Derek Micah Armstrong

Derek Micah Armstrong

You can’t buy anything with a penny any more — not even a thought. If you gave me a penny for my thoughts, this column would be finished.

It takes a dime to buy what a penny bought back in 1950, which makes it almost worthless. Even worse, some claim a penny costs more than one cent to make. And it’s bothersome. So bothersome that I don’t even keep pennies. Whenever possible, I dump them in charity collections such as the plastic containers hanging outside the drive thru window at McDonalds. And if I have to, I toss them in the trash. It’s wasteful, but not as wasteful as the penny.

 Who wants the penny? Consumers don’t want them. If they did, you wouldn’t see “penny cups” next to every cash register. And they don’t seem to matter to merchants. If they did, merchants would give back 99 cents when your total comes to one penny more than a dollar. Instead, many round off and give you a dollar instead of 99 cents.

 The penny is worthless. So let’s abolish it.


Where we were

 According to the Web site, our useless, one-cent coin was the first currency of any type authorized by the United States and designed by Benjamin Franklin.

 More than 300 billion one-cent coins, with 11 different designs, have been minted since 1787. In 1909, the Lincoln penny appeared.

 For historians, the history of the penny is interesting. For me, it just proves our one-cent coin is outdated.


Where we are now

 Showing a lack of common sense, the United States Mint is committed to producing the penny.

The United States Mint claims the penny is the most widely used denomination in circulation and remains profitable to make. Each penny allegedly costs .81 of a cent to make, but the United States Mint collects one cent for it. The profit goes to help fund the operation of the United States Mint and to help pay the public debt. In 2000, this profit added up to about $24 million. Maybe that’s how President Bush pays for his tax cuts.

 However, not everyone agrees the penny makes a profit.

 CNN reported in July that the price of zinc has become so expensive, that each penny costs 1.4 cents to manufacture. And some experts say the United States Mint does not take into account the cost of labor.


Where are we headed

 Whether or not a penny costs more than one cent to make is besides the point because, eventually, it will cost more to make than it is worth. So why wait until then?

 Fans of the penny try to convince us it saves money. After all, Wal-Mart’s $9.98 price tags save shoppers 2 cents because if the penny was abolished, prices would be rounded up to the nearest dollar. But isn’t the $9.98 price tag a gimmick to get us to buy something we don’t need and barely want? So wouldn’t the price drop to $9.95? So, abolishing the penny would save shoppers three to four cents.

 It appears as if public opinion is not on my side. A Gallup poll last spring found that only 43 percent of respondents thought the penny should become history. About 76 percent said they pick up pennies when they spot them on the ground. There’s even a group, Americans for Common Cents, which fights to keep the penny alive.

 Congress determines the denominations of coins that the Mint must produce and put into circulation, and I think Congress lacks common sense.

 So, what do you say? Let’s write Rep. Hal Rogers, Jim Bunning and Mitch Mc-Connell and demand they get rid of these brown abominations.

And next time you want my thoughts, you can give me nickel. Or better yet, a dime.

NEXT WEEK: Why I try, and so should you, to boycott Wal-Mart

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