Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why is our money so ugly?

You know what I mean. Usually we handle money without really looking at it, except to make sure it's the right denomination. But a ten happened to catch my eye today as I was putting it back in my wallet. I wondered: What is that mottled, peach-colored stain? And where did those bloodstains come from? The whole thing looks like something pulled, slightly moist and smelling strange, from a medical waste dump (peach-colored definitely being a euphemism for a different word I just can't bear to apply to the dollar, no matter how low it has fallen.)

Think of all the colorful, beautiful currencies in the world. Then think about ours. Granted, we took a shot at adding color. But when it came to beauty, we didn't bother. We more or less threw up our hands and said, "Oh, the hell with it!" We really are a nation of puritans.

Of course, "we" didn't choose the design. But we didn't laugh it out of circulation either, did we?


Dr Diablo said...

Thanks for your post. I thought I was the only one sleepless with agitation about our currency, which is at once dreary and cluttered. Aesthetically, the average Walgreen's store coupon beats it, hands down.

Part of the problem is that the dollar is the world's reserve currency, so the bucks are designed with an eye to making them complicated and difficult to counterfeit. Belize, in contrast, doesn't have to worry about somebody flooding the world with fake belizos, if that's what they're called. What the rest of the problem is, I cannot imagine. If only Bush-Cheney knew how much you and your ilk might forgive them for if they would introduce a dollar we could be proud of.

I'm not sure why you left our coins off the hook, actually. While we have had classy coinage in the past, such as the St. Gaudens gold piece, the idealized Presidential profiles are duller than bus tokens.

While we're on the subject of shoddy representation of the World's Greatest power, I want to mention that the national anthem sucks too. Melody borrowed from an English drinking song, which is kind of like adapting "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." Overblown, militaristic imagery. Required vocal range so vast that soloists are applauded when they hit the high note at the end.

Visionaries at the Postal Service have decided that if they can't make money, they'll create art. Stamps have become cool, so why can't we have cool money and anthems? I hope the right people read this.

Excellent post. Instead of jacking interest rates to slow the economy, why don't the Feds design some money that people want to tuck away? The embarrassing cash we print now just makes folks want to get rid of it as soon as they get it.

Anonymous said...

the new ten is the color it is to remind us that everything is just peachy out there,so dont worry folks our money will always be the world standard.......or will it

Joyful Alternative said...

Dr. Diablo, I don't want to get rid of these appalling peachbacks as soon as possible. I'm embarrassed every time I have to present one to somebody. I have anxiety that I'm going to be confronted and embarrassed in public--generalized anxiety because I'm not sure whether I'm about to have law enforcement sicced on me because the thing is obviously counterfeit or whether I'm about to be told off for proffering a disgusting, stained, moldy, stinky piece of paper and expecting someone to touch it.

As for the stamps, I can always buy the rippling flap, which gets cancelled if I used it. Isn't that flag desecration? Punished with 30 days at Gitmo? Cartoon characters. Elvis. I love Lucy. Anything sensible enough to put on a resume must get sold out before I get to the post office. My current stamps are gourds, part of the Foodstuffs That Are Native to the Americas series, which omits the potato.