The Black & White

Guest Writer: The Problem With Pennies

Jake Wicks, Guest Writer

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Pennies, the cute copper coins that make up the smallest denomination of United States coinage and are considered charming and adorable. They are also a cornerstone of America. Despite the currency’s miraculous reputation, pennies are in fact, indisputably and irrefutable terrible. This is because the penny is a waste of government funds, doesn’t function as effective currency, and represents the persistent partisan politics of today’s discourse. There is no question that the penny should be retired from the U.S. Mint today to save Americans not only their money but also their pride.

To start off, old Abe’s copper coin is one of the most horrible swaths of unnecessary government spending in America. The penny costs 1.8 cents to produce and if you’re good at math you’ve realized that is more value then the penny adds to U.S. monetary circulation once the penny has been minted. This inflation of the penny occured in 2006 when pennies became more expensive to Mint then they add to the economy and their raw materials became more valuable than the coins themselves. Every year the U.S. Mint produces 13 billion pennies which equates to 104 million dollars in lost tax payer money.

Not only does the U.S. Mint throw away 104 million dollars annually, but the penny does not serve as a functional denomination of currency. Money is used to facilitate the exchange of goods and services, a task that the penny is simply not up to. If you tried to pay for twenty dollars worth of groceries with just pennies you would be carrying 2,000 Lincoln faces to the register weighing 8 pounds. Many machines that accept coins, such as vending machines, car washes, and most parking meters, don’t even accept pennies because the penny will never be too small a denomination of wealth.

The worst thing about the penny is that it is a surrogate for partisan politics, an issue that has completely thrown intellectual and productive discourse in America out the window. In the past years coinage reform has been sponsored roughly 50/50 by both Republicans and Democrats, which is why nothing has been done about America’s annual tendency to light 104 million tax dollars on fire. This is because campaigning on abolishing the penny is not exciting enough to get a politician elected or has any way of scoring cheap political points and so the very real issue is left ignored, never escaping the subcommittees of state legislators. Furthermore, like bad politics, the penny is propped up by big business lobbyists, specifically Zinc companies that pay a lot of money to congressmen to keep the 95% Zinc coins in circulation.

America’s course of action is clear, stop minting of the penny immediately and remove them from circulation. Removing the penny would be extremely simple, as proven by New Zealand, Australia and Canada, who all got rid of their one cent coin and did not see average prices increase or charitable contributions go down. Many people object to this however, citing Lincoln’s legacy as a reason for dragging along the dead weight that is the penny. There is no need to worry about Lincoln’s legacy because he still has the five dollar bill as well as the Lincoln Memorial to be remembered by and the often forgotten feat of saving the union from collapse and freeing American slaves! Whatever happens to the Penny, noted opposer to the Penny, John Green, sums it up in the statement, “There is something uniquely American about putting one of our objectively best presidents on one of our objectively worst coins.”

 

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