Picking up pennies may be thing of past

Published 6:48 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Do you stop and pick up a penny that you find on the street? Most of us would, but there are those who believe the penny is no longer needed in today's society.
U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona has introduced a bill to do away with the penny currency for the second time.
The Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation Act would force the rounding off of all cash transactions to the nearest 5 cents, making the penny obsolete.
Beverly Brown of Brewton, who works at BankTrust, thinks it might be a good idea.
The move has come to the notice of the public because, at today's metal prices, the penny cost more to make than it is worth. It takes 1.4 cents to manufacture each and every penny.
Experts say the bill will probably never make it. According to CNNMoney.com, the public is not behind the change. Fifty-five percent of people asked about the absence of the penny said they would miss it if it were discontinued while 43 percent think it should be eliminated. Seventy-six percent said they would pick up a penny if they saw it on the ground.
The penny was the first coin minted in the United States in 1787. It was made up of 100 percent copper and remained so until after the Civil War when five percent of the make-up of the coin was zinc. The copper released to the war effort was enough to meet the needs of two cruisers, two destroyers, 1242 flying fortresses, 120 field guns and 120 howitzers; or enough for one and one quarter million shells for the big field guns.
One interesting bit of information about Kolbe's fight to get the bill passed is that he is from Arizona, and Arizona is the largest copper producing state in the nation.
Copper is the main material of the nickel, which would be the beneficiary of the elimination of the penny.

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