Monday, December 14, 2009

Penny Lane

I was watching the West Wing this morning while I was preparing for my PFT this afternoon, and they had the episode about abolishing the Penny. You know... THE PENNY. With the Lincoln and the copper and the pling pling in the piggy bank.

I love pennies. I REALLY DO. I'm not being facetious. Pennies make the economy of this country work. For example: You want to go get, say, a cheetah print Snuggie at Wal*Mart and you don't want to pay more than $20? Good thing it's only $19.99!! <3 the Penny.

In the U.S. we revere the penny. We have sayings about the penny, like "A Penny saved is a Penny earned." or "It's gonna cost you a pretty penny" or "Penny for your thoughts!" "that boy's a bad penny!" AND "those bad pennies always turn up when you don't want them to..."

So why abolish the Penny when it's so much a part of our Americana culture? WELL as the West Wing makes clear, the Penny is almost entirely out of circulation.

TERRY: The dollar has the buying power today that the quarter had 30 years ago. The penny's buying power shrunk to nothing.

SAM: Well, that's not true. You can get yourself a gumball.

TERRY: No, you can't. They cost a nickel.

Actually NOW they cost a quarter. This episode was made a few year ago and what with inflation and all... *sigh* to be in the gumball biz...

To tie this all back to Copenhagen and my apparent Theme of the Month "The Environment", it is also explained that mining the millions of tons of copper and zinc that go into making pennies is bad for the environment. 2/3rds of all pennies are out of circulation, they are in jars or couches or and not in "take a penny leave a penny" containers at the grocery store. That many pennies roaming free is also pretty bad for the environment since they are seen as garbage. How may times have you seen pennies on the street? What a sad fate for Lincoln, srsly.

Which brings me to my favorite quote of the episode:
Sam: The Mint gets letters with pennies taped to notebook paper. Letters
from citizens who found the pennies on the street and mailed them back to the Treasury to help pay down the debt.

I think this plan COULD and SHOULD be enacted on a grand scale! Here's the plan: Save your pennies and mail them back to the Treasury Dept. in those U.S. Postal boxes... you know, the "one price no matter what the weight is" boxes... all we need is... 9,000,000,000,000,000 pennies!

Alright, forget it. Abolish the penny. That dinky shiny coin is basically worthless.

And maybe in the grand scheme of things, this is a non-issue. The West Wing knows that, and makes fun of that fact within the episode:
LEO: What do you need?

SAM: No, if you're in the middle of something, I can come back.

ADAMLEY: We're eliminating genocide. What are you doing?

SAM: Eliminating the penny. So I'll come back.

But STILL, I kinda wish we could address the small things with as much vigor as we address the bigger issues.

Thanks for reading and best regards,

*photographer's note: that photo of pennies does include one dime, but that dime is so BUSTED it's probably only worth a penny.*