Tag Archives: Mandate

I (Heart) You, Babe

St. Valentine’s Day come round again, bringing with it the pure joy and sense of togetherness that is love.

It surely wouldn’t bring with it feelings of inadequacy, panic, anger, frustration, sexual frustration, crumpling under pressure, performance anxiety, fervent desire to be somewhere — anywhere — else. Surely.

Ha, don’t call it Shirley.

I’m not sure if it’s a difference between dudes and dudettes, but the men I know really have no special affection for Valentine’s Day. To us, it’s just a day where we used to get candy in school and (at least for me) that inadequate feeling when the only Valentines in your bag were the ones that got given out to everyone in the classroom.

Even when I ostensibly grew up, I never saw all that much reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I probably got it from my AlohaDoc, aka my dad.

I can’t remember how many times he told me the story of how, when he was a young dude himself, he used to break up with whoever his girlfriend was at the time right around the first of February. That way he didn’t have to go out and purchase a gift.

Women, on the other candy assortment, seem to love Valentine’s Day. I found this out during the first Valentine’s Day I spent with the lady who would become my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Having More Fun Than Anyone I’ve Ever Met Before.

We were about to swap presents when she said, “I love Valentine’s Day. It’s always been so special to me.”

At which point my heart crumbled to dust, sifted out my body and landed in a small, dry pile on the linoleum of her dad’s kitchen floor. Because, being an idiot, I’d managed to get her something remarkably unspecial. Heck, it was so unspecial, I can’t even remember what it was.

What I do remember is the look on her face, the sadness trying to hide behind a really bad poker face. I’ve learned since then. Valentine’s Day is a big deal.

Me? Still not so much. The way I see it, I would rather receive spontaneous recognition of someone’s love for me during the year than have one day where that display is mandated. I mean, is it really special when you’ve got to do it?

I’m not so sure about that.

Anyway, I don’t want to come off sounding all cynical and anti-love. I’m not. Well, not anti-love. I can’t help being cynical. I mean, after all, my eyes and ears do work and I pay attention to the world. How could I not be cynical?

But not cynical about love. Love is amazing. Love. Love will keep us together. It’s just Valentine’s Day I have a problem with.

That said, I still went out and got some very nice presents to hand over to my Sweetie. I’m not telling because she’ll probably read this before I have a chance to give them to her.

The hug’s going to be nice. As for anything else. . .

See you later, dudes.

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A Billion Here, A Billion There

by Richard

Oddly enough, in a cash-strapped economy, with governments scratching for every cent they can get and folks trying for any job that will pay a living wage, there’s more than a billion dollars squirreled away in the federal reserve.

It’s all about the dollar coins, you see. Congress mandated that the U.S. Mint should make dollar coins with the faces of different presidents. It was hoping that the dollar coins would be as popular as the quarters for each state program that’s been going on for a while.

The problem, dudes, is that no one wants to give up their paper dollar bills. They don’t want to use the dollar coins. Which means the federal reserve is stacking up those unwanted coins. And, because Congress told the Mint to keep making them until the program ends, the Mint is making more and more dollar coins, which no one is using. And then storing them.

The pile of idle coins, which so far cost $300 million to manufacture, could double by the time the program ends in 2016, the Federal Reserve told Congress last year.

So, just so we’re clear, that’s more than $1 billion in coins, which cost $300 million to make and will cost at least that for the duration of the program. All in all, we’re talking almost $3 billion.

Very odd. I mean, I collect change as well. But, eventually, I spend it. I take it to a Coinstar machine and get some gift cards, or donate to a charity. I don’t just keep the money.

You’d think someone, somewhere in the government might have the bright idea to actually get these coins spent and, maybe, since it’s not working, cancel the program. You’d think.

To paraphrase a famous quote: A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon you’re talking some real money.

If the mandate to make presidential coins wasn’t enough to generate a growing heap of unwanted coins, a political deal ensured that even more unwanted coins would be produced.

It was easier for the bill’s sponsor, then-Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), to move the presidential coin bill forward if it didn’t displace other dollar coins honoring Sacagawea, the teenage Native American guide to Lewis and Clark.

The deal: The mint would be required to make a quota of Sacagawea coins. Currently, the law says 20 percent of dollar coins made must have Sacagawea on them.

Yeah, this is going to work out really great.

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