Vol. 2, Issue 17, April 27, 2004
Typos On New $50 Bill "Security Features," Insists Treasury
The recently unveiled redesign of the $50 bill has generated a storm of controversy following the realization that the new design is riddled with typographical errors.
"Designing a new bill is an extremely complicated process," admitted Treasury spokesman Robert Nichols. "If a few "i's" weren't dotted correctly or a few "t's" didn't get crossed, I really don't think it should impinge upon the overall significance of the design or hinder its use as legal tender."
The new $50 bill will sport a more colorful, patriotic look, with infusions of red and blue, a waving flag and a metallic silver-blue star - all part of government efforts to combat sophisticated counterfeiters. The bill was unveiled on Monday in a ceremony at Forth Worth, Texas, where the bill will be printed. However, reporters present at the unveiling ceremony noticed some problems with the design.
"For starters, the portrait of our 18th president is labeled as "Ulysses S. Grunt," said Time magazine financial correspondent Frank Grimes. "It was pretty much downhill from there."
Other errors noted by reporters present included the inclusion of a K in "America," inconsistent capitalization, and several variations of the word "fifty." However, even as Nichols was busy downplaying the significance of these apparent mistakes, Treasury Secretary John Snow told reporters that the orthographic variations are part of the bill's arsenal of security measures.
"You see, good counterfeiters are generally fastidious and detail oriented," Snow told reporters at a press conference. "They tend to correct mistakes like this automatically, without thinking about it. It's basically an orthographical sting operation. And when they try to pass bills with everything spelled correctly, that's when we nab them."
Not everyone is convinced that the errors are intentional, however,
"The Treasury Department pulls this kind of thing all the time," said David Morrow, Professor of Economics at the University of California Irvine. "There were problems when they unveiled the new $20 last year as well. Do you remember the upside-down portrait of Andrew Jackson? They initially tried to tell people that was for the convenience of shopkeepers. Then they quietly fixed it. It's unreal."
The Treasury Department has long been plagued with allegations of incompetence and favoritism. Turnover is very low in the Treasury, as it is very difficult to terminate employees under its unique organizational structure.
"Things have really not been the same at the Treasury Department since it was granted permission to print extra money to pay its employees," said Morrow. "It was a budget-balancing trick that has backfired. Now, the salaries of the Treasury don't show up on anyone's books - they are paid exclusively with suitcases of money that they print for themselves after hours. That just can't be good for the system."
President Bush was surprised to hear about the controversy surrounding the bill design.
"Heck, they showed me that bill last week, and I didn't see anything wrong with it," noted the president. "I've always been fond of President Grunt."