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American currency is stupid

By circletimessquare in Op-Ed
Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: pennies, dollars (all tags)

There are a few things I am proud of being born in the USA. We were ahead the history curve on reviving the old democracy thing from the ancient Greeks. And the Grand Canyon rocks. But there are also a few things I am not proud of being born in the USA:

  1. Americans are pretty fat.
  2. Americans are arrogant enough to ignore the metric system.
  3. Our money is stupid. Really stupid. In many ways.

About #3, two recent stories highlight this fact.

Recently the US Mint outlawed the exportation or melting of pennies and nickels. Why? For one of the most hilarious of reasons: Pennies and nickels, in their zinc, nickel, and copper content, are worth more than a penny and nickel each! Not by much, but the world is experiencing a pinch in raw material costs (things like oil, paper, metals, etc.), as China, India, and other countries continue to soar as economic and industrial powerhouses, and this trend shows no sign of abating. So in the near future, melting pennies or nickels will probably net some enterprising souls a nice profit.

What's especially silly about this is that since money is really just an abstract expression of economic exchange and value, money can be anything. Making coins out of valuable metals is merely a throwback to an era when monetary exchange really needed to have intrinsic value to protect against currency scares and runs on banks. But this is an era which has long been passed in the world by over a century, we now use paper and plastic for most of our financial exchanges. The world economy is stable and interconnected enough that either the whole world melts down, or not. Therefore, faith in the international monetary system itself is more important than whether or not you have stockpiled enough South African Gold Krugerrands in your basement. If a country decides to use plastic coins, or seashells, or Rai stones, or Hello Kitty stickers, it doesn't matter. Currency merely needs to be hard or not worth it to counterfeit. That's all that is important.

Well, something else is important: usability. Ease of use. Intelligent design.

So the second recent story is equally shaming for the archaic nature of American currency: the blind won a lawsuit against the US Government because US currency is unfriendly to them. Now, for those of you living in another part of the world, maybe even a poor country where your economy struggles with plenty of real problems, you should take some pride in the fact that most probably, your currency is far better designed than the currency of the largest and most powerful economy in the world. Here's one idiocy for you to laugh at: all of our dollar denominations look the same. Same size, texture, and color. So in other words, if you are not careful, you can easily give a clerk a $20 bill instead of a $5 bill if you aren't paying enough attention. Yes, pretty stupid.

Well... not entirely true. Just recently, our $10 bill became a woozy pinkish color. Why the $10 bill? Why pink? why no other bills? Why no other improvements? Who knows. There doesn't seem to be much intelligence at the US Mint. Oh I'm sure they spent millions on redesigns and various committees, and some congressman made sure some pork barrel money got moved this way or that, and the whole redesign process probably took years. But the amount of actual intellectual capital spent seems to be less than what your average elementary school classroom could command in terms of realizing the obvious problems posed by currency and some easy solutions to those problems:

  1. Plastic Money (survives the wash if you leave them in your jeans, pretty hard to fake with a laser printer).

  2. Differently colored money (I mean all denominations, and I mean really different colors, so it's easy to spot the differences).

  3. Differently sized/ textured/ shaped money (What a thunderbolt of an idea! Those pesky blind people need to use money? Pfft).

  4. Plastic coinage. (it doesn't have to be metal... really... it's also lighter in the pocket).

The mint did make some other fancy pants half-assed measures to "improve" the currency in recent years. But they were all focused on one narrow concern: North Korean counterfeiting. Surely this is a real problem, but if you are going to go back to the drawing board, why not incorporate some helpful changes for US citizens as well? They did not include some novelties that are probably old hat to much of the rest of the world. So the changes are smoke and mirrors.

The changes make it a little harder for the North Koreans for a few years, big deal. In a few years, the arms race with counterfeiters will most certainly continue: millions more spent for new security improvements, millions more spent on vending machine upgrades. And not anywhere is anyone apparently thinking about usability. Why?

As an illustration of how usability apparently means nothing to the US Mint, for a long time now, consider the silly decades-long saga of the American dollar coin. It would probably seem like a strange fact to modern Americans (since hardly anyone uses them, and when they get them in their change, it is like getting an artifact from Alpha Centauri), but for most of American history, there have been dollar coins. At first they were huge wonky things. Which was fine, since back then one US dollar really meant something important, back when you could buy candy bars for a penny. These hulks were revived in the 1970s as... the same huge wonky things. But by the 1970s, dollars didn't command that much respect to weigh down your pocket by five pounds. And then, someone at the mint grew half a brain cell. Emphasis on half a brain cell: "As inflation affects the value of our coinage, more and more people use bills instead of coins, so let's join most of the rest of the world and devise a dollar for wider use as a coin."

It was a colossal failure. Why? It was pretty much the same size and color and weight as the US quarter, and both had a reeded edge (jagged). So people were constantly dropping dollars when they meant to drop quarters. Like I said, the US Mint grew only half a brain cell.

So twenty years after that failure, you would think the US Mint would grow a few more brain cells? Well, yes, they did, but only a few more: different color, check.... no reeded edge, check... but pretty much the same size and shape and weight. So you couldn't reach into your pocket without looking and drop the thing... you'd still have to look and make sure. Absolutely ridiculous and inexcusable.

Why not a hole in the middle? Why not a strange shape like a pentagon or square? Why not a bimetallic? These are realizations that ancient civilizations have made. These are realizations that the majority of other modern countries have made. Countries a lot smaller and younger and with less resources than the USA. The USA can put a man on the moon, but the modern US Mint, nor the US Mint of the last century, can consider the concept of usability. Incredible.

And so, the inevitable: the latest incarnation of the American dollar coin is yet another failure: not widely adapted, accepted, or liked by the American public. The dollar coin is still an oddity, like the $2 bill.

And back to the American penny. A further unfortunate commentary on the penny is that... it's pretty much unnecessary and useless. It's a victim of decades of inflation. It slows down transactions, it represents a hassle, of no benefit. Some clerks round up or down to nickels. And Americans don't mind if a clerk cheats them of a few pennies, they hate carrying the extra baggage. People drop pennies on the sidewalk... and no one picks them up. People have jars of pennies in their home. They take up too much space in your pocket, and they aren't worth carrying around, so they get ignored. At check out registers throughout the nation, there is usually now a little plastic cup or tin full of pennies. It is not a tip jar, it is meant to ease the exchange of worthless change, if the customer is a little short. It seems like a nice little extravagance, and yet... no one uses these little tins, they are always full of pennies. Who wants them?

Even the homeless won't take them. Give a penny to a homeless person and you're more likely to feel the stinging rebuke for the insult than any gratitude. Nothing of real value is measured in pennies nowadays. Heck, you could even begin to make the case that the American nickel's days are doomed for the same reasons.

Someone needs to take the US penny out behind the outhouse, and shoot it in the head, or put it in a burlap sack full of rocks and throw it in the reservoir. The penny is dead. But given the intelligence demonstrated by the US Mint, I peg the year 2300 as the year they finally figure out they can get rid of the damn things, when McDonalds cashiers will be making $5,000 an hour, and a dozen eggs cost $6,000. I am certain in such an age, the moronic US Mint will still be issuing pennies.

So if you are in a country besides the USA, you probably have your own list of complaints about your currency. But rest assured that all of your complaints are nothing compared to the quantity and quality of antiquated idiocies of American coinage and paper bills. And if you are American, you may feel defensive about your bills being green, or you may feel some pathetic nationalistic nostalgia and pedantic attachment to the penny. Whatever, get over it. The idiocies of American currency are an unnecessary burden, and the US has weathered plenty of changes to its currency in the past, and will continue to do so.

Hopefully any future "improvements" to US currency will include the boneheaded obvious that most of the rest of the world has already embraced, decades and even centuries ago. Improvements kindergarteners can appreciate. Someone can make a study, or probably already has made a study, detailing how adapting the obvious improvements in the usability of US currency can save the country billions in lost productivity. In counting pennies at the cash register, or in giving the blind more confidence to spend their cash when they hand over that "$5" bill.


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americans should get rid of pennies and revive the:
o half penny 2%
o two cent piece 7%
o three cent piece 9%
o twenty cent piece 7%
o nice big wonky dollar coins 19%
o quarter eagle ($2.50) coin 16%
o three dollar coin 7%
o stella ($4.00) coin 7%
o half eagle ($5.00) coin 21%
o eagle ($10.00) coin 21%
o double eagle ($20.00) coin 19%
o all of the above 7%
o just go to monopoly money 19%
o liquidate their currency and use the canadian's 28%
o casino chips for all 33%

Votes: 42
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o outlawed the exportation or melting
o are worth more than a penny and nickel each!
o Rai stones
o the blind won a lawsuit against the US Government because US currency is unfriendly to them
o woozy pinkish color
o fancy pants half-assed measures
o there have been dollar coins
o huge wonky things
o the same huge wonky things
o It was a colossal failure
o but only a few more
o Why not a hole in the middle?
o Why not a strange shape like a pentagon or square?
o Why not a bimetallic?
o $2 bill
o weathered plenty of changes to its currency in the past
o Also by circletimessquare

Display: Sort:
American currency is stupid | 211 comments (196 topical, 15 editorial, 20 hidden)
I know useless ranting is your thing, but jesus (1.44 / 27) (#3)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 10:01:50 AM EST

shut up.

I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

Seriously. (1.00 / 7) (#80)
by norm on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 10:48:30 AM EST

Also, fuck the blind.

What have the blind ever contributed to society?


i'm a guy. i'm a troll. there, i've said it. --wampswillion | scientology
[ Parent ]

About as much as yourself? (none / 0) (#175)
by Zombie Gautama Buddha on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 11:12:32 PM EST

(relative quantities)

[ Parent ]
well done..and i agree..when i was visiting (1.83 / 6) (#4)
by dakini on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 10:13:39 AM EST

the states, i had no idea about the money..i had to look at each bill..where in canuckland, our money is all different colours, and yes, we have a dollar coin and a two dollar coin..but we still have those damn pennies..lol..

" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
i will say this (2.50 / 6) (#24)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 04:41:01 PM EST

yes, canada has it all over the us in a number of ways with your money (and the metric system, although you are all pretty fat like us)

but canadian pennies are even more worthless than american pennies, on many levels

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

The dollar coin (2.37 / 8) (#5)
by b1t r0t on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 10:43:57 AM EST

It doesn't help any that they totally fucked up with the Susan B. Anthony dollar. Silver and ridged, just like the fucking quarter, so you couldn't tell them apart without looking really close.

Then they came out with the White Man's Guilt edition. But since nobody knew what the fuck Sacca-ja-wii-a really looked like, they just made something up. They fixed the main problems, by copying the Loonie to make it golden and smooth-ridged, but they re-fucked it up by making it out of a metal that tarnishes to a particularly contrast-resistant shade of shit brown if you actually try to use it. Then it just looks like a rusty metal slug.

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.

You really should get a 99-cent coin (2.76 / 17) (#6)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 10:55:02 AM EST

You see, everything is priced at $xx.99. So if you have a 99-cent coin you could just give that back instead of those useless pennies.

Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn

brilliant (2.00 / 4) (#23)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 04:39:23 PM EST

and stupid

all in one

welcome to the mind of MMM

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I LOLLered so much (2.20 / 5) (#50)
by shm on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 08:47:59 AM EST

the wife and tears came out eye me.

[ Parent ]
Apparently I LOLLered so much (none / 0) (#185)
by shm on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 10:15:49 PM EST

I forgot to use Teh Propah English.

[ Parent ]
And a 9/10 cent coin... (3.00 / 5) (#109)
by antizeus on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:55:44 PM EST

... for buying gallons of gasoline.
[ Parent ]
Sales tax? [nt] (none / 0) (#200)
by ixian on Sat Jan 20, 2007 at 05:33:24 PM EST

[ Parent ]
The dollar coin (2.63 / 11) (#7)
by godix on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 11:31:28 AM EST

didn't die because it was a stupid design, although it was. It died because the mint did not withdraw the dollar bill at the same time. Given a choice between the familiar bill and a new coin most people stick with the familiar. If the US ever wants to actually switch to dollar coins what it needs to do is setup a policy where any dollar bill coming into a bank is sent to the mint and destroyed and only dollar coins are issued in return. As a slight bonus, the mint knows how many dollars it's printed in the past and what SN they had so if it keeps track of what it destroys then it could come up with some solid numbers about counterfeiting. Although the $1 bill isn't really known to be frequently counterfeited so that's a rather questionable benefit unless we also kill the $5, $10, and $20 bills.

Ditto to the metric shift you mention. If the US ever wants to go with metric what they need to do is withdraw the imperial system entirely. Screw the roadsigns with both miles and kilometers on it, just print kilometers and let people be confused as fuck until they learn what a kilometer is.

- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.

the states were going to go metric years (1.50 / 2) (#9)
by dakini on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 12:36:14 PM EST

ago...and thats why Canada changed to metric..but then they never changed..but we stuck it out..and all our road signs and everything else are in metric..

" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
[ Parent ]
I disagree (2.83 / 6) (#11)
by localroger on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 02:01:02 PM EST

While your point about keeping the paper dollar is valid, both dollar coins were stupid designs. They were especially stupid since the US once had dollar coins which everyone recognized; they were the silver dollars withdrawn from circulation when the US went off the hard metal standard back in the day. Most of us (at least of my age) had one of those passed down from Grandfather. We knew what a metal dollar looked like, and the SBA and Sac dollars didn't look like it.

Interestingly, the casino industry learned this lesson early on and the $1 casino slot token bears a very strong resemblance to the old silver dollars. People are very comfortable using them as currency in casino jurisdictions, even though this is technically illegal, because they just feel like money in your hand.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

i vote for little square metal coins (2.00 / 3) (#22)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 04:38:45 PM EST

something really novel. although vending machines would have a hard time with squares, i think people would love them


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Some ideas (3.00 / 8) (#39)
by godix on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 07:38:32 PM EST

Personally I think it'd be best if they just wiped everything and started from scratch. Kill the penny and nickel entirely. Make coins be 10, 30, and 50 cents and also have 1, 5, 10, and 20 dollar coins.

The dime would stay the same size and the other coins would become progressively larger. It'd be easy as hell to tell the value just by the size then. Plus vending machines would be simpler to make, no need to include methods of detecting if someone shaved a larger coin to a smaller one since there would be no smaller coins with a larger value.

Make each coin have a number of edges equal to how many cents/dollars it is and cent coins have no ridging while dollar coins do. That way you can tell the coin value by feeling the edge.

Have one side of the coin be little more than a large number of it's value with cent coins being copper and dollar coins being silvery. A single glance would tell the value even for people not familiar enough with the currency to know which coin has an eagle, Lincoln, etc.

Anything above $20 would be bills and again be redesigned totally. Incorporate plastic for the bills. Multi-colors. Multiple sizes. And of course all the various anti-counterfeit tricks the mint uses.

Take awhile getting used to, there would probably have to be a couple years overlap of current currency and the new currency. But in the end we'd have a currency that is harder to counterfeit since coins are inherently harder than bills and we'd have a currency that made more sense.

- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

problem with that is... (2.50 / 2) (#72)
by Zombie Schrodingers Cat on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:37:36 AM EST

you are going to be weighted down with a hell of a lot of change. My pocket is pretty heavy with $1 and $2 coins, I hate too see what it would be like to have $5, $10 and $20 coins too. otherwise, yeah its a good idea.

[ Parent ]
Move to New Zealand (none / 1) (#180)
by Coryoth on Wed Jan 10, 2007 at 11:12:00 AM EST

New Zealand has the coin denominations: 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2, and uses plastic notes of differing colours and sizes. It's great. Unfortunately I'm urrently living in Canada. We lose the sensible coin denominations and the money's still paper, but at least they have $1 and $2 coins and suitably different colours for their paper notes.

[ Parent ]
Why is it illegal? (1.00 / 2) (#68)
by Just this guy on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 12:53:51 AM EST

A business isn't under any obligation to accept it, but what's the problem with using them?

[ Parent ]
It's about control of the currency (2.33 / 3) (#83)
by localroger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 12:41:30 PM EST

The US grants a legal monopoly to the Federal Reserve Bank (which is not technically a part of the Government, although it's tightly regulated). If another ad hoc currency became widely accepted it would pose a threat to the top-down control of the money supply among other things. Not to mention the chaos of a possibly constantly shifting conversion between different currencies. (Note there are urban "alternative currency" projects like the Ithaca Hour, which have to kind of tiptoe around this.)

In other words, it's illegal to use casino tokens as general currency for the same reason it was illegal to own gold for many years: Dagummint says so.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Not quite what I was asking (2.25 / 4) (#96)
by Just this guy on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 04:22:46 PM EST

I should have been more precise in my question:

"On the basis of which law(s) do you believe it to be illegal?"

The government went after the liberty dollar people because, it is alleged, they were attempting to mislead people about the fact that it wasn't a government currency.

Legal tender laws can require you to pay debts in government currency. You still have to pay taxes using government currency, and using an alternative currency doesn't help you avoid that any more than barter does. (My understanding had been that the Ithica Hour people were in trouble on that end, not the alternative currency end per se). The requirement to pay taxes in government dollars is sufficient to keep them valuable.

Gold was specifically made illegal to own large quantities of. What I'm asking is what law you think it is that makes it illegal to circulate casino tokens in place of currency, provided that both parties to the transaction are aware that it's not government currency, and neither party is attempting to present it as such.

18USC486 looks like it might apply, except that I'm not sure what they mean by "current money." Presumably it applies if you make something that's supposed to be a quarter, even if it doesn't look like one, but would anybody think a casino token was actually "current money" as opposed to something convenient to have around as a substitute? It turns on the definition of "current money."

[ Parent ]

Current money = for use as currency (1.50 / 2) (#102)
by localroger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 05:58:06 PM EST

The key phrase is this: whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design. This is pretty clear; you can make coupons for specific purposes (casino cheques are OK as long as they're only accepted by the casino itself, or for the specific purpose of gambling); but if you represent your special money as a general purpose fiat currency, even if you make it's clear it's not a real dollar and it's backed by you, not the USA, it's over the line.

What is odd is that this statute wouldn't seem to cover the making of your own paper currency. The idea was probably to prevent banks from issuing "better" currency of real precious metal when the US went off the gold standard, but for whatever reason all casinos make it very clear that you must, must, must not use their cheques as general purpose currency, and even though it would be very convenient they will neither pay you in cheques for anything other than a won bet nor will they accept cheques for things like hotel and restaurant bills. Apparently letting you tip the cocktail waitresses with them is marginal, but accepted; paying your tab at the bar with them simply isn't done. You must go to the cage, exchange the cheques for US currency, and pay with that.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

You seem to be mixing together several issues (2.00 / 1) (#104)
by Just this guy on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:08:44 PM EST

18USB486 is about coins, and so has nothing to say about coupons or paper currencies. In any event, neither a private coin nor a private bill is necessarily a fiat currency; in particular, the casino is willing to exchange US Dollars for their coins or coupons, so it's a currency backed by another good, which itself happens to be a fiat currency.

Do you have a specific reason to believe what you believe, or are we just bullshitting here? I don't mean this as a criticism, I just need to know whether to weight your responses as "general knowledge I've picked up over the years" or as "professional experience as a currency lawyer" or something in between.

[ Parent ]

Something in between (2.50 / 2) (#116)
by localroger on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 10:35:18 PM EST

There really is a legal issue with casino tokens being used as currency; every casino in the land is paranoid as hell about it and they wouldn't be acting that way if they didn't have to. Casino cheques are by any normal definition coins, so I suspect that the law you cited has been applied at least once to the practice of using casino tokens as a substitute for US currency. I don't know the specifics, but if you hang around in casinoland long enough you will find this is deeply embedded in the culture. It is widely understood that the practice of letting waitresses take their tips in cheque is probably not legal, but is allowed to skate for practical reasons. Any attempt to use cheques for a non-gambling transaction will be met with a terse reminder that you must redeem them for US scrip first. As for exactly why, I don't know; I only know what I've been told, which is probably fourth-hand from whatever triggered the response. But there certainly is a legal problem with making your own "currency" even if it's not counterfeit and you represent it honestly as being backed by some honest alternative mechanism.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Several reasons (2.83 / 6) (#90)
by godix on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 03:07:07 PM EST

Control is the main on, as localroger mentioned. But there are a couple other reasons.

Confusion. If there, in effect, multiple currencies within the US there is easy confusion. Imagine traveling from las vegas which mainly uses one currency to NY which uses something entirely different. Sure, you could switch your local currency to US dollars then switch to NY local currency later but that introduces inefficiencies and cost people lots of time/money. The world has been moving towards unifying currencies exactly because multiple currencies are a waste. We don't want to go backwards here.

Fraud. If there are several different accepted currencies there are a lot more opportunities for fraud. Especially since confusion will be increased as well. After all, that money exchanger in NY can't be an expert on all currencies. How would he know if the casino chip he was cashing in is legit or not?

Money laundering. Casinos are tightly regulated because, historically and probably currently, they are common ways of money laundering for crime syndicates. Imagine how much easier it'd be for crime syndicates to do that if they actually controlled the money supply? Hell, imagine all the other scams they could do if they had direct control of the money supply.

Devaluation. Who would you trust more not to overprint money and devalue it, a group of trained and experienced economist or Donald Trump trying to pay off his hotel debts? Granted, the economist don't always do a great job but still....

- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

wait, doesn't ithaca ny have its own currency? (2.00 / 1) (#95)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 04:20:55 PM EST

yes, they do

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Some of those fail in practice as reasons (2.00 / 2) (#99)
by Just this guy on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 05:23:41 PM EST

The confusion and fraud arguments argue at most for a default, root currency, not against multiple currencies. Businesses and consumers both currently have to deal with cash, foreign currencies (commonly accepted in areas bordering Canada, at least), personal checks, traveler's checks, gift certificates, credit/debit cards, etc. People seem to do okay. You can always just refuse to do business with anything other than the legal tender, and some places do. More often than not, the extra convenience of accepting other payment methods is tempting enough that people do it.

The devaluation argument you make is particularly odd. Has a government in history ever -not- systematically devalued its currency? An private currency could conceivably be backed by gold, a market basket of precious metals, a mix of securities, an entities credit rating, or a hundred other things. It might be a bad idea to use that currency for a number of pragmatic reasons, but if they say it's backed by X and it's not, in fact, backed by X, they'd be breaking the law or committing a tort. When the government does it, on the other hand, it's business as usual.

This isn't even a government bad free enterprise good counter-argument. You might even think systematic low levels of inflation are good because of labor price stickiness, or for Keynesian reasons, or whatever, but it's a really odd basis for arguing against a private backed currency.

[ Parent ]

Nonsense (1.50 / 2) (#184)
by Talkie Toaster on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 04:05:07 PM EST

they were the silver dollars withdrawn from circulation when the US went off the hard metal standard back in the day.

BS.  These coins were never "withdrawn from circulation".  The reason you don't seem them any more is because the silver ones are worth more as bullion than their face value.


Patent applied for.
[ Parent ]

They're still issued. (none / 0) (#191)
by DavidTC on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:08:59 PM EST

The US mint still issues silver dollars that are legal tender. I have two of them, both with exactly one troy ounce of silver in them, which currently is worth 15 dollars, and worth even more because they are mildly rare, one about 25 dollars and one about 40 dollars. (Although I guess their valuation probably varies with the price of silver.)

Legally, I can pull them out of their plastic and spend them as one dollar worth of legal tender.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

And, yes.... (none / 1) (#190)
by DavidTC on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:00:28 PM EST

....those were heavy, but I think we'd be okay with making them lighter, and possibly even thinner. Just make them bigger than quarters. Give them smooth edges so we make a five dollar coin slightly larger with ridges.

I have no idea what to do with paper money to let the blind handle it. Maybe make each lower denomination 5% shorter? I.e, keep the 100 at current length, the 50 at 95%, the 20 at 90%, the 10 at 85%, the five at 80%, and the one at 75%? (Or just drop the one and five into coinage instead.)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Dollar coins would suck... (2.00 / 4) (#45)
by ktakki on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 10:04:25 PM EST

Some occupations and businesses would have a hard time dealing with dollar coins as opposed to paper dollars. Vending and change dispensing machines would have to be retooled, as well as cash registers. Bank machines can't handle coins, so you would not be able to deposit multiple single dollars.

But the real hardship would fall on people who deal with a lot of small cash transactions over the course of the business day. A personal example: when I drove a cab twenty-five years ago, I'd often end a twelve-hour shift with a wad of cash; some fives, tens, and twenties and a shitload of dollar bills. Often, 1/2 or more of my take would be in singles, as much as $75 to $100.

It was a big horkin' wad I'd carry home, even bigger if I pulled an 18- or 24-hour shift, but it would fit in the pocket of my jeans. Now, if 75 to 100 of those singles were coins, I'd look like I had elephantiasis of the ball sac if I had them in my pocket.

"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

i say make $1 small square coins (2.00 / 1) (#46)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 10:15:47 PM EST

$74-$100 of them would be like a pocketful of pennies

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Other countries... (2.75 / 4) (#73)
by Zombie Schrodingers Cat on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:42:41 AM EST

have solved the vending machine problem. Are you saying the US is such a loser country that it can't do it?

[ Parent ]
response (2.00 / 2) (#106)
by antizeus on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:28:05 PM EST

Vending machine manufacturers have been proponents of dollar coins in recent times, since coin detection is easier than bill detection.

I don't deposit cash at bank machines, so I don't know why someone would deposit a stack of one dollar bills. I suppose they could take them inside like I do with my rolls of pennies and nickles. Do you suggest that the mint release bills in denominations currently represented by coins, so that automated deposits would be easier?

And I question the relevence of your experiences of 25 years ago. Back then, a dollar was worth a lot more. I have to wonder how many dollar bills a cab driver will end up with these days.
[ Parent ]

Cab fare (2.00 / 1) (#132)
by Kryos on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 06:45:45 PM EST

Well, a cab ride inside the city limits where I live  is currently US$3.  I ususally pay with singles, and I suspect many others do the same.  That would leave a lot of bills at the end of the day.

[ Parent ]
Where I live (none / 0) (#177)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 11:30:14 PM EST

More people catch a bus than a taxi -- dollar bills get blown away, whereas coins stay where they should. A bus is also quite capable of carrying all the coins required (even taxis here manage). Of course, most people catching the bus will use a ticket or a card, and most taxis deal with large bills or use EFTPOS or credit card.

[ Parent ]
Bills must suck (none / 0) (#176)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 11:23:59 PM EST

We used to have $1 and $2 bills in NZ, but thankfully they were replaced by coins a while ago. I can't imagine having to insert our nice plastic bills into vending machine, let alone a tattered paper one. Of course, our vending machine industry is in an a bit of a fit since we have just changed most of our coins (our 50c coins were like dinner plates).

[ Parent ]
No, it died because its the same size as a quarter (2.33 / 6) (#58)
by BadDoggie on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 06:06:08 PM EST

People in the US rarely look at their money. It's too fucking easy to confuse an SBA/Sackabullshit dollar with a quarter. The thing should've had 7 or 9 edges just like the UK's 50p coin and been made of brass or other metal with a completely different density.

And the idea of $5, $10 and $20 coins is also bullshit. If you don't believe me go to the EU or UK for a couple weeks and see what a pocket full of fucking coins is like, and I'm one of the people who miss the DM5 coin.

This fucking cts rant is a load of bullshit. He clearly has no idea what any of the reasoning behind the US currency manufacturing is, no clue about what's done or how, nor any concept of how difficult drastic changes to money are.


"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

Counterfeit ones... (2.66 / 3) (#97)
by thefirelane on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 04:53:35 PM EST

"Although the $1 bill isn't really known to be frequently counterfeited"

Actually, from what I heard (when the new 20s came out). It is more common to simply bleach out the 1s and print them as 20s. They might learn that there are less 1s than they printed... which wouldn't be a surprise, because obviously some are destroyed naturally.

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
Which is a success. (none / 0) (#192)
by DavidTC on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:18:13 PM EST

People don't realize it, but the mint has actually managed to make it cost more than a dollar to make something that feels like a dollar bill. Hence the bleaching of ones.

And, yes, sucking back in all the dollars and replacing them with coins would make this a bit more difficult. Counterfeit twenties, right now, have a standard cost of about two dollars, aka, a tenth as much as the face value. Adding four dollars to the price because of the need to use fives would be rather crippling to the market. (Yes, people deliberately buy and sell counterfeit money.)

And thanks to ATMs not giving out fifties, and hundreds being subject to close inspection for counterfeiting, it's not like they could just switch to a higher denomination...if that was practical, they would have done it already.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

The life of paper money is such that (2.66 / 3) (#98)
by IceTitan on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 05:18:00 PM EST

all they would need is to stop printing them and start minting dollar coins. There would be obvious growing pains. But devising a method of removing dollars from circulation isn't one of them.
Nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
[ Parent ]
Funfun (1.40 / 5) (#8)
by nidhogge242 on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 11:34:45 AM EST

Fun article, I'll +1FP.

The Aussies and Kiwis have plastic bills, and they rock.  

it's shameful (2.33 / 3) (#21)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 04:37:09 PM EST

it really is

all hail the aussies and kiwis. maybe someday the us mint will show half the intelligence of your filthy lucre designers in canberra/ wellington

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

As a frequent unintentional money launderer (2.50 / 8) (#40)
by bodza on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 08:55:19 PM EST

This innovation has probably saved me thousands of dollars, most of which I've likely spent on beer.
"Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest." - Émile Zola

[ Parent ]
See, problem is, (2.33 / 9) (#10)
by Aurochs on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 01:21:25 PM EST

to get rid of the penny, one would also have to get rid of the hundredths place in fractional currency. In other words, we'd have to quote prices as $1.9 rather than $1.99. Now tell me, do you think THAT will ever happen? It would require a major restructuring of the entire economy costing potentially hundreds of billions of dollars. Further, people would have to get used to this new monetary system, and you know how much people hate having to adjust to new things.

So no, it ain't gonna happen, at least not yet.
you're a worthless cocknozzle no matter who or what you post about or pay attention to. shut the fuck up.

No it wouldn't (3.00 / 9) (#12)
by LittleZephyr on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 02:01:26 PM EST

For the vast amount of people that pay electronically through credit or debit cards, the hundredths place could remain. Only people paying in hard currency would need to round.
(\♥/) What if instead of posting that comment,
(0.-) you had actually taken a knife and stabbed
("_") me in the eye? You murderer. ~ Rusty

[ Parent ]
we got ride of the thousandth (2.50 / 8) (#14)
by thefirelane on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 02:44:50 PM EST

We got rid of the half penny back when, adjusted for inflation, it was worth more than today's pennys

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
That was a different era (2.33 / 6) (#17)
by kitten on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 03:26:54 PM EST

When changing things like that meant shopkeepers would alter their signs and a few other minor changes would occur. They didn't have to contend with thousands of databases running huge corporations and multinational banks. It's not like the people of that era were keeping checkbooks, using spreadsheets or Quicken, and don't even get me started about what it would take to get the IRS to make a change like that.

However, this is all beside the point as it wouldn't necessitate changing anything at all. Instead of "$1.99" you just say "$2.00" and instead of "$1.93" you say "$1.90". Put a zero there and it solves everything.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
The IRS? (2.85 / 7) (#44)
by vectro on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 09:51:02 PM EST

Erhm, the IRS allows taxpayers to round all amounts to the nearest dollar, today.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
You know (2.66 / 6) (#18)
by nidarus on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 04:27:21 PM EST

In Israel they removed the 1 and 5 agorot (1/100th of a shekel) coins from circulation, but there are still xxx.99 prices!

The whole thing is a scam, and they tend to round that penny anyway, so why not make it an official fraud?

[ Parent ]

you're wrong (2.62 / 8) (#20)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 04:35:05 PM EST

banks and such already work in half pennies and thousandths of a dollar

things are already rounded, and have been, for decades, in major transactions (even everyday transactions, when you consider sales taxes with crazy decimal places like 8.75%)

it's a wash

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Uhhh no, it wouldn't. (2.62 / 8) (#38)
by godix on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 07:14:31 PM EST

The nickel would still be around so the hundredths place would still be valid, although it'd always be either 5 or 0.

Regardless of that, even if the hundredths did disappear it wouldn't require retooling jack shit. So Quicken wants the hundredths position? The next version of Quicken could actually wipe out the hundredths position but there's no need to upgrade, people could just put a trailing 0 and keep the old version if they want.

- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

Wrong (2.85 / 7) (#49)
by scart on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 03:38:05 AM EST

South Africa got rid of 1 and 2 cent coins a couple of years ago, and prices stayed the same. The cashier truncates the cost of a basket of items to the nearest 5 cents. (1 US penny is about 7 SA cents)

[ Parent ]
I wish they did the same with the 5c coin... (none / 0) (#205)
by MyrdemInggala on Mon Jan 29, 2007 at 07:52:27 AM EST

... it's become the new stupid little coin nobody wants.

And the 5c coin is actually bigger than the 10c coin and even the 20c coin (it's the largest copper coin, of the same design as the 1c and 2c, whereas 10c, 20c and 50c are a smaller and thinner series of brass-coloured coins), which makes it extra annoying. It's just a waste of space.

Overall, however, our money has sensible denominations. And our paper notes are different colours and sizes.

-- 22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head. -- Evil Overlord List
[ Parent ]
Nup (2.66 / 6) (#64)
by Scrymarch on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 10:50:36 PM EST

Australia got rid of its 1 and 2 cent pieces around a decade ago, the economy is booming thanks to the productivity boost given by workers not having to drag around chunks of useless metal in their pockets. Shops just round. Similar situation in South Africa as another commenter noted.

[ Parent ]
australia's coin system is brilliant (3.00 / 6) (#65)
by JackStraw on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 11:19:41 PM EST

I spent several months there and (a) never felt that the system was rigged to screw me out of 2.5 cents by rounding, and (b) was amazed at the usefulness of  Australian coins.

If I remember right, there's no one-cent coin. Then, five-cents up to a half dollar (?) increase in size, and then they decrease in size up to two dollars (?), so that a pocketfull of two dollar pieces was  worth quite a bit of money.


I never wouldn't believed the wisdom of it if I hadn't experienced it myself.
-The bus came by, I got on... that's when it all began.
[ Parent ]

Thats why NZ junked it? (2.33 / 3) (#71)
by thogard on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:04:37 AM EST

NZ used to have a system very close to the Aussie system and they just junked it in favor of much smaller coins.
Those $1 and $2 coins cost a fortune to handle and banks are now charging from 2 to 5% to deal with them at all.  Once all the banks catch up to the 5% rate I expect there will be a new dollar bill in Australia's future.

[ Parent ]
lol what (2.33 / 6) (#74)
by Zombie Schrodingers Cat on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:51:35 AM EST

why would banks charge for handling $1 coins and not charge for handling $1 bills? You can get machines to count coins, while bills are much more difficult.

I think you'll find that banks will charge for handling small denominations regardless of their metallness or paperness. Banks will use any excuse to add another service few, they're bastards like that.

[ Parent ]

Er, no: they have bill-counting machines. (none / 1) (#189)
by Kadin2048 on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:34:52 AM EST

They have bill-counting machines, too, you know.

I've used them, and they're not even all that expensive. I believe they're probably far less expensive than a coin-counting machine that can process the same amount of money in the same time.

A bill-counter can count a 100-pack of paper bills in a few seconds. You would need a fairly fast rotary sorter to go through the same number of coins in the same time. The bill-counting machine is all plastic, and requires only a small motor to drive. It doesn't wear out quickly, either. Having coin-counting machines everywhere would be a maintenance nightmare compared to bills.

The lawsuit in the circuit court isn't going to go anywhere. There's too much equipment (like every vending machine in the country) set up to deal with standard-size paper currency. It's not going to go anywhere. Blind people have dealt with it for over 100 years now; it's not a new problem. If anything, they're in a better situation now than they ever were before, because so many places take plastic. I'd rather be a blind person in 2006 than in 1956, at least with regards to currency.

[ Parent ]

on Australian money ... (none / 1) (#198)
by cs on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 12:20:38 AM EST

Bills: plastic (with funky watermarking to make counterfeiting harder), distinct colours, distinct sizes. They used to be paper (still distinct colours and sizes).

Coins: we used to have copper 1 and 2 cent pieces, now obsolete. Stores must round up to 5 cents for values 3 and 4, and may round down for 1 and 2.
The "silver" (a nickel alloy whose composition escapes me) coins are 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. Their mass is proportional o their value, so counting a pile of coins can be done with a scale. The coppers had the same scheme, though a different mass/value. We have 1 and 2 dollar coins, of a pale gold appearance. The 2 dollar coin is smaller than the 1 dollar.

[ Parent ]

whoops (none / 0) (#199)
by cs on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 12:22:56 AM EST

5 cents rounding: of course I got this wrong; stores must round down for 1 and 2, and may round up for 3 and 4. Exact cents may be charged for non-cash transactions still.

[ Parent ]
Gas costs $2.499/gal (1.75 / 4) (#136)
by cburke on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 07:54:51 PM EST

The world has yet to end as a result.

Go figure.

[ Parent ]

In fairness to the Mint... (2.88 / 17) (#13)
by localroger on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 02:06:55 PM EST

...I have to point out that there is a reason why our recent currency redesign was so conservative. All throughout the US are a bunch of John Birch Society whacknozzles who go ballistic at the idea of changing anything about the currency. These people all have a basement full of Krugerrands and read every word issued by the Mint with a magnifying glass looking for signs of the Apocalypse.

These people were apoplectic over the recent redesign. And they are very vocal, and some of them are also very influential. I have always thought that the recent redesign was only stage 1, and that it's always been in the works to progress from the "new" bills to "newer" bills with more of the features other currencies have proven.

Now that we've changed the currency and Jesus didn't come, the JBT's didn't storm into Kansas to take over the middle school, it's still legal to own that all-important burglar-whompin shootin iron, and so on, the rails are greased to do a more radical redesign without the loonies getting all in a lather over it.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

The best reason to dump the penny . . . (2.33 / 9) (#16)
by IHCOYC on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 03:24:21 PM EST

. . . is because its disuse would de-decimalize U.S. currency. And decimalism is an ugly monomania.

We made a grave mistake when we dropped the original British system of pound, shilling, and pence and went for a currency whose basic units were divided by 10 and 100. Nothing decimal can be evenly split three ways. Dropping the penny would mean that the most basic sub-unit of the U.S. dollar would be a division by 20, accompanied by divisions by 10 and 4. This won't accommodate division by 3 any better, but at least a blow will have been struck against using 10 as the only divisor and multiplier.
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit G

good shit, never even thought of that nt (1.50 / 4) (#26)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 04:46:17 PM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
....huh? (2.57 / 7) (#32)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 05:50:21 PM EST

I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (3.00 / 4) (#94)
by styrotech on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 04:08:26 PM EST

...because nobody adds or subtracts or multiplies currency figures or use decimal calculators, they always just divide them by 3 in their heads. I hear the same lame argument against the metric system.

Why would dropping the penny mean that prices are no longer to the cent? In most countries that dropped their smallest coins, there is a rounding system for cash payments but people using credit cards, cheques or electronic payments still pay the actual value to the cent. With multiple items the rounding for cash only works on the total value rather than for every value. It isn't a big deal.

[ Parent ]

Can you divide your fingers by three? (2.00 / 3) (#135)
by cburke on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 07:50:41 PM EST

Decimal is not a random or arbitrary choice.  Personally I like having units of measurement that also match the counting system I use to count those units.

[ Parent ]
Not divisible by three again ... (2.75 / 4) (#167)
by ccurtis on Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 06:16:27 PM EST

When are these neo-Babylonians going to realize that the world is not going to adopt a sexagesimal currency system?

[ Parent ]
I always enjoy CTS articles... (1.75 / 8) (#35)
by mybostinks on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 06:54:24 PM EST

CTS's articles are some of the best there are.


CTS, you goin' to Time's Square tonight? /nt (1.50 / 4) (#36)
by mybostinks on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 06:56:30 PM EST

turning down the tv (1.50 / 1) (#42)
by circletimessquare on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 09:10:55 PM EST

i hear a sort of low riotous noise, all around, as if a million souls surround me, separated by a few precious feet concrete

i usually go down at 11:55, show my license to the cops (with my address on it), stand there, yawn, home by 12:05

although this year my goal is that the female accompaniment will NOT vomit on my bed

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Stop trying to show her your penis (2.90 / 10) (#53)
by I am teh Unsmart on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 02:25:34 PM EST

Problem solved.

[ Parent ]
WIPO: The two-dollar bill. (2.42 / 7) (#54)
by gustyWitherspoon on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 03:14:40 PM EST

What? Those were "real cool" when I was little.

Don't worry too much (2.80 / 5) (#55)
by HackerCracker on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 04:08:57 PM EST

When the USian ecomony goes into the shitter they'll quickly usher in the AmeroTM to save the day. Then the new NAU mint will be able to issue whatever the fuck kind of currency they want.

What I find funny about US money is (2.00 / 5) (#59)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 06:18:52 PM EST

that they always make fun of others country's money, calling it Monopoly money, but it is one of the easiest currencies to counterfiet because it all looks the same.

I didn't read one word of your article, so if you already said that in the body, screw you. I probably said it better anyway.


Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

Thats a feature (1.50 / 4) (#61)
by Ruston Rustov on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 06:39:22 PM EST

Why do you have a problem with people creating wealth, you cumguzzling socialist canadhimmi?

I had had incurable open sores all over my feet for sixteen years. The doctors were powerless to do anything about it. I told my psychiatrist that they were psychosomatic Stigmata - the Stigmata are the wounds Jesus suffered when he was nailed to the cross. Three days later all my sores were gone. -- Michael Crawford
Maybe tomorrow. -- Michael Crawford
As soon as she has her first period, fuck your daughter. -- localroger

[ Parent ]
The Monopoly money thing (2.25 / 4) (#138)
by awgsilyari on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 08:27:02 PM EST

I think the "Monopoly money" thing is rooted in unfathomable ignorance, not malice. To many Americans the world outside the United States is "not real." And I don't say that as a metaphor. The rest of the world is a cute little pretend land where savages and unicorns roam. Even when an American gets there and is presented with the unmistakable reality of it, they are apt to view it as some kind of enormous movie set.

(Hell, to many New Yorkers even the rest of their own country is "not real.")

When an American walks into a shop in Paris and asks "How much is that in REAL money?" he's not trying to be insulting, he's just illustrating that his IQ is somewhat between that of a nematode and a gerbil.

Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

+1, Anti-Americanism (1.40 / 10) (#62)
by alba on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 08:34:09 PM EST


Uninformed rant: no research beyond keyword.. (1.80 / 10) (#66)
by sudog on Mon Jan 01, 2007 at 11:21:36 PM EST

.. googling. Therefore it is also somewhat uninformative.

Find out and tell us about the redback; research and tell us about what, precisely, is the reason the U.S. switched to a fiat currency; research and tell us about interesting alternatives--like e-Gold (and its PR opponents;) tell us about Aaron Russo's recent movie.

All you've done is focus on something we all already know about and tell us something we all already agree with.


P.S. At least you're not going around telling people they're sycophants anymore.

What a surprise. Modded 0 by the author. (1.20 / 5) (#84)
by sudog on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 12:48:05 PM EST

We're going back to gradeschool again are we?

[ Parent ]
i was shocked (2.33 / 6) (#69)
by binford2k on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 03:56:13 AM EST

at the gratuitous use of the shift key and the period

whole fucking sentences!

what is this world coming to?

Changing currency units is easy (2.00 / 4) (#70)
by Sharrow on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:57:38 AM EST

In Ireland, we've changed currency twice in the last 35 years. First, in the early 70's, the Irish Pound was decimalised, and then in 2002 the euro came in. Once the relevant people are informed well in advance, vending machines etc. can be updated in plenty of time.

I've got green eyes, red hair, and I'm left handed. A hundred years ago, I'd have been considered in league with the Devil.
Fuck the Metric System. (1.57 / 7) (#75)
by Icehouseman on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:54:17 AM EST

Our current system works just fine the way it is. 50 degree weather means it's cold. I know how far a mile is. I know what a gallon of milk is.

Americans are fat? Well yeah. That's a personal decision. If people don't take care of themselves, that's their problem. Try not to make it your problem...

Our money is stupid because it has abandoned the gold standard. There's no commodity behind it to give it value. Our dollar is almost worthless today. We need to destroy the Federal Reserve system that has destroyed the value of our money by getting rid of the gold standard.
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory

And gold is intrinsically valuable because...? (2.71 / 7) (#77)
by fn0rd on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 09:52:12 AM EST

Oh, I forgot. It's magic.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Agreed.... (2.33 / 3) (#124)
by thefirelane on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 09:30:27 AM EST

As my Texan friends always reminded me, the only item with intrinsic worth when society collapses: guns and ammo.

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
Some Texans they are! (1.00 / 2) (#160)
by dark on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:38:03 PM EST

How could they forget canned beans?

[ Parent ]
I brought this up... (1.00 / 2) (#161)
by thefirelane on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 03:23:47 PM EST

Food is what the guns are for. As long as you have guns, and know who has a stocked supply cellar it is as if you have a stocked supply cellar. Can't argue with that.

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
Correction (2.50 / 2) (#178)
by Zombie Gautama Buddha on Tue Jan 09, 2007 at 11:47:59 PM EST

The only item with intrinsic worth when society collapses: An enlightened mind. An enlightened mind will know where to get food, and how to get it without bringing too much bad attention to itself, it will also have the patience to deal with violent gun types and any pain they try to inflict.

[ Parent ]
The good and the bad of the metric system. (2.20 / 5) (#100)
by IceTitan on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 05:34:35 PM EST

If Americans switched to the standard metric weight, kg, they would psychologically weight less. Say for example 200 lbs and 90.5 kg are about the same weight. But as we all know 90 is less than 200, so it must be better. Kinda like a ton of lead and a ton of feathers are still a ton each, but we all know deep down the feathers really weight a little less than the lead. The bad of it though is it's a lot easier to lose one pound than one kilo. Two would be the new five, five the new 10.
Nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
[ Parent ]
metric faults (none / 1) (#202)
by Quadraginta on Wed Jan 24, 2007 at 04:54:03 AM EST

The metric system only makes sense if you're doing your math with a calculator.  Otherwise, you're in long-division hell, since powers of 10 have among the lowest numbers of simple factors.  Really a dumbass design, except for the obnoxious fact that we have -- courtesy of those fucking Arabs -- a dumbass base-10 number system.

Most traditional unit systems are much better.  For example, any number of feet divided into halves, thirds, quarters or sixths is an integer number of inches.  Try that with meters, bucko.  Computer geeks should love pounds (2^4 ounces) and gallons (2^7 fluid ounces), both evenly divisible by any power of 2.  Hours are even more amazing, of course, but a Babylonian base-60 number system is asking a lot of human memory...

Finally, if you try doing math in your head all the time, like our ancestors without ready access to paper and pencil did, you'll find that doing it with fractions is much easier than with decimals, since you can divide by multiplying denominators, and division (as you'll remember from grade school) is the king pain among math operations.

[ Parent ]

How do you do other types of math (none / 0) (#203)
by grahamsz on Thu Jan 25, 2007 at 01:29:49 AM EST

I grew up in scotland and moved to the US a few years ago.

I was recently trying to figure out how you'd work out the weight of a hot-tub filled with water.

In metric it's pretty easy. Say the tub is 1.5m square, it's got a cross-sectional area of 2.25 m^2 so every 10cm depth of water will add 225 litres which will weigh 225 kilograms.

If you fill it 80cm deep then that's 1800kg or 1.8 metric tonnes.

Can you do the equivilent calculation in US units in your head?

What about the electricity required to raise a litre of water from 20C to 100C?

Water has a SHC of roughly 4200 J/Kg/K. We need to move 1 Kg through 80 degrees K so that's 336,000 J of energy.

I pay roughly 11 cents per kWh of electricity and a kWh is 1000 * 3600 = 3.6 MJ. It'd cost me about a cent to heat that water (assuming no waste)

Perhaps it's just a case of what you are used to, but I can't imagine doing either calculation in my head using non-decimal units.

Is real engineering done without the metric system? Can you really do things like semiconductor design or molar calculations without it?

And why does the holy grail of american life, the motor car, have engine sizes measured in litres?
Sell your digital photos - I've made enough to buy a taco today
[ Parent ]

good grief (none / 1) (#204)
by Quadraginta on Sat Jan 27, 2007 at 07:32:51 PM EST

Silly person.  

Let's say your tub is 6 feet by 2 feet.  That's a cross-sectional area of 12 square feet, so every inch of depth adds 1 cubic foot of water, and each  cubic foot of water weighs 62 pounds.  All done.

Next...I don't care about the amount of electricity required to raise the temperature in Celsius of a liter of water.  What I'd care about is the amount of electricity required to raise the temperature in Fahrenheit of a pound of water.

For example, what's the energy required to raise 1 lb of water by 20°F?  Since water has a heat capacity of 1 BTU/(lb*°F), the answer is 20 BTUs.  Easy. Now it's true the power company sells me power in kWh instead of BTU, but that ain't my fault, and I can convert with the same factor of 4.184 you need to use to go between grams of water and joules, since the heat capacity of water is (absurdly) equal to 4.184 J/g*K.  (It's true the heat capacity of water is equal to a more convenient 1 cal/(g*K), but unfortunately those watts (joules/second) are going to get you anyway, since you'll have to convert calories to joules with the 4.184.)

Perhaps it's just a case of what you are used to


I can't imagine doing either calculation in my head using non-decimal units.

Well, lots of people can't imagine a world without war, too, so you're in good company.  Imagination is a fairly rare gift.

Is real engineering done without the metric system?

Of course.  In fact, engineers use English units more often than scientists, hence the famous Mars spacecraft disaster.  The engineering team used English units, while the scientific team used SI.

Can you really do things like semiconductor design or molar calculations without it?

Well, the Romans built aqueducts that are still standing 2000 years later without it.  I'd say the answer is an obvious "yes".  Do you really think your system of units affects the quality of your engineering?  Maybe if the engineer lacks imagination, of course...

[ Parent ]

Very true (1.75 / 4) (#76)
by stuaart on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 09:06:06 AM EST

US currency is probably the worst I've ever come across. What struck me most was the simplicity of the notes and the ease with which forgery could be done.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective

Simplicity? (none / 0) (#182)
by Comrade Wonderful on Wed Jan 10, 2007 at 02:09:13 PM EST

Current paper money in the US is extremely hard to counterfeit.  Of course if you have the resources of a government, you can counterfeit pretty much anything. (see: North Korea).

[ Parent ]
How the hell did this schlock get to FP? (1.25 / 8) (#78)
by tert on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 09:56:01 AM EST

It is about a boring-ass niche topic.  It is written in an excessively verbose style.  It is poorly written and features many incidences of bad grammar.  The only thing it's got going for it is that it puts the words "American" and "stupid" in the same sentence.

fiat currency is not quite a century old (2.00 / 5) (#79)
by Rhodes on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 10:00:39 AM EST

The US dates fiat currency to August 1971.  Several decades, but not a century.  True, US citizens were denied gold exchange privileges in 1948, which pushes fiat back a couple more decades, but still not 100 years.

the penny criticism (2.00 / 5) (#81)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 12:24:31 PM EST

like i know in Japan, it's really rare to get 1 yen coins..  everything is rounded to 5..  but then occasionally some odd merchant will charge down to the yen and you'll end up with 1 yen pieces. It's nothing that the mint or govt. has much say in..  as long as the 1 yen or 1 cent is the smallest legal tender they need to produce them...  it's up to the people to round up..  if it hasn't caught on in America - blame tradition, not the mint.

We may at some point make the dollar the smallest legal tender, but making something like 5 cents the smallest legal tender would be confusing and lame.

Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!

money is intentionally obfuscated (1.60 / 5) (#82)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 12:26:18 PM EST

to encourage debit and credit purchases, so big brother can watch you.

Also, I don't think even the worse sort of individual scumbag would steal money from a blind person that shit is just the lowest a fucker can go...

Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!

Not Big Brother, (none / 0) (#181)
by Comrade Wonderful on Wed Jan 10, 2007 at 02:07:55 PM EST

Big Banker.  In effect he wants to tax every transaction.

[ Parent ]
i've had to teach money (2.75 / 4) (#86)
by wampswillion on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 01:34:14 PM EST

to children with cognitive challenges.  and well, for that reason i've always rather liked the penny.  because you can count it by ones.  what i'd like to do away with is the quarter.  and the nickel.  and the fifty cent piece.  
i'd like there to be the penny, the dime, and the dollar bill.  and the 10 dollar bill and the 100 dollar bill and that progression on up the line.
that would make me happy.  let's do that.  

yes let's cater to the minority population (2.44 / 9) (#87)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 02:02:47 PM EST

that has cognitive challenges. I for one, would love to get 7 pennies in change instead of a nickle and 2 pennies...

Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
yeah (2.25 / 4) (#92)
by wampswillion on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 03:31:56 PM EST

but you supposedly smart people have had it your way for so very long, i just thought it might be nice to let the minority have their way for a spell.  
besides, this will make your pockets more jingle-ly.  

[ Parent ]
I Didn't Even Bother (1.20 / 10) (#89)
by virg on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 02:31:27 PM EST

This time, I didn't even bother to read your article. All four sentences in your opening paragraph are screwed up. Is English not your native language? How do you expect anyone to take you seriously, especially when you use that disaster of an opener to point out that (among other things) Americans are stupid? I usually find your writings to be over the top, but readable. This time, ugh.

Just ugh.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
Non-round coins (2.60 / 5) (#91)
by frankwork on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 03:21:38 PM EST

One useful characteristic for a coin to have is a constant diameter. Round coins meet this requirement, but it turns out than any regular polygon with an odd number of sides can be of a constant diameter if the faces are a circle segment centered on the vertex opposite them.

So square coins are out, but Wankel-rotor-shaped coins could work.

Even the names are awkward! (3.00 / 2) (#101)
by gidds on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 05:57:32 PM EST

I recently spent a fortnight's holiday in the US. And I too found the currency hard to handle.

The notes look alike. (In my country, the notes have different colours and sizes, security measures such as watermarks, metal strips, copier-defeating patterns etc., and large coloured and shaped areas specifically for easier recognition by the partially-sighted.) But, even though it takes unnecessary care and effort, you can read the numbers on US notes.

The notes have unnecessarily small denominations. Here, our smallest note is worth about ten times yours! We have a coin worth something like four times your one-dollar bill... But an overstuffed wallet and the perpetual rustle of paper (okay, cotton) isn't such a big deal.

The coins are even harder to read. They don't even have numbers on them, for goodness' sake! But, annoying though it is to have to spend time reading such small print, that too is a manageable problem.

The one that got me, though, was that you not only avoid printing numbers on your coins, but you also avoid referring to them that way:

  • 'Quarter' is logical enough, but
  • 'penny' is just plain wrong! Not content with appropriating our language (in some distorted form) and most of our place names, you steal our currency name and then apply it only to some coin of negligible value that shouldn't be needed anyway! This is a penny. Your coin already has the perfectly adequate (if unimaginative) name 'cent'. Please use it.
  • And 'nickel'?
  • And 'dime'? What on earth do those mean? By elimination, one must be a 10-cent coin, and the other a 5-cent one, but even after trying hard to learn which is which, I still can't remember, and there's no logical way to work it out (short of employing a metallurgist).
My country uses twice as many coins as this, and we have no trouble with them at all because we name them after their denomination. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

Sorry, end of rant. I guess I'm still annoyed about having my fingerprints scanned, my retina photographed, and my stool sample taken at the airport...


A little wikigoogle would do you some good. (2.33 / 3) (#110)
by IceTitan on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:29:23 PM EST

The term 'dime' comes from the French word disme (modern French spelling dîme), meaning "tithe" or "tenth part," from the Latin decima [pars]. This term appeared on early pattern coins, but was not used on any dimes until 1837.[1]

Nickels are named after the alloy they are made from. This 'name' replaced the term half-dime around the the time of the American Civil War.
Nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
[ Parent ]

speaking of inappropriatly named coins (2.00 / 2) (#111)
by DJNW on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:42:54 PM EST

'penny' is just plain wrong! Not content with appropriating our language (in some distorted form) and most of our place names, you steal our currency name and then apply it only to some coin of negligible value that shouldn't be needed anyway! This is a penny. Your coin already has the perfectly adequate (if unimaginative) name 'cent'. Please use it.

Ah, such a missed opportunity.. Freedom Fries they did, but didn't think to change the name of their smallest unit of currency to something non-french

Mind you, could be worse, could be the colon

[ Parent ]

Is there any cents in the US? (2.00 / 2) (#120)
by squigly on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 06:15:40 AM EST

Your coin already has the perfectly adequate (if unimaginative) name 'cent'.

But does the cent really exist?  It seems the dollar can be exchanged for 4 quarters, 10 'dimes', 20 'nickels' or 100 'pennies'.  Not one of these coins has the word "cent" written on them.

[ Parent ]

You're backwards. (3.00 / 2) (#194)
by DavidTC on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:43:05 PM EST

It quite clearly says 'one cent' on a penny. The question is why the hell we call it a 'penny'. I don't see that anywhere.

Likewise with a nickel. I don't see that anywhere. It says 'five cents' on what people keep calling a nickel.

OTOH, it says 'quarter dollar' on my quarters, which I guess 'quarter' is short for. Makes sense.

But I'll be damned if I can figure out how cents and dollars relate to each others, so I have no idea of the value of a 'quarter' in cents. There might be four thousand cents in a dollar, and it's worth a thousand cents, or eight cents in a dollar and it's a worth two cents. (Probably not, it's too big.)

But, hey, 'cent' means 'one hundred', so maybe it's short for 'one hundred dollars'.

And there's yet a third thing, called 'a dime', that apparently has no relationship to 'cents' or 'dollars'. Looking at the size, and knowing the prefix 'di-' means two, I'm going guess half a cent, aka, 50 dollars.

Someone point out the flaws in that reasoning that don't require knowing the answers to start with.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Um.... (none / 0) (#193)
by DavidTC on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:26:29 PM EST

security measures such as watermarks, metal strips, copier-defeating patterns etc

We do, in fact, have those. (Well, not metal strips, I don't think non-folding money would be a good idea, but we have plastic strips.)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

You realize many Brits measure in stones right? (2.00 / 3) (#103)
by 7h3647h32in6 on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 06:17:29 PM EST

yea, don't be ignorant.

Several points: (2.33 / 3) (#105)
by IceTitan on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:14:19 PM EST

My background includes working in the coin room for an armored car company. While I'm no expert on such things, I have specific practical and numismatic knowledge on coinage.

Firstly, I wouldn't call the US monetary system stupid. It has seemingly failed to keep up with technology and practical need. But it is functional.

While the fairly new Euro includes the 1 and 2 cent coinage, the wiki page indicates that like mention of the yen, they are not often used. Take the wikitruth as you will. A similar argument has been made for US coins, but the Euro can also be found in €2 coins. I have heard no mention of doing away with pennies and replacing them with additional whole dollar coins. This might be a viable option for salvage of copper.

But then there's the hoarding issue. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the Coinstar booths in your local grocery store. My professional work experience began processing the money for them. I can probably safely say I have processed more coin for them alone than most of you will earn in your lifetime. But my point with them is the founder of the company based his master's thesis on the fact that there was a great deal of wealth lying dormant around the country in pickle jars. One of the main reasons being that banks really wouldn't accept loose coin, counted or otherwise, for deposit or change to bills. Coinstar pioneered the service and made the founder a great deal of coin.

The other source of hording is the numismatists. Many collectors would readily hoard hundreds of dollars in pennies just trying to make a buck. And while a full collection of uncirculated Lincoln pennies might only add up to a few dollars at face value, the hoarders would cause problems not only with decirculation, but with inflated collector prices. Hoarding would actually have the opposite effect than that intended. While most collectors know they will never get rich off their collection, it doesn't stop many new or amateur numismatist from trying.

One thing I would like to note before I forget. We cannot do away with the dollar bill. It would greatly affect the consumer price of services at adult establishments. And let's face it. No stripper wants to drag a bag of change around on stage during her set. Although it might be a source of personal protection should the patrons get too comfortable.

There are many other technological reasons the elimination of the penny isn't viable. The tooling up process for production, design (by committee of course) and the subsequent administrative costs are prohibitive of much change. I was going to post specific figures for the mint's budget, but I think the average American would be a little more than pissed to find out any increase in their taxes went to "get rid of the penny". And I think that statement would better reflect the priority.

My solution if any were necessary would be to eliminate all but the dime. The economy isn't quite ready to go off the decimal. Reclaim the metals back into the reserve and sell the scrap to China at a profit. Or allow companies to be formed to consolidate change to be sold. Private citizens could buy stock at face value and reap the returns, instead of the government wasting it on yet another pork barrel project.

Make any concessions to accommodate the blind and foreign on bill money. I don't see this as anything but necessary. And much like DVD's MP3's and the XIAA, regardless of what new security feature we include in currency, there will be someone somewhere to counterfeit it. And there will be enemies abroad willing to take know counterfeits as payment, especially in the third world.

Nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

about strippers: (1.00 / 1) (#107)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 07:34:30 PM EST

strippers could easily go to the $2 bill

in fact, a number of establishments already do this, for the obvious reason: more money gets spent

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

One point I forgot to mention. (2.00 / 3) (#112)
by IceTitan on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 08:59:13 PM EST

My suggestion to use only dimes comes from the weight to face value ratio. Dimes for example have a mass of 2.268g and value of $0.10, equaling 22.68g/$. Quarters have a mass of 5.670g at $0.25, 22.68g/$. Half dollars also have the 22.68g/$ ratio, and while their use is not common, under my suggestion it might be helpful to keep them.

Some interesting physical features.

denomination    $$    mass    volume    m/$$    v/$$
penny            0.01    2.500    442    250    44179
nickel            0.05    5.000    689    100    13780
dime            0.10    2.268    340    22.68    3401
quarter            0.25    5.670    809    22.68    3236
half dollar        0.50    11.340    1582    22.68    3164

Figures from usmint.gov. Knowledge of ratios from weighing, sorting, stacking, molesting and wrapping millions of dollars in coin over three year period in the late 90's.

Nuke 'em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
[ Parent ]

Don't strippers deserve a pay rise? (3.00 / 2) (#121)
by squigly on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 06:52:42 AM EST

Surely they've been paid in dollars for years.  Inflation must have reduced the dollars spending power by a factor of five easily by now.  And how do all the Dutch strippers get tips?  The smallest Euro note is worth more than 5 dollars.  

[ Parent ]
German Strippers... (2.85 / 7) (#147)
by thefirelane on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 04:31:08 AM EST

German strip clubs don't operate on 5 euro paper bills. That would be amazingly expensive. What you do is (like some places in the US) exchange your money for 'stripper dollars'. Which you can give to the girl, and she cashes them out at the end of the night

It has the added bonus of forcing you to buy more than you probably expected.

So basically, like many other amusement parks, strip clubs have developed and minted their own currency. What would be interesting is, if all the clubs minted the money in a central place, and developed policy regarding this, forming their own sub-currency.

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
We shall simplify the pictures on the coins (1.33 / 3) (#113)
by United Fools on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 09:54:40 PM EST

We not just have a number on the coins? It is so hard to see a quarter is 25 cents and a dime is 10 cents. We shall have a number "1" on the penny and "10" on the dime, and "25" on the quarter.

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!

Hard? (none / 0) (#195)
by DavidTC on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:46:57 PM EST

As in, you have to read something that does not actually exist? Dimes do not have their value on them at all, leading to an interesting question of 'Do they even exist at all?'. Quarters say they're a quarter dollar, not 25 cents.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
How *extremely* US-centric. (2.00 / 7) (#115)
by static on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 10:25:51 PM EST

CTS makes the classic mistake of not looking outside the borders. All his problems with the US currency have been solved numerous times by countries around the world.

As other posters have noted, the following errors have been made by the US Mint and Federal Treasury:

  • Producing a coin to replace a note means withdrawing the corresponding note. This is how Australia (and probably many others) made the transition from $1 and $2 notes to coins.

  • New shapes are also possible. Britain uses an equilaterally curved heptagon for two of its coins. Australia uses a dodecagon for one of its.

  • Withdrawing low-value denominations means actually withdrawing them. It also means changing the law about legal tender. In Australia, the 1c and 2c coins are no longer legal tender in the same way a 10c coin is. In addition, although cash sales were encouraged to round, rounding was only permitted at the total, not by item. And electronic sales do not have to be rounded.

Another point not mentioned so far is the colour of the notes. Australia was ahead of the game for many years because of our brightly coloured notes. So much so that when the notes were redesigned as plastic notes, the first design of the $5 note was widely derided as being too dull. It was redesigned brighter and the idea is spreading over the world. People may not like change but like brightly coloured notes more, especially when it makes it easy to distiguish denominations. It seems the US public doesn't know what it's missing, but looking at the Wikipedia article about the US currency, I'd say the US Mint is probably pushing Joe Public about as far as they can. I bet that when every note has been changed, they'll look at another redesign that starts making the colours bolder.

Oh: and why would they experiment with the $10? Australia experimented with the $5 and $10 notes when they were looking to go plastic. I imagine $10 was a low enough value that circulation would be good but not too low that they'd have to print a huge number for the experimental data.

Thank you Captain Oblivious (2.50 / 4) (#118)
by tonedevil on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 11:38:44 PM EST

Check this article out when you learn to read for content, it will amaze you. If you had done that reading stuff you might have come across this; Now, for those of you living in another part of the world, maybe even a poor country where your economy struggles with plenty of real problems, you should take some pride in the fact that most probably, your currency is far better designed than the currency of the largest and most powerful economy in the world. Then if you were able to reason you might have reasoned that CTS was aware that other countries had fixed the problem.

[ Parent ]
next time: read, then open your ignorant hole (2.14 / 7) (#129)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 05:36:28 PM EST

"the author makes a stupid mistake. he should have said (x)"

where x = exactly what i fucking said

what a douchebag

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Dollar bills already survive the wash (2.00 / 2) (#119)
by lukme on Tue Jan 02, 2007 at 11:50:41 PM EST

It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
No country got it totally right (2.00 / 2) (#122)
by squigly on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 07:10:23 AM EST

Britain and Australia both had fairly logical systems when they decimalised, but there's the slight confusion caused by introduction of new coins distrupting the pattern.  Hence the Australian $2 coin is larger than the $1 coin (I think) and the British 20p piece is smaller than the 10p.  

Euros are quite nice and they have a value printed on them in large letters which is very helpful for sighted people. The increase in size and weight for each value is sensible but the edging could be improved slightly.  The groove down the 2c coin is not that easy to detect and interrupted milled edges aren't ideal.  For some reason Europe decided against a polygonal coin which is the most distinctive edge difference.

Erhm (2.50 / 1) (#133)
by vectro on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 06:59:51 PM EST

Wouldn't it make logical sense for the $2 coin to be bigger than the $1 coin?

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Pah (1.00 / 1) (#146)
by squigly on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 03:51:41 AM EST

By "bigger" I of course mean "smaller".  Words mean what I mean them to say not what everyone else thinks.

[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 1) (#171)
by Chancellor Martok on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 09:39:42 AM EST

Our $2 coin is actually smaller than the $1 coin, hence the confusion.

Chancellor Martok  in Sydney, Australia
"Castrate instead. That can surely rehabilitate. I did it volunatrily, and my grades went up!"  -- Sen

[ Parent ]
Ah- just set the oil price in Euros (2.50 / 2) (#123)
by thoglette on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 08:51:20 AM EST

And be done with it.

To Xpost from another blog - the difference between the EU and USA


Unintended consequences (2.33 / 3) (#125)
by redelm on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 10:32:39 AM EST

Yes, all the objections are valid. But there's always another side, and it is superfical not to seek it:
  • banning export/melt of US coinage is yet another step in fiat money. The US Mint is worried about a shortage of coin, and are taking what is logical to people who operate by regulation. Coin shortages are no laughing matter. I've lived through some in Italy (get candy for change), and they were a drag on commerce in the early US Republic.
  • US banknotes are in circulation all over the world. The US BoPE is _very_ leery of changing them much/quickly for fear of lack-of-consumer acceptance. They did learn from the Susan B.
  • Coinage was originally designed to be just standardizations of weights/sizes of precious metals. Hence the quarter is 2.5 times the dime, and 1/4 the USD silver dollar. When the link to precious metals was cut, the sizes weren't changed.
  • The Susan B Anthony is a textbook fiasco. The Mint wanted a coin, and consulted heavy users of coins -- vending machines, especially manufactuers. They replied with something they could easily retool their mechanisms, short sightedly forgetting consumer acceptance. It still might have worked had they changed the color/alloy and rim. But too late.
  • Eliminating the US penny (or $1 banknote) might lead to inflation from price-roundup. It would be good to check what happending in Canada with the loonie, or the NL when they eliminated their guilder penny.

  • Nothing is simple. When it looks that way, you can be sure that you're wrong.

    about your points: (1.66 / 3) (#127)
    by circletimessquare on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 05:27:08 PM EST

    the first point has no meaning. anything can be currency. it does not need to be tied to anything of value in the modern world. it jus tneed be hard/ not worth it to counterfeit

    your second point does have value. people are conservative. but the euro is already supplanting the dollar as the world standard, regardless. dramatic changes that address us currencies weaknesses may instead help the dollar regain this position

    again, i understand the tradition behind coinage. but the tradition has no meaning anymore. many countries have weathered dramatic changes to their currencies. the us can handle a dramatic change, no problem, no matter how many chicken little cry otherwise

    the sba yes was a disaster

    getting rid of the penny has plenty of negatives. it also has plenty of positives. taken altogether, i think the positives win out

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    Cofidence game (1.66 / 3) (#148)
    by redelm on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 10:42:50 AM EST

    Not anything can be currency. It has to be _accepted_. Mostly people have to believe that others will accept it for things they want to buy. Something of a confidence game. Precious metals almost always fit the bill.

    The US dollar has only been unbacked since Nixon closed the gold window in 1973. That produced something of a loss of confidence and inflation that was tamed when Paul Volcker took short term interest rates to 20% in 1979. The willingness to suffer pain restored some confidence.

    The Euro is a new currency and confidence in it can only build, naturally supplanting the US dollar in many near-Europe markets. It's real test will come when there are sharp disagreements between the member states on desired monetary policy. Which way will the ECB turn? Like the deutschmark, or like the franc or lira?

    [ Parent ]

    Pennies can be used (2.75 / 4) (#145)
    by hamingja on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 01:08:32 AM EST

    in stamp vending machines. I collect multiples of 39 and have fun throwing coins and getting stamps as retribution. More gratifying than slot machines...
    p(3)=0.3405373296... => even in an infinite universe, not everything is possible...
    Canada - $1 and $2 coins. (1.75 / 4) (#150)
    by paxman on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 03:28:26 PM EST

    Canada has the looney ($1 coin) and the "twoony" ($2 coin). Personally, I hate it.

    It means that all change that is under $5 will be in coins. It can be a lot of change to carry around. They're heavy too.

    It has been my experience that most people have little regard for change. This is why many have huge  water cooler canisters full of change at home worth $100's of dollars.

    I'd prefer the $1 bill.

    canisters full of change (none / 0) (#209)
    by wiremind on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 03:21:26 PM EST

    Yep. I use 1 liter pickle jars, they can hold about $200 dollars in change.

    I never really think about it. When I get home I just empty all my change into these jars.

    In the United States you can go to places like Giant Eagle and they have those change machines where you just dump in all your change and it gives you bills back. We dont have theses anywhere in calgary, alberta, as far as i can tell, so my change just keeps adding up.

    I use the change for public transit and when i go to cheap theaters, so it doesnt add up quickly, but I've never actually tried cashing these jars in. From what i've been told the banks would require me to roll the change if i wanted to deposit it, and there is no way in hell i'm doing that.

    so yeah, $1 bills would rock.

    Kyle ~ mooooooooo
    [ Parent ]

    Getting money from change (none / 0) (#211)
    by twickham on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 02:51:09 PM EST

    In my homeland, and my current country of residence(Australia and the UK) we have these wacky places called banks where you can take a big bag of coins and have them count and deposit it into your account.

    Maybe one day Canada will have these also.

    [ Parent ]

    That's great and all... (1.00 / 4) (#165)
    by jch on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 10:25:50 PM EST

    ...but your arguments are irrelevant. The *real* issue with our currency is touched upon in Aaron Russo's 'America: Freedom to Fascism.' "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790. Who made those pennies? You're spot on regarding the actual type of currency not being important, but you failed to think it out further. The blind? Fuck the blind--we have more important problems to deal with.

    Um (2.25 / 4) (#168)
    by trhurler on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 12:22:19 AM EST

    Yeah. PLEASE make money out of plastic. I mean, pretty please. Because then anyone with $10,000 worth of equipment can produce perfect counterfeits. We all need that.

    Also, nickel is not a "precious metal," and prices on commodity metals have dropped nearly in half in the last few days or so.

    They're already working on things like different colors - they're doing it gradually for a reason you obviously are too stupid to figure out: people have to ACCEPT money as money or it massively destabilizes your economy.

    Why do we still have pennies? Because having a denomination without a physical embodiment is a problem, and MANY transactions are still done in which companies would have to either gain (at others' expense,) or lose a fortune in order to do away with the cent. The average price of pretty much EVERYTHING would rise about 2.5% under such a situation. The cost of having the penny, considered in such a light, is rather minor.

    Finally, most countries' money isn't worth as much as a penny, your English is awful for someone who pretends to be so smart, most foriegn money has NOT incorporated any improvements over US currency (Europe and a few other countries, yes, but not "most,") and you give no reason to believe you aren't a blithering idiot.

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    Plastic lasts too long (2.50 / 2) (#188)
    by Eventide on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 12:14:33 AM EST

    I listened to a short presentation by someone supposedly on some kind of committe to design the next bills.  She claimed that plastic bills last something like eight years, while paper bills last half that (I'm not sure of the actual numbers).  The US Mint prefers shorter lasting bills so that it can change over the currency more quickly.

    She also claimed that the new color designs were designed several years ago and are somewhat of a failure.  The big plan behind these colorful bills was to prevent casual photocopier counterfeit.  Enter widespread color inkjet printers, which did not exist when the colorful bills were designed.  Apparently the largest source of counterfeit is a one-off $10 or $20 on someone's home inkjet printer.  It turns out that the bright colors cause a cashier to not pay as much attention to texture and other features of acounterfeit.

    Plastic notes, particularly those incorporating transparent elements, are beyond the reach of inkjet printers.  Of course it's likely that some future tech will render this within reach of thecasual counterfeiter some day.

    The US currency has the lowest rate of counterfeit among major currencies, largely due to the Secret Service who presumably spend more money on counterfeit prevention than organizations dealing with other currencies.

    I understand Australia has done away with pennies and not experienced collapse. Cash transactions are rounded up or down as appropriate.  Is there any point of inflation where you would agree with getting rid of pennies?  Not to be cliche, but as in the Office Space and Superman plots, banks deal with fractional money smaller than one penny. Should we half tenth-penny coins also?

    [ Parent ]

    even more interestingly in Australia (none / 0) (#207)
    by the sixth replicant on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 04:30:24 PM EST

    with the elimination of the 1 and 2 cent pieces there was some confusion on how to round up or down to make sure that the customer wasn't ripped off or the small family business wouldn't go bust. then some clever supermarket change decided to promise to their customers that they will round all their bills DOWN. well, the laws of competition ruled and now no-one has to do funny modulo arithmetic in their pretty heads anymore and no inflation ciao

    [ Parent ]
    uh.. about that metric system... (1.80 / 5) (#169)
    by CAIMLAS on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 03:09:59 AM EST

    About that metric system: when it's refined so that it is well-suited for use in small-scale manufacturing, I suspect it will gain more acceptance. But also realize that we have many, many more things spanning a much greater area and field of expertiece than Europeans do and it would take a great deal of time and expense to fix. There is nothing inherrently better about the metric system, particularly when what we have works, and standard measurements are much more practical in every-day use than SI.

    We simply have more things which would require retooling, redesign, and remeasurement if we went to  SI.

    Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

    Know thy history - and above all.... don't panic (1.33 / 3) (#170)
    by potentialnoman on Sun Jan 07, 2007 at 04:35:44 AM EST

    Think of your country as a demon-stration and tutorial meant to keep the war of the mind fresh, new, deadly, exciting, and keep the whole world on it's toes, reminding them that the weakest link is the one that cannot accept that it's no use blaming an entity that is both ignorant AND capable of killing everybody on the planet... Forgive them for they know not what they do, eh? That's what the rest of 'Us' have to remember whenever something 'how to conquer Baghdat' has been documented by mr. Gengis Kahn himself, and Bush Sr. reminds Jr. of why he got the hell out of there when he did - only to see Jr. try the method that has been proven to fail. Apparently it's a puzzle for all humans that are still stuck in this gravity-well.

    Again: know thy history.
    Here are a couple of famous quotations to get you going. And remember, money doesn't grow on trees, which is why the dollar was green, and simply the easiest of all currencies to make forgeries of.

    Remember though: the game does include lots of people that are actually dying to provide uncle Sam with more time to shuffle :-)

    A democracy is a government in the hands of men of low birth, no property, and vulgar employments.
        - Aristotle

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence. - (Elbert Green Hubbard)

    You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. - (Winston Churchill)

    America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. - (Sigmund Freud)

    America is a mistake, a giant mistake. - (Sigmund Freud)

    From error to error, one discovers the entire truth. - (Sigmund Freud)

    "There is nothing the matter with Americans except their ideals. The real American is all right; it is the ideal American who is all wrong."
    G. K. Chesterton, in New York Times

    "Among all the world's races Americans are the most prone to misinformation. This is not a consequence of any special preference for mendacity. It is rather that so much of what they themselves believe is wrong."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

    "The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them which we are missing."
    Gamel Abdel Nasser

    uh... (1.66 / 3) (#173)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 08:42:40 AM EST

    your anti-americanism is tired, stupid, and played out

    i don't love the usa

    but nor do i hate it

    the usa is what it is: good and bad

    this is the only attitude that is worthy of respect

    all other attitudes are evil and/ or stupid, like yours with its anti-democratic tinge (in favor of what system you asshole? autocracy? fascism? theocracy? are you stupid or evil to have the anti-democratic opinion you have?)

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    Anti-Americanism? Where did you spot that? (1.00 / 4) (#174)
    by potentialnoman on Mon Jan 08, 2007 at 06:55:46 PM EST

    Either you are responding to something other than me, but you are clearly missing the point - I point out exactly what America is - and then you point out  exactly the same thing, only to start calling names and political talk. Apparently spelling it out and repeating it isn't good enough for you.

    You, sir, must be the genuine product. Whatever that may be.

    And you better ponder the word 'whatever' for a while, for you are dangerously close to being ... wrong. Hint: you can also spell it like W.H. @ ever - and it's got something to do with water (w@er)

    [ Parent ]

    argumentum ad verecundiam (none / 0) (#186)
    by regeya on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:45:18 PM EST

    a lot less fun than in vino veritas...

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
    [ Parent ]

    In Vino Veritas (none / 1) (#187)
    by potentialnoman on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 08:19:38 PM EST


    At least, 'tis at this moment :)

    [ Parent ]

    Intrinsic value? (none / 1) (#179)
    by joecool12321 on Wed Jan 10, 2007 at 01:10:25 AM EST

    What's especially silly about this is that since money is really just an abstract expression of economic exchange and value, money can be anything. Making coins out of valuable metals is merely a throwback to an era when monetary exchange really needed to have intrinsic value to protect against currency scares and runs on banks.

    That's particularly funny insofar as metal isn't intrinsically valuable. It's always been percieved value. Repeat to yourself: gold isn't intrinsically valualbe, gold isn't intrinsically valuable, gold isn't intrinsically valuable...

    I think you meant to say (1.33 / 3) (#206)
    by itsbruce on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 08:10:56 AM EST

    That we confer on gold a value that exceeds its practical use. You surely didn't mean to say "Metal has no intrinsic value", or do you see little practical value to the elements that still form the greater part of most technological devices?


    It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
    [ Parent ]
    whatever (none / 1) (#183)
    by ethereal on Wed Jan 10, 2007 at 06:57:28 PM EST

    I don't understand the expectation that foreigners will come to the U.S., not look at the money or understand it, and expect it to work.

    Our money used to be normal and solid looking, now it's Monopoly money instead.  We don't need money to be fruity colors like yellow and orange.  You want to know what denomination it is?  Just read it - it's not that hard.

    I wouldn't go to the UK and say "wow, these coins have strange and unpredictable names".  Of course they would be strange to me, I'm a foreigner there.  You print up a cheat sheet, practice in your hotel room a bit, and that's all there is to it.

    The blind is really the first thing driving a change in U.S. currency that is actually being done for the right reasons - i.e. allowing U.S. citizens to have better access to their money.  All the other changes are just to make our money more like other countries', for no good reason.

    Sorry, I'm really not a xenophobe, but I get defensive about the former greenback, for some reason.


    Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

    Strange names (none / 0) (#197)
    by davitf on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 11:44:46 PM EST

    I wouldn't go to the UK and say "wow, these coins have strange and unpredictable names".  Of course they would be strange to me, I'm a foreigner there.  You print up a cheat sheet, practice in your hotel room a bit, and that's all there is to it.

    This "strange and unpredictable names" stuff reminded me of something that happened to me last year, when I visited the U.S. for the first time.

    I'd never handled U.S. coins before, and I wasn't very familiar with their names. One of the first coins I received was a dime, and I wasn't sure what its value was. I vaguely remembered it should be probably either five or ten cents, but I only found out which after receiving a different coin with "five cents" written on it. The other coins are pretty self-explanatory (it was pretty obvious that a "quarter dollar" was $0.25 and a "half dollar" was $0.50), but having to deduce the value of a dime by analyzing other coins didn't seem too user-friendly. The fact that the dime is the smallest of the coins also seemed very counter-intuitive.

    This is just my point of view; please feel free to think of me as a stupid foreigner with no respect for the great American traditions. Should I have researched and memorized the values before travelling? Probably, but since every Brazilian coin (and every other coin I've ever handled as well) has a nice big number on its face indicating how much it's worth, it never even crossed my mind that I might have problems determining coin values.

    [ Parent ]

    gold standard...? (none / 0) (#196)
    by MikeWarren on Wed Jan 17, 2007 at 06:47:06 PM EST

    Making coins out of valuable metals is merely a throwback to an era when monetary exchange really needed to have intrinsic value to protect against currency scares and runs on banks. But this is an era which has long been passed in the world by over a century, [..]

    Uh, the gold stardard is much, much newer than "over a century" and the Bretton/Woods gold-based system collapsed when? That's right: the early 1970's.
    -- mike warren

    I agree totally (none / 0) (#201)
    by GiTm on Sun Jan 21, 2007 at 01:34:16 AM EST

    In Australia our currency is not only different colors for each denomination but also different sizes, basically the higher the denomination the bigger the size (I would hate to think what a $AU 1000 note or a $AU 10,000 note would look like).

    And yes, we have abolished the 1c and 2c coins. Everything you buy is rounded to the nearest 5c multiple regardless of the advertised (*.?9c) price. 3c or less means it goes down, 4c or more means it goes up. This rounding is only applied when you complete the transaction - so the individual savings add up (buy five things at $*.99 and you do wind up saving 5c).

    We have also abolished the $AU 1 note and $AU 2 note - replaced with coins. This I'm not sure is such a good idea. The new(ish) coins are a good size but the older coins kept the same size they already had. Mens wallets are just not designed to take coins I'm afraid.

    Australian coins (up to and included the 50c piece) are scaled the same way our notes are - the bigger it is, the more it is worth. Our 50c piece is large and angular - fine when you could get rid of it easily (by buying a paper, or a bottle of milk, or any other basic requirement). Now, it is little more than a pain in the proverbial.

    The $AU 1 coin is about the same size as a 10c coin but double the thickness and gold in color. The $AU 2 coin is the same size as the 5c coin but again thicker and gold. This kind of defeats the purpose of bigger = more.

    As far as I'm concerned coins the size of the 10c are about as big as you can fit in the average wallet (and an AU 10c coin is about the same size as a US 25c coin).

    There will always be a market for cash, and that cash needs to be easily tranported in peoples pockets. Right now I think a lot of countries are not taking that into account.
    --- I have nothing funny to say here.

    Not hard (none / 0) (#208)
    by Eivind on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 09:58:52 AM EST

    We've got:

    • 50 øre (small, thin)
    • 1 krone (smallish, with a hole, rifled)
    • 5 krone (large, with a hole)
    • 10 krone (thicker, rifled)
    • 20 krone (large *and* thick)

    We *used* to have 25, 10, 5 and before my time 2 and 1 øre, however these got phased out at the point where inflation made them more effort than they're worth. I never understood why you guys don't do that. As you point out, $0.01 is more of a hassle than it's worth.

    Our smallest current coin, the 50 øre, is worth aproximately $0.08, but I'm guessing it'll die out in the next decade or so and we'll have 1 krone as the smalles coin -- there's not much point to it.

    Unless you do a fucking shitload of tiny transactions -- and in such a way that rounding would always go in your (dis) favor, it simply doesn't matter. Not enough to be worth anyones extra time and effort in managing the tiny coins anyway.

    For larger denominations we've got paper-money, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 krone, all with different colours and size (more valuable is bigger) If currenct trends continue, the 50 will probably become a coin within a decade or two.

    hey you european (none / 0) (#210)
    by circletimessquare on Mon Feb 12, 2007 at 01:46:45 PM EST

    i thought you guys were using euros?

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]
    American currency is stupid | 211 comments (196 topical, 15 editorial, 20 hidden)
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