Show Me On The Money! Legal Tender Depicts Movers And Shakers

Money isn’t just for buying things. Oh, no. It doubles as a tribute to the movers and shakers in society. These people are so revered that their image will be affixed to coins or bills which will be crammed into our pockets or wallets and used to buy cigarettes, toilet paper, and fast food. What a tribute! And with the upcoming American Women Quarters Program, females will make progress and be specifically honored in this way.

The concept of putting images of the high and mighty on money is as old as the day is long. And women blazed that trail. For example, Cleopatra, when she wasn’t dallying with Marc Antony, found time to issue coins with her portrait on them. From ancient Greek and Roman times, royalty has taken pride in putting their images on coins. In fact, a monarch’s portrait on coinage was a guarantee of its value in ancient societies. In modern times, Elizabeth II, the current queen of England, is featured on more coins than any other person.

But politicians also appear on money. Julius Caesar was the first Roman politician to strike coins with his own portrait during his lifetime. In particular, his image appeared on denarri, leading to a well-known Bible story where Jesus asks whose face is on the coin; when told it was Caesar’s, he retorted, “Then render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” But the Caesar’s bold move to have himself depicted on coinage was looked down upon by many influential Romans as an unacceptable act of political arrogance. Some even suggest that Caesar’s so acting stirred up opposition ultimately leading to his assassination on the Ides of March.

The United States is no exception to putting famous folks on its legal tender. Nevertheless, our country does impose a big restriction on whose face can so appear. The person has to be DEAD. Federal law prohibits a likeness of a living person being used. Guess that’s a good news, bad news situation. Good news? You’re so famous you’ll appear on money. Bad news? You’re dead and can’t enjoy seeing it.

From the founding of the United States on, it was believed improper to honor a living person by putting their image on currency. Accordingly, the father of our country, George Washington, declined the opportunity to have his portrait appear on the first U.S. silver dollar. The tradition was formalized into law with the passage of a congressional act in 1886 prohibiting the portrayal of a living person on U.S. coinage or currency.

So what revered dead people appear on American money? Presidents far and away are chosen to appear on legal tender in this country. In fact, only two non-presidents can be seen on bills currently in circulation; these are founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. To relieve you from having to scrounge to find and look at the various coins and denominations of currency now in use, here’s a handy dandy list of who appears on what:

Penny. Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe has the only presidential portrait on coinage facing to the right. [NOTE: Shouldn’t Benjamin Franklin, who said “A penny saved is a penny earned,” have been chosen for this coin? Just saying.]

Nickel. Thomas Jefferson. The coin with his face on it replaced the Buffalo Nickel. (And we all know how revered buffaloes are.)

Dime. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Although he was a president, this coin was actually issued to honor his fight against polio leading to the founding of the March of Dimes. FDR had been diagnosed with polio himself in 1921.

Quarter. George Washington. (Guess he got downgraded in value since he declined to appear on the silver dollar while living.)

$1 Bill. George Washington. He was the first president, so he’s #1. His image is one of the oldest currency designs still being used today.

$5 Bill. Abraham Lincoln. Honestly, Honest Abe does appear on this currency.

$10 Bill. Alexander Hamilton. The first Secretary of the Treasury and subject of the smash Lin Manuel-Miranda hit “Hamilton” has appeared on the $20 bill since 1929. Today, the Secretary of the Treasury has the final say as to who is featured on U.S. currency.

$20 Bill. Andrew Jackson. Ironically, Jackson wanted to abolish paper money and is now featured on it.

$50 Bill. Ulysses S. Grant. Our nation’s 18th president has appeared on this large denomination bill since 1913.

$100 Bill. Benjamin Franklin. This founding father has appeared on C notes since 1914.

Other than being dead, what criteria are required to appear on American money? The individual must be someone whose place “in history the American people know well.” Women who have been movers and shakers in our country’s history apparently aren’t known well as there are very few historical women appearing on coins and bank notes. Martha Washington (George’s wife) and Pocahontas are the only two women who have appeared on paper bills to date.

And now there will be three. Harriet Tubman is set to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Ms. Tubman will be the first African-American (male or female) to be featured on U.S. currency. The new face on the $20 bill is scheduled for release in 2028.

Women will be depicted more frequently on money with the inception of the American Women Quarters Program, a four-year program running from 2022 through 2025. George Washington will appear on the obverse (side of coin bearing principal design) of each quarter with the honored woman on the flip side. Up to five women will be honored on a quarter each year of the program. The general public may submit recommendations for women to be featured through a web portal set up by the National Women’s History Museum.

The female honorees for 2022 are already set. They include author Maya Angelou, Sally Ride (the first woman in space), Wilma Mankiller (first principal female chief of the Cherokee Nation), Adelina Otero (leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement), and Anna May Wong (first Chinese American film star in Hollywood). Oh, the places these women on quarter will go!

Honoring (now dead) men or women who have made a difference in society is an admirable action to take. But simply having an image on a coin is just a starting point. Hopefully, those with money in their pocket will take a few minutes to actually look at what they are spending and learn about the historical figures depicted. Before you show anyone that money, show some initiative and bone up on some facts about the honoree.

Just WONDER-ing:

Do you ever take the time to look at what’s depicted on coins and bills in your possession? Should the honor of being on money be limited to the dearly departed? What American woman do you believe is deserving of being placed on quarter in the American Women Quarters Program?

A Whole New World (Map) With The Newest Recognized Ocean

Aladdin and Jasmine sang about a whole new world as they floated around on a magic carpet in their Disney movie. While they were merely pointing out a new perspective of the world from having found each other, I, on the other hand am surveying a physical world map from my laptop and finding it vastly different than what I’ve known all my life. Surprise! An entirely new ocean, the Southern Ocean, has been recognized.

Remembering back to my school days, I was taught there were four oceans in the world–the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian, and the Arctic. Of course, I also learned there were nine planets including Pluto, and we see what happened with that information. Bye, bye, Pluto! So, I am now having to wrap my head around the recognition of only 8 planets but 5 oceans. Yes, the Southern Ocean has joined the cast of world oceans.

Where exactly is this “new” ocean? It begins at Antarctica’s coast and stretches northward. Nevertheless, disagreement exists as to how far north it extends. The prevailing thought is that its northern boundary is 60 degrees south latitude. Well, that certainly clears up the location for me–not!

The Southern Ocean is the second smallest of the now five world oceans. “Smallest,” of course, is a relative term. In my book, anything covering 7.8 million square miles is hardly “small.” Since it is difficult for me to mentally comprehend large numbers, let’s put the Southern Ocean’s size into perspective. It’s slightly bigger than twice the size of the United States. How could we have possibly missed recognizing such an ocean?

Actually, the Southern Ocean didn’t just pop up out of nowhere to make a claim to being the fifth ocean in the world. It was previously called the Antarctic Ocean and has long been recognized by scientists as an ocean. In fact, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has used the name Southern Ocean since 1999.

So, why has no official recognition been given until now? The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the entity that standardizes sea mapping and official maps, hasn’t given its seal of approval to a 2000 proposal to add the Southern Ocean to the world map. Without international agreement, the Southern Ocean had never been officially recognized. But on World Ocean Day (how did I miss that?), June 8th, the National Geographic Society celebrated by announcing it was recognizing a fifth ocean.

Not only is the Southern Ocean the most recently recognized ocean, but it is also geologically the youngest of all the oceans. It was formed a mere 34 million years ago when South America and Antarctica moved apart. While these continents may have separated, the Southern Ocean remained neighborly. It touches three of the remaining four oceans: the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans.

One of the biggest arguments for declaring this body of water an ocean is that the waters around Antarctica have characteristics different from other oceans. In particular, the Southern Ocean includes a unique current pattern known as the ACC (no relation to the college football conference) or Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The ACC makes the water around Antarctica colder and slightly less salty than more northern bodies of water. The Southern Ocean’s average sea temperature is a brisk 28 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ACC drives a global circulation system that transports heat around our planet. Seems strange to me that the ocean with the coldest water is instrumental is moving heat around the Earth. The current moves continuously eastward and comprises the world’s longest and strongest current system in the world’s oceans. In fact, it is the only global current.

Sadly, the Southern Ocean is one of the regions where rapid climate change is most visibly taking place due to increasing ocean temperatures. What so visible? ICEBERGS!! Why just last month the world’s largest iceberg (think more than three times the size of Los Angeles) broke off from Antarctica. Icebergs can occur any time during the year in the Southern Ocean. So, there can be “Ice, ice, baby” even during the height of summer.

Interestingly, the icebergs floating around in the salty Southern Ocean water are comprised of fresh water. The icebergs that form there each year hold enough fresh water to meet the needs of all people on Earth for several months. As a result, proposals have been made for several decades to tow icebergs north to places like Australia where the fresh water could be harvested for use. Can you imagine the size of the ship which would be needed to tow that iceberg multi-times the size of L.A.?

Not only are icebergs gargantuan in the Southern Ocean but so is the Colossal Squid, the largest type of squid existing. How big is this squid? Imagine a creature weighing up to 1,500 pounds and extending some 33 feet. Yeah, I don’t want to imagine that either. The diversity of species in the Southern Ocean includes a variety of penguins, seals, fish, and birds. Also found in the Southern Ocean are thousands of species which live there and nowhere else.

As unsettling as it is to have our concept of the world and how it appears on a map altered, change is inevitable in life. And change is a good thing when the revision makes what we believe and what we see accurately reflect the world around us. We’ve had our fill of fake news in recent months. We sure don’t want to have to deal with fake maps, do we?

Just WONDER-ing:

Had you ever heard about the Southern Ocean? How do you feel about altering world maps to identify this “new” ocean? Is the creation of large icebergs formed when land breaks off from Antarctica due to rising temperatures compelling evidence of climate change to you?

Selective Service Dodges Supreme Court Review Of Military Draft

Know what draft dodgers look like? They may vary by age, weight, height, complexion, eye color, etc., but draft dodgers all have one thing in common–they are MEN. What’s up with that? Well, men are the only ones currently required to register for the draft. Some men are up in arms (pun intended) at this disparity in treatment. Does drafting only men pass constitutional muster? We won’t find out what the U.S. Supreme Court thinks because the highest court in our land has denied a petition to have a case addressing that issue heard.

The case making headlines, but not the Supreme Court’s hearing docket, is National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System. This men’s group brought suit claiming having men only eligible for the draft was an unconstitutional discrimination based on sex. For you legal scholars, their argument was based on the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

Since a constitutional issue was the lawsuit’s basis, the Coalition’s case was brought in federal court. In 2019, a federal district judge found the men’s position to be persuasive; it held the draft setup to be unconstitutional. But wait! There’s more! To no one’s surprise, the Selective Service System appealed the invalidation of its program. In round two, the appellate court sided with the Selective Service System. So, not willing to give up the battle, the Coalition filed for a writ of certiorari (fancy legal term involving Latin word) asking the court to hear their appeal.

The Supreme Court can’t hear all the cases it’s asked to consider. I mean when would the justices have time to write their books, make speeches, and get their robes dry cleaned? If the justices feel a particular case addresses an important legal issue and should be heard, they grant a writ allowing the appeal to be added to its argument docket. No such luck for the Coalition, represented by the ACLU, though. The Supreme Court gave a thumbs down to the request; a brief statement issued by Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained why consideration of the case was not appropriate at this time.

To understand the case and the denial of the writ, it’s first necessary to understand the system in the litigation crosshairs. The Selective Service System (“SSS”) is an independent agency within the government’s executive branch. In case you were not a political science major like I was, that branch is run by the President. SSS is NOT a part of the Department of Defense.

SSS has two basic roles. First, it oversees draft registration. In registration, people (to be more precise MEN) identify themselves as potentially draft eligible. Second, if the need for a draft arises (think WAR), a law must be passed to authorize SSS to conduct a draft. SSS then oversees the conscription process. No draft has occurred in the U.S. since 1973 when the authorization expired to conduct a draft to conscript men for Vietnam War service. U.S. military forces have been all volunteer since then.

Selective Service was established to facilitate assembling military forces for combat. The Selective Service Act, which authorized the agency, was passed just six weeks after the U.S. entered World War I in 1917. A 1948 law compelled only men to register for potential military service. Women were not eligible for combat roles at the inception of the Selective Service System. Thus, they were not included in the net of people required to register for the draft. In fact, women could not even volunteer to do so.

But times, they are a changin’. When the draft ended in 1973, women comprised merely 2% of U.S. enlisted forces and 8% of the officer corps. These figures have now risen to 16% and 19%. Moreover, women have legally served in all combat roles for several years. Still male-only registration remains on the books. And failure of a man to register has steep consequences; it is a felony punishable by five years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 (that’s a quarter of a million dollars for those who are mathematically challenged), and ineligibility for federal jobs and student loans.

National Coalition for Men is, however, not the first case to challenge the requirement only men have to register for potential military service. In 1981, the U.S. Supreme Court in Rostker v. Goldberg upheld the setup by a 6-3 vote. A key fact cited in Justice Rehnquist’s majority opinion was that women as a group were not eligible for combat. In its simplest terms (since Supreme Court opinions are rarely short and easily understandable), the rationale was that women needn’t be drafted for military service when combat was anticipated since they couldn’t fill a combat role anyway.

The Rostker decision served as the basis for the federal appellate court reversing the district court’s decision in National Coalition for Men. The appellate court felt bound by the Supreme Court’s prior decision in Rostker. The fancy legal word for this legal concept is “precedent.”

So, if the composition of the military has changed to allow women in combat roles, why would the Supreme Court decline to hear a seemingly strong constitutional challenge to a male only registration process? The brief filed on behalf of the Biden Administration (remember SSS is part of the executive branch) and Justice Sotomayor’s Statement about the Court declining to hear the case provide the answer. Drum roll, please. The Court didn’t need to take action because the issue may be going away without court intervention.

How is this situation going to change? Legislative, rather than judicial, action is likely to be taken. The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service conducted a four-year study of the male-only draft registration requirement. Its conclusion announced in March 2020? Eliminate the male-only draft. A 2020 bill was introduced to include women in the draft. Although the requirement as to who must register has not yet been resolved, the matter is being addressed by the legislative branch. And, as Justice Sotomayor noted, Congress has long given deference to Congress on matters of defense and military affairs. In others words, let the legislative branch deal with that can of worms.

I don’t own a crystal ball, but I imagine one of two things will happen with the draft system. Either women will be included in the draft registration requirement or the entire system will be chucked. This high profile issue really involves two questions–what should the role of women be in defending the country and how do we go about having a ready pool of individuals ready to serve should the need (again, think war) arises. Question one is a no-brainer and already answered. Women are ready, willing, and able to serve their country, even in combat roles, without being required to do so. With the advent of computers and online databases which can identify eligible individuals, simply having a list of people (be they men only or men and women) who have registered, and which list is not updated once entered, is not really helpful. A more modern and effective process is needed.

As an attorney, I applaud the Supreme Court for declining to take on a highly visible and interesting case. If the matter can be resolved short of involving the high court, why expend judicial time and effort to do so? That perspective seems to be common sense to me, but there’s a dearth of common sense in government, not to mention society in general, today. As for me, I’ve dodged the draft issue anyway; at my age, I am well past the age for registration (18 through 25).

Just WONDER-ing:

Do you know a man who was drafted? If so, how did he feel about the process? Were you aware the penalties were so severe for failing to register? If women are already serving in combat roles, why shouldn’t women as a group be required to register for the draft like men?

Have Another Baby, Please–Chinese Government Now Allows Three Children Families

The ubiquitous “Made In China” stamp appears on many goods Americans purchase. But manufactured items aren’t the only things made in China — Chinese babies are produced there as well. And the Chinese government is hoping more bundles of joy will be produced in the near future as a result of the recent relaxing of birth limits. Yes, the ruling Communist party has now given its permission for Chinese couples to have three children, up from the previously allowed two.

While Americans were celebrating Memorial Day on May 31st, the Chinese government announced it was relaxing birth limits on the number of children Chinese couples may have. How benevolent of President Xi Jinping and his fellow government officials. Why was this action taken? Well, it wasn’t because Chinese officials suddenly took a shine to young children and decided it would be great to have more of them around. No, indeed. It was a very calculated call on their part.

Driving this announcement that the cap on child production would be raised to three is the rapid aging of the Chinese population which is placing a strain on both the economy and society. The government is concerned that the number of working age people is dropping too fast while the number of those over 65 is rising. What’s a government to do when there aren’t enough workers to make goods to be stamped “Made in China?” Why allow more workers to be produced!

China has a long history of sticking its nose into the bedrooms of its citizens. Restrictions on the number of children a married couple is allowed to have have been in place for years. The most restrictive limit was the one-child policy first adopted in 1979. That limit was imposed to address China’s booming population which had swelled from over 542 million to approximately 975 million over the preceding 30 years. The one-child policy was enacted out of concern the population explosion would spiral out of control and strain water and other resources. Too many Chinese babies were being made in China, so production was decreed to be downsized.

The Chinese government meant business when the one-child policy was in place. Enforcement of the limit included mandatory IUD’s for new mothers, heavy fines for exceeding the baby limit, and forced abortions. Because Chinese society favors males, couples made sure the one child they had was a boy using infanticide, abandonment, or abortion when necessary. As a result, there are millions more Chinese men than Chinese women today. Good luck for these Chinese bachelors finding wives.

After 35 years of the one-child policy, China announced it was raising the limit to two children in 2015. This move was taken to address the resulting gender imbalance from the one-child policy and the country’s aging population. Despite relaxing the limit on the number of children allowed, Chinese births continued to fall. Chinese citizens were reluctant to have more children for several reasons: the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities; the need to care for elderly parents, and the interruption to their jobs. Chinese couples simply didn’t have time for child-rearing with a six-day work week with overtime often required. “996” (working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week) put the kibosh on having more kids. Working 9 to 5 would probably seem like a vacation to Chinese employees.

The Chinese government strictly enforced the two child limit as well. Hefty fines of 180,000 yuan ($20,840) were imposed on those daring to have more children than allowed. Guess those Chinese workers had to work seven days a week to pay off that fine.

Despite the switch to the two child policy, the number of births in China dropped every year since 2017. The country’s fertility rate was merely 1.3 in 2020, a figure insufficient to maintain the size of its population. By the end of this century, China’s population, now at 1.4 billion, is expected to decline by half a billion, allowing India to surpass China as the world’s most populous country. Will this event lead to more of our manufactured goods bearing the stamp “Made in India?”

Seems like the Chinese government is a victim of its own success. Back in the 1960’s when the average Chinese mother bore more than six children, restraining population growth was a good idea. But the Chinese are overachievers. The government has convinced its citizens that less is more, so few want to have additional children now. What’s a government to do? Other Asian countries facing declining populations, such as Japan and South Korea, have opted to offer stipends to couples who have additional children as an incentive to procreate. Yes, I can see Ma and Pa explaining to the latest addition to their family that he/she was wanted so the family coffers could be increased.

Then there’s the psychological method of convincing people to have more children. The Chinese government has cleverly used stamps for that purpose. In 2016 after the two-child policy was adopted, a stamp for the Year of the Monkey depicted two baby monkeys kissing their parent. One look at that stamp, and a Chinese couple was sure to head to the bedroom to produce baby number two, right? Perhaps foreshadowing the rise to three children being allowed, a 2019 stamp for the Year of the Pig showed two adult pigs with three happy piglets.

Whether or not they want to have additional children, many Chinese women bristle at the idea of government interference with their reproductive choices. Child-bearing limits are seen by these women as an unwelcome attempt by the powers that be to control their bodies. Just by having these thoughts, Chinese woman are clearly demonstrating their government does not control their minds.

A valid question is how far the Chinese government will go to protect its economy and world standing. If it has the power to restrict the number of children a couple has, couldn’t it also mandate the number of children to be produced? I’d like to think that bundles of joy are just that–children conceived and birthed because their parents truly desired to have them and to expand their family. Having a baby simply to make sure there are enough workers to produce goods to be stamped “Made in China” is appalling and sad.

Just WONDER-ing:

Were you aware the Chinese government has imposed limits on the number of children a couple can have? How much say should the government have in the size of a family? Should citizens be offered monetary incentives to produce children?