September 12, 2006

I spoke too soon

I often criticize the competence of government today in contrast to what it could accomplish in the mid-20th Century when it set its mind to building an A-bomb or going to the moon.

So, I was looking for a counter-example of something the federal government is currently handling well, and I came up with the on-going effort to counterfeit-proof paper money. Back in the late 1980s, the Treasury became worried that future advances in computer scanners and color printers would make counterfeiting on your desktop easy and fun. So, they began in the 1990s to frequently change the designs, commissioning handsome larger portraits, moving them off-center, and adding lots of small changes such as watermarks and security threads that make counterfeiting harder. (You can look at the lowly one dollar bill to see the old insecure design.)

And yet, the government had also been doing a good job of preserving the traditional look and dignity of paper money. As Dave Barry says, the U.S. is practically the only country in the world whose currency doesn't look like it was designed by schoolchildren. The key is that the greenback has stayed green. Sure, being all green makes it harder to tell the denominations apart, but that's the price of tradition.

Until now.

The new ten dollar bill is ... yellow. It looks like the paper money in an extremely deluxe Monopoly game.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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