The Magazine

Pennies from Heaven

Special one for two sale.

Sep 24, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 02 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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Not only are you smart, the other good news is that you have a lot more money than you thought you did. We all do. A quick survey of my home indicates that the average American household contains something on the order of 900,000 to 1,000,000 pennies stashed in coffee cans, cigar boxes, quart jars, kitchen junk drawers, childrens' piggy banks, under car seats, between couch cushions, and so forth. So it's enormous flat-screen high definition TVs all around, as soon as we get done building our backyard zinc smelters.

And yet, I'm leaving out the best part of the story. Various powerful political interests have been trying to get rid of the penny for years: the Treasury Department, retailers of all types and sizes, vending machine companies, and every industry that has to buy pricey zinc, from the manufactures of barnyard feed buckets to the purveyors of sunblock for lifeguard schnozzolas. But nothing doing. The nation's only supplier of the zinc "blanks" from which pennies are struck, Jarden Zinc Products, managed to block legislation banishing the penny. It did so mainly by paying the political consulting firm of Baker & Daniels LLP $180,000 to lobby against legislation concerning--excuse me, I can't resist--"common cents."

There's no doubt that paying double is a very high price when it comes to obtaining a penny. But $180,000 is a piddling sum when it comes to obtaining effective influence in Congress. Ah, the miracle of democracy--always letting us get our 2 cents in.

P.J. O'Rourke is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.