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My two cents

For people like me who write regular columns, interesting topics are golden. I can find fascinating topics every now and again that would stretch to about 200 words, leaving lots of white space underneath.

But when I come across a topic I can expound upon, I usually stake my claim and guard it like Fort Knox. I fell down on that portion of the job last week as my co-worker, Lynn Davidson, usurped a timely issue from my topic file - unintentionally, she claims.

So pardon the repetition in this space this week, as I'm too lazy to search for another issue. Besides, I have a very different take on things than my colleague.

The United States Mint recently announced the introduction of a new $1 coin. I am a recent convert from the anti-dollar coin camp, but it took a trip to Europe to change my views on the subject.

My argument against changing from paper greenbacks to coins included the "It hasn't worked several times before" argument. The Susan B. Anthony dollar was unsuccessful, mostly because people confused it with the quarter.

I attempted to use the Sacagawea gold dollar on a regular basis several years back but was unsatisfied because no one else used them. As it turns out, silly old traditions outweigh common sense in the U.S., more often than not.

The currency of choice for a majority of nations in Europe is the Euro. There is no single Euro bill, only a one and a two Euro coin. My trip to Ireland several years ago forced me to use those coins, and it turns out they work much better than a dollar bill.

If you want a soft drink out of a vending machine, there's no ironing out the bill 15 times and eventually kicking the machine because it won't take your money.

Small purchases don't even force you to brandish your wallet. Just reach in your pocket, grab the largest coin, and you're done.

And on top of being easy to use, it's cheaper to produce in the long run. I've always heard the average lifespan of the oft-used dollar bill is 18 months. When was the last time you thought a quarter from 2005 looked like it was about to fall apart?

Coins may cost more to produce at the outset, but they last for decades. If the mint can stop paying for production of a completely new crop of dollar bills every year and a half, our tax money can be put to so many other responsible uses.

Of course that would require the American public to smarten up and finally take to the dollar coin. Oh well, so much for saving Social Security.

Web posted on Thursday, March 01, 2007

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