Saturday :: Jun 3, 2006

The Cost Of A Thought

by pessimist

"A penny for your thoughts!"

That's what my grandfather used to say to me whenever I got quiet for a while. I wonder what he would have said to me if this proposal had been passed back when I was young and coins were all the new:

The Fight Against the Penny
Rep. Kolbe Wants to Do Away With the Coin

"Most people still think the penny has no purpose and we should get rid of it," said Rep. Kolbe, who introduced legislation in Congress in 2001 that required the rounding of cash transactions to the nearest 5 cents.

Similar movements are afoot in the commercial world. The other day I happened to notice an ad on cable TV that was promoting the idea that any change of under a dollar would be added to some account you would create rather than be given to you. This may not seem like much to you, but one of the most famous computer crimes ever involved - the penny.

According to one knowledgeable source, another hacker brags that he recently found a way to get into Citibank's computers. For three months he says he quietly skimmed off a penny or so from each account. Once he had $200,000, he quit. Citibank says it has no evidence of this incident and we cannot confirm the hacker's story.
But, says computer crime expert Donn Parker of consultants sri International:
"Such a 'salami attack' is definitely possible, especially for an insider."

That was only a penny per account, and only a time span of a few months. That was also 1992, and I know that bank computer security has been improved by magnitudes of order. Still -what amounts can be raised voluntarily if the sums are as much as 99 cents, and the term indefinite and ongoing?

But, not everyone shares Jim Kolbe's enthusiasm for taking your last penny.

In fact, as this critic points out, NO ONE does:

"Kolbe is a good member of Congress but wrong on this issue," said Mark Weller, Executive Director of the pro-penny organization, Americans for Common Cents. "When he did this in 2001, he received no support. Not one co-sponsor. I think we'll see a similar response this time."

Kolbe's 2001 legislation proposed that cash transactions ending in 1, 2, 6, or 7 cents should be rounded down to the nearest 5 cents, while transactions ending in 3, 4, 8, or 9 cents would round up. Credit and debit card transactions could still be valued to the nearest cent.

"Americans overwhelmingly want the penny," said Weller. "They also hate rounding."

Well, almost no one. Kolbe must have SOMEONE interested in his proposal. If this is true, just what - or who - IS behind Kolbe's repeated attempts to impose his 'no cents' nonsense?

Would you believe 'enlightened corporate self-interest' - the main reason our government is the Best Government Corporate Campaign Contributions Can Influence?

Kolbe represents Arizona, the largest copper producing state in the nation. Copper is the main material of the nickel coin which, after the elimination of the penny, would benefit by becoming the lowest denomination of currency in circulation.

I'm not against CHANGING the penny, but I am against eliminating it. I am also not about to hand over my change to some outfit who will 'hold' it for me while they use it to enrich themselves until I ask for mine back.

So what is to be done to replace a coin which is admittedly more expensive to produce than its face value represents?

Let's change the material.

There are many plastics or composites in the world which are far more durable and less costly than metals. As the penny is only really a place marker in transactions, who really cares if it is even made of metal at all? What I care about is: If I accumulate 100 of these, I can trade them for George Washington's portrait. If I collect 200 of them, I would want Thomas Jefferson's. (That would be a two dollar bill for you kiddies who can't go watch the ponies run.)

As long as the transactional concept that the penny represents is satisfied, then I for one don't care what the penny is made of. Make it of whatever material meets the necessary qualifications - including cost of production and durability.

That way, I wouldn't be unwillingly aiding and abetting another Republican get-richer-quicker scheme.

I wonder if we could get Kolbe's support if we named this new coin after him?

What say you? A 'Kolbe' for YOUR thoughts!

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