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Read any good bills lately?

Whenever I look at money, I am disappointed that I have so little of it. I am also disappointed that American money is so dismal to look at. Money is the fast food of the printing industry. Dollar bills and their ilk are small paper canvases upon which we have painted nothing. So little imagination, in fact, has gone into the design of our currency that one wonders why so many Americans go to so much trouble to accumulate it.

There is hardly anything worth considering about our paper money. It speaks its value and moves on. Bottle caps are more attractive; tennis balls are more useful. Of course there is always some wise guy who will challenge you to name the make of automobile found on the back of a ten-dollar bill (it's a Cord), and some precocious fifth-grader is lying in ambush, breathlessly waiting to tell you what famous Americans are pictured on our currency. But for the most part, money as a paper product provides us with little humor, wisdom, education, or literature. Why, even cereal boxes from time to time have been known to display enjoyable reading material. Our dollar bills, our five-dollar bills, our ten-dollar bills, our twenty-dollar bills, our fifty-dollar bills, and our one-hundred-dollar bills ought to be at least as interesting as a cereal box.

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Let us change the laws that govern the printing of money. Let us turn our currency into an educational tool. The United States is struggling to teach its citizens the metric system. Why not print the metric system on dollar bills?

We could fight, through our monetary system, the growing tide of illiteracy. Dollar bills could carry rules of grammar, helpful spelling hints, games, puzzles, and simple math problems.

Why not print short poems on our dollar bills? The signatures of the secretary of the Treasury may well chart the psychic life of our nation, but on the whole, they do not provide interesting reading. Poets, on the other hand, are always grumbling that no one ever reads their work, so just imagine how wide an audience a poet could reach if his or her work were printed upon money. I say remove George Washington's unsmiling face from our dollar bills and replace him with works by Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, or even Eddie Guest.

In addition, dollar bills could circulate recipes, stories from American history, reading lists, and thoughtful quotations. As bills increased in value, the nature of the information provided would change. One-hundred-dollar bills (I presume they are still in existence) would tell us about vacation resorts and would provide us with travel and dining hints.

If the Treasury of the United States will follow my advice, new jobs will be created. Artists, writers, and teachers will be put to work, and a new spirit will inform the land. Once our citizens begin reading their money, who knows what the next step will be?

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