News: 0133360820

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Is It Time To Kill the Penny? (

(Tuesday July 14, 2020 @07:30PM (BeauHD) from the good-of-time-as-any dept.)

COVID-19 has constipated the economy and prompted the U.S. Mint to cut back on coin production to keep its workers safe. As NPR's Greg Rosalsky writes, this could be a rallying cry for a long-running movement that has lost steam in recent years: Kill the penny! "With the closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy has ... kind of stopped," explained Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last month. [1]Is now the time to kill the penny? From the report:

> Last year, [2]almost 60% (PDF) of the coins that the U.S. Mint churned out were pennies. 60 percent. It made [3]more than 7 billion (PDF) pennies. Seven billion. That's a lot of manpower that could be used toward making coins we actually need. The penny is basically worthless. Actually, it's worse than worthless. It costs the U.S. government [4]about 2 cents (PDF) to produce every penny. Pennies aren't even worth our time. Wake Forest University economist Robert Whaples has calculated that the typical American worker earns a penny every two seconds. It takes most of us more than two seconds to fumble around with change or pick a penny off the ground, which explains why there are so many pennies on the ground. Money is supposed to be the medium of exchange, not dead weight.


> For most of U.S. history, we never had a coin as worthless as the penny is now. Back in 1857, we killed the half-cent coin -- which, when adjusted for inflation, was as valuable then as about 14 cents is today. And we did just fine. [...] The U.S. Mint lost [5]over $72 million (PDF) making pennies last year. But there doesn't seem to be much urgency about this because in the grand scheme of the federal budget, it's just pennies. We reached out to the U.S. Mint to discuss the coin shortage, and its representative Michael White told us that after retooling to keep its employees safe during the early part of the pandemic, the U.S. Mint has been operating at full capacity since mid-June. But depressed retail activity and reduced deposits by coin processors -- like, you know, those machines at the supermarket that exchange your coins for bills -- have hampered coin circulation. Since the U.S. Mint went into overdrive to end the coin shortage, White says, about 40% of the coins that it has produced have been pennies.






Re: (Score:1)

by gosso920 ( 6330142 )

Don't do that - patrons of strip clubs are going to "make it hail."

Re: (Score:2)

by Opportunist ( 166417 )

Stop being a cheapskate and slip her a fiver!

Re: (Score:2)

by OrangeTide ( 124937 )

That only motivates them further to not vote in autocratic rulers.

Re: (Score:1)

by SirAstral ( 1349985 )

no it doesn't, just like all the mouth breathers that claim that the 2nd amendment is there for a tyrannical government.

That's bullshit too!, I mean sure that is one of the things it is actually there for but they won't do shit when that oppression is oppressing the groups they hate.

Just like people only care about white on black crime when there is more black on white crime based on the statistics... but narratives! They really do matter!

Re: (Score:3, Informative)

by zippthorne ( 748122 )

I take it you never buy gasoline, then.

How can something whose average is 0 add up? (Score:2)

by Edward Nardella ( 1503565 )

Uh, no. There is an old saying "A penny saved is a penny earned." Regardless of how a wasteful person like you might feel, many of us know that small change adds up and I am not willing to just eat the cost of not getting correct change back.

How can something whose average is 0 add up? When you don't have pennies you round up or down to the nearest multiple of .05, on average you will overpay by 0.00 and underpay by 0.00

Re: (Score:2)

by newcastlejon ( 1483695 )

> Uh, no. There is an old saying "A penny saved is a penny earned."

This is quite true, but you forget that back in those days you could actually buy something with a single penny.

Just do a stock split (Score:2)

by goombah99 ( 560566 )

Simply say that all of the US currency is now worth 5 times as much as it was.

Prices will immediately drop to 1/5th the price to compensate. Now all the currency keeps working.

And the nickel. (Score:5, Interesting)

by dgatwood ( 11270 )

We should kill the penny and the nickel and round to the nearest dime. Then add a $2 Lincoln coin (and maybe a $5 Jefferson coin).

Re: (Score:2)

by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 )

And allow the conversion of deprecated coins into raw materials

Re: (Score:1)

by avandesande ( 143899 )

Or get stop the fed from inflating the economy.

Re: (Score:2)

by SirAstral ( 1349985 )

Fuck no... fractional banking is now a requirement.

Inflation is how you get the poor to subsidize the rich. They are too stupid and ignorant to understand this even if you show them directly but that is what being a part of the ignorant and stupid masses is all about.

"Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." -- George Carlin

Carlin was spot on. I listened to him a lot and realize that most people on the left are walking parodies of all of his jokes even t

Re: (Score:2)

by SirAstral ( 1349985 )

shit... I really need to do better proof reading...

@ 1.5% inflation per year... $500 drops in value to $430

should be

@ 1.5% inflation per year... $500 drops in value to $430, over 10 years.

Re: And the nickel. (Score:2)

by e3m4n ( 947977 )

In 1992, when I was in the Navy, Dubai, or more correctly the UAE, was phasing out their fractional coins and the smallest coin was to be the durham. At the time it was 3.65 durham to the dollar. The durham coin was good in vending machines to buy a can of soda roughly the size of 8oz. We would buy a few just because of the unique shape. There was no sales tax and the vendors only sold in whole durham amounts, even when bartering

How much to xyz?

Oh xyz? Very far. Very far. 20 durham.

Hoe about 5 durham?

No no

Re: (Score:2)

by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

How many grocery items do you buy during a big shop? And what does the shop cost? Now what would it cost if every item got rounded up 5c?

That little change could easily cost you an instant 3% more on your grocery bill and it'd hit poorer people worse.

Re: (Score:2)

by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 )

> How many grocery items do you buy during a big shop? And what does the shop cost? Now what would it cost if every item got rounded up 5c?

That's not how it works. PRICES are still resolved down to the penny. If your TOTAL BILL is $49.02 or lower, you pay $49.00 If the total is between $49.03 and $49.05, you pay $49.05.

At least, that's how it works here in Canada. In fact, if you're paying via debit card, credit card, cash, or cheque, the amount is to the penny. It's only hard currency that gets rounded to the nearest nickle.

Re: (Score:2)

by caseih ( 160668 )

Gas is priced down to a tenth of a cent per litre even. Then the total is rounded.

I wouldn't put it past American retailers to say rounding at the till is too hard and just raise all their prices to the nearest 5 cent interval.

Re: (Score:1)

by ToThoseOfUs ( 2377416 )

Or you could do like we do in Australia. The items on the shelf are still listed to the cent, only your total is rounded when you pay in cash.

If you pay by card, you still pay to the cent.

Re: (Score:2)

by fj3k ( 993224 )

First of all, most of the time when companies have change their prices to reflect the lack of 1 cent coins, the prices have changed from $9.99 to $9.95 rather than $10.00 (for example) - because the psychology of "this is less than $10" is more valuable than the 4 cents.

Secondly, in every country that has done this, any rounding happens on the final total, not on individual items. Additionally, some countries have banned companies from having policies along the lines of "we only ever round up." In such situ

Kill it, and the nickel... (Score:5, Interesting)

by FrankSchwab ( 675585 )

Make our smallest denomination coin the dime, which also happens to currently be the smallest physical coin we have. Create a new 50 cent piece at about the size of a penny, a new $1 coin about the size of a nickel, and a $5 coin about the size of a quarter, and kill the $1 and $5 bill.

And, for a change, make a $1 coin that ISN'T THE SAME SIZE AND DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ANOTHER COIN when it gets dirty, unlike the Susan B or Sacagawea dollars.

Re: (Score:2)

by FrankSchwab ( 675585 )

Ninja'ed with the same ideas...

Re: (Score:2)

by dirk ( 87083 )

More importantly, kill the dollar bill if you want the dollar coin to be used. Bills are generally more convenient than coins. This is the reason why none of the other dollar coins have been successful (as well as the similarity to other coins). People are not going to willingly start using the dollar coin as long as the dollar bill is there. Stop making bills and let them filter out of circulation and force people to start using the coins.

force people (Score:2)

by Edward Nardella ( 1503565 )

force people

Language like that is sure to sink any legislative agenda it is advocating for in the US.

Re: (Score:2)

by Opportunist ( 166417 )

Why would you want people to use the coins, though? Vending machines are finally able to deal with bills sensibly and it's by far more convenient to use bills instead of picking through the rubble in the change part of the wallet.

In Europe, the Euro has 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and 1 and 2 Euro coins, with the smallest denomination for bills being the fiver. And nobody pays for anything with coins. They tend to accumulate in your wallet because every cashier rolls their eyes when you start to pick around in

Changing the change? (Score:2)

by rmdingler ( 1955220 )

Americans though, we're, on the whole, a tough bunch to introduce change to.

I only hope the implementation of a penny/nickel free economy doesn't somehow reward the cashless transactions to the detriment of the few who still prefer the anonymity of the cash transaction. If transactions are rounded up for cash purchases, and remain the same for credit/debit card-wielding transactions, well... there's more disincentive to using the less trackable cash money. Overall, a loss for the ephemeral freedom of not

Pennies are wasteful (Score:1)

by Arthur, KBE ( 6444066 )

Nobody under 80 years old actually pays for anything or counts change. The US should also probably ditch the $1 bill and promote the $1 coins.

Actually is time to kill much more than just penny (Score:2)

by williamyf ( 227051 )

The USoA needs to kill the penny and the Dolar Bill, introduce the Susan B. Anthony dolar COIN and make the two dollar bill much more prominet.

Let's hope they get to it sooner rather than later

Re: (Score:2)

by magarity ( 164372 )

> introduce the Susan B. Anthony dolar COIN

You seem to be running a little behind on current events; the Susan B Anthony dollar coin was introduced in 1979.

Re: (Score:2)

by Edward Nardella ( 1503565 )

Some times compelling the population to accept things that are good for it but not palatable to it, is a good idea.

That's silly (Score:2)

by DogDude ( 805747 )

Money is money. People who blithely ignore pennies are generally not the smartest with money. I don't need any more pennies, but I'll certainly stop to pick them up, or ask for them if I don't get enough change.

Re: (Score:2)

by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 )

> I don't need any more pennies, but I'll certainly stop to pick them up

Well, you know the old saying...

Find a penny,

Pick it up,

All day long will bring you

the possibility of a hepatitis or COVID-19 infection.

$20 Bill (Score:2)

by Arthur, KBE ( 6444066 )

There's talk about removing Andrew Jackson from the US $20 with various candidates proposed to replace him.

I've been trying to promote the idea of putting Wyatt Earp on the $20 bill in order to build new enthusiasm for currency collecting and the history of the Old West. I had a proposal but it didn't go anywhere, because I don't think anyone really knew it existed.

I may try to re-start this petition again but I need to figure out how to garner wide-spread interest in this proposal.

Re: (Score:2)

by SirAstral ( 1349985 )

Andrew Jackson on the $20 is a serious insult to Jackson who hated the Fed and the Central bank, but a lot of people do not know enough about history to understand that.

Even in money, there are many insults to be learned if you know enough history. In fact it's full of insults that people don't even have a clue about!

But hey, it's not like people are not easily fooled into doing shit that is actually contrary to their objectives... it happens all the time. Especially when they all go and vote!

And get rid of sales tax (Score:2)

by rossdee ( 243626 )

That extra 7% would be hard without pennies and nickels

Re: (Score:2)

by OzPeter ( 195038 )

> That extra 7% would be hard without pennies and nickels

So what do you think happens when you buy 3 items for $5.99 each?

Canadian perspective. (Score:5, Informative)

by PsychoSlashDot ( 207849 )

We did away with the penny eight years ago. That said, a huge portion of our purchases are done via debit cards, so actual physical coinage isn't critical here. For cash transactions, they just round off the total. If a thing costs $1.03, it's rounded up to $1.05 but if it costs $1.02 it's rounded down to $1 even. It's caused no problems.

As for the cost of creating the penny being higher than its face value... that's shouldn't be a factor. The point to cash is to represent value, not to embody it. As long as a $100 bill costs less than $100 to create, that's obvious.

The way to tell if it's time to do away with a denomination of cash is when it's got negligible value to people. If you'd collect a month or two of them in a jar and not bother to spend it because it's unwieldy, then it's time. Money should have value to people.

Re: (Score:2)

by jrumney ( 197329 )

New Zealand got rid of 1c and 2c coins 30 years ago, at the same time $1 and $2 coins were introduced and a 1 year phase out of $1 and $2 banknotes began. It also got rid of 5c coins 14 years ago, and will probably remove the 10c soon, or maybe all coins and banknotes.

You don't understand the USA (Score:3)

by Tablizer ( 95088 )

USA is not like Canada. It will be turned into a political symbol and a Make Pennies Great Again campaign will spring up to protect "Great American Traditions" blah blah blah...

Re: (Score:2)

by Edward Nardella ( 1503565 )

While you speak with hyperbole, the spirit of your message is accurate, which is one of the reasons that the US has so many failings.

Re: (Score:2)

by sit1963nz ( 934837 )

Same with New Zealand, our 1c and 2c coins were last minted in 1987, and removed as legal tender in 1990.

The 5c coins was removed in 2006

$1 and $2 coins were introduced in 1991

And while you are at it, why not change to the Metric System, NZ changed in 1976. Science already uses it.

This was done on Canada (Score:3)

by Major_Disorder ( 5019363 )

and it works.

The penny is gone, and we have $1 and $2 coins. Not to mention Plastic bills.

Of course every time one of these was changed you heard from some loonies that they would refuse to use the new coin, or bill, or they would be holding onto their pennies. But the Canadian mint did something smart, they simply stopped making them, and pulled the old coins and bills out of circulation. the noise dropped off very quickly, and I have not seen a paper bill, in years. When the $1 and $2 coins came out the paper bills disappeared just as quickly. (The $2 bill was discontinued in the 1970's if I recall correctly. The $2 coin came out much later.)

Loonies refusing to use loonies? (Score:2)

by Akardam ( 186995 )

Say it ain't so...

Canadian $2 bill stopped printing in '96 (Score:2)

by Edward Nardella ( 1503565 )

The $2 bill was printed until 1996. But it was not widely circulated, much like the $0.50 piece today, you can only get them from the mint (you might still be able to special order them at your local bank).

Re: (Score:2)

by Guspaz ( 556486 )

The $2 coin was introduced the day after the $2 bill was discontinued, in February 1996.

Don't kill it - let's have currency reform... (Score:2)

by bogaboga ( 793279 )

Currency reform would be better. I mean, mint out another penny that's worth [at least] the current penny. Do not forget the other dollar bills either.

As an example, the new penny would be worth 10 current pennies along with the currently circulating bills. Transition would take about a year.

What's wrong with this?

Re: (Score:2)

by imidan ( 559239 )

> As an example, the new penny would be worth 10 current pennies...

So, you want to issue a new penny that's worth a dime? Why don't we just skip some steps and use the existing dimes, instead?

lose the penny (Score:3)

by theheadlessrabbit ( 1022587 )

As a Canadian who worked retail during the elimination of our penny, I can say this is a good idea.

One less coin to reach for speeds up every transaction, and one less type of coin to count/roll up at the end of each day.

It might only be a half second per transaction, but when you add up how many retail transactions occur each year, it adds up.

Coins are also faster to count out than bills, so drop the 1 and 2 dollar bills, too.

No pennies in Canada already (Score:2)

by thepacketmaster ( 574632 )

For the same reason that penny costs more to make than it is worth, Canada got rid of pennies a few yeara ago.

What is holding back dropping the penny. (Score:1)

by kalanster ( 866730 )

Not sure they'll do would mean no more 99 cent sales. Change is hard! Just look at the why the US still uses inches.

How it's done in my country (Score:4, Informative)

by kubajz ( 964091 )

One of European countries here. Our smallest coin is worth about 5 cents. Prices in shops are quoted to a precision of about 0.5 cent where needed (typically low price items such as bottled water, a single egg, bread rolls) and if you pay in cash, the total at the cash register is rounded. For payments by card, there is no rounding. Works quite well.

You don't want to know what is going on in America (Score:2)

by Edward Nardella ( 1503565 )

The more you read about what is going on in America the less happy a person you will be.

No. It's time to kill inflation. (Score:1)

by i'm probably drunk ( 6159770 )

The US dollar lost over half of its value from 2000 to 2010, then over half its value again from 2010 to 2020. Stop with the money printing.

Sorry (Score:2)

by quonset ( 4839537 )

It takes most of us more than two seconds to fumble around with change

When I go to Aldi I know how much my bill will be and have my money ready, including change. Unlike all those hipsters and senior citizens who fumble around for a card or try to figure out which app to pull up on their phone to see if they have any money.

Without exception, it is faster for me to pay for purchases (small purchases) in cash and with change than it is to use a card. That and no one but me and the clerk knows what I bought.

Re: (Score:2)

by Opportunist ( 166417 )

> When I go to Aldi I know how much my bill will be and have my money ready, including change.

That means you can add and maybe even do percentage calculations in your head.

Now ponder again what country we're talking about and you figure out why it doesn't apply.

US uses outdated cards. (Score:2)

by Edward Nardella ( 1503565 )

That is only true because you use relatively outdated tech for your card payments. With NFC "tap" payments, I can match or beat a cash payment.

Yes (Score:2)

by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 )

Kill the penny. Maybe even kill the dime. Introduce a $1 coin.

Still advertise, and calculate, prices to the cent.

If you make a purchase with cash, then the total amount (not each item) is rounded to the nearest 5c or 10c. If rounding to 10c, then favour the consumer and round down on 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5c and round up on 6, 7, 8 & 9c. I can hear the fully grown babies screaming now that a store overcharged them 4c on a purchase - if you're really going to be that concerned about losing out on 4c, then imp

Cards killed the penny... (Score:2)

by The New Guy 2.0 ( 3497907 )

Credit/Debit networks charge at least $1 for transactions, meaning that penny candy and other things have fallen off from being marketable. A typical candy bar was worth 40 cents for a good long time, until the jump to $1 when convenience, drug, and grocery stores started taking cards.

There's now nothing a penny can buy anymore...

Penny Crusher Machines (Score:2)

by Vandil X ( 636030 )

But what if I want to crush one in a Penny Crusher Machine for a cheap souvenir?

Re: (Score:2)

by OzPeter ( 195038 )

> But what if I want to crush one in a Penny Crusher Machine for a cheap souvenir?

Who is Penny Crusher? Is she Beverly's daughter? And why is she a machine? Was she assimilated by the Borg?

But as for flattening out cans as cheap souvenirs. I refer you to [1]2011 US Code Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure Part I - CRIMES ( 1 - 2725) Chapter 17 - COINS AND CURRENCY ( 331 - 337) Section 331 - Mutilation, diminution, and falsification of coins []

> Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or

> Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened—

> Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


Jarden Zinc Products (Score:2)

by TheReaperD ( 937405 )

The penny is being kept around by a group called [1]Americans for Common Cents [], a US lobby group whose biggest contributor, Jarden Zinc Products, just happens to sell zinc coin blanks to the U.S. Mint. Corruption and its finest.


Criminality and the privacy connection (Score:2)

by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 )

The ability to hide ones purchases through cash only transactions is a serious problem for law enforcement. I think as a society we'd be far better off going to a completely digital economy.

Preferably we could integrate cashless payments with a small computerized communication device that people almost universally carry on their person at all times. Then LE would have at their disposal a running digest of what people purchase, how much they spent (tax evasion would get harder this way too -- win-win), and

Where have all the pennies gone? (Score:2)

by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 )

> Last year, almost 60% of the coins that the U.S. Mint churned out were pennies. 60 percent. It made more than 7 billion (PDF) pennies.

Seriously, why do we need to make so many coins? It's not like they wear out quickly, like bills.

Where the fuck are all the old pennies going?

1982. That's the last "real" penny. (Score:2)

by TigerPlish ( 174064 )

All pennies made starting 1983 are mostly zinc instead of copper.

Go ahead, drop an '82 or older and a '83 or newer. The old ones rang like a little bell The new one sounds and feels as fake as monopoly money.

Just one more little bit of America that has been killed. Good job!

Get rid of it. I was USAF for a while, and for 3 years lived overseas. They don't bother with the penny in US Gov't stores, it's all quarters nickles and dimes. Cost too much to ship.

NO one missed it. Made math easier.

Australia did this 40 years ago (Score:2)

by OzPeter ( 195038 )

Geez 40 years ago, how time flies. And we also replaced the $1 and $2 bills with coins as well even further back.

I never did get the US obsession with pennies. Nor the similar size of all the bills.

Re: (Score:2)

by OzPeter ( 195038 )

Geez I can't do maths today. It was 30 years ago.

Finally (Score:2)

by Joe2020 ( 6760092 )

How can you call it a penny when you don't have the Queen on it?! Of course kill it.

The life of a repo man is always intense.