Tarra Matthews Staff Writer
Last week was a good week for Nerdfighteria, but the jewel in the crown of awesome was when Nerdfighter leader & celebrated author John Green was one of 5 participants in at Google+ Hangout with US President Barack Obama. Participants chosen for the ‘fireside chat’ came from a variety of backgrounds and views making for an interesting hangout & line of questioning.
John Green finally got to bring his pet peeve to the President himself, why does America still have pennies being minted? Truth is, pennies cost more than they are worth to produce and aren’t accepted in the common places people use change, like vending machines, tool booths and parking metres. Heck, here in Canada we decided to get rid of pennies and since that decision came into affect last week we’re still here.
When faced with the question from Green, Obama was slightly at a loss for words, stating that he didn’t really know why the government hasn’t tackled this issue in the past. The POTUS went on to state that much of the reason that pennies are still around today probably has to do with the public’s emotional attachment to the coin rather than anything economically speaking. “We all remember… our piggy banks, and counting up all our pennies and then taking them in and…getting a dollar bill or a couple dollars from them.” But the President didn’t belittle the idea either; “Any time we’re spending more money on something that people don’t actually use, that’s an example of something we should probably change.” Comparatively, yes the ‘penny issue’ is small potatoes, estimated to save the government $100 million over a 10-year span but every little bit would help at a time where the economy is in such turmoil.
John Green’s question on pennies was an amazing segway into President Obama discussing and explaining about inefficiencies in government and how he is trying to streamline operations to save money and make things function better for everyone. He also touched on why such a feat is so difficult. Simply put, people don’t like change. People don’t care that change/adaptation is the reason we have survived so long,; they don’t want to change how things are until it is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, some of those most opposed to change are those that possess some form of power. When they feel their hold on the power they have is slipping away, they will hold fast to it as long as they can, and care not that giving up their power may make the system run better as a whole. Part of the President’s task moving forward will be convincing those in Congress holding on to their small pieces of leverage, that letting go is what is truly best for the country to run more efficiently.
For the second part of John’s interaction with the President, the long elusive ‘Yeti’ (Green’s wife Sarah) made a rare on-screen appearance to show off her baby bump and ask Obama what girl’s name he preferred more, Eleanor or Alice. The President played coy, giving the answer, “If I gave a preference, and you guys went the other way, this child would say, ‘The President doesn’t like my name.’ Which could traumatize them.” This response elicited an exasperated groan from John and Sarah but was followed up with Obama saying that no matter what they named their child, to tell them to “Not forget to be awesome,” a play on the Nerdfighter motto, DFTBA (Don’t Forget to Be Awesome). That sentiment led to this reaction from John’s brother Hank Green:
Which was pretty much my reaction to the whole situation too. It shows that Obama did a little research into the people he was going to be talking to, which arguable, isn’t that hard in the case of the Green Brothers when their YouTube views total in the 290 MILLION+ range but it’s nice to see that President actually cares. So yes, yesterday was a big win for John Green and the Nerdfighter community.