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A Gift Not Intended as Such
October 11, 2011

Just when I figure we have heard all of the arguments pro and coin in the debate over whether we should abolish the dollar bill and adopt the dollar coin as the dominant form of the denomination, something new pops into my email.

The email reads: “This morning I saw an Associated Press photo of an ‘Occupy Wall St.’ protestor burning a paper dollar. That is the best argument yet for switching to dollar coins.”

I was amused. Actually, I laughed when I read it.

I cannot argue with the numismatic logic. I suppose you could take a sledge hammer to a dollar coin, but that likely is more work than a protester wants to engage in.

On the other hand, do you feel sympathy for people who have money to burn? I don’t.

Then there is the simple matter of accounts.

A $1 note is a liability of the Federal Reserve System. The Fed gives its profits to the Treasury at the end of the year, benefiting taxpayers to the tune $80 billion a year.

If you burn the note, the evidence of the Fed liability disappears. Without the evidence, the liability ceases to be one and the burned note turns into a gift to the Fed and indirectly to taxpayers.

I don’t think that’s what the protester had in mind.

But for my part, thanks for the gift.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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