Monday, September 15, 2014


By Michael A. Nettleton

 We’re always looking at ways we can make government more efficient and use our tax dollars more wisely. Here’s an idea whose time has come. Let’s retire the penny from our range of currency. Here’s a snippet from About dot com.
Approximate Current Cost of Minting Various U.S. Coins
  • Penny - 1.26 cents
  • Nickel - 7.7 cents
  • Dime - 4 cents
  • Quarter - 10 cents
  • Dollar (Coins) - 16 cents
Yep, it costs more to make pennies than their actual value as money. The same is true of nickels, but one thing at a time. This is mostly due to the cost of the material. Pennies are currently comprised of zinc, primarily. Prior to 1982 they were largely copper. There’s a move afoot to make them out of steel, but the U.S. Mint opposes it. So do I. Let’s just 86 them.

I was at the supermarket the other day and some variety of beefsteak was being flogged at $4.00 a pound. Good. Finally some honest pricing. No more pricing it at $3.99 in the belief that we’ll say “Oh, geez, that’s a much better value than the stuff they’re selling for $4.00 pound. 

Another ridiculous argument is that we need the pennies to accurately calculate our taxes. Horse-hockey. Let’s just round up or down to the nearest nickel. Anything that comes out at $.02 or less gets rounded down, anything that’s $.03 or more gets rounded up. Simple. As the British say, “Bob’s your uncle.” 

Finally, to dispel one more specious argument I’m sure someone will bring up. “Pennies are valuable to teach children the value of money.” I gauren-blanking-tee you that if you present a penny to any child old enough to realize it doesn’t belong in his or her mouth they’ll stare at it slack-jawed and make one of those “awwwww Mom,” noises. 

Let’s set a date, get people to round up their pennies and cash them in. (Once again, rounding up or down as we compensate them.) Give advertisers time to remove any ridiculous $_____99 references from their pitches. Crank the gas pump amounts up another 1/100th of a turn and make petrol $4.00 (or $5 or $6, gulp) a gallon and let the chips fall where they may. 

Let’s start giving people a nickel for their thoughts. It's worth every penny.


  1. Hi Mike,

    I totally agree with your reasoning, as I am certain that the same calculations probably hold true for the UK penny. However, we have already lost the halfpenny from our currency, so if the penny disappeared as well, where would it end? In a few years would we be saying the same thing about the two pence piece, then the five pence, and so on! Surely things would only continue to become more expensive in the shops, if everyone decide to 'round up', rather than 'round down'?

    It always amazes me that a garage over here can charge 25.7 pence a litre for petrol! Where on earth does the odd .7 of a pence come from in their calculations, although to illustrate my previous comment; if asked I will always round up the price of a litre to 26 pence, whilst hubbie will always see 25 pence!

    I guess that all conversations about money become totally emotive over this side of the pond, when successive governments are all hell-bent on making us a cashless society, just as soon as possible. So many shops now take 'contactless cash cards', that I can see us all being forced to join soon!

    Meanwhile, what's the old saying ... 'Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'


  2. Already, younger people have stopped carrying cash. Our Godson, who lives with us until he graduates college, never, never has money, money. The whole thing about pennies (or in your case pence) is that it's all psychological. Even with the pennies, they're always going to raise prices. They're just going to make it end in an odd number of cents to make is seem like less. Thanks for your comment.

  3. What??? And lose the nostalgia of penny gum machines....? And bragging about how a penny used to give you six minutes on a parking meter?? Why the very idea! (creak!!)

  4. A Yvonne: When I visited England for the first time ever a couple years ago I fell in love with pound coins. It's maddening to try to use crinkly paper bills in machines in the US! But I digress. Yes, Deadly Duo, I just used "crinkly" in a sentence. Ha ha.