Copper Dollars

A penny saved is a penny earned? Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves? A (magic) penny that doubles it’s (“compounded“) value every day would very quickly be “worth” more than a million (paper) dollars. What do YOU think about pennies – and dollars?

Offering a penny for someone’s thoughts doesn’t usually make putting their two cents in “worth” doing (or a fair exchange of “value”). Even offering a dollar (coin) is not likely to change things much. Pennies used to be made out of copper (and nickels out of nickel). Today, they no longer are. Dollar coins were once big, heavy, and made out of silver. Today, dollar coins are golden in color and made mainly out of copper (and a little zinc, manganese, and nickel) – and are lighter than two quarters, four dimes, two nickels, four pennies, and an average car key.

There are many metals that are considered “precious”. Gold, silver, and copper are among the metals that have been used most and longest in coins. They are also the three metals that the United States has been paying (essentially as tribute) to the English Crown every year since “Independence” – as “repayment” for the (original) Royal “investment” establishing the American Colonies. Mining for copper also often yields silver – so taking care while digging for copper needed for pennies could potentially also take care of silver needed for dollars (or just be used as a substitute – as now seems to be the case, saving silver for other uses than as coins). Changing people’s paradigms is usually harder than changing their dollars – or even a pair of dimes.

Unlike the paper dollar (“bill”), which is the only Federal Reserve Note in circulation not to have changed it’s design, the new dollar coins being minted today have a lot in common with the slightly smaller quarter in how many versions are (planned to be) in circulation. There is a quarter for every state and a dollar for every president (as well as some Native Americans). All say “In God We Trust”. A lot of trust is required when there are so many variations in circulation that it is hard to tell what currency is supposed to look like. There are even at least three different variations of most American paper “money” still in use.
“E Pluribus Unum”?

The 2009 Sacagawea $1 coin features a Native American woman practicing “Three Sisters Agriculture” – the planting of corn, beans, and squash in the same mound to enhance the productivity of each plant. Ironically, the U.S. government does not support this practice in its own agricultural policies – choosing instead to subsidize massive monoculture of genetically-engineered corn (and it’s derivatives as an additive ingredient in just about everything imaginable) below the cost of production.

There was once talk of eliminating pennies, but they are still being produced – just not with as much copper as in the past. Coins are apparently cheaper to mint and easier to “recycle” than paper is to print and many countries do not even have paper “ones” and use a coin instead. The United States claims to have no plans to phase out or eliminate the paper dollar – yet is promoting the acceptance and circulation of new $1 coins.

The U.S. government, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the people who “manage money” for the rest of us, do not expect pennies from heaven – but do seem to depend upon a steady flow of dollars from taxpayers. The United States both “gives away” and also can’t account for trillions of dollars, yet requires the exchange of a paper dollar (Federal Reserve Note) for each new dollar coin it distributes – as “legal tender” for “debts”.

It’s “tax time” (for individuals – but not businesses) in the United States. I’m not a lip-reader (of Presidents or anyone else), but have noticed that even without “new” taxes, the rates of existing ones are increasing (as are prices in general) – taxing people’s patience, patients, patents, and just about everything else (to death). Death and taxes are often linked in people’s minds. For some reason, taxidermists are not. Neither are taxis – even when people are “dying” for one to either arrive or turn off the meter.

A meter is a method of measurement. What coins look like and are made out of is also a measurement – of the “economy”. The word economy essentially refers to the allocation of scarce resources – and how they are produced, packaged, distributed, and consumed (as products and services). It based upon a perception of scarcity – first “popularized” by John Malthus, after taking a census in the United Kingdom and concluding that there was “not enough” for everyone. Most economic theory is bogus. So are most ideas of what is or is not a resource. This could be why “economies” all around the world are having so many “problems”.

2010 is a census year in the United States. In addition to influencing the number of classrooms, hospital beds, vaccines, prisons, and political representatives for different regions of the country, assessing (and eventually accessing and altering) the number of dollars flowing in and out of people’s pockets and bank balances is one of the major reasons for governmental counting of people (who may not otherwise “count”).

People are story creatures. What we call “his-story” re-counts, but does not always re-present things as they happen(ed). People go to “polls” because they are only being asked for their opinions and preferences rather than actually participating in the actual selection of most things. Accurately re-counting the “votes” sometimes would change “election” results and outcomes. Accurately re-calling memories (and products with problems) sometimes would often do so as well.

The results of the 2010 census and the distribution of new coins may change many things – including the stories people tell and things they remember, forget, and value.

May your taxes be low, your votes count, your memories be good, and your dollars and resources exceed (or at least meet) your needs. Most of all, may you appreciate both what you have and what you do not.

That’s my perspective. What’s yours?

© 2010, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.

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