December 20, 2011

Regarding the Dec. 14 news story “Fraud crackdown nets $5.6 billion; mass production of dollar coin to end”:

The introduction of a $1 coin in recent times has been highly unsuccessful. The Susan B. Anthony dollar, prone to be mistaken for a quarter, never became popular. The Sacagawea dollar, gold in color, overcame this problem, yet that didn’t make the coin more popular. Nor did its successors, the presidential commemorative dollars, attain wide circulation. Why are dollar coins scorned by the public?

One reason: Operators of coin-swallowing devices such as vending machines, Metro fare card dispensers and parking meters hardly ever retooled their machines. Would purchasing two hours of parking space with four dollar coins instead of 16 quarters not make the dollar coin more popular?

Another reason: Astonishing indifference by the U.S. Treasury. For centuries, sovereigns have derived revenue from the difference between coins’ face value and their minting cost (seigniorage). But letting some 1.4 billion coins sit unused in Treasury’s vaults does not produce revenue. Promoting their circulation would.

Eberhard Fischer, Washington

If the Treasury Department really wants to stop wasting “money on money,” it should stop printing dollar bills. Once they all disappear (saving taxpayers millions every year on printing costs), the public will become accommodating to the dollar coins. Even a Chester Alan Arthur coin would be popular.

Alan Lauer, Silver Spring

Notwithstanding Vice President Biden’s joke that the call for a Chester A. Arthur presidential dollar is not there, I’m disappointed that an Arthur coin will not be minted because of budget shortfalls. My daughter and I have cherished our growing collection, as we’ve learned more about each of the depicted commanders in chief in turn. And it would benefit Congress, the White House and all of us to remember Arthur’s legacy.

Assuming the presidency after James A. Garfield’s assassination, Arthur, it is said, often bucked his own party to make decisions based on what was right for the country. Along the way, he tackled 1880s issues such as immigration, balancing the budget and tariffs.

One hundred and thirty years later, I would find it heartening if our political leaders could move past party dogma and work to solve issues as Arthur did.

Matt Huggins, Springfield