Thursday, February 12, 2009

All righty! Oh boy! Numismatics rejoice, the new penny is finally here! Whoop de doop, part one of a four part series, see 'em all at the HuffPo!

Starting today, if you're lucky enough to have access to a penny, you might just see an exact replica of the log cabin that Abraham Lincoln was born in! And then, three months hence, the Lazy Abe!, a zinc and copper portrait of his Centness not completing his work assignment, choosing instead to sit on a half-way split blog and read a book! (Probably slacking off because they were only going to pay him a penny.)

The other two designs are far less exciting than those, not even meriting an exclamation point. But you'll want them anyway! Or, I suppose, you could just wait until next year for the exciting TV offer where you'll be able to get all four! uncirculated! coins in a unique display box for only $19.99! (plus shipping and handling), and if you act now, a second set, perfect for gift giving, absolutely free! (plus additional shipping and handling).

I think you all know, doncha, that a penny cost considerably more than a penny to make, currently going for about 1.7 cents according to the Wall Street Journal. (The Christian Science Monitor puts the cost at 1.2 cents, but then they included that figure in a piece titled 'To help combat recession, US mint releases four new pennies'.) Either way, it's a losing proposition. How many hours did god knows how many bureaucrats spend finalizing the design? And of course there's the unveilings, and the PSAs ("Yes, you can trust the new penny.")

Fun fact: Back in 2005 when things weren't so busy and the Repugs held two houses and a prez, they passed bipartisan legislation requiring the redesigned pennies (plus a fifth design to be rolled out after this limited supply is gone!)

Today, February 12, merchants in Concord are staging a protest against the worthless slug by refusing to take any frigging pennies. You go, Concord, even if it's costing you a few, uh, pennies to round things down.

You know, there's also a similar problem with the nickel. It costs about six cents to make, and it really is not all that attractive, as far as coins go. Here's my revenue plan* for the new depression, a little source of spare change for the coming soup (and salad) lines: discontinue the five cent piece, revalue the penny, and dub it as the brown nickel.

*sure, people would pay a fraction more at the checkout, but just imagine how many new nickels they would suddenly find in coffee cans and in the back of their couches.

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