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Dear Matthew Alice:

I just borrowed another 20 bucks from my dad. The 20 in question had red dye along one edge. Was it involved in a bank robbery� you know, exploding dye packs and all? My dad says he's repaid his debt to society and swears he hasn't robbed any banks lately.

Eric, San Diego

In my 70, 80 years of toiling on behalf of public enlightenment, I've found the two hardest institutions to wring info from are the Federal Reserve and Disneyland. So, battered and bruised from duking it out with the bureaucrats, I know only that the dye is applied to the edge of a stack of bills during the counting and wrapping process at Federal Reserve banks, which supply our local banks with bills and coins and destroy tattered greenbacks washed too many times in our jeans pockets. The dye marking has some meaning, but apparently that's classified info, much too sensitive to be entrusted to the common man. Or even the uncommon Matthew Alice.

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