Friday, May 14, 2010

The $25 Bill. A Good Idea Whose Time Has Come

U.S. CURRENCY/EDITORIAL

I used to run a business and as a joke my office wall featured a little plaque that read, “If it makes sense-it’s against company policy!” About a month ago I was sorting out my pocket change and stopped to frown at the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters for a moment. Then I glanced at a pile of currency comprised of ones, fives, tens and twenties. It was then that I wondered why the United States produces a twenty-five cent coin but only a twenty-dollar bill.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to produce a twenty-five dollar bill? Using this method it would only take four “twenty-fives” to make one hundred-dollars instead of five twenties. For every four twenty-five dollar notes produced by the B.E.P. the country would save the expenditure of making one twenty; effectively saving the nation 20% in the production costs involved. The “twenty” is one of the most utilized forms of currency today, however the note has a shelf life due to wear and tear of only around two years at best. Most people don’t know that the Federal Reserve destroys 7,000 tons of no longer usable currency a year. With that kind of turnover, finding an excuse not to print one out of every five only makes sense to me.

On that note, (sorry for the pun) I would like to propose to the powers that be my own idea of what the “twenty-five” might look like.

There couldn’t possibly be that much controversy (especially among Native Americans remembering the "Trail of Tears") regarding retiring Andrew Jackson from U.S. paper currency; could there? Though I’ve done some extensive research on the subject, I’ve yet to determine what exactly motivated someone to propose his portrait to replace Grover Cleveland’s in 1928 in the first place. After all, this is the same Andrew Jackson who in his farewell speech to the nation stressed his opinions against paper money and in fact made it one of the goals of his administration to put the National Bank/the Bank of the United States/Federal Bank out of business.

Rather than go through congressional hearings and politicos’ ranting all over the radio waves for the next decade over who to replace him with, in the name of expediency and for the sake of argument, I chose to put someone who is already approved and appears on the fifty-cent coin; namely President John F. Kennedy. This would cause a stir in some quarters, but the man did after all have his life taken from him during his service to his country, was a war hero, saved the nation from nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and did more than any other to get America into space and onto the moon. In my view that is reason enough.

The note is patterned after the soon to be distributed $100 bill, incorporating some of its new features and adding some of my own. There are the obvious security measures of an ultra-violet strip embedded in the paper (in this case it glows purple,) the red, white and blue fibers within the surface, the large sight-impaired color shifting denomination in the lower right corner of the bill along with the portrait watermark. In addition to those, I substituted the inkwell with a statue of liberty that changes color when the bill is tilted from copper to green, and I moved the 3D hologram strip from the center to the far left border.

The new pale blue 3D hologram stripe contains a white “TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS” that moves side-to-side and up and down to indicate at even a casual glance if the bill is genuine or not. The MDCCLXXVI (1776) to the left of Kennedy’s portrait appears and vanishes, and the S at the end of the “TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS” in the upper right border changes back and forth to a $. Since each denomination has its own color scheme I incorporated a yellow hue in the middle of the bill that is hard for a home scanner to detect and that a printer would read as white.

My own personal touch was to add a “dollar sign” in front of the denomination in the upper right corner, if only because the noble symbol has been absent from our currency for some time now. In the future I’d like to see the “paper” replaced with something more durable like the polymer notes produced in Australia since 1988 that are harder to duplicate and last longer.

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