Blogs > Ron Jones > May 2013 > A Half Cent for Your Thoughts?

A Half Cent for Your Thoughts?

The April issue of Green Builder magazine is largely devoted to individuals who we consider to be important “game changers”—folks who value the greater good over special interests, and who are willing to challenge the status quo in order to create meaningful progress.

They are the kind of people who are not intimidated by change. Rather, they embrace it and foster it whenever they feel compelled to seek a better path for all. This got me to thinking about another kind of change, and how it illustrates our modern moral dilemma.

Reports of the penny’s demise are apparently premature, at least for now. Despite the ongoing efforts from a diverse set of proponents, there is still not enough political currency (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) to bring about the end of this least-valuable U.S. coin.

As I understand it, there are three main groups who wish to see production of the one-cent piece continue, and together they have so far been successful in keeping it rattling around in our cup holders and piggy banks.

First come the metal suppliers. The penny, which was once made from copper and therefore held much importance for the copper industry, is now only coated with a thin veneer of that metal, and is instead made almost entirely of a far-less valuable material: zinc. But the zinc lobby has skillfully replaced the copper lobby in vigorously opposing the discontinuation of minting, even though it now costs over two cents to produce each one-cent coin.

Second, there are voices who cry out that discarding this ubiquitous reminder of the iconic profile of our much beloved Lincoln would be a shameful disgrace, although it is impossible to tell how many members of the choir truly care about the little images or actually get their sheet music from the group above.

The third constituency is hiding behind the familiar skirts of “jobs.” Pennies are issued only at the Denver Mint. They make up about 60% of the facility’s production, and they cost the American taxpayer about $116 million annually. But there is not yet enough courage on Capitol Hill to force anyone to figure out how to repurpose those jobs in a direction that produces something we actually need. It appears that this would take too much effort on the part of somebody and require them to put some skin in the game.

Reminded once again that history repeats itself, we cannot help but point to the long-ago discontinued U.S. half-cent coin. Minted exclusively in Philadelphia from 1793 until officially ended by the Coinage Act of 1857, the half-cent piece bore the likeness of “Liberty.” We are informed that the sun rose the following morning.

Posted: 5/15/2013 11:56:59 AM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments



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About Me

Ron Jones, Co-Founder and President of Green Builder® Media, is recognized as one of the fathers of the green building movement. Instrumental in establishing guidelines and programs through NAHB, USGBC and a variety of regional initiatives, he has more recently worked with the International Code Council in the development of both the National Green Building Standard (ICC 700) and the International Green Construction Code.

He is the charter chairman of the Green Builder Coalition, a grassroots non-profit advocacy group whose goal is to promote integrity in the building industry, and beyond, in an effort to return balance and harmony to the relationship between the built environment and the natural one.

A recognized author and keynote speaker on four continents, his industry credentials and leadership experience, combined with his inspirational message and “take no prisoners” style, make him a high-demand presenter for conferences and events of all kinds.

 

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