The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Time to Ditch the Dollar Bill

The director of the nonpartistan Government Accountability Office, Lorelei St. James, has an unusual recommendation to Capitol Hill: Ditch the dollar bill.

While it may be hard to imagine life without the trusty dollar, a switch from $1 bills to $1 coins would be a smart move in the long run, the WSJ reports:

The GAO estimates that replacing $1 notes with $1 coins, which last decades longer than paper, could provide $4.4 billion in “net benefits” to the federal government over 30 years.

At $147 million per year, that’s not going to balance the budget, but it’s money worth saving. And with vending machines and urban transport systems increasingly demanding more than a dollar at a time, the failure to move to a dollar coin is a nuisance.

Even if a lot of people hate the idea (including the company that makes the paper on which dollar bills are printed), the dollar isn’t worth enough anymore to be a piece of paper. It’s time to make the change. While we’re at it, let’s stop making pennies and, ultimately, nickels too. There was a time when those coins actually bought things. Nothing costs a penny anymore, and a coin that buys nothing isn’t worth having.

Published on November 29, 2012 5:05 pm