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2000-02-10
Washington, D.C. Don't Use the Sacagawea

The lines between public and private enterprise keep getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Consider the announcement by the U.S. Mint that it would spend $40 million in federal tax dollars to promote a new dollar coin. The so-called "golden Sacagawea", it turns out, has no gold in it, just manganese, brass and copper. To make matters worse, the U.S Mint has put the fate of poor Sacagawea in the hands of Walmartians! The Mint sold $100 million worth of coins in an exclusive government deal to Wal-Mart and Sam's Clubs. If taxpayers want to get their new dollar coins, the US Mint is directing them to one private corporation. The Mint also put out another $100 million to Federal Reserve banks, which will distribute the coins to private banks. That makes sense. But why the pay-off to Wal-Mart? "They were the first ones to bring us a proposal which would meet our objective, which was to get our coin out as soon as possible in retail cash drawers," said a US Mint spokesman. It's not as is the public was clamoring for a dollar coin. The Mint admits that the Susan B. Anthony coin was a dud, but now they are back with another one. Why do we need a dollar coin? The Mint's primary objective appears to be providing us with a coin for vending machines that won't accept tattered paper money. Thank you Uncle Sam for delivering your people from such vending machine horrors! Mint officials also tout the fact that a coin will last 30 years, while a dollar bill will circulate only 14 months, so presumably there's some savings in this deal somewhere for the federal government -- even after we spend $40 million in coin to promote the new coin. If the coin lasts 30 years, by the way, it means that Sacagawea will last longer than most Wal-Marts, which on average may last half that lifespan. Smaller businesses across the nation reacted angrily to the sweetheart Mint deal with Wal-Mart. It turns out the only gold in the Sacagawea was reserved for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

What you can do: What's next? Will the US Mint give Wal-Mart the right to exclusively print money because they submit a proposal that Wal-Mart take over operation of the US Treasury? Do we really want our government to spend $40 million promoting Sacagawea while millions of American families don't have basic food and shelter? Was there some widespread movement to save ourselves from tattered dollars? Other businesses have justification for resenting any efforts by the federal government on any level to send consumers to one business over another. So how can we respond as consumers? 1) Go to the US Mint website, and send them an email: Free Sacagawea from Wal-Mart! 2) When you are offered the "Wal-Mart coin" anywhere, just don't accept it. Tell the person offering it to you: "Send that coin back to Wal-Mart, where it came from." Don't let the "golden Sacagawea" slip into your pocket. Put it back on the counter and ask for a "Green George" instead. Free Sacagawea from her corporate captors!










 
 
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