Having spent most of my life living in a state with no sales tax, that little extra amended to various financial transactions is almost always surprising. It’s also a little irritating, I must confess, but it seems to have two beneficial side effects: an increase of coins flowing around the community, and no state income tax. Well, that and the presumed benefit of whatever it is that the sales tax funds. Roads? Schools? Bird Habitat? Funding Grants for Cartoonists? I like all those things, and if I’m paying an extra 18 cents to keep car batteries from poisoning fish, or prevent a tuberculosis outbreak, I’m fine with that.

Do you ever wonder how much money is just outright lost? How many millions of coins and currency are sitting at the bottom a lake, under a log, or just scooped up with street trash and hauled to the dump? It would be a veritable dragon’s hoard if it were all in one place, and I suppose the dream of this dispersed fortune is what motivates the Metal Detector Enthusiast. Of course, that actually seems to pay off from time to time if you’re in Britain, and your forebears buried their gold caches from time to time and forgot about them. In Montana, our ancestors have mostly buried old appliances, expressly because they weren’t valuable. Still, every county seems to have some rumor of a century-old stash of gold nuggets or stolen stagecoach strongbox somewhere out there…