Saturday, January 20, 2007


One of the side effects of the failed war on drugs is the disappearance of the five hundred and one thousand dollar bills. If you’re under forty, you probably don’t know that such a thing even existed not long ago. Or, if so, wonder why we don’t have them in circulation any more? Whenever I have to transfer a grand from one bank to another, I end up with a fistful of dollars, 20's and 100's if I’m lucky. There doesn’t seem to be any 50's around either. I suppose the Feds believe that if you have to carry around several million dollars , at some point it will just get too burdensome and you will give up, stop selling drugs and get a real job.
In the 60's I was building a house in West Covina for the guy who invented the Go-Cart. He was kind of grumpy, carried a gun in a holster under his hawaiian shirts he always wore. He insisted on paying me in cash whenever I billed for our work every month. We would go over to his bank and he would withdraw nine or ten one thousand dollar bills and hand them to me. I had mixed feelings about carrying around all that cash in the Los Angeles area.
I say bring back the large bills and let the Feds find other ways to fight their pathetic little war, like maybe with an educational program or just let us have a little fun once in a while..
When you see a price listed as $79.99 is it possible you don’t know it is one penny short of $80? This practice is so ingrained in us now that every aspect of business world practices it, at least in the USA. Selling a car? $23, 995. 95. Selling a house? $897,995.99. How often do you see something advertised for $50,000? $600,000? Are we really that stupid? Don’t answer that.
The one business that has taken this to an extreme is the gas station folks. I can’t remember when this started but they were not satisfied with merely $1.99 per gallon, where they could increase the price to $2/gal in one cent increments. Oh, no! They had to break the penny down to it’s lowest denominator, the MILL! Now, a mill is one tenth of a cent. This type of marketing is the kind that drives me crazy! Think about how that differs from just the penny price. Since all prices are set in mills, the increase is still only by the penny. Do you ever see a mark-up from $ $2.10.4? No, it is always only the penny. See the logic, here? I don’t. Actually, there is no waste of man hours as the 9 mills always stays the same on the signs.
In theory, you are saving one mill for every gallon you purchase. When you fill up with 20 gallons, you have saved 20 mills, or two cents! Wow! How about rounding up to the penny (add one mill!) and do away with all this bogus pricing.
If you youngsters don’t believe any of this, I can show you an actual mill coin. Come to think of it, it may be worth a lot of money due to it’s rarity.
Speaking of pennys, why do we even use the damn things? Seventy years ago there was a lot you could buy with a penny. But these days, I won’t even bother to pick one up off the street, it’s just not worth the effort. I don’t know what it’s made of but I know it costs more than a penny to make, costs more than a penny for businesses to handle it. Get rid of it!
Whenever I return from Europe and begin using our miserable currency and coins again I am appalled at the lack of design we have allowed to happen. We are so inferior to the rest of the world when it comes to our money. Before the Euro(e) was introduced a few years ago, the best money designs without a doubt were the Dutch Guilders. The golden brilliance of their 50 Guilder note was an incredible work of art., with golden color to it’s graphics. Fortunately, the Union hired the Dutch to design the new e, almost as good as their old stuff. Handling such money is almost a joy to pay someone with it.
The French also had a beautiful currency, mostly featuring poets and artists in many colors. The Romanians have a micro chip imbedded in their currencies. Maybe they can keep track of the drug smugglers that way.
The new e is a design tour de force, each bill a different color as well as a slightly different size. Wonderful abstract computer generated designs. The coins are the same in their own way, simple abstract designs of different sizes, some made of two types of metal. We must be a laughing stock of the world when we undertake a "new" design of a bill. It must cost a bloody fortune for the Feds to take out full page adds in newspapers throughout the US letting us all know that the new $20 bill is so superb and is not a bad counterfeit so it’s OK to use. Or how about our new quarters. Everyone gets into the act and you end up with 52 types of ugly coins. I won’t even embarrass you by mentioning the Susan B. Anthony quarter. And ehere in hell is the fifty cent piece?
Let’s give the Dutch a contract to redesign all our money so we can catch up with the rest of the world..