Money trails lead to strange places

Ted Streuli, The Daily Record Newswire

Much has been made in recent weeks about the U.S. Treasury's announcement that Alexander Hamilton's days on the $10 bill are numbered. It's time for a woman to grace paper money.

Plenty of candidates have been discussed, and an online contest was held, but the promoters were shooting for the $20 bill. W20 Women on 20s took votes for 10 weeks. They were hoping to get a woman's portrait on $20 bills in 2020, the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage. Forgotten, apparently, is that 2020 is also the 100th anniversary of the election of Warren G. Harding, generally regarded as the worst president in U.S. history and a world-class philanderer. No one is blaming the new batch voters for his victory.

W20 went after the $20 bill because while Andrew Jackson, whose face is there now, founded the Democratic Party and was known as a champion of the common man, he was also the president responsible for the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Plus, he argued against a central bank and paper currency, so his immortalization on the $20 bill is an incongruous twist.

Let's be clear; we're talking about paper money. Susan B. Anthony on the dollar coin check. Sacagawea on the gold-colored dollar coin that was supposed to help us stop confusing the dollars with the quarters check. Helen Keller on the back of the Alabama state quarter yep, got it. We can even give a nod to Martha Washington on an oversized $1 Silver Certificate in 1886 and 1891. But no one's paying their turnpike tolls with Silver Certificates these days and the last time I used a dollar coin was, um, are they still minting those?

Eleanor Roosevelt was the big vote getter in the preliminary round with more than 130,000, followed closely by Harriet Tubman. Famed feminist Betty Friedan came in last with about 11,000 votes. In the final round, Tubman won it, with Roosevelt second, Rosa Parks third and Oklahoma's own Wilma Mankiller finishing fourth. As W20 said on its website, "We like to think of the whole experience as Women's History Month on steroids estrogen."

A petition to put Tubman's face on the $20 bill was presented to President Barack Obama in May. Then Treasury Secretary Jack Lew got on TV and said, "Yeah, we'll use a woman. On the $10."

"The nerve!" said W20.

It's not really about Hamilton versus Jackson. And, sadly for W20, it's not about their petition, either. The $10 was next in line and the redesign was started in 2013. Its anti-counterfeiting measures need updating and it will be the first tactile bill to aid the visually impaired (no, that's not a reason to nominate Helen Keller). Plus, Treasury is hedging its bets: Thanks to ATMs, the $20 bill is used four times as much as the lowly $10.

Lew is open to ideas. The public may comment via a special website, And you can suggest anybody you want.

Air Force Amy, the world's most famous veteran hooker thanks to her stint on the HBO series Cathouse, said she should be considered.

"In the Air Force I served this country and fought for her freedom, and as a courtesan, I have elevated women's power within the business to the level of six-figure incomes and the ability to control their own destinies," Amy said in a press release.

Alas, one must be dead to appear on stamps or money. And clothed.

"This bill isn't getting minted until 2020, and I may not make it that long," Amy said. "Go ahead and plan for me, and if I'm still around we'll give it to a secondary choice who's not."

Sally Stanford, perhaps?

Published: Mon, Jul 13, 2015