Regardless of which side of the aisle your political leanings fall, one of the few things that we can get people to agree on politically, is that government is inefficient. The larger the government, the greater the inefficiency.
We all aslo admit that there are some things that government does that are really important. The questions always boil down to, “Is the issue worth the amount of waste?” The answer to this question is often what divides us us.
The left knows that there is a lot of bureaucracy and down right fraud that occurs in our safety net programs such as welfare. In their mind, the ends justify the means.
Even the most hawkish of people on the right know and many have seen, how the military creates rules and systems that produce the ideal environment for fraud, waste, and abuse. Yet they feel that national security trumps any of these drawbacks.
Neither side would be against making their systems more efficient- so long as the end result continues to occur. And, of course, they would prefer we start trimming the budget by cutting the other guys programs.
The fact is, the federal budget is so big and laden with so many inefficiencies that each side can continue to point at the other sides problems in order to deflect criticism of their own. ”Before we even stat to look at project X,” they will say, “we should focus on the largess of project Y over there.” Ultimately it becomes an argument of the virtues of projects X and Y, forgetting the fact that they both are wasting money.
Which brings me to the continued effort to refine our currency system. A recent CNN article described how most of the dollar coins remain out of circulation due to a low demand. The Government Accounting Office estimates replacing dollar bills with dollar coins would save $150 billion per year.
We also know that the government continues to mint pennies and nickels that cost more than a penny and nickel to make. Think about it, the denominations of coinage that are least likely to be used, the kind of money least likely to be picked up on a sidewalk, are the very coins that we as a nation lose money on replacing.
It’s not like we’ve never changed currency before. In a 2012 NY Times piece, David Owen pointed out that when the US dropped the half-penny from circulation it had the same buying power as today’s dime.
So, why are we still doing things that literally waste money? Because American’s don’t want to change. It’s that simple.
Which makes me wonder. If we can’t get behind an idea that only saves the government money, without any other consequence aside from our personal convenience, will we ever be able to solve the bigger issues that affect the lives of real people?
Of course, some will say that $150 billion a year isn’t that great a percentage of the budget. Many of those same people would also be quick to point out this waste if it was associated with a cause championed by their political rivals. Unfortunately this is an issue with no political adversary, so it has to fight against something even more difficult to defeat, political apathy. It’s not an issue that separates one side from the other, so it’s not worth it. Much like the penny on the sidewalk, it’s an issue not important enough to pick up. No single raindrop believes it is the cause of the flood.
I’d like to see the use of the gold dollar coin increase, but do so as a political statement against Washington ineptitude. Coins travel and right now gold coins are uncommon enough that they cause the receiver of the coin to pause for a moment. Let’s replace the thought of “What do I do with this coin?” to “Yea, Washington wastes money.”
Who knows, perhaps some larger organization, like No Labels for example, can pick up on this concept and advertise a “Dollar Coins Against Government Waste” type PR Campaign. This is the kind of conscious raising idea that would serve as reminder each time they change hands that government can and should be better stewards of our resources. And each time we lament the fact that we now have four coins in our pockets instead of four singles in our billfold, we will be reminded that we as a nation can ‘t begin cleaning up the inefficiency in Washington until we are prepared to offer up any change ourselves.
Want to know more about the Dollar Coin issue? Hit up the Dollar Coin Alliance.