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Ben Franklin Gets a Long-awaited Facelift

The Benjy, Hundy, C-Note, Big One may finally get its long promised update on October 8, if the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing gets its act together and stops blundering the $100 bill into another taxpayer debacle.

The new $100 bill was supposed to go into circulation on February 2011 and now 32 months later, another snag in the form of a printing error called “mashing” has send the initial batch of 30 million bills to the bonfire.

Remember Kindergarten when you were “forced” to paint within the lines of an object with water colors and too large of a paintbrush? Well that is what happens when “mashing” occurs, too much paint on the paper and lines become blurry instead of crisp where different colors meet. Kind of the Mistake 101 for a schooled printer.

In any case, $3 billion dollars in $100 bills went to the fire pit and the bill goes to the taxpayer. To add insult to injury, it turns out that another $30 billion in paper (300 million $100 bills) is awaiting examination and the Feds are adamant that they will not accept any hundred dollar notes from the Washington DC plant (the culprit) until further notice as the October 8 deadline rapidly approaches.

The financial ramification in terms of pure cost to the taxpayer is a bit hard to come by since both the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have little incentive to calculate this, but as an economist I have a keen interest in understanding that it is not really the direct cost of paper and printing that determines the cost of a $100 note, it is exponentially more effected by the cost of government incompetence as taxpayers pay for everything from inspecting, correcting, producing, transporting and securing/incinerating all the botched notes as well as the new notes to replace them, plus….the additional hours spent making up for mistakes by employees of the Bureau for Engraving and Printing. This of course is on top of the proud admittance by the Feds that more than a decade of research went into the new design!!!

Why does it take so long to correct things on Government levels?

We all have heard about the atrocities in filing at the Veteran’s Bureau and the enormous delays of Social Security claims, so much that Law Offices have made it a profit center. We know that any statistic coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics is massaged into a politician’s wet dream and we should know by now that Richard Nixon’s decision to take the US dollar off the gold standard in 1971 was going to make our currency value dependent on how much trust we “the People” have in government’s competence and honesty to serve and guide us in our pursuit for Life, Liberty and Happiness. Two things stand in the way of governments performing in the interest of the people: the power of institutionalized incompetence and the ingrained disrespect for opposing political views.

As I said, the new $100 bill, reportedly the most widely circulated note in the US currency system (inflation anyone?), was supposed to go into circulation on February 10 of 2011. A printing snafu that put a blank spot on the note prevented that and delayed introduction by apparently no less than 32 months. Then in October of 2012 thieves stole what was termed “a large amount” of newly designed $100 bills somewhere between Philadelphia and a Federal Reserve facility in New Jersey. Apparently these notes were printed correctly, but were not intended to go into circulation until October 8 this year.

Since no clarity was ever provided on the exact amount that was stolen- the FBI called it substantial-  and I can’t find any mention of catching the thieves or recovering the bills since, here is an assumption: In the bigger scheme of things the theft was indeed substantial but not big enough to trigger the need for a design correction. And some people are going to be very rich come October 8, which can easily be waved off as trickle up economics or unaccounted as “foreign aid”. I think it was Egypt desperately looking for $30 billion in aid from Russian President Putin earlier in April this year. Imagine the traitors, after all the billions we have given to support them over the years!

Lest we prefer to ignore current circumstances with our heads in the sand, we know that we have landed in a global scenario where everything Wall Street/Washington has become “way too big to fail.” The stake holders in the triad of power, politics and  pecuniary interests see no difference in Bernanke guaranteeing monthly treasury incentives of up to $85 billion in “QE infinity” to prop up a failing economy or organized theft of currency shipments to stake a ruling claim in another nation. Iran-Contra is just one historic example and a rather innocent one in the stakes currently facing the world.

But Anyway….with a nod to the Blues Traveler concert at TCP Sawgrass Friday evening, if you are interested in the looks and development of the new $100 note, there is an entire website devoted to it.
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