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Funny money

November 29, 2006

Yeah, go ahead. Hit the dollar while its down. At a 15-year low, in fact.

A U.S. District Judge ruled yesterday that our U.S. currency is unfair to the blind, because the bills are all the same size and shape. He ordered the government to start work on correcting the problem.

It’s all one step closer to having Monopoly-looking bills.  And we will likely not get $200 we when pass “Go.”

From the AP article:

The American Council of the Blind has proposed several options, including printing bills of differing sizes, adding embossed dots or foil to the paper or using raised ink.

“Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations,” Robertson wrote. “More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired.” …  

“It’s just frankly unfair that blind people should have to rely on the good faith of people they have never met in knowing whether they’ve been given the correct change,” said Jeffrey A. Lovitky, attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Others have developed ways to cope with the similarly shaped bills. Melanie Brunson, a member of the American Council of the Blind, told the court that she folds her bills into different shapes: $1 bills stay straight, $5 bills are folded in half left to right, $10 bills in half top to bottom and $20 in quarters.

So, that means my “crumpled-up-bills-in-the-jacket-pocket-until-my-wife-finds-them-in-the-wash” method of storing money is not as efficient as I thought.  Hmmm….folding….

At least, new sizes for bills will make them easier to lose.  The article continues:

U.S. bills have not always been the same size. In 1929, the government standardized the size and shrank all bills by about 30 percent to lower manufacturing costs and help distinguish between genuine and counterfeit notes.

Since then, the Treasury Department has worked to stay ahead of counterfeiters. Security threads and microprinting were introduced in The portraits were enlarged in 1996, and an infrared feature was added to encourage the development of electronic readers for the blind.

The latest redesign is under way. New $10 bills, featuring splashes of orange, yellow and red, hit the market this year, following similar changes to the $20 bill in 2003 and the $50 bill in 2004. The $5 facelift is due in 2008.

In court documents, government attorneys said changing the way money feels would be expensive. Cost estimates ranged from $75 million in equipment upgrades and $9 million annual expenses for punching holes in bills to $178 million in one-time charges and $50 million annual expenses for printing bills of varying sizes.

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Judge rules paper money unfair to blind [CNN Money]


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