Mend It, Don't End It: Affirmative Action for The Penny

The penny is obsolete and inefficient, or so they say. What is to be done? Junking the penny has its merits. But consider these four most important items from Owen’s article:

*nickels, despite their silvery appearance, are 75% copper

*producing a penny now costs about 1.7 cents

*many people are quite attached to one-cent coins

*the nickel […] now costs almost a dime to make

The clear solution derived from these key points is not to eliminate the penny but to kill of the nickel and make pennies worth five cents. The penny is a far superior aesthetic and historical object than the nickel, which has lost even the mystique of being the only piece of American currency ever to bear a (bison’s) penis. Nickels, unlike both pennies and dimes, do not fit in glass beer bottles, making them impossible to accumulate stylishly. And the awful Ms. Skeletor portrait of Jefferson adorning the new nickels is an affront to American tradition third only to the shape of the Susan B. Anthony quarter and the peekaboo papoose of its Sacagawea replacement. Pennies, by contrast, sport Honest Abe in elegant profile. They fit in beer bottles and even out unsteady wooden furniture. And, of course, they’re far cheaper to produce than nickels. Pennies are a much more affordable currency to give your children to play with and save than nickels. And so on.

The nickel is a misshapen fraud with a beastly portrait of a godless slaveowner. The penny is a pure classic that bears around the world billions of images of the Great Emancipator in all his Christian mercy, from the filthiest whorehouse to the bedsides of tykes. After all the work it’s done for us, now it’s our turn to give the penny a leg up. Ditch the nickel. Promote the penny to five-cent status.