To thwart counterfeiters, American paper currency has to be precisely constructed and printed, with a myriad of security features - ink that changes color when viewed from different angles, watermarks of the president’s face - that must be placed absolutely perfectly. Given the tiny margin for error in printing money, it’s safe to say there’s a small number of misprinted bills that didn’t make the cut. And with the high standard of quality over at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, these bills are probably either recycled or disposed of, possibly by burning.
Can’t we get some use out of these slightly irregular, not-quite-perfect bills? Just because the bill’s printed with an upside-down watermark or a notice informing the bearer that “this bill is leg tender” - it doesn’t mean there’s still some perfectly good money on those bills, right?
My proposal: circulate these defective bills to the public, at a lower value. If outlet stores can sell slightly-off shoes and clothes at a lower value, surely the Treasury can take a $50 bill with Grant’s eyes too far apart, and make it a $43 bill. How would you like a $5 bill (now $4!) whose back showed the Hooters down the road from the Lincoln Memorial? Or a $100 bill ($90 value!) whose face depicted Franklin from Arrested Development?