Funny Money

Today I had to park in a parking garage, and when I paid the parking fee I got two dollar coins for change.  When I looked at the coins, I did a double-take and wondered if I had been scammed, because these dollar coins did not look like bona fide American currency.

Seriously, has anybody else seen these?  My coin featured a perplexed-looking Andrew Johnson — arguably the worst President in American history — on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other.  It is a garish copper color, it feels like it is made of reclaimed metal, and the art on the coin is pretty cheesy.  Is this real American currency?  It looks like one of those cheap metal tokens you’d get if you got change for a dollar at a video arcade.

I’m assuming it is an actual American coin, in which case I fear for the future of the Republic.  Shouldn’t our currency be a bit more carefully considered and aspirational?   Why in the world would we put one of our worst Presidents on any form of legal tender?  For that matter, why do we have to put Presidents on everything?  Can’t we get back to the point where our coins are more symbolic, like the classic walking Liberty half dollar, or more focused on American history and culture, like the Buffalo nickel?  And if we can’t manage that, can’t we at least create a coin that looks like it is worth its face value?

It’s Time To Get Rid Of “Presidents’ Day”

Today — February 22 — is the birthday of George Washington.  Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is February 12.  Do we have a federal holiday on the actual birth date of either of those two colossal historical figures, who generally rank as the two greatest Presidents in American history?  No, we don’t.

James Buchanan doesn't deserve a holiday!

Instead, we have a holiday called “Presidents’ Day” that is easily the lamest holiday of the year.  There apparently were two steps in its creation.  First, Congress — no doubt after heavy lobbying by the travel industry — decided to give people as many three-day weekends as possible.  So, in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971, Congress dictated that Washington’s Birthday would be celebrated on the third Monday in February, and not on Washington’s actual birthday.  Then, the holiday somehow got broadened to include not just Washington, or even just Washington and Lincoln, but all Presidents through “Presidents’ Day.”  It is such a phony, meaningless holiday that it isn’t even recognized by most businesses.  What does it say about a holiday if most people don’t even get the day off?

George Washington deserves a holiday, and so does Lincoln.  In reality, however, most Presidents don’t.  There have been far more crappy Presidents than good Presidents.  James Buchanan and Millard Fillmore were disastrous Presidents.  They don’t deserve a holiday, they deserve to be forgotten.  The same goes for Andrew Johnson, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon, among many others.

“Presidents’ Day” is like the modern practice of giving a trophy to every kid on a sports team, no matter whether his team wins or loses or whether the kid is talented or the most uncoordinated soccer player ever to stumble onto a field.  (My God, James Buchanan even looks like the kind of hapless kid whose domineering mother insists that he get some kind of recognition regardless of his complete ineptitude.)  It’s like we are trying to not hurt the self-esteem of the crummy Presidents, so we give them an embarrassing holiday that most of the country ignores.  It’s time to get rid of Presidents’ Day.  Let’s go back to recognizing a President who did make a difference, and actually celebrate his birthday on his real birth date.