by Mad Dog
One day someone in
the Treasury Department woke up and realized that anyone who had watched
Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible and had a broken spatula, a
piece from a Lego set, some kite string, and a friend who was a
government engraver could duplicate one in minutes.
||As loyal, red-blooded
Americans, it’s our civic duty to be preoccupied with money. How to
get it, how to save it, how to keep the federal government from taking
all of it, and how to justify our spending so much of it on lame
Hollywood sequels. Or more correctly, on the buckets of popcorn we eat
while watching them, a product which, incidentally, has the highest
profit margin this side of an Iraqi reconstruction contract.
That’s why it’s important to know
that the Treasury Department (motto:
“Spend as many as you like, we'll print more.”) is messing with the
look of our money again. They’re starting with the $20 note, taking
Andrew Jackson out of his oval border and making him larger so people
realize it’s not country singer Alan Jackson, adding a flock of yellow
number 20s flying around the White House on the back like so many
jaundiced seagulls, and changing the background color of the front so it
fades from pastel green to peach to blue. Martha Stewart’s going to
love it. Not that there was any doubt she loved money before.
The last changes they made to our money
were major. Starting in 1996 they redesigned the paper money,
transforming its 67-year-old staid look into something that wouldn’t
be out of place in a Monopoly set. Apparently
the problem was technology—the old bills were getting too easy to
counterfeit. One day someone in the Treasury Department woke up and
realized that anyone who had watched Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible
and had a broken spatula, a piece from a Lego set, some kite string,
and a friend who was a government engraver could duplicate one in
minutes. This had to be stopped.
When held under an
ultraviolet light the thread glows green. This is how you can tell the
denomination of the bill—the thread on the hundred glows red. Well,
that and those big numbers printed in the corners.
incorporated a number of security changes, all of which they’re
keeping in the new bills. First, there’s the microprinting, which
means there are be lots of teeny-tiny words buried in Jackson’s shirt
collar and the border like a cheap Hirschfeld imitation. What Nina has
to do with Andrew Jackson is beyond me, but at least it will give us
something fun to do—“Find the hidden words on the new $20 bill and
win big prizes!”—while standing in line at the bank waiting to be
charged for not using the ATM.
there’s the thread which is embedded in the paper to the right of the
portrait. When you hold the bill up to a bright light the words
"USA TWENTY" and a flag appear on the thread; when held under
an ultraviolet light the thread glows green. This is how you can tell
the denomination of the bill—the thread on the hundred glows red.
Well, that and those big numbers printed in the corners.
This is part of the government’s
plan to not only help the struggling black light industry, a group which
still has warehouses full of old Jimi Hendrix posters they want to get
rid of, but also to take kids off the street and into their bedroom
where they can check out the new bills under a black light while saying
“Awesome!” and “Phat!” and “I can’t remember, did I lift
this fifty from Mom or Dad?” In case that’s not enough to keep them
so busy they won’t have time to wonder whether SpongeBob
SquarePants’ name is a malapropism or a spoonerism, there’s the
color-shifting ink on the number in the lower right-hand corner which
looks copper when you see it straight on, but from an angle appears
green. How fun! Mood money.
pay to have their name plastered on everything from race cars to sports
arenas to the Olympics, so why not put ads on money?
new $20 notes will start circulating in November, followed by similar
changes in the other bills. All except the $1 and $2 notes. They won’t
be changing, partly because they're not worth counterfeiting, but mostly
because the government is talking about eliminating the dollar bill
completely and replacing it with a coin. They say this simple move would
save $100 million over the first five years. That’s because it costs
3.7 cents to print a $1 bill that lasts for 18 months, while a coin, on
the other hand, would cost 8 cents and last 30 years.
is, 85 percent of people polled say they prefer paper. But in these days
of tight federal budgets, does it make sense to keep it? Sure, as long
as they get sponsorship. Think about it. Companies already pay to have
their name plastered on everything from race cars to sports arenas to
the Olympics, so why not put ads on money? You don't think the public
would go for it? Think again. Another poll found that 35 percent of
Americans favor placing ads on the dollar bill if it will help cut the
deficit or lower taxes. Hey, even I couldn't make that one up.
So don’t be
surprised if one day you’ll be able to walk into your favorite store
and pay for your purchase with Coke ones, FedEx fives, and a Got Milk?
ten. Of course you could also whip out your broken spatula, that piece
from a Lego set, and some kite string and print your own. Just don’t
forget that’s Andrew, not Alan, on the twenty.
©2003 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
Read them instead of looking for teeny tiny print in Jackson's