The U.S. currency system has not significantly changed since the early 1900s. Instead, the Treasury has only tinkered with a few bits and pieces to improve security and numerical legibility, and to add some extra “slogans” to meet public demand.
Why is our money all green and all the same size? Why are there so many dead white men on our bills?
However, the country we live in has changed enormously over the last century. We’ve seen desegregation, we put a man on the moon, we built the first mass-produced automobiles, and we also invented the Internet and the iPad.
Yet, rather than celebrating our many achievements, the government has continued to cling to a small fraction of what makes America great. We should, in fact, be using the design of our currency to paint a more realistic picture of who we are. Design could also be the means to rejuvenate our economy and rebuild our global influence. It worked for Apple, so why wouldn’t it work for America too?
Here are five areas for improvement:
1. Size It’s novel that each bill is the same size, but really it’s such a simplistic idea it makes our currency look like it was created by a group of Luddites.
2. Color You could argue the term “greenback” is part of American culture, but that’s not significant enough when you consider using one color not only impairs recognition for the sighted, but also paints a single-minded picture of America’s philosophy.
3. Functionality It’s absolutely imperative that our currency includes the latest security features. That’s a given. But why not also include additional features to make it easier for the visually impaired to distinguish each note?
4. Composition America is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, so why aren’t we using a material that’s as technologically advanced as we are, something synthetic like plastic?
5. Symbolism We should use the design of our currency as a means to celebrate multiple aspects of what makes the U.S. great. We live in a culturally rich and vibrant country that is idolized all over the world for what it represents, so we should use our currency as a vehicle to “advertise” all that we are. Not just a few dead presidents.