Rep. Polis Asks Treasury To Ban Dollar Bills, Mocking Senator's Request To Ban Bitcoins

from the you-win dept

Last week, we wrote about the technologically clueless grandstanding Senator Joe Manchin's bizarre request to the Treasury Department and the Fed that it figure out a way to ban Bitcoin. Almost everything in Manchin's letter was ill-informed, right down to his ridiculous assertion that we need to copy Thailand and China (who haven't really banned Bitcoin) to get ahead of this "trend." Of course, as we noted, along with a whole bunch of factual inaccuracies, almost all of Manchin's complaints applied equally to cash.

So, in response to a totally technologically clueless elected official, up steps Rep. Jared Polis, perhaps the most technologically knowledgeable elected official out there, with a counterproposal. He basically rewrote Manchin's letter, but replaced Bitcoin with the dollar bill, highlighting the sheer absurdity of Manchin's request.

I write today to express my concerns about United States dollar bills. The exchange of dollar bills, including high denomination bills, is currently unregulated and has allowed users to participate in illicit activity, while also being highly subject to forgery, theft, and loss. For the reasons outlined below, I urge regulators to take immediate and appropriate action to limit the use of dollar bills.

By way of background, a physical dollar bill is a printed version of a dollar note issued by the Federal Reserve and backed by the ephemeral “full faith and credit” of the United States. Dollar bills have gained notoriety in relation to illegal transactions; suitcases full of dollars used for illegal transactions were recently featured in popular movies such as American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club, as well as the gangster classic, Scarface, among others. Dollar bills are present in nearly all major drug busts in the United States and many abroad. According to the U.S. Department of Justice study, “Crime in the United States,” more than $1 billion in cash was stolen in 2012, of which less than 3% was recovered. The United States’ Dollar was present by the truck load in Saddam Hussein’s compound, by the carload when Noriega was arrested for drug trafficking, and by the suitcase full in the Watergate case. 

Unlike digital currencies, which are carbon neutral allowing us to breathe cleaner air, each dollar bill is manufactured from virgin materials like cotton and linen, which go through extensive treatment and processing. Last year, the Federal Reserve had to destroy $3 billion worth of $100 bills after a “printing error.” Certainly this cannot be the greenest currency.

Printed pieces of paper can fit in a person’s pocket and can be given to another person without any government oversight. Dollar bills are not only a store of value but also a method for transferring that value. This also means that dollar bills allow for anonymous and irreversible transactions.

The very features of dollar bills, such as anonymous transactions, have created ubiquitous uses from drug purchases, to hit men, to prostitutes, as dollar bills are attractive to criminals who are able to disguise their actions from law enforcement. Due to the dollar bills’ anonymity, the dollar bill market has been extremely susceptible to forgers, tax fraud, criminal cartels, and armed robbers stealing millions of dollars from their legitimate owners. Anonymity, combined with a dollar bills’ ability to finalize transactions quickly, makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse fraudulent transactions.

Many of our foreign counterparts already understand the wide range of problems that physical currencies can have. Many physical currencies have enormous price fluctuations, and even experience deflation.  20 years ago Brazil had an inflation rate of 6281%.  In 4 years (2001 to 2005), the Turkish Lira went from 1,650,000: $1 to 1.29 to $1. In 2009, Zimbabwe discontinued it’s dollar. Before it was eliminated, the Zimbabwe dollar was the least valuable currency in the world and their central bank even issued a $100 trillion dollar banknote. A person would starve on a billion Zimbabwe dollars and it took an entire wheelbarrow full of $100 billion dollars in notes to purchase a loaf of bread.

The clear use of dollar bills for transacting in illegal goods, anonymous transactions, tax fraud, and services or speculative gambling make me wary of their use. Before the United States gets too far behind the curve on this important topic, I urge the regulators to work together, act quickly, and prohibit this dangerous currency from harming hard-working Americans.

Sincerely,

Jared Polis
Member of Congress ​

This is, to put it mildly, absolutely hilarious. I imagine that we'll see some traditionalists bitch about a Congressional rep using satire to mock a colleague, but that's just silly. This makes the point better than any boring letter or speech would ever do. And, considering that Rep. Polis has no problem wearing this on the House floor, I get the feeling he really doesn't care at all what "traditionalists" think of his actions around Congress.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    I would like to vote Rep Polis's proposal as "Funny".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    St Pat, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:30pm

    It's funny, but...

    5 bucks says his opponent uses it against him (non-ironically) in the next election.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    testcore (profile), Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Old news

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    And what if this succeeds?

    How ironic would it be if the Fed actually did outlaw dollar bills using this request as justification, and opt for a purely electronic transfer of funds system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    considering how banks and governments want to control all money transactions I wouldn't be surprised if they actually do this, satire or not. I wouldn't even necessarily say if that peice was satire or not

    todays world is so insane that even the most outrageous satire quickly becomes yesterdays news...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:45pm

    Don't give them ideas

    I have recently found out that older dollar bills are worth less (you have to pay 20%-30% of their face value to exchange them for real money), so I guess it is sort of already happening.

    Soon, they'll require you to register before carrying more than a certain amount of dollar bills (say US$ 10,000).

    Then they'll start confiscating your dollar bills if you try to use them to buy certain categories of more expensive items (like a car or a house), because terrorism.

    Where will it end?



    (am I doing satire right?)

     

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  7.  
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    Kronomex, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    Re:

    I wholeheartedly concur.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    Re: It's funny, but...

    5 bucks in dollar bills or bitcoins?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    St Pat, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re: It's funny, but...

    Direct deposit. It's the only truly safe way, you know.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    Please please keep this Representative out of the policies of the White House. I shutter to think of what would happen should he learn of DMHO (dihydrous monoxide) or of carbon monoxide and its' associated dangers as claimed by the White House.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/26/the-whitehouse-releases-a-laughable-state-by-state-climate-imp act-report/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Don't give them ideas

    If you have to ask, you’re not doing it right. As to the Congressman’s proposal, the best line: “Certainly this cannot be the greenest currency.”

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    John, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 3:38pm

    He missed one....its a drug taking instrument

    I'm sure I watched a movie the other day where they used a dollar bill to sniff drugs. Shocking. The police should arrest every person carrying a dollar bill with "carrying an instrument used for drug taking".

     

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  13.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 5th, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    Re: And what if this succeeds?

    Can't happen unless there is another form of anonymous currency ready to take its place. Big business has a large need for anonymous currency and would never allow it to go away. The economic impact of eliminating it would be disastrous for everyone.

     

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  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 5th, 2014 @ 3:53pm

    Re: He missed one....its a drug taking instrument

    A dollar bill? That's not realistic at all. No self-respecting cokehead would use anything less than a $100 bill.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    edpo, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 4:05pm

    Abscam

    "Dollar bills have gained notoriety in relation to illegal transactions; suitcases full of dollars used for illegal transactions were recently featured in popular movies such as American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club, as well as the gangster classic, Scarface, among others...."
    ______________________________

    Abscam might have hit too close to home to use.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Re: Don't give them ideas

    Not since they started multicoloring them.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: And what if this succeeds?

    Since when has the potential of a disastrous economic impact stopped the US government from doing anything?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Manfred Manfriend, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 5:59pm

    Traditionalists???? Which traditions are those?

    Traditionally the best way for a politician to score points and win voters was to engage in better rhetoric than their opponents! I wish this were still the case as it gave life to many a brilliant quip and inspired a bright and lively debate in the halls of government. Perhaps the need to be quick witted even acted as a filter to keep the wheels of state moving by punishing the slow and dim whenever they opened their mouths to spew inanities?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 6:34pm

    this is the same guy who entered the transcript of the internet is for porn in the sopa debates.

    I love this guy. I wish i was american so i could vote for him.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Digitari, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 7:16pm

    Something Overlooked

    How would the Senate and Congress get their brib..er political contributions??

    can't have an electronic trail for THAT!!!!!

    (PACS and SuperPACS would just DIE!!)

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2014 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re: It's funny, but...

    $5 worth of pennies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 5th, 2014 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: And what if this succeeds?

    When it affects the income of major corporations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    AC Unknown (profile), Mar 5th, 2014 @ 9:33pm

    Re: Re:

    I third this proposal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 6th, 2014 @ 12:11am

    Re:

    Please please keep this Representative out of the policies of the White House. I shutter to think of what would happen should he learn of DMHO (dihydrous monoxide) or of carbon monoxide and its' associated dangers as claimed by the White House.

    I think you need to learn what satire means.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    ethorad (profile), Mar 6th, 2014 @ 12:33am

    Re: Re: He missed one....its a drug taking instrument

    self-respecting cokehead?

    Sounds like an oxymoron to me ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Anonymous Howard (profile), Mar 6th, 2014 @ 12:33am

    Re:

    It's funny, but it's also spot on!
    Give this guy a medal, a cape and 1k interwebz. (he would probably appreciate it)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2014 @ 4:51am

    Re: Something Overlooked

    PACS and SuperPacs are to help politicians get elected, so in some sense, they are already where the bribes go.

    True bribes usually go to the politicians pet charitable foundation. The one where they, or some close family members, are in charge of raising more funds. The one where 90% of the money is used to raise more money. Most of that 90% usually goes to employ the people in charge of raising the money. The best thing about it, not only do they not care about paper trails, but the bribe is tax deductible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2014 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re:

    Yup. Carbon monoxide is actually bad too. It's the idiot senator he was mocking who needs to get the boot. In the future, please read the article before commenting on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2014 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: Something Overlooked

    Like the foundation the Clintons have?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Fail, Mar 6th, 2014 @ 7:43am

    Ugh

    A purple polo with a bowtie, so tacky. At least his humor and insight are leagues above his fashion sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2014 @ 7:44am

    BTW - it's nice to see Dems going after Dems once in a while. Gets boring when it's routinely Dems v. Repubs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 6th, 2014 @ 9:06am

    Re:

    That link is hilarious in its pettiness and willful misunderstanding of the report it's criticizing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Pragmatic, Mar 6th, 2014 @ 9:06am

    Funny satire, but I've been hearing exactly this from minarchists for years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    John, Mar 6th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    Re: And what if this succeeds?

    Never happen. How will lobbyists pay off our elected reprehensibles?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2015 @ 1:29pm

    I applaud this masterpiece. What a fine gentleman you have there in Congress. I thought them extinct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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