The Great Dollar Bill debate

Surely you’ve heard the phrase “person of color” before. It just means someone who isn’t white.

“Colored person” is offensive, btw.

How about Teddy Roosevelt? He had his own party! Give him the $10.

Here’s my nominations:

Alexander Graham Bell. While born in Scotland, his invention of the telephone happened after he moved to the US. His inclusion would give a tip-o-the-hat to the “Land of Opportunity.”

Thomas Edison. I think everyone know what he did. American ingenuity and all

Jonas Salk. Inventor of the Salk polio vaccine. Saved millions of lives worldwide.

George Washington Carver. Former slave, Chemurgist.

His contribution to (re)discovering Peanut Butter is worth a nomination all by itself, notwithstanding all his other accomplishments.


From a purely analytical and objective standpoint, isn’t it inconsistent to say “colored person” is offensive but “person of color” is not?


MLK would make a good choice to be put on money. So would JFK and FDR, IMO. I was thinking about Wilson, too, but then I remembered the Palmer Raids, so he’s out.

But we’ll have to give the conservatives their bone, too. What about Eisenhower? He strikes me as one of the more respectable Republicans, he was a general in WWII, he spoke out against the military industrial complex, and he was responsible for, among other things, the national highway system.

Putting people like Bell and Salk on money is a bit over the top. You might as well put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on money.

Maybe so, but I don’t make the rules I just try not to get my ass kicked. :wink:

Seriously, there is a substantive difference in connotation. “Colored people” pretty much only referred to black people. “Persons of color” pretty much refers to any non-white, including people of Hispanic and Asian heritage.

It may seem semantically equivalent, but we all know that historical context is important. “Colored people” and “coloreds” were used in a context that did not confer equality.

Language, especially vernacular language is quirky, arbitrary and sometimes illogical. The nuances in this case might seem, objectively, to be hair-splitting at best, but language is not used objectively IRL. We all know those nuances exist and it doesn’t cost me anything to avoid causing unnecessary offense.

I say to put the Founding Fathers on the paper currency – Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Hancock, and one or two obscure signers for the rare bills. Though given that the only bills we use nowadays are the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100, you don’t need a long list.

Coins would be a little trickier; I like the idea of “prominnt Americans” (MLK, Lincoln, FDR), but I can hear the Church of St. Ron warming up for another round of the “sanctify Reagan” chorus already.

And in a related vein, can we do something about the $1 coin, the idea that never gets any traction? Yesterday I ended up with a Sacagewa and two Susan B.s’, and that’s just not right, IMO. Pick one and stick to it.

Lots of countries don’t have political figures on their money, but instead scientists, or poets, or artists, or whatever.

If we went with the “all scientist/inventor” slate, we could have:

$1 - George Washington Carver
$2 - Jefferson (he counts!)
$5 - Bell
$10 - Einstein
$20 - Edison
$50 - Wright Bros.
$100 - Franklin (He’s another dual use figure)
If we want a political slate, I agree that dumping Grant at least is a good idea. Adams, Madison, or Monroe would be much better. Or perhaps the sainted Calvin Coolidge? Or cancel the $2 and put Jefferson on the $50.

How about an all-evil political slate:

$1 - Harding (for petty incompetance)
$2 - Aaron Burr (only gets the $2 since he was only vice-president)
$5 - John Tyler (for joining the confederacy, plus “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!”)
$10 - Rutherford B. Hayes (for stealing the presidency from Tilden)
$20 - Jackson (for genocide and the imperial presidency)
$50 - Buchanan (his waffling led to the civil war)
$100 - Nixon. The most evil president.

I would vote for Paul Tibbets

They’re in black and white. The back of the bills are green.
I would like to see Thomas Paine on something.

I thought this over and came up with this total revamp of coinage and paper:

.01 - Ben Franklin (penny saved is a penny earned)
.05 - Hamilton (bumped from $10)
.10 - FDR (no change)
.25 - Kennedy (moved from .50, I have better things in mind for George…)
.50 - deleted - an albatross of a coin if there ever was one
1.00 - Sacagawea (for now, at least it’s brass colored and distinct)

$1 - deleted - save millions on printing
$2 - Jefferson - now has a use
$5 - Lincoln (stays on paper)
$10 - Reagan (this is what prompted me to do this in the first place)
$20 - Jackson (no change)
$50 - Grant (no change)
$100 - George Washington (here he is - father of the country on the highest bill!)


As resident Opinionated Negro Doper – I, for one, would MUCH rather see Rosa Parks put on a $20 before Martin Luther King. He’s been lauded – often inappropiately.

But as an African-American, King’d probably end up on the next denomination before, say, Parks or Crispus Attucks, Booker T. Washington or Harriet Tubman.

I’d prefer to see any number of American women put on a bill first: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elanor Roosevelt, Sandra Day O Conner, Sojourner Truth, Anne Sullivan, etc.

Shouldn’t that be they are ‘bills of color and non-color’ :smiley:

Nitpicky point re: thread title.

“The” Great Dollar Bill debate concerns whether or not we should stop printing them. This is just “A” Great Dollar Bill debate.

I vote for Bill Gates; he owns enough of them, they should count as picture ID.

So? Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 bill, but he never held national public office. (He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and to the Constitutional Convention, but those were not, strictly speaking, offices.) Nevertheless, he was not merely a person of “cultural significance,” he was a figure of great political importance and influence. And so was King.

We also have Sacagawea on a dollar coin (for some reason, I’ve never seen anyone actually spend or receive one of those coins, but never mind that), and she never came within sniffing distance of American politics or government in all her short life, never even visited the places where political decisions were made.

And we once had Susan B. Anthony on a dollar coin – a poor design choice, given the results, but not a poor political choice – at the time, I don’t remember anyone questioning that she deserved the honor. And Anthony, like King, was an important political figure who never held public office.

Eisenhower was a president, but I’m just as glad the dollar coin with his picture has been discontinued. (Remember the Eisenhower doll? You wind it up and it does nothing for eight years!)

Isn’t JFK on the half-dollar? I know he was – I’m pretty sure he still is, but I haven’t seen a half-dollar in years.

FDR is on the dime.

If Reagan has to be honored on our currency, let’s create a one-cent bill and put his face on it. So we can afford to use it for toilet paper. Of course, it would have to printed on softer stock than all the others . . .

All in the US banknotes a pig-ugly and not getting much better.

We would do darn well to have a public design contest to drum up some interest and make one or two limited-edition bills in each flavor. People would keep them in shoe boxes, thus making the government a ton of profit.

Teddy would look good on a bill. Woody Wilson also (although perhaps our most dangerous president). FDR goes without saying. How about first ladies on the back?

You would think someone on the Web wold have a page dedicated to proposed designs for new US notes. If so, darn if I can find it.

Swap Reagan and Hamilton, and get rid of Grant in favor of, say, Truman. If FDR doesn’t “deserve” a bill, neither does Reagan. And it’s just not appropriate to knock Hamilton, the political great-grandfather of the Republican party, off the list to make room for a man who though Hamilton was the best of the best.