After decades of the same old coins and bills, the US is getting new money. New bills, with an improved face and boring, ugly backs have been designed to make counterfeiting more difficult. A new one dollar coin, one of the best looking coins since the walking liberty silver dollar, was created to reduce the use of dollar bills, which literally wear out in six months and have to be replaced. And fifty new quarters, one for each state, were created to see how many people are dumb enough to spend twenty bucks on a cardboard map of the US. As we work our way down to lower denominations, we should plan on bringing back the US's first coin.
In 1787 the Continental Congress of the Confederation commissioned the first penny. Designed by Ben Franklin, the front featured the sun rising over a sun dial. The word "Fugio," Latin for "I fly," sat next to the sundial, reminding everyone that tempus fugit. But most importantly, at least as far as this article is concerned, was the motto under the sundial, which admonished everyone to "Mind Your Business." Some scholars believe that this was intended as advice to business owners, but if they're correct it blows the whole premise of this article, so we'll brush that interpretation aside.
If we had to condense the Bill of Rights, boil all ten of them them down into a single right, the demi-glasse of the constitution would be "The People have A Right To Be Left Alone." The BoR says the government has to leave us alone regardless of what we think, who we hang out with, what we do in our own homes and what we choose to reveal to them. The Feds pretty much ignore these rights, much to the delight of the Prison Guard's union, but that's a tangent for another article. Having the Feds mint billions of coins that say "Mind Your Own Business" would be a good reminder for them.
It would be nice for atheists to be able to use at least one form of money that didn't have religion plastered all over it. The phrase "In God We Trust" is about as generic as a religious statement can be, but even generic religious statements don't belong on money unless you're living under the Taliban. People with no invisible means of support shouldn’t be forced to carry around a motto they don't believe. On the other end of the spectrum, some religious people don't think it’s a good idea to mix god with filthy lucre. (Although most don't seem to mind.) Teddy Roosevelt had the phrase left off of $20 gold coins in 1907 because he felt that it was blasphemous to have millions of dirty hands caressing the word "God" just before passing it on in saloons, gambling halls, and brothels. Congress responded stupidly (surprise surprise) and made it law that, along with law abiding people, every hooker, bootlegger, drug dealer, extortionist, lawyer, pornographer and blackmailer be paid off with money bearing the word "God."
Speaking of blackmailers, Clinton just signed another nanny law. It requires states to declare that a hundred twenty pound woman who has had two glasses of wine is legally drunk. The federal government is forcing this the same way they forced states to raise the drinking age to twenty-one and lower the speed limit to fifty-five - with blackmail. States that don’t comply with Hillbilly's mandate will loose two percent of their federal matching funds for highway development. This is money that comes from the states originally, gets delivered to the Feds, and they return some of it, less a shipping and handling fee. (Most states also notice the contents have settled during shipping.) Wouldn't it be great if, in response to this kind of intrusive federal arm twisting, states could pay those taxes in pennies – billions of them, loose, in boxcars and tractor trailers, every one of them telling the Feds to mind their own business? How many would it take to bury the Washington monument?
When someone asks, "What are you thinking?" I'm always tempted to spit back, "If I wanted you to know I wouldn't be thinking, I'd be talking." Fugio cents would allow a much more polite reply. I could tell her (and it's always a her, men don't ask that question) "I'd prefer you'd say 'a penny for your thoughts.'" Then have her actually take out a penny. Then have her read it.
Imagine if just a few percent of the population would take this motto to heart. Life would be noticeably better with fewer nannies in our lives and our government, telling us what to do and how to do it. And when someone refused to abide by it would could remind them by tossing them a few pennies. We could toss them very, very firmly. Firmly enough that we could recognize nannies by the coins embedded in their foreheads.
It's hard to find a better, simpler piece of advice, or a phrase that answers so many difficult questions so well. What is the essence of good government? Of good business? Of solid friendships? Of successful relationships? Of being a good neighbor? Of being a good employer? Mind your own business. Mind your own business.
That's my two cents worth.
More information on the fuigo cent.
© 2000 Dave Hitt