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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 8, February 24, 2008, Article 24

NPR COMMENTATOR'S 'GETTYBURG ADDRESS' TAKE ON ELIMINATING THE CENT

Regarding our recent discussion of the '60 Minutes' segment
on the cost of making cents and nickels at the U.S. Mint,
Chick Ambrass forwarded a link to a video snippet of the
segment. Mint Director Ed Moy is interviewed.

To see the video, go to:
Full Story

[Perhaps inspired by the 60 Minutes publicity of the cent
problem, National Public Radio Commentator Dan Drezner says
inflation and high zinc and copper prices have made the penny
too expensive for the U.S. to produce.  The text of his segment,
forwarded by Arthur Shippee, is a marvelous takeoff on Lincoln's
Gettysburg Address.  Here it is.  -Editor]

Four score and nineteen years ago, our national mint brought
forth on this country a new coin, conceived to honor Abraham
Lincoln, dedicated to the proposition that all coins bearing
his image would be worth exactly one penny.

Now we are engaged in a great spike in the price of zinc and
copper, testing whether this nation, frankly, can afford the
penny any longer. In 2006 it cost more money to produce a
penny than its face value; the U.S. Mint had to issue new
regulations designed to prevent the melting down of coins.
With inflation on the rise, the penny cannot long endure
its diminished status. Today, a single penny can't buy anything.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we question whether
the penny deserves a final resting place. Perhaps it should
go the way of other outdated concepts, like the half-cent coin,
which was abolished in 1857. Economists across the political
spectrum think this is a promising idea.

In a larger sense, however, we cannot determine - we cannot
divine - we cannot decide - this question. The historians,
who have struggled to burnish Abraham Lincoln's legacy with,
well, Lincolnesque properties, have unintentionally consecrated
the penny far above our poor power to debate this issue
rationally. Public radio listeners will little note, nor
long remember what I say here, but you should never forget
the massive amount of change jingling in my pocket. It is
for us the living, rather, to be dedicated now to the
unfinished work of bettering the country that Lincoln so
nobly advanced. We must be dedicated to the great task
remaining before us - the preservation of sensible and
sound money. Switching Lincoln's iconic image to, say, the
nickel would ensure that the penny would not have died in
vain - that change jars across this nation shall have a new
birth of freedom - and that meaningful coins manufactured
by a government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.

 CBS 60 MINUTES ON ABOLISHING THE CENT
 esylum_v11n06a13.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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