The Treasury Secretary Hates The Penny. Do You?

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson hates the penny because it is a worthless dingleberry of a coin. In an interview sure to have kids thinking they know enough to run the Mint, Paulson simplistically noted: “The penny is worth less than any other currency.” Don’t sing the penny’s swan song just yet.

…he quickly added that he didn’t think it was “politically doable” to eliminate the one-cent coin and it wasn’t something he planned to tackle in the final year of the Bush administration.

Great, add the penny to the slate of issues over which the parties disagree. Put it right next to war spending and social security.

Is the penny the most useless coin ever, or an indispensable cog in our $.99 economy? Vote in our poll, after the jump.


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Treasury Secretary Wants to Dump Pennies [AP]
PREVIOUSLY: Just Fucking Die Already, U.S. Penny
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. katarn says:

    If we get rid of pennies, how will it be possible to get the correct amount of change?

  2. azntg says:

    While some might be annoyed with the penny. I for one am not. Please keep it coming and people like me will happily use it!

  3. laserjobs says:

    Take away the penny and watch how inflation will jump since the currency will devlue even more. If you keep moving up the lowest denomination, soon you will have even larger inflation problems than we have now. I would hate to see inflation get worse especially with food and gas.

  4. stardeo says:

    I visited Australia in 1999 and found that the penniless transactions functioned very well. If you went to a meat counter and the chicken was $2.87 a pound and you bought one pound that the vendor charged you $2.85 for the chicken.

    People in the US argue that vendors would round up and items would cost more. Just like any good consummerist: stop shopping there. There are other argument about it, but the best argument for removal of the penny is that they cost more to produce than they are worth!

    Another thing to remember when you feel the urge to say “but if the vendor or even the consumer loses the penny, then they are making less money and on million of transactions that adds up!” you have to remember that when you calculate sales tax those fractions of a penny are lost…and it adds up. Or when you compound interest over time those fractions of a penny are lost…and it adds up.

    Isn’t that the whole basis of that thing they did in Superman II or was it Office Space? Take a penny; leave a penny?

    I say: leave the penny.

  5. DeltaPurser says:

    It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when nobody is willing to bring up scrapping the penny for fear of losing an election… Like this is what we should be most concerned about at this time?!?!?!??!?!?!?

  6. mac-phisto says:

    listen, i think lincoln was a useless president as much as any other person, but come on. the whole point of the penny is to keep things easy…like the metric system. eliminate the penny & that ease goes away. might as well start calling the dollar a quid already.

  7. bohemian says:

    This and going after Roger Clemons are surely the biggest issues this country has right now.

    I kinda like pennies but then I am a penny pinching cheapass.

  8. Xkeeper says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing it gone, if only because it’s, well… worthless.

    @laserjobs: I don’t see moving it up causing a problem, because the bottom unit doesn’t change (it’s still $0.01), there’s just nothing of value that low.

    Rounding prices down should be the standard (or even better, actual even prices — gasp!) anyway.

  9. Uhm, a penny costs more than a penny to make. The copper in the penny is worth more than $.01. Clearly, something is broken.

    Kill the bastards and give Lincoln the $1 coin. Or the $2 coin.

    PS- I was in vietnam where a million dong are worth about $70. I am pretty sure that they have a currency piece (a paper bill) that is below 5000 dong. I dunno that their bottom piece is worth less than a penny (a 100 dong bill would be), but I do not believe this man’s testimony on the penny as being the least valuable currency piece in the world.

  10. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    If we eliminate the penny, would it be legal to still price things in factors other than 5. Could you price something for $29.99? Because then it would technically be impossible to pay with cash. You’d have to use a credit card or check. Hmmmmmmmmm………

  11. mac-phisto says:

    @PotKettleBlack: they stopped making pennies out of copper a looooong time ago. now it’s zinc with copper plating.

  12. ClayS says:

    @bohemian:
    “This and going after Roger Clemons are surely the biggest issues this country has right now.”

    You are so right. Federal government, wake up!

  13. Nelsormensch says:

    Swedish Rounding resolves any rounding issues. It’s been in use for years in Sweden (obviously), the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand without any problems.

  14. badgeman46 says:

    I was in Australia when they eliminated the penny, it really was almost a non-issue. They simpy rounded up or down, which eliminated any inflationary pressures.

  15. hypnotik_jello says:

    @PotKettleBlack: Dude, Zimbabwe just printed a 15 million Zimbabwe dollar note. I think it was worth $4 USD about two weeks ago.

  16. ptkdude says:

    I’ve said for the past few years: ditch the penny and the one and two dollar bills. Keep the one dollar coin and add a two dollar coin. For those people who bitch because getting rid of the penny is bad because Lincoln is on the penny, might I point out he is also on the $5 bill. For those that bitch because getting rid of the dollar bill is bad because Washington is on the bill, might I point out he is also on the quarter dollar.

    For those who complain the vending machine industry will have to pay to rework the machines to accept one- and two-dollar coins, might I point out they didn’t have a problem adding bill acceptors to take dollar bills. They can do it (and they make a shitload of money off vending machines, too).

  17. GilliganLQ says:

    I say get rid of the penny.

    If you make a cash purchase, the final cost gets rounded off to the nearest nickel, either up or down. Isn’t that the way it’s done now with fractions of a cent?

    If you make a non-cash purchase (check, credit card, etc) then the final cost should continue to be rounded off to the nearest cent.

  18. laserjobs says:

    For some reason I guess I just like to know my money is worth something even if it is just in melt value. The consensus says “Devalue Away!!!”

  19. OwenCatherwood says:

    How many pennies get used just once? Factoring in the multiple times that most pennies change hands, it’s not really that expensive per use…

  20. r0ck says:

    @mac-phisto: You didn’t include a smiley or lol so i’m assuming you were serious about Lincoln…

    USELESS PRESIDENT? Are you insane? Child of ignorance? Who kept this country together during the Civil War? Lincoln. Who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and freed thousands and thousands of slaves? Lincoln. If it wasn’t for him, you’d need a passport to cross the Mason-Dixon line.

    Please tell me you were joking when you wrote your absurd comment.

  21. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    @ptkdude
    There are alot of vending machines around me that take the dollar coin. I personally think though that the dollar coin sucks. Working in a retail setting, I would get the dollar coin and just throw it underneath the register money tray. My manager would come in and check the till and put them back in the change area. I asked him to take them in the back and swap them out. No one wanted them, they looked like quarters, but they seemed to fix it, just a bit. I wish they were a little more than slightly different than a quarter.

    The metro train system here in Los Angeles gives out up to 19.95 in change if you put in large bills. It costs 1.25 to ride 1 way. If you put in a 20 it gives you 3 quarters and 18 dollar coins. Those were fun to spend when all I had was a 20.

    More on topic, taking away the penny would force prices to be at .90 instead of .99 endings. I was told, when I worked in retail furniture, that people like prices that end in 9. So either xx.99 or xx.90. All walmart jokes aside, dont you personally feel odd when you walk into walmart and the prices are like 6.76 for something instead of like 6.99? Or like 5.87? It just seems odd. At least to me….

  22. ironchef says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn:
    price it $29.95

    it will probably be deflationary since retailers would rather forego the 4¢ than lose the extra decimal price psychology.

  23. ClayS says:

    @socalrob:
    No, I think pricing at $7.00 makes more sense than $6.99.

  24. godawgs7 says:

    Why not try and reduce the amount the penny is used? If the govt introduced a floating tax it could be feasible.

    this is how it would work:
    you buy something for $1.02
    You would normally receive $.98 in change.
    The new floating tax would take the 3 cents and you would get $.95.
    These pennies, when added up, could go to road maintenance, education, health care, etc.
    Electronic transfers (Bank transfers, ATM transactions, etc) could still deal in pennies w/o worrying about the tax.

  25. Islandkiwi says:

    The penny costs more to make than it’s actually worth, which makes little to no sense. Either you make a cheaper penny or you ditch the penny.

    I remember when 60 minutes put spare change on the street to see if anyone would bother to pick it up…if it wasn’t silver, people weren’t bending over for it. And that was several years ago.

    Also telling…if you try to pay for something in pennies, you’ll probably get refused. Or go to your bank and try to deposit pennies. I’ve been told there’s a charge, I’ve been denied, and I’ve been forced to roll them myself (many different banks over the years). If a bank won’t take them without charging you, what value is it really?

  26. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    @ClayS:

    I do also, but its the thing of the general public feels more comfortable with prices that end in a 9. Its something we are brought up to recognize. Why else to so many things end in 99? When I did my markup, I would have rather left it at say like $400, but I had to either round up or drop it a penny, so it became 399.99 .

    Its just a psychological thing.

  27. redoregon says:

    I was stationed in Korea when the military decided to quit messing around with pennies. Very simple… if it’s 2 cents, round down, if 3, round up.

    People squawked and complained for about two weeks, then we loved it… no damn pennies rattling around, if you had change in your pocket you knew it was worth something….

    Get rid of the pennies already!

  28. DeltaPurser says:

    @r0ck: AMEN to that! Either the kid is joking, or he’s gone waaaay out on a limb with a comment like that.

  29. RobinB says:

    When a coin is valued so little that people stop bending over to pick up one seen on a parking lot, it’s time to let it go.

  30. johnva says:

    @laserjobs: Doubtful. The inflation has already happened to the point that the penny is almost worthless. Removing the penny just recognizes this fact for practical reasons. Actually, if people round to the nearest nickel always it shouldn’t affect inflation at all. It actually might be more likely to decrease prices, since stores might prefer to price things at say xx.95 instead of xx.00.

  31. johnva says:

    @socalrob: It’s not that the public “likes” prices that end in 9. It’s that people sometimes have a psychological tendency to look at 29.99 and think “29 dollars” instead of “30 dollars”. So it’s a way for the store to make their prices seem lower without actually losing any serious money. I’m sure the general public would actually prefer prices that were at even increments.

  32. inspiron says:

    Here are a few better ideas than scrapping the penny

    -Hard currency, not a gold standard but money that is backed by hard assets (this will also solve many other inflation problems)

    -Make the pennies out of copper plated steel or aluminum. Steel prices are less than $10 per 100 pounds and steel pennies were also made during world war II due to copper shortages with no issues, aluminum has much less chance of oxidation and is still about 80 cents cheaper per pound than zinc.

  33. johnva says:

    @inspiron: Why are those “better” ideas? I’m not sure I understand why you think we need to keep the penny so much. The fact is, pennies are almost worthless and are not very useful as currency anymore. The whole point of coins is to be useful for commerce.

    And I highly doubt we are going to change our system of money back to one backed by hard assets.

  34. Daryl26 says:

    @inspiron: Back up the money with something?

    What’s next? Bringing Democracy or removing the illusion that we’re free to choose our leaders?

    The whole idea of removing the gold standard is to control the value of money, so unless we take the Federal Reserve out of the picture, money won’t be backed up by anything.

  35. n/a says:

    They should just remove the Penny, and make all items no longer 9.99 but just $10.00 period, and if 8% sales tax makes the total amount 10.64 cents then just round it off to $10.60, stop dicking around and wasting precious metals to make pennies that get lost every damn year.

  36. Trai_Dep says:

    By the gods, the clueless people saying nuking the penny are only declaring their innumeracy. There’s this concept called “averaging” that, paired with competitive market forces, will result in no inflation.

    Besides, if those were worried about inflation, they would have mounted the barricades at the merest wisp of a notion of starting a two- (or three-) front war in the Middle East. Wanna halt inflation? End the Iraq (Afghanistan, Iran…) wars.

    “Small Government” types and “fiscal discipline” types all of a sudden act contrary to their proclaimed values on this. Spending over $250 million per year for a useless coin is irrational. Money where your mouth is, people.

    Finally, Lincoln gets too much coverage as it is anyway. Give him a postage stamp in recompense. Aw, hell, I’m generous: TWO stamps.

  37. Skrizzy says:

    @RobinB: that just means more for me.

    I pick up pennies at all times and keep them in a jar, that extra 30-50 dollars comes to be worth it at the end of the year.

  38. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Pennies are awesome precisely because so many people don’t like them, and hence don’t bother picking them up off the ground. Free money for me!

  39. pfeng says:

    Dear penny-haters: please feel free to send your “worthless” currency my way and I will put them in jars and eventually buy a car in cash with them (bwahahahaha!)

    It’s true a penny costs more than $0.01 (point oh-one cents according to Verizon?) to make but until they actually remove it from circulation I’ll keep picking them up.

    Unfortunately I don’t think I can fit any other Consumerist classics in this comment.

  40. AdmiralKit says:

    Rather than just up and eliminating it, why don’t we start reducing the number of pennies that we make? We’ve got a ridiculous number of them in service anyway, if we make 100,000 a year instead of millions a year, who is really going to care that much? It saves money, promotes the idea of moving past the penny, and begins a gradual phase-out that can be reversed if we decide we want to keep the penny.

  41. Trai_Dep says:

    @ptkdude: Considering that the Republicans have done to the US economy – and the decades it will take to undo their War on America – I’d opt for a $1 and $5 coin. By the time that their inept mismanagement has been mitigated, we’ll all be using the latter to buy a bar of chocolate anyway.

  42. Trai_Dep says:

    @r0ck: “If it wasn’t for him, you’d need a passport to cross the Mason-Dixon line.”

    And yet, you say that as though that were a bad thing…

  43. RoboSheep says:

    It wouldn’t actually affect me much either way. I do my shopping with a check card and vending machines, toll booths, and parking meters don’t take pennies anyway. I have a jar full of the rapidly devaluing coin I can see from here.

    The only problem I see with getting rid of it is that the way consumer rights work here in the states is that I see businesses rounding up all their prices to grab as much as 4.5 cents from every customer at every cash transaction. And there’s not much in the way of choice here, for example let’s say you’re buying gas and getting ripped off buy the major chains, what are you going to do, not go to BP and Holiday? There’s pretty much no where else to go then.

  44. johnva says:

    @AdmiralKit: Not that good of an idea, in my opinion. If pennies started becoming scarce, then they would be even more of a pain because it would be inconsistent whether people should round up/down or not (depending on whether the merchant had enough pennies to make change). Better to just make a clean break so that everyone knows what to do. We’d get over the penny in 2 weeks, max.

  45. William C Bonner says:

    I pay for nearly everything with plastic anyway, so the pennies are there.

    The other thing is that we mostly pay for fuel for our cars with 10ths of a cent, and no one seems to have problems with that math. This would be similar.

  46. CharlieSeattle says:

    Penny worthless? How about the frigging dollar and this fiat money backed by nothing.

  47. elislider says:


    + Watch video
    I think this sums it up nicely

  48. rlee says:

    Drop the penny? Absolutely. As has been noted, plenty of other countries have done the equivalent, and manage quite nicely with rounding up/down.

    Drop the dollar bill? If the Mint ever grows a brain and designs a dollar coin you can easily distinguish from a quarter by feel, then maybe. But then what about the strippers?

  49. laserjobs says:

    @elislider: Sure does sum it up nicely. The ignorant want the penny disposed of and sadly most of our society is ignorant.

  50. elangomatt says:

    Who says that stores need to change their prices at all? Almost everyone in this country has some sort of sales tax, so that would throw off the no pricing ending with 99 cents because you’ll be paying more that 99 cents anyway. In addition, what percentage of Americans pay with credit/debit/check instead of cash? There would not be any rounding at all for those purchases since they don’t need to get any cash change.

    I think everyone would freak out for the first few days after the penny stopped being made, but then they would get used to it after the media stops talking about it. They’ll never get rid of the penny though, that would make too much sense and our government never does anything that makes sense. (another thing that will never happen is us moving to the metric system in this country)

  51. elangomatt says:

    @rlee: I agree the dollar coin does seem too much like a quarter, but what bugs me more is that the dollar coins look like crap if you leave it in your pocket for a few days (you know, when you are avoiding using it)

  52. johnva says:

    @laserjobs: Seriously, why is it “ignorant” to want it disposed of? I just think that they aren’t as useful as they used to be, and therefore they are a monumental waste of money for the government to make. You have to admit that the utility of a coin decreases when the value decreases.

  53. RobinB says:

    [wcbstv.com]

    Students punished after paying for lunches with pennies.

  54. mycroft2000 says:

    @rlee: We haven’t had a dollar bill in Canada for 20 years and, trust me, the strippers are doing just fine. If an American came up here and tried to give one of them a measly dollar, she’d either laugh or shove it down his throat. Actually, probably both.

  55. weave says:

    Simple. The dollar is worth about 10% what it was in the early 60s. So 10 cent Coke from the machine is now around a dollar, but somehow a coin representing a vending beverage back then wasn’t a problem.

    So why is it a problem getting rid of the penny and even the nickle? They didn’t have 1/10th cent coins back then.

  56. Okaasan says:

    What will ever happen to the state of Illinois? Or the penny-loafers? Or those hoodlums standing around in back allies pitching pennies? Wait – did I just date myself?

  57. elgringoguapo says:

    Ok for anyone worried about life without the penny know this:

    On Army posts and Airforce bases over seas we never used pennies. It cost too much to fly over the coins from to US to Germany. We just simply didn’t use them.

    When something was 2 cents it rounded down when it was 3 cents you rounded up.

    It worked perfectly and still works to this day. I grew up in that envionment my entire young life and when we moved to the states the penny seemed pointless.

    It works for thousands of men, women, teenagers and children on tons of military bases. Why could it not work here? The registers rounded and was easy. Worked at the burger kings the PX(like a small Walmart) post office you name it.

    An American pennyless society works. There is your proof and evidence.

  58. jarchie219 says:

    We need the penny because most americans can’t manage the higher mathematics involved in rounding.

    This is the same barrier that caused us to fail metric conversion.

  59. johnva says:

    @jarchie219: We don’t need to know how to round or do math. Most Americans just pay (or ask that the customer pay) what the electronic cash register says.

    The failure of the metric conversion had nothing to do with people not understanding math. It had to do with a poorly implemented conversion that made people think that metric is more complex when in fact it is simpler. You don’t need to know math to read a metric speed limit sign…you just get used to thinking in metric.

  60. brucery says:

    I’m glad to know the US Treasury Secretary is so knowledgeable. The yen is worth less than a penny, but maybe he’s not familiar with Japan. Or maybe he’s expecting the dollar to keep sinking so fast relative to other currencies that his statement will be true soon enough.

  61. mac-phisto says:

    @r0ck: OT, but i was completely serious with my comment. emancipation proclamation freed the slaves…but only in the south (northern slaves were still slaves). his gross mismanaging of the war almost cost the union on repeated occasions (he was changing generals like you & i change underwear). interesting how he thought he was more adept at warmaking than west point’s best strategists. he signed into law the first income tax (thanks abe!)

    if you study him, his presidency & his politics, you discover that he is nothing more than a reactionary – a victim of circumstances rather than the hero he is made out to be.

    i understand that many hold him to be one of our greatest presidents, but i challenge those people to read beyond what we were force-fed in grade school. he was one of the greatest orators to become president, but beyond that, i think the oval office has done better (before & since).

    funny side note though – his biggest opponents during the war were deemed “copperheads” (after the snake, b/c they “bit at the heel of the union”), but look who’s the copperhead now! lol!

  62. forgottenpassword says:

    I’d agree with getting rid of the penny…. ONLY if they got rid of the dollar bill & replaced it with a coin. It would save this country a fortune.

    I would definitely not miss the modern zinc penny while metal detecting. They are often pitted & pock-marked with literal holes thru them from being eaten by the soil. Ugly & barely spendable. I dream of a day when I find dollar coins with nearly the same frequency I find quarters.

  63. fuzzymuffins says:

    i have noticed alot of rounding up by cashiers by small businesses around here.

    two shell stations i visit on a regular basis for coffee (and other things) will often just round up. if they owe me 74 cents, they’ll give me 75.

    so now when someone owes me 12 cents and gives me 10, i don’t piss over the 2 cents.

    extra pennys come around and go around.

  64. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @elgringoguapo:
    Of course you didn’t need pennies at overseas military bases.
    They don’t have any sales taxes to add to the bill.
    State & local sales taxes require pennies, there isn’t any way around that!

    And that’s why we can’t get rid of the penny & why the Republicans want to get rid of it!

    First they want the absurd, unfair to the poor & middle-class flat income tax.
    Then they want a national value added tax, which they lie & call a national sales tax.
    At each transaction prior to its sale to the consumer, a percentage tax would be added to the item raising its price by the ‘so-called value added’ by the wholesaler.
    That means that the tax is added to the previous tax.

    Prices would go through the roof here!

    If you don’t believe that, look at the price of the identical product in Britain, where there is a value added tax.
    Almost everything costs 50% – 100% more there!

  65. timsgm1418 says:

    from the articles I read, yes they do cost more to produce than they are worth, however, they last a very long time in comparision to paper money. I’m all for keeping them@stardeo:

  66. BoraBora says:

    A nickel just won’t look as cool as a flattened, imprinted souvenir.

  67. The biggest reason I can find to get rid of the penny is because it costs the US Mint more to make a penny then the penny itself is worth! According to a 2006 USA Today article, it costs 1.23 cents to create one penny and 5.73 cents per nickel! That includes the price of the metal in the coin, and the machinery and energy used to get a penny into circulation. That is simple craziness, and not sustainable.

  68. drizzleray says:

    As others have previously stated, I visited Australia and it was not a big deal at all. Most cash registers did the deed for you.

    As for pricing, there have been numerous studies that show customers really only look at the first digits of a price, thus, buying something for $9.99 feels much cheaper in the subconscious than the same item for $10.00. I would think stores would keep the $.99 pricing and if it isn’t taxed, then you would pay $1.

    Additionally, although the penny only contains 2.5% Copper, the value of the metals that consist of the penny are worth more than 1 cent, and it costs the Mint 1.2 cents to produce. The production of the penny resulted in a $18.3 million loss for the government for the 2006 fiscal year, and I would imagine the climbing cost of metals caused an even greater loss last year. ([www.usmint.gov] PDF file)

    Finally, the penny has less buying power than ever. In 1972, the penny had the same buying power as today’s nickel did. ([www.westegg.com] inflation calculator)

  69. Swifty says:

    These arguments about the penny costing more to mint than they are actually worth aren’t going to fly. If a penny was disposable, then the argument would have merit. But the fact is pennies are used over and over again, making them very much worth the money it costs to mint them – which I believe is about 1.2¢ per penny.

    Technically, it costs more to mint a nickel than the nickel is worth, too.

    The argument should be whether or not the penny has any value to people who potentially use it. And judging by the people who drop their pennies in the “need a penny” cup at the gas station or the ones who don’t bother to pick them up off the street anymore, I’d have to say no.

    Stupid inflation.

  70. Crrusher says:

    how about just stop producing pennies, not disband pennies, we can still use pennies hell, there are billions of them around this country sitting around in sock drawers, maybe if they stopped making them it would give us a reason to use them.

  71. mac-phisto says:

    @LastVigilante: it’s sustainable when you consider that the cost of producing a bill (regardless of denom.) is about 2.7 cents -> [www.moneyfactory.gov] (see page 25 for 2006 cost of $27.42 per 1,000 notes).

    money is released into the system in varied denominations, so the government will only lose a tiny bit on pennies & nickels in comparison to the billions they will make printing notes.

  72. Bauer22 says:

    Well coming from a state who has 6% sales tax it would be very awkward to not have anymore pennies but I wish they were gone. They take up space and most people dont like em. I mean, look at the “Take a penny, leave a penny” things. Nobody wants to take one!!! I just wish everything ended with a 5 or 0. Makes everything easier.

  73. Pinget says:

    The penny and the nickel cost more to make than their face value. A dollar now would have been worth about 15 cents in 1920 dollars – so what is a penny or a nickel worth? Nothing. Get rid of them.

  74. Televiper says:

    When he says “the penny is worth less than any other currency” I believe he’s referring to the fact that penny alone has very little cash value. In a practical sense you may be able to spend 100 pennies as you would spend $1, but you’re unlikely to spend 1000 pennies as if it’s $10. You’ll probably have to go to the bank and get it exchanged for a $10 bill. Pennies are actually worth more as a novelty when you collect enough to fill a large pickled egg jar.

    It doesn’t make sense at all to get rid of the $xx.99 concept. People usually buy several items, and they normally pay sales tax on top of it. It’s much more practical for stores to charge however they want and apply a mandated rounding scheme. Most people don’t care much about the pennies they get back now anyway.

    As for Vending Machines. Canada had no trouble at all adding $1 and $2 coins to vending machines. Canada is also a much smaller market than the States. No one is going to die if a few vending machines don’t accept the new coins for a couple years.

  75. Televiper says:

    @Swifty: Well… except for billions of pennies sitting in the bottoms of sock drawers and pickle jars.

  76. strangeffect says:

    @DeltaPurser: That’s kind of the point. It’s such a non-issue to most people that any politician who treats it like a serious issue will look silly and be accused of not dealing with actual problems.

  77. mac-phisto says:

    @Televiper:

    As for Vending Machines. Canada had no trouble at all adding $1 and $2 coins to vending machines. Canada is also a much smaller market than the States. No one is going to die if a few vending machines don’t accept the new coins for a couple years.

    what’s funny is that it literally takes about 3 minutes to reprogram a vending machine to accept $1 coins. a technician simply needs to program the drop circuit to register the proper weight to the proper value. helluva lot cheaper than those bill receptacles.

  78. Thaddeus says:

    If you are reading this far down, you may be a numismatist.

    I agree that the penny (cent to get technical) could go, however, this being the U.S., any bureaucracy or creation of the U.S. govt is so hard to get rid of I don’t see it going anywhere.

    I like the penny, I have no problem with them. If you collect 100 you can even get a dollar. Yes, I realize thats it’s costing us money to make them, time in transaction involving them but the day you go to buy something and it comes out to $5.97 and you hand the clerk six bucks and they stare at you, you’re going to want your three cents.

    And just because no one mentioned it before me: 60Minutes piece on the penny.
    [60minutes.yahoo.com]
    It is worth a watch if you have read this far.

    Besides, they are doing a nice redesign on the back next year for the 200 anniversary of Lincolns birth and the 100 anniversary of the Lincoln cent.

  79. kbarrett says:

    We must bring back the Mill … the .1 cent piece.

    [en.wikipedia.org])

    Those coupons have a value of less than a tenth of a cent, and gas tax is figured out to the tenth of a cent for a reason.

    I want my last Mill in change, dammit!

  80. BlazerUnit says:

    I don’t understand the fascination to simply do away with the penny. The same 60 Minutes report that mentioned the costs of making pennies also revealed that the cost of printing paper money is next to negligible. In the overall scheme of things, are we really losing that much money on making our money?

    I’m sure there’s a way we could simply reduce the manufacture of pennies or make adjustments in other coinage. Talk of eliminating pennies altogethers just seems unnecessary.

  81. richtaur says:

    I throw pennies in the garbage. In the GARBAGE!

    I’m no economist though; I don’t have clue one what deprecating the penny would do to our economy.

  82. AD8BC says:

    So what that a penny physically takes more than one cent to manufacture. It’s not like it is used only once. In fact, it’s the ultimate in recycling! (all you treehuggers should like that). It is used thousands of times in it’s lifetime, then melted down to make more.

    And, the entire cost is offset by the rediculously cheap materials used to make paper money. It costs less than a dollar to make a one dollar note, and it costs the same amount to make a hundred dollar note.

    The penny is not worth whining about!

  83. johnva says:

    @BlazerUnit: The main issue is not really the cost, though that is an issue. The issue is keeping our coins useful and relevant to commerce. Pennies are no longer very useful for commerce, and we don’t gain much by keeping them in circulation. What we really should do is come up with a system to “maintain” the coin system by periodically eliminating or revaluing coins off the bottom end and increasing the value of coins at the top. This should be something we empower the Mint to do on its own without requiring a political decision by the Congress. The trigger could be that when the next coin up is now worth what the bottom coin used to be that we “move the ladder” up automatically.

    This is really a no-brainer and shouldn’t be a controversy at all. People just like to hang on to the familiar regardless of if it makes sense. They’ll get over it if we just do it.

  84. strathmeyer says:

    @laserjobs: “Take away the penny and watch how inflation will jump since the currency will devlue even more. If you keep moving up the lowest denomination, soon you will have even larger inflation problems than we have now. I would hate to see inflation get worse especially with food and gas.”

    I don’t think this will happen where I from, because around here you can exchange five pennies for a nickel.

  85. Angryrider says:

    No really? The only reason we have pennies these days is because of the sales tax, and the asinine stores that end their prices in a 9. I keep my pennies so the next time I buy something, I don’t get any pennies back.

  86. alhypo says:

    Perhaps this has already been mentioned, but the argument for axing the penny because it costs more to produce than it is worth is not really valid. If the penny were a “one time use” item, then sure, that would be a good point. But a single penny could be involved with thousands upon thousands of transactions throughout its existence. The efficiency gained from these innumerable transactions far outweighs the one-time cost of producing the penny.

    However, I am in favor of ridding ourselves of the penny for other reasons. I just think we should acknowledge the valid reasons rather than resorting to a juvenile misunderstanding of how currency functions.

  87. johnva says:

    @alhypo: It’s still a valid reason, because it costs the GOVERNMENT money to produce them. What you’re saying would be true if the penny were actually useful still. But it’s not. So it makes no sense for the government to waste money producing something that isn’t really useful anymore. If it were useful, it would be a different story, because that spending could be justified.

  88. johnva says:

    @Angryrider: I don’t really get this argument about sales tax. If everyone used a uniform rounding scheme the amount of sales tax collected should come out close to even. The rounding would take place on the final amount of each transaction, not on individual items or dollars. So they wouldn’t lose 20% or whatever of the tax revenue.

  89. Publican says:

    FOCUS! Must get rid of REPUBLICANS first.

  90. BlazerUnit says:

    @johnva: I have no serious disagreement with your take, and it does make sense. But it still seems like this is a minor problem at worst. To your point, the penny isn’t useful for buying ‘penny’ items (almost none exist) but its still accepted as money.

  91. kc2idf says:

    Nickel bashing? I already hate nickels. I won’t carry any coin of lesser value than a dime. If I get nickels or pennies in change, they go straight into a bucket when I get home.

    Why? Put simply, the value of these coins is less than the amount of time that it takes me to handle them.

    Let’s get serious about $1 coins, too, while we are at it.

  92. JennySaypa says:

    Sheesh, clearly when we pay a penny for your thoughts we get what we pay for!

    Where is your patriotism, people?

    I’ll have you know I sold a 1783 cartwheel penny which was so rubbed off nobody could read it for $51 on ebay last month.

    I had a mangled Lincoln head up there and refused a $12 offer for it because it was so rare.

    Coins are the cheapest way to own history. So if you don’t like pennies send them to me!

  93. Aphex242 says:

    The penny is an utter waste of money, can it already.

  94. LiC says:

    Why not just shrink it. The Euro’s 1/100th coin is much smaller than an American penny. If it was smaller wouldn’t it cost less to produce.

  95. mferrari says:

    @Islandkiwi: actually I remember when I was like 8, I went to wallgreens and paid for like $9 of candy. I got some dirty looks but I was able to but it. (don’t ask how or why I lugged ~1000 pennies to walgreens for reeses cups, I was 8)

  96. liquiddaddy says:

    “worthless dingleberrys” = Klingons around Uranus The urge to eliminate waste is strong.

  97. Blueskylaw says:

    The Dollar is worth less than the €Euro, lets get rid of that too while cleaning house.

  98. Kaix says:

    Get rid of the penny and build the sales tax into the advertised price like they do in many other countries. The price you see is the price you pay. When I was in Australia all of the advertised prices included their GST tax which was 10%. I don’t see why we can’t do this in the US even though each city in certain states may have a different sales tax percentage. Just build it into the prices.

    New Zealand doesn’t even have the 5c piece anymore. I like their coins: 10c 20c 50c $1 $2.. very simple and easy to count.

  99. detraya says:

    keep it… lets not get rid of any pennies.

  100. fisherman23 says:

    The US government again displays another way to spend more money on a coin than the darn thing is worth. I don’t know about any of you but that does not work in my math.

    Why is the nickel larger than the dime? I do not know how that math works either.

  101. CamilleR says:

    I work in retail and the two coins we use the most are pennies and quarters (most prices end in 9 or 0 and taxable items are taxed at 6%). Dimes are our most useless coin. We can go days with no loose dimes in the register with no problems.

  102. Publican says:

    Let’s just get rid of money altogether and make love all the time.

  103. Her Grace says:

    I miss living in Australia, with their rounding, incorporated taxes (no getting to the register and realizing your total is $5 more than you’d been doing in the mental math), and lack of pennies. Oh, and one and two dollar coins. Those were AWESOME.

  104. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Not only do I think we should keep the penny, but I think we should have a .1 cent piece…hey, gas stations tack on 9/10 of a cent onto every gallon of gas, I want my !@#$$! 1/10 of a cent back on every gallon of gas I’ve ever purchased.

    Besides, if they got rid of the penny, I would no longer be able to put my 2¢ in.

  105. JennySaypa says:

    @Grrrrrrrrr: You are on to a good point. That if the penny was eliminated, it would change the language for the poorer, and to serve a fad.

    A penny saved, would no longer be a penny earned
    You won’t have good luck if you see a penny and pick it up

    You won’t be in for a penny if your in for a pound.

    This debate has raged at different points in history, most recently in the UK when there was a fight over whether to ditch the pound (a currency the country had since the 8th century) to go to the Euro. The EU is the poorer for having lost its currencies.

    In America this debate occurred I believe around 1780–1800, although then it was a bit of an advance. There were three currencies–the British dollar which was often a restamped Spanish real–which was about one ounce of silver. The Spanish real, and then various state coins. Paper money came and went but was not worth what it was printed on.

    Around this time two bits became a quarter dollar, well before a shave and a haircut. Silver coins were chopped up into eight parts (pieces of eight) to pay for smaller items.

    You will still see Spanish Reals which have chop marks in them. These coins circulated in Asia where traders would chop out a little piece of the coin to see if it was real silver.

    But I digress–dumping the penny is a dumb idea subject to fads and the variable price of metal.

  106. ShadowFalls says:

    It is not a matter of the peeny being completely useless, but more of a matter of it being made of a material that costs far too much.

  107. Blueskylaw says:

    @dray05:
    I beg to differ, but when did this government of our really worry about losing $18.3 million, when they are building a ¼ BILLION dollar bridge that would connect Ketchikan, Alaska, to an offshore island where only 50 people live.

  108. ConRoo says:

    How about a national recall of all pennies? As many pennies as people have sitting in jars and drawers and such, once back in circulation, there should be plenty to keep using them without having to make more.

  109. drunken marmot says:

    Our monetary systm is screwed up. The reason we have both dollar coins and dollar bills is because Sens. Kennedy and Kerry want to keep Crane Paper in business. The Virginia delegation vehemently opposes any action that would take Jefferson off the nickel.
    In the meantime, we Americans prefer dollar bills so all the dollar coins that are minted annually go to South America as part of our aid program.
    I’m getting a headache just thinking about it…

  110. morydd says:

    “The penny costs more to produce than it’s worth.” And that money is gone forever? It doesn’t matter what a form of currency costs to produce, because unless we go to a system where a $5 coin is made of $5 worth of metal, and you can cut it up get change, the cost of the currency has no bearing on what it represents. The penny is a token of exchange. The money spent producing feeds the families of mint workers and copper miners and others. So, that argument is, to me, completely pointless.

  111. BagLady says:

    Just another way to tax the people. Get rid of the penny now, then the nickel, after that the dime; and if no one says anything they can move up to the eliminating the quarter and eventually all coins. Nothing will ever be the same. No more 1.25, 1.50, 1.98, or anyting else in between. We’d have to round everything up to a dollar, unless they feel the dollar is obsolete as well. What then? Will $5.00 become the minimum cost of everything? Only in America.

  112. Arrngrim says:

    During my tour in England, the USAF Exchange on base actually did NOT use pennies, and you know what. No one complained about the “rounding” off, prices were still rung up as 19.23, and that equated to a cost of 19.25, if it was 19.22, the consumer would pay 19.20.

    I guess when you’re in the military, the little things like a penny don’t matter, it’s just living for the next day that makes you happy. Our country is so messed up when they sweat this….take the penny out already, it’s a drain on the economy.

  113. Publican says:

    Help! Help! Lincoln is drowning in rust!

  114. kilde says:

    After living in Australia for 6 months I have learned to hate the penny. It is not nearly as inconvenient as people might think. If I recall correctly on cash transactions you just round to the nearest 5 cent piece, but on credict/debit transactions you still pay to the penny.

  115. rjhiggins says:

    Actually, I think prices might DROP a little for consumers, although in the long run it won’t matter much.

    Here’s why: Retails price items at $9.99 because it sounds better than $10, right? Well, $9.95 sounds better than $10, too. So the idea that everything will automatically cost more is unlikely.

    Some things will round up, others down. Overall the effect will be negligible to consumers, but the savings overall will be large.

  116. Tony the Tiger says:

    I don’t think I could get used to saying a “nickel for your thoughts”.

  117. Hans_Auff says:

    First it was Woolworth, then Sears, now Pennys. There’s no doubt about it now, we’re in one of them secessions!!!

  118. Leah says:

    @richtaur: why not at least drop them next to the garbage so someone else can pick them up? It’s utter bullshit to completely waste a penny. All you’re doing is sending it to sit in a landfill. If you at least drop it on the ground, someone else can use it.

  119. Morac says:

    The penny truly is worthless. Many stores I go to will round change to the nearest nickel just so they don’t have to deal with pennies. I’ve seen kids chucking pennies at cars. That’s how worthless they are.

    If you actually melted down all your pennies and sold the copper that resulted, you would get more than you could by changing in the pennies at a bank. When a coin gets to that point, there’s no point in making more of them.

  120. Amalas says:

    @richtaur: I saw someone do this as well. I almost laughed, but then realized that yes, they are that worthless.

  121. ? graffiksguru says:

    Lose the penny! Like countless people have already posted here, I can attest too, that when you are stationed overseas, you don’t use pennies (too expensive to ship) and everything functioned fine, the world didn’t collapse, money didn’t devalue, and no, we didn’t want to axe the nickel next.

  122. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @graffiksguru:
    Again, there aren’t any sales taxes to be paid at overseas base exchanges!

    Pennies are required for sales taxes.

  123. Morton Fox says:

    Funny that everyone’s focused only on the penny, when in fact, the nickel also costs more to produce than its face value.

    According to [www.coinflation.com], the metal content of the nickel is 7.3 cents and I’m sure it costs even more than that to produce.

  124. wfpearson says:

    @r0ck Lincoln was a war criminal that presided over the deaths of over half a million Americans. I applaud him for ridding the country of slavery, I condemn him for how he did it. Over a hundred other countries eliminated slavery without a civil war.

    This problem is not rooted in the price of copper or manufacturing or any other “Price.” This crisis is rooted in the value of the dollar. The dollar is worth roughly 2% of its gold standard value. The value of copper scales to the value of gold. If your dollar was worth $980/20 (Price of an oz. in $ divided by 20), your penny would be worth about 50 cents, which is less than the manufacturing cost of a penny. Much less.

  125. ekasbury says:

    I vote for a 3 cent coin. It’s about bloody time. 1c, 2c and 5c have always had all the fun.

    (Sorry 4c, I just don’t think you’re ready yet.)

  126. Brine says:

    When I receive pennies as change, they get tossed on the ground in the parking lot.

  127. trujunglist says:

    I’m in the today it’s the penny tomorrow it’s the nickel crowd. You guys are such haters…

    Anyway, I think that there needs to be a collect your pennies and turn em in for other cash drive so that new pennies are no longer stamped out. There’s gotta be enough pennies to go around if people would stop collecting them for years and years until they can make the news by buying a car or something with them.

  128. peteyale says:

    So I’m an American living in Santiago, Chile, and the Chilean Peso is worth 1/5 of a penny. Most things are rounded to the nearest 50, but some places still go to the nearest peso. We have coins for the 1 peso, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 peso; and bills for the 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, and 20000 pesos.