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Martin on the Money
January 19, 2004 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Put MLK on the $20 Bill. Conservatives have clamored to put Ronald Reagan on the dime or the $10 bill. One outfit wants to name something after Reagan in each of the US's counties. Why not put one of "the greatest moral leaders of the 20th century" on one of our most commonly used pieces of currency instead? (Better to have King on the $20 than Andrew Jackson, whose unconstitutional Indian Removal policy created the "Trail of Tears.")
posted by Vidiot (59 comments total)

 
His son, Dexter Scott King, would probably charge the U.S. Treasury for each bill they printed with MLK's likeness.

The King children have been criticized for "capitalizing" on their famous father's name and for not doing enough to further his legacy. [Links to his childrens' website are in the article]

Here's the King Center's Terms of Service for using their website, just in case you were interested.

For all of the wrongs that Jackson committed, I think he had something to do with establishing a national bank, so that may be why he's on the $20. Plus, Old Hickory has some awesome hair.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:11 PM on January 19, 2004


I would never use a bill with Reagan on it without defacing it somehow first.
posted by interrobang at 6:17 PM on January 19, 2004


It'd be great to have Reagan on a $20 bill...so I could wipe my ass with it. I don't even have the visceral hatred for GWB that I did for Reagan.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:19 PM on January 19, 2004


Dude. You wipe your ass with twenties? Ummm...can I borrow some TP?
posted by ColdChef at 6:22 PM on January 19, 2004


First: nuts to you, interrobang and adamgreenfield. Even though I dislike Clinton - greatly - I would never suggest "wiping my ass" with currency featuring his likeness.

Second: I like the idea of King on currency, too.

Maybe we could mint some new money: $3, $4, $15 dollar bills.
posted by davidmsc at 6:37 PM on January 19, 2004


I hope I'm not the only one that read that URL as pukingonthetwenty.com.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:39 PM on January 19, 2004


Actually, Jackson opposed the Bank of the United States. Alexander Hamilton set it up, which is a big reason he's on the $10.

And yes, the family (especially Dexter) can be jerks. But that doesn't diminish what King himself accomplished.
posted by Vidiot at 6:39 PM on January 19, 2004


Speaking of things that don't diminish what King accomplished.... does anyone know what evidence does (or does not exist) that he was not faithful to his wife?
posted by weston at 6:45 PM on January 19, 2004


weston, the FBI documented it rather extensively, if in a manner far beyond any legitimate purview and in total violation of any expectation of privacy.

davidmsc, the day Reagan gets his due for all the suffering for which he was responsible, you can tell me off. Until then, he's just another white-collar criminal in my book.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:54 PM on January 19, 2004


One outfit wants to name something after Reagan in each of the US's counties.

Perhaps Staten Island can rename Fresh Kills after him.
posted by jonmc at 6:59 PM on January 19, 2004


I had an old neighbor who said that he refused to use FDR dimes. He would trade you your nickle for his dime before he would ever use it.

Seems like a good policy for anything with Reagan's shit-head face on it.
posted by jmgorman at 7:01 PM on January 19, 2004


Why do we need to put politicians on our money?

Why not Mark Twain? Edison? Duke Ellington?
posted by pjdoland at 7:09 PM on January 19, 2004


Maybe Jackson can go back on the $10,000 gold currency bill to free up some room. Here's a nice gallery of U.S. currency throughout history. Vidiot, thanks for clearing up my foggy sense of history.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:09 PM on January 19, 2004


This would be a pretty superficial way to honor King, and I doubt he would have cared for it, but it would be nice to get Jackson off the bill.
Under orders from President Jackson and in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Army began enforcement of the Removal Act. More than 3,000 Cherokees were rounded up in the summer of 1838 and loaded onto boats that traveled the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers into Indian Territory. Many were held in prison camps awaiting their fate. An estimated 4,000 died from hunger, exposure and disease.
That's more people than died on 9/11. Jackson is one of the most shameful presidents we've ever had.
posted by homunculus at 7:13 PM on January 19, 2004


I thought it legally had to be a dead president on the money, no? (reagan almost is, but I'd never want his face in my pants)
posted by amberglow at 7:14 PM on January 19, 2004


Hey, you all! Wasn't Reagan the Man Who Won the Cold War, thereby freeing the world from the fear of nuclear disintegration?

Oh wait...never mind.
posted by drinkcoffee at 7:16 PM on January 19, 2004


amberglow, there may be a rule that you have to be dead to be on money, but you don't have to be President. Ben Franklin is on the $100, and he was never President. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea are on the dollar coins. (and no problem, Frank Grimes -- I had to research it myself.)
posted by Vidiot at 7:23 PM on January 19, 2004


Duke Ellington?

I'd dig the Duke Dollar.

This would be a pretty superficial way to honor King, and I doubt he would have cared for it.

A-men. I met a number of people who've been offended by suggestions that MLK day be human rights day, but I see this the same way: King would likely have only wanted the attention for King the man insofar as it drew attention to the principles he sought to see more of in the world. Look at what Christmas and Easter have become and you get an idea of the problems.

I thought it legally had to be a dead president on the money, no?

Ben Franklin... not a President.
posted by namespan at 7:26 PM on January 19, 2004


King County, Washington was named in 1852 after a man named William Rufus Devane King, a slaveowner. In 1986 the King County Council passed a resolution renaming King County in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The county's new name is, of course, King County.

I could not make this up if I tried.

I like the idea of putting him on a common bill, like the $5 maybe -- a denomination that everyone, even white supremacists, regularly gets in change. The idea of a KKK member carrying around a picture of MLK, or else carrying around a huge wad of singles just to avoid his face, makes me chuckle.
posted by kindall at 7:59 PM on January 19, 2004


I'd like to see a variety of people representing the U.S. on currency--Georgia O'Keefe...Walt Whitman....Vince Lombardi...put Eisenhower somewhere prominent again, too.

A great banknote would have Edwin Hubble on one side, then an intricately engraved multi-colored galaxy on the other.

But MLK ought to be a shoo-in: if you're big enough to have a holiday, you're big enough to be on a $20.
posted by gimonca at 8:21 PM on January 19, 2004


Pfff. Who cares what's on those crappy pieces of paper when we've got credit cards, internet banking, money transfers and paypal?
posted by tapeguy at 8:29 PM on January 19, 2004


The way we can all get what we want is for faces on currency (or on a particular bill that's set aside for the purpose) to change every 3--5 years.

King is obviously worth putting on money, though personally I'd rather name a university after the man. Not that the two are exclusive.

Twain, Hubble (there's a German bill that had Gauss on one side and a graph of the normal-curve PDF and the equation for the normal curve on the other, or similar), yeah.

But I want Elvis. I wanna slap me a king down on the counter and buy myself a peanut butter and bacon sandwich.

And while we're at all this, can we rescue Mr. Jefferson from the $2?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:46 PM on January 19, 2004


I once drew Chuck Norris on one of my own dollar bills using Washington's visage. Pretty detailed too.

But I lost the bill :(
posted by angry modem at 8:49 PM on January 19, 2004


Ok then : >

I want King on the 100 (it should be a big bill), and Mr. Rogers on the 50.
posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on January 19, 2004


I'm all for a $3 bill with Judy Garland! I'd say Barbra, but she's not dead. Yet. I'm waiting.

I'm here to tell you this country will never have a three dollar bill.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:58 PM on January 19, 2004


Judy for the 5, maybe? (how much were cocktails and pills back then?) ; >
posted by amberglow at 9:00 PM on January 19, 2004


I thought it legally had to be a dead president on the money, no?

No. Alexander Hamilton, much to the chagrin and denial of conservatives everywhere, was never president, but he was instrumental in forming the national bank, so we put him on the $10. Ben Franklin ($100), Susan B. Anthony ($1 coin), Sam Chase ($10,000), and Sacagawa[...] ($1 coin) are all non-presidents, too.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:13 PM on January 19, 2004


weston, the FBI documented it rather extensively, if in a manner far beyond any legitimate purview and in total violation of any expectation of privacy.

I wonder how much of that witch hunt would have been permissible under Patriot I & II.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:15 PM on January 19, 2004


fee waybill.
posted by quonsar at 9:30 PM on January 19, 2004


King on the 20 and Reagen on the 10. I would support both.
posted by chaz at 9:37 PM on January 19, 2004


How about we leave all the money the way it is and spend our energy on something more useful? [Insert your favorite cause here.]
posted by pmurray63 at 10:15 PM on January 19, 2004


weston, the FBI documented it rather extensively, if in a manner far beyond any legitimate purview and in total violation of any expectation of privacy.

Given that the FBI was also (so I've heard) encouraging King to kill himself and trying to discredit him, it would seem easy to speculate that the FBI wasn't an unimpeachable source, though.... other confirmations? It would seem like someone else within the movement would have to know if it were true...
posted by weston at 10:55 PM on January 19, 2004


Put him in the Hall already. Christ.
posted by Witty at 11:13 PM on January 19, 2004


I once drew Chuck Norris on one of my own dollar bills

The polls are now open for the Chuck Norris dollar. Also on the ballot, the Steve Urkel twenty.
posted by fatbobsmith at 11:46 PM on January 19, 2004


So what did Saint Raygun ever do to deserve having his mug put on money?

Was it the States right's speech at Philadelphia, Missisippi?

Maybe it was the defense of the Nazi SS speech in Bitburg, Germany?

How about the record budget deficits by a "fiscal conservative?"

Perhaps someone else can make a suggestion here 'cause I'm baffled.
posted by nofundy at 6:13 AM on January 20, 2004


Keep socialists off of American money, even if some of the things they said made sense.

Yes, lollipop-licking sandal-wearing socialists.
posted by hama7 at 6:30 AM on January 20, 2004


The Beast as Saint: "King privately described himself as a Marxist."
posted by hama7 at 6:37 AM on January 20, 2004


Keep socialists off of American money, even if some of the things they said made sense.

hama7: too late. FDR has been on the dime for a while.
posted by Ptrin at 6:51 AM on January 20, 2004


FDR has been on the dime for a while.

There's a solution for that: To Coin a Prez .
posted by hama7 at 7:02 AM on January 20, 2004


It should also be noted that King's time was a time of widespread socialism in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Really, Rev. King wasn't any more of a socialist than those on his right:

How a Republican President instituted Communism in the USA.
posted by Ptrin at 7:31 AM on January 20, 2004


The Beast as Saint: "King privately described himself as a Marxist."

It was a mistake to link to that article. I had no idea who the author was. Now I do. Consider it retracted. Please refer only to the "socialists" link.
posted by hama7 at 7:58 AM on January 20, 2004


I am sick of all their stupid faces. Plants and animals belong on money. Put a carrot on the dime, and a Wren on the $20 and be done with it.
posted by thirteen at 8:34 AM on January 20, 2004


Okay, this is the thread for this. Somebody help me.

Does anybody remember a few years back, that the mint--or some similar entity--created sample versions of money that totally eradicated the greenback-president paradigm? There was a Frank Lloyd Wright bill and a Martha Graham bill and at least two others. I've been looking for copies of the designs for a long time.

Does this ring a bill--er, bell--with anybody?
posted by jengod at 12:32 PM on January 20, 2004


Or perhas the best way around it is to get the politics out of money all together and use natural treasures such as the Bald Eagle, the Bison, or perhaps even Utahraptor.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:25 PM on January 20, 2004


hama7: Please refer only to the "socialists" link.

You'll stand by an article by Lew Rockwell? You're not helping your admittedly sketchy case there.
posted by liam at 2:53 PM on January 20, 2004


get the politics out of money all together and use natural treasures such as the Bald Eagle, the Bison, or perhaps even Utahraptor

Combine them.

I'd be chuffed beyond measure to go and buy something using a bill that had Abe Lincoln riding a Utahraptor on it. Or George Washington wrestling a bison.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:57 PM on January 20, 2004


Heh...love the use of the word "chuffed," ROU_Xenophobe.

And what did Reagan do to warrant being on currency? Oh, there's the little matter of the fall of the Soviet Union and the discredit of communism.

Yes, he IS deserving of credit for it. Not all -- but very much. "Evil Empire" and "Tear Down This Wall" come to mind, along with Reykjavik and SDI and a re-invigorated military. All combined to end the U.S.S.R, from our side.
posted by davidmsc at 8:12 PM on January 20, 2004


spare me
posted by Pressed Rat at 8:42 PM on January 20, 2004


Communism was discredited and basically tore itself apart because it didn't work. Not because an ex-B-movie actor called it names.
posted by Vidiot at 11:37 PM on January 20, 2004


It'd be great to have Reagan on a $20 bill...so I could wipe my ass with it.

the irony is, unless you were an intense reaganite, you probably can't afford to wipe your ass with twenties.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:10 AM on January 21, 2004


Not because an ex-B-movie actor called it names.

He was also, I hear, President of the United States of America for eight years. I don't suppose that being the President of the United States of America would give him any influence in world affairs. I mean, after all, he was only the President of the United States of America. For eight years. Or so I hear.

I'm glad to hear that the President of the United States of America has so little power. It means we've got nothing to worry about with regard to Bush.
posted by kindall at 7:17 AM on January 21, 2004


so if not for that meddling Reagan, communism would've flourished?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2004


True, America battled communism for decades, and the Soviet empire did have serious internal problems, but Reagan recognized that things were coming to a head and delivered the final blow. He didn't slay the Soviet Union singlehandedly, but he saw that it would topple if it were pushed hard enough. And so he pushed as hard as he could. Sure, it might have collapsed without that push, maybe in ten or twenty years. That doesn't mean it wasn't an accomplishment to bring it down sooner. Ten years of communism would feel like a long, long time if you were living in the Soviet Union.

Jimmy Carter didn't do much pushing, you have to admit. If he had, maybe he'd be the one who got the credit. If Reagan hadn't, maybe Clinton would have been the one. I'm sure the left wouldn't be making noises about "it was about to fall anyway" if that had happened.
posted by kindall at 9:32 AM on January 21, 2004


Jimmy Carter didn't do much pushing, you have to admit. If he had, maybe he'd be the one who got the credit

That's simply false. With the exception of SDI, almost all of the "Reagan" defense buildup was just a continuation of changes begun under Carter.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:42 AM on January 21, 2004


Ten years of communism would feel like a long, long time if you were living in the Soviet Union.

Ten years of Gorbachev? No Stalin, he. That Russians would have been less happy under softening communism or the mob anarchy of the Yeltsin era is not extremely clear. Eastern Europe is solid ground for that statement, but not the former U.S.S.R. As far as "the left" giving Clinton the credit in the ten-more-years scenario, that'd be a load of crap too.
posted by furiousthought at 9:56 AM on January 21, 2004


I, for one, welcome our currency-changing overlords.
posted by darren at 10:39 AM on January 21, 2004


one of the ways reagan helped topple the soviet union was to train and finance osama bin laden in afghanistan. if you'll recall, osama bin laden is now the head of the terrorist network "al qaeda."
posted by mcsweetie at 10:46 AM on January 21, 2004


Yeah, it sure is a complicated world, ain't it?
posted by kindall at 2:28 PM on January 21, 2004


you bet! thats why I like video games. I just got 35 stars in super mario 64. whats up now, world? whats gonna happen?
posted by mcsweetie at 2:43 PM on January 21, 2004


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