One of the many viral emails consuming bandwidth these days is an erroneous little diatribe that claims that the new presidential dollar coins have omitted our nation’s motto, the words “In God We Trust”. The email includes the normal pablum of fake outrage, inaccurate facts, and a call to boycott.
It is likely that you have seen it, but for those who have not check out the Snopes.com debunking of this flawed meme.
The fact is that not only is “In God We Trust” still on the coin, its placement is likely to draw more notice to it than if it had been merely placed on the face of the coin. Where is the motto? It is on the third side of the coin; the edge. To make room for better portraits of the presidents on the face of the coins (and the reverse side’s image of the Statue of Liberty) Congress ordered the US Mint to move the motto “In God We Trust”, the phrase “E Plurbus Unum” and the year of issue to incuse lettering on the edge of the coin where it becomes very noticeable. The last coin to have incuse lettering on the edge (E Plurbus Unum) was the $20 gold coin minted from 1907 until 1933. Before that, it was used on many denominations including the earliest one cent coins which had the words “one hundred for a dollar” stamped into the edge. The placing of words, ivy vines and the now common reeding on the edges of coins was a way to limit scalawags from shaving off bits of gold and silver from the edges of the coins back when coins were made from more than copper and nickel alloys. The basic truth of the matter is that the edges of the coins are very noticeable. The smooth edge of a Sacagawea dollar helps us tactilely differentiate them from quarter dollar coins.
So, with the truth being so obvious, how on earth did this viral email get started?
I have a conspiracy theory.
There is a strong push to keep the paper dollar in circulation even though a dollar coin makes more sense in both consumer spending trends and in tax dollar savings.
Inflation has risen to the point where a dollar pays for less than a quarter dollar did only twenty years ago (82% inflation). Think back to your life twenty years ago. Would you have wanted a paper quarter dollar bill? Because the dollar bill is being used as as frequently as a quarter dollar was 20 years ago, they wear out in less than a year. Because they wear out so fast, dollar bills are being printed at a rate faster than all other denominations combined. Coins take decades to wear out under normal usage. It costs the taxpayer more to be provided with fresh replacement paper money dollars than it would to be provided with sturdy durable metal coin dollars. So why are we still using a paper dollar? In a word: money.
My theory is that those who have a interest in keeping the paper dollar in circulation were afraid that the collectible commemorative presidential dollar coins would become as popular as the commemorative states quarter dollars have been. The paper that our nation’s paper money is printed on is big business for some very rich and politically powerful families.
This meme attacking the presidential dollar coins is not about religion at all. If it were the meme would call for us to contact our senators and representatives to change the law authorizing the presidential dollar coins and have the nation’s motto included on the face of the coin. But, no, this viral meme calls for a boycott. What this attack on the presidential dollar coin is about is simply politics and big business that want to keep a dollar coin out of circulation, and to keep raking in profits from all those dollar bills that wear out in mere months.
Well. It’s a theory.