Canadian Currency Design Fiasco Reveals How Government Encourages Conflict

Dave Killion — August 21, 2012


When designing Canada’s new (polymer) $100 bill, the Bank of Canada initially used a Photoshopped image of a South Asian woman to decorate the bill. The new design was shown to several focus groups, some of whom ‘expressed concern’ over the image. The bank responded by switching to a Caucasian woman. Word gets out. Hilarity ensues

“Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney apologized Monday for the way the image of an Asian woman was removed from the initial design for new $100 banknotes, promising to review the bank’s internal processes.

“I apologize to those who were offended – the Bank’s handling of the issue did not meet the standards Canadians justifiably expect of us,” Carney said in a statement. “Our banknotes belong to all Canadians, and the work we do at the bank is for all Canadians.”

Because so many government goodies are doled out based on status (and there are only so many goodies to go ’round, even for the state), special interests have to compete fiercely to achieve, maintain, and grow their presence. This means no slight, however insignificant it may be, can be ignored. I don’t know for sure what other concerns were voiced by those focus groups, but I’m pretty confident that not only was the new design considered by some to be too racial, others found to be either sexist, ageist, elitist, or offensive to someone’s delicate sensibilities.

If Canada enjoyed currency competition¬†, some private institution could put out a series of notes decorated all over with¬†Asians, and nobody would whisper a complaint. But in order for that to happen, politicians would have to forego the advantages they derive from manipulating fiat currency at the expense of the taxpayer. And if they have to reduce us all to a bunch of pathetic whiners in order to prevent that from happening, well, I guess it’s pretty obvious that they don’t mind that one bit.

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