Always thought that money races through your...


August 13, 1994

AND YOU always thought that money races through your fingers faster than you can earn it.

Actually, Uncle Sam says that it takes an average of 18 months for a $1 bill to run its course of useful circulation.

A $5 bill has an average life of two years, a $20 Federal Reserve Note stays around for almost four years.

The frayed greenbacks are then retired by the Treasury, shredded into long, thin spaghetti-like strips, compressed into bricks and buried in landfills.

The federal government disposes of nearly 7,000 tons of worn-out paper money each year.

Not all of that used-up cash ends up underground.

Some of it is packaged and sold as novelty items: small spenders can give away a thousand bucks in money confetti for the cost of a couple of spendable dollars.

But an increasing number of other companies are helping the government to usefully recycle its no longer current currency. Roof shingles, fiberboard for walling, stationery and even fireplace logs are being made from the shredded bills.

These recyclers don't have to pay for the Treasury's trash, only for the cost of hauling it away. That saves the government, and taxpayers, the cost of disposal. Another way of making a dollar go a lot farther than it used to.

* * *

TO BEGIN their year's 75th anniversary celebrations, the Baltimore Jewish Times recently ran a cover story listing "75 Favorite Things about Jewish Baltimore."

Its comments about neighborhoods were especially interesting:

"Best Semi-Funky Melting Pot -- Mount Washington. Victorian homes. Arty shops. Inexpensive restaurants. Artists, writers, lawyers, doctors, dentists, architects, psychiatrists, potters, etc. Jews, Christians, whites, blacks.

"Best Bourgeois Jewish Enclave -- Pikesville. Diversity of shopping in all price ranges. Great pizza; tasty dining, nifty ice cream parlors. Good schools.

"Best Up-and-Coming Jewish Neighborhood -- Owings Mills. What Pikesville used to be to many Jews, except it's often newer, snazzier -- and higher priced."

* * *

THE American Civil Liberties Union is railing against a Ten Commandments plaque given to Montgomery County courts 54

years ago.

The plaque should be removed "because the government should not be telling the people to observe the Sabbath," argues the ACLU's Arthur Spitzer.

Perhaps the ACLU's next legal blitz should be against Uncle Sam having designated Saturday and Sunday as off days for most governmental employees.

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