Reintroduction of a dollar coin sans Susan B. Anthony - is a good move that merits widespread support and should lead to the eventual eradication of dollar bills. Americans should hope so.
Not that anyone minds packing a few "ones" around or would refuse them as change. But a $1 coin could save the U.S. government a whopping $400 million annually over the next 30 years. That's not just pocket change.The difference is in the life span. Each $1 bill costs about 3 cents to make and lasts just 17 months, whereas a coin costs only about 6 cents but lasts three decades. That is worth adjusting to, though some Americans balk at the notion of carrying coins over paper.
Such resistance was not uncommon in other nations that have made a similar transition. Most Western countries have introduced high-denomination coins that eventually garnered public acceptance following initial resistance. Given sufficient time to adjust, Americans would be no different.
The Susan B. Anthony dollar, minted from 1979-81, was not widely circulated because it looked and felt too much like a quarter. The new coin would be similar in size but would be gold in color and have a different edge than the quarter. That should be sufficient for people to clearly and quickly differentiate between the two. Additional incentive for adapting to the new coins will come if dollar bills are eliminated, as they apparently will be.
While the new $1 coin appears to be a promising money-saver, its introduction has not been entirely smooth. The switch will require a huge retrofitting of vending machines and other equipment that directly accepts money. And a decision about whom or what to put on the new coin has been controversial.
The conversion problem is part of the cost of doing business. It is modest when compared with the federal tax savings. A citizens' advisory committee wanted Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark's Indian guide, on the coin. Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., chairman of the House Banking monetary subcommittee, pushed hard for an image of the Statue of Liberty.
In the American spirit of compromise, and with the coin having two sides, both images will be included. That spirit of acceptance should spill into the populace when the $1 coin begins circulating in 2000.