Why the Humble Penny Refuses to Die

The coin's survival has more to do with lobbying dollars than common sense.

A penny for your thoughts isn’t much of a bargain these days. Not only is a penny worth less than ever thanks to inflation, but the cost of minting each Lincoln has been more than its face value for almost a decade.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries have deep-sixed their smallest coin, but the U.S. penny endures, as the U.S. Mint continues to churn out millions per year to replace the coins vanishing into change jars and vacuum cleaner bags.

Many people—noted economists among them—back the penny’s retirement. Even President Obama has said he’s open to that. But it’s been years since anyone in Congress made a bid to kill the penny. One big reason: the zinc industry. A penny is actually 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper, so the group is deeply interested in its survival.

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And yes, Washington has a penny lobby. It’s called Americans for Common Cents.

Take a look at 7 more everyday things that refuse to die. You'll be surprised by many of them.

David Muhlbaum
Former Senior Online Editor

In his former role as Senior Online Editor, David edited and wrote a wide range of content for Kiplinger.com. With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, David worked on numerous Kiplinger publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He co-hosted  Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.