Thursday, April 3, 2008

Eliminating the Penny and More

I like pennies. More specifically, I like old pennies, and other old coins for that matter. I’m not much of a collector, but I have a few coins that are worth $5 or $10 each.

A Winnipeg MP, Pat Martin, is expected to introduce a bill to eliminate the Canadian penny. See this Wikipedia entry for US efforts to eliminate the penny.

Despite my fondness for old coins, I don’t like getting pennies in my change. Pennies are worth too little now to consider them to be money. We give a penny and take a penny, but it doesn’t really amount to anything.

Handling pennies is like worrying about a decimal place in your weight. “I weighed 175 pounds yesterday, but today I weigh 175.1 pounds! Let me just take these pennies out of my pocket. There we go. I’m back down to 175 again.”

The truth is that pennies should have been eliminated decades ago. We’ve waited so long that we really should eliminate the nickel and dime as well. We could get along just fine if cash transactions were rounded to the nearest quarter.

Just because eliminating pennies makes sense doesn’t mean that it will necessarily happen any time soon, though. I’d like to see Martin’s legislation pass, but I’m not going to hold my breath. If it does succeed, I’d like to see Martin get started on eliminating nickels and dimes as well.


  1. I've always thought it might be neat if they'd scrap pennies, nickels, and quarters, and introduce a 20¢ coin. Then they could just drop a decimal place.

  2. Patrick: Interesting idea. Another way to handle this would be to eliminate the penny, nickel, and quarter, and make more 50-cent pieces.

  3. I always suspected that credit cards companies lobby against eliminating the penny to make handling cash as cumbersome as possible. The next thing they will come up with is a new penny design with tiny spikes ...

  4. focal: That's a good one. I hadn't thought of the credit card angle. The only argument I'd ever heard against eliminating pennies is that it would somehow cause inflation. I guess the idea is that companies would take advantage of the turmoil to jack up prices. This never made much sense to me.