Sure, the US could do away with paper dollars. The question is, can we do away with paper dollars competently?
American consumers have shown about as much appetite for the $1 coin as kids do their spinach. They may not know what’s best for them either. Congressional auditors say doing away with dollar bills entirely and replacing them with dollar coins could save taxpayers some $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.
Vending machine operators have long championed the use of $1 coins because they don’t jam the machines, cutting down on repair costs and lost sales. But most people don’t seem to like carrying them. In the past five years, the U.S. Mint has produced 2.4 billion Presidential $1 coins. Most are stored by the Federal Reserve, and production was suspended about a year ago.
That might be because the US dollar coins look so much like a brassy quarter that they confuse people. The lack of precious metals in them makes them less interesting to collectors and investors. The mint’s design error has made sightings of dollar coins in the wild about as frequent as sightings of Bigfoot popping the hood of a parked UFO.
At any rate, the savings we would get from switching to dollar coins have already been offset by the waste of creating the stockpile 2.4 billion dollar coins that no one wants, right? I bet they could move a bunch of dollar coins if they put Obama’s face on them, though.