gratuitous image
19 October 1996

Forced by the Occasion

I just got one of the new United States hundred dollar bills. A hundred dollars isn't what it used to be, and neither is the note. Some treasury committee has unfortunately succeeded in capturing the spirit of the United States at the end of the twentieth century: technically advanced and moronically ugly. It has a few neat gizmos: plasticized paper, an embedded metal strip and--finally--a watermark.

It's most notable feature, though, is that it's incredibly repulsive, especially the typography. The "United States of America" looks like it was created by someone who did way too much LSD in the 1960s ... and then had a flashback thirty years later after drinking too much vodka. The nastiest piece of work, however, is associating old Ben Franklin with this bureaucratic debacle. Ben, who was by most accounts an accomplished craftsman with a printing press, will for the foreseeable future be associated with this mediocrity.

I'm sure none of this would have surprised Ben, who said, "Those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into execution new projects. The best public measures are therefore seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion."

I think there's really nothing to do but spend the c-note on a bottle of Wild Turkey. I think Ben would have wanted it that way. (He did, after all argue that the turkey should be the United States' national bird.) As I see it, I'm forced by the occasion. Ça ira.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart