Pennies have almost no purchasing power; it costs more to mint a penny than a penny is worth; and the U.S. Mint could cut its workload significantly just by ceasing production. But there's another side to that coin. According to penny-advocacy group Americans for Common Cents, the vast majority of Americans favor keeping the lowly penny, which the group says fuels charitable giving -- and it's true that penny drives do produce significant donations from people who don't mind emptying their penny jars for a good cause. The group also says abolishing the penny wouldn't save the country money, would likely raise government spending and would increase inflation.
It's almost certain that the cost of many goods would rise as businesses would likely round prices up to the nearest nickel, which would disproportionately hurt the poor since the less affluent make small purchases more frequently. As the first currency ever authorized by the United States in 1787, however, one thing is certain: The poor little penny is a rich part of American history.