Cash in your pennies for some change that makes cents

Carly Yamrus, Opinion Editor

See a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll be carrying around a worthless piece of copper–plated zinc.

According to the U.S. Mint’s annual report, it costs 2.4 cents to make a penny that is worth 1.0 cent. Each year, the United States produces approximately 7 billion pennies. Over the years, the cost of producing and distributing the one-cent coin has actually cost us money; 60 million dollars in 2011. This price is sure to go up due to the rising costs of zinc and copper used to produce the penny.

Last month, Canada decided it was time to call the quits on their one-cent coin. CBC news reported that it costs them 1.6 cents to produce their penny, costing them about 11 million dollars a year.

The United States penny support group, “Americans for Common Sense,” says that two-thirds of Americans wish to keep the penny. They provide reasoning such as, “The penny is sentimental,” and “Prices will be rounded up if we eliminate it.” It’s a pretty safe bet to say that most of these people hardly use the coin that they hope to save.

The amount of pennies in circulation is unknown due to the large amounts of hoarding over the years.  What can a penny buy you these days? Nothing.  Maybe half a drop of gasoline but that’s about it. Pennies are so useless that they are now offered for free at almost any store. Many people physically toss their pennies in the trash because they are a burden to carry. A penny for your thoughts these days is basically like saying “your opinion is worthless.”

As a waitress, I find it extremely annoying having to wait for customers to fish out several pennies from the deep dark depths of their purses and pockets.  Many people firmly believe that the entire country will go into disarray the very minute the U.S. mint stops cranking out the coins.

If we do ditch the penny, prices will have to be rounded to the nearest nickel. The pro-penny argument will always be that prices will always be rounded up and never down. No fear! Canada has a solution. Prices ending in 1, 2, 6 or 7 will round down to 0 or 5, and if the price ends in 3, 4, 8 or 9, the total will be rounded up. This may take a week tops to get used to.

For those of you who wish to keep the penny because it honors Abe Lincoln, last time I checked he was on the $5 bill! I am sure Abe would be honored seeing that his penny is typically thrown on the ground, in sewers, on train tracks, under your car seat, in water fountains…

My favorite argument is “But it teaches children the value of saving money.” The only reason children save pennies is because they buy nothing in today’s economy. Give a child 100 pennies and they will probably laugh at you. Even if they do make it to the dollar store with a pound of pennies, the cashier will most likely not accept them as a method of payment.  By giving up pennies you are actually saving time, which is more valuable.

It is silly to hold onto a useless coin that costs us millions of dollars annually to sustain. There have been plenty of coins in U.S. history that have served a purpose at one point but were discontinued for one reason or another. Of course it will take time to adjust to life without the penny, but commerce is sure to continue and America will find something else to be upset about after the nickel becomes the norm.

That’s my two cents on the great penny debate.