Joanne Palmer: Keep an eye on your money
December 11, 2012
Did you know there's an eyeball on the back of a $1 bill? And 13 arrows and 13 hats? And if you get out your magnifying glass, you may be able to find an owl in the upper left-hand corner.
Get a dollar bill out of your pocket and take a long, hard look because this column is all about paying attention to things you look at every day but don't really see. Because we all are spending money like a teenager who has consumed too many Red Bulls, I thought I'd use the dollar bill as an example.
If you examine a $1 bill closely, it really is pretty interesting. It is not made from paper but a blend of cotton and linen and has a life expectancy of just 18 months. The back of the dollar bill is full of mysterious Latin words that sound like Harry Potter is casting a spell on someone. With a lot of help from Wikipedia, here goes the translation: "In 1782, the Eye of Providence was adopted as part of the symbolism on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. On the seal, the Eye is surrounded by the words Annuit Cœptis, meaning 'He approves our undertakings,' and Novus Ordo Seclorum, meaning 'New Order of the Ages.' The Eye is positioned above an unfinished pyramid with 13 steps, representing the original 13 states and the future growth of the country. The lowest level of the pyramid shows the year 1776 in Roman numerals. The combined implication is that the Eye, or God, favors the prosperity of the United States."
Isn't that cool?
You may want to have the Geek Squad on standby, as this is going to get geekier before it gets better. Although today, the number 13 generally is considered to be unlucky, in 1782, they couldn't get enough of it. There are 13 stars above the eagle, 13 letters in Annuit Coeptis, 13 vertical bars on the shield, 13 leaves on the olive branch, 13 berries on the olive branch and, guess how many letters are in E Pluribus Unum? Thirteen!
But enough about 1782. Let's talk about today and how you can sound hip about your cash. Here is some slang you can use to refer to the dollar bills in your wallet: Mr. Washington, Washington, ace, single, buck, greenback. I am rather fond of Lil' Will. Sorry, bro, I only got Lil' Wills in my pocket.
And "diet dollar." Use this phrase the next time a snack vending machine rejects your cash. The mean old dollar is forcing you to be on a diet.
It's a good idea to appreciate the money in your wallet today because soon, it may be obsolete. There are several movements that will render money either obsolete or decidedly different.
Many people think the penny should be retired. It costs more than twice as much to make a penny (2.4 cents) than a penny is worth. In Canada, they stopped penny production and saved $11 million per year.
New Yorker Richard Smith is the founder of the Dollar ReDe$ign Project. He questions why our money is green, why all paper denominations are the same size and why they all bear images of dead white men. Take a look at his website to see what money of the future might look like. It really is quite amazing: http://richardsmith.posterous.com.
Many others think digital money is the future. Try to wrap your head around e-currency, because I can't. I still like my greenbacks, even though they seem to fly right out of my wallet this time of year.
Most of all, take a closer look at your money and other things in your daily life — you might be surprised at what you learn.