Take a penny, leave a penny...On second thought, just leave a penny.

In a refreshing reminder that politics is (sometimes) still local, Massachusetts Senators John Kerry (D) and Scott Brown (R) are together opposing a move to phase out the dollar bill in favor of dollar coins. Presumably their aim is to support the company that manufactures the paper used in making dollar bills, which is based in their state. So there’s at least one thing that can make Washington politicians cross party lines and work together: money. In this case, the actual stuff.

In a refreshing reminder that your humble correspondent’s put-upon brain remains (sometimes) functional, this news stirred up an ancient memory in that bustling organ…something about pennies. Something about John Kerry and pennies. Something about John Kerry opposing the discontinuance of pennies because it would hurt a Massachusetts company. But my online research hasn’t turned up that dimly-remembered news item from its long-ago year, nor any other reference to the matter. Readers, I’m hoping you can shed light on this, or dispel it as a figment of my imagination.

The research has been nonetheless useful, reminding me that it costs more than a penny to mint a penny, an example of blatant government waste if I ever saw one. In their crusade to spend less and less money, eventually leaving themselves with nothing whatsoever to do, the GOP ought perhaps to be lining up with the anti-penny brigades along with the dollar bill haters.

Even more interestingly, in our penny-foolish times, my Web-trawling has dredged up the news that (as of last year, anyway) John Kerry was the richest member of Congress, thanks to his wife’s ketchup fortune.

But back to more important matters. In their bill, amusingly called the Currency Efficiency Act, Kerry and Brown condemn the “massive overproduction” of the “unpopular one dollar coin,” a point of view that fails to recognize the simple fact that dollar coins have been unpopular because of terrible design – they’ve been too small and quarter-like, for one thing. There have been a number of attempts to introduce dollar coins over the years, but none has been distinctly formed enough to make sense to the public.

A dollar coin that’s thick and heavy, like the one-pound coin in Britain (which sensibly discontinued its one-pound note more than 25 years ago), would succeed. But apparently it hasn’t occurred to anyone to mint one.