Look out, Abe Lincoln. The campaign against the penny, the copper coated coin stamped with the face of the former president, gathered momentum this week with the introduction of legislation to pull it from circulation.
Aparently the penny is not worth the copper-covered zinc it's molded from. According to the Treasury department, each penny costs about 1.4 cents to make.
Rep. Jim Kolbe (Republican, Arizona) introduced a bill this passed week that would phase out the coin by rounding all transactions up or down to the nearest nickel, or 5 cents.
If Kolbe's bill was passed, it would increase the need for nickels -- and that's what Kolbe is really after, contends Americans for Common Cents, a coalition opposing the bill.
Arizona leads the country in copper production, which has a $3.3 billion direct and indirect impact on Arizona's economy, according to the state Department of Mines and Mineral Resources. And the nickel -- despite its name -- is composed mostly of copper, with a nickle coating.
Penny coincidence? I wonder.
I used to tell store clerks to "keep the pennies" or I'd toss them away. Now I am at that point in my life where hoarding all my money will mean the difference between me retiring in 30+ years (when I'm 65) or much much sooner. I have a huge bin in a closet where I collect all my one-cent coins. When the bin is full, I schlep it to the bank and deposit it into my savings account. The last time I cashed in my pennies, it was $300 worth which was enough to open a CD. Go figure. Since it takes about 9 months to get to the top of the bin, I could save up to $8,ooo (plus interest) over the next twenty years. I am too greedy to not appreciate the purchacing power of the penny nowadays.
But don't take my word for it.
San Francisco's AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF) makes good use of pennies to save lives.
According to their website, their mission provides short-term emergency financial assistance to San Franciscans battling HIV/AIDS. Since 1982, AEF has rallied community support to help pay basic living costs such as rent, utility bills and medical expenses for poverty-level San Franciscans with disabling HIV or AIDS. Annually, AEF helps nearly 2,500 clients avoid eviction or utility shut-off, improve the quality of their lives and maintain stable housing.
Over the past twenty-four years the bulk of the AEF's $20M budget came from two sources: pennies collecteted by Bay Area students' "Every Penny Counts" campaign, and also from penny jars left all over San Francisco at stores, cafes, bars, etc. Over the past quarter centure the AIDS Emergency Fund "penny jars" have become a permanent feature in the Bay Area.
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So, what's your take on this penny debate? (Now that I think about it, that would be a cute drag name: "Penny DeBate," don't you think?)
While there is still time.... a penny for your thoughts.
While you're at it, take a minute and listen to Lionel Richie -- the original penny lover -- singing his tribute to the one-cent coin.