. It's just that ours is so distinctive we've developed this "money looks this way" certainty.
posted by dhartung at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2002


It's just that ours is so distinctive we've developed this "money looks this way" certainty.

well, obviously, dan, and I hope no one took my Monopoly money jape as really serious. Anyone who grew up with a currency design is apt to think that anything deviating from it looks weird.

That NOVA episode was terrific. Also, anyone who has never gone on a tour of the US Mint in Philadelphia, I suggest doing it if you're in the area (and they ever reopen the tour). It's lots of fun (assuming you're the kind of person who thinks that sort of thing is fun).

The Dutch Gilders that were introduced several years ago were beautiful, even though they didn't look like money (again, to my Amurrican eyes). Sadly, they've been yanked for the bland and frightening Piranesi-style pseudo-architecture of the Dutch Euro.
posted by evanizer at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2002


A transient "cash" system not dependent upon banks would actually be quite a good fit for that lifestyle. But they would need a repository for their income *somewhere.*

Indeed, it would make perfect sense for that lifestyle, especially if the debit cards or whatever mechanism were PIN or biometric secured. It wouldmake a lot of people feel a lot safer about going to get their check "cashed." Though the creation of a bank-independent system brings with it various concerns regarding infrastructure and the inevitable bureaucracy which would be needed to create a stable, securee-cash system in that model. It will be one of the more interesting (and, I predict, controversy-laden) challenges of the coming decade or so.

On another topic: I think we could succeed with the Sacajawea dollar if we had the guts to dispose of George.

I think we could have succeeded with the Sacie if people weren't putting them in their sock drawers. I have had two of them run through my hands since the coin was introduced, because I no longer ride the NYC subway, I buy stamps online and I don't shop at Wal-Mart. I got mine from my mother and actually gave them to my daughters to give to a woman collecting for the Lions fundraising for the blind. They had to tell the nice Lions lady what it was that they had just dropped into her money can.
posted by Dreama at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2002


Speaking of American attempts at a dollar coin, I think a design modelled on the British pound coin would be far superior. It is about twice as thick as a quarter, but smaller in diameter, and just has a much heavier feel. So it actually feels like it's worth something, as opposed to our quarter wanna-be's.
posted by smackfu at 5:38 PM on June 20, 2002


The loss of guilder notes brought a tear to my eye, evanizer, and I can sincerely say that they felt very much like real money on my long weekends in Amsterdam, especially when handing them over to the good people behind the hash counter at the Rokerij. In comparison, American dollars look as if they're printed on the cheap. The 'moneyness' of money's obviously in the eye of the spender.

(The Dutch also have 'money cards', I think, that you can charge up at the cash machine. At least, that's what I think the ChipKnick things were, something like the failed Mondex experiment they tried in Britain years ago.)
posted by riviera at 5:39 PM on June 20, 2002


I saw the Sacagawea dollar everywhere. It slowly started to disappear.

Everywhere?! How come I've only run across two in the entire time since they were introduced? I guess I don't get change at WalMart or the Post Office very much... but, seriously, those things are scarce. I would gladly use them if I could get my hands on some.
posted by litlnemo at 5:49 PM on June 20, 2002


. I just can't imagine seeing Big Ben's giant head done up in yellow or what have you

What majick said! (Though I think colorful European currency looks plenty dignified à l'européenne...kind of like how a shimmering silk French flag flying over Paris looks awesome, but Old Glory looks better in richly-dyed cotton...) It is utter horsefeathers when they say that "notes will remain the same size and use similar portraits and historical images to maintain an American appearance." George Washington in pink, or even John Adams in blue is not an American appearance. Our presidents will look like gummi bears...
posted by Zurishaddai at 5:51 PM on June 20, 2002


I love weird money. Two dollar bills make for memorable tips, just get 20 bucks in twos before you go on vacation and all the people you deal with will remember you as a charming fella or gal.

I despise the anti-dollar-coin people almost as much as despise the penny. And that's a lot.
posted by anildash at 6:08 PM on June 20, 2002


You people can't start to imagine how much changing the color, sizes, etc. will hurt the valuation of the US Dollar in underdeveloped countries - and that is an enormous national financial asset of the US. The previous design change was mostly cosmetic visually and the bills bore very strong resemblance to the old ones. The more you change the visual appearance of the bills, the more will the population of countries with unstable currencies, forced to use a foreign currency, be alienated. Mind you, this would not be all that big percentage-wise, but overall I imagine it would add up to cost several such usability reforms.
posted by azazello at 6:26 PM on June 20, 2002


I say keep it simple. Maybe like this?
posted by boardman at 7:48 PM on June 20, 2002


I only want a debit card, and nothing else. I don't like to touch cash. Do you know where that dollar has been before you held it in your hand? Most likely NOT washed, and probably some filthy people touched it before you. You don't know what germs or diseases could be floating around within the fibers of it.

The only one that ever touches my debit card is me, except in those rare exceptions when the store doesn't offer self-swipe machines (mostly restaurants), but we HAVE to hope their washing their hands before touching my food, much less my card.
posted by benjh at 7:56 PM on June 20, 2002


"People did not want to use [the Sacagewea dollar], lots of storeowners thought it was fake."

Lots of store owners think $2 bills are fake. One of these days I'm gonna get a whole bunch and buy stuff with 'em, just to see if anyone gives me trouble.

"Forgive the self link, gyc"

*sigh* Repeat after me...

Self links in comments have never been taboo.
Self links in comments have never been taboo.
Self links in comments have never been taboo...
posted by CrayDrygu at 9:37 PM on June 20, 2002


I was a big proponent of the dollar coin. (Hence my sense of betrayal.) I used to get $10 or so whenever I'd stop by the bank to deposit a check. One day I sit up to leave the bus and some change slips out of my pocket. So here I am, doors open, at my stop with change rolling all the floor of the bus. If it had been a few nickles and dimes I probably would have bailed, but of course I realized that I'd just dumped abour $8. Anyway, I was traumatized and I decided I'm against change having significant value.
posted by Wood at 9:43 PM on June 20, 2002


I used Euro bill changers in the Netherlands. They handled the differently-sized bills without a single problem.
posted by tpoh.org at 1:11 AM on June 21, 2002


Plus, I agree. Lose the $1 bill. Yank them out of circulation. Dollar coins are accepted by most vending machines already. With what a dollar can buy these days, it would be just as practical for us to have a 50 cent bill.

Hell, I say do what Canada and Europe do: No bills under a denomination of 5. Let's have a $1 and $2 coin.
posted by tpoh.org at 1:14 AM on June 21, 2002


You'll pry my $2 bill from my cold, dead hands! There's just too much coolness in a perfectly legitimate bill of currency that most people don't realize exists.
posted by majick at 5:46 AM on June 21, 2002


50-cent notes? You could try a currency system like Indonesia's, where due to inflation, coins are rarely worth anything, and you have to run around town with fat rolls of bills in your pockets.

Oddest small change I've ever gotten: bigger, more corporate retailers in Indonesia like to price items out to odd amounts. When you pay for the item, you get back an odd amount in change, including a little bit of rupiah too small to amount to any coin in circulation. (Right now US$1 = Rp 8000 or more.) So, to make up the difference, they give you a little individually wrapped candy.
posted by gimonca at 6:44 AM on June 21, 2002


Who would you put on the designs?

Louis Armstrong.

Walt Whitman. (Impressive beard; good for a currency portrait.)

Mark Twain, Georgia O'Keeffe and MLK. (I second those nominations.)

Frank Lloyd Wright structures on the reverse of at least one bill design.

Watson and Crick wouldn't do, as Crick was English; I assume that American currency portraits are being restricted to Americans.
posted by chuq at 10:17 AM on June 21, 2002


What is all this love for the archaic, heavy, noisy, pocket-dragging, stacking up uselessly in cups in the closet, rolling away from you under a counter COIN? Give me a nice lightweight, flat, foldable BILL any day. Even a lot of the slot machines here in Vegas are going bill-input-only.
posted by rushmc at 10:43 AM on June 21, 2002


The sound of the bills pouring out after a jackpot must be sweet.
posted by Wood at 10:55 AM on June 21, 2002


I'm surprised that most people don't know there is a two dollar bill. Any native-born citizen of the US over age, say, thirty, really should be aware of its existence, right? Right? I mean, come on. Really? Most people don't realize it exists?
posted by acridrabbit at 12:41 PM on June 21, 2002


Evanizer, I totally disagree with you for the first time. While that makes me sad, any chance to document my routines I enjoy.
For the first few months that I lived in Brooklyn I bought month passes for the subway on my debit card. but then I discovered that if I put $20 in the machine and get a 15 dollar pass (with one 'free' ride!) I will receive an amazing and oh so fun sacagaweas and/or some susan bs. It's so exciting! I put them in my change purse (I can't believe you don't have one... It's kind of, well, gauche to put change in your pocket), and I feel so exciting and different using them in convenience stores to buy forties. Sometimes, when I am feeling extra slick I give them to street musicians so that later on they will be pleasantly surprised...
The good you can do with a dollar coin is endless.

Plus, I think that bills are slightly unreal. They are kind of like I.O.U. notes, whereas coins are the real deal. Lets bring back the $500 coin. (Am I the only one who didn't know anything about bills over $100? And what is up with Manhattan ATM machines giving you fifties. That's intimidating.)
posted by goneill at 3:42 PM on June 21, 2002


"Most people don't realize it exists?"

The last couple of times I've tried to use a deuce, I've heard "I've never seen one of those before." When I spent some time in a small Oregon town about 10 years back, the Safeway there had lots of them and regularly made change with $2 bills.

"And what is up with Manhattan ATM machines giving you fifties."

Oh, how that would rock. I am so very sick of twenties. ATM machines ought to dispense singles, fins, tenspots and fifties instead of only the ubiquitous twenty. Just think, you could take that last $57 out at the ATM instead of waiting in line, and carry around a fifty you'd be more hesitant to break than that couple of $20s.
posted by majick at 6:23 PM on June 21, 2002


Oh, and riviera? Mondex failed in the US, too, though much less grandly. I should know, I have a card with ten bucks on it and I sit daily within 50 feet of one of the back end servers that made it go.
posted by majick at 6:26 PM on June 21, 2002


A lot of Norwest ATMs in Minnesota used to give out combinations of $20s and $5s. The perfect withdrawal was $35: one $20 and three $5s. After they merged with Wells Fargo, everything went $20--which means you inevitably have to run and find someone willing to give you smaller change for it. Or, you go ahead and try to pay for a coffee with a $20 and face the dreaded "don't you have anything smaller"?
posted by gimonca at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2002


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