This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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It is an interesting week when I read about massive quantities of cash of questionable origin being shipped out of the country of Afghanistan.
It was reported that some $3 billion to $4 billion in U.S. paper money was shipped out of Kabul International Airport during the last three years.
It is nice to know that bribe-takers in war torn lands still trust in the dollar when their integrity and economic future are on the line.
To read the news from the gold crowd, you would think everybody is turning down the greenback. I am glad to see this isn’t the case, especially since I still receive a paycheck in U.S. dollars.
Just days later came the news that the U.S. Mint has struck a deal with the U.S. Army and Air Force Exchange Service to broaden the use of $1 coins in cash transactions to military bases.
So far, the bases on the list are only in the United States.
Perhaps another deal to broaden dollar coin usage could be struck with Afghanistan so that bribes can be paid in dollar coins. Call it “Dollars for Bribes.”
Think of it.
The Mint could increase its output by a billion dollar coins a year – at least until they find their way home again.
Call it a numismatic stimulus package, if you will.
Why should military shoppers stateside carry the coin usage burden alone?
Corrupt Afghan officials would have to employ more servants to carry the dollar coins around for them. They would have to hire more guards to secure the much bulkier cash in its dangerous transit to secret bank accounts.
Call it foreign aid that trickles down.
Shipping companies working in Kabul will also make more money. The extra bulk and weight would mount up, leading to much higher fees for them. Perhaps that could start a mini-boom in shares of shipping firms on Wall Street.
If these Afghan officials aren’t paying taxes, the least they can do is be forced to hire a few more workers along the chain of corruption.
Quantities of these dollar coins might also be accidentally dropped on the feet of recipients or contribute to throwing their servants’ backs out. This would increase employment for physicians, too.
Should this new “Dollars for Bribes” program seem appealing, I suggest that it not start until next year. It is too much for me to think that Honest Abe, which is the fourth dollar for 2010, might be shipped to Afghanistan to pay off government officials (There probably aren’t too many $5 bills there).
Perhaps the Mint can hold back the Lincoln dollar supplies or make it a collector-only issue where we could duly pay homage to the concept of honesty in public officials.
Much better that the “Dollars for Bribes” program start with Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, the latter’s cabinet members certainly knew how to line their pockets.