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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 6, February 10, 2008, Article 13

CBS 60 MINUTES ON ABOLISHING THE CENT

Dick Johnson writes: "Alerted by the American Numismatic
Association's 'In the Loop' email, I watched the 60 Minutes
program on the current status of the cent tonight (Sunday
February 10th).  Is this the same Morley Safer that hit up
the Franklin Mint in 1983?   Twenty-five years has mellowed
Mr. Safer. It was a puff piece for the U.S. Mint.

"He took his camera to the floor of the press room of the
Philadelphia Mint to show the obligatory freshly-struck
cents pouring out of a chute. And to  the office of Mint
Director Edmund Moy. On camera, Moy was quoted as saying
in the beginning when questioned about the cent and nickel
costing twice face value he stated:  "It's unsustainable!"
And the final quote "Get rid of the penny?  Not likely!"

"Between these two comments were interviews of Art Weller,
a lobbyist for the zinc industry who, not surprisingly,
wanted to keep striking cents of the present copper-clad
zinc alloy.  Jeff Gore, a biophysicist, gave a commentary
on the value of lost time in all the transactions in a
year's time by every American. He calculated $41 billion
in lost time every year.

"David Leavitt, co-author of 'Freakonomics,' gave the most
intelligent reasons to abolish the cent. And didn't object
to rounding up or down at each transaction.

"Director Moy stated he has studied other countries which
have abolished their lowest coin denomination, and this
did not influence his decision to continue striking of the
cent. Yes, the U.S. Mint is considering other metals, steel
most likely, for cent composition. It is difficult to overcome
the sentimentality Americans hold for the cent and, to quote
Safer, 'the  love affair with Honest Abe.'

"But the answer to the problem is not attacking one
denomination and one composition.

"The answer is to study the entire American coinage system
with a view to future needs, not for past sentimentally. It
was unfortunate Morley Safer did not interview Francois Velde,
 senior economist at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and
co-author of "The Big Problem of Small Change." He has done
more to study the problem and came to the most intelligent
decision --  rebase the existing  cent! Call it a nickel and
let it continue in circulation. And round off the odd cents
in cash transactions."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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