James Werrell

Oh no, Congress, please not another one

Members of Congress, listen up.

OK, let's quiet down now. Look straight at me, not out the window. Please turn off your cell phones. This will only take a minute, but it's important that you hear it.

We Americans don't want a dollar coin.

By now, you should have figured that out. How many Susan B. Anthony dollars have you spent lately? I bet the only Susan B. Anthony dollars you've seen in the past five years or so are the ones you found under the seat cushions of the recliner in the den or maybe at the back of your sock drawer next to the half eaten roll of Certs.

Maybe you have one of the original Sacajawea dollars, the one with the likeness of the Shoshone woman who helped guide Lewis and Clark on their expedition. Check in that big container where you throw your loose change every night when you come home. Or look in your kid's coin collection.

That's where most of them are ending up. The government now is producing only enough Sacajawea dollars to sell to collectors.

Well, maybe you have one of those shiny new presidential dollar coins. In another lame attempt to foist the dollar coin on resistant Americans, you have authorized the minting of a new presidential coin every three months depicting a different president. Gosh, can't wait to get my James K. Polk and Warren G. Harding dollars.

But wait, our bullheaded Treasury isn't giving up without a fight. The latest ploy is a redesigned Sacajawea dollar. The new coins, just approved by you, our knucklehead Congress, will continue to show Sacajawea and her child on one side. But the reverse side will contain scenes, which will change each year, commemorating the achievements of other Indians and their tribes.

Here's what your colleague, Rep. Dale Kildee, a Michigan Democrat and chief sponsor of the bill for the new dollar coin, has to say about it: "These designs will take the American people to a journey of different experiences of native people by exposing them to their unique histories while preserving the memories of Sacajawea."

Sorry, Rep. Kildee, it's hard to imagine the average consumer gaining a deep understanding of Native American history from the back of a coin. But give me about 600 Sacajawea dollars, and I can fly out West and study the natives there, maybe with special attention to the tribes in and around Las Vegas.

Imagine, though, trying to get through an airport check-in with rolls and rolls of dollar coins. You'd be arrested on the spot until Homeland Security could figure out a terrorist activity to charge you with and send you to Guantanamo.

I know all the reasons for trying to get consumers to fall in love with the dollar coin: It lasts longer than paper money; it works in vending machines; it can be used as a subway token; it's hard to counterfeit.

So what? Who wants to walk around with a pocketful of heavy change?

It's ironic to me that you congressmen are trying to shove a new dollar coin down our throats just as cash is about to become obsolete. As they said in "The Graduate," the future is plastic. Why carry paper money, much less coins, when you can use a credit or debit card just about anywhere?

What we need is fewer coins, not more of them. Start by getting rid of the infernal penny.

Members of Congress, don't waste your time or our patience. We don't want another dollar coin, even if you put Indians on it. Even if you put Elvis on it.

If you want to do something constructive, take Rep. Kildee out on the lawn and horse-whip him until he swears never to introduce another bill calling for a dollar coin again.