As if the multitude of federal regulatory agencies that have been established over the past 60 years (and the neo-Stalinist buildings in which many are housed) weren't tribute enough, on May 3 the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial opened in Washington. While the run-up to the unveiling of FDR's statue caused a minor furor among the easily offended–should Roosevelt be shown in a wheelchair? smoking a cigarette?–one aspect of the memorial's financing would cause the 32nd president to spin in his grave. To keep down the taxpayer costs of maintaining the 7.5-acre FDR Memorial, last year Congress authorized the Treasury to mint and sell a commemorative coin, made of 90 percent gold.
That's right. The president who outlawed the private ownership of gold in 1938 is being honored a half century later with an 8.359 gram coin, available as a proof, lapel pin, or pendant (with or without chain). Without a hint of irony, the U.S. Mint's press release cited FDR's four inaugural medallions and the Roosevelt dime and said, "We're delighted to continue FDR's numismatic legacy with the minting of this coin."