Once a sailor, always a sailor: McCain hopes bill to eliminate bills will help enrich strippers

OK, to be fair, he was set up. But he rose to the bait, and had fun with it:

(CNN) – If Congress passes the COINS Act replacing the $1 paper bill for a coin, the U.S. government may be able to save billions in printing costs at the expense of a little more jangle in the average consumers’ pockets. But what about the strippers?

That’s what The Hill newspaper asked one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. John McCain, in a piece published Thursday. The question came from a separate 2011 story where the publication suggested strippers could suffer in a bill-less economy, with G-strings and garter belts far less accommodating of cold metal.

For his part, the Arizona Republican responded in stride in a Capitol Hill hallway.

“Then I hope that they could obtain larger denominations,” McCain reportedly told The Hill.

According to The Hill, the 76 year-old McCain started answering questions from another reporter before a smile spread across his face and he shouted down the hallway to The Hill, “Fives, tens, one hundreds!”…

Hundreds? Bada-Bing!

You know, if this bill passes, and the senator wants to determine whether it’s having the desired, um, stimulative effect on the economy, I’ll be glad to help him with the research. But only if he’s buying; I hear the drinks are pretty pricey in those dives.

But seriously, I like the idea of this bill. When I was in England, I thought it was great that I could make small purchases — postcards, newspapers, a cuppa, or a bottle of beer from an off-license — with pound and two-pound coins. They were very handy.

But dollar coins have never caught on in my lifetime. And you know why? Because we haven’t produced a dollar coin that anyone could respect, much less love. Not since the old silver dollars, which by the time I came along were already collector’s items that your grandma gave you for your birthday and you stashed them safely in a dresser drawer where they still reside to this day.

I’m not going to get into the politics of choosing Susan B. Anthony and Sacajawea as the “heads” side of these coins; that’s neither here nor there. People would use dollar coins with Alfred E. Newman on them, if the coins themselves were substantial and respectable.

TwoPoundCoinBackInstead, our mints have produced these light, cheesy things that look and feel like they’re inherently worth less than a copper penny. They look and feel like something you’d get out of one of those old machines in arcades that squished a penny and stamped your name on it. And you can’t distinguish them from quarters in your pocket.

By contrast, the pound coin has heft, and thickness, and a good tactile feel to its surfaces. You can immediately distinguish it when you reach for one. As for the two-pound coins — they’re amazing. They are so distinctive, so substantial, you’d think they were crafted by the dwarves in Middle Earth in time out of mind. It even appears to have Elvish inscriptions on it.2pd02r

Craft something like that, and America won’t miss the dollar bill.

Maybe we could use some of the money saved by eliminating the paper ones to make these coins something Americans would actually want to use. For a change.

32 thoughts on “Once a sailor, always a sailor: McCain hopes bill to eliminate bills will help enrich strippers

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, now I’m feeling bad about making the joke about helping McCain do research in strip clubs.

    I actually don’t think there’s anything funny about those places. I find them pretty appalling. They’re just so amazingly degrading, exploitative, and destructive to the lives of the young women involved. I knew one of them (through a family member who went to school with her), and she died not long ago at a very young age.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Another point — I probably shouldn’t just pick on our failed dollar coins. Truth is, this country hasn’t produced ANY coin worth having since 1964. They’re just all so chintzy. The only reason we haven’t totally rejected latter-day dimes and quarters is that they are at least approximate knockoffs of their former, higher-quality, selves.

    Yes, I realize the cost of silver went up, but surely there are ways in the metallurgical arts to produce something inexpensive that doesn’t look and feel so cheap.

    1. bud

      A dime or even a quarter IS cheap. Take a whole bunch of them to even buy a decent hamburger.

  3. Tom Priddy

    Brad, I haven’t carried coins in my pocket in months. I stopped when I discovered how convenient is it to use a debit card for small purchases. Dollar coins? Moot issue. We’re all going electronic.


  4. Bryan Caskey

    On the issue of ahem…”dancers”, I believe that some Canadian gentlemen’s clubs have plexi-glass up between the dancers and the patrons to protect the dancers from heavy flying coins. That’s kind of a buzzkill.

    On another note, a friend of mine who lives in NYC told me a story about the Sacajawea dollar coins. Apparently, when they were really being pushed out onto the market (early 2000, I think) NYC cabbies refused to take them. On multiple occasions, she tried to pay with the coins, and the cabbie would get really upset, loud, and demand paper money. My friend (not being the confrontational type) meekly complied and ended up changing all the dollar coins in at her bank. I’m not sure if the cabbies objected to the aesthetics of the coin or something else, but they sure didn’t like ’em.

    Personally, I’d be cool with some $2 coins. It would be good to have a couple of those for tips. Guy valets your car, you flip him a $2 coin on the way in, another on the way out. Steve McQueen would be ok with flipping the valet a cool coin.

    1. Doug Ross

      Having ridden in cabs hundreds of times in my career, my view is that cabbies have one goal: get paid in cash to avoid paying taxes. Actually, they have a second goal: avoid taking a shower.

      Having 50-100 dollar coins at the end of the night probably means having to go to a bank to turn them in. The easy solution for this is to require all cabs to accept credit cards. It would end up forcing them to pay the taxes they owe.

      1. Mark Stewart

        My favorite is when they would try to pass off fake bills/coins for change.

        They may hate the credit card readers; but I don’t.

        1. Silence

          Mark – When do they do that?
          My worst story is a time when I didn’t have exact change and was exhausted from my trip home (from Central Asia) and the ride came to 25 bucks. I pulled out 40 and the cabbie said he didn’t have change. I was so tired I believed him, or didn’t take it up with him. I told him to go up to the c-store around the corner and get the change, and bring it back to me. Which he of course didn’t do, so I was out $15 bucks. If I’d been a little less sleepy I’d have had him just take me up there, or I’d have gone in the house and written him a cheque.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            My husband let a kid in his central Detroit neighborhood “test drive” his bicycle for a quarter, and didn’t even get the quarter up front. He was about eight years old then…..you, jet lag, she is a demon!

  5. Silence

    Coins and dollar bills were doing just fine until the Federal Reserve started us on this inflation path that we are on today. Things went along fine even during the Bretton Woods period, until Nixon switched us over to fiat currency in 1971, when he fully pulled the plug on the gold standard. Of course I blame William Jennings Bryan and his support for bimetallism for setting us on the path towards the eventually devaluation of our currency.

  6. Doug Ross

    We should also do away with the penny while we’re at it. Round up or down to the nearest nickel.

    1. Silence

      Doug, instead of doing away with the Penny, we should bring back the Haypenny, or Half Penny. Which we would need if they hadn’t inflated our currency.

  7. Scout

    I used to think our coins were cool, until I went to England. That was 1989; I don’t know if they have the same versions of coins now as then – but I do remember being very impressed with the pound coin. It was so substantial. It just felt like it was worth something. I remember when I got home it felt like our coins were made out of aluminum foil. Very unsatisfying.

    I also remember being very impressed by their milk – to get what I was used to as whole milk here, I had to buy their version of skim milk. Their regular old milk was like cream with a little ring of fat on the top of the bottle like yogurt. And the most crucial thing I learned, sadly not until the last day: they call dark chocolate, plain chocolate.

  8. Bart

    When I worked in the UAE, the paper currency was the dirham. Looked a lot like monopoly play money. However, I still have several coins that are amazing in design. One has a stag on one side and a friend made a hatband with them. Really great looking. Still have a few coins of the realm from my time there.

    Never did like the Susan B. Anthony coins. Not because of SBA but just the general feel of it and quite honestly, the inconvenience. I could never get the hang of folding the darn things, especially in my wallet. Killed my back sitting on a wallet full of SBA coins. 🙂

  9. Kathryn Fenner

    Euro coins are nice and heavy, too, and come in ones and twos, but as your change accumulates, your wallet gets quite heavy!

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Also the bills get larger as the denominations get larger, which is convenient….

  10. Norm Ivey

    The reason we’ve never embraced the dollar coin is because we have the dollar bill. We don’t need both, and it’s easier to carry a handful of ones than a handful of coins, no matter what the coins are like. The COINS act eliminates the bill in favor of the coin. And I think coins are more environmentally friendly because of their longevity and recyclable nature. I agree the coin should be substantial. And yes, please let’s do away with the penny.

    I seldom carry coins or cash. I can’t remember when I last had need of a coin except for vending machines, and I probably don’t need to be consuming anything that comes out of a coin-op machine anyway. I carry cash to flea markets and garage sales, and to get my hair cut. Other than that, it’s the debit card.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Food is considerably cheaper in Germany, and I think it is because almost every food transaction is on cash. It is more complicated than using plastic for everything, though.

    2. Silence

      Ultimately, I think it would behoove the government if all transactions went to plastic. It leaves an electronic trail (can’t really say paper trail here) for the taxman to follow. I think the scale of the cash (and unreported) economy is bigger than the official estimates. Illegal drugs of course are a cash transaction, but so is a lot of day labor and service work. I’ve only had a few folks specifically ask for cash instead of a check, and I assume it’s because they are not going to report the income, but if 20% of the tree guys income is cash, that’s a big chunk that isn’t getting reported.

  11. Bryan Caskey

    I think he’s around (seen on Twitter). Sure could use some new content up in here, though. If you’re bored waiting for Brad, feel free to come visit my little corner of the blogosphere by clicking on my name.

  12. Brad Warthen Post author

    Sorry. Just got back from a busy family weekend.

    We’ve sort of developed a family tradition of celebrating my wife’s birthday at the end of July each year with a beach trip. I rushed to get out of the office and head down there Friday, so no blogging that day.

    Then, on Saturday and Sunday, we were at the beach house that my mother inherited from my grandfather with all five kids and all five grandchildren. So I was busy every minute, either escorting grandchildren to the ocean and back, or holding their hands in the surf, or helping them fish in the lake in the backyard, or rowing them around in the jon boat. I never even took my laptop out of the bag. I had my iPad, but the kids were busy with it. (My 3-year-old granddaughter is quite adept at moving from app to app and watching whatever she wants on Netflix.)

    Then, on Monday, I drove my pickup down to Charleston to move my youngest daughter out of an apartment.

    So I was way busy. Had a great time, though.

  13. Brad Warthen Post author

    Speaking of fishing and cash.

    There’s one type of situation in which one needs cash these days…

    There’s this bait shop I go to at the beach, and if I go there to buy some crickets for fishing, which only cost a dollar or two, I can’t pay with plastic, because they have a $10 minimum, or something like that. So when I went to get crickets over the weekend, I also bought a couple of inexpensive minnow nets for the kids to play with. Just to get my purchase over the minimum.

    That sort of thing — a minimum for using plastic — used to be fairly common. Most merchants have gotten with the whole 21st-century thing these days, though. Fortunately.

    1. Doug Ross

      While in Yellowstone two weeks ago, we ate at a restaurant that rewarded cash paying customers with a free piece of cake. They said it was due to the high transaction costs imposed by the credit card company.
      If you’re ever near Gardiner, Montana check out the Lighthouse Restaurant. Best steak I have ever had in my life. A 12 ounce NY Strip that had been dry aged for 30 days.

        1. Doug Ross

          I’ve read up on it.. it’s apparently not the same as the restaurants can better control the humidity.

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