Monday, June 02, 2003

The back of a dollar

In this week's issue of TIME magazine, there is a full page ad for The Liberty Bill Act. The goal is to "place an abridged constitution on the back of U.S. Currency". Like this:

The tag line is, "Imagine seven billion one-dollar bills exchanging hands each day among the six billion people in the world... with the constitution on every one."

That's a powerful tag line, and there is another way to think about it. Assume each one-dollar bill passes between 100 people before it becomes so tattered that it gets shredded by the treasury. According to this page, "The average life of a dollar bill is eighteen months." That means that every year, there are something like 500 billion ad impressions available on the backs of one dollar bills. The constitution is one thing you can put back there. But what if you sold the space to Coke, Disney, Home Depot and Wal-Mart? What if you put coupons back there???

If you assume a $10 CPM (the advertiser pays $10 per thousand impressions), that means that the treasury could make almost $5 billion a year selling ad space on the back of one dollar bills. $5 billion is a lot of money. There are about 100 million households in America. If you assume that the ad space belongs to "We, The People", the treasury could distribute that $5 billion to every American household and each household would get a check for $50 every year.

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