There's been discussion in recent years about eliminating the one-cent piece - the venerable penny - from our currency base. These advocates want the penny to go the way of the mill, that ancient one-tenth of a cent token used long ago.
There's actually a fairly good argument to eliminate the penny. I'm uncertain of the overall ramifications to the economy were it to drop from sight. But I suspect its days are numbered.
The truth is that most people won't even bend over to pick up a discarded penny any longer. Time was that these lost treasurers along the ground were a sign of good luck. But given their current worth, the risk of a back injury is too great to stoop for a penny.
There remains a handful of items that can still be purchased for a penny. But their days too are numbered. Casinos still offer a limited number of penny slot machines but the truth is, they are designed much more for entertainment than some monetary purpose.
Like countless others, I still cling to a limited "collection" of wheat pennies, those pre-1960 coins of an earlier design. In my younger years, you would on rare occasion find an Indian head penny in your change. But those days are long gone.
I harbored a notion many years ago that my wheat pennies would some day hold some value. Alas, that day may come but it won't come in my lifetime. It's time to ax the penny and have merchants round your purchase to the nearest available coinage. I just think it would somehow be easier. And let's be real honest - no one is going to suffer from this minor change in our currency base.
Virtually every other item in our currency is undergoing a face-lift these days. But the lonely penny continues to be ignored. And for good reason.
Times do indeed change. It may be time to wax nostalgic about the days of the one-cent piece and then send it to that great Federal Reserve in the sky. And then years from now - hundreds of years from now - those few remaining pennies will get the last word. Then and only then, will they have some value. That's their only remaining hope.