A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Reagan Bill

Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has introduced legislation that would remove Ulysses S. Grant from the $50 bill and replace him with Ronald Reagan. He argues, ”Every generation needs its own heroes” and that it's time to give a Reagan a place beside Roosevelt and Kennedy. It’s an interesting idea bound to go nowhere, but I wonder who is really behind this idea.

I strongly suspect that this is really the work of the Reagan Legacy Project. This is a group of prominent Reagan admirers who want to have some sort of reminder of Reagan’s greatness in every county of the United States. I hadn’t heard about them in a while, and I assumed that they had faded away.

The Legacy Project has had some success. They got the airport outside of Washington DC named after Reagan, even though his greatest contribution to aviation was firing experienced (but unionized) traffic controllers. President Clinton obliged the project by arranging to have a federal government office building on Pennsylvania Avenue named after Reagan. This was viewed as appropriate at the time of the building’s dedication because of cost overruns and delays that plagued the building during its construction.

Oh yeah, I’ll bet the Legacy Project was smiling about that one.

I had hoped that cooler heads would prevail before it got to the point of naming every other child in the country “Ronald” or “Reagan” (my imagination) or they took a jackhammer to Mt. Rushmore to immortalize the Gipper in granite (don’t laugh, this idea was actually proposed at one time). Now they are going after our money.

I hate to admit it, but McHenry may have a point. We should briefly note the state of American money. Washington is on the $1 bill; Jefferson on the $2; Lincoln on the $5; Alexander Hamilton on the $10; Andrew Jackson on the $20; Grant on the $50; Ben Franklin on the $100; and above that who cares, because no normal American citizen will see anything above Franklin in their lifetime. Do you see a pattern? With the exception of Hamilton (first treasurer) and bon vivant Franklin, the rest served as President. To put it more bluntly: they’re all dead white guys!

Now this is all well and good for the course of American history. After all, these men did contribute much to their America, but we’ve outgrown the colonial notions of who was and who wasn’t important. Back then, you had to be white, male, and own property to vote! Now suffrage has been extended to many other citizens who are members of a multicultural and multiracial melting pot who may not be able to relate to the heritage reflected in the pale kissers found on our paper currency.

In this respect, McHenry has a point: Grant is not necessarily a relevant hero to today’s generation. So let’s just buy into the Legacy Project’s notion that Ronald Reagan is bigger than Christ (italics mine) and take it one step further. Why not enact a system where one of our dollar denominations has a rotating honoree? In other words, every twenty years or so we update the image on the bill with another more contemporary person to honor.

The new image would be determined by an act of Congress. What the hell! As far as I can figure out, Congress hasn’t done anything else for the American people lately. They might as well devote some time contemplating who gets printed on our money. Let them vote on nominees sent in by average Americans via the Internet. And, oh okay, attach a small tax to each vote to ensure the integrity of the process and also help pay down the federal deficit about which we hear so much.

So let Reagan become the new face for the $50 bill. Then in 2030, it will be time to change the face again. Who knows who will qualify as a relevant hero then? It may even be Barack Obama.

The McHenry and the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project should be careful what they wish for...

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that it takes 100 Washingtons to equal one Franklin, which isn’t saying much for Washington.)


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