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Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Editor's note: Democrat-Herald reporter Jennifer Moody is teaching a writing class at Oregon State University this quarter, and one of the exercises she asks her students to do is write an editorial. This week, the Gazette-Times has been publishing some of the students' work on its Opinion page.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, Harriet Tubman is set to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill in 2020. In our opinion, this expensive change may not be worth the trouble.

The U.S. Federal Reserve reported that printing the new bills will merit a 60 percent increase in production costs. While putting Harriet Tubman on the bill is a big step for civil rights, it’s hard to justify this huge cost.

Harriet Tubman was a pioneer for liberty and civil rights, who lived during the American Civil War. She helped conduct the Underground Railroad, and made huge strides for women’s suffrage and the end of slavery.

In contrast, Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, was a celebrated war veteran and successful politician who was credited for helping eliminate the U.S debt.

But paper notes may soon become obsolete. Electronic payments, which are increasing by 3 percent each year, are becoming the new norm. Increasing by 3% each year, paper notes are almost becoming obsolete.

Since less and less people are using paper money, this change may not even be as appreciated or well-received. In the end, this huge and costly change may not even be seen by many people.

With the proposed change, $20 bills will see an increase in production cost from the current 10.6 cents, to about 17.6 cents per new bill. According to the U.S. Treasury, 1.45 trillion bills are in circulation and 171 billion of these are $20 bills.

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Therefore, these additional 7 cents, although not much for each individual bill, would definitely add up.

While putting a civil rights activists on the new bill may make social sense, such a costly decision could prove to be counterproductive, and may not make fiscal sense.

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The whole discussion about changing the bill came about in the name of civil rights.

However, we would argue that simply putting a woman on the dollar bill doesn’t necessarily help anyone. Although some believe it’s a step in the right direction, the move likely will not lead to any concrete changes. With civil rights in the news everywhere today, surely true civil rights activists would appreciate actual and real changes more than conceptual, ideal ones.

Instead of wasting millions of dollars on reprinting new $20 bills, the government should spend its money and time on making decisions that would actually help women and minorities.

The decision to change the $20 bill has already been made, but we would urge the government to put its money and efforts towards more concrete issues.

At the end of the day, people will surely appreciate having Harriet Tubman on the bill, but it will not lead to the change for which advocates of the switch hope to inspire.

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Sophie Peterson, Rose Miller, Michael Ketsdever and Joe Noreen are students at Oregon State University.

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