Monday Open Line

Paper money has circulated in North America since 1690, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued some to paper over — so to speak — the shortage of coins. But these were just promissory notes from governing bodies. That changed on this date in 1862 when Congress passed the Legal Tender Act, fixing paper money as a means of paying the government’s considerable Civil War bills with something other than gold or silver. One result was that greenbacks became a means of exchange for all private transactions. Currently, there are about 1.6 trillion U.S. dollars in circulation. From that total, America’s nearly 117 million households draw an average annual income of just over $50,000. Profile America is in its 16th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sunday, February 24th. Even with the ongoing difficulties in the housing and mortgage industries, the American dream is still defined by many as owning your own home. Across the U.S., just over 65 percent of households own their homes, a decline of more than 1 percent since the year 2000. Among the states, the highest percentage of home ownership is in West Virginia, at more than 73 percent, while the lowest rate is in New York, at just over 53 percent. And New York City tops the nation in the highest percentage of renting households, at 69 percent. Among the nation’s 37 million African-Americans, around 45 percent live in their own homes, while 20 million are renters. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <>.

Saturday, February 23rd. The nation’s first college of pharmacy was founded in Philadelphia on this date in 1821, an appropriate anniversary to note that many health care organizations prescribe February as Wise Health Care Consumer Month. The “RX” for Americans is to invest at least as much time in researching their health care options as they do for a new TV. While prescription medication is one aspect of health care consumption, all levels of services and insurance are the elements of being a wise health care consumer. In the U.S., the number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 50 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <>.