|Mint Stops Striking Golden Dollars|
According to an audit by the Treasury Department inspector general, the move will save taxpayers some $2 million in production costs during 2002 alone.
With enough Golden Dollars already on hand to meet needs for the next 3.6 years at current demand levels, production of the coin was officially stopped on March 31 and Mint officials are now evaluating the need to strike any at all during 2003.
After turning out 6 million coins since January, and planning to produce another 40 million coins for circulation during the second quarter of 2002, the Mint will now strike just over 10 million Golden Dollars over the remainder of the year for sale to collectors.
Demand for the Golden Dollar has dropped steadily since October 2001, according to the inspector general's report which concludes, "Without any real expectation of the Mint shipping these 40 million coins to the Federal Reserve System during fiscal 2002, it would have been unlikely that the Mint could recoup its $2.18 million investment during this fiscal year."
Making its debut in January 2000, initial circulation of the Golden Dollar pleased Mint officials still smarting from the dismal failure of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. In Feb. 2001 Safeway, Inc. agreed to circulate 1.5 million Golden Dollars in its 1,500 stores. By the middle of 2001, over 500 U.S. businesses at 225,000 locations across the nation reported keeping and using supplies of the coin.
The front, or obverse, of the Golden Dollar bears a Glenda Goodacre-designed engraving of Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman credited with guiding Lewis and Clark through the American West during 1804 to 1806. The Mint changed the official designation of the coin from the Sacagawea Dollar to the Golden Dollar when slang terms like "Sacky" and "Squawbuck" began to appear in the press.
Mint officials say that many of the Golden Dollars distributed so far have been hoarded as keepsakes making them infrequent visitors in store cash registers and consumers' pockets.
At the same time hoarders were removing the coins from circulation, the slowing economy decreased demands for all coins, especially dollars.
Why dollar coins?
The U.S. has been issuing dollar coins since 1794 and will probably continue to do so as long as the need to carry "physical" money remains. On April 7, 2000, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that replacing all paper $1 bills with dollar coins would save taxpayers $522.2 million per year. A circulating coin, says the GAO, last about 30 years, compared to the average 17 month lifetime of a paper dollar. In addition, dollar coins make it much easier for visually impaired persons to make purchases without fear of accidentally using larger than necessary bills or of being shortchanged.
Why paper dollars?
The U.S. one-dollar bill, the "greenback" stands as one of the best recognized object on Earth. Readily accepted by virtually any vendor in any country, the dollar bill has come to symbolize the strength and stability of the U.S. economy in the world market. From a purely utilitarian standpoint, paper dollars are simply more convenient to carry and use than dollar coins. You can carry 100 one-dollar bills around all day long, but 100 dollar coins quickly becomes a burden.
What a nice debate. How do you want your money, paper or metal?