- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2000

You've probably seen the hip TV ads for the Treasury Department's new $1 coin, but we'll bet you had no idea how much all this is costing. How does $40 million grab you? That's the sum the U.S. Mint is spending on a glitzy public relations campaign featuring George Washington that's intended to avoid a repeat of the last debacle over a non-paper $1 dollar piece of legal tender. In the ads, the face of George taken from the dollar bill rides atop the headless bodies of vaguely disreputable pick-up artists at toll booths, scuba-diving jocks and various other personages who casually demean Washington, reducing the nation's first president to a hackneyed cliche of post-modern anomie.

This is odd for many reasons, not the least being that George Washington is not actually on the new coin. In his place we find a Roseanne-like likeness of Sacagawea, the Indian squaw who accompanied and helped guide Lewis and Clark on their cross-country trek.

It's just one more step toward effacing Washington from the national culture. He's lost his holiday, schools that once bore his name are dropping it, and now the U.S. Mint is replacing the man who was without question the most critical figure in the nation's early history. And it is spending $40 million to convince us this is groovy.

Consider this business yet another barometer of the profligate contempt in which our government holds those who finance its regal magnificence. (That's us taxpayers.) It will brazenly, breezily scatter $44 million to the four winds simply to peddle a 12-cent "gold" dollar coin (that's how much each one costs to make) in a campaign that disparages George Washington and a coin which the public does not want. A $1 coin was a bad idea when the homely visage of feminist pioneer Susan B. Anthony was cast onto the not-round, ill-conceived totem back in 1979, and it's an even worse idea today, leaving aside questions of political correctness. In an economy where cash transactions are becoming increasingly less frequent and waddling around with heavy metal coins jangling in your pocket is no one's idea of a smooth move, the only people who could possibly think this is a good idea are those employed by the government who can take risks with your money because, well, it isn't their money.

Some might say: If we repeat the Susan B. Anthony experience, what of it? But as the wag once quipped, $44 million here, $44 million there before long, you're talking about real money.

The U.S. Mint has churned out 500 million dollar coins so far enough cheap metal, one might note, to craft an entire model year's worth of new Pintos or Yugos. The auto industry is smart enough not to revisit its mistakes. The same cannot be said, alas, of our government.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide