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Adding to the jingle

Congress has done it again. Sometimes our elected lawmakers make good, common-sense decisions. Then there are other times when I wonder if they were actually focused when they approved something, or were they multi-tasking at the time?

In case you haven't heard, a new dollar coin made its debut last Thursday. The new golden coins will feature a President of the United States, with four new ones coming out every year in the order that the Presidents served.

Although my son is a coin collector, I have to admit I felt dismay with the news. I believe history repeats itself unless we learn from it and make necessary changes. Travel back in time to 1979, when the Susan B. Anthony dollar was introduced. According to MSN News, the U.S. Mint was left with millions of the unused coins piled in vaults. And the same results happened again in 2000 with the Sacagawea dollar.

I, for one, have lost a lot of money with the Susan B. Anthony dollar because I kept confusing it with - and spending it like - a quarter. Even though I am aware of the visual differences of Ms. Anthony and Pres. Washington, the coins were too similar in size and color. The confusion became more prominent with the issuance of the new quarters, each with different images.

So, why did our congressional delegates choose to spend money making new money? Well, to give them credit, the metal coins are durable and would save millions of dollars to print new paper dollars each year. But there's a reason the coins are not popular. Anyone I know can carry 10 to 20 $1 bills in their pocket and hardly even know they are there. But try that with coins. I'm willing to bet we'd see adults wearing their britches lower than gangsta'-wanna-be's due to the weight of the coins.

And try counting out payments to the cashier. Coins drop and roll all over the place, while bills simply stack quietly on top of each other.

Congress is counting on the acceptance of the new dollar. So much, in fact, that the Federal Reserve has ordered 300 million of them for distribution. This optimism comes from the success of the 50 state quarters released in 1999. But how many of those quarters were actually used as opposed to the number that was collected and placed in a special map holder? How much does the US pay for all these coins to pile up in people's drawers, boxes, jars or automobile consoles?

Who knows? Maybe they are right. Maybe just the fact that there's something new out there that no one has yet is enough to start a new trend. After all, this is America, where something new and exciting is always just around the corner.

Web posted on Thursday, February 22, 2007

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