A penny spurned is not a penny saved

By Helena Rodriguez: Local Columnist

Sometimes our government does something outrageous and oversteps its bounds. Ok, this has been happening more frequently lately. But we know things have really gotten bad when the feds go after our precious penny.

There has been a movement in recent years to get rid of our copper-faced Abe Lincolns. I think we Americans should be taking to the streets in protest. You know the saying, “First they came for the pennies and I didn’t speak out … They came for the dimes and I didn’t speak out … then there was nothing left but dollar bills.”

We should be petitioning to have our penny placed on an “endangered species” list so our government can pour billions of dollars into saving our copper coins. And we should be having “Save Our Penny” rallies.

The problem is that some people are penny-prejudiced because they do not like the jingle of these one-centers in pockets. And they especially don’t like the meticulous task of standing around counting them one penny at a time. Oh yeah, there’s also that little quip by our U.S. Mint, something about pennies now being more expensive to coin than they are worth.

I’m sure many of you are saying to yourself right now, “So what’s the problem?” Or maybe not. Maybe you prefer the green stuff that folds and get annoyed by people who pull out pockets full of pennies and hold up checkout counter lines. But there’s more than inconvenience at stake here folks! True, the extinction of the penny will increase the net value of our thoughts. We will no longer be able to say “A penny for your thoughts,” but something more like “A nickel, a dime, or even a dollar for your thoughts … and Visa and MasterCard is accepted.”

Penny pinchers will become dollar pinchers and people will no longer be able to put in their two cents. It will go up to 5 cents. There will also no longer be “pennies from heaven.” Just think about those poor school children who save pennies all school year for worthy causes. They’ll have to move up into the nickel and dime business.

Without our coppers, it will cost even more to be poor. Instead of “I haven’t got a penny to my name,” someday it may very well be, “I haven’t got $20 to my name.”

I propose we form a special commission to study the economic impact of the penny. I also propose the government pour millions of pennies that people don’t like to mess with into funding this study. Retailers may act like they don’t like pennies, but their profits depend on pennies, not the “bottom dollar.” Why do you think they have 99-cent or two for $4.99 sales and don’t round off prices to the nearest dollar? The truth be told, retailers really like pennies. In fact, they prefer pennies over plastic, so crack open those glass jars.

I know it will be a tough fight to save our penny. I already see Generations Y & Z taking our little Abes for granted. In fact, sometimes they don’t even want their pennies. They can be heard saying once unheard of things like “Keep the change” or “Oh, it’s just a penny.”

Those of us from Generation X remember the days clearly when we would all have to pull our pennies together just to buy a soda to pass around and share. We remember the days when we were a penny or two short at the convenience store and the clerks patiently waiting for us while we went to dig pennies out from between our car seats. In fact, they would hold our purchases hostage until we produced those precious pennies.

So it now costs more than a penny to produce a penny. Again, what’s the problem? Here’s a quarter (notice I didn’t say penny). Go call someone who cares. If our government would start pinching pennies instead of paying $50 for hammers and awarding companies outrageous contracts, maybe they too would realize that “a penny saved is a penny earned.”

Us penny pinchers know pennies add up. In fact, if we all pull our pennies together, looking between our car seats and under our couches, we can probably collect enough pennies to pay off our federal deficit.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: