19 July 2008

Eliminate the Penny (This is What They Mean by Monetary Policy, Right?)

It costs more than a penny to make a penny. It takes valuable time to count them out during transactions. When it was first introduced, the penny was worth about $1,347 in current dollars. If you had two pennies to rub together, you could buy an acre of land. Today they cost more than they are worth and have merely become a conduit for the transmission of germs from sweaty palm to sweaty palm. Pennies might even be one of the most pernicious disease vectors, accounting for as much as 41.7% of our health care costs.

Okay - I'm not exactly sure about the past value and just made up the bit about $1,347, the acreage and the health care but the point is, pennies were probably worth something in the past. This is no longer the case.

It is time to eliminate the penny. This would help to lower the prices of commodities (well, at least copper) and would free up cashiers across the nation to engage in more valuable efforts. It is hard to think of a single act that would do more to improve today's economy (but of course that could just be because it is a Saturday and I'm not really trying.)

So, there it is, lying there like a penny on the sidewalk for either of the presidential candidates to reach down and pick up: start rounding all transactions to the nearest nickel and eliminate the penny.

7 comments:

Jennifer H said...

When I'm shopping, it always makes me happy when the person handling the transaction rounds up my change instead of giving me pennies.

ThomasLB said...

We aren't too far away from the time when nobody will pay cash anymore, all transactions will be carried out with plastic cards and online accounts.

Only Luddites like me will still use cash. Please allow me and my backwards brethren to have our pennies.

HRH said...

I am pretty much cash free in public. We still use old fashioned cash at home for allowances, etc. But I wouldn't miss the penny too much. And they are nasty dirty so I am all for eliminating germs...I can't vouch for your stats but they seem good to me...it being a Sunday and all I can't really think to much about it.

Dave said...

According to Coins.com, the penny is 97.5% zinc (since 1983), with a copper coating, though I understand your point.

Gypsy at Heart said...

I feel like Thomas does. Pernicious diseases aside (and why single out the poor penny when the other coins do their fair worth of passing germs around?). There is an intrinsic and intangible value to the idea of the penny that I, for one, consider should not be lost to this world. That our increased sense of monetary value no longer makes space for the minimal actual worth of the penny is no reason to take it out of circulation. In a way, that would be like saying, let's get rid of the number 1 because it is only number 1. Or the zero, because the zero is nothing. But it isn't, is it?

Big Al said...

Where I'm from in northern Ohio (Sandusky, to be exact), there was one retailer I remember who priced everything such that even with tax added in somehow the amount was always rounded to the nearest quarter increment, as in .00 or .25 or .50 or .75. People of course could pay with pennies or nickles or dimes. But if he had to give out change it was in quarters. He said he found it saved him a lot of hassle and money.

But as for me, I still remember my early teen years toting golf bags as a caddy at the local private golf club and the time spent waiting for golfers was usually occupied pitching pennies, where a "leaner" was as good as it gets.

Ron Davison said...

Jennifer,
I always like it when they round up to the next Franklin-designated bill increment.

Thomas,
I think you might have this wrong. You are dis-qualified from being a card-carrying Luddite if you have a blog. I think that you're supposed to print pamphlets.

Holly,
I'm impressed that card-carrying consumers like you would swing by R World on a Sunday. I mean, I don't even take credit cards.

Milena,
Are you supposed to challenge me on this? I thought comments were supposed to buttress the fragile egos of bloggers. No? I'm going to have to go back to the bloggers handbook to check on the rules.

ALLEN!
I like that story. Sandusky, Ohio, where the smallest coin is a quarter. That is so cool. But then again, I would have expected nothing less of you.