Dollar Coin Gathers Dust

There is only one way to get Americans to use dollar coins, and that is to do away with the paper dollar.

A couple of months ago, ABC News, following up on an NPR story, did an “expose” involving the US unused, and purportedly unwanted, dollar coins.

“Passed by Congress in 2005, the Presidential $1 Coin Act ordered the mint to make millions of coins to honor every dead president, but not even Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., one of the co-sponsors of the original bill, uses the legal tender.” It goes on to explain that these coins are being stored, at no small expense, in warehouses, which does appear to be a waste of money.

Implicit in the ABC News story was that the obvious solution is to get Congress to get the Mint to stop making the coins.

Well, that’s one way to look at it, but I would suggest something else, which is in step with this coin expert:
“As for the U.S. circulating dollar coins, virtually everyone agrees that there is only one way to get Americans to use them, and that is to do away with the paper dollar. Doing so would also save a lot of money since dollar coins, like other circulating coinage, lasts for decades, while paper bills have a much shorter life span. Many people seem reluctant to give up their paper dollars because they do not want to carry around dollar coins, but unless you have a lot of them in your pocket they are really not that heavy. They weigh about the same amount as a quarter, and most of us have no problem carrying quarters in our pockets or purses. I am sure we could make the adjustment if we had to.”

Using the Presidential dollar coin would have some other benefits. Americans might actually learn who their Presidents were. Moreover, I think the notion that “nobody wants them” is self-fulfilling. Except for one branch of one bank, I cannot regularly FIND the new releases of the Presidential $1 coin around Albany. If more people actually saw them, they would use them, and might even collect them. They’ve worked in every vending machine I’ve tried.

As I understand it, when Canada got rid of its dollar bill in favor of a coin – the Loonie – back in the 1980s, there was some resistance. But, as I noticed during our family visit to Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario last month, it’s no longer a big deal.


I have late word that the United States cannot get rid of its dollar bill because it would be a threat to its freedom. Frankly, I’m not sure what that means. Maybe we’re all Stonecutters who are resistant to “foreign” things such as the metric system, even as we drink our two-liter bottles of Pepsi.

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