Jarden Zinc Products is a large zinc plant near Greeneville, Tennessee. Since 1982, it has been the only company that makes penny blanks for the U.S. Mint. The blanks are small metal disks. The mint turns them into pennies.
It's a good business for Jarden. The company earns millions of dollars. But it may not be a good deal for the United States. That's because it costs the government 2¢ to make a 1¢ coin. Should the U.S. stop using pennies?
Two Sides to the Coin
Jarden wants to keep the penny. So does a group called Americans for Common Cents (ACC). Jarden has given ACC more than $1 million to help save the penny. Mark Weller works for ACC. He says there are three main reasons for keeping the penny. The first is that without the penny, we would use more nickels. The second reason is that without the penny, charities that have penny drives would not be able to raise as much money. Finally, ACC polls show that Americans want to keep the penny. People say they worry they would pay more for products if the U.S. stopped using the coin.
Many experts disagree with ACC. They say other countries have gotten rid of their lowest-value coins without prices going up. Charities don't seem too worried about being able to raise money, either.
President Barack Obama has said the U.S. Mint should use a cheaper metal, like steel, to make pennies. But no matter what it is made of, the penny's days may be numbered. Most people pay with debit or credit cards, not cash. Is it time for a change?