Friday, April 23, 2010

The All-New $100 Bill

One of the major crimes that is resolutely fought by police and federal authorities in this country is counterfeiting, defined as "the illegal reproduction of money with intent to deceive." That means that the person who prints the money wants to trick you into believing that it is actually worth something. We call this individual and his accomplices the Department of the Treasury.

But seriously, folks...

Counterfeiting is a serious problem. People must have confidence in the value of the cash they pull out of their wallets to pay for food, new cars, lottery tickets, baggy jeans, and double venti vanilla cappuccino frappes at Starbucks. Iraqis and Afghans need to be confident that the huge pallets of shrink-wrapped $100 bills we ship to their countries are worth enough to pay them to stop acting stupid for a while.

One of the ways your government fights counterfeiters is by redesigning the currency every few years. This year it's the turn of the beloved $100 bill, also known as the "C-note" or the "Benjamin" (in honor of the American historical figure whose grumpy visage is on the front). The Treasury Department this past Wednesday unveiled the redesigned $100 bill, which includes an embedded security thread, a new watermark, and a holographic image of Benjamin Franklin that wags its finger in disapproval when the bill is placed on a copy machine.

I personally don't care about the redesigned $100 bill. The chances that I'll ever see an actual $100 bill, real or counterfeit, is vanishingly small. The truth is that the $100 bill exists for the convenience of lobbyists, who find it a convenient denomination for stuffing envelopes to be presented to the legislators they are renting. After all, a $10,000 payoff paid in one-dollar bills would require a small steamer trunk, whereas the same bribe paid in Benjamins could be conveyed in a fairly small envelope able to be conveniently carried in an inside pocket or hidden in a freezer. C-notes are also popular with rappers, as they make an impressive wad with which to impress ladies who would otherwise recognize them as talentless low-lifes, and to compensate for the small size of their ... uh ... never mind.

So, friends, be confident that the Department of the Treasury is taking every technical measure to ensure the security of the hundreds that you shell out to your congressman, corner drug dealer, or the IRS. And the rest of the Federal Government and the financial mismanagement industry are working together to ensure that those hundreds aren't worth enough to make them worth counterfeiting.

Now, that's security.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.



Gilahi said...

I still don't understand why the U.S. hasn't done what so many other countries have done: make the different denominations different sizes and colors, and add a hologram or obvious watermark, not to mention using a plastic-like material for the bills. It would make it much harder to counterfeit, longer-lasting, and as a bonus it assists blind people with their currency handling. I think the U.S. spends a fortune battling counterfeiters in ways that have proven over and over again to be ineffective. Other countries don't have the problems we have with that issue.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I hated when they redesigned the twenty..what 3 times in a about 5 years.

Mind you I don't see that many C notes ever...

Anonymous said...

Gilahi I salute you for surfacing an issue that has bothered me for years--we do all these compensations for the disabled in this country, but still leave them at the mercy of some criminal making change at the pharmacy(although I suppose politicians don't give change for bribes). And it is a telling point that European currencies (useless as they are) are harder to counterfeit. Of course counterfeit money helps raise the US money supply surreptitiously, so it might be authorized by Congress for all I know.

Eminence Grise

Mike said...

They should just get it over with and put Mickey Mouse's picture on all the bills.

Alex said...

Don't forget casinos, who I believe are the largest consumers of $100 bills.