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December 2, 2012

Could the dollar bill be on its way out?

A branch of the U.S. government is pushing for a dollar coin instead

(Continued)

But many Americans don’t see it that way, as past surveys indicate that people prefer using dollar bills. Dollar coins seem to be used far less and wind up collecting dust on top of a dresser or being thrown into an empty bottle, never to be used again.

As a result, the U.S. Treasury stopped production of dollar coins in 2011.

However Lorelei St. James, the director of the GAO, said trying to save the government money should be the country’s primary concern rathr than consumer convenience, and if the paper dollar was to be replaced permanently, it could save the U.S. government about $146 million per year and $4.4 billion over a span of 30 years by shrinking production and processing costs dramatically.

“We continue to believe that the government would receive a financial benefit from making the replacement,” said St. James in a statement. “We realize that replacing the $1 note with the $1 coin is controversial. In fact, public opinion has consistently been opposed to the $1 coin.”

Environmental benefits

The GAO also points to the environmental benefits of removing the dollar bill, since coins can eventually be melted and made into new coins when they become overused or damaged.

The agency also says coins can last for almost 40 years, while dollar bills only last up to four years before they start to wear and can be easily torn.

Plus, once dollar bills are unusable, many are dumped into landfills, and the entire process from printing to being discarded costs the taxpayer unnecessary amounts of money, claims the GAO.

Although the GAO makes seemingly good points in terms of cutting back on taxpayer expense and creating a higher level of sustainability in the production of money, the auditing agency will have its work cut out for it when it comes to convincing consumers to make the switch from dollar bills to coins.

Consumer opposition

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