Today is Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, as well as the 100th birthday of the Lincoln penny. To honor the occasions, the US Mint has released a new penny featuring four different designs. The Detroit Free Press reports on this needless diversion of government resources:
The U.S. Mint will issue four new 1-cent coins. The first will go into circulation today. The rest will be released in each calendar quarter throughout the year. The heads side will bear Lincoln’s likeness. The tails side will have one of four designs depicting aspects of his life.
The penny should have been eliminated a long time ago, but with the help of vocal lobbyists like manufacturer Jarden Zinc Products–whom the penny is basically bailing out–the niggling denomination remains. The Philadelphia Inquirer estimates that the new pennies are worth $50 million, but cost $70 million to produce.
Too bad it’s illegal to melt them for scrap.