A Penny Saved Is Effort Wasted

The case against the penny

Editor's Note: Steve Chapman is on vacation. The following column was originally published in June 2006.

If the cost of assembling a Big Mac were higher than its selling price, McDonald's would soon drop it from the menu. Capitalists know that when you're losing money on each unit of production, you can't make it up in volume. The lesson has dawned on the United States Mint, which reports that because of the high price of zinc and copper, manufacturing a penny now costs 1.38 cents.

This development brings to mind economist Ludwig von Mises' observation about the causes of inflation. "Government," he said, "is the only agency which can take a useful commodity like paper, slap some ink on it, and make it totally worthless."

The penny, which long ago lost any practical utility—when was the last time you saw anything selling for 1 cent?—has now become nearly synonymous with a complete absence of value. Since 1971, it has surrendered more than 80 percent of its purchasing power. Today, you'd need a nickel to buy what a penny would buy then.

No one this side of Bill Gates considers nickels too much trouble to bother with. Cashiers don't keep little "take-a-nickel-leave-a-nickel" cups next to the register. People don't throw nickels in the garbage, as some people do the little brown coins.

Nickels retain some value as a medium of exchange, while pennies are mostly a pain in the neck. Even some banks refuse to accept them for conversion into currency, unless the customer first wraps them in little paper rolls. So why not get rid of the penny, and let the nickel assume its destiny as our smallest unit of exchange?

In 2006, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), reintroduced a bill intended to spare Americans from ever again having to root around in their pockets for pennies to make exact change, or find a container to stash a form of legal tender that is worth less than its weight in copper. He had the support of a small group called Citizens for Retiring the Penny, which said that messing with 1-cent coins adds a couple of seconds to the typical retail transaction, wasting $15 billion worth of our time every year.

Supporters of the penny, however, say people still love it and consider it useful. But the poll they cite, which found 66 percent of Americans in favor of keeping it around, may be slightly biased. You see, it was commissioned by Coinstar, operator of the coin-counting machines you see at the grocery. The company would obviously suffer if we no longer had coins of such trivial value that many people can't be bothered to count them.

Coinstar is not alone in opposing the change. Americans for Common Cents, a coalition representing coin collectors, organizations that raise funds through penny drives, and a Tennessee company that fabricates blank coins that the Mint turns into pennies, has several arguments against scrapping the Lincoln heads. Among them: It would raise prices, hurt charities, and "erode consumer confidence in the economy."

It's no surprise that people get nervous when you mess with their money. But it's hard to work up serious alarm about these concerns. Some prices would no doubt be rounded up to the next nickel, but others would be rounded down. A product now advertised at $5.99—because it sounds better than an even $6—will have to be priced at $5.95. What keeps prices in check is not coinage but competition.

Charities, of course, could replace penny drives with nickel drives. Do they really think people will resist a kid collecting for a good cause because they would have to give more than 1 cent?

If the concerns raised by supporters of the penny were truly valid, they would argue for not only keeping the penny but bringing back the half-cent coin, which the government made until 1857. Why should we all have to pay an extra half-cent when prices are rounded up to the next penny? Wouldn't half-penny drives be even better fund-raising engines, pulling donations out of all the people unwilling to part with an entire cent? Come to think of it, why not create a quarter-cent coin?

But that's absurd. No one would want to clutter up her purse or his pockets with little pieces of metal holding an approximate monetary value of zero. Would they?

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM

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  • MJ||

    Because by getting rid of the penny, the public would have to intellectually face exactly how badly the government has debased the dollar. It's soemthing we are eager to think about.

  • MJ||

    "...not eager to think about." Dammit.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Why don't we just do away with the ha'penny, while you're at it?

    I don't know about you, my opinion can still be bought for two pennies, and my thoughts for half that.

  • MJ||

    "If the concerns raised by supporters of the penny were truly valid, they would argue for not only keeping the penny but bringing back the half-cent coin, which the government made until 1857."

    Right, people resistance to losing something familiar can only be justified if they also want to bring back a denomination that has not existed in living memory, and most people are probably aware of only in vague references in Christmas carols. I see the quality of Chapman's thinking has not deteriorated since '06.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If you really want to get rid of something worthless, how about the phrase "New at Reason"? Because last time I checked, an article from 2006 ain't all that new.

  • Snark of Affection||

    If you really want to get rid of something worthless, how about the phrase "Because last time I checked"?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Well, I have to add that qualifier in case things changed between now and when I last checked (whenever that was) and I open myself up to some internet douchebag calling me on it.

  • Warty||

    But then what will I drop off of tall buildings next time I feel like killing people for no reason?

  • The Gobbler||

    Suderman and Weigel

  • ||

    Water baloons. They may not be fatal but they sure are fun.

  • ed||

    Why stop at the penny? If it is indeed worthless, then so is a nickel, as 5x0=0.

  • Brian Trust||

    Agreed. The penny, nickel and even dime can be gotten rid of. To appease Coinstar, the copper and nickel mining industries, etc., the government could take a cue from Canada and mint $2 coins. We'd also need to redesign the fifty cent piece to be a little more portable. We'd still have four denominations of coins, but all of them would be more useful.

    ...at least for fifty years or so until the quarter becomes next to worthless.

  • ||

    I say bring in the one-bit coin. At 12.5 cents, it would be perfect when I hit blackjack at the quarter tables.

  • ||

    I imagine Novartis is part of the Big Theraflu lobby that promotes keeping the penny. The penny's greatest utility is its ability to spread H1N1.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Ha, ha, Alan Vanneman is on vacation, ha, ha, this comment was originally filed in October 2006.* Ha, ha, ha!

    *And in February 2004. Always sell the same piece three times, kids.

  • Rhywun||

    Why stop at the penny?

    Indeed. I find the nickel and dime equally useless, and the only place I use quarters is the vending machine at work. All other change gets dumped into jars at home and at work, so I don't have to carry the damn things around.

  • ||

    Some prices would no doubt be rounded up to the next nickel, but others would be rounded down.

    Municipalities love pennies because it is the handiest unit of perpetual sales tax increase. Tampa is currently attempting to shove yet another $.01 increase down the throats of the taxpayers to pay for light rail. Something that ill-conceived takes a coin that is individually useless but in units of billions can buy lots of influence.

  • Joette||

    I was en route to make this exact point. People don't generally get all up in arms when their municipality shoves through a $.01 tax on, say, fuel. There would be much greater push back by the masses if every tax increase was $.05. People might actually realize that they're getting shafted every time they whip out their wallet to pay for something, and we can't have that!

  • The Gobbler||

    A penny taxed is theft.

  • Xeones||

    Hey, if you guys don't want your pennies, send every one you find to me and i'll take care of them.

  • ||

    Will you pay shipping?

  • Rich||

    Will you pay for S&H? ;-)

  • Rich||

    Dammit, JL! Go back to posting links!

  • Grampa||

    No!! I need 'em to stuff in my fuse box!

  • The Gobbler||

    +1

  • ||

    Is "fuse box" a euphemism for something else? I've not heard that one before.

    I mean, some people like to do unspeakable things with 9-volt batteries...

  • ||

    Great way to bypass the fuse, but watch out for overload and fire.

  • ||

    "Some prices would no doubt be rounded up to the next nickel, but others would be rounded down. A product now advertised at $5.99—because it sounds better than an even $6—will have to be priced at $5.95."

    Er, no. A current price point of $5.99 would be $6.00 in a no-penny environment. To be priced at $5.95 under the new scheme would otherwise require the current price to be $5.97.

    This is how things worked on USAF bases, at least those located in Europe, dating back to at least the mid-80s. The system worked swimmingly, if for no other reason than the fact that this methodology absolutely prevented the despised "$x.99" pricing habits.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    But sales tax would fuck everything up anyway, so it really doesn't matter.

  • ||

    His point was that retailers currently knock 1 penny off the price of things because it makes it seem a lot cheaper for a very slight reduction, because people tend to only take note of the first digit on an advertised price.

    However on most products in most states, you might as well just keep it at $5.99, because (using Minnesota as an example), that would make the actual post-tax price $6.37935, which rounds up to $6.38 with the penny in use, and $6.40 without it.

    Besides, these days most people (other than us libertarian crackpots) use electronic payment methods for almost everything anyway. So you could easily keep prices the same and just have a rounding policy in place for those few who use cash.

  • Xeones||

    Will you pay shipping?

    Absolutely not. I'm doing you a favor.

  • ||

    If Chapman is on vacation, why is it necessary to post work by him? It's not like we expect a certain number of blog posts every day. If the whole staff took the same vacation, maybe this would be necessary, but....

  • ||

    I concur.

  • ||

    No more pennies? Time to start making ass-nickels I guess.

  • ||

    So, I guess the price of a stamp would go from .44 to .45 immediately, right?

  • The Gobbler||

    Jesus, we still price gasoline at x+9/10 per gallon, yet I dont need a tenthpenny to buy gas. It's all plastic currency these days anyway.

  • ||

    The 9/10 used to refer to 9/10 of a gallon.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Haha, no, it would probably jump from .44 to .70, just because they can.

  • Joette||

    ...or find a container to stash a form of legal tender that is worth less than its weight in copper.

    My mother has an old fashioned metal milk can (about 3 ft tall) filled with pennies minted before 1982. She figures one of these days, when the gov't finally bows to the inevitable conclusion that pennies aren't worth the ore they're minted on, she'll prove them wrong in stellar fashion.

  • The Gobbler||

    "...or find a container to stash a form of legal tender that is worth less than its weight in copper."

    This was written in 2006. Is this even true anymore given the rise in commodity prices?

  • Joette||

    Probably not, hence the aforementioned milk can full of pennies!

  • ||

    But how will Warty tip strippers?

  • Xeones||

    But how will Warty tip strippers?

    He'll have to go back to using buttons, and the occasional Putt Putt token.

  • The Mark Who Loves Chick-Hoops||

    The sawbuck economy
    Mark Twain (heading westward in 1861):

    In the east, in those days, the smallest moneyed denomination was a penny and it represented the smallest purchasable quantity of any commodity. West of Cincinnati the smallest coin in use was the silver five-cent piece and no smaller quantity of an article could be bought than “five cents’ worth.” In Overland City the lowest coin appeared to be the ten-cent piece; but in Salt Lake there did not seem to be any money in circulation smaller than a quarter, or any smaller quantity purchasable of any commodity than twenty-five cents’ worth. We had always been used to half dimes and “five cents’ worth” as the minimum of financial negotiations; but in Salt Lake if one wanted a cigar, it was a quarter; if he wanted a chalk pipe, it was a quarter; if he wanted a peach, or a candle, or a newspaper, or a shave, or a little Gentile whiskey to rub on his corns to arrest indigestion and keep him from having the toothache, twenty-five cents was the price, every time.

    I’m starting to get the impression that in our time, at any rate in New York City, the smallest unit of currency is a ten-dollar bill.

    Being an old married guy, and a homebody, and stingy, I don’t drink in bars much any more. This month, though, for reasons that don’t matter, and are absolutely not life-, marriage-, or career-threatening, I’ve been spending time in Manhattan watering holes. A shot of Jack Daniel’s, I have learned, is now $10 on Third Avenue. (Though only $9.50 on Second. I’m going to leave the social anthropologists to work out the reason for the difference.)

    A pack of cigarettes, I’m told, also goes for $10. “What this country needs,” opined Woodrow Wilson’s vice president, “is a really good five-cent cigar.” You can’t get a decent cigar under two bucks nowadays, to judge from tobacconists’ websites. I suspect that for an item of any quality, you’re looking at . . . ten dollars. I don’t know what the going price is for a chalk pipe, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to hear that that’s ten dollars, too.

    W. C. Fields character:

    Was I in here last night and did I spend a twenty-dollar bill?

    Bartender: Yeah.

    Fields character: Oh boy, what a load that is off my mind! I thought I’d lost it.

    Ol’ W. C. would only have got two Jack Daniel’s for his double sawbuck nowadays — barely enough to wake the taste buds.

    http://article.nationalreview......Q4MmRjMjQ=

  • ||


    A shot of Jack Daniel’s, I have learned, is now $10

    wow. i wonder what it costs to get a shot of decent whisky...

  • ||

    ROFLMFAO! Somebody who agrees with me, I love it. Get some Jameson's, man, and enjoy a real belt.

  • The Mark Who Loves Chick-Hoops||

    "The lesson has dawned on the United States Mint, which reports that because of the high price of zinc and copper, manufacturing a penny now costs 1.38 cents."

    So how much does it cost to make a $100 bill? Just consider the penny a loss-leader.

  • ||

    Jeeze, seems like pennies might be a good investment. Buy a million for $10,000, melt them down and sell the metal for $14,000.

  • ||

    And how do you propose to melt the manufacturing labor costs out of a penny?

  • Colin||

    Thoughts still cost a penny.

  • Xeones||

    Thoughts still cost a penny.

    And for most, that's still highly overpriced.

  • ||

    I have a cunning plan. Treasury should issue a declaration that the penny is now worth a dollar. Instant dollar coin!

  • ||

    penny "fuerte"?

  • ||

    Essentially, yes.

  • ||

    Why not just replaces pennies with quatloos?

  • ||

    Quatloos are like super-mega bucks, not fractional currency like pennies. Kind of like the old talent.

  • ||

    Have you seen the inflation rate on Triskelion recently? It's like the Weimar Republic and Zimbabwe all rolled into one massive Happy Fun Ball.

  • ||

    Kiiirrrkk! Kiiirrrkk!

  • ||

    What I dilemma. I can't decide which I'd rather never see another of, the penny, or Steve Chapman article.

  • Zeb||

    I use pennies. They are useful to avoid getting more pennies.

    They are also fun to melt. Since they are made almost entirely of zinc at this point, you can do so with a butane torch.

  • Nipplemancer||

    i enjoy dissolving the zinc leaving a hollow penny. just score the edge of the penny with a razor and soak it in a mild acid for a day.

  • ||

    Is meuriatic acid too strong?

  • idk about dimes, but||

    even in 2006, the same problem was applicable to nickels.

    http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=13706

  • idk about dimes, but||

    even in 2006, the same problem was applicable to nickels.

  • Mo||

    The argument that a penny costs too much doesn't really fly if you're saying keep the nickle around. A nickle costs more than 5 cents to manufacture. Also, eliminating the penny doesn't mean you have to eliminate decimal pricing. You just round up/down as necessary. Totals that end in 1,2,6 or 7 get rounded down, ones that end in 3,4,8 or 9 get rounded up. Financial institutions do tons of transactions for fractions of a penny and just round to the nearest cent when appropriate.

  • ||

    Totals that end in 1,2,6 or 7 get rounded down, ones that end in 3,4,8 or 9 get rounded up.

    Wha? If the price would be $1.97, it gets rounded down to $1.90, but if the price would be $1.93 it gets rounded up to $2.00? What am I missing?

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Rounded up or down to the nearest multiple of 5, not the nearest multiple of 10.

    Ah, attorneys and math.

  • ||

    Speaking of rounding up - I have always had this theory that when the price of oil goes up gas stations raise the price of gas every so slightly more than their increase in cost and then when oil goes back down they lower the price of gas only slightly less than their lowered cost and thereby continually raise their profit margins in tiny increments. It might be total horse shit, but that's my theory.

  • ||

    Editor's Note: Steve Chapman is on vacation. The following column was originally published in June 2006.

    Thanks! I really needed a Steve Chapman fix, even if it's a three-year old rerun. I can't make it through the week without his awesome writing!

  • ||

    I mean, where else can you go to get insightful analysis like this:

    Since 1971, it has surrendered more than 80 percent of its purchasing power. Today, you'd need a nickel to buy what a penny would buy then.

    Absolutely. I propose getting rid of any currency denomination that has lost 80% of its value since 1971. That's a good criterion.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Pennies are needed to make exact change.

  • Brian Trust||

    Then we need to mint coins with a value of a tenth of a penny so that I can pay for a gallon of gas with exact change.

  • ||

    i'm ok with paying a tenth of a percent too much. 4% is still a stretch though.

  • ||

    Getting rid of the penny signals a shift from a system that prizes the individual's choice to pay any amount desired, right down to the cent to a system that asks "what's convenient for the public". Soon enough we'll do away with all that dirty paper money, and go to a card-only system where all your transactions can be logged for future review of whether those transactions were in the public interest.

  • Urkobold™||

    NONSENSE. HOW WOULD THE URKOBOLD COMPENSATE HIS LAP DANCER IN SUCH A CASE?

  • ||

    Routine deposits?

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    That is a terrifying idea. Why would you think of that??

  • Urkobold™||

    A FAIR QUESTION. THE URKOBOLD IS FUNDING A RESEARCH PROGRAM EXAMINING SEXUAL LABOR AND CONSUMPTION IN THE NIGHT TIME ECONOMY. IN FACT, THE URKOBOLD IS INTERVIEWING RESEARCHERS RIGHT NOW!

  • ||

    Urkobold is hard at work.

  • ||

    good point...

    (damn you spam filter!)

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    If you roll up a hundred pennies in a paper wrapper or two you'll get a buck for it. Is the argument that a buck isn't valuable?

    I get pennies back in change all the time, and I try to carry a few pennies for when I want to pay exact change. People who run cash-register businesses seem to need pennies. Every variety of candy worth consuming is available in some increment at less than a dollar.

    I'll believe the penny is useless when all that goes away due to hyperinflation or the blowing away of the great cities of pipe and steel by the warrior tribes or whatever's going to finish off the U.S. dollar. And even then I think I'll need the copper to make balls for my blunderbuss.

  • kinnath||

    I travelled to Moscow during the 90's when hyperinflation made the ruble worth about a 10th of a US cent. Even though coins were still legal tender, I never saw one. Everyone just carried around pockets full of wrinkled currency.

  • ||

    At least in Israel, where I never saw a coin smaller than 1/10th of a shekel (10 agorot it appears), they still did the X.99 pricing thing.

  • ||

    If you get rid of the penny, you are making it much harder to have cash transactions. Even if you round prices to the nearest nickel, sales tax will always generate prices that go to 1/100 of a dollar.

    And, of course, libertarians should be adamantly opposed to anything that makes untraceable cash transaction harder to engage in.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Amen to that.

  • Mo||

    Really? Turning 1 & 2 to 0, 3, 4, 6 & 7 to 5, and 8 & 9 to the next 10 up makes transactions harder? It's one line of code in the cash register.

    Should we break up pennies into tenths for paying gas or into hundredths for investment banks. When I was in The Netherlands everything was in 5 euro cent denominations and the world hasn't ended there.

  • ||

    Yes really. You are reducing the level of pricing accuracy available to any given cash transaction, hence, making cash transactions more difficult. But hey, the world hasn't ended in the Netherlands, so what do I know? Oh yeah, the world hasn't ended in North Korea either, so what's your stance on that?

  • Byron||

    The transactions would actually be easier, but maybe you can start by explaining why the penny is the perfect level of transactional pricing accuracy.

  • ||

    Since your argument is to do away with the penny, perhaps you have the burden of explaining why it is not. Remember, I'm just a retard who can't understand anything more complex than 1/100th of a dollar.

  • Byron||

    I challenged the veracity of your statement.

    You are reducing the level of pricing accuracy available to any given cash transaction, hence, making cash transactions more difficult.

    Stop backpedaling. (and no one called you a retard)

  • ||

    To the extent that you want to take away the 1/100th of a dollar denomination and limit transactions to increments of the 1/20th of a dollar denomination, you are taking away accuracy and flexibility, by definition.

  • Byron||

    Thanks for restating your statement as it's own proof, with the bonus of declaring it to be its own definition. You still haven't explained why 1/100th is better than 1/20th or 1/200th or any other increment.

    The fact that you chose to reply to Mo's comment about breaking up pennies into smaller increments by declaring the problem to be reduced transactional accuracy is truly bizarre.

    Next step from North Korea - Godwin FTW!

  • ||

    Byron, do I really need to explain how a penny is more flexible than a nickel? If my product price is $3.98, I can charge $3.98. With nickels I have to charge something other than what I believe the price should be, hence, is less accurate.

    As for increments of 1/200th, this discussion isn't about adding currency denominations, it is about taking denominations away. While it would indeed be an interesting conversation if we could design a new money system from scratch, that isn't what we're addressing here.

    And by the way, I wasn't suggesting splitting pennies up into smaller increments.

  • Brian Trust||

    " And by the way, I wasn't suggesting splitting pennies up into smaller increments."

    Why not? After all, by limiting hard currency to increments of 1/100th of a dollar, 'you are reducing the level of pricing accuracy available to any given cash transaction, hence, making cash transactions more difficult.'

    What if I want to pay cash for a single gallon of gas, or close my bank account down to the hundredth of a cent?

  • Byron||

    The mathematical retardation in these comments is sickening. I've seen a total of three comments that display any sense of basic comprehension of long-term (or even short-term) averaging or the simple fact that fractional-currency-priced transactions occur MILLIONS of times every day without incident. Round to the nearest currency increment, if necessary, on the transaction TOTAL. There is no need to have individual piece prices match those increments. Think a bit, folks.

  • Byron||

    ...and in case it wasn't clear, fuck the useless, economy-draining penny and your pitiful sentimentality over it!

  • ||

    Can you teach us more about this bizarre concept of rounding? Where did you learn this strange technology? You must have excellent schools in non-retardo land. How exactly does this "rounding" thing work again? I forgot already.

  • ||

    I don't know when Australia stopped circulating one cent coins but they were gone when I was there in '94.

    They however do not have an added retail sales tax so the marked price is the one you pay.

    There were still some things that ad price tags of $X.99 for some reason. These prices were truncated to the next five cents rather than rounded.

    As far as i know cents are still used in accounting entries and in calculating interest etc, though.

    I generally side with the get rid of the cent faction myself but i have the same misgivings about the affect it would have on sales tax. I'm pissed off enough about that already that the prospect of the state getting that potentil four cent windfall really chafes (remember sales tax is always rounded up regardeless of the size of third decimal place).

  • Byron||

    (remember sales tax is always rounded up regardeless of the size of third decimal place)

    Citation?

  • ||

    If there is any state (or Canadian Province, for that matter) that has a sales tax that does not always round up when computing sales tax I have never heard of it.

    If you can name one that does not I will withdraw my always.

  • Byron||

    AFAIK, the state collects sales tax from a retailer on their gross annual (or perhaps quarterly) receipts, not on each transaction. The retailer might currently round up or down for each transaction, fairly or unfairly. I'll double-check some receipts sometime and see what I find. Shouldn't take many to figure it out.

  • ||

    The states I am familiar with actually use a published table (Here is Florida's) to determine sales tax when the amount is less than one dollar.

    If you examine the table I linked to, you will note that you can replicate the amount by rounding up, unless the purchase is less that ten cents. But I can't think of anythiong you can buy for less than ten cents.

    Also, IIRC, Florida collects sales tax quarterly and the tax due is the total of all taxes collected on each transaction.

  • Byron||

    That table is truly odd, as it doesn't represent either fair rounding or always rounding up. There are points where it does one, and others where it does the opposite.

    I did a quick simulation in Excel, and the "unfairness" of always rounding tax up to the nearest penny on several thousand random sales amounts from $0.01 to $1000 at 6% tax was consistently only 0.016%. The difference between fair rounding to the nearest penny or nearest nickel was 0.000%. Rounding up to the nearest nickel had an "unfairness" of 0.084%. This small, but appreciable, amount might become noticeable and not be tolerated quietly by consumers.

  • Byron||

    Note these percentages are percent of tax, not percent of total sale. They really are incredibly tiny when averaged over multiple transactions.

  • Byron||

    The state of Michigan collects a 6% sales tax from retailers based on their total receipts for the period (monthly for large retailers, quarterly for smaller retailers).

  • wage slave||

    Hey, we went crazy and also got rid of our 2 cent coins as well, so the smallest here is the five cent piece. Just for chuckles we also nixed notes for $1 and $2 - they're coins now. Sadly we redesigned our notes some years ago so we no longer have a convicted forger on our ten dollar note.

    "As far as i know cents are still used in accounting entries and in calculating interest etc, though."

    And electronic transactions of course.

    "There were still some things that had price tags of $X.99 for some reason. These prices were truncated to the next five cents rather than rounded."

    Not quite. We round up or down, depending upon how close the final integer is to 5 or 10 - and only on the final charge for all purchases in that transaction, not each individual item.

    For example, if I buy something marked at $2.99 and pay in cash, it's rounded up to 3 bucks. If I buy four at that price, the final tally on the register is $11.96. If I pay in cash, that is rounded down to $11.95. If I pay electronically (electronic funds transfer, credit card etc) then I pay $11.96.

  • SamCalvin||

    Thanks wage slave, I came here to post the exact same explanation.

    We haven't had 1 or 2 cent coins in Australia for 15 years and the economy didn't end. The prices stayed the same and only the total is rounded up or down for cash.

    I'm sure that it will be just the same in the US when your penny goes.

  • ||

    I am all for retiring the penny as more trouble than it is worth. What REALLY bugs me is the pricing of gasoline with the ludicrous $x.99,9 (ninety nine and nine tenths of a cent). Rounding the gasoline price to the nickle would REALLY make a difference.

  • Brian Trust||

    Gas pricing doesn't bother me at all, as the price is rounded automatically anyhow. I would like to see a similar practice in all transaction, but allow people to pay the unrounded price via electronic means (debit/credit/gift cards, etc.)

  • Jacob||

    As far as I know it wouldn't eliminate the penny as legal tender, it would just stop the production of the penny.

    In other words, the penny would still exist and no pricing changes are needed.

  • ||

    Why should we have to get rid of a beloved coin just because incompetent scam artists in government have sucked the value out of the denomination via inflation? That's akin to saying that in the US, because everyone is so large, we don't need to put marks smaller than 1/2 inch on our tape-measures anymore.

    In terms of human scale, it makes sense for the unit of money to purchase something substantial, and for the least substantial thing one might purchase to be priced perhaps two orders of magnitude lower than that unit. For a long time, people in the US seemed pretty comfortable with the idea that most normal transactions in an individual's life would be priced somewhere between one penny and 100 dollars -- a four-orders-of-magnitude spread. Maybe we should think about revaluing the dollar to restore that "right-sized" spread, and in the process, shift our monetary system to a base that will leave it much less vulnerable to inflation.

    When we start talking about the "worthlessness" of a penny, we are really talking about the near-worthlessness of the dollar, upon which it is based. The latter is the issue that should concern us, and the error we should correct. To get rid of pennies and nickels is only to raise the white flag in our battle against inflation and the bastards who knowingly engineer it under color of authority. Eliminate THEM, not the penny.

  • Byron||

    I'd rather eliminate them AND the penny.

  • ||

    I'll bet you used to chafe when teachers dinged you on math exams for not expressing fractions in lowest terms, too.

    I can understand you hating on the detestable "public servants" that have produced the "hollow dollar." But why ya gotta hate on the penny? I remember when a penny was significant money: you could buy a good chew of candy or peanuts with a penny and a kid could feel positively rich (or a waitress or bellhop well tipped) with a whole dollar in his pocket. In that era, the penny was useful. What would be wrong with restoring that situation?

  • Byron||

    On the occasion I may have made such a mistake, I'd 'chafe' at only myself.

    I was born in the 70's, and a penny has never been significant money in my lifetime.

  • Ratko||

    Everyone needs a little copper and zinc in their diet, a penny provides significant amounts of both, and at actual value greater than it's purchase price.

  • ||

    If we get rid of the penny all the 99 cents stores in Queens will go out of business. Then where will the cholas buy their sharpies and fruity lotion?

  • Harpoon||

    Drill a whole in the center and you have a one cent washer. Can't beat that price.

  • ||

    Question: If and when the US gets rid of cash entirely in favor of bank cards (and I could totally see that happening), what will the black market do? Will buying an eighth of weed require the use of Euros?

  • Tim||

    Barter?

  • Rhywun||

    I couldn't see that happening; but yes, if cash were eliminated, the black market would obviously have to move to another currency. Sounds like a good way for a government to easily identify a black market, actually. Which means be very, very afraid of this actually happening.

  • Abdul Alhazred||

    How about an alternate proposal, maybe making the penny out of something cheaper (say, aluminum)?

    Or Changing future pennies to a two cent coin, so penny-lovers can keep the little brown bastards around while they are at least worth more than their production cost?

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, I remember visiting East German where the little coins were aluminum. No idea why we can't do that here. Shit, if have to make the little buggers--and it seems like we probably do--why not avoid losing money on it?

  • ||

    As an aussie I really don't miss our one and two cent coins. Why have a coin for the value now represented by one US cent when twenty years ago you didn't have a coin of that value?

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets.

  • nike shox||

    is good

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