Any time I write about cents, the level of interest seems to rise. I don’t believe I am particularly clever, but it is a topic that resonates in America at the moment.
I asked last week if the American people were quietly abolishing the cent by not using it and pointed to plunging mintage figures to illustrate the point.
Comments were posted. I appreciate comments. This time it truly is different for the cent.
In the past, the mintage totals would rise to peaks the coincided with economic high points and then fall. What makes this cycle different is that in prior cycles each high point was basically higher than the prior one. This time the high point was hardly more than half the prior one.
Something is going on. It is worth paying attention to. Sometimes people really do change their habits.
It happened before with the half dollar. The half dollar turned from a useful everyday coin into a commemorative to be saved and reverenced in 1964 when the Kennedy half was introduced.
Rising silver prices and changing alloys did not help, but Americans got out of the habit of using the coin. Now it languishes almost in the same land of the undead as the Sacagawea dollar that I wrote about yesterday.
Are Americans changing their coin using habits again to the exclusion of the cent? Could be.
As one person e-mailed me, all denominations below the quarter should be abolished and even the Internal Revenue Service rounds everything to the nearest dollar.