Saturday, July 25, 2009

Keep the Change

It is time for the United States to catch up with the rest of the world. I'm talking about money, here, people. The US has been far behind both Britain and the European Union in two particular things money related. Yes, it's time to embrace both dollar coins and the two dollar denomination.

The dollar coin has been valid currency for a long time, but has long been dismissed by the general pubic. From the Susan B. Anthony to the Sacagawea, and now the George Washington, the one dollar coin has never caught on. In Britain, the Pound only comes in coins for the one and two pound denominations. My time in London taught me what that small pocket in my jeans was for- the change pocket became quite useful, and it was nice to not have to dig in to my wallet to buy something small. Coins are cheaper to make and last longer than bills, but that has been discussed by people smarter than me.

So, what will it take for America to embrace coinage as a popular form of currency? My initial thought is that we need it named after someone everyone knows and likes. Susan B. Anthony isn't going to cut it; most people don't know why she is historically important. While more people could say why Sacagawea is famous, she still doesn't carry that general fame and unquestioned love from the general public. But, not many figures are greater than George Washington. Despite a failed marketing campaign and the fact that they're still unsuccessfully out there, I think it's time for something new.

I offer two propositions: One, have a series of the all the presidents, much like the state quarters. Release them over time, and limit them to length of term served. The FDR dollar? Maybe less popular, because it's got 4 terms (well, 3.5) worth of coins out there. Find yourself a William Henry Harrison (30 days in office), and that's a keeper. My other thought is to release the JFK dollar. I feel like no one really hated JFK; he's a figure big enough to make this work.

What about the coin itself? What would distinguish it from a quarter? I say we take guidance from the Pound, and make it thicker, to distinguish it. Also, get rid of that fake gold sheen. Make it look like a coin, not like a something you'd find in a treasure chest.

We should also embrace the two dollar denomination. Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of the dollar, and realistically, most single items cost more than a buck. The two dollar bill (or coin) would prove more useful, as users could carry less currency, worth more. I realize that $2 bills are considered oddities, but why not use them more? It's more practical to carry more value in less physical capacity; it's quite literally more bang for the buck.

To summarize: make coin money that works, and catches on, and make the $2 denomination more prevalent.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Keeping it Classy

Recently, there have been a variety of weddings- it is wedding season, after all (better than Christmas!). I had a thought, as I feel like invitations are single-handedly supporting the post office these days.

While weddings remain stalwarts of tradition and class, it may be time to make a break from tradition in wedding invitations. Sure, the fancy invites are nice to get in the mail- they're pretty, they become a mainstay of the side of my refrigerator, and they ooze class. And, because I am sure many brides, mothers of brides, and Ms. Manners would be appalled if I suggested the abolition of the wedding invitation in favor of something electronic, I instead propose the following. Pun intended.

So invitations stay. But, what if we made responses electronic? Wouldn't it be significantly easier if there were an online database that people could go to log their RSVPs? Fathers of the Bride would save not only on the postage required to send back those little RSVP cards, but on the cards themselves (and corresponding envelopes). An online RSVP system would be easy, and as an added feature, could incorporate wedding management for guests. Imagine it: guests could click a radio button for their response, and in addition, enter their meal preferences online, providing an easy to manage dinner list. The database could provide easy guest lists, and could probably also provide an easy to use online seating chart as the couple (or couples' parents) decided whom to seat with whom.

Since I am far from all-knowing about weddings, I would submit that there are probably other aspects of wedding planning that could be done online. Parents of the couple located in different places could both access it, should that be something that was useful.

For all I know, this could exist. If it doesn't, well, I want royalties if someone makes it. It would buck the convention of tradition, but I imagine that it would be easier and cheaper than the RSVP cards, and something easy to build. In a time when saving money is en vogue, it would be easier to make the break from tradition, without really losing any of that special wedding class.

Per usual, thanks for reading.


Editor's note: My friend Aaron created exactly what I was talking about, using Google forms. See

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Tangent after another...

  • Got a phone call today (three, actually) from a friend I hadn't spoken to in a really long time. She's one of those ones that it really doesn't matter how long it's been, things just click again. Call that person.
  • Take a moment to realize how lucky you may be. You have internet- your standard of living is probably pretty good.
  • In the spirit of my friend's new blog, to be listed shortly in the recommended section on the right, listen to Manchester Orchestra's album "Everything to Nothing." It's quite good, and has something for everyone.
  • Wireless internet still continues to amaze me. I can share thoughts with the world (well, all 11 of you) and sit at my kitchen table drinking tea.
  • As an afterthought to the piece below, about death- take the time to hear your grandparents' stories. I haven't enough.
  • Fun tidbit: The weird letters you have to retype when signing up for any online account help the new york times digitize their old articles. One word matches to make sure you're correct, and the other fills in the gaps that the optical readers can't do. Technology is cool.
And, per usual, thanks for reading.