One of the most frustrating things about having a new job and actually being busy at work is that I had gotten so used to being able to write blog posts at my leisure. Basically, I want to write an essay on every topic that strikes my fancy. Unfortunately, I just don't have an hour or two every day to do that anymore. So here are two mini-essays. First I want to welcome new readers from the Jewish Times, which has been kind enough to mirror some of my blog posts. Feel free to click on the "Comment Globally" button and join in the conversation! (Regular blog readers - don't bother looking - the button is not for you)
Is That a Dollar Coin in Your Pocket?
I've always been a fan of the dollar coin. At least, I was a fan of the Susan B. Anthony coin and the Sacagawea coin. Neither is used much now, and you probably can't even get your hands on one unless you're getting change from a Post Office vending machine or you specifically ask for one at a bank. Actually, last December when I tried to get 10 Sacagawea coins from the bank as a gift, they didn't even have that many in stock. I walked away with Anthony coins instead.
I first learned to appreciate coin money when I visited Israel for a month. Walking around in a foreign country where only half the people I saw spoke my language, I appreciated not having to dig out my wallet stuffed with cash and travelers checks ever time I wanted some falafel. But here in the US, people don't want them. Or do they? It's hard to tell when they don't even get a chance to have them in the first place. I went out of my way to get Sacagawea coins when they came out. But no store ever gave them to me as change. That's where I get all my money in denominations smaller than $20. Every store handed me wrinkly dollar bills, not shiny dollar coins. I ended up having to put a $20 bill in the stamp machine at the post office to buy $2 worth of stamps. When I did spend my dollar coins, golden or silver, everybody took them without a question. Everybody gave me the correct change. Cashiers didn't act like I had just gotten off the boat. The US Mint said demand just didn't exist for the coins. But if Congress really wanted to switch to the (cheaper and more durable) dollar coins, they would stop issuing the paper bills altogether.
In 2007, the Mint is issuing "Presidential Coins", just like they're doing with the state quarters. Unless they start printing fewer bills, I predict you'll never actually see one in circulation.
You're Not Going to Be Happy in 2008
The latest polls are showing that people think the Democratic and Republican nominees for President in 2008 will be Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. I predict neither one will be on the ballot in November, as Prez or as VP. Hillary is no surprise. Right-wing pundits have pushed her towards this job since 1993. According to my law of politics, their "reporting" of her presidential ambitions has created reality. Giuliani isn't really surprising either, unless you remember what people thought of him on September 10, 2001. Clinton was 30 points ahead of another Democrat in the poll, but Rudy was a mere 8 points on top of John McCain, another man who won't be running for President in November (although I could see him running for VP).
I'm not going to start a discussion of electoral votes or the order of the primaries or the fact that both Clinton and Giuliani hail from New York (at least now they do). The simple truth is that Clinton is too conservative for the Democratic primaries (yes, despite what Faux News tells you) and Giuliani is too liberal for the Republican primaries. It's a Christmas-time wishlist of an election slate. Clinton and Giuliani are so similar it would actually be a dull campaign, which is probably what 280 million Americans are hoping for.
In a way it's a shame that the candidates Americans most want (in aggregate - I know you want someone else) they can't have. In 2004, nobody was particularly excited about John Kerry. The word most people used for him was his "electability". Not exactly someone who moves you. Personally, I would have loved to have seen Lieberman do well, although I never thought he had a prayer. I can't predict who will get the nominations in 2008. It would be pretty cool to see Clinton go up against Condoleeza Rice. That won't happen either, any more than we'll see a Michael Bloomberg v. Joe Lieberman race. Maybe Karl Rove will run, if he's not sent to jail. That would be exciting. Who do you think will get the party nods? Who do you want to get the party nods?