Making Sense Of Not Making Cents

I’ve been watching the ongoing trickles of news about doing something about the penny with mildly flaccid interest. In case you’re still bound up in Whitney (she’s still dead) or the latest nonevents from the ‘let’s pick the least-worst GOP zombie’ duh-rama, there’s renewed interest in figuring out what to do about the penny.

I am of course referring to the little copper-clad, Lincoln-face-having, smallest-denomination item issued by the US Treasury. Apparently, due to peaking copper prices, it costs more to make a penny than the value of the penny itself. I found this interesting, since I’d heard this all before some years back. The plan now is to explore cheaper ways of making pennies, of course. Looking into this issue, I found some tasty bits of information.

The penny – depending on the source reporting – costs the government (i.e., YOU) between 1.6 and 2.4 cents to manufacture. On a side note, the nickel costs between 6.7 and 11.4 cents to make. Think about that one.

There are large and very agitated, virulent groups for and against completely eliminating the penny. These camps hate each other with all the intensity of Star Wars and Star Trek fanboy clubs having to share a convention hall in August. You just have to be a hater sometimes.

There are actual groups of survivalist-types who routinely buy $3000 worth of pennies and then hand-sort them for pre-1982 issues and hoard them.

Big business wants the penny, and claims it will fuck the poor man down, naturally. So the same engines of corporate greed that would turn homeless people into WiFi hotspots are enraged that us po’ fo’ks gonna get had. I’d also note they can’t then set a price for something at $2.99 so we can feel like we got a good deal by not paying $3.

The government has already taken the step of outlawing melting pennies. Amazing hindsight here by our elected fuckwits, always ready to lock the barn doors firmly behind the horses when they realized people could melt down pre-1982 pennies in backyard smelters and double their money for the trouble. In case you’re deeply worried, Canadian pennies have a higher copper content, and there’s no U.S. law against melting those.

The biggest obstacle to the penny replacement is accurately replicating the weight while using something cheap. Some ideas involve plastics and others ceramics, but all the ideas are uniformly gay.

One group claims that the average American loses 30 minutes annually in activity directly tied to penny management – or mismanagement as the case may be.

I’d note here that I would favor doing away with the penny. Lincoln’s already on the $5 bill, so it’s not like we’re dissing our homey. Think of all the time and effort you’d save sorting, counting, wrapping, rolling, or melting keeping those pennies. I’m guessing it’s more than 30 minutes, personally, because I live pretty far from the Canadian border. The saddest fact here is that we’ve proposed this action now several times and kicked the can down the road.

This happens partly out of sentimentality, but in large part because the government doesn’t want to admit that inflation officially exists – plain and simple. We already know the truth, and by keeping their heads in the sand this long, now the nickel is in danger of being inflated out of existence as well.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?


38 Responses to “Making Sense Of Not Making Cents”

  1. You had to put your 2 cents in, didn’t you? Well the jokes on you because you only get a penny for your thoughts.

  2. I don’t ever make any Cents 😉

  3. We’ll probably be cashless soon, anyway. And maybe they’ll require us to turn in all cash reserves, including coins, so the government can have an official meltdown.

  4. It costs MORE to make a penny and a nickel that the value of the coin? AYFKM?

    So all this smack talk about our national debt and crap and they are spending more to make something than it is worth?

    Jesus, how freaking stupid is that?

  5. Oh hoarding pennies. I need to do that!

  6. John Haslett Says:

    This is simple for us morons out here in fly-over country. If it costs more money than it’s worth to make . . . get rid of it. And we wonder why we’re in debt up to our butt.

  7. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    You are too funny. I know you’re serious and all but, you make me laugh so much. I love the part about 2.99 vs 3.00 to feel like you gotta good deal.

  8. Canadians have more copper in our pennies, just as much hot air in our government officials and our money has been worth crap since it’s inception. We are just ‘catching’ up to you Americans with our dollar being on par…you guys should start making loonies and toonies, too! May not be cheaper, but it’s a hell of a way to start a dialogue about worthless money

  9. You said “homey.”

  10. I’ve melted them down to make slugs. No joke. I’ve also helped a friend put “copper tiling” in her foyer…entirely of the humble one-cent variety. It looked awesome. I also have a fantasy of making a set of Samurai-style gauntlets out of pennies.

  11. Having it cost 1.5 cents to make a penny would be ridiculous if the penny only got used once. But the average penny probably spends what 20 years in circulation. By the time it’s taken out of circulation & melted down (recouping some of the cost of making it in the first place, it it might only have cost .75 of a cent to make it), the penny has done more than enough to justify its cost.
    By taking the penny out of circulation all together you are licensing retailers to print money for themselves. As well as the government. Retailers who would have charged only 2.97 for a particular item will now round up (always) to 3.00. The next time the government wants to add a tax to the consumer, it won’t be a 2%, 3% or 4% tax – it would have to be a 5% tax or multiple of five since we don’t have any pennies any longer. So now the minimum tax increase would always have to be 5% & further increases would always have to be multiples of 5.
    Obviously, I’ve given this some thought – because they had the same argument going here in Canada just a little while ago. So don’t let them do away with your penny even if it seems stupid to pay for manufacturing it. Otherwise you will pay dearly in the end. And that’s my 2 cents worth!

    • Not sure I agree with your reasoning. You assume each “use” of the penny somehow adds value back to the coin, said another way. As for the rest, overseas military don’t use pennies and we round up/round down when making change. It evens out in the long run.

      • Not to imply every use of the coin adds back into the value at all, but just that the mint does not have to produce pennies every day to keep up with the usage. Pennies stay in circulation for a long time.
        Also the tax thing is what gets to me. Maybe in the military you don’t have to pay sales tax when on foreign soil? I really don’t know about these things. I am merely suggesting there is a huge difference between 2% tax added & 5% tax added on items. And you would have to round up because there are no pennies.
        Anyway, we can agree to disagree. I see value in keeping the penny around while you don’t.

        • I see marginally decrementing the cost of manufacture with each “use” equal to adding value to the penny by the same, but yes, we do disagree. And I pay tax on everything like everyone else. Dammit.

  12. So, you buy $3000 of pennies, sort through all of them, melt down the pre-1982… and net a profit of, what, maybe $3.75? There’s got to be a better way to make money.

  13. savorthefolly Says:

    when there is a penny in question, there is always trouble.

  14. A couple of years ago, security found a bag, halfway thru the tunnel from Windsor to Detroit. It contained about $35,000 in old Canadian silver coins. (One bag? How much would that weigh?) Somebody chickened out from something illegal.

  15. I now know more about the penny than I ever thought I would care about. My suggestion is to just stop making pennies and release all those in the vault. They’ll be collectors items!

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