Tag Archives: Money

Brother can you spare a two-dollar bill?

Use value versus perceived value. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

There are about 1.5 billion US $2 bills in the world. A $2 bill is worth $2.

Two-dollar bills are scarce, yet you can get one at any time from a bank.

When most of us get one in a transaction, we put it in a drawer, because we perceive it as valuable. Perception yields scarcity, and scarcity yields perception.

How did 2-dollar bills become scarce?

The answer is use value. When US notes were introduced, in the late 19th Century, you could buy most anything with a dollar. The two-dollar bill lost a use-value battle.

This is why there are no slots in an American cash register for a two-dollar bill.

Because people are creative, they manufacture use value for two-dollar bills. This is called a Spend Tom Campaign.

A two-dollar bill stands out. The person who uses it gets attention. Attention is value.

Tip: give a waitress a two-dollar bill, and she’ll remember you.

In the past, companies have chosen to give their employees $2 bills to draw attention to their economic contribution to the community. Two-dollar bills have been used as a marketing tool by the tourism industry, by sports teams, and by champions of the Second Amendment.

Scarcity and attention. The power of perception. Find something with perceived value that is scarce but readily available, and leverage it as a use value.

How my school days prepared me for a world which doesn’t exist, and didn’t prepare me for the one that does


SCHOOL DAYS. They were so long ago, you probably don’t remember them. Or maybe what you remember didn’t happen.

I’m talking about you, not about me. My memories, of being the team captain and MVP, are as sound as any Ken Burns documentary. See how the camera pans across a photo of me, holding an electrified cattle prod to keep from being torn to pieces by sex-crazed females? It’s more dramatic with video, but that’s what you get when imaginary Ken Burns narrates the Dionysian out-in-the-woods madness that was your school days.

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Why We Learn Nothing from the Presidential Debates

I‘VE TAKEN IN all the US presidential and vice-presidential debates. Over the years these have become highly rehearsed and scripted affairs, meticulously polished and doubtless focus group vetted and — well, who knows what else the candidates do these days. Computer modelling, maybe. Virtual reality simulations. Testing on non-human animals. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that media experts and pollsters and psychics are also consulted. The result of all this engineering is debate not unlike processed food: enjoyable, but who knows what’s really in it.

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Nickels and Dimes

YESTERDAY, MY father reminded me of a 1978 Pop Shoppe advertisement featuring the singular Eddie Shack. If you’re old enough to have seen it, you’ll recall this former Toronto Maple Leafs player’s catch-phrase, found in a number of Shack advertisements of the ’70s and ’80s: “Maybe I didn’t go far in school, but there’s one thing I’ve learned from my mom and dad: look after the nickels and dimes, and the dollars will look after themselves.”

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