FOR years now, there has been talk of doing away with the penny.

Nothing is a penny anymore, not even penny candy, which probably costs 50 cents today.

About the only thing pennies are good for is making change when paying sales tax. Almost every convenience store has a small container for pennies when the total bill, with tax, comes to $1.01 or $1.02.

Just pull a penny out of that container so you don’t have to break a dollar and walk away with a pocketful of change. Conversely, if you get a few pennies back in change, just toss them in the container.

Many people don’t even bother to bend over and pick up pennies on the sidewalk or in a parking lot anymore. I suppose they figure that such a small amount is not worth the effort.

Being tight, I take Ben Franklin’s advice literally and pick up every penny I can find. In fact, I consciously look down for coins when I get out of my car. You seldom find anything but pennies anymore, but I grab for each and every one I notice, even those with “tails” up.

Heads up supposedly means good luck and tails up denotes bad. To me, finding a penny with either side up is good luck.

I don’t want to see the penny go the way of the dodo bird. I like pennies. In fact, I began collecting them when I was a child and still look for wheat pennies in my change.

If we are going to do away with any American coin, why not the dime? In case you haven’t noticed, dimes are the least circulated coin in this country today. I’m not sure why, but that’s the way it is.

Almost every time you get change from a coin-operated machine, you get two nickels instead of one dime. Check your loose change every night. More often than not, you won’t have a dime among the coins in your pocket.

Dimes just are not all that popular.

Maybe one reason is that the price of practically every product ends in an uneven number. Everything is 99 cents or $2.29 or $3.69. Nickels and quarters can handle most of your change, but you need those four pennies to handle the rest. I’m beginning to wonder if some coin machines even have slots for dimes.

If you can’t buy penny candy for a penny, think what you can’t buy for a dime. If you go to Starbucks, a 10-cent cup of coffee is $4.

Put a dime in the pay phone? Hey, grandpa! What’s a pay phone? 

It used to be that you could buy a newspaper for one thin dime. Thank goodness that’s not still the case or I’d be poorer than I am today!

So when you come right down to it, dimes are all but obsolete. Two nickels can accomplish anything a dime can. True, they’re a little bulkier, but rubbing two nickels together makes you feel richer than fiddling around with one dime.

Of course, they say we’re headed for a paperless, coinless society anyway, so the decision to eliminate any particular coin might well be a moot point. Pretty soon, there may not be any jingle in your pockets.

With credit and debit cards being used more and more, we’re pretty far down the road toward a paperless, coinless economy already. Members of the next generation may live their entire lifetimes and never touch real money.

Now I really wouldn’t care if they took away paper currency, but I’d hate to see coins go. You can’t play with dollar bills, but you can almost play a tune with a pocketful of coins.

And what would life be without change jars (I’ve never heard of a paper currency jar)? Every night, I toss a portion of my change into an old candy jar and when it is full, I take it to the bank and I’ve got two weeks’ worth of lunch money.

Then there are piggy banks that some of us remember. Shaking a piggy bank that contains no coins is about as exciting as wringing out a wet dishrag.

What about coin hunting behind the sofa pillows? That would be like an Easter egg hunt after they’ve done away with eggs.

Nope, America doesn’t need to do away with its coins. We need to hear our economy jingle.

But if we have to lose one coin, let it be the dime. They are almost obsolete already.

Or turn the dime into a $4 piece so we can once again buy a cup of coffee with one coin.

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​Donnie Johnston: djohn40330@aol.com

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