Skip to main content

Dollar for your thoughts

Ongoing opinion polls continue to suggest that the American public strongly prefers to use the paper $1 bill to the $1 coin.

This preference has been conventional wisdom among coin collectors since the United States reintroduced the $1 coin 40 years ago in the form of the Eisenhower dollar.

Americans have not been swayed by the fact that abolishing the $1 bill would save money. Last week we learned that the congressional supercommittee looking into government spending cuts pegs the value of getting rid of the $1 bill at $100 million a year.

That’s a lot of money, but the number tends to be overwhelmed by the annual federal deficit exceeding $1 trillion.

We shrug and go about our business. We don’t really think about it.

Would opinions expressed in polls change if the question were asked in the form of a trade-off?

Should the $1 bill be abolished, or should federal taxes be raised by $100 million per year?

Should the $1 bill be abolished or should Social Security checks be cut by $100 million a year?

You get the idea.

I probably use coins and paper money more than most people these days. Part of it is habit. It is easy to budget with the empty wallet approach. When my wallet is empty, I stop spending.

Part of it is simply to continue to be connected to what is out there in change. It’s my job. It’s what I have been interested in as a hobby for almost 50 years.

Dollar coins don’t easily fit into my habits, nor apparently into the habits of most Americans.

Now with 100 million reasons a year to make a change, will we be persuaded?