Viewpoint: Finding a gold mine

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A trip inside Federal Reserve vaults

We did it!

Well, not we as in the Cougars, we as in Congress.

We reached a debt agreement! What’s that? Oh, both sides are still angry? That doesn’t sound like much of an agreement. In fact, it sounds kind of like what we’re already used to: contention in government.

Now, I don’t have any great solution. I wish I did. In my life, getting out of debt involved not spending money.

The government just can’t do that.

There’s a promise with this current “agreement” leading to around another $2.4 trillion in savings over the next 10 years.

I realize this doesn’t seem like a lot compared to about $14,568,700,000,000 but it’s a start.

Like I said, I don’t have an idea for the U.S. to get out of all its debt, but I do have an idea of where it can get another $1 billion-$2 billion.

(Yeah, I know, a billion dollars is hardly anything when we’re talking trillion, but it can’t hurt.)

Hidden deep with in the vaults of the Federal Reserve are sparkling bags of gold-colored coins. Piled one on top of the other, you’d think these were stored to preserve their ancient significance or protect their hidden secret.

There’s no Spanish gold in these vaults — in fact, they aren’t even historically significant. They’re gold dollar coins stamped with the faces of Sacagawea and the presidents from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant.

Why are they stored, neatly packaged, in the vault?

No one wants them.

I’ll admit it — I’m one of these ungrateful despisers of the gold coin.

I have about five of them somewhere in my apartment, given to me by grandparents who hoped I would use them.

I tried, but after a few attempts in grocery stores, markets and clothing shops I gave up. I was tired of the strange looks, the calls to the managers and the assumption that I’d done some terrible counterfeiting of quarters.

What I could never figure out, however, is why the coins were still produced when it was clear no one wanted them?

I found my answer.

NPR reported on Congress’ 2005 decision to inspire Americans to use the coins by placing the images of their beloved presidents on the shining, gold exterior.

A congressman, worried about reducing the number of Native American Sacagawea coins, lobbied and passed a law assuring 20 percent of all coins would continue to have Lewis and Clark’s brave guide.

Well, the presidents did not inspire the people to cast aside their dollar greenbacks that fit so nicely in their wallets.

But there’s no turning back — you wouldn’t want to offend poor Rutherford B. Hayes, who hasn’t had his coin made quite yet.

So they’ll keep printing coins, some for the presidents and 20 percent for Sacagawea.

We’ll keep on using greenbacks, afraid of what change might bring us.

But government, since this all failed, why don’t you put it toward the debt count.

It’s like a penny in a very, very deep well, but at least it’s better than nothing.

On the other hand, if you just need a home for Abe Lincoln and the gang, I’ve always wanted a Scrooge McDuck-sized Money Bin where I could swim and count my loot.

I’ll build it if you fill it. Deal?

Well, you know where to find me — in the meantime, I’m taking diving lessons.

Not that I’ll hold my breath.

 

Allie McCoy is the opinion editor for The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and not necessarily that of The Daily Universe, BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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