June 11th, 2011

planet

eliminate pennies.

So last week I posted an entry about how I hate dealing with small change when I buy things and a lot of you did not get me, which I found sad, but I can deal. I think I found the root of my issue: I hate pennies. And I found out I'm not alone.

It turns out there has been a push to eliminate pennies in the United States, and it makes perfect sense (no pun intended). If this happened we'd round to the nearest nickle. So instead of owing $5.03 I'd owe $5.05, but that'd be okay, because 2/4 of the time things would come out in my favor. If my order totaled $5.02 and I was paying with cash, the store would have to round down and charge me $5. I would not have to pay $6 and wait for them to count out $0.98 in change, I would not have to dig around for two pennies. We'd all save time and hassle and I'd love that.

There are two big reasons we should stop making pennies: first, the penny is not good currency. You can't buy anything with it, it's too small. Currency is not something you toss into fountains to get your wish, it's not something you press into tiny commemorative art at tourist traps with a fun crank machine. If it's worthless, it should not be currency.

Second, and this is the big reason, the US Mint loses $50 million a year because they manufacture pennies for 1.7 cents each, but can only sell them to the federal reserve for 1 cent because that's what they're worth. Sigh. As a taxpayer, I can think of lots of things I'd rather see us do with that $50 million.

What's keeping us making them? Tradition. And the state of Illinois doesn't want to lose something with Lincoln's picture on it. And the zinc manufacturer's lobby... of course.

So this is my new cause that I am all in on... I think we should stop making pennies, and start rounding everything to the nearest five cents when consumers use cash to pay for things.