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Let penny die needed death

It is time to put this pathetic little thing out of its misery.

It is more trouble than it is worth. Which is saying something, because it is virtually worthless. Even in these post-recession economic times, most Americans would not bend to pick one up off of the sidewalk.

We need a monetary Dr. Kevorkian to mercifully euthanize the penny.

Two recent developments should push the coin towards its merciful end. One was the Treasury Department's revelation that each zinc-coated penny costs 2.4 cents to make. That's $100 million tax dollars wasted. Alert the Tea Party.

Then Canadians announced last week they will join the list of countries to jettison the penny. Canadian consumers will henceforth drill no deeper than a nickel.

When, oh when, does similar enlightenment strike these shores?

These things weigh down pockets, fill the bottom of purses and force upon each of us the Solomon-like decision of whether to stash or trash the coins.

There are enough annoyances in daily life. Nursery-rhyme ringtones. T.O.'s Twitter feed. Darcy Regier's rationalizations. The penny, we can do something about.

Indeed, if not for -- seriously -- the zinc lobby, the penny would have disappeared years ago. Barack Obama targeted the penny in the last presidential campaign, before -- sound familiar? -- wimping out. Washington now plans to make it cheaper to make a worthless coin. Brilliant.

The tide of inflation has washed like a tsunami over this smallest unit of commerce, rendering it obsolete. Like the phone booth, the toaster oven and hand-cranked car windows, the penny is an anachronism.

Penny candy costs a nickel. Penny loafers are a memory. Actress Penny Marshall peaked with "Laverne and Shirley." Pennies from heaven sounds to me like acid rain.

A penny in 1972 was worth what a nickel is worth today. In other words, the nickel is the new penny. So simply make the nickel the lowest common monetary denominator. Round prices off to end in 5 or 0. Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe made a run at the penny six years ago, getting nowhere. It is time to renew the fight. I urge readers to search out Citizens for Retiring the Penny (www.retirethepenny.org). Motivation can fuel a movement.

Penny defenders -- yes, they walk among us -- argue that deep-sixing the cent is a subversive way of raising costs. Lies. According to a study by Robert Whaples, a distinguished (as far as I'm concerned) economics professor at Wake Forest, losing the penny would have no effect on prices. So there.

The way I see it, pennies are good for only one thing: Outing miserly merchants. Any place that does not have a penny cup at the counter, that still demands the hanging penny for any purchase, is for my money not a place to spend my money. A merchant who will not let a penny slide is too miserable for his own good -- and for my business.

The change would also show how highly we now value introspection. Without the penny, we will be forced to say, "A nickel for your thoughts." (Deep thinkers presumably get a dime).

In a government gripped by inertia, that is wrestling with a red versus blue divide and beset by uncivil discourse, this is one issue I think all sensible people can rally around.

It is time, fellow Americans, to liberate ourselves from the tyranny of the penny jar. Allow the nickel to ascend to its rightful place at the bottom of the monetary scale. As the saying goes, a nickel saved is a nickel earned.

email: desmonde@buffnews.com