SocraticGadfly: Get ready for the NEW new sawbuck and fin

May 20, 2008

Get ready for the NEW new sawbuck and fin

No, it’s not the Treasury’s latest anti-counterfeiting move.

Paper money discriminates against the blind. A federal appeals court, by a 2-1 vote, has upheld the ruling from District Judge David Robertson on the issue:
“A large majority of other currency systems have accommodated the visually impaired, and the Secretary does not explain why U.S. currency should be any different,” Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote for herself and Judge Thomas B . Griffith.

Sounds like a slam-dunk ruling to me, under provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the American Council of the Blind, about 1 million Americans are legally blind, and another 2.4 million have vision of such quality they cannot distinguish denominations of paper money. (Pictured at right is how Canadian currency uses Braille-like features.)

The Department of the Treasury had argued it would cost about $178 million for new presses and $37-$50 million per denomination for new printing plates.

But, Robertson said in his original ruling that he did not see an undue burden in the issue.
“Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency,” Judge Robertson wrote on Nov. 28, 2006, “only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations.”

Vending machines may cost as much as $3.5 billion to retool, Judge A. Raymond Randolph said in his dissent.

But, this will be a phase-in over several years. Companies will keep old vending machine equipment patched together while waiting for the details of new bills.

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