Despite their only being worth five cents each, we at the U.S. Mint have redesigned the nickel, again.
When we wanted to tweak the quarter, we weren't content with just one design so we came up with 50, one for each state. The Mint felt that there is no need for this many designs for the nickel. The big shots at the Mint, however, rejected my proposal that the backs of the new nickels be designed not by U.S. States, but by its territories (American Somoa, Micronesia, Guam, Midway Islands, Puerto Rico, and Iraq).
So, naturally any opinion I offer about the new "Westward Journey" coins here is severely biased. Nevertheless, I feel it is my duty to offer a concise currency critique:
What was wrong with Jefferson's left side anyway? And I will never understand John Ashcroft's obsession with hiding Tom's pony tail. He was really upset when we released the first two redesigns without making the changes he suggested. His argument didn't make any sense. Even if it did make Jefferson look like an "effeminate Loyalist" a five cent coin doesn't exactly demand the strength of Arnold Schwartzenegger (another rejected proposal).
Then Bush sent Cheney over to the drawing room and we all had a huge fight about how Jefferson had spent time in France, and how the current administration really can't stand the place and yada yada yada. Cheney wanted us to print "FREEDOM" on the coin in capital letters, but we talked him into "Liberty." We had to explain, no, it wasn't just a French statue.
I have to say, the buffalo back looks pretty sharp. We pretty much did what we want with this one because no one in the White House has ever seen a buffalo.
It became pretty clear early on that there was going to be some sort of aquatic dictum on this. And it also made sense that a really long hike across the great plains in 1804 would be boring and could potentially make one very thirsty. It would be exciting to find such a large body of water (even if it's not potable). Anyway, when we discovered Lewis wasn't really much of a poet, and spelled it "Ocian," not "Ocean," we began looking for alternatives.
Being a big Vaughan Williams fan, I suggested the opening of the Sea Symphony:
Behold, the sea itself,
And on its limitless, heaving breast, the ships;
See, where their white sails, bellying in the wind, speckle the green and blue,
See, the steamers coming and going, steaming in or out of port,
See, dusky and undulating, the long pennants of smoke.
We had our artistic differences in the past, so it wasn't much of a surprise when those in charge at the Mint told me to hold out for the Lewis and Clark silver dollar.
Besides, what is Tony Blair going to put on his new coins?
Tangent: Lewis and Clark: What Else Happened
Tangent: The financial cost of the Iraq war is estimated at about 135 billion dollars at the time of this writing. That works out to about $460.60 per American citizen. The 2000 Census reported an average U.S. income of $42,000. This means that a little more than a cent of every dollar earned by an American goes to fund the Iraq war. Maybe the coin with Iraq on the back should be the penny.
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