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Stimulus package for vending machines
August 6, 2009 9:01 AM   Subscribe

To encourage circulation of $1 coins, the U.S. Mint offers $250 boxes of dollar coins at face value with free U.S. shipping (and credit card cashback). [via]
posted by parudox (297 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I fucking love dollar coins, but I am not certain I love them that much.
posted by mayhap at 9:03 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


My father-in-law bought a box of these last year and gave out the coins as stocking stuffers to children and grandchildren.

I don't think any of us spent any of them. Again.
posted by DU at 9:04 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Here's a clue: Make them a different size or colour to existing coins.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on August 6, 2009


Oh, don't worry, people will start spending them once the novelty wears off. This happened in Canada and now the loonies and toonies are ubiquitous.
posted by orange swan at 9:05 AM on August 6, 2009


Does this mean that soon, as in some Asian countries, people will receive candy instead of change amounts less than $1?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 AM on August 6, 2009


Weird I ordered both Andrew Jackson and Native American coins but when I received them there were only 3 indian coins left.
posted by geoff. at 9:06 AM on August 6, 2009 [73 favorites]


how does selling them at face value encourage me to purchase..?
posted by mafted jacksie at 9:07 AM on August 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Here's a clue: Make them a different size or colour to existing coins.

They are. So were the previous ones.

Oh, don't worry, people will start spending them once the novelty wears off.

*checks user page*

Huh, same age as me. Must be early-onset memory problems.
posted by DU at 9:07 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neat--I like those Susan B's.
posted by box at 9:08 AM on August 6, 2009


We still have $1 coins? I haven't seen one in years.
posted by octothorpe at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2009


Well, if I by them with my Discover card I'll get about the same return as my 401(k) is offering up presently.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


how does selling them at face value encourage me to purchase..?

If you get cash back on a credit card, you get paid to do a break-even transaction.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


Good luck with that. Welcome to the United States, where cashiers don't think that two dollar bills are legal tender.

One dollar coins sound like a recipe for having your reproductive organs Tasered until your future progeny have glowing blue eyes and cause nearby people with Pacemakers to drop dead.
posted by adipocere at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Orders completed by mail, phone, fax or through the United States Mint Online Catalog have a standard shipping fee of $4.95 per order.

Not such a great deal after all.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:10 AM on August 6, 2009


I don't think any of us spent any of them. Again.

I am gladly taking any leftover coins for recycling.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2009


Here's a clue: Make them a different size or colour to existing coins.

Because that worked out so well last time. "It's a Sacagawea Dollar! You can go trade it at the bank for a REAL dollar!"

It will never happen because of the job losses at the printing plant but the only way a dollar coin is going to take off is if you stop printing paper dollar bills. This isn't hard to understand. Much like health care, this is yet another thing we seem woefully behind Canada on.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2009 [16 favorites]


Yeah where's the free shipping?
posted by geoff. at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2009


Um, people use dollar coins all the time.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


What forced circulation in Canada was the withdrawl of the paper notes. That's all it would take in the US too, but I doubt that anybody would have the political jelly to get that to happen.
posted by bonehead at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not such a great deal after all.

From the product pages:
* The United States Mint pays for standard shipping and handling of domestic orders. Any special handling will be paid by the customer.

This has been around since last June, and Fatwallet is all up on it.

Something to consider is that the USPS will leave a box of $250 in cash on your doorstep. If it goes missing, not such a great deal.
posted by smackfu at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2009


You know what worked for us up in Canada?

The Mint stopped printing dollar bills.

Duh.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:13 AM on August 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


If you get cash back on a credit card, you get paid to do a break-even transaction.

No you don't. You get a share of the profit the credit card company makes charging retailers to use their system. This is why many smaller stores and restaurants require a minimum charge (technically it's illegal for them to do it, but the idea is that they assume most people won't be dicks about it). Because there's a minimum fee, a la PayPal, to process a credit card transaction.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I get dollar coins pretty frequently, but the problem is that most vending machines and laundromats don't take 'em.

But I like $2 bills too, and just wish there was an easy way to get them shy of the racetrack.
posted by klangklangston at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2009


Oh, I didn't realize the U.S. was still printing paper dollar bills. I would feel silly for not knowing this, however what's silly is still doing it, so the silly's on you.;-)
posted by orange swan at 9:15 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This happened in Canada and now the loonies and toonies are ubiquitous.

Largely because here in Canada we stopped printing one- and two-dollar bills. This is, what, the third time that the USA has introduced dollar coins? As long as there are dollar bills the coins will be seen as a novelty.

Or, on preview, what XQUZYPHYR said.

All that said, I know someone who used to go to the bank and buy rolls of fifty-cent pieces and spend them just to get them into circulation. The success of his one-man campaign can be gauged by thinking when the last time you saw a fifty-cent piece was.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2009


Regarding the shipping: the charge disappears when you get to the final payment page.
posted by parudox at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why do Americans have such a peculiar attachment to their particular arrangement of notes and coins? Most other countries have been able to make these sorts of changes with pretty minimal opposition.

It's obvious that the penny should be abandoned (and probably the nickel as well), and that there should be a dollar coin, a two-dollar coin, and no notes of the same denomination. And yet it seems to be a political impossibility.
posted by yoink at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2009


The Mint stopped printing dollar bills.

That's never ever going to happen here, the dollar bill is too symbolic. No US politician is going have the stones to propose that.
posted by octothorpe at 9:17 AM on August 6, 2009


Oh, don't worry, people will start spending them once the novelty wears off.
Tell that to this coffee can full of Eisenhower dollars and Ben Franklin half-dollars my mom gave me.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:18 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I like $2 bills too, and just wish there was an easy way to get them shy of the racetrack.

Me too. They make great gifts for nephews (and, now that I have one, nieces, too!) That's why I order them in banded stacks ($2 x 100 bills) from my bank. Turnaround is about 3 days. Any bank should be able to do this.
posted by dersins at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2009


Symbolic as it is, the dollar bill also happens to be ridiculously expensive to replace every two years, and that's a reason it might indeed get phased out.
posted by parudox at 9:19 AM on August 6, 2009


And yet it seems to be a political impossibility.

A lot of obviousness is a political impossibility in the US. That's because in the US, politics is dominated by idiots.
posted by DU at 9:20 AM on August 6, 2009 [17 favorites]


All that said, I know someone who used to go to the bank and buy rolls of fifty-cent pieces and spend them just to get them into circulation.

Which naturally calls to mind "ass pennies".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I fucking miss the 2 dollar bill.
posted by chunking express at 9:21 AM on August 6, 2009


Not such a great deal after all.

I'm assuming you could order multiple packs of $250 and have them count as one order ...

If you order $1000, then $5 is about 0.5%. I get 2% on one card. The spread is 1.5%, or $15. Not much, but free money is free money.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:21 AM on August 6, 2009


...the dollar bill also happens to be ridiculously expensive to replace every two years, and that's a reason it might indeed get phased out.

Alternatively, look at our healthcare system. We will throw as much money as possible down any random hole to avoid being "socialists". Canada has dollar coins? THIS IS A PATH DOWN WHICH THE US MUST. NOT. TREAD!!!!!
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Technically, they're a different color - but it's a very light yellow/gold that, in most lighting conditions, looks about the same as a quarter's silver, after almost any wear.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:22 AM on August 6, 2009


I get dollar coins frequently enough (the Metro-North LOVES them for change) and have yet to find anyone confused by accepting them as payment. Seeing as they've been in circulation for a few years now, more and more vending machines I run into accept them as well.

Plus, we finally have a big gold coin - it just looks fun to use, compared to our other plain, all-too-similar coins.
posted by pupdog at 9:23 AM on August 6, 2009


You get dollar coins in change here in Dallas when you buy a train ticket from a kiosk. I really dig them and always have a few in my pocket. Who've thought it - Dallas public transit on the cutting edge of something?
posted by item at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2009


Strippers hate it when you fling these coins at them.
posted by ColdChef at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2009 [47 favorites]


That's never ever going to happen here, the dollar bill is too symbolic.

See, this is what I don't get. That argument was used in just about every country that's made this change: the UK, Australia, Canada, to name a few. After a few months, nobody gave a crap, and the the benefits became apparent to most people. Only Rush Limbaugh would "care".

Which just goes to show: US politicians are 'fraidy-cats.
posted by bonehead at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I used to stop by my bank once a week to get a roll of dollar coins, so that I could use them for tips and spare-changers, but they started refusing to sell them to me a couple years ago. I had to resort to stopping by the Post Office and putting in $20 for a $.39 stamp, and getting a bunch of change.

I hear clinky pockets in my future.
posted by nomisxid at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2009


That's never ever going to happen here, the dollar bill is too symbolic. No US politician is going have the stones to propose that.

What are you saying?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why many smaller stores and restaurants require a minimum charge (technically it's illegal for them to do it

Wait, what. Would you point me to the direction of that law? I feel like I've been conned into buying more stuff for years just so I could use my credit card.
posted by scrutiny at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2009


Strippers hate it when you fling these coins at them.
Another reason to promote use of the $2 bill.
posted by deanc at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I used to frequent Ren Faires, I would often spend months ahead of my visit going to every bank around and purchasing all the $1 and $.50 coins I could, and then would show up with ONLY coinage for purchases. The merchants were all amused, I actually had the "bag of silver" tied to my belt with which to make purchases... it was great fun. (Although a bit unwieldy if I was planning on big purchases. $100 in coins weighs a bit.)

But really, the $1 coin is NOT going to gain wide acceptance until they take all those fucking dollar bill scanners off the coin-op machines. If I have a dollar coin in my pocket, and the vending machine is asking for $1 for that soda, I have NEVER encountered a machine where I can use that coin to buy that soda. The machines only take coins in .05, .10, and .25 denominations.

Retrofit all those machines, and people will take to the dollar coins like crazy.
posted by hippybear at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


They've been using dollar coins as change on the Houston-area tollways since the 2000-issue coin. It's really old hat by now. I'm surprised that people are surprised by it.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2009


I like the Sacajawea ones.
posted by Mister_A at 9:27 AM on August 6, 2009


A lot of obviousness is a political impossibility in the US. That's because in the US, politics is dominated by idiots.

It would help if the U.S. wasn't so resistant to change. See also: the metric system.
posted by orange swan at 9:28 AM on August 6, 2009


I love dollar coins. I especially love the sound of a pocket full of jingly. Happy memories of Grandpa's pockets at the arcade, I suppose.

When the Sacagawea dollar was released, I looked all over for them. I finally broke down and picked up a roll from the bank. Apparently, people were hoarding them. I kept spending them and resupplying at the bank. I never ever received one as change from a human cashier. The only place I ever received them was from the old T-station token machines in the Boston area (which are all long gone at this point.)

And the postage stamp machines at my local post office? The give Susan B. Anthonys. WTF?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:29 AM on August 6, 2009


The mint wants dollar coins because they are cheaper. But do they ever say why should I want them? I have no issue with dollars.
posted by smackfu at 9:29 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I fucking miss the 2 dollar bill.
So go to your bank and get a strap of them! If they don't have them on hand, they can order them. They're not rare!

I know the dollar bill is inefficient, but it's tough to stamp Where's George on a Sacagawea.
posted by bink at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good luck with that. Welcome to the United States, where cashiers don't think that two dollar bills are legal tender.

One dollar coins sound like a recipe for having your reproductive organs Tasered until your future progeny have glowing blue eyes and cause nearby people with Pacemakers to drop dead.


I was pretty excited about these a few months ago. Called the bank to see when they'd get a shipment and picked up a few rolls instead of paper bills. I paid for some girl-scout cookies with them and the little child looked at me like I was crazy, looked at her mom, who said, "They're like dollars, honey..."

No... they are dollars....
posted by odinsdream at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2009


After a few months, nobody gave a crap
I think people much prefer to have $10 in dollar bills in their pocket rather than 10 dollar coins. Bills are just preferable to coins, and given the choice, everyone is going to prefer to use bills.

This being America, stubborn as we are, someone is going to start hoarding $1 bills, selling them at a small profit, and people are going to start a movement to never deposit $1 bills to the bank, taking them out of circulation. I would predict that if you remove $1 bills, an entire shadow economy would sprout up for the specific purpose of buying goods and services with $1 bills. People would consider it their personal way of "sticking it to the man."
posted by deanc at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2009


Now you can get circulating Presidential $1 Coins and Native American $1 Coins (non-numismatic coins)

of, pertaining to, or consisting of coins, medals, paper money, etc.

?
posted by roll truck roll at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2009


Canada has dollar coins? THIS IS A PATH DOWN WHICH THE US MUST. NOT. TREAD!!!!!

Solidarity, bro.
posted by America at 9:31 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I didn't realize the U.S. was still printing paper dollar bills. I would feel silly for not knowing this, however what's silly is still doing it, so the silly's on you.;-)

No sillybacks!!
posted by odinsdream at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Tooth Fairy brings dollar coins to my household. They're so much better than quarters not because they're worth more, but because they're GOLD COINS LIKE PIRATES HAVE.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2009 [13 favorites]


Why do Americans have such a peculiar attachment to their particular arrangement of notes and coins? Most other countries have been able to make these sorts of changes with pretty minimal opposition.

We're filthy, capitalist, non-metric, unsocialized medicine-using swinepigs!

We've also had three totally half-hearted attempts to do this in the past, which means that most people I know are wary of taking 1-dollar coins at this point. Cash registers don't have enough coin cups for them, vending machines don't take them, parking meters don't accept them, cashiers don't trust them, and we're not used to them.

As a country, we're really great at saying, "Hey kids, here's a brand-new system! Get used to it, because it's coming!" and totally ignoring it. Think of digital TV, which required an extension, because we didn't respond after what seemed like 11 years of warnings. Think of the metric system we were all taught in the 70s that went nowhere.

I swear, if Esperanto weren't the official language of The United States of America, I'd think we were the most backward country on the planet.
posted by xingcat at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


By non-numismatic, I believe they mean that these are for use/circulation, not just collection.
posted by parudox at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2009


I have no issue with dollars.

Do you pay taxes or use vending machines?
posted by DU at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2009


bink, I don't think 2 dollar bills exist in Canada anymore. Period. Paper money is awesome. Change is for losing in your sofa.
posted by chunking express at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2009


I think people much prefer to have $10 in dollar bills in their pocket rather than 10 dollar coins.

...which is the other old saw that gets trotted out. Surprisingly, perhaps, people seem to to care very much. People do care when they're standing in front of a vending machine or parking meter though. I often hear people asking for (dollar) coins when getting change (in Soviet Canukistan).
posted by bonehead at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2009


I love the $ coins, but I don't think they are very useful without $2 and $5 coins to go with them, like they have in Europe. What if I make a purchase and need $9 in change? I'm gonna get a $5 piece of paper and 4 big ass $1 coins back, or maybe some $1 bills mixed in? If we had $5 and $2 I could just get back 3 coins. Throw in a $.50 piece and we could get rid of a whole lot of filthy paper.
posted by HumanComplex at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


yoink, this is the United States.

We aren't even using metric much. Freakin' metric. We use English units (well, technically, derived from English units), when England doesn't anymore (aside from the occasional "stone" thrown in). When I was little, and my friends were all "metric is dumb," I teased them that the United States was one of the last four countries in the planet not using it, one of the other holdouts being either Iran or Iraq at the time.

I'm convinced that much of American behavior can be explained by reading "The Lottery" and then reminding yourself that most of the people here are about four generations away, at most, from that mindset — suspicious, superstitious farmers who are utterly change-averse and convinced that these new-fangled city ways will bring doom upon our heads.

Their sons and daughters all moved into the 'burbs, but they still make sure their lawn crops are harvested just as ritual intended. Strange money? Colorful bills? Removing dollar bills? You can see the eyes darken as this idea is brought up. "Nothing good will come from this."
posted by adipocere at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2009 [9 favorites]


I am deeply opposed to the elimination of the dollar bill. This has nothing to do with my position as Director of the Titty-Bar Girls Local 198.
posted by Mister_A at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you get cash back on a credit card, you get paid to do a break-even transaction.

...

No you don't. You get a share of the profit the credit card company makes charging retailers to use their system.

How is this not getting paid?
posted by The Bellman at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I tried living the dollar coin lifestyle for awhile. It's actually handy in San Francisco: a lot of shit is expensive here. $1 buys you 10 minutes of parking and you have to use coins. Want to park for an hour, your choices are 24 quarters or 6 dollar coins. Now $1 buys you only half a bus ticket. I gave up when I realized I'd spent about half my Sacajawea dollar coins as quarters.

Is there some senator somewhere in a dollar-bill-printing-state that's just holding us all up from making a sensible transition?
posted by Nelson at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2009


Errr, ...people don't seem to care very much.., that is.
posted by bonehead at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2009


Is this something one would have to use physical currency to understand?
posted by Fleebnork at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It'd also help if they didn't create the dollar coins as "curiosities". Instead of having a standard dollar coin, they issue them sporadically in such a manner to be collectibles that'll be removed from circulation. Instead of having a Presidential coin series, they should set a fixed design and stick with it for a good long while.

Phasing out the dollar bill and the penny wouldn't be a bit deal either. Rounding to the nearest nickel is no more a "rip off" than rounding to the nearest penny has been for our entire lifetime. Japan has even 500 yen coins (around $4 when I was there in 2001), and the first bill is 1000Y. Dollar bills are outdated, and we wouldn't even disrespect our presidents, as Washington's on the quarter, and Lincoln's on the 5-spot.
posted by explosion at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2009


Do you pay taxes or use vending machines?

Taxes? I am willing to pay more for the convenience of dollar bills over coins, especially considering all the junk I don't use that my taxes pay for.
Vending Machines? Any machine I deal with either takes dollar bills or only has quarter slots.
posted by smackfu at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2009


Like everything else in American politics, there are strong special interest groups at work. Sens. Kerry and Kennedy make damn sure that Crane Paper gets plenty of money to make the 'paper' used in our dollar bills and the brief redesign of the Jefferson nickels took literally years of negotiation with the Virginia delegation. IIRC, part of our foreign aid to Ecuador is in the form of dollar coins. The Ecuadorans don't mind using dollar coins, so we mint them and export them.
Tell me again why we're bankrupt?
posted by pentagoet at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


If they really wanted to increase circulation they should have sent everyone a few boxes of these last year instead of that stimulus check.
posted by waxboy at 9:40 AM on August 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Symbolic as it is, the dollar bill also happens to be ridiculously expensive to replace every two years, and that's a reason it might indeed get phased out.

If we must keep the dollar note, they could start making them and other high volume bills out of plastic like Mexico and Australia (and many other countries) do. The bills last longer (and are harder to counterfeit) than the paper/cloth notes.

In order for a dollar coin to gain any traction at all would be for coin operated machines aside of the post office and some transit systems to start taking them. Most Coke and candy machines are outfitted with acceptance machines these days. When they raised to priced of bottled water at my gym they actually added a credit card slot but the machine still doesn't take $1 coins.

The only time I ever get a dollar coin is when they are given to me in change from the stupid machine at the post office on the rare occasion I have to buy a stamp. Then it becomes a challenge to get someone to accept the coin. I don't even think the damn coinstar machine likes them.

As the dollar buys less, the need for a note diminishes. On Weeds this week, Andy tells Shane he'll give him a dollar if he goes out to listen in on his mom's conversation. Shane's response was "what the fuck am I going to do with a dollar?"
posted by birdherder at 9:40 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I remember reading years ago that when paper currency first became popular in the US, Eastern city folk generally preferred the paper as it was easy to carry while the Westerners preferred using the silver dollars.
posted by pentagoet at 9:40 AM on August 6, 2009


I am deeply opposed to the elimination of the dollar bill. This has nothing to do with my position as Director of the Titty-Bar Girls Local 198.

Why, as Director, have you not gotten your cashiers to change out twenties in $2 bills already? Inflation means your girls have deserved better for a while now.
posted by explosion at 9:41 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not gonna be much help. Until the penny, nickle and dime are discontinued, and the half-dollar re-issued, people are too set in their ways, and cash register drawers too limited in their change cubbies, to make much use of a dollar coin.

And I mean, seriously. You can't even get a gumball for a dime these days, and using pennies to pay for anything invites a beat-down. Time to modernize.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2009


I'll take your dollar coin when you eliminate the penny and make the nickel the lowest denomination coin. Enough catering to the zinc lobby.
posted by Edward L at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dollar coins? You might as well just stick Karl Marx's head on them too, get it over with.
America is the greatest country in the world and everything about America - its armed forces, its health care system, its voting system and its green money - is by definition the greatest system that Man, working closely under the guidance of God, can devise. This cannot be argued, let alone changed.
posted by Flashman at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


One- and two-dollar coins are awesome because at the end of the day when you empty your pants pocket you have way more money than you thought you did.

Interesting sidenote: I got into conversation with some American tourists in Vancouver last summer, and they asked me what the etiquette was regarding paying restaurant bills (or 'checks' in US parlance), as servers generally don't like receiving a lot of coins in the tray as payment. I thought about it for a moment, then told them that we don't really think of loonies and toonies as 'change'; we still think of them as 'dollars,' so there is never a problem leaving, say 5 toonies in the pile of money on the table instead of a ten dollar bill. Fifty loonies might be pushing it, though.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think part of the problem with the dollar coin is that they keep changing the way it looks. One of the city parking garages around here was giving them out as change. There were at least two different gold colored types, and considering that I had no idea what they were supposed to look like anyway, I was always hesitant to spend them.
posted by 517 at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2009


Wow, sorry about the echo Slap*Happy, but I like your thinking!
posted by Edward L at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2009


This is why many smaller stores and restaurants require a minimum charge (technically it's illegal for them to do it

I believe you mean that it's against the terms of their contract with the credit card company/processor. "Illegal" implies that it's a criminal act.
posted by Slothrup at 9:47 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love dollar coins, but I hate carrying them. I already have a cell phone, wallet, and two sets of keys in my pants - lugging around a pocket full of change is heavy and ungainly. People from socialist, free health care, coin-loving countries - how do you do it?
posted by backseatpilot at 9:47 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dolla dolla bill, y'all.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 9:48 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


How long do I have to wait for a Barack Obama $1 coin?
posted by lunit at 9:48 AM on August 6, 2009


Since moving to Canada, I still haven't quite gotten used to getting a bunch of coins back when I try to pay for something worth like $5.03 with a 10 dollar bill. It feels like being cheated.
posted by pravit at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2009


After the socialist revolution it will be the only coin.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2009


I'm convinced that much of American behavior can be explained by reading "The Lottery"

Or maybe that people resist change if they don't see the benefit. This is a failure of the people selling the change, not of the people.
posted by smackfu at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


And the postage stamp machines at my local post office?

Around my area (mid-Twin-Cities) the stamp machines at the post office got converted to plastic-only a couple of years ago. You now need a credit card or equivalent to use them. Pissed me off royally, because that's where my easy supply of $1 coins used to come from.

Minneapolis parking meters do take them, and they're extremely convenient to use in them--one coin for a nice, long time period instead of hunting around for a handful of spare quarters. Metro Transit buses take them too, which is also convenient.

Some soft drink vending machines around here take them, but not the majority, at least not ones that I end up around.

The semi-conscious neurosis that a lot of Americans have around the issue is that coins mean small change, if a dollar is a coin then a dollar is small change, which means "a dollar isn't worth what it used to be". Therefore, dollar coin means devaluation being snuck in on you. That is irrational (stupid, really), but I think that's the thought process in a lot of people's minds.

That said, some of the Presidential coins look like cheap arcade tokens. The Sacagawea dollars were much nicer. Susan B. Anthony...well, sorry, folks, she came off looking like Nurse Ratchet.
posted by gimonca at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2009


Yoink: Why do Americans have such a peculiar attachment to their particular arrangement of notes and coins? Most other countries have been able to make these sorts of changes with pretty minimal opposition.

Because it's a symbol of the national religion.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:50 AM on August 6, 2009


Change is for losing in your sofa.

The best part of losing change in your sofa is the discovery of small fortunes within the sofa's greedy maw, especially when you're broke. The way my broken economics work: dollar coins have the potential to increase my sofa fortune by a factor of 4!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:50 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks, parudox. I'd just never heard that word before.

Instead of having a Presidential coin series, they should set a fixed design and stick with it for a good long while.

You're right, and that's what they were trying to do with the Sacajawea dollar. I've had fights with people about this, but I think that racism is a pretty big part of why the Sacajawea dollars never took off. To make it worse, they're now turning the Sacajawea dollars into a series honoring "the contributions of Native Americans," with the first one being agriculture? Blech.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:52 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


People from socialist, free health care, coin-loving countries - how do you do it?

Oh! That's very simple. From a very young age, Canadian boys and girls are taught to pick up rocks as they stroll down the street and carry them in their pockets. In no time, this builds up their tender little thigh muscles to bulging, rock-hard pistons able to carry $100 in change effortlessly.

In fact, women often look for a certain contour in the upper thigh of a prospective mate that indicates he's been carrying around "a nice chunk of change" for a substantial period of time. This "loonie bulge" is such an attractant that some men have been known to go in for implants.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:54 AM on August 6, 2009 [22 favorites]


How long do I have to wait for a Barack Obama $1 coin?

Until Two years after he's dead.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:54 AM on August 6, 2009


Y'see, that's the problem. The only people giving them out as change are the post office and metro stations.

Get the liquor store to give them out as change. The office vending machines. Supermarkets. Fast food joints. Chinese restaurants. Coffee shops. Bars. You know, places where people actually still use cash.

When you visit England or Canada, the reason you use the coins (besides the fact that there is no paper counterpart) is because that's what you get back as change. It's not like the ATM is dishing out looneys, or like you go and pick up a bunch of coins at the currency exchange. Consumers use them because businesses use them. Not vice versa.

The burden shouldn't be on the consumer. If the treasury was serious about this, they'd get McDonald's and Starbucks to stock them.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:54 AM on August 6, 2009


How will stores cope when the penny is eliminated and I demand the actual change for my purchases? Will they round down and give me more change than I deserve? I doubt that. It will mean the consumer is getting fucked yet again.

If they are going to remove pennies altogether, they're going to have to devise a pricing and taxation scheme which NEVER creates totals that end on any number other than a 0 or a 5. Otherwise, I'll be standing at the counter, demanding the full change from the cashier.

(And no, the "use a credit card for purchases" trope won't fly. I deal with cash for nearly 100% of my daily purchases, and don't plan to change that.)
posted by hippybear at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2009


Get the liquor store to give them out as change.

To come full circle... that's the whole point of the mint program linked originally. It's meant for merchants to buy dollars at no extra cost so they can give them out, not for people to put on their credit cards and turn right back into the bank.
posted by smackfu at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2009


One has to wonder...just how much of a jump to the economy it would be if all of the money people are hording would suddenly start to be spent? Just how large is the pile of cash being held in cans and jars around the country? I know, personally, I have about $200 in my "Transformation of the $20 bill over the past 20 years" collection, alone.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:58 AM on August 6, 2009


About time you caught up with the rest of the world.
posted by molecicco at 9:58 AM on August 6, 2009


Argh. Why couldn't they have done this for my wedding, when I needed 100 Sacagawea dollars, and had to spend $160 to get them?
posted by Laen at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2009


Metafilter: When I used to frequent Ren Faires...
posted by emjaybee at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bills weigh less and fold easier. Very simple.

If you get rid of the $1 bill, that means any purchase less than a whole-bill amount will result in carrying an assload of heavy coins in your pocket.

In practical terms, that means any time you only have large bills and want to make a small purchase, you're going to end up with said assload.

Want a pack of gum and you only got a twenty? That's two easy pieces of paper and four fucking boat anchors.

Pack of gum and you've only got a ten? Once piece of paper. Four fucking boat anchors.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread was rounded to the nearest 100.
posted by oaf at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


How will stores cope when the penny is eliminated and I demand the actual change for my purchases?

Follow suit of developing nations and offer pieces of candy, of course. Or maybe shells.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2009


If they are going to remove pennies altogether, they're going to have to devise a pricing and taxation scheme which NEVER creates totals that end on any number other than a 0 or a 5. Otherwise, I'll be standing at the counter, demanding the full change from the cashier.

If the final value ends in a 0 or 5, you're good. If it's a 1, 2, 6, or 7, round down. If it's a 3, 4, 8, or 9, round up. It's fair parity in the rounding, and you can't reasonably complain about that.

Do you complain now about the fractions of your penny that you're "fucked" out of? Then why would you seriously care about the fractions of a nickel? That, and of course, merchants round to the nearest penny, they do not round up.
posted by explosion at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2009


klangklangston : I get dollar coins pretty frequently, but the problem is that most vending machines and laundromats don't take 'em.

Weird. All the vending machines I use take them (I only learned this when the vending machines started giving me the dollar coins as change for a $5). Most of the time they don't mark anywhere near the coin slot that it's valid currency, but I've never had a problem.

I think it goes back to the Susan B coins, the new dollar coins are supposed to share all the weight and size characteristics so if the vending machine would take a SBA it should take a new gold dollar.
posted by quin at 10:04 AM on August 6, 2009


backseatpilot:

My normal pocket contents include : cell phone (sometimes 2 of them), wallet (gets a front pocket spot because i hate sitting on it), keys, and sometimes a lighter or usb stick. And of course, change.

The change is easily the smallest portion of my wallet contents, except for the lighter and usb stick. It is not a big deal. When I get a bunch of loonies and toonies as change, I try to keep it under $5 by spending them. It is really not a big deal with regards to pocket space. A non-issue, even.

I do not understand at all, why there would be resistance to them.

I remember when loonies first came out here in Canada. They phased out the bills and issued lots of coins. 1 standard design, clearly distinct from all other coins by both size and color. Within a year or two, anything coin operated (and with prices > $1) soon were retrofitted to accept the coins. People got over the goofy name and I couldn't imagine going back. The toonies were soon to follow and the pattern pretty much repeated. Given the choice, I would not go back to having $1 and $2 bills, though I have kept a couple of each around just because they are neat to show the youngins.
posted by utsutsu at 10:04 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the every-so-often urge for the dollar coin has a lot to do with the fact that those coins, once minted, are actually out of circulation more or less forever.
posted by atchafalaya at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2009


Like everything else in American politics, there are strong special interest groups at work. Sens. Kerry and Kennedy make damn sure that Crane Paper gets plenty of money to make the 'paper' used in our dollar bills and the brief redesign of the Jefferson nickels took literally years of negotiation with the Virginia delegation. IIRC, part of our foreign aid to Ecuador is in the form of dollar coins. The Ecuadorans don't mind using dollar coins, so we mint them and export them.
Tell me again why we're bankrupt?


Health care.
posted by incessant at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


most of the people here are about four generations away, at most, from...suspicious, superstitious farmers who are utterly change-averse

I like to remind people that the US was settled by people who were too uptight for the Brits.
 
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:09 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like, and use, dollar coins when I get them. I just don't get them very often. If I could pick and choose, we'd retire pennies, nickels, quarters and paper dollars/5-dollars/50-dollars/500-dollars altogether, and just have dimes, 20-cent coins, dollar coins and two-dollar coins, and so on:

$.1
$.2
$1
$2
$10
$20
$100
$200

I'm fairly certain if anyone sincerely proposed this, someone else would find a way to compare it to the metric system, then compare the person to Jimmy Carter, then raise an outcry about socialism.
posted by davejay at 10:10 AM on August 6, 2009


I'm a fan of dollar coins, but getting them as change from the stamp machine can weigh down the pockets a bit.

I've always wished they'd mint these with holes in the middle (like some Asian coins) so's I'd have a quick visual and tactile means of discerning them from quarters, as well as a handy means of stringing them together to reduce rattle.
posted by Graygorey at 10:10 AM on August 6, 2009


It's amazing how many people are popping into this thread to say they can't possibly cope with the idea of carrying change.

Up here in Canada, if I have $9, I have a five in my wallet and a couple of toonies in my pocket, jumping around merrily.

On visits to the States, I often ended my day with an assload of $1 bills crammed in my wallet to the point that putting my wallet back in my pocket was like watching those old circus acts where strongmen would fold a phone book in four.

I can buy the argument that $2 in one-dollar coins is -- marginally -- heavier than $2 in one-dollar bills. But I'd much rather have coins -- which, incidentally, are so different in weight, contour, size and touch that I can tell them apart by touch in my pocket -- I'd rather pull out a toonie (the largest coin; a gold coin inset in a silver ring, with alternating grooves and smooth bits around the edge, so you can notice it by running a finger along either the surface or the edge), or two $1 coins (which is the colour of pirate gold, and has eleven sides!!!) than pry open a wallet stuffed with filthy, matted, creased, dog-eared bills to flounder around until I can pull out two $1 bills.

Your money is still all the same colour, for Pete's sake. I'm astounded that you're not still conducting business using goats, berries, and interesting-shaped pieces of wood.
posted by Shepherd at 10:13 AM on August 6, 2009 [24 favorites]


why would you seriously care about the fractions of a nickel?

I had one of those odd moments years and years ago... I handed an ancient asian store clerk a $10 bill to pay for $9.97 bill, and told him to keep the change, and he gave me the three pennies and said "Pennies are like drops of water. Save them, and soon you have a glass to drink."

For some reason, I've never forgotten that.

And the US was only partially settled by people who were too uptight for the Brits. My impression is that the Pilgrims were too groovy, but the Puritans were too uptight.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


octothorpe: "the dollar bill is too symbolic"

I hate to say it, but I think that's a big part of it. At the very least, it was tone-deaf to try to replace the dollar bill, featuring The Father Of Our Country™, with dollar coins featuring more "progressive" icons. While I personally respect the hell out of their role in our nation's history, Americans as a whole don't really know who Sacagawea or Susan B. Anthony are. Or they do, but don't hold Native Americans or feminists in high regard. Or they do, but not in the same high regard as George Washington.

So most people heard about these coins and let out a resounding "meh". Since one dollar bills were still in circulation, the coins ended up with more of a "commemorative" vibe than a "cash money" vibe. The new presidential coins aren't much better. Sure, you get a few great names at the beginning but pretty soon you're into Fillmore/Pierce/Buchanan territory and people don't care anymore.

Currency is supposed to be symbolic. You're handing a piece of frayed, stained paper to a stranger... why would they give you a delicious blended coffee beverage in return? Because Abraham Fucking Lincoln says so, jerk.

Go through the history books and find noteworthy people... people who did great things for our country and are no longer considered particularly controversial (and are not linked to any contemporary controversial topics). Come up with simple, elegant, striking designs that people will remember.

These should all be lessons you learn your first day working at the U.S. Mint.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's amazing how many people are popping into this thread to say they can't possibly cope with the idea of carrying change.

And yet you follow this with an anecdote about how you can't cope with dollar bills, which is equally laughable to us.
posted by smackfu at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


That FatWallet thread is gold. I would never have thought that there are that many people out there ordering tens of thousands of dollars worth of $1 coins to milk their credit cards for bonus points, and I definitely wouldn't have thought that they've sprung up their own little subculture obsessed with how to make bank tellers not report their hobby to the Treasury Department.
posted by Mayor West at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2009


I think it goes back to the Susan B coins, the new dollar coins are supposed to share all the weight and size characteristics so if the vending machine would take a SBA it should take a new gold dollar.

The failure of the SBA was that it was stupidly similar in size and weight to a quarter. It also had a coined edge, like the quarter. There was nothing in the design of the SBA to help people differentiate it when fumbling through a pocket-full of coins in the checkout line. It was as if it was intended to fail.

I certainly hope the new coins incorporate some sort of obvious tactile cues to more easily differentiate them from other coins. If not, then, we will have another failure.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:18 AM on August 6, 2009



And yet you follow this with an anecdote about how you can't cope with dollar bills, which is equally laughable to us.


The idea was to counterbalance the "coins are impossibly heavy and bills are made of magic" line of argument by pointing out that there are downsides to the bill as well.
posted by Shepherd at 10:20 AM on August 6, 2009


The only place I ever encounter $1 coins here in Chicago is as change from Metra rail vending machines. I've quickly learned only to use these machines if I have exact change, since they give all their change in giant $1 coins. Want a $2.35 ticket, but only have a 20? Say hello to 17 $1 coins in change! Literally, if I don't have close to exact change and there is no human attendant to buy tickets from, I won't even take the Metra, I'll find some other way of getting around.

It is, though, a good conversation starter in my job as a barista. If a customer pays for their latte with $1 coins, I'll smile knowingly and say, "Did you enjoy your trip on the Metra?" I've never been wrong so far. Sometimes this little gesture even leads to one of those coins being dropped in the tip jar, which makes up for the pain of having to find somewhere to put the coins the customer paid with, since our cash register doesn't actually have a place for $1 coins.
posted by notswedish at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2009


I'm astounded that you're not still conducting business using goats, berries, and interesting-shaped pieces of wood.

I've been trying to get local businesses to accept the goat standard, but they are a bit gun shy around me ever since the mouse fiasco.
posted by quin at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2009


Now you can get circulating Presidential $1 Coins and Native American $1 Coins (non-numismatic coins)

Defn: of, pertaining to, or consisting of coins, medals, paper money, etc.


rolltruckroll, I was wondering about that word, too. On this US Mint page, these new $1 coins are listed as "non-numismatic, circulation-grade coins," whereas this coin collector's page starts of saying "Numismatists all know the difference between a coin, medal and token," with no differentiation between coins for collection and circulation.

But the more I poke around, it seems that some items are minted with the purpose of being collected, and that "numismatic" refers more to the collection of coins. For example, Coin News has a section of news from Non Numismatic publications or media. Also, this glossary of numismatic terms includes descriptions of items in regards to "numismatic value," which I would assume would mean value pertaining to the trading or selling of this coin, not to it's value as an item to pay for goods and debts.

In short: these bulk shipments of coins are intended for circulation, and may not be up to coin collectors standards for mint items.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:26 AM on August 6, 2009


If they are going to remove pennies altogether, they're going to have to devise a pricing and taxation scheme which NEVER creates totals that end on any number other than a 0 or a 5.

Simpler: Devalue the dollar by a factor of ten, which makes pennies useful and dollar bills a rational value to have as a printed note.

Bonus: Quarter beer night would be back.

Problem: Quarter beer night would be back.
posted by eriko at 10:27 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


After a year in Japan I can say that I will hate going back to space-wasting flappy dollar bills. Pennies and nickels do not need to be eliminated, the mint just need to axe the $1 bill (and preferably replace $2 or $5 bills with coins). The yen usually comes in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 coins (roughly equal to cents) and bills only come out when you need >$10.

One thing going for Japan is that artists and scientists grace the covers of the bills so people don't get all uppity-patriotic about changes.

Another thing, vending machines here are upgraded/wheeled in and out much more frequently than in the USA, so its not that big of a deal to change the coin-counting part of the machine.

If you look at it from a merchant's point of view, there might be more purchases with larger denomination coins. Japanese vending machines are all too happy to pop out $19 worth of change from a $20 bill, because there's a decent chance some of that money will go right back into the machine (its also much easier to make $19 in change when you have $5 and $1 coins).
posted by mezamashii at 10:27 AM on August 6, 2009


Pack of gum and you've only got a ten? Once piece of paper. Four fucking boat anchors.

I think a big part of the reason that Americans get antsy about the idea of $1 coin is because the $2 note never made it properly into circulation. Americans are used to the idea of having wads of $1 bills in their wallets and then they think "Holy crap! What if those were all coins!! I would barely be able to move!"

I think the answer to that is to ensure that you bring in a $2 coin at the same time as the $1 coin, and make them both small and light. If you get rid of the penny and the nickel at the same time that gives you plenty of room for two small coins that would be distinct from the dime and the quarter, and means that when you're paying $9 you're more likely to be handing over a bill and two small coins than a bill and four boat anchors.

I know it adds a layer of confusion to scrap the current US$1 coin, but I think it is too heavy, and the fact that its penetration has been so poor means that it's wouldn't cause too much heartache to get rid of it.
posted by yoink at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the final value ends in a 0 or 5, you're good. If it's a 1, 2, 6, or 7, round down. If it's a 3, 4, 8, or 9, round up. It's fair parity in the rounding, and you can't reasonably complain about that.

I can complain, I'm unreasonable. My complaint, though, is reasonable. Clever business owners will price things so that after-tax purchase prices tend to end in 1, 2, 6, or 7. Of course this only works on single items, but rest assured your local mini-mart will try to screw you out of a couple of cents whenever possible. Probably not a good enough reason to keep the penny, though.
posted by Mister_A at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What kind of backwater location still has all of these old vending machines? Dollar coins have worked in dumb old, red Oklahoma for years. The big denomination change machines vend $1 coins, all of the vending machines and video games have taken $1 coins since SB Anthony, and I buy stamps with a $20 just to yell "JACKPOT" when my change is returned in $1 coins.

Can't tell the difference between these and quarters? Try 1)paying attention, 2) running your finger around the outer edge (no ridges means its either penny, nickel, or $1), 3)THEY ARE GOLD in color.

Now that that is settled....let's get rid of pennies.
posted by HyperBlue at 10:31 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


smackfu:

"This has been around since last June, and Fatwallet is all up on it".


Damn I need to read the finance section over there more. Rough estimate if you did a good volume I'd say you could make...$100 an hour? Maybe $150?

It does sound like really dreary, unrewarding work that would add nothing to society.
posted by aerotive at 10:32 AM on August 6, 2009


If they are going to remove pennies altogether, they're going to have to devise a pricing and taxation scheme which NEVER creates totals that end on any number other than a 0 or a 5.

Lots of countries have done this without any problems.

Remember 1c is an arbitrary and steadily-changing value (forty years ago you could walk into a store and actually buy things with a 1c coin--not any longer). Just as having no way of receiving change for 1c caused no problems back then, not being able to receive change for a nickel (or a dime) would cause no problems now.
posted by yoink at 10:33 AM on August 6, 2009


It's obvious that the penny should be abandoned (and probably the nickel as well), and that there should be a dollar coin, a two-dollar coin, and no notes of the same denomination. And yet it seems to be a political impossibility.

Obvious to whom? Why on earth would I want to give up light, portable, universally-recognized bills for coins that are heavy, bulky, difficult to impossible to carry more than one or two of in the pockets of most women's pants, create unsightly bulges and discomfort, impossible to fold (no more origami dollars!), and usable only for buying subway passes, tipping wait staff, and depositing if I ever actually show up in person at my credit union? In what way is this a more attractive solution? I like dollar coins, but as novelties, not spending money. They're just too big a pain in the ass.
posted by notashroom at 10:33 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Clever business owners will price things so that after-tax purchase prices tend to end in 1, 2, 6, or 7.

Actually, I noticed that more than a few places around here structured their prices so that item+tax came to an even nickel or quarter. Didn't help when you bought more than one, of course, but it was neat. Then they raised the tax rate from 5% to 6.25%, and now familiar prices have gone wonky.
posted by explosion at 10:33 AM on August 6, 2009


You can't blow your nose on a dollar coin, while I've received a few bills that look like they've had that fate. Maybe that's why they're called greenbacks?
posted by scruss at 10:35 AM on August 6, 2009


This is fucking weird. I was just going through the old change jar (yeah, times are tough) and found a gold James Madison dollar coin and had to google it to check its authenticity. And then I come here.

Metafilter, get out of my brain! *shakes fist*
posted by joe lisboa at 10:43 AM on August 6, 2009


The mint wants dollar coins because they are cheaper. But do they ever say why should I want them? I have no issue with dollars.

Yeah, that. There's nothing in it for me. Dollar bills work fine for me because I'm accustomed to them.

I can deal with change just fine; I do it when I'm in Canada, after all. But I just don't see why I should have to do so when it means changing my habits about cash, and the savings to the federal government are so entirely inconsequential that it's just not worth having to deal with.

On visits to the States, I often ended my day with an assload of $1 bills crammed in my wallet to the point that putting my wallet back in my pocket was like watching those old circus acts where strongmen would fold a phone book in four.

This is really pretty much what I mean. You have habits built around $1 and $2 coins rather than bills, so dealing with bills is mildly unpleasant to you. If, for some reason, the Canadian government decided that bills were cheaper after all and went back to $1 and $2 bills, you wouldn't be annoyed or resistant? Same thing in reverse. My habits are built around $1 and $2 bills rather than coins, so switching is mildly inconvenient to me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2009


Damn I need to read the finance section over there more. Rough estimate if you did a good volume I'd say you could make...$100 an hour? Maybe $150?

The main obstacle is that unless you want your assets in coins, you need to dump a lot of dollar coins on your local bank. And the volumes to make this really worthwhile are enough to freak them out.

The best "take advantage of the govt" deal on FatWallet was when you could buy bonds with a credit card. Buying investments and getting points is the holy grail.
posted by smackfu at 10:48 AM on August 6, 2009


All you paper bill hangers-on just don't want to lose your supply of free cocaine.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:49 AM on August 6, 2009


I was once into dollar coins. Then one day I stood up on the bus and my change fell out of my pocket. Historically this would have been 30-60 cents & I would have let it go. But instead $6 or so was rolling around the bus and I had to crawl around after it.

Change is change and real money is in my wallet.

I am amenable to compromise however. I say replace the dollar bill with the coin but socialize the two.

BTW, is it possible to mail order twos at face value? I've seen some fairly gross mark ups on the web. I haven't seen the inside of a bank in years.
posted by Wood at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2009


American currency is messed up.

None of our coins have their value stated numerically anywhere on them. A penny is "ONE CENT", not "1¢". A dime is "ONE DIME". Cripes, what's a dime? Well, it's a tenth of a dollar. Show our coinage to a visitor from abroad and watch them try to make sense of it.

None of our notes can be distinguished by touch. How the US Mint has been able to skirt the ADA for all these years is a mystery to me. Japanese notes (of which there are only 3 denominations, which that cash-oriented society somehow copes with) have patterns of raised dots that allow the blind to tell them apart.

Our pennies and nickels actually cost more to mint than they're worth.

So yes. Let's eliminate the dollar bill. And the penny. And the nickel. And let's get on the metric system already. At least our currency system uses decimal divisions. I'm almost surprised we aren't using shillings and guineas, now that I think about it.
posted by adamrice at 10:53 AM on August 6, 2009


Oh, an interesting side note - it is my understanding that the penny is now worth more as a hunk of metal than it is as a coin. That is, the metals in a penny are actually worth more than 1¢. Can anyone confirm this? I'm too lazy.
posted by Mister_A at 10:53 AM on August 6, 2009


Mind you, we still use $1 bills for Canada's real national currency, so I can't wax too smug.
posted by Shepherd at 10:53 AM on August 6, 2009


Ooh, there it is! Thanks precog adamrice! And I learned a new term:

negative seigniorage
posted by Mister_A at 10:55 AM on August 6, 2009


Mister_A: "the metals in a penny are actually worth more than 1¢. Can anyone confirm this? I'm too lazy."

I believe this is true, but keep in mind that you can only harvest the metal once, but a penny can be spent over and over. It's an interesting observation on an individual scale (i.e. if you have a ton of pennies you could profit off the metal) but the comparison doesn't have much relevance beyond that. The value of a penny is abstract, as a financial instrument.

Last I heard the metal in a penny was worth something like $0.016, but metal prices and the value of a dollar both change so I don't know how up-to-date that is.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:04 AM on August 6, 2009


On visits to the States, I often ended my day with an assload of $1 bills crammed in my wallet to the point that putting my wallet back in my pocket was like watching those old circus acts where strongmen would fold a phone book in four.

Easy solution. Go to any convenience store or fast food restaurant, and ask to change your assload for a $20. They'll happily do this because the first thing cashiers run out of is $1 bills.

On the other hand, 4 dollar coins are much heavier than 4 paper bills. I found euros to be a pain in the ass. I tried to spend what coins I could, but the language barrier + my slowness in counting a foreign currency* seemed to aggravate the fuck out of people.

*Yes, I know there are numbers on the coins. They're not as instantly recognizable to me as are the penny, nickel, dime and quarter because I don't use them every day, so it required more time to read & add the numbers.
posted by desjardins at 11:06 AM on August 6, 2009


I think the every-so-often urge for the dollar coin has a lot to do with the fact that those coins, once minted, are actually out of circulation more or less forever.

Do people seriously think that someday those dollar coins they're hoarding are going to be some kind of valuable collectible? I believed this when I was 9 about Susan B Anthonys until I realized that the federal government had warehouses full of them. Do people enjoy having hundreds of $1 coins just sitting around?

I should also note that we've really shafted Thomas Jefferson by not making more use of the $2 bill.
posted by deanc at 11:07 AM on August 6, 2009


FYI I currently have about 70 cents in my purse. Debit card FTW.
posted by desjardins at 11:07 AM on August 6, 2009


I should also note that we've really shafted Thomas Jefferson by not making more use of the $2 bill.

What? He's on the nickel.
posted by desjardins at 11:08 AM on August 6, 2009


On visits to the States, I often ended my day with an assload of $1 bills crammed in my wallet to the point that putting my wallet back in my pocket was like watching those old circus acts where strongmen would fold a phone book in four.
I used to have a pocket full of change at the end of the day, which would then pile up on my desk when I emptied out my pockets. You know how I put a stop to this? I started spending my change when making purchases.

You can do the same with dollar bills.
posted by deanc at 11:11 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except for the few bucks you have in your pocket at the moment, none of your dollars exist except as zeros and ones in bank computers and as numbers on bank statements. Why the hell can't people just go that last little step and be done with it: no cash, just debit cards? And you could have pictures of Obama or Sacagawea or your family or whoever on them.
posted by pracowity at 11:11 AM on August 6, 2009


What? He's on the nickel.

And Washington is on the quarter. But as far as bills go, Jefferson's more deserving than Jackson or Hamilton.
posted by deanc at 11:12 AM on August 6, 2009


Do people seriously think that someday those dollar coins they're hoarding are going to be some kind of valuable collectible?

Repeated for emphasis. IANAPN, but probably no coin minted by the actual US government (discounting all manner of collectible mints) since the early 1970s will be worth more than face value any time in the near term (say 50 years or more) unless it hasn't been touched by bare hands and has been in a protective case always. If you get these things, just spend them.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:12 AM on August 6, 2009


Change is for losing in your sofa

In Canada, the first thing that happens to a car when it arrives at a wrecking yard is the removal of the rear seat... because, with the advent of $1 and $2 coins, on a good day the lads in greasy overalls can collect enough for several cases of beer.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:13 AM on August 6, 2009


$1 bills are lighter, thinner, easier to carry, and go with the other bills.

I currently have around 11 one-dollar bills in my wallet. Imagine the weight difference of my purse.

Why would I carry these heavy coins around?
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:13 AM on August 6, 2009


Why the hell can't people just go that last little step and be done with it: no cash, just debit cards?

And when there is a power blackout or the data/phone lines to the processors are down?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:14 AM on August 6, 2009


Of course, one of the main reasons for wanting to keep pennies around is they can be turned into one of my favorite souvenirs.
posted by hippybear at 11:19 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why the hell can't people just go that last little step and be done with it: no cash, just debit cards?

Some of us, despite being law-abiding citizens, enjoy the anonymity of cash. No corporations snooping around in my buying habits!
posted by hippybear at 11:20 AM on August 6, 2009


Judging by all the comments from people here who love their paper dollars because they light/thin/foldable, I'm surprised we don't have paper quarters and nickles.
posted by Nelson at 11:24 AM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


when England doesn't anymore (aside from the occasional "stone" thrown in)

The UK uses the metric system officially, but people still use Imperial units in many contexts, especially when it comes to cars. Mile distances are still used on roadways; MPH is still the primary unit on car speedometers. You measure your fuel consumption in miles per gallon. Wikipedia article.
posted by zsazsa at 11:29 AM on August 6, 2009


Why would I carry these heavy coins around?

As illustrated by my silliness above, a multitude of reasons; the most relevant question is why any of us are walking around with more than $5 in $1 coins or $1 bills in the first place. If you're halfway diligent about spending the small stuff, you never accrue enough of it to notice.
posted by Shepherd at 11:29 AM on August 6, 2009


If I can't hide it in my bra without looking like some sort of mutant-multiple-nipple-person I don't want it.
posted by kathrineg at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2009


You want to increase the popularity of US $1 coins? You need to come up with a nickname, for God's sake. Canada has the Loonie and the Twoonie, the US has their "Dollar Coin".
So, for the Sacagawae coin, i suggest you refer to it as the "Sackie". Who doesn't want to carry around a couple of sackies?
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:33 AM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


zsazsa, see what you can do to ensure that the pint never goes away as the official unit of beer in the pub.
posted by Mister_A at 11:41 AM on August 6, 2009


>Why the hell can't people just go that last little step and be done with it: no cash, just debit cards?

Some of us, despite being law-abiding citizens, enjoy the anonymity of cash. No corporations snooping around in my buying habits!


This too. I have a friend who is nearing 40 and has never in his life had anything official in his name beyond birth certificate, social security card, school enrollments, and driver's license. Never had a car, lease, bank account, utility, insurance, credit card, discount card, anything. I know that's anathema to most people nowadays, but I guarantee you he's a lot harder to pin down in databases than probably anyone here, and he enjoys that. He's not a conspiracy theorist or criminal mastermind or anything remotely like that, just likes his privacy and sees no reason to give it up.
posted by notashroom at 11:46 AM on August 6, 2009


zsazsa, see what you can do to ensure that the pint never goes away as the official unit of beer in the pub.

500mL is sufficiently close to 16 oz (16.7) that we'd assuredly continue calling a serving a "pint" even if it wasn't accurate. Hell, if bars actually started having metric glasses and serving 500 mL, we'd get 4.4% more beer!
posted by explosion at 11:46 AM on August 6, 2009


My normal pocket contents include : cell phone (sometimes 2 of them), wallet (gets a front pocket spot because i hate sitting on it), keys, and sometimes a lighter or usb stick. And of course, change.

The change is easily the smallest portion of my wallet contents, except for the lighter and usb stick. It is not a big deal. When I get a bunch of loonies and toonies as change, I try to keep it under $5 by spending them. It is really not a big deal with regards to pocket space. A non-issue, even.


My problem with dollar coins (and with change in general) is not the weight or the size of the coins, it's trying to get them out of my pocket with all that other shit in the way. It usually requires emptying my pockets entirely to get the right coins out. Maybe if the coins were differentiated by something besides size (and if my fingers weren't enormous man fingers that have a hard time grabbing tiny nickels and dimes when my cell phone, keys, bus pass, and iPod are in the way) it would be easier. As it is, I can't tell the difference between the new dollar coins and the quarter when it's in my pocket.

One positive about dollar coins is that either muggings take a lot longer (as you try and dig all your dollars out past the rest of the crap in your pockets), or you lose less when the mugger takes your wallet and then runs off. Win-win, there.
posted by Caduceus at 11:49 AM on August 6, 2009


So, for the Sacagawae coin, i suggest you refer to it as the "Sackie". Who doesn't want to carry around a couple of sackies?

I like Weegie. "Okay, bud, burger and fries, that'll be two Weegies!"

The neat thing is that, in Canada, the nicknames came from the people, not the government. The new dollar coin had a loon on it, so it came to be called the Loonie. Which made people speculate what the upcoming two-dollar coin would be called. When it came out, it was variously called the Twonie, Toonie, Toonie, and Toon, but the consensus finally settled on Toonie.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:49 AM on August 6, 2009


I totally can't understand this "I'd have a pocket full of..." problem on either side of the currency divide: if it bothers you there's a thing you can do called MATH (asking a lot from my fellow citizens, I know). MATH allows you to add small units together to make BIG units! Woot!

We should really be shitcanning this drive and working towards a $2 coin. Buying cocktails with a few coins is the highlight of the modern numismatic experience and we're missing out.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:51 AM on August 6, 2009


You get dollar coins in change here in Dallas when you buy a train ticket from a kiosk. I really dig them and always have a few in my pocket. Who've thought it - Dallas public transit on the cutting edge of something?

You also get them as change in most of the Dallas area USPS vending machines. I have three or four laying on my dresser that I will probably never use.
posted by Benway at 11:52 AM on August 6, 2009


Operation: Change For The Better
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:52 AM on August 6, 2009


Why the hell can't people just go that last little step and be done with it: no cash, just debit cards?

And when there is a power blackout or the data/phone lines to the processors are down?


Shotgun shells.
posted by Big_B at 11:53 AM on August 6, 2009


Nah, bottle caps. There's way too much ammo out there to be used for money.
posted by bonehead at 12:00 PM on August 6, 2009


This too. I have a friend who is nearing 40 and has never in his life had anything official in his name beyond birth certificate, social security card, school enrollments, and driver's license. Never had a car, lease, bank account, utility, insurance, credit card, discount card, anything

On one hand, he's probably that really annoying person who always needs a ride everywhere, always needs his roommates to take care of the bills for him and can't accept checks. On the other hand, he's not one of those people who pays for his part of the dinner bill by putting a portion of the bill on his credit card, since he, unlike so many other people these days, always has enough cash. In the pathological case, he starts asking you to buy things for him online with your credit card and promises to pay you back in cash.

One can respect his dedication to living an all-cash, no records lifestyle, but the truth is that he lives that life by acting as a parasite on the backs of everyone else who's integrated with modern society.
posted by deanc at 12:03 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like the coins because they are easier to tell apart by touch. The weight difference, as someone who carries at least 1 hardcover book with her at all times, is meaningless. What is irritating is trying to find a wallet with enough room for change.

That said, I kept confusing one set of US dollars (I can't recall which) with quarters, and if they cannot be used in parking meters and vending machines (as, where I have been, they cannot), what's the point? Either do it properly -- stop printing dollars altogether and only mint a single, distinguishable dollar coin -- or quit wasting money and effort with the stupid games begging people to just up and choose to change habits. As much as I prefer the loonie to the bill, I am sure I only changed because I was forced to, because the benefits aren't that significant, especially not in a place where they're not usable in everything that accepts change.

We now have a sort of patriotic feeling about the loonie, inasmuch as there is ever much patriotism in Canada.
posted by jeather at 12:04 PM on August 6, 2009


You people won't be as supportive when you realize that each $1 coin has a miniature tracking device embedded in it. It also causes autism.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:16 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


On one hand, he's probably that really annoying person who always needs a ride everywhere, always needs his roommates to take care of the bills for him and can't accept checks. On the other hand, he's not one of those people who pays for his part of the dinner bill by putting a portion of the bill on his credit card, since he, unlike so many other people these days, always has enough cash. In the pathological case, he starts asking you to buy things for him online with your credit card and promises to pay you back in cash.

One can respect his dedication to living an all-cash, no records lifestyle, but the truth is that he lives that life by acting as a parasite on the backs of everyone else who's integrated with modern society.


Um, he's had one thing I forgot to mention: marriage licenses with his name on them. Leases, utilities, etc., have generally been in his wives' names. Since he split with wife #3, he's renting from his mom (which allows her to live in her new house without worrying about selling this one in the current real estate market), and his girlfriend generally lends him her truck or drives him everywhere that he doesn't go on foot or via public transportation. He doesn't shop online, so there's none of that annoying business with "borrowing" friends' cards for online shopping. He lives very simply. I agree that most people who lived all-cash, no-records like he does would generally be doing so in a parasitic way, but this one isn't. For now, anyway.
posted by notashroom at 12:17 PM on August 6, 2009


Why the hell can't people just go that last little step and be done with it: no cash, just debit cards?

And when there is a power blackout or the data/phone lines to the processors are down?


If the global system collapses with such catastrophic events, money will be useless anyway, paper or digital.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on August 6, 2009


500mL is sufficiently close to 16 oz (16.7) that we'd assuredly continue calling a serving a "pint" even if it wasn't accurate. Hell, if bars actually started having metric glasses and serving 500 mL, we'd get 4.4% more beer!

As long as you can still call it a pint. I would rather drink from a bottle than order a half-liter (litre) of ale!
posted by Mister_A at 12:23 PM on August 6, 2009


I still don't understand one single advantage to dollar coins. The only argument seems to be "other countries do it!"
posted by desjardins at 12:30 PM on August 6, 2009


Last I heard the metal in a penny was worth something like $0.016, but metal prices and the value of a dollar both change so I don't know how up-to-date that is.

Coinflation.com is still keeping track. If you're thinking of the old copper pennies, you're not far off, but I'm pretty sure the melt value of zinc pennies never got quite that high. And now, even nickels are worth less as scrap metal than their face value. The rumours of moves to abolish the one-cent coin once again faded away, along with metals prices. So it is looking quite likely they'll again be worth substantially more than $0.01 some day before they quit making them.
posted by sfenders at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2009


That FatWallet thread is gold. I would never have thought that there are that many people out there ordering tens of thousands of dollars worth of $1 coins to milk their credit cards for bonus points, and I definitely wouldn't have thought that they've sprung up their own little subculture obsessed with how to make bank tellers not report their hobby to the Treasury Department.

It's just a form of arbitrage.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:37 PM on August 6, 2009


If the global system collapses with such catastrophic events, money will be useless anyway, paper or digital.

In that extreme case, probably. But money will probably still be good for a few weeks while there's hope for a recovery. I was referring more to short term issues like a hurricane or other disaster rather than a full scale societal meltdown. In that case, you should already have land, guns, and a food stockpile in lieu of money.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:38 PM on August 6, 2009


I still don't understand one single advantage to dollar coins. The only argument seems to be "other countries do it!"

It's cheaper, but more importantly perhaps is the fact that paper forms of small denominations become impractical over time due to devaluation/inflation (imagine a paper penny shaped like a dollar bill), and this is also true of small denominations for coins.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2009


I am about yea far away from posting an AskMe thread inquiring if the minimum tip for a stripper in Canuckistan is $5.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2009


Halloween Jack: I haven't been to a strip club for about six years, but last time I was you could very quickly get their attention with a loonie or a toonie. As I said, Canadians don't think of the coins as change, but rather as "dollars."
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:45 PM on August 6, 2009


...and professional dancers, in my erstwhile experience, tend to be very pragmatic individuals.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:47 PM on August 6, 2009


Canada used to have 25 cent bills, called shinplasters, issued in 1870, 1900 and 1923, finally recalled in 1935. They're smaller than current dollar bills (I have a pile from my grandfather), though I do not know how they compare to bills of the time. At some point we'll have enough inflation that 5 dollar bills appear (foonies?), but I anticipate we lose some of our other change first.
posted by jeather at 12:57 PM on August 6, 2009


Half-dollars are great for magic tricks.

Errr... illusions.
posted by yeti at 12:59 PM on August 6, 2009


It's too bad U.S. vending machines don't accept Ultra High Relief Double Eagles. Do you know how convenient that would be if you wanted to buy $1,189 worth of soda?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:59 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


And when there is a power blackout or the data/phone lines to the processors are down?

How often would that be? And for how long? That would be like not using electric lights and electronic cash registers because there might be a power failure.

As for paranoia anonymity, I'm sure some smart folk could make safe, reliable, anonymous debit cards that you use like a wallet: charge up your card and use it until it's empty, then go charge it up again, with no record of who added money to it or took money from it. Stores could accept them only in person, like cash, not like credit cards. You could keep the paper receipts from your purchases if you were especially nervous about those fancy-pants computing systems all the kids are using these days, but it would be the pocket full of paper, not the card, that lets the government boys know you bought a gorilla suit and a full bunch of bananas and went to the Motel 6 with the lady across the street.
posted by pracowity at 1:00 PM on August 6, 2009


In that extreme case, probably. But money will probably still be good for a few weeks while there's hope for a recovery.

Sorry, I was thinking about the trailer to 2012, and when moviegoers will inevitably demand a refund but will walk away with nothing but a shrug from the theatre manager. That sort of disaster. But I take your point.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2009


I still don't understand one single advantage to dollar coins. The only argument seems to be "other countries do it!"

Well before the intro of the "loonie" and "toonie", the city I was living in prohibited use of bills as payment for bus fare, apparently because they'd gum up the receptacle and they were paying people just to clean these suckers out at the end of the day. This, however, was a pain, because it meant everyone had to carry and fork over *small* change for bus fare (don't remember how much it was then, but it's over $3 now).

My problem with dollar coins (and with change in general) is not the weight or the size of the coins, it's trying to get them out of my pocket with all that other shit in the way. It usually requires emptying my pockets entirely to get the right coins out.

I have a small, square blue plastic coin/token holder with 8 slots, in which I usually put four $2 coins, two $1 coins, and two quarters. Change to deal with a variety of situations, and put together in a pinch, buys me lunch. Easy peasy.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:03 PM on August 6, 2009


pracowity: "Except for the few bucks you have in your pocket at the moment, none of your dollars exist except as zeros and ones in bank computers and as numbers on bank statements. Why the hell can't people just go that last little step and be done with it: no cash, just debit cards? And you could have pictures of Obama or Sacagawea or your family or whoever on them."

Because setting up a system that would actually be able to replace cash is hard.

Here's the acid test for any proposed system: how do you conduct a drug deal with it? Any system that doesn't allow for totally anonymous, instantly verifiable transfers will face an uphill battle for adoption by users; any system that does will face an uphill battle for adoption by governments.

Back in the 90s there were some "digital cash" proposals that would have worked, at least in theory; they used cryptography to make the digital 'dollars' impossible to forge, but also kept them anonymous in a way that debit/credit card transactions are not. But they never gained traction; it doesn't offer anything that cash doesn't to the people who currently use cash (you still need a computer or some other reader device), and it scares the willies out of the government.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:03 PM on August 6, 2009


I still don't understand one single advantage to dollar coins. The only argument seems to be "other countries do it!"

Coins last a hell of a lot longer. A dollar coin, even if used, will last over 20 years (unused, infinitely long, of course). An average dollar bill leaves circulation in 18 months due to wear.

Imagine how inconvenient a quarter-dollar bill would be, and you see the absurdity of the dollar bill continuing to be used past the next few years. Coins are supposed to be used for "every day" transactions, while bills are used for larger ones. You used to be able to buy candy for a penny and a newspaper for a dime, and only substantial purchases required bills. Now pennies are worthless, and your paper costs you a dollar bill. Instead, it should cost you a dollar coin, leaving bills to be used for more substantial purchases.
posted by explosion at 1:05 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why do Americans have such a peculiar attachment to their particular arrangement of notes and coins? Most other countries have been able to make these sorts of changes with pretty minimal opposition.
Because if we let the commies take Vietnam, next it's going to be Laos, and then Australia, and next thing you know we'll have guaranteed goddamn healthcare.

Pinkos.
posted by Flunkie at 1:07 PM on August 6, 2009


I still don't understand one single advantage to dollar coins. The only argument seems to be "other countries do it!"

Coins last a hell of a lot longer.


I should have said, yes, that is the main thing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:12 PM on August 6, 2009


Because setting up a system that would actually be able to replace cash is hard.

If the system wasn't pretty much already in place. But people use credit cards and debit cards and bank cards everywhere, and there is almost nowhere on earth where you can hide from telephone signals.
posted by pracowity at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2009


I would rather drink from a bottle than order a half-liter (litre) of ale!

Spoken like a man who's never been to a German beergarden. How about a full liter?

The last time I went to Europe I ordered some coffee at a kiosk in the airport while I waited for my next flight. I was so jet lagged I didn't identify the value of the Euro coins and accidentally tipped the server some tremendous amount.
posted by exogenous at 1:15 PM on August 6, 2009


Coins are supposed to be used for "every day" transactions, while bills are used for larger ones.

Right, but that's changed. Coins are "junk", bills are used for everyday transactions, and cards are used for larger ones. So it works out about the same in the end.

Coins last a hell of a lot longer.

Not really an advantage to the user though, just to the mint. It's not the kind of argument to convince someone.
posted by smackfu at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2009


Nowadays, the dollar is change. That's the main point.

If it's more palatable to Americans: The dollar is change we can believe in.
posted by parudox at 1:20 PM on August 6, 2009


Here's another way to think about it.

On June 30, 1989, when Canadian $1 bills were withdrawn from circulation, the Canadian dollar was worth 84¢ U.S.

84¢ in 1989 dollars is roughly $1.44 in 2008 dollars.

In other words, a U.S. dollar bill is worth much less than Canada's dollar bills were when they decided to get rid of them.
posted by oaf at 1:23 PM on August 6, 2009


I have large man hands and fairly full pockets, and it is pretty easy to fish out my change... after all it is the smallest and heaviest of the items in my pocket, so they generally fall to the bottom... PLUS the largest coins ($1 and $2) actually make it easier to pinch all or most of the change in one grab since they can be used to sort of sandwich the small stuff.
posted by utsutsu at 1:27 PM on August 6, 2009


Also note that "This is charged as a purchase, not a cash advance", which is interesting. The first (and last) time I used a credit card for a cash advance I got hit with a fee equal to a percentage of the advance plus a ridiculously high interest rate. So, in essence, this could serve as a no-fee lower-interest cash advance, if you're willing to wait a week to get it.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:28 PM on August 6, 2009


desjardins: "I still don't understand one single advantage to dollar coins. The only argument seems to be "other countries do it!""

We've reached a threshold at which the value of a dollar is low enough that you end up using and accumulating a lot of them on common transactions. That plays to the advantages of coins over bills.

The biggest advantage is their durability. Small denominations experience a lot of turnover, and coins are far more durable than bills. Based on the numbers in this article, dollar bills cost four times as much as coins to produce when you factor in the average lifespan of a bill versus a coin.

To a lesser extent: coins are easier to spend... they're easy to distinguish, since they have both visual and tactile cues that bills do not. They also encourage you to spend them, because of their heft. "They're relatively heavy" sounds like a disadvantage, but it keeps people from inadvertently hoarding them.

In case it's not clear why these are advantageous, spending habits that use small-denomination currency when possible reduce the total amount of currency we have to mint to support cash transactions.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:28 PM on August 6, 2009


Here's a practical advantage I always appreciate when I get back to Canada after a trip south: I can pay for my coffee with pocket change. In the US, when I go to a Starbucks, I have to fish out my wallet, and count out the two or three bucks for a drink. After forking over the bills, I then have to put my wallet back into my pocket, while juggling my drink. This results in more stress, more time stressing out at s-l-o-w people also fuddling with their wallets and the occasional dry cleaning bill. Back home, I reach into my pocket and, by feel, pull out a twonie, receive my change, which goes into the tip jar (not in the US, I'm too stressed), and receive my drink, with minimal spillage. Thus bills make me late, increase my stress levels and dry-cleaning bills, while simultaneously reducing barrista tips. On the plus side my arms get brawnier from all that wallet folding.
posted by bonehead at 1:37 PM on August 6, 2009


The #1 reason to use coins over paper money is that paper money has to be taken out of circulation and reprinted every few years, which is a constant cost on the mint. Coins can be pressed once and can remain in circulation pretty much forever.
posted by Hamusutaa at 1:41 PM on August 6, 2009


I currently have around 11 one-dollar bills in my wallet.

I guess it's time for you to head to the strip club.

Forgive me if it is upthread and I didn't notice it, but I feel like the only reasonable argument for dollar bills is that you can't really tuck a coin into a g-string.
posted by snofoam at 1:48 PM on August 6, 2009


4 dollar coins are much heavier than 4 paper bills
One ounce heavier.
I currently have around 11 one-dollar bills in my wallet. Imagine the weight difference of my purse.
No need to imagine. The weight difference would be three ounces.

I say bring 'em on. I, for one, could use the extra strenuous exercise of carrying an additional three whole ounces.
posted by Flunkie at 1:50 PM on August 6, 2009


When they first introduced pound coins and scrapped the notes in the UK there was the same irrational panic about not being able to carry 5 tonnes of shrapnel in trouser pockets. To the extent that pound coin holders were introduced that were far bulkier than the coins themselves.

That lasted around two years until everyone realised they were flapping about nothing.
posted by NailsTheCat at 1:51 PM on August 6, 2009


One can respect his dedication to living an all-cash, no records lifestyle, but the truth is that he lives that life by acting as a parasite on the backs of everyone else who's integrated with modern society.

Actually, anyone living a cash-only lifestyle already knows that you can go into nearly any grocery or big-box store these days and purchase a pre-paid Visa (or other maker) card which allows you to make online purchases without needing a credit card.

All your other assumptions are pretty awful and baseless. What if he lives in a city with adequate public transport? Why can't he take checks, as long as the bank has a branch nearby? Nearly every bank will let you cash a check that's drawn on their system... Seriously, you're really not in touch with what it takes to live cash-only. And doing so should not carry the stigma of not "integrated with modern society", because that value-laden statement assumes far too much.
posted by hippybear at 1:57 PM on August 6, 2009


People do care when they're standing in front of a vending machine or parking meter though. I often hear people asking for (dollar) coins when getting change (in Soviet Canukistan).

These days, the only time I need cash is for shopping carts.
posted by emeiji at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2009


All your other assumptions are pretty awful and baseless (...) Why can't he take checks
The original poster said the person in question doesn't have (and never has had) a bank account.
posted by Flunkie at 2:02 PM on August 6, 2009


What if we put Limbaugh's face on the dollar coin? Would that help?
posted by wittgenstein at 2:02 PM on August 6, 2009


These days, the only time I need cash is for shopping carts.

Why do you need cash for a shopping cart??? So you have free healthcare but you have to pay for shopping carts? WTF?

The original poster said the person in question doesn't have (and never has had) a bank account.

You don't need one if you cash the check at the bank the check was written from.
posted by desjardins at 2:04 PM on August 6, 2009


I'm sure some smart folk could make safe, reliable, anonymous debit cards that you use like a wallet

Been there, done that. It was called Mondex. Not perfectly anonymous as implemented, although the technology was probably capable of that; but still, potentially good enough for the 'drug deals' mentioned above if used with some precautions. Though issuers tended to want to put your name on the card, that probably might have changed, and even so there was still nothing really to stop people selling/exchanging cards. Transactions could be done off-line, and were logged on the card only for a limited time, etc. Pretty good. Despite some big banks behind it, it didn't really catch on, and I'm not sure why. Suspect they realized it was too much like cash, and despite complaining about pocket change as we see in this here thread, people were on the whole pretty happy with using cash for their small transactions and drug deals, and the existing zero-privacy and near-zero-security system of credit/debit cards for everything else. You can imagine if there's difficulty getting people to use a dollar coin, how much more resistance there might be to using a "smart card" you'd have to be some kind of cryptography expert in order to know enough to trust. Even more so, of course, for the various Internet-based digital cash systems that flourished briefly.

But I will reserve my worrying about them taking that "little step" of doing away with banknotes until sometime after they manage the apparently difficult step getting rid of the more obviously useless one-cent coin.
posted by sfenders at 2:06 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm from the States but lived in Canada for a while. I went up there a firm greenback-defender. Sentimental, but also what a handsome bill, and how much more practical the paper bills are, and so on.

I was completely converted. Living with the loonie and toonie, they are just great. Yes, sometimes you have too much heavy change in your pocket, but you can always swap for a larger bill if you have 5 toonies, and you can drop change off at home. I miss the toonie a lot. I wonder if the US would convert faster if we introduced a $2 coin. It's a really convenient amount.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Plus, shops will have bins of cheapo merchandise out on the sidewalk which are labelled "Loonie Bin", eh? Which is just great.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:09 PM on August 6, 2009


Coins last a hell of a lot longer. A dollar coin, even if used, will last over 20 years (unused, infinitely long, of course). An average dollar bill leaves circulation in 18 months due to wear.

Yes, but I'm not the mint, so what the fuck do I care? It's not like my taxes are going to drop $0.50/year to reflect the savings to the Treasury.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:29 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I, for one, could use the extra strenuous exercise of carrying an additional three whole ounces.

My phone weighs 2 oz. My wallet weighs 2 oz. My change shouldn't weigh more than those.
posted by smackfu at 2:31 PM on August 6, 2009


My phone weighs 2 oz.

What sort of freakishly tiny phone is that?
posted by oaf at 2:36 PM on August 6, 2009


Bank accounts are not required to cash a check as long as you go to the bank from which the check was written. Seriously? Do people not know this?
posted by hippybear at 2:38 PM on August 6, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: "Yes, but I'm not the mint, so what the fuck do I care? It's not like my taxes are going to drop $0.50/year to reflect the savings to the Treasury."

What the heck? That money comes from somewhere, and if you don't get it back in reduced taxes then it'll just be applied to some other government service that you may or may not benefit from. Is your argument really "fuck efficiency if I can't get a taste"?
posted by Riki tiki at 2:41 PM on August 6, 2009


Actually, the annual savings are estimated to be something like $500 million, so that's more like $3 or $4 per taxpayer annually.
posted by parudox at 2:44 PM on August 6, 2009


Why do you need cash for a shopping cart??? So you have free healthcare but you have to pay for shopping carts? WTF?

Because practically every grocery store locks up their shopping carts. You unlock them with a quarter or a loonie. When you return the cart and lock it up again, you get your money back. So this way shoppers are encouraged to put the carts back neatly instead of just leaving them all over the parking lot.
posted by emeiji at 2:46 PM on August 6, 2009


Last year, when I found a small heavy box on my porch I wondered what gadget my husband had ordered. Turns out it was $250!

I like dollar coins, but I'm bummed out I haven't gotten one of the New Sacajawea coins
posted by vespabelle at 2:58 PM on August 6, 2009


Lots of people have put in their two cents about this. That should be enough money to buy 250 coins. Please send my share to the usual address.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:59 PM on August 6, 2009


Dollar bills are outdated, and we wouldn't even disrespect our presidents, as Washington's on the quarter, and Lincoln's on the 5-spot.

Back in the good old days, we didn't even have presidents on our money -- it was all representations of Liberty. Now, Amurikans would probably cry idolatry and we have all this "In God We Trust" bullshit. Coin designs used to change every 10-20 years. Today, Lincoln's been on the cent for 100 years and Washington's been on the quarter for almost 80. I collected coins as a kid and that always drove [drives] me batty.

One thing going for Japan is that artists and scientists grace the covers of the bills so people don't get all uppity-patriotic about changes.

That's it. I'm starting a campaign to replace Jackson and Grant with Edison and Mark Twain (although he should really be on the $2 bill).
posted by HumuloneRanger at 3:03 PM on August 6, 2009


What sort of freakishly tiny phone is that?

This one, though I was a bit off; it's 2.5 oz.

Actually, the annual savings are estimated to be something like $500 million, so that's more like $3 or $4 per taxpayer annually.

I love when the mint throws around dollar amounts, because seigniorage does funky things. Here's the GAO report. The mint only spends $224.7 million to print the dollar bills per year. So how can they save $500 million a year? Because they say: "Drawing on the experiences of other countries that have replaced their lowest denomination currency with coins, we estimated that two $1 coins would be needed to replace every $1 note now in circulation." And bizarrely having to produce more coins actually helps out the case of the $1 coin.
posted by smackfu at 3:05 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, anyone living a cash-only lifestyle already knows that you can go into nearly any grocery or big-box store these days and purchase a pre-paid Visa (or other maker) card which allows you to make online purchases without needing a credit card.

All your other assumptions are pretty awful and baseless.
Hm. Good point about the pre-paid Visa. But all my other assumptions weren't baseless and they're certainly not awful. He depends on other people to put the utilities in their name, rather than handling it himself and other people to put the leases in their own name or provide him with a place to live without a lease. He gets rides or finds people willing to lend him his car when he needs to go someplace, and unless he lives in a city or other walkable metro area, that's probably often. I probably wouldn't have commented if it was just about not having a credit card, but the description of the guy covered more than just that.

It's not all bad, as I said: he's does not have to whip out a credit card and has to tell the server exactly how much he wants charged on his card when the rest of us are putting in money to pay the check for dinner. But other than that, people who talk about not having credit cards, bills, a car (outside of city dwellers), etc. are invariably depending on the goodwill of others to fill in the gaps. My admiration for "the simple life" that you lead ends at the point where you have to depend on my unwillingness to lead that same life to fulfill your own needs.
posted by deanc at 3:12 PM on August 6, 2009


When it came out, it was variously called the Twonie, Toonie, Toonie, and Toon

You forgot my personal fave, the "doubloonie". Kind of bummed that didn't take off.

Coins are great, mainly because you always end up being way richer than you think. Got no cash for the pizza dude? Check the change bin--could be upwards of $20 in there. As mentioned upthread, it's also very satisfying to pay for drinks with change. On the flipside, as a former bartender I can tell you that I did start making slightly more in tips once the loonie and toonie were established.

Can't believe so many of you guys carry all that around in your pockets. Two cell phones? Ipod? Keys? You need man purses (or murses, as I like to call them).
posted by Go Banana at 3:53 PM on August 6, 2009


Or cargo pants, which are one of the better creations of the late 20th century.

(if you're the type to carry stuff in pockets)
posted by hippybear at 4:11 PM on August 6, 2009


So, for the Sacagawae coin, i suggest you refer to it as the "Sackie". Who doesn't want to carry around a couple of sackies?

One's enough. In the summer, it itches like crazy.
posted by codswallop at 4:18 PM on August 6, 2009


I love dollar coins, but I never, ever see them. I wish they sold these in more practical quantities. I'd gladly drop $20.
posted by resiny at 4:23 PM on August 6, 2009


Is your argument really "fuck efficiency if I can't get a taste"?

In a limited way. Why should I have to change my habits just to save the government some trifling amount of money? More to the point, why should I be expected to individually support a policy change that leaves little individual me worse off with at best a marginal and vague something in return? Yeah, it would be different if somehow all the savings went towards health care or NSF or something else I like, but that's not the case.

More broadly, though, my argument is that the implicit social costs (even just of annoyance) associated with eliminating dollar bills might (or might not) overwhelm the savings to the government. Not all policy changes that result in a benefit to the government would pass a broader-impact cost/benefit analysis.

I love when the mint throws around dollar amounts, because seigniorage does funky things. Here's the GAO report. The mint only spends $224.7 million to print the dollar bills per year.

If the treasury spends $225M printing dollars, that's the maximum possible savings through efficiency in any real-world sense.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:28 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Japanese notes (of which there are only 3 denominations

I still get the odd 2000 yen note.
posted by cwhitfcd at 4:40 PM on August 6, 2009


"The Tooth Fairy brings dollar coins to my household. They're so much better than quarters not because they're worth more, but because they're GOLD COINS LIKE PIRATES HAVE."

The tooth fairy made the mistake of bringing quarters instead of a loonie one trip and now quarters are required because they are more.
posted by Mitheral at 5:22 PM on August 6, 2009


Here's the thing- you don't actually carry around all your coins. Unlike the wad of ones you have stuffed in your wallet, you only actually ever carry the coins you've collected that day. When you get home- into the coin jar. Then when you're just buying some milk from the deli, or paying a friend back in the most annoying way possible, you dip into your coin stash.

Also- your notes should be different colours and they should be made of plastic.
posted by twirlypen at 5:29 PM on August 6, 2009


I always wanted to get a sack of the Sacajawea dollars and spend them at a Ren Faire.

"Five gold pieces, you say?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:32 PM on August 6, 2009


"Why can't he take checks, as long as the bank has a branch nearby? Nearly every bank will let you cash a check that's drawn on their system."

Tried this lately? If the bank will even allow you to do this, many don't, you often have to be at the specific branch the cheque is drawn on. Or they'll take a percentage. It's one of the reasons cheque cashing places skimming 3% off the top stay in business.

"Why do you need cash for a shopping cart??? So you have free healthcare but you have to pay for shopping carts? WTF?"

It's just a deposit to encourage returning carts to the corral.
posted by Mitheral at 5:41 PM on August 6, 2009


Hm. Good point about the pre-paid Visa. But all my other assumptions weren't baseless and they're certainly not awful. He depends on other people to put the utilities in their name, rather than handling it himself and other people to put the leases in their own name or provide him with a place to live without a lease. He gets rides or finds people willing to lend him his car when he needs to go someplace, and unless he lives in a city or other walkable metro area, that's probably often. I probably wouldn't have commented if it was just about not having a credit card, but the description of the guy covered more than just that.

It's not all bad, as I said: he's does not have to whip out a credit card and has to tell the server exactly how much he wants charged on his card when the rest of us are putting in money to pay the check for dinner. But other than that, people who talk about not having credit cards, bills, a car (outside of city dwellers), etc. are invariably depending on the goodwill of others to fill in the gaps. My admiration for "the simple life" that you lead ends at the point where you have to depend on my unwillingness to lead that same life to fulfill your own needs.


In my friend's case, he does a lot of walking, has a bus stop right at the entrance to his neighborhood (unlike me, my nearest stop is over 10 miles away). One of his jobs is on a bus route and the other is close to his girlfriend's job. He also does freelance work out of his house, and could always call a cab if need be. I haven't given him a ride anywhere I wasn't going in more than 20 years. It's not like he can't get around without assistance or can't find a place to live on his own.

Yes, he's lived in places where the lease was in his wife's name, or his brother's when they first left home and got an apartment together, or in his mom's (mortgage, actually, but same point), but he's also lived on his own in places that didn't require leases. They're out there if you care to look, although most of them are residence hotels and may be unattractive to folks like me (and possibly you). Probably many people who live cash-only and stay off records as much as possible are leeches or sponges, but it doesn't have to be that way.
posted by notashroom at 5:46 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish they sold these in more practical quantities.

I hate to break it to you, but $250 at a time is the practical quantity. I think the next smallest option is a Scrooge-McDuck-style bag of coins.
posted by oaf at 6:57 PM on August 6, 2009


I had to stop halfway through this thread to walk over to the bus station and change out a twenty for dollar coins.
posted by iloveit at 7:09 PM on August 6, 2009


More to the point, why should I be expected to individually support a policy change that leaves little individual me worse off with at best a marginal and vague something in return?

This, in a nutshell, is the root of a lot of our societal issues. Screw weighing my individual interests against the greater good! I shouldn't have to do anything that wouldn't directly benefit meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

God, you sound like a five-year-old.
posted by orange swan at 7:56 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the next smallest option is a Scrooge-McDuck-style bag of coins.

There's a great post in the FatWallet thread about a manager at the mint calling one of the frequent buyers. Apparently they have a special deal where you can get a pallet containing $140,000 worth of the coins, for pickup in Philly or Denver, and they thought he might be interested.
posted by smackfu at 7:59 PM on August 6, 2009


I shouldn't have to do anything that wouldn't directly benefit meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

And the discourse hits rock bottom.
posted by smackfu at 8:06 PM on August 6, 2009


As the original original poster, don't forget that you can open up the rolls and look for errors, which might be worth something. Either way, more people need to be using them for everyday transactions so the Mint can keep the program going.
posted by calwatch at 8:21 PM on August 6, 2009


This, in a nutshell, is the root of a lot of our societal issues. Screw weighing my individual interests against the greater good! I shouldn't have to do anything that wouldn't directly benefit meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

God you're self-righteous. I can't imagine how far my head would have to be up my ass before I'd make a moral failing out of someone not supporting the dollar coin.
posted by Wood at 8:23 PM on August 6, 2009


If someone isn't willing to support a policy that will save a significant amount of tax dollars because of the extremely trivial inconvenience of having a slightly heavier wallet, this attitude very likely carries over into many other more important issues. Not assuming this poster is some generally socially irresponsible and selfish person, of course, but the resolution of so many social problems depends on a general willingness to make small individual changes. And if this person won't make this one tiny change because there's no direct, measurable individual benefit for him or her, it makes me wonder what *is* he or she willing to do to help resolve the environmental, fiscal, and societal problems we all face.

I'm definitely not a "ask not what your country can do for you" rhetoric-spouter. That's like asking people to live for their plumbing. Government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. Individual interests have to be weighed against the collective good. It's a delicate, constant balancing process, and so many times the individual interests are more important even when the result for the larger populace is extreme. But yeah, sometimes we do have to do things that aren't in our own best interests because the collective interest comes first. Sometimes we have to do things not because our own individual actions will make an impact but we need everyone to do it and we can't morally expect to be an exception.
posted by orange swan at 9:09 PM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


But you're also playing into the false limitation of choices that are being provided by the government. A new dollar coin that lasts 30 years or the same old dollar bill that lasts 18 months. No mention is made of a plastic bill like Australia has? That clearly would last much longer, and would satisfy the people who don't like coins. It would benefit the greater good and benefit individuals at the same time. That the mint seems to have no interest in a compromise is just as much an issue as the unwillingness of an individual to compromise.
posted by smackfu at 10:14 PM on August 6, 2009


orange swan, you're talking about Americans. Red Blooded Americans.
posted by porpoise at 10:19 PM on August 6, 2009


That the mint seems to have no interest in a compromise is just as much an issue as the unwillingness of an individual to compromise.

Look at it this way. The single dollar will go to a coin eventually. It's inevitable, unless we have really bad deflation or we revalue the dollar, since eventually the dollar will be worth very little. We're at the point where it's becoming impractical to use a non-coin dollar. We should just do this now and get it over with.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:24 PM on August 6, 2009


I'm definitely open to ideas and debate about other kinds of currencies that would be more durable and less expensive to produce, smackfu. If anyone wants to argue that the dollar coins aren't the best option for our society because of larger effects like cost or environmental considerations etc., that's a separate and entirely reasonable argument, and one in which I would be more likely to sit back and learn than to argue the case one way or the other, because I don't know much at all about it. And damn, plastic money? I didn't even know that existed. It's just this "why should I have to support policies that don't benefit me directly" argument/general attitude that I'm taking issue with.
posted by orange swan at 10:37 PM on August 6, 2009


your local mini-mart will try to screw you out of a couple of cents whenever possible.

Come on. Seems like the max they can do you for is $0.02 every transaction. If this happens to you worst case five times a day, that's about $20 a year - in the worst case.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:45 PM on August 6, 2009


your local mini-mart will try to screw you out of a couple of cents whenever possible.

That's never been my experience, and with the ubiquitous penny trays seems like a difficult grift. In fact, I've often been given extra change rounded up to the nearest nickel at privately owned convenience stores because I suppose they just want to keep their tills neat and they'll get it back from the penny tray.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:51 PM on August 6, 2009


If you can't routinely pay the bus fare without using a banknote, your country is doing it wrong.

(Incidentally, this post itself was due to calwatch's comment in a discussion of how dollar bills hinder transit operation.)
posted by parudox at 11:04 PM on August 6, 2009


If someone isn't willing to support a policy that will save a significant amount of tax dollars

$200M or thereabouts is an utterly inconsequential triviality, not a significant amount.

And if this person won't make this one tiny change because there's no direct, measurable individual benefit for him or her, it makes me wonder what *is* he or she willing to do to help resolve the environmental, fiscal, and societal problems we all face.

To return the favor, that sounds like you're fourteen and shrieking about the unbearable agony of some featherweight cross. I already said that if it were somehow tied to an actual benefit, instead of some nebulous notion of reducing the deficit by a level best described as "noise," I'd be there.

It's not like it's OMG THE WORST THING EVER I'MA BURN DOWN CONGRESS, but if someone offered me a choice between adopting loonies and toonies or just paying infinitesimally higher taxes to compensate, I'd rather pay the infinitesimally higher taxes. That really makes me worse than the unholy hate-child of Hitler and Pol Pot?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:58 PM on August 6, 2009


Come up with simple, elegant, striking designs that people will remember.

I vote for a variation of haulin' ass, gettin' paid.
posted by Ljubljana at 1:47 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Alright, I know it's a mindblowing concept, but if the mint really wants people to start using $1 coins, then why don't they take $1 bills out of circulation?
posted by molecicco at 3:54 AM on August 7, 2009


And if this person won't make this one tiny change because there's no direct, measurable individual benefit for him or her, it makes me wonder what *is* he or she willing to do to help resolve the environmental, fiscal, and societal problems we all face.

Orange Swan, the answer to your question is "nothing." You've described the whole ethos of the American right. Many Americans don't want to be inconvenienced or pay a since penny of taxes more to solve any problem that doesn't effect them directly. "Why should I pay for schools/trains/social programs/parks/healthcare/etc that I don't use?". I see letters to the editor to that effect in the local paper every week. Supporting anything that doesn't help you directly is "SOCIALISM"!
posted by octothorpe at 4:33 AM on August 7, 2009


Wow, so this is really all about saving the Mint a little money!? Incredible.

The loony weighs 7 grams. The American $1 coin is 8 grams. American currency (all types) weighs 1 gram. That's 7 or 8 times the weight. That's not insignificant.

Not to mention, coins will scratch the ever-living shit out of any cell phone, iPhone, MP3 player, or anything else made of plastic in your pocket.

I'm still waiting for one single logical reason to change.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:36 AM on August 7, 2009


$200M or thereabouts is an utterly inconsequential triviality, not a significant amount.

Wow. That's such an utterly false and jaw-droppingly stupid thing to say.

To return the favor, that sounds like you're fourteen and shrieking about the unbearable agony of some featherweight cross.

No, you're the one who sounds like you're fourteen and complaining about a featherweight cross. I am not, after all, the one refusing to make tiny changes in my life because it won't benefit me directly.

I already said that if it were somehow tied to an actual benefit, instead of some nebulous notion of reducing the deficit by a level best described as "noise," I'd be there.

Again, $200M is not "noise". Are you talking through your hat here? Because I can hardly believe you really mean the things you're saying.
posted by orange swan at 4:41 AM on August 7, 2009


The loony weighs 7 grams. The American $1 coin is 8 grams.

Four Canadian quarters weigh 17.6 grams. Four American quarters (or two American half-dollars) weigh 22.68 grams.

Not to mention, coins will scratch the ever-living shit out of any cell phone, iPhone, MP3 player, or anything else made of plastic in your pocket.

I must be rich. I have multiple pockets.
posted by oaf at 4:52 AM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


how dollar bills hinder transit operation

Ever ridden a bus in New York (or anywhere with buses that take dollar bills)?

Veeeeeeeeep. Voooooooop. Veeeeeeeep. Vooooooop. Veee—vooooooop. Veeeeeeeeep. Voooooooop. Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Veeeeeeeeep. Vooooooooop. Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

(as a bonus, since June 28) Plink.

If the buses accepted pennies, two dollar coins and twenty-five pennies would still be faster. Why do you think the mayor wants to stop collecting fares on crosstown buses? Some of them are slower than walking.
posted by oaf at 5:06 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Again, $200M is not "noise".

"Noise" only in the context of other government spending, like this:
Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds. ... Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Department of Defense didn't request the additional planes and doesn't need them
posted by smackfu at 5:43 AM on August 7, 2009


I refuse to use any money with genocidal maniac Andrew Jackson's picture on it.
posted by Eideteker at 5:57 AM on August 7, 2009


Oh totally, smackfu. The U.S. government spends larger amounts on more useless things than printing $1 bills. And when one considers that the U.S. debt grew by 1 trillion last year, a savings of $200M is a drop in the bucket. But budgeted money is generally both saved and spent in small increments. It will take thousands of such changes in all areas and levels of government to balance the books. I just find it absurd to argue that because this one change won't go far towards fixing the larger economic problems, that it is therefore not worth making. You have to start somewhere, and this change is such an easy and painless one compared to cutting funding for social services or education.

if someone offered me a choice between adopting loonies and toonies or just paying infinitesimally higher taxes to compensate, I'd rather pay the infinitesimally higher taxes.

Here's a radical idea for you. This is not an either/or situation. You will probably need to switch to dollar coins AND pay significantly, not infinitesimally, more taxes AND learn to live with a LOT of other changes (many of which will be far more inconvenient than using coins rather than paper) before your government stops bleeding money and your country has things like universal health care, consistently good public schools and accessible post-secondary education, sustainable environmental practices, etc. And you may never be able to see a direct correlation between the sacrifices you make and the benefits you reap.
posted by orange swan at 6:15 AM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Booyaka!
posted by chunking express at 6:18 AM on August 7, 2009


Here's an idea: stop printing fucking one dollar bills. There, problem solved.
posted by zzazazz at 7:37 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, oaf? NY buses don't take dollar bills. If they did I can imagine the nightmare that would cause.

They also claim not to take pennies BUT THEY DO!
posted by kathrineg at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2009


So, orange swan, you're saying that the coins really aren't that big of a deal, then? We might as well use bills.

Of course I am a fan of bills because I tip people (including delivery people) frequently and I don't tip change because it is massively inconvenient for them.
posted by kathrineg at 7:51 AM on August 7, 2009


Wow. That's such an utterly false and jaw-droppingly stupid thing to say.

$200M isn't even noise in the context of ~$4T federal expenditures.

No, you're the one who sounds like you're fourteen and complaining about a featherweight cross. I am not, after all, the one refusing to make tiny changes in my life because it won't benefit me directly.

Refusing? Who's refusing to do anything?

I'm saying that I'd rather pay marginally higher taxes than switch to coin dollars. I'm expressing a preference. If it happens I'll use coins without any choice in the matter and get used to it, like anyone else. I'd just prefer to achieve the same net effect in some other way, because dollar coins annoy me.

But budgeted money is generally both saved and spent in small increments. It will take thousands of such changes in all areas and levels of government to balance the books

Pretending that it is remotely possible to balance the budget off of tens of thousands of submicroscopic cuts and other changes is playing directly into the hands of the right-wing noise machine, who wants you to think that balancing the budget is supremely difficult and requires everyone to hurt.

Balancing the budget on a cyclical basis is easy: drop military expenditures to a reasonable level and fully repeal the Bush tax cuts. It's only people who are invested in military adventurism and low taxation for the rich that want you to think otherwise.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:55 AM on August 7, 2009


Many Americans don't want to be inconvenienced or pay a since penny of taxes more to solve any problem that doesn't effect them directly. "Why should I pay for schools/trains/social programs/parks/healthcare/etc that I don't use?". I see letters to the editor to that effect in the local paper every week. Supporting anything that doesn't help you directly is "SOCIALISM"!

I think that's one of the significant cultural differences between Canada and the U.S., octothorpe, for all we may seem to be alike in other ways. I seriously have not heard the "why should I pay for something that I won't use" from a Canadian since high school. It's just generally accepted that there are things we do because they benefit everyone, that this is just one of the realities of living in a society. When we switched to the dollar coins everyone seemed to consider cutting Mint production costs an excellent and more than sufficient reason for doing so, regardless of how they may have felt about the coins. I do often hear arguments against this or that government measure on the grounds of pragmatism or morality or complaints about waste, but that's a completely different tack to take. Some of the arguments in this thread are completely foreign to me — but then, foreign is what they are in strictly literal terms.
posted by orange swan at 8:10 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"A new dollar coin that lasts 30 years or the same old dollar bill that lasts 18 months. No mention is made of a plastic bill like Australia has? That clearly would last much longer, and would satisfy the people who don't like coins."

True Australia has plastic folding money. They also have one and two dollar coins instead of bills. So you're right, the US should adopt the Australian system.
posted by Mitheral at 8:14 AM on August 7, 2009


Balancing the budget on a cyclical basis is easy: drop military expenditures to a reasonable level and fully repeal the Bush tax cuts. It's only people who are invested in military adventurism and low taxation for the rich that want you to think otherwise.

If it's possible to not only balance the budget but to fix your other social problems and repay the $10 trillion debt just by making these changes, great.
posted by orange swan at 8:23 AM on August 7, 2009


How did we go from "coins suck" to "USIANS, PREPARE FOR A WORLD OF HURT!!!"
posted by kathrineg at 8:28 AM on August 7, 2009


That's MeFi for you, kathrineg. Recently a MeTa thread went from discussing some AskMe question about a man who was considering having an affair to discussing the works of Kate Chopin.
posted by orange swan at 8:30 AM on August 7, 2009


It sounds much more charming than this particular derail
posted by kathrineg at 8:34 AM on August 7, 2009


Oh it was. It was Kate Chopin, after all. Bodice-ripping and feminism set in in some very decent prose.
posted by orange swan at 8:39 AM on August 7, 2009


NY buses don't take dollar bills. If they did I can imagine the nightmare that would cause.

Ah, so they don't. But NJ Transit buses do—that's got to be what I'm thinking of. (I haven't paid a cash fare for transit in NYC more than once or twice.)
posted by oaf at 9:41 AM on August 7, 2009


Y'all don't even know, dude. Don't even KNOW.

I'm here in Beijing, where the renminbi, currently situated at roughtly 6.8 to the dollar, is denominated like this:

10 fen (cents)=1 mao/jiao (dime)=1 renminbi

PPP is about 1/3 of the US, so things like a bottle of Coke cost 3 RMB, or $0.40. I paid 12 for a watermelon, 45 for a dinner of donkey pitas (fuckin' GOOD), 2.5 for a 600ml beer with a 0.5 deposit (they've pretty much abandoned cents here, treating the "dime" as a unit in itself), 5 for a pack of cigarettes, 100 for a used bicycle, 1 for a bus ride, 2 for the subway, 500 for a used P4 computer w/o monitor, 220 for my phone bill, 400/mo. for electricity (1500sqf. apartment w/ lots of a/c use), 24 for black coffee at Starbucks, 2500 for my electric bike, 40 for a Ventolin inhaler, 300 for a driver's license test, what have you. That's just to give you an idea. Electronics and non-everyday items cost about the same as what you Western capitalist running dogs pay. It's an almost entirely cash economy. Most of the people I run into don't even know what checks are, and debit cards are only usable at merchants who can afford cash registers and a dedicated phone line...which ain't the little ones. Plenty do, it's not like Beijing is some dirty backwater hellhole where electricity is turned on for 2 hours a day. The city is huge and frighteningly modern. I can pay my utilities at McDonald's via a little kiosk, 24 hours a day. Banks & ATM's are on every street corner. Debit/credit cards do have some uses here.

Okay, so, you'd think that in an economy like this, they understand the value of a coin, yeah? Nope. They have dime bills. I have 9 of the little fuckers in my wallet right now. They're more common than coins. Vending machines, outside of the subway ticket machines, are unheard of. Cashiers reluctantly give me coins, if they're out of bills, as if I won't want them, with a look of apology on their face. We have a change jar full of about enough change to buy...a watermelon.

This city, for some godforsaken reason, is just that resistant to coinage. People here just. won't. get. with. it. I mean, the coins are aluminum, and outside of banks, no one even deals in cents anymore. It's just bills bills bills for everything. The 1 yuan coins, well, they kind of fail. Most of the merchants here have a shoebox or fanny pack as a cashier's tray, and they just dig around at the top to give me my change. Cash registers aren't unaffordable by any means, it's just that there's no friggin' point. I've stopped trying to spend the coins I receive in change, they go straight to the bank on our rare bank runs. Meanwhile, my fat paper stack is neatly arranged in a wad in my pocket, ready for any price you got.

This isn't the place to ask for more bills, but I'll also say that, since the highest denomination is 100, you need a stack of 20+ to buy anything even moderately expensive, and I get a brick on payday. Really. A brick. Man-purses are common here for a reason. You go to an electronics store, and people roll up with envelopes like it was Scarface.

But in general, wallets are big. Man-purses are crammed. It's time we moved to coins, so we could have things like vending machines and cart deposits. The thing is, in the States, if you people this up with the dollar bills, you'll end up like we paper sloggers in Beijing, dragging your 2-inch wallets from one store to the next, developing calluses on your thumbs from all the page-flipping you have to do every day just to get a god-damned Coke and cashiers on your buses (no, really, the buses have cashiers). Don't be like us. Take the coins. We need your paper.
posted by saysthis at 9:48 AM on August 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Since when is saying "I like benefit X provided by the government and I'm willing to pay taxes to keep getting it" an anti-social perspective?

Aren't you guys basically just saying that people who don't agree with your priorities are selfish jerks?
posted by Wood at 10:15 AM on August 7, 2009


As illustrated by my silliness above, a multitude of reasons; the most relevant question is why any of us are walking around with more than $5 in $1 coins or $1 bills in the first place. If you're halfway diligent about spending the small stuff, you never accrue enough of it to notice.

Well thank you for your thorough analysis of my spending habits.

In actuality, I like having small bills because I make many small purchases. Having small bills is something I like and they are thus of value to me in my lifestyle. I also actively spend my change as often as possible.

But people like you speak as if we have some sort of obligation to spend our low denominations in ways incompatible with our lifestyle and needs just out of some phantom duty.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:37 AM on August 7, 2009


cmgonzalez: "you speak as if we have some sort of obligation to spend our low denominations in ways incompatible with our lifestyle and needs just out of some phantom duty"

I think we've all gotten a bit hung up calling these behaviors "lifestyles" when they're really just "what we do at the moment". When soda bottles switched to screw caps, did we frame the switch as the end of our "bottlecap lifestyle"? When Apple switched to Intel processors did we mourn our "PowerPC lifestyle"? Do we have "boxer lifestyles" and "brief lifestyles"?

"Lifestyle" indicates that you don't just behave a certain way, you identify with that behavior. It's one of your defining features. Being outdoorsy is a lifestyle. Drinking or smoking can be lifestyles, because they have specific social constructs associated with them.

But whether you spend coins or bills isn't a lifestyle. Tensions are rising in this thread over a matter of a few ounces in our pocket and an absolutely trivial proportion of our government spending. I think we could all stand to step back and realize that people who disagree with us aren't attacking our lifestyle identity. We can still think their reasons for disagreeing are stupid or selfish, but it's not worth getting personal about it.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2009


Do we have "boxer lifestyles" and "brief lifestyles"?

Are you calling people who wear boxer-briefs bisexual?

Anyway, I strenuously empty my change out of my pockets/purse every day and eventually take it to the bank to be counted. If dollars were coins, I'd still do this, only I'd get MORE change because I'd have to pay for everything with $5s. I guess it'd be a good savings plan.
posted by desjardins at 11:31 AM on August 7, 2009


I'm surprised Canada hasn't abolished the penny. It would be a clear cost-savings, but 1/3 of the population is opposed:
By comparison, 42 per cent of consumers said they would support abolishing the penny, while 33 per cent said they would oppose the move. One-quarter of respondents said they were neutral.
posted by smackfu at 12:18 PM on August 7, 2009


I guess, continuing on my other point, I don't really get why there's any foot-dragging on these sorts of things in the first place. Sure, if you bother to ask people you can find some percentage that will cling to the status quo whether or not they have a good reason. But why are you asking people?

Do national mints really have that level of direct political pressure? Can't they just say "this is more efficient, folks" and stop printing $1 bills? Some people will grumble, sure, and others will be pleased, but it doesn't seem like it'd be so significant that they should be afraid of the backlash.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:49 PM on August 7, 2009


Well, in the US, the penny has 56% opposing getting rid of it. And 76% prefer a dollar bill to a coin. source. It's not like the mint is polling people, but people make their opinions known to their representatives, and the representatives apply power to represent the will of their people. Which is the way it's supposed to work.
posted by smackfu at 1:02 PM on August 7, 2009


And there is the penny lobby. Change is hard.
posted by calwatch at 1:27 PM on August 7, 2009


Again though, I think this is mostly just because we bothered to ask. I think that poll is mostly useless without also asking people "on a scale from one to ten, how much do you care about whether we [abolish the penny/switch to a dollar coin]. My hunch is that most people would be around a 2 or 3, which means that the 76% who prefer a dollar bill would really not be much in terms of real political momentum.

We have a representative democracy specifically because we shouldn't have to micromanage this kind of stuff.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:10 PM on August 7, 2009


"I'm surprised Canada hasn't abolished the penny. It would be a clear cost-savings, but 1/3 of the population is opposed: "

People have poor math skills and somehow figure (like up thread) that they'd be screwed by rounding if we abolished the penny. Apparently totally oblivious to the fact that the exact same condition exists today anywhere a fractional sales tax is charged or fractional pricing (any good not sold by unit but by volume/mass eg: gas, most meat and fresh produce, most bulk products) is used.
posted by Mitheral at 5:39 PM on August 7, 2009


I think we've all gotten a bit hung up calling these behaviors "lifestyles" when they're really just "what we do at the moment".

Or, you know, it can be the way I live my life aka, a lifestyle and one in which these preferences are a part of me. I make a lot of small purchases and I get a lot of smaller bills as change. I like this because it fits in with my spending habits and the things I pursue. Who says that drinking and smoking are lifestyles and the way someone lives and things important to him or her, what he or she prefers and values doesn't qualify as one?

Please.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:05 PM on August 7, 2009


these would've been much more useful before the average price of a coke in a vending machine went over the $1 mark.

($1.25 for a 20oz :()
posted by rubah at 10:08 PM on August 7, 2009


For those who prefer the dollar bill: how much more inflation would it take to change your mind?
posted by parudox at 10:53 PM on August 7, 2009


Vending machines are a major roadblock to acceptance of dollar coins in the US. This is not a trivial problem for several reasons.

It's been demonstrated repeatedly that Americans won't voluntarily switch from dollar bills to dollar coins. That means for dollar coins to get real traction, dollar bills would need to be taken out of circulation.

But taking dollar bills out of circulation would immediately obsolete many -- maybe even most -- of the vending machines in the US. Those that already accept dollar coins would easily survive the transition. But many machines take dollar bills and not dollar coins. A hard cutover from paper dollars to coins would make the bill mechanisms on these machines useless overnight, and reduce the amount of money they take in, because people don't usually carry around $1.50 in quarters to buy a bottle of soda.

Upgrading these machines isn't trivial either; you have to replace the entire cash-handling system on the machine. The coin part of this is obvious -- it seems safe to assume that a machine that doesn't accept dollar coins can't be converted just by flipping a DIP switch somewhere, or it would already be accepting them for simplicity's sake. But it affects machines with bill readers too -- even if the existing mechanism can already distinguish fives and tens from ones (if only to reject them), the machine can't accept them as payment unless it can also return change from a typical purchase. Nobody wants to buy a $1.50 bottle of soda and get fourteen quarters back, which means you have to upgrade the equipment to return dollar coins.

(Yes, Canada managed this. Canada also has less than 1/10th as many people -- and presumably 1/10th as many vending machines -- as the US. That makes an enormous difference in the effort required to implement a cutover.)

Finally there's the entrepreneurial angle. The machines selling $3.50 Cokes in your local multiplex are already well-positioned for this cutover, but the ones in the corner laundromat are likely owned and serviced by smaller local operators. These skew towards cheaper equipment that would need a complete overhaul if dollar coins suddenly replaced dollar bills. This is a political nightmare: the left-wingers would decry it as a giveaway to the "vending machine lobby" and the right-wingers would decry it as an "assault on the small businessman". So good luck with that.

This is one of those things that will either have to happen organically -- prices go high enough that most vending machines handle larger amounts by default -- or with many years of warning ("the dollar bill goes away in 2015"). The former won't happen until current prices at least double. And the latter would probably turn into another endless series of politically-expedient delays, a la the NTSC-to-ATSC cutover. (If a cutover driven by a $20 billion spectrum-auction payday can be repeatedly postponed for political reasons, the political winds would whip around the $250 million/year-saving bill-to-coin switch like a plastic grocery bag in a hurricane.)
posted by Lazlo at 11:28 AM on August 8, 2009


(Yes, Canada managed this. Canada also has less than 1/10th as many people -- and presumably 1/10th as many vending machines -- as the US. That makes an enormous difference in the effort required to implement a cutover.)

It would also stand to reason that Canada has 1/10th the amount of workers to make and install the required retrofits.

Point is moot!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2009


"Upgrading these machines isn't trivial either; you have to replace the entire cash-handling system on the machine. The coin part of this is obvious -- it seems safe to assume that a machine that doesn't accept dollar coins can't be converted just by flipping a DIP switch somewhere, or it would already be accepting them for simplicity's sake.

The state of the art may be different in the US all my experience is in Canada. The "entire cash-handling system" on any vending machine made in the last 20+ years is a box a little longer and flatter than a standard shoe box. They literally lift off the machine. Replacement takes approximately five minutes. The half dozen brands of machines I'm familiar with all have either actual dip switches (ancient equipment) or key programmable settings on whether to accept Canadian or American or US and Canadian coins. The key programmable ones allow you to specify which types of coins (dime/nickle/penny etc.) the machine will accept. None of the machines I've worked with have bill readers as they are essentially unnecessary when you have 1&2 dollar coins.

But it affects machines with bill readers too -- even if the existing mechanism can already distinguish fives and tens from ones (if only to reject them), the machine can't accept them as payment unless it can also return change from a typical purchase. Nobody wants to buy a $1.50 bottle of soda and get fourteen quarters back, which means you have to upgrade the equipment to return dollar coins."

This is a straw man problem simply solved by not accepting $5 and $10. You'll lose out on the occasional sale but you won't run through your change. Heck remove the bill readers totally and use the space for credit card vending. I've even seen a machine that refused to return change if you could still make a purchase with the remaining amount so there is that, slightly shady, approach too.


"But taking dollar bills out of circulation would immediately obsolete many -- maybe even most -- of the vending machines in the US. Those that already accept dollar coins would easily survive the transition. But many machines take dollar bills and not dollar coins. A hard cutover from paper dollars to coins would make the bill mechanisms on these machines useless overnight, and reduce the amount of money they take in, because people don't usually carry around $1.50 in quarters to buy a bottle of soda."

If the mint producing dollar bills burned down tonight it would take months before a serious shortage of bills was noticed and two to three years for bills to essentially disappear if they substituted for dollar coins. So even with the most evil of intentions the bill readers wouldn't become useless overnight. A coin mech costs $400-700 brand new. If the government said the cut off would be in two years that gives a good three years at least to reprogram any mechs that were field changeable and replace any ancient mechs that aren't. If your machine can absorb $250 dollars annually to upgrade the mech (something that stands a good chance of needing replacement anyways during that period because of wear and tear and vandalism) then you simply just accept quarters until you can. But that is going to be the minority of cases because most mechs are already set up to accept dollar coins.
posted by Mitheral at 1:58 PM on August 8, 2009


the ones in the corner laundromat are likely owned and serviced by smaller local operators. These skew towards cheaper equipment that would need a complete overhaul if dollar coins suddenly replaced dollar bills.

The incremental cost of accepting a single dollar bill is more than that of accepting a dollar coin. Dollar coins don't get torn, wrinkled, folded, or introduce as much dirt into the works. Bill readers break more frequently, and now that most soda is over $1, they're doing twice as much work for a large number of transactions.
posted by oaf at 4:50 PM on August 8, 2009


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