When I become the Supreme Overlord of the Earth and all its satellites, or Secretary of the Treasury (I plan on becoming one of those two, preferably the first), my first decree will be short and simple. The dollar bill will be banished from our currency, and replaced by the dollar coin. Doing this little currency change will align the United States with most of the world, save the country a ton of money, give the students another educational tool, and spur a new generation of numismatists.
The United States is behind and backward in many ways: the metric system, expectation of tipping, Tomi Lahren. Another way we are behind and backward is that we still issue a dollar banknote. The Canadian dollar, the British pound sterling, and the euro do not issue banknotes for one dollar/pound/euro. They all use a coin for that value. While I generally caution against peer pressure, one of the reasons we should adopt the dollar coin in lieu of a dollar bill is that all the cool countries have done it.
Another reason is that a dollar bill is less durable than a dollar coin. Most $1 bills last about 22 months, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. You’ll be lucky if you receive a bill from before 1999, let alone 1979. However, coins can last up to 30, 40, even 50 years before they are unusable or melted. Even in 2017, I have came across many 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar coins when I go to the bank. Coins last longer, meaning they need to be replaced less often than a bill. Check your pocket for coins, take a look at the year, you’ll be surprised to see how many coins you’re holding that are older than you.
In the era of budget cuts galore, cutting the dollar bill itself would be an easy way to cut the budget in a painless way. The Government Accountability Office in 2012 said that replacing the dollar bill with a dollar coin would save the government $4.4 billion over 30 years – a little over $146 million per year. That is almost enough to fund the National Endowment for the Arts. It may not be billions, but getting rid of the dollar bill can save many agencies from making cuts to their department.
Also, circulating coins can serve as an educational tool. How many people were introduced to Helen Keller, Duke Ellington, National Parks, Sacagawea, Monticello, and so many more figures and places through their appearances on U.S. coins? If we issue a circulating commemorative dollar coin series and get rid of the dollar bill, children and adults can be introduced to prominent historical figures and landmarks during everyday transactions. The State and National Park quarter series have proven to be very successful in inspiring teaching and education. Also, if people start collecting circulating dollar coins, that will cause demand for those coins to skyrocket, leading the government to make more coins and therefore, make more money. This process is called seigniorage, when governments make money through issuing currency by the difference between the cost of production and the value of the new currency. The state quarter program of 1999-2008 made the government $1 billion because of this.
Now many people are going counter with the weight of the coin versus the dollar bill, and how a dollar bill is easier to carry around. I concede that one dollar coin would be heavier and more cumbersome than one dollar bill, but that one dollar coin is easier to carry than four quarters. Vending machines on campus tend to sell a bottle of soda for somewhere between $1.75 and $3. Right now, most people can use at least seven quarters or two dollar bills. So, you are forced to waste time through copious quarters or submit to the mercy of the bill validator. So, if we banish the dollar bill, that drink would only need two or three dollar coins. This will make vending machine transactions much quicker and easier. Instead of 10 quarters for laundry, we could use two dollar coins and two quarters. Instead of 12 quarters for two hours of parking, we could use three dollar coins. More dollar coins means less need for an abundant amount of quarters.
The dollar bill has served its purpose, but it has outlived its utility. A dollar coin will save the government money, spark many teachable moments, spur a new generation of coin collectors, and save people time in everyday transactions. We should join the rest of the modern world and use a dollar coin.