"Zinc lobby" preventing retirement of penny


Worthless pocket clutter that it is—often thrown in the trash!—America should likely do away with the one cent coin. Ah, but that would mean less profits for the zinc trade.

Beside national inertia, the main reason the penny is still with us is that business interests want it that way. President Obama, when he was campaigning in 2008, said he would like to rid the nation of this unnecessary burden. “I need to find out who is lobbying to keep the penny,” he said. The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbyists, has the answer: it’s Big Zinc sidekicked by the vending industry. Together, they form a powerful penny lobby.

The interesting part is how many cute stories, about smalltown America's fight to save the penny, that the lobbyists get in print.

In few such accounts is it noted that the ACC is run by the main lobbyist representing the zinc industry, which supplies most of the metal used in pennies. The “report” was merely a short statement from the group citing various opinion polls, most of them completed from 12 to 20 years ago. The most recent was conducted in 2006 — by Coinstar CSTR 0.00% , a business that is built largely on the fact that Americans must periodically haul huge, penny-filled cider bottles to vending machines if they want to turn the coins into usable currency. (Coinstar also owns Redbox, the movie-rental outfit). The link provided by the ACC to Coinstar’s survey is broken, and there is no information on the company’s site about the survey, which, according to the ACC, found that two-thirds of Americans want to keep the penny.
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Gun lobby has opposed research on effects of gun ownership/gun laws

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Last week, after giving myself an initial overview of the scientific research on how gun ownership and gun laws affect violent crime, I told you that it seems like there's not a solid consensus on this issue. At least not in the United States. Different studies, of different laws, in different places seem to produce a wide variety of results.

On the one hand, this is kind of to be expected with social science. People are hard to pin down. Harder, often, than the Higgs Boson particle. And you can't just do a clean, controlled laboratory study of these issues. Instead, you're left trying to compare specific places, laws, and enforcement techniques that may not be easily comparable, in an attempt to draw a broad conclusion. That's hard.

But, it seems, the National Rifle Association has gone out of its way to make this work even more difficult than it would otherwise be. Since the early 1990s, NRA-backed politicians have attacked firearms research they believe is biased against guns. Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon.com wrote a piece on this back in July, after an earlier mass shooting. He describes how a vaguely worded clause has lead researchers to avoid doing firearms studies at all, for fear of losing their funding.

The Centers for Disease Control funds research into the causes of death in the United States, including firearms — or at least it used to. In 1996, after various studies funded by the agency found that guns can be dangerous, the gun lobby mobilized to punish the agency.

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TOM THE DANCING BUG: What Will Counter-Earth Obama Do To Get Sun and Wind?!!

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