May 15, 2008

Mr. Cool's Those Aren't My Pants: Penny Rant


*The one-cent coin was the first currency of any type authorized by the United States, first struck in 1787.
*The penny’s design was suggested by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. *The 1909 penny, celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Birth, was the first U.S. coin to represent an historic figure.
*The Lincoln Penny, as one-cent coins were thence known, was the first to stamp “In God We Trust” on U.S. coinage.
*There have been 11 different designs, over 288,700,000,000 pennies minted in its history, at a current rate of 1,034 pennies per second.

Why do I care – well, I really don’t. I hate the penny, I truly hate it. Outside of a few productive purposes (penny jewelry, flattening them with trains, re-stamping them yourself into a souvenir, and dropping off tall buildings); the penny has outlived its usefulness.

“Inflation has eaten into the value of the penny to such a degree that it no longer facilitates commerce,” so says the Jeff Gore of the Citizens for Retiring the Penny ( When you look at the facts, I agree. In 2006 it cost 1.3 cents to make a 1 cent coin, in 2008 that number is now 1.7 cents per penny. Now, I’m no mathemagician, but that doesn’t sound like a strong fiscal policy – sell something for less than it costs to make. Then factor in we’re producing 7 billion (billion) pennies a year for a total cost of over 100 million dollars.

Beyond the dollars and cents, is the real cost of the penny. Time is money as they say, and the penny costs America 2 to 2.5 seconds for every transaction. That adds up to 2.4 hours of wasted time per person per year to leave a penny and take a penny. That’s 140 minutes I could spend watching my soul mate knit, or cut the grass, or sleep, or chuck rocks at cars because pennies are too darn expensive! The experts say (and when I say experts I don’t mean some guy spewing hate towards coinage on his wife’s blog, I’m talking about Professor Robert M. Whaples of Wake Forrest University) this is costing the U.S. economy $10 billion in productivity.

So what keeps the penny alive? One would think that the great state of Illinois is behind this fiendish inefficiency – being the “Land of Lincoln” and what not – but while they are vocal in opposition to the retirement of the penny, they are only Illinois, not Tennessee where the real penny power is. Tennessee is home base to the zinc industry, of which 97.5% of every penny is made. It isn’t Illinois behind the “2009 Bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s Birth” series of pennies with four new backs, but the American’s for Common Cents (, which is nothing more than the cleverly disguised shill for the zinc lobby. Cool name, but bad juju. These fear mongers claim that it will cost you more in rounding up on transactions if we rid ourselves of the penny, but that same smart-sounding Demon Deacon’s (PhD from Wake Forrest) study shows that rounding will actually save consumers 1 cent for every 40 transactions (200 transactions later and you can roll that nickel into your 401k!).

Lincoln’s on the $5 bill, what more does he want--he’s worth 500 times the penny, selfish jerk. I don’t blame Lincoln though, I hear he was a good president of something, but seriously, he had his fifteen minutes of fame. Here’s the kicker, 58% of Americans hoard pennies in sock drawers, wishing wells, mall fountains, and change jars instead of actually spending them. Why spend more money to make something than it’s actually worth, and then not use it. I don’t live in crazy town, so why should I use their currency?

So, remember, next time someone says “penny for your thoughts,” punch them straight in the face, because they just said is, “Burden me with your thoughts because it costs me more emotional energy to listen than I will gain in knowledge.” Sacajawea for your internal monologue anyone?

1 comment:

Matty said...

I hate pennies. I made a similar rant regarding the $19.99 plus tax tradition in the States. Here the cost is the cost and they just do the simple multiplication to figure out tax. I like just paying in bills.