Someone, some standup comedian, I think (Bill Maher, maybe?) said we need new people on our money. We've had the same dead white guys on our money for too long. Other countries will rotate the images from time to time, picturing different important persons. Here's my idea: leave the $1 and the $5 where they are--you're not really going to come up with anyone more important than George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and besides, the vending industry would have an absolute fit. But the $10, the $20, the $50, and the $100: rotate those through blocks of four people, commemorating a certain group every five years, let's say. Only conditions are that they have to be American and dead. Who would you pick? Here are some I've come up with:
- Musicians: Ray Charles1, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong (or Duke Ellington?) and George Gershwin.
- Civil Rights Leaders: Martin Luther King, Jr.2, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and César Chávez.
- Scientists/Inventors: Thomas Edison, James Watson, Richard Feynman, and Jonas Salk.
- Sports legends: Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and Vince Lombardi.
- Comedians: W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, Johnny Carson, and Richard Pryor3.
1This group is taken from whoever that standup was (did I read it in a Michael Moore book?)--he asked, "Wouldn't it be great to go into your wallet for a $10 bill and come back with a picture of Ray Charles?"
2It's a damn shame that he's not already on the $20.
3Not actually dead, but not long for this world.
4I realize my lists are very light on women. This isn't intentional. If you've got ideas for women that can be included, please speak up, though I wonder if a "Women's Rights" bloc wouldn't smack to overtly of tokenism. But they say I think too much.