I read in The E-Sylum of 13 September Dick Johnson's note about the anti-penny rant on the web and his reference to his own anti-penny writings. While these men are right about the state of the penny there is an important factor as to why it will never cease production at current, or higher, levels: The Illinois delegation to the United States Congress.
At present this stands at 2 Senators and 19 members of the House of Representatives. This bipartisan group will fight tooth and nail to keep the penny with Abraham Lincoln on the obverse in circulation. They will almost certainly be helped by the Kentucky delegation (2 Senators, 6 House members) — remember, Lincoln was born there. Likewise they can probably count on the support or veto pen of the President, who was a member of Illinois delegation.
Now some readers may think that I am crazy, but remember that the Virginia delegation to Congress (2 senators, 11 House members) heavily resisted the removal of Monticello from the reverse of the nickel to be temporarily replaced by other designs celebrating the founding of Jamestown that was issued in 2007.
One of the official reasons being that they thought the absence of Jefferson's house would reduce the number of tourists going there. In addition, there was almost certainly the fear that if Monticello was replaced it might set a precedent where other non-Virginian sites might in the future appear on the coin.
If you end production of the penny then you would have to move Lincoln's bust to another piece. Good luck. Our friends in Virginia (fans of Washington and Jefferson) would certainly fight the removal of their men. Likewise, New York (2 Senators, 29 members of the House) would fight the removal of Roosevelt from the dime. Similarly, Massachusetts (2 Senators, 10 House members) want Kennedy on the fifty cent piece.
Since no one uses dollar coins (or the 50 cent piece for that matter), our friends in Illinois would never accept it as a substitute, especially since everyone uses pennies. To make putting Lincoln on the dollar coin acceptable, it would involve ending production of the dollar bill, an act that would outrage the Virginia delegation and the makers of the cloth and ink used in its production. These groups and/or their lobbyists have fought this economically reasonable action with everything they've got.
Political reasons and state egos will usually trump economic sense. This is the nature of the beast: man is both a logical and an emotional creature. After all, why would anyone pay over a million dollars for a coin with a face value of twenty bucks? We may not like the Lincoln penny, but it is here to stay.