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WEDNESDAY, JULY 5, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Time for U.S. Mint to quit making near worthless coin

"Find a penny, pick it up ..."

And all day long you'll have a pocket full of nearly worthless coins.

In an age of inflation and affluence, the penny is a monetary denomination that has outlived its usefulness.

The U.S. Mint confirms that it costs more to make a penny — about 1.2 cents — than the coin is worth in exchange at a bank.

Now that there is no longer such a thing as penny candy or a penny arcade, it is time for the government to retire the Lincoln cent and for prices to be rounded to the nearest nickel (when tax is included).

The copper coin itself is more valuable as a piece of metal than it is as a currency. While some consider the penny a nuisance coin, it can come in quite handy in a pinch.

When needing a shim for a table whose legs are uneven or door that won't quite stay closed, or when one needs to complete an electrical circuit, one can run to the hardware store and buy a shim or a fuse, or one can reach in one's pocket and pull out the ideal solution, with some possible dangers but at a fraction of the cost.

Indeed, the price of metal is such that it would be profitable, albeit illegal, to melt down all those loose pennies laying around the house — in the bottom of the junk drawer or sofa, in the washing machine, on the garage floor — and sell them for scrap.

Many Americans find comfort in the Lincoln-head coin and are hesitant to forsake its reassuring symbolism. In fact, there's a pro-penny lobby called Americans for Common Cents.

Perhaps they should get some.

When walking across a parking lot, many Americans today hesitate before bending over to pick up a found nickel. They don't even slow down for a 1-cent piece.

Like the mill before it, the time has come to take the penny out of circulation.

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