Pennies Are "Bacteria-Ridden Disks Of Suck"

Caffeinated vlogger John Green of the Vlogbrothers outlines the case against pennies. Namely that it costs 1.6 cents to make one, and we could save taxpayers billions if we got rid of them but don’t because of sentimental clinging. He really loathes pennies, referring to the one-cent pieces as “disgusting bacteria-ridden disks of suck that fail to facilitate commerce.”

I HATE PENNIES!!!! (Also Nickels.) [YouTube user Blogbrothers via Kottke via @Slate]

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  1. aloria says:

    A price bump of at most four cents to eliminate pennies would not raise an eyebrow from me, as long as retailers didn’t use it as an excuse to raise prices more than that.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      My guess is that businesses would round down vs rounding up, since many people would chose to pay with a credit card than pay the extra 1-4 cents, and the credit card fees would be more than 4 cents.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        See my post, business can’t legally decide how to round. Rounding is uniform. Companies don’t current round up from $5.004 to be $5.01. It’s $5.00.

        • KyBash says:

          But they can set prices so that the rounding will usually be in their favor.

          • DanRydell says:

            No they can’t, because rounding would happen at the end of the transaction. If stores were so concerned about an extra penny on a transaction with multiple items costing some number of dollars, they wouldn’t price everything ending in $.99.

        • jesirose says:

          But it’s not a difference between 5.01 and 5.00, it’s a difference between 4.95 and 5.00. It’s not a 1000th of a dollar we’re removing, it’s the 100th place being only a 5 or 0. It’s like how you round 4.999 to 5.00, but not 4.99.

        • Guppy06 says:

          Yes, they do. Start keeping track of how your sales tax is rounded.

    • SlayerGhede says:

      Prices would drop 9 cents if we elminated the penny and the nickel. The X.99 price point is meant to say “HEY! THIS IS CHEAPER THAN $X” while not being all that cheaper than $X.
      Changing the price to X.9 would have the same effect.

      • shepd says:

        Why would retailers do that? All this would do is cause prices to end in .95, which would round up. Prices would increase as a result. If they went with bankers rounding, we’d see items which weren’t *9.99 increasing by a dollar more if their dollar value was even.

        • perruptor says:

          I think you missed part of “if we elminated the penny and the nickel.” You wouldn’t get any 95-cent prices, because there wouldn’t be any 5-cent coins. Retailers intent on keeping the price under the next whole dollar would have to drop it back to n.90

    • phillip says:

      When I lived overseas, all bases (to my knowledge) stopped using pennies. Purchases were rounded up or down to the nearest nickel. I can’t remember when that first started though. Somewhere around the mid 90s I guess.

  2. crashfrog says:

    Copper is anti-microbial.

    Still, though, it’s about time that we retired the canard that “price – $.01 looks a lot smaller than price.” Everybody knows about it and thinks it’s true – but only for other people. Is there honestly anybody left who doesn’t know about the trick and would therefore be at risk of falling for it?

    • hypnotik_jello says:

      Pennies don’t have much copper in them mostly zinc

      • Zowzers says:

        Zinc is on the inside, the outside is still 100% copper.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        I say if the bacteria can get down to the zinc and survive the entire minting process that includes a shiny coat of copper, they deserve their prize of traveling the world. Or at least traveling until they hit that big empty carboys in the sky, er, grandma’s basement.

      • Difdi says:

        Zinc is also anti-microbial.

      • Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

        Copper may be antimicrobial, but the nasty caked-on crap that seems to accumulate on pennies? Probably very pro-microbial.

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        In Canada, they’re mainly steel (94%), with a zinc/copper plating, which makes the cost of minting one about 0.8¢. Still, the cost of shipping them from the mint to the banks makes them cost more than they’re worth.

    • Scuba Steve says:

      “Still, though, it’s about time that we retired the canard that “price – $.01 looks a lot smaller than price.” Everybody knows about it and thinks it’s true – but only for other people. Is there honestly anybody left who doesn’t know about the trick and would therefore be at risk of falling for it?”

      1. If its a subconscious thing, then maybe it makes people more willing to buy something. Retailers don’t want to mess with something they think works if nothing is wrong to begin with.

      • Daggertrout says:

        But if they got rid of pennies, they could price everything at $XX.95! And the people would think it’s way more cheaper!

    • Serisent says:

      I just wanted to say that yes, this trick does still work. I can’t tell you how many times in a day somebody brings me up an item to purchase and it’s marked at $12.99. They’ll say, “Oh, it’s $12, right?” No, wrong, but whatever…

    • sonneillon says:

      Dropping the price a penny increases sales on items where price is the biggest issue. Having an even number is better when value is the biggest issue. Marketing jack holes who never paid attention in school always forget the second part of that. It is why houses have even numbers on their price, and car manufacturers set their MSRP like that.

    • qualityleashdog says:

      Studies are showing that copper kills MRSA within two hours. Not immediately. So if someone hands over a freshly infected penny to a cashier, the cashier and penny reserve it is deposited in are all now infected. And that penny reserve is freshened periodically by the clerk putting in new pennies and exposing them to his hands. Plus all the growth medium of whatever the hell it is that seems to grow and accumulate on pennies that doesn’t even allow the bacteria to contact the anti-microbial copper.

  3. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Someone’s gotta be THIS asshole, so it might as well be me.

    It doesn’t matter what a penny costs to make since it stays in circulation and is used many many times.

    • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

      Conversely, it doesn’t matter that it circulates many, many times since it still represents only one cent moving through many transactions betwen owners, and can never recoup its own value.

      • alSeen says:

        Your statement is utter nonsense.

        If you really insist on a discussion on “recouping the cost,” then the proper way to look at it is that the cost of the coin (which is only a representation of a concept) is amortized over the life of the coin. The average coin lasts at least 15-20 years and is transferred many times. 1.6 cents doesn’t seem so bad.

        A dollar costs about 6 cents to make and only lasts on average 2 years.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          I think the whole argument is utter nonsense. It’s not a very compelling reason to keep the penny.

          • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

            I would support killing the paper dollar in favor of the coin dollar way before I support removing the penny. I just don’t find pennies annoying enough to start building everything around the nickel.

            Of the things I have to be proud of, one is never walking around with more than 4 pennies at a time unless I am turning them in to the bank. The other thing I have to be proud of involves donuts eaten in an hour.

        • Wireless Joe says:

          That’s actually more of an argument to dump the dollar bill in favor of a dollar coin in addition to dumping the penny.

          • ShadowFalls says:

            It makes sense to dumb the dollar bill in place of the dollar coin simply because paper doesn’t have as much life in it. It costs more to keep the paper dollar bills in circulation than it would if you replaced them with coins.

            As for pennies, you have to have some sort of lowest form of currency. If we just tossed out pennies, how long before we start to decide nickels are worthless? I think they should be changed so they are shrank somewhat to save on material costs. Find it silly that a penny is bigger than a dime…

          • bigTrue says:

            My argument against this wins:

            Living in Detroit, I already have had to remember to get a bunch of American singles when I travel across the border for the full nude strip joints. Unfortunately, the strippers hate when you toss Loonies at them.

            No, I don’t go often to really make this matter, but I do not want to have to start pushing fives into the mix.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      It does matter, but one could point out that at the same time that it took 1.6¢ to make a penny, it took 10¢ to make a nickel. And the metal content in both pennies and nickels were (in 2007) higher than their face value, which is a more important issue than the production cost.

      Regardles, the most important thing to remember in these arguments is that money is not what you think it is.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Except that the penny generally doesn’t recirculate. Pennies usually are left in “take/leave a penny” cups at the register, thrown out, or thrown into a jar/box/drawer at home and never get used again. Ever wonder why there are more pennies minted than any other coin denomination put together? There’s your reason.

    • maruawe says:

      agreed The initial cost may be higher than the face value but the wear-ability should offset the cost.

  4. DariusC says:

    It is a cold day in hell when consumerist starts posting their youtube faves… The point could be communicated just as effectively with an article. Also, how would taxes be calculated if something was 10 cents and the tax was 10%? Round up or down? Up says the government and down says the citizens… but if you round that down you get 0 tax? GASP!

    • humphrmi says:

      Or, you could price your items “including tax”, like most of the rest of the world.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        Hiding taxes from the public by including them gives the government way too much power to raise them.

        • humphrmi says:

          They’re not hidden. They’re clearly delineated on the receipt. They are just factored in before you take your purchase to the cashier.

        • jamar0303 says:

          Look at Japan. Notice their government’s last attempt to raise the tax from 5% to 10%? See how well that went over with the public there? Why do you think America’s government will be able to do what they couldn’t?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s not that hard a concept. Rounding already occurs with the penny (or did you think you paid tnth of a cent?) You look at the next value place holder (in this case STILL the tenths of a cent) and round up if it’s 5-9 and down if it’s 0-4.

      So $125.458 becomes $125.46 in the current system, and becomes $125.50 in the proposed system.

      The law of averages guarantees rounding will statistically be equal between going up and going down.

  5. E-Jungle says:

    We got rid of them some years ago and its great, no loads of nickels to carry along (NL)

  6. Alvis says:

    You ALWAYS need a one-cent piece to make proper change. The rest, though, are up to debate:

    http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/do-we-need-a-37-cent-coin/

    * Changing the nickel to a 3-cent piece increases efficiency to 4.22 coins per transaction.
    * Changing the dime to an 11-cent piece increases efficiency to 4.46 coins per transaction. (Although the 11-cent piece is unreasonable).
    * Changing the quarter to a 30-cent piece increases efficiency to 4.60 coins per transaction. (Changing it to a 28-cent piece increases efficiency to 4.50, but that seems unreasonable.)

    • Nothing Can Kill the Grimace... says:

      Europe seems to have done just fine without a 1c euro coin…

      • Alvis says:

        Um.. but there IS a €0.01 coin.

        • humphrmi says:

          Funny, I posted a similar response to @Nothing Can Kill the Grimace…

          Oddly, when I was in Ireland and France this summer, I never ran across any 1c Euro coins. Maybe it was the places I hung out, but everything seemed to be priced in .05 or .10 increments. I don’t doubt that there are 1c Euro coins, but I never ran across any, so maybe they’re phasing them out or something.

        • Nothing Can Kill the Grimace... says:

          You are correct. They exist, but I’ve never seen one in the wild. Wikipedia (i know i know…) show them as “rarely” used in the Netherlands and Finland only, so it seems most european get by just fine without them…

          • Michaela says:

            Um…I went to France, Spain, and the Netherlands, and I found the Euro cent quite a bit.

            Actually, I still have one in my wallet.

          • Michaela says:

            Also, you misread. Finland and the Netherlands don’t typically use them as regular currency (though they are still legal tender). The implication was that these two countries were the ones who held back on the use of the euro cent, not that they were the ones who used it most often.

            “In fact, two EU countries, Finland and the Netherlands, don’t use the two lowest-value coins. They use Swedish rounding and mint only small runs of one-cent and two-cent euro coins for collectors.”
            (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/economy/penny.html)

    • humphrmi says:

      So what was all the change I got in Ireland this summer? “Improper change”?

    • syzygy says:

      If prices were uniformly rounded to $0.05 increments, you wouldn’t need pennies. For cash transactions, I’d be fine with all prices posted after-tax, rounded to the nearest dime. Hell, round them to the nearest quarter; then, the maximum “coins-per-transaction” (a ridiculous way to look at coin denomination, IMO) would be 3. Everyone raves about the customer getting screwed with this kind of rounding, but I don’t see how the rounding wouldn’t just average out in the long run. And don’t even mention the whole “if we get rid of nickels and pennies, nothing will cost less than ten cents!” argument. When’s the last time you bought something for less than a dime in cash?

      Eff pennies, is what I’m saying. Nickels, too.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Statistically, any denomination rounds up or down evenly. With the current system, the chance of any tenth of a penny ($0.00X) being a number between 0-9 is one in ten. Sounds dumbly obvious, but the same concept applies to nickels as well.

        No one wil be shorted by eliminating pennies.

        • jesirose says:

          Except how often do you see .99 and how often do you see ANYTHING else. How often do you see $4.38 or $10.83 when you’re not at Walmart?

          Most stores use .99. So it’s going to go up to 1.00. That seems quite obvious. Stores won’t go down to .95

          • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

            They leave prices the same but change the final tally to the nearest $.05 or nearest $.10. It would even out. sometimes it would be rounded down, sometimes up.

          • 99 1/2 Days says:

            Sure they will. The psychology of having a price under a dollar is worth more than four cents.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Or, just round to the closest nickel. It’s not hard, and not unfair either. Statistically, you will round down just as much as you round up.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Wow, just read the link. I’ve never heard of a postulate that had so much logic, but was so….illogical.

      Reminds me of “a Modest Proposal.” Logically describing something insane.

  7. CBenji says:

    Find a penny, pick it up, all day long, have good luck. Yeah right.

    Get rid of them. I hate them. They are in my way. They mess my purse up and I don’t know if they have bacteria on them or not. I think just about everything has bacteria on it and as far as I am concerned as you can’t avoid bacteria. Not that I want to wallow in it, just try my best to avoid the worst of them.

  8. framitz says:

    “disgusting bacteria-ridden disks of suck”?
    I’ve always heard that copper is anti-bacterial. I know they aren’t copper any more, but the content should be high enough so that they’re not bacteria ridden. Not that I would put pennies in my mouth.

  9. Gandalf the Grey says:

    But his basis is factually wrong. The smallest available denomination of American currency is a Nil.

    Those are worth 1/10 of one cent. They’re kinda hard to find these days, but they’re still out there. In 1972, they were still very common in poor rural society, so in 1972 while they did not have an item that was worth 1/5 of once cent, they could make that same amount using 2 nils.

    52 seconds into the video, and he has shown how he has no clue what he’s talking about.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Mill (or Mil), to be precise. You spawned my interest mostly because Nil is zero, so I was all excited about making a stupid 0 != 0 joke.

      :(

      • Gandalf the Grey says:

        Blah, I always make that mistake. I even looked them up prior to posting.

        Freudian slip i guess, I think about as much of Mils as he thinks about pennies!

    • Alvis says:

      If you’re going to call someone out for having “no clue what he’s talking about”…

      It’s called a MILL, not a nil.

    • tmac40 says:

      Do you mean a Mill? These were issued by some states but never by the Federal Government. They are unofficial coins. The penny is the smallest denomination in circulation. Don’t call someone out as not knowing what they are talking about unless you know what you are talking about.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      What a dumb reason to believe he’s wrong.

      Mills were abandoned and even if they are technically legal tender, no one uses them on a regular basis. They are relics, antiques, and better searves in museums than in wallets. For all practical purposes, the penny is the lowest U.S. denomination.

      Do you just need to argue for the sake of it?

      • Gandalf the Grey says:

        I would point you back to the portion of your argument where you state “For all practical purposes, the penny is the lowest U.S. denomination.” I’m not against the removal of the penny from circulation, but it is not the lowest denomination.

        A large portion of his argument with inflation is his statement that in 1972, there was nothing equivalent to 1/5 of a penny. That’s false. We have mostly forgotten the mil, so maybe it’s time we forget the penny.

      • dork says:

        Even though the mill is not coined anymore, it is still very much in use. You use it every time you get gas, and pay $3.099 a gallon. Although you probably think of it as 9/10 of a cent, not 9 mills.

        • Conformist138 says:

          No, you don’t pay it. The total is rounded to the nearest *wait for it* PENNY!

          If I were to buy 5 gallons of gas, the 9/10ths per gallon would be 45/10ths, or 4.5 cents, and would be rounded up to a nickel. If I bought 8 gallons, it would be 72/10ths, or 7.2 cents, or rounded down to 7 cents.

          When was the last time you were actually asked to pay an amount with more than 2 decimals?

          • Gandalf the Grey says:

            That is part of what bugs me about the fact that he completely ignored the Mil though. Instead of making an argument that’s incorrect (In 1972 they didn’t have anything worth 1/5 of a penny, why should we keep them now etc.) he could have made a very compelling argument that we did have something of lesser value than a penny back then, and since it became worth less than was practical, that we got rid of it.

            The argument would have been much more compelling if he could site instances where we’ve ditched denominations that were outdated.

  10. apd09 says:

    not too mention that establishments can decide not to accept them as payment which makes them even more useless even though all US money is considered legal tender.

    /not trying to start this whole argument and debate again

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    With pennies, nickels, or any percentage value, the concept of rounding ensures that statistically you will have equal cases of rounding down and rouding up. No advantage or disadvantage will occur with changing the minimum denomination.

    If the penny is eliminated, rounding would be done to the closest nickel. Anything with avariance of $0.00 to $0.0249 would always be rounded down to $0.00. A variance of $0.249 to $0.499 would be rounded to $0.05.

  12. KeithIrwin says:

    Copper alloys (such as what coats the penny) actually tend to be anti-bacterial. So that bit probably isn’t accurate. Otherwise I’m in total agreement with him. It’s obvious that the penny and dollar bill should be eliminated. And I would have no objection to the elimination of the nickel or the two dollar bill either.

    • Arctic Snowbot says:

      If we get rid of the dollar bill, will strippers have tip jars or fanny packs to accept coins from the meat rack?

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        It would probably cement the use of “funny money” in strip clubs, sadly.

      • Avrus says:

        In Canada (wait for it) patrons throw dollar coins at the dancers.

        I kid you not.

  13. Arctic Snowbot says:

    In the video, he’s trying to sell a shirt. They accept everything but pennies and nickels. I guess my money is not good enough for him.

    • humphrmi says:

      How, exactly, would you use pennies to pay for a purchase on a webstore?

      • Arctic Snowbot says:

        Mail it in a box! Money is money! He didn’t say they don’t accept cash. He specifically said no pennies or nickels. I’d accept him saying “we’re a webstore, no cash allowed.” but he didn’t.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          But almost everypostal system on the planet specifically makes mention that mailing cash is not recommended, as it can’t be tracked should it be lost. Besides, I’m sure mailing $30 in pennies would cost more in postage than what they’re worth!

  14. mxjohnson says:

    Yep. It wouldn’t be hard to round transactions to the nearest nickel. Here in California, sales tax is often something like 8.75%, so already we’re rounding from fractions of a cent with every retail puchase. Nobody would suggest we need coins worth one-ten-thousandth of a dollar so we can avoid rounding. Likewise, gasoline is priced in fractions of a cent, as are the items at my local 99-cent store.

    If we ditched the penny, prices wouldn’t have to change. A gallon of milk could be $4.73 cents or whatever. If a retailer currently charges 99 cents for a pen, they could try pricing it at 98 while collecting a dollar. But they’d come out behind whenever somebody bought two or more pens. At the register, sometimes you’d lose a couple cents to rounding, sometimes you’d come out ahead. It’d average out very quickly.

    What I’m not sure about is whether credit/debit/bank transactions would also be rounded to the nearest nickel. Hmmmm.

    • Amnesiac85 says:

      The only problem is that this kind of rounding would definitely add up as a loss (or gain, depending on how one rounds) after a few years.

  15. Pooterfish says:

    And we spent millions of dollars redesigning the penny!?!

    • syzygy says:

      All to put a big stupid-looking shield on the back that makes it look like play money. Yay nostalgia!

      • Pooterfish says:

        Worse than that — FOUR new penny designs!

        I’m all for honoring Abe, but really, that’s more like a slap in the face. “Hey, we want to honor you — on the most unloved, useless piece of coinage in circulation.”

        It’s like getting him a grocery store birthday cake with his name misspelled on it.

        Redesigning the penny? That’s the best we could come up with?

  16. A Bay Horse says:

    Remember that internet meme about the brain being able to read words if the first and last letters are correct? Right well, at first glance, I didn’t read this headline as “Pennies Are “Bacteria-Ridden Disks Of Suck”, but rather something else…

  17. amgriffin says:

    Clearly, this man has never had to count pennies to get gasoline. Those little copper gems happily collecting in a jar on a shelf are a source of delight and sometimes a lifesaver. I say boo to you, you Mr. Green. Stop being so grouchy. Also, all your camera cuts are distracting and I don’t like your lavender shirt. Oh yeah, and get off my lawn.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      And I’m sure the person behind you in line while you’re counting out all these pennies at the counter is delighted at the fact you’ve found these “copper” gems. I’m also pretty sure the attendant is also thrilled about having to count them again at the end of his/her shift as well. /sarcasm

      Except for the fact you’ve already pumped the gas so he’s got no choice but to take them (after all, you’re technically now in debt to the gas station, and US currency is “legal for all debts, public or private.”), I personally would have told you to eff off with the pennies, or at the very least, demanded you roll them first. When you show up tomorrow, don’t be surprised the pumps are “pay before you pump.” Then they’ll DEFINITELY tell you where to stick your copper-coated zinc/steel treasures.

      • humphrmi says:

        Except that some increment of currency has to be the “lowest” and will always collect in jars. If we eliminate the penny, we have to set all prices at .05 increments, so now we’ll have jars of nickles and people will complain about having to count / stand in line behind someone with a bunch of nickles.

      • amgriffin says:

        Ha! Deal with it. And get off my lawn.

  18. Tim says:

    I’ve advocated this for a long time:

    Require that, at least for cash transactions, retailers round to the nearest 5-cent interval. Considering that people purchase multiple products, plus taxes and fees, it’d be nearly impossible for a retailer to fix prices so that they round up more than they round down.

    Since there’d be a greatly reduced need for the penny, stop producing it and let them fall out of circulation.

  19. lostalaska says:

    Go to YouTube and search for “ass pennies” it’s a comedy sketch from Upright Citizens Brigade(?) two brothers walking on a golf course with the younger one asking about how his older brother had become so successful. The video is fine, but the audio in it is NSFW so put on some headphones.

  20. macruadhi says:

    A coin SHOULD be worth as much as the metal from which it is made, the only coin anywhere near this is the nickel and pre-1982 pennies. Were $20 gold pieces worth less than $20? I doubt it, but I can’t be sure.

    • shepd says:

      That type of coin quickly became worth less than face value after people started to shave them. That’s why newer coins (with a value higher than the nickel) have special edges (although by newer I mean newer than the advent of coinage, not newer as in made this millennium). Of course, that was adapted to also help blind people later on.

      Oddly enough, older Canadian nickles were dodecagonal, and newer (but still now old) pennies were too.

  21. Hi_Hello says:

    pennies are awesome when I wa a kid. we find them, save them and buy candies with them. or we take one and use a rock or something to make them bigger and use them in the arcades.

  22. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I would like to see pennies taken out…and maybe nickels too. The problem though is tax rates…how are you going to get any purchase to come out to the nearest nickel (or dine) once you involve tax?

    And something tells me that the government wouldn’t really be that hip about accepting rounded tax payments…

  23. Me - now with more humidity says:

    I hate how they make my fingers smell. It’s the the same smell as blood tastes. Yuch!

  24. Sheogorath says:

    So does that mean we’re going to introduce a 6 cent coin so we can keep on paying 99 cents for things?

  25. PsiCop says:

    The guys at Freakonomics have been beating the “kill the penny” drum for ages now. I can’t disagree with them at all.

    However, I’m realistic. That means I KNOW very well that they CANNOT be killed off. Too many people will simply FREAK OUT and go demented over it. They will (incorrectly) believe that any pennies they have will cease to have any value (they will eventually but there will inevitably be an exchange period during which banks will accept them but not give them out), and that merchants will cheat them on transactions when rounding (this is possible, but studies have shown that, in practice, this doesn’t occur; in reality the deal is a wash for all concerned).

    Once when I was a teller at an S&L we had a customer bring in a couple huge jars of pennies. We explained we didn’t have a coin counter (another branch in the same city did) and couldn’t take them. She said that Congress was about to abolish pennies and demanded we take them before they became worthless. I told her no such thing was happening; in response she slapped down a photocopy-of-a-photocopy of an old (i.e. the early 70s) petition against a putative Penny Act that was going to abolish them.

    Nothing I, nor anyone else in the branch, could tell her was sufficient to convince her that this “Penny Act” was non-existent (and the petition likely an old hoax). Eventually we convinced her to go to the branch with the coin-counter, and as far as I know she did. This kind of paranoid-insane thinking is PRECISELY why I KNOW pennies cannot be killed off.

  26. magus_melchior says:

    I guess now isn’t a good time to tell him about kitchen sponges…

  27. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    It seems every post I’m reading here fails to exclude one thing: the concept of a unit of currency valued at $0.01 (1¢) would still exist for any transaction involving ETF (i.e. a credit/debit card purchase.) What (I hope) would be eliminated would be a tangible representation of said currency (i.e. the coin itself.) Never mind the fact it costs more to mint one than its face value — they’re the most produced coin (in terms of numbers, not dollar value) by far. In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint produces more of these useless coins than all others put together. Why? Because, contrary to most peoples’ beliefs around here, pennies generally don’t circulate. Think about it: when you come home with a pocketful of pennies, what do you do with them? Throw them into a jar and likely forget about them? Or lose them in the couch under the gap between where the cushions sit and the backrest? Likely. Hence the reason why 455,680,000 pennies were produced in 2009 in Canada. That was a pretty low number, considering the numbers in previous years (click the link!) A recent poll showed more than 60% of Canadians would be happier without the penny. Google the words “abolish penny” to find many identical sentiments to the video.

  28. jdmba says:

    75 posts in, I may as well write this in sand on the beach; but killing the penny would save us all 4 cents. Retailers wont price $200 if they can price $199.99; and if they can’t do that, they will price $199.95.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Then add the tax. Here, it’s 13%. Now $199.95 after tax = $224.3435. Guess that would still work, as that would round down to $224.30, assuming you’re paying in cash.

      Okay, let’s try $99.99, which the clever merchant rounds down to $99.95. You think it’s a deal, so you buy two.

      $99.95 *2 = $199.90. $199.90 * 1.13 = $225.887. Whoops. Now that rounds up to $225.90 (assuming you’re paying cash.) In other words, using the Swedish Rounding system (the way Australia’s been doing for years), the rounding only happens on the final total, and even then only when paying with cash. Sometimes you’ll be ahead by a penny or two, sometimes you’ll be behind. All in all, you’ll end up basically equal.

  29. ninabi says:

    Pennies are also corrosive to the esophagus if swallowed. Parents of toddlers everywhere probably would be happy to have one less thing to worry about.

  30. WayneB says:

    Everyone who hates pennies should send all their pennies to me.

  31. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I hate pennies. They get gummed up by some mysterious substance in my car ash tray.

  32. thrashanddestroy says:

    This is news? We’re blogging about other bloggers now? Is NBC going to start reporting on CNN’s broadcasts?

  33. kimmi_face says:

    DFTBA

  34. sparc says:

    Why not find a way to reduce the production costs for pennies?

  35. Cantras says:

    I have a comment unrelated to most of this conversation, and that is that someone is going to be in troooouble for plagiarising a lot of these points in an opinion article I read recently. Like word for word the fail to facilitate commerce thing and the opportunity cost parts.

  36. Kelly Bufkin says:

    Haha, Vlogbrothers is a great Youtube channel. I don’t think this is their best video, but I do think pennies are a bit unnecessary.

  37. Southern says:

    I don’t understand the big deal.

    It’s not like the 0.6 cents just “vanishes into the ether”. Ok, so the coin has a “face value” of 1­¢. So what if the government pays $16,000 Dollars to “make” 1,000,000 pennies? Does that extra $6,000 just go “POOF”? Of course not – it stays in the economy; it purchases the raw material to make the pennies, it pays the labor costs for the people employed to make the pennies, etc.

    What’s the face value of… say.. a common nail? What? It has no face value? So the government might pay 1.6¢ for a nail that has NO face value and can only be used ONCE?

    The cost of making pennies is just a cost of doing business. It doesn’t matter what the face value of the coin itself is. The government doesn’t even get back the face value of the coin when it’s taken out of circulation, since it’s just replaced with a NEW coin.. Although they might melt down the old ones and reuse the metal – but keep in mind that since 1982, pennies have virtually no copper in them; they’re 97.5% zinc core and 2.5% copper PLATING. Prior to 1982 (with a few exceptions, such as the 1943 steel pennies), pennies were usually in the 94-95% copper range. Those COULD actually be melted down by the government and sold for 2.1¢ each for scrap copper (although if you or I did that, we’d go to jail) :-)

  38. maruawe says:

    This gentleman does not mention the fact that goods would cost more with the deletion of the penny and the nickel. The tax here 7.5% therefore with out pennies the tax would be raised to 8%
    therefore effectively raising tax by .5% and this is concerning to me as a taxpayer.. Goods and services depend on this denomination of coins. Besides that I have coins of both denomination that would probably pay his bills for a year…An as a coin collector I do not care what it cost to make but I am interested in what it will be worth in a few years. In conclusion His argument is worthless as the penny.

  39. FrugalFreak says:

    Pennies help me save for a special treat. I save pennies but spend quarters.

  40. whoisgringo says:

    1.) So which is it? I’ve read recently they cost anywhere from 1.4 to 1.7 cents to manufacture.

    2.) He makes some sweeping arguments that definitely need citations.

    3.) 2 reasons we have pennies: taxes, helps low wage workers

  41. Absinthe says:

    I have the sneaking suspicion that this guy watched The Show (http://www.zefrank.com/theshow/).

  42. DoktorH says:

    hoarding pennies and then cashing large numbers of them in for larger denominations of currency still constitutes use. That jar/can/sock of pennies is a form of savings. As for merchants declining payment in pennies, they are legally allowed to do so: http://www.ustreas.gov/education/faq/currency/legal-tender.shtml. If you want to pay in pennies, it is up to you to support businesses that accept sacks of pennies as payment.

  43. NeverLetMeDown says:

    Penny isn’t going anywhere. There’s a (modestly) unholy alliance between politicians from Illinois (Land of Lincoln and all that) and the zinc industry to ensure they stay around.

  44. Tonguetied says:

    The thing is that if we get rid of pennies then we’ll be using more nickels and my understanding is that the metals being used to make nickels are also rising in price. If the Treasury has to start minting more nickels then the price will go even higher and we’ll be having the same issues with them as we are currently having with pennies…

  45. Tonguetied says:

    Oops, missed that he doesn’t want nickels either. Let me wipe the egg off my face…

  46. scoccaro says:

    People still use cash?

  47. breny says:

    Is there any reason why, instead of minting new pennies, we can’t start a campaign for people to turn in their accumulated pennies so they can be recirculated?

  48. risotto says:

    Before the euro, france phased out the centime, there were signs on most stores that clearly said: no centimes accepted. If stores refused to accept and give out pennies, i think it would catch on. Just round the post-tax to the cost to the closest 5 cents (real rounding, not up-rounding).