Abolishing the Penny (and Nickels)

Photo courtesy of Waffles at Noon.
Photo courtesy of Waffles at Noon.

The penny, which is worth 1/100 of a dollar, is labeled as money by the U.S. government, and money is used to facilitate the exchange of goods and services.  However, for years the penny has been labeled by the people as a worthless piece of metal that hinders the U.S. economy.

When the penny was created it was made of pure copper, but because the price of copper when up, as did inflation, the buying power of the penny went down.  This caused the mint to make the penny only 5% copper and 95% zinc.  Pennies were worth more dead than alive so people melted them down so they could sell the raw copper for profit.  Instead of the government discontinuing the penny at this point, and being happy that citizens were taking them out of circulation, they made melting pennies illegal, and continue to make over four million pennies each year.

The penny now cost 1.8 cents to make, which means it takes practically two cents to make one penny, which adds up to over $900 million wasted tax dollars every year.  That’s nearly a billion dollars that could be going towards anything else.

Also there is no argument that abolishing the penny would hurt anything.  It would not raise prices, it would not cut charitable contributions.  It would only help our economy.

Pennies are money, which is supposed to make buying things more convenient, but pennies don’t do that.  They’re not even worth people’s time to fiddle with.

A jar of useless pennies taking up space. ~Photo courtesy of Slate.
A jar of useless pennies taking up space.
~Photo courtesy of Slate.

Back in the early 1900s and beyond, the penny could actually buy things.  But not even machines like vending machines, nor laundry machines, nor toll booths, nor parking meters, nor anything else will accept pennies today because they are not worth the time nor effort to count, store, and transport them. The only machines that take pennies is CoinStar machines, which take 10% of your money, while providing nothing in return except the money that was already yours, in paper cash form.

According to CGP Grey, countries that have already gotten rid of their one cent coins are: New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Netherlands, and Canada.  These countries now round to the nearest five cents, and have had a better economy since then; they saw no prices rise, or charitable donation drop.

Additionally, the United States has already abolished coins in the past.  The U.S. used to have a half cent coin, but it was discontinued in 1857 because it was worth too little.  Also when the half cent coin was abolished, it had more buying power than today’s dime, so the U.S. could abolish even the nickel & dime and it wouldn’t hurt the economy.  It would help it, especially seeing that the nickel cost nine cents to make.

Abolish the Penny bumper sticker. ~Photo courtesy of Zcache.com
Abolish the Penny bumper sticker.
~Photo courtesy of Zcache.com

The only argument to keep the penny is that it has president Abraham Lincoln’s face on it, and it would be disrespectful to discontinued a coin with that president’s face on it.  But if anything, having a president’s face on a coin that is worth nothing is dishonorable.  President Lincoln wouldn’t want his face on a penny that is worth 1/126th of what a penny was worth when he was president, especially if it’s hurting our country’s economy.

So to recap on why pennies should be eliminated: They cost more to make than what they’re worth.  They waist peoples’ time.  They don’t even work as money, and because of inflation, they’re less valuable every year, making all the previous problems worse.

Death to the penny. ~Photo courtesy of The Justice.
Death to the penny.
~Photo courtesy of The Justice.

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