Mint the Gold Coin(s)!

Lincoln Presidential CoinNerdy finance blog nerds, Nobel Prize winners, and political satirists spent early January discussing the Mint The Coin movement, a currency trick to allow the Obama administration a way around the pesky debt ceiling, via a platinum coin with a  $1 trillion denomination.[1]

The $1 Trillion coin suggestion came about because the debt ceiling allows Congressional leaders another crack at pushing a fiscal austerity agenda.[2]

What if I told you about a different Mint the Coin movement we can all participate in, that could save $5.5 Billion over the next 30 years that could be applied toward the federal deficit? What if I told you that it wouldn’t cost you or any taxpayer anything at all? On the contrary, what if I told you that your simple actions would actually save $ millions in storage costs for the federal government?  Would that be something you’d be interested in?[3]

For the past 2 years, I have personally led my own Mint the Coins movement, by ordering and paying virtually all of my cash transactions with $1 Presidential gold coins.

Because ethically I am a Neo-Kantian,[4] I believe it’s my moral duty to act as a one-person Mint the Coin(s) proponent.  If everybody else ordered and used the $1 gold coins, we could all help reduce the deficit at precisely zero costs to ourselves and the government.

I will now admit that when I first began ordering the $1 coins directly from the US Mint, I acted more from a Locke- or Smith-style enlightened self-interest, not Neo-Kantian ethics, as the US Mint created a perpetual airline miles accumulator by offering free shipping for credit card orders.

But even after the US Mint shut down that opportunity for enlightened self-interest, I continued to order the coins from my local bank.  My bank teller always looks at me funny when I order the next box of coins ($1,000 minimum per box!) but it’s their obligation to request them for me, for free.[5]

My Sunday night poker competitors know that my buy-in will consist of a $25 roll of Lincolns.[6]  Or Jacksons.  Or, like a month ago, the dreaded Buchanans.[7]  My dry cleaner knows she’s getting the gold cha-ching.  The guy at the local coffee place tells me has an entire jar full of my $1 coins.  The new bakery, with those amazing scones, gets paid with my special gold pirate booty.  In all of my local neighborhood cash transaction, I’m that guy.  The gold coin guy.

And I’m the only one in my city of 1 million plus who does this.[8]

By the way, how do I know nobody else uses these $1 gold coins, besides the fact that the US Mint has a warehouse full of $1.4 Billion of untouched, unwanted gold $1 coins?

I know because 99.5%[9] of the time I pay with $1 coins the recipient reacts with surprise[10] and announces a plan to pull the coins out of circulation and save them in a special drawer.

And so, my spent coins never get placed back into circulation.  Thereby ensuring the failure of the program.  Also, at least as of a few years ago, Americans reported an overwhelming preference for $1 bills, despite the fact that no other country keeps paying such small denominations in bill form.

With the $1 Presidential coin program a flop, the US Treasury announced a roll-back of new Presidential $1 coin minting, following the issuance of the highly sought-after 21st President Chester A Arthur’s coin.

Oh…it’s a lonely road out here, pursuing my own mint the coin(s) project.

[1] You may have paid attention, or you may not have paid attention to the #mintthecoin Platinum coin movement.  Mostly it depends on how much of a nerdy finance blog nerd you really are.

[2] One side claims fiscal prudence, the other side claims ‘hostage taking.’  Can’t we all just get along?

[3] Is that something you might be interested in?  It’s so worth your time to watch those scenes from Entourage.  But I digress.

[4] How should one act, according to Kant? “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.”

[5] For that matter, did you know that you can ask your bank to specially order $2 bills for you?  They’ll do it for free.  Stacks of them.  $2 bills are rare now, but they wouldn’t be if we just asked for them at the teller and circulated them normally instead of giving them to our kids under the pillow when the tooth fairy visits.

[6] In a related story, about a dozen guys in the neighborhood regularly find themselves carrying around $25 rolls of $1 Presidential coins.  I got poker skillz.

[7] Dreaded because he’s the worst president in history.  So I figure it’s only a matter of time before those $1 Buchanan coins trade for less than $1, right?  Or have I misunderstood something?

[8] Ok, there’s actually one other guy, who told me about the airlines miles scam 2 years ago.  But he and I are it.  I’m sure of it.

[9] I rounded down, to be conservative.

[10] And I’d like to think, momentary delight

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7 Replies to “Mint the Gold Coin(s)!”

  1. I love the dollar coin! Much prefer it to the bill. This is a great idea. I wondered why it was that Brian often came home with a stash of dollar coins from poker. He even brought a whole roll home one time. As Paul Harvey would say, I now know “The Rest of the Story.” And I may start following suit.

  2. They are not gold. It’s just the color. They are Copper with manganese brass cladding. There is NO gold in these coins.

  3. So, from the point of view of reducing costs associated with printing and minting money, what are your thoughts about a completely electronic monetary system and doing away with currency completely? We virtually have this now, since most of our money is just a number on an electronic ledger. Unless you keep it under your mattress, or in a sock drawer. BTW, I don’t recommend that, I lost $2000 in a sock drawer once.

    1. Lewis, sorry about the $2K!
      About your question, philosophically and technologically, an all-electronic monetary system makes perfect sense. If we were to found a new country in 2013, Lewislandia, and invent a new currency, The Lew, I’d advocate for all-electronic. A combination of phone-devices and/or swipe card should be sufficient for all our monetary exchange needs, with the legacy of personal paper checks if you need to do person-to-person without a ‘card-reader’ handy.
      It solves lots of problems
      1. Carrying around change, weighing down your pocket/purse
      2. Making change at the store
      3. Losing $2K in the sock drawer
      4. The costs of minting and printing
      5. Counterfeit bills
      6. Guys like me paying for stuff with heavy rolls of $1 coins

      I see no downside to your plan.
      A few tea-party ‘preppers’ would object to the all-electronic plan because it would be the final indication that Obama and his Satan-allied Treasury department and Federal Reserve were inserting FBI listening devices in the credit cards. But, you know, they’ll say that if the sun comes up in the morning as well.

      Also, if we do issue “The Lew,” the symbol is not going to be your face, but rather, Rihanna’s. Ok?

      1. Yes, I had thought of the Big Brother angle. But that’s already possible, and most people aren’t going to take all their money and buy gold from Glenn Beck.

        As Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of Lewislandia, I approve Rihanna’s face on the currency. But it would probably be a hologram or something, right? Cool. On another topic, do you make the math problems needed to verify reply posts harder if someone is annoying? Just wondering, in case you start asking me to do some calculus.

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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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