My money sometimes looks like it has been through the washing machine, the way it is all bleached and faded. While that happens often, it is not always my fault. It is simply the new $20 bills. They are ugly – no matter how many millions of dollars are spent on media hype promoting their beauty, it still won’t change the fact that they’re ugly.
From snappy television commercials to interactive Flash Web sites, they are trying to convince us the new money is pretty. U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin publicly stated that she thought the new color-shifting ink was “really, really neat.” She may be easily amused, but I am unimpressed.
While I do care how it looks, I am more interested in how it spends.
This media hype is a distraction; trying to downplay the fact that the new money doesn’t work. At least not everywhere.
The Treasury Department sat down with vending machine manufacturers over a year ago to ensure the $100 bill fiasco of 1998 was not repeated (when the new money didn’t work in most machines). They focused on transit authorities and the gambling industry this year, overlooking self-pay machines like phone payment centers and supermarket self-service checkouts. While I cannot use the new money to buy food or diapers or pay bills, I can hop on a bus to Atlantic City and spend my crisp new twenties on slot machines. Government priorities made manifest.
Forty percent of counterfeit notes were digitally produced in 2002, and the arms race of digital counterfeiting continues even with the new bills.
Instead of being proud that the U.S. $20 bill is the most popular counterfeited money in the world, we are trying to minimize our prestige.
With America continuing on its downward spiral of economic terrorism, bad faith and imposed international morality, this fact is the one thing we can cheer about – we are No.1! We may be untrustworthy, deceitful bullies, but at least our money is popular.
I learned lots of trivia surfing the Treasury Department and Bureau of Engraving and Printing Web sites. What I really wanted to know was nowhere to be found – how much this new money costs.
The predictions were that the inclusion of peach and blue inks would raise the production costs only a few cents over the old four-cent per bill cost. With the new $50 due out next year and more changes after that, will we get to the point where printing money costs more than the face value?
If you want some nightmares, visit https://www.moneyfactory.com/cd042500/start.html to see the Flash-animated “US Special Agent Banks” walk you through games that teach you how to detect counterfeits. This hypermaniacal, fanatical, electric-blue eyed zealot is a public relations horror. His leaps, backflips and zany bouncing belie the glazed look of evil in his eyes – scary stuff. He needs medication.
So the counter-counterfeiting race continues.
Fake new bills have already been passed in Massachusetts – so much for the “safest money” in the world. Now I have to figure out what to do with this stack of bleached $5 bills I was about to print up. I guess I could just print $50s onto them; they will still look and feel right (and even have the security strip no one ever reads). Luckily the old bills are still in use, so I guess I can just print $20s – the old ones – $50s and $100s are too hard to spend in North Philly.
Glenn Reitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.