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In God We Trust — For Revenue

I have long referred to the motto smuggled onto our
currency, "In God We Trust", as advertising for the
Judeo-Christian deity. In a capitalistic society, there is
nothing, of course, wrong with advertising per se. There is
a good deal wrong, however, with giving it away for free.
The promoters of said Judeo-Christian deity have been
enjoying a free ride at taxpayer expense for far too long,
and in an age of governmental cheese-paring as part of the
new and improved voodoo economics, it is quite fitting that
those promoters start bearing their fair share of the

I propose that our government bill for any advertising
on our currency at the rate of 1/10 of 1% of the face value
of the coin or bill. Obviously, pennies will always be dirt
cheap: you have to stamp out 1000 of them to earn $0.01 in
revenue, but you would at least get $100 per million, and we
turn out many millions of the things per year. Quarters are
possibly even more numerous than pennies, and net you $2,500
per million minted, possibly enough to pay production costs
on the coins.

It is with paper money that the Treasury can really
balance the books: it is far cheaper to print on paper than
to stamp out metal objects, and the denominations are much
larger. Dollar bills, of which we probably print billions
every year, yield $10,000 per million printed, a nice, round
number. Twenties would be the cash cow, yielding a
substantial $200 K/mil, and probably being our most numerous
bill after the single, but fifties and hundreds seem to be
increasing of late. To those who might protest that at the
high end, the rates are too heavy, I would point out that
their longevity makes up for the difference. Singles have a
useful life of about 7 months, after which they, and the ad
for the superfriend invisible, are shredded. Fives last for
a couple of years, tens for several, and so on–the bigger
the bill, the longer the ad will "run". Hundreds last for
decades before being retired.

Collecting the fees would be a bit cumbersome at first,
but with the aid of computer technology, this is not an
insurmountable problem. In order to be tax-exempt, churches
are registered as such with the IRS, and statistics are kept
of the membership of the various denominations. At year’s
end, all one need do is tot up the number of coins and bills
of each value manufactured during the year and do the math to
arrive at a sum total. The second calculation is of the
whole mass of churched persons who think that it is _their_
god being mentioned on the currency, sorted according to
their individual churches, chapels, synagogues, tents, snake
handling pits, or whatever. Divvy the sum total up per
capita of that sort, and send those churches, etc. their

The first time, each statement ought to be clearly marked
that payment is optional; failure to pay, however, will
result in that church’s membership being subtracted from
that whole mass of churched persons above, along with the
church’s tax-free status. The fees will, of course, be
greater for the remainder who do pay, but they will go on
enjoying the tax breaks they so richly fail to deserve.

If all refuse to pay, not only will the corporate income
and real estate tax revenues swell, but we can throw the
currency ads open to bidding. Jews, for instance, might be
delighted to foot the bill to see "In G-d We Trust", or
perhaps the Hebrew letter tetragrammaton. With all that oil
money behind them, Arabs might like "In Allah We Trust." If
this were printed in Arabic letters, the fundies wouldn’t
even notice that the god had been swapped out on them.

For the past couple of years, the Treasury has been
issuing "special" quarters, commemorating the
various states. This suggests that the technology has
advanced sufficiently for die changes to be relatively cheap
and short runs feasible. Like the Franklin Mint, they could
offer special limited editions to faiths without pockets
deep enough for the entire production. Wouldn’t it be fun to
go through one’s pocket change to find a "In Krishna We
Trust", a "In Goddess We Trust", and a
"In Joo-Joo We Trust" all in the same handful?
This could usher in a new golden age of numismatics.

Of course, the real money these days is in commerce, and
if the religious are unwilling to pay for their divine
promotions, we can rely with confidence upon corporations
taking up the slack. I find the sentiment "In Windows
We Trust" even more hopefully wan than the unevidenced
faith of the Christians, but Bill Gates apparently believes
it, and he has the bucks to back it up. Of course, there is
no real need to retain the "In _____ We Trust"
format: "There’s a Ford in your Future" would fit
nicely in slightly smaller type, and a simple
"STP" logo could be in a larger one.

I do not foresee any objections from the Christians on
this eminently fair proposal. Most of them seem to be fiscal
conservatives, telling us again and again that there is no
free lunch; after enjoying free lunches in the advertising
department for so many years, they would surely wish to pay
according to their principles.

On the other hand, should Christians and Jews attempt to
maintain that the "God" in the slogan really
represents all dieties of all people, making the
slogan not an ad but a warm, fuzzy blessing for everyone,
then we ought to make that explicit. In keeping with
diversity (politically correct), let all instances of the
phrase "in God we trust" on any governmental
production bear an asterisk after the word "god",
and below, in a typeface half as large as that of the word
"god", list all the supernatural beings to which
that word may be held to refer, consistent with the laws of
our Nation, provided that the last item of said list be
"none of the above" to give us WOAs some standing
in the swarm.

Unless we start making saucer-sized pennies and bills
bigger than platters (or unless we start printing the slogan
in micro type) our currency will probably be hard to read,
but nobody will be offended by their favorite mystic
personage having been left out.

(c) 2001, Donald L. Martin