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Eliminate the Cent, Mr. Trump

Eliminate the Cent, Mr. Trump

A good friend of mine, Mark, is very optimistic, as am I, for Mr. Trump’s opportunity to make positive changes.  He thinks there is a lot of low hanging fruit that can be done quickly to set the tone.  His only concern is that the press will not report it.

Mr. Trump, here is the very first thing you should do:

Eliminate the U. S. Cent (legal name for the lowly penny) as legal tender.  It costs anywhere from 1.5¢ to 2.5¢ to make so that is enough reason to dump the cent (it loses taxpayers about $50 Million annually).  Add to that the cost to all who use it in making change, counting the till at the end of the day, not to mention the back pain for geezers like me when we stoop to pick up pennies in front of the 7-11.

So why do we still make pennies?  I can think of 3 reasons: 1 – We are very bad at math (see my post here); 2 – There is so much of our culture built around the cent that we can’t give it up (“a penny for your thoughts”, “…not a red cent”, “a penny saved, a penny earned”……): 3 – Lobbying dollars to support political campaigns.  Jarden Zinc Products is the sole supplier to the U.S. Mint of the clad copper metal used to make the U.S. Cent.  It is rumored that if a congressman needs some quick donations, one way is to propose the elimination of the cent.  Jarden Zinc Products, it is said, will offer the congressman a nice donation if he drops the idea, forever.

If Jarden in fact (I have no proof) has a monopoly and is willing to pay elected officials for the privilege of keeping that monopoly (no proof here either, just rumor), this is exactly the type of corruption that Mr. Trump should send packing immediately.  What a nice symbolic move it would be to embarrass Congress into dropping the penny forever.  And it would save about $50 Million a year – chump change for the U.S.Government, but real money to the rest of us.

All during his campaign, Mr. Obama harped on the theme that the Republicans were corrupt and that they politicized everything.  In his view, the Republicans were the kings of pork or “earmarks.”  Mr. Obama’s campaign website claimed: “Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.”

He now admits that he hasn’t been able to control Congress as he had hoped and agrees that “earmarks” have not gone down.  He does, however, blame Congress for his failure to live up to his promise.

I find it very interesting that a leader chooses to blame his own team for his inability to live up to his promises. Imagine, if you will, a real leader blaming his team for his own failings.  If John Wooden’s UCLA basketball team lost a game, Wooden took responsibility for not preparing his team or for having a poor game plan. Truman didn’t say, “The Buck Stops with those guys in Congress except when it is something for which I want the credit.”  I think he said, “The Buck Stops Here.” Leaders take responsibility.  They blame themselves and spread among their team members all credit for successes.

So I have a simple solution for Mr. Obama.  If he truly wants to change the system and reduce or eliminate porkbarrel politics, all he need do is have a little chat with Congress.  His remarks could be very short and very sweet, “I will not sign any legislation that contains any pork (earmarks), period.  If the legislation cannot stand without bribing a few Members or Senators with pork, it does not deserve to become law.  If you, Nancy Pelosi and you, Harry Reid, want to override my veto, you will have to answer to the American People for the bribery and fraud you are perpetuating.”

Of course, then he would have to follow through and keep his promise.  What do you think the chances are he would do that?

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