I read Michael Kinsley's article "Fear of Change" {op-ed, July 12}, about eliminating the paper dollar bill in favor of a coin, with some interest and historical insight.

From the first U.S. minting in 1793, we have had several denominations of coins including a copper half-cent, a two-cent piece, a three-cent silver and later a three-cent nickel piece, a silver half-dime, a short-lived 20-cent piece (like the Susan B. Anthony dollar, it had problems being accepted because it looked too much like a quarter) and even a four-dollar coin called the stella.

With all this history behind us, I would like to propose my solution to this national monetary "crisis," and I hope some members of Congress are reading this.

First, discontinue the minting of zinc pennies for general use. For numismatists such as myself, replace it with a proof and uncirculated copper penny that can be sold at a premium through the U.S. Mint's catalogue. This would allow the mint to profit from the sale of pennies while satisfying a large and vocal number of the objectors to its elimination.

Second, the dollar bill has to go. We must realize the economic facts of modern life. I don't think George Washington will mind, since his profile would still be on the quarter.

The coins I mentioned earlier were minted because of economic necessity. We now have our own economic necessities to address. In 1857 when the half-cent was eliminated from production, people thought they would be the losers in any financial transaction. Well, they weathered that storm, and being the resilient Americans that we are, we'll weather this one too -- if our leaders can put aside the influence of the various lobbies and concentrate on what is best for our nation.


Michael Kinsley's column "Fear of Change" was on the mark. By cutting through the analyses, studies and projections, he revealed that:

First, the dollar of today has the purchasing power of a quarter. Second, paper dollar bills last 18 months, while coins last 25 years. Third, switching from paper to coins would save $318 million annually. And finally, while we must learn from our mistakes (such as the Susan B. Anthony dollar), we don't need to live in fear of them.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and I have legislation in the House that calls for the minting of a dollar coin. The bill, H.R. 1068, enjoys the support of 132 of our colleagues. These men and women recognize that a country and its currency do not grow by looking backward but by taking bold steps forward. MORRIS K. UDALL U.S. Representative (D-Ariz.) Washington