On marking bills

Speaking of using cash as an advertisement, I took in a $20 bill the other day that had Harriet Tubman’s face stamped on it, and my reaction was not “hey, thanks for reminding me of Harriet Tubman” or “yes, it was probably racist and sexist of the Treasury Department to put off redesigning the twenty.” It was not, in other words, the intended reaction.

My reaction was: “Will this get by the drop safe’s optical scanner? (pause) Apparently not, so I guess I’ll have to jump through hoops to get it out of my drawer like I’m required to.”

Marketers do count jumping through hoops as “engagement”, but something tells me that most of the people stamping bills haven’t thought it through that far.

…or maybe that’s giving them too much credit. Maybe they don’t care that their political ads randomly irritate people who handle cash for a living; as long as their cause is served, it doesn’t matter to them which other parts of society are corroded.

Or maybe it’s even simpler than that: “They’re just retail workers, fuck ’em.”


It occurred to me that maybe I’m in a small enough niche (people who have to run twenties through an optical scanner at work) that I might be unfairly exaggerating how thoughtless the Tubman-stampers might be, but there are a lot of retail workers in this country, optical scanners are increasingly common, and even if only a small percentage of retail workers have to use optical scanners, that’s still a few hundred thousand people who the stampers are choosing to annoy.

How many people’s lives would the Tubman twenty improve, again? Not how many people would prefer Tubman over Andrew Jackson, but how many people’s lives are made noticeably worse in a concrete way by the picture that’s currently on the bill? I’m sure there are some (Jackson was bad enough that his picture might still affect some people’s blood pressure) but probably not hundreds of thousands.


It’s equally annoying when righties do this. I’m thinking of one example in particular, a twenty with “TRUMP” scraweled across the back in thick black marker and two of the corners circled – Trump 20 20, get it? The grinning twentysomething who spent that bill thought he’d done something supremely clever.


P.S. Yes, the stamped twenties are political ads. If your personal definition is narrower – only broadcast-media spots count as “political ads,” not stuff sold on Etsy, or maybe only ads by larger organizations count, or only ads for causes you don’t support count because the term “political ads” has a well-earned negative connotation – then you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

Categories: PiecesTags: , ,

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