- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Nearly $70 million have been cast to the winds in a futile effort to get the public to embrace the latest dollar coin. Three years after its splashy introduction by the U.S. Mint, the Sacawagea gold-tinted $1 coin has proved to be as big a flop as the Susan B. Anthony $1 coin only more costly to taxpayers. The U.S. Mint frittered away an astonishing $67.1 million on a marketing campaign designed to get people interested in the new coin. But according to the U.S. Mint itself, the $1 Sacawagea coin is used in just 1 percent of all transactions.

Retailers don't stock it. The public won't use it. Last week, the General Accounting Office (GAO) admitted the obvious, too, noting that the Sacawagea coin "has failed to achieve widespread use." Wisely, the GAO recommended that the U.S. Mint quit throwing taxpayer dollars at the unloved coin, unless and until it can come up with a better plan to gain public acceptance for it.

Two strikes should be enough at this point, though. While the U.S. Mint has posited a "substantial taxpayer benefit" in the event of widespread acceptance of the dollar coin, the actual results have been almost exactly the opposite two times running. For whatever reason, Americans just seem to prefer the traditional paper $1 bill even if it is subject to being crumpled and torn, and requires more frequent printing of new money to replace worn-out old bills. The U.S. Mint should quit trying to force the dollar coin down the public's throat.

Surely, in this era of scarce government resources, there are better uses to which $67.1 million can be put.

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