It had to happen. It was only a matter of time. Soon, enough Monopoly money will hit our wallets, and it will start next year.

The other day, our good friends at the United States Treasury announced that in the fall of 2003, they will unveil a new $20 bill that will feature multicolors. So ends the term "Greenback." I mean, look at a twenty in your wallet now. (What do you mean you only have singles?)

It's green, right? Sure, green with shades of gray and black. Nothing colorful about that except for what it will or will not buy. The Secret Service people (who are under the Treasury Department), point out that the twenty is the most counterfeited bill and the favorite of automatic teller machines. I can attest to that. Go and press $500 for a trip you're taking and pray you will get at least $400 worth of fifties. No such luck. Lots of twenties until your wallet is the size of a hippo.

Treasury says it plans to fight all this counterfeiting by adding subtle background colors to our bills. They won't tell what colors will be used (why tip off the counterfeiters now?), but according to Jim Hagedorn, spokesman for the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, "The idea behind the proposal to place subtle background colors on the money is really two fold: it will help consumers to differentiate between denominations while also deterring counterfeiters from attempting to duplicate currency with computers and those types of technologies."

Actually, last year alone, one-third of the $47.5 million in circulated counterfeit cash was computer-generated.

Most countries in the world use what we call "funny money," which means multicolored currency with a different color to differentiate between denominations. In the pre-Euro stage, France, in particular, was quite gaudy: the 100 French franc was in orange, the 200 in purple, and the 500 multicolored.

Of course, just adding colors is not enough. Hagedorn says that the money will also contain enhanced security threads that will glow under ultraviolet lights as well as color shifting ink so the eventual shade will change when the note is titled.

Talk about high-speed technology. The next thing you know, money will talk. "Hey idiot, that's a twenty you're handing over for a candy bar. Don't you want to use the four dollar bill instead?"

Naturally, following the twenty parade, Treasury says that it will issue new $50 and $100 bills. I don't carry many of those. In fact, I don't carry any of those. But I do carry lots of $1. According to Treasury, these are quite popular in Colombia, South America where they are bleached and then printed anew with $100 on them. The Secret Service and Colombia authorities recently seized $41 million in bogus U.S. currency in Bogota. Hmmm. Take a single and turn it into a C-Note? Hmmmmm.

Or better yet, break out the monopoly money. I'll take the orange ones.

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