Economics

Penny Reign

America's least valuable coin endures.

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Someday, probably within your lifetime, the one-cent coin will go away. The penny, the first coin minted in the United States, was obviated by inflation before most members of today's work force were born. Its production cost is more than half again as much as its face value. Its detractors include respected economists, forward-looking realists, and coastal cosmopolitans; its supporters consist largely of sentimentalists, hoarders, the zinc lobby, and the dwindling number of women named Penelope.

Pre-1982 pennies are worth more than 1.54 cents each.

Ending the penny would put the United States about mid-pack in an international trend. Penny abolitionists point to New Zealand's success in getting rid of its own one-cent piece nearly 20 years ago. To our north, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in May that the Canadian penny—which has lost 98 percent of its purchasing power since the early 20th century—"eventually…will be eliminated." In Mexico the one-centavo piece has not been circulated since a 100,000-percent revaluation of the peso in 1992. While the E.U. introduced a one-cent euro coin during conversion to the common currency, the coin has since fallen into disfavor. Finland and the Netherlands have retired the essentially nameless €0.01 coin, replacing it with the "Swedish" system of rounding.

Penny haters insist they are motivated by unalloyed Taylorist logic. Their arguments for ending the copper-colored miscegenation of silvery coinage can be pretty compelling: The amount of time we spend futzing with small change amounts to a multimillion-dollar opportunity cost each year. To earn the federal minimum wage as a penny collector, you'd have to stoop and pick up one coin every five seconds. As you read this article, some yuppie, gold card in hand, is being made to wait in a Trader Joe's checkout line as an old lady sorts out her change—and if the cowardly morality of society will not allow us to kill the elderly for efficiency's sake, we can at least take away their coins.

Campaigners against the penny deploy the language of reason exasperated by mulish cant. Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner uses his New York Times blog to sniff at the "nostalgia," "inertia," and "ridiculous pro-penny defenses" of Abe Lincoln fans stricken with "pennycitis," opining that pennies are best used as floor tiling at hipster bars in Manhattan's meatpacking district. In a YouTube rant, anti-pennyist John Green denounces pennies as "bacteria-ridden disks of suck that fail to facilitate commerce." In a lengthy 2008 New Yorker piece about a visit to the U.S. Mint, David Owen declares, "A modern penny simply isn't worth enough to worry about." Owen and others fret about the problem of "negative seigniorage"—i.e., the Treasury loses money by supplying banks with pennies and nickels. (That's the reverse of the situation with bills and larger-denomination coins, whose high face value and low production costs create a profit for the government.)

While penny abolitionists depict themselves as an embattled fellowship, the organized pro-penny movement is fairly thin. Jarden Zinc Products sponsors the lobbying group Americans for Common Cents, though it's unclear how important lobbying is in the coin's survival. The penny lost its most forceful enemy when Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), author of numerous bills to stop producing the one-cent piece, retired from the House in 2006. But pennemies dominate the public relations battle. Coinstar, an operator of DVD and coin-redemption kiosks headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, does occasional polling and market research on public attitudes toward coins. While its most recent polling found 66 percent of Americans support keeping the penny as legal tender, more than a fourth "find pennies of little value and have no plans for their use."

But Mark Weller, executive director of Americans for Common Cents, says popular support for the penny goes beyond sentimental ideas about Abe Lincoln and thrift. "Most of the polling comes back to economic issues," he says. "People understand rounding to the nearest nickel. That would hurt working families every time they buy food or gas. It seems small in the individual transaction. But when you add them up, it comes to a significant amount. And merchants can't just round down on every transaction, because they work on very small margins." 

There are some gaps in that argument. Although a 2001 study by the Penn State economist Ray Lombra suggested that penny retirement might lead to cumulative retail inflation, there's no reason rounding up would be more common than rounding down. And gas station prices are already calculated in tenths of a penny, with no hardship even for cheapskates like me who buy only 87-grade gas at the cash-only price.

But there is a potential inflation angle. Having to process cash and coins makes it slightly harder to game the money supply. While everybody talks about the government "printing money" to fight the recession, in reality there has been less physical money produced since the start of the credit unwind. Weller notes that many fewer coins are minted during slow economic times, because people open their penny jars and put those coins back into circulation. "You can almost plot GDP and coin production along parallel lines," he says. While the U.S. monetary base doubled in 2009, the mint actually produced fewer pennies than usual. And consumers in 2009 enjoyed brief moments of across-the-board deflation. 

By 2010 we were supposed to be well into the era of electronic micropayments, which if it ever arrives could help bring down retail prices just by making fractional prices possible. Killing the penny, by contrast, pushes us in the other direction. It's worth noting that Americans' attachment to the penny is shared by our inflation-phobic allies in Germany, where popular support for the one-cent euro coin is the highest in Europe.

Will the penny survive? On one hand you have economists with their fancy book learnin', and on the other you have generations of retailers who know pricing items with 99-cent suffixes still gets people to part with cold, hard cash. It may be stupid, but I don't trust anybody who leaves a penny on the ground. 

Tim Cavanaugh (tim.cavanaugh@reason.com) is a senior editor at reason.

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  1. This subject sounds very familiar and it still has not come true.

    Good morning again reason!

    1. It will happen, that I and my collaegues at the government will guarantee. We are the money printing kings of the earth, it is quite a cash cow for us at the government.

      Not so much for you non Feds suckers though.

      http://youareproperty.blogspot…..ation.html

  2. Australia and New Zealand did away with the penny in the early 90s.

    1. And we have been talking about it since before I was born.

    2. Yep, and I wish the UK would do the same.

      1. I always hate walking around London with a sack of change in my pockets.

        1. For reals, I have a jar full of the fuckers. I guess I can chuck it off my building if I get really bored.

          1. I do everything I can to dump the coins (this includes Canada as well), but they do everything they can to give them to you. It’s very annoying. You look like you have another mutant set of testacles–which means you look like Warty–with all that change in your pocket.

            1. Yeah, I used to just leave the copper on the counter, but they always look at you funny if you do.

              1. I used to just leave the copper on the counter, but they always look at you funny…

                And the bartenders look at you funny if you leave a tip. Meanwhile, the waiters elbow each other to get Americans b/c they know most of us either don’t know, or will forget that “gratuity is included”. It’s hilarious when they actually get Canadians, who are notorious cheapskates.

                Admittedly, the pound coin is pretty heavy. But for me, one great thing about London was the sheer number of betting shops and pubs. I had no problem spending all that change. Also, be glad they did away with the half-penny back in 1983 or whenever.

            2. BTW dude, super looking forward to this:

              http://www.ica.org.uk/27582/Film/Amer-Tenebrae-plus-QA.html

              (Not as good as a new print, but projected blu-ray should be decent. They’re doing the same for Profondo Rosso too).

              1. Ahh, that looks awsome. But I’m not going to fucking London to see it. Last time I was in the UK I ended up in the hospital for 10 days and with a titanium rod in my femur and a shattered heel. I prefer Spain.

                1. I watched the the first 2/3rds of Amer the other night – recommended. Awesome credit sequence.

                2. I prefer Spain.

                  Not Portugal? Their de-crim of everything is seriously making me think about buying a house there.

                  1. Well, there’s no way I’m going to buy a house in Portugal. First off, I couldn’t find a monocle shop when I visited Lisbon the last time and that worries me greatly. Second, I couldn’t find a single tin of moustache wax while there. Add these two alarming discoveries to the fact that I didn’t see one top hat -wearing industrialist and you can count me out.

                    Now, if you can show me where in Portugal I might find these items then I will say “bully!” Until then, however, I will keep my beach house in Berbera.

                    1. Portuguese real estate, under ?50,000. The houses are generally in need of a lot of work, but some could be livable is short order. Or buy a small plot of land, and bring over an RV.

                      No need to mortgage the factory, I’m not talking about a villa in Nice.

                    2. Wow. I guess I need to get out a little more. A lot of those look like they have serious potential. I wonder what the restrictions to modification are, though.

                      Want to go way out on a limb? Join me here to live in the libertarian paradise. Lots of arable land also available for about $.25-.30 per acre (yes, that is 25-30 cents) that has roads into Berbera where there is a deep water port.

                      I know the Somalia jokes get a lot of chuckles from uneducated statist clowns, but Somaliland really does have potential.

  3. Coincidentally, I spent about half the ’90s as hipster bar floor tiling.

  4. As you read this article, some yuppie, gold card in hand, is being made to wait in a Trader Joe’s checkout line as an old lady sorts out her change

    This is a feature – not a bug!

    1. real yuppies have the amex platinum (or black) card — gold cards are for noobs.

      1. Only schmucks pay $450 dollars a year for the platinum, and only schmendricks pay $2500 (plus the five grand joining fee) for the black.

        1. I don’t pay for the platinum card — I get money back on each purchase (it’s a dual card with Costco).

  5. [I]ts supporters consist largely of sentimentalists, hoarders, the zinc lobby, and the dwindling number of women named Penelope.

    So you mean the whole reason The Decline of Western Civilization STILL hasn’t been released on DVD is because Penelope Spheeris is too busy lobbying for fucking pennies??!!

    1. CMS, maybe this will hold you over until then. Something tells me Darby wasn’t very sober.

  6. Can you imagine the arguments that will ensue about rounding up versus rounding down.

    Cede the penny, start a civil war.

    1. Why would it be fought over?
      You just round down to the nearest multiple of 5 cents for sales ending in 1c, 2c, 6c, 7c; you round up to the nearest multiple of 5 cents for sales ending in 3c, 4c, 8c, 9c.

      It’s only used on cash transactions. Electronic transactions would not be rounded.

      1. Electronic transactions would not be rounded.

        I’ll take that bet.

      2. Sounds like an excuse for raising sales taxes.

        1. Sales tax is the one issue that complicates eliminating the peny.

          It’s worth noting that Oz and NZ do not have point of sale retail sales taxes. Like no sales tax states here, the price on the label is the price you pay.

          It’s quite likely Canada might’ve got rid of their penny sooner were it no for the GST and PST both of which are imposed at point of sale.

          1. Maybe the solution to the sales tax problem is to have stores calculate their selling prices to include the tax. I too find it annoying when I get to a register to find out my $1 purchase is actually $1.08. It’s as bad as doctors’ offices that tell you your appointment is at 10 a.m., show up 15 minutes before (doesn’t that mean my appointment is really at 9:45?).

  7. Mac and his girl are sitting on a park bench in the dusk. Long silence.

    Girl finally speaks, softly:

    “Mac, I’ll give you a penny for your thoughts.”

    Another long silence. Finally, he answers.

    “Wahl, here ah wuz, thainkin’ how wold it be if ya wuz tuh lean o’er an’ gi’ me a wee bit of a kiss?

    The girl blushes, leans over, and kisses Mac on the cheek, the sits back.

    Long silence ensues.

    Finally, the girl speaks again:

    “Mac? I’ll give you another penny for your thoughts!”

    Another long silence, then:

    “Wahl, here I wuz, thainkin’ ah wunder what’s hoppened tuh that feerst penny?”

  8. Give ’em to me, whippersnappers. I stick ’em in fuse boxes.

    1. Give them to me – I’ll melt them down.

  9. Its production cost is more than half again as much as its face value.

    The penny is a great reminder of what the gov’t does for us.

    1. Yes, and it’s a great reminder of how much of our purchasing power has been stolen with monetary inflation over the last century – which is probably one reason the fuckers would like to get rid of it.

  10. If the production cost of producing the smallest unit of currency are 50% above producing the smallest unit of currency then, maybe, just maybe, perhaps, is it just possible that is not indicative of a need to get rid of that unit, but of a need to get the monies in sync in relation to some real world value?

    1. How else are we gonna keep the economy from diving head first off of a cliff if we don’t lead it by the nose with monetary policy?

      1. I’ve got this one for you. That place where unicorns go to die, pegasi fear to tread, and I and the ruling classes refuse to live.

  11. and if the cowardly morality of society will not allow us to kill the elderly for efficiency’s sake, we can at least take away their coins.

    OK, this one made me LOL.

    1. Seconded. I even had my copypasta in the pot, in case nobody had already expressed that particular sentiment.

  12. Pennies are a reminder of the devaluation of the currency – I applaud pennies for this reminder to people of how the gubermint can turn something of some value into something of decreasing value, and probably of negative value in the future:

    Pennies become so useless that people throw them away. The tossed pennies clog sewers, the metal contaminates water, and kills wildlife.
    As the value of the material used to make pennies far exceeds the nominal value of the penny, gubermint is forced to print “paper pennies.” However, the paper pennies remain more valuable as fuel and insulation, resulting in the deforestation of the USA in a futile attempt to keep paper pennies in circulation. Laws prohibit the use of paper pennies for anything other than use as a currency.
    But because of the use of paper pennies as fuel is so lucrative, that law is ineffective. Gubermint establishes laws that only so many paper pennies can be bought at a time. Businesses are chronically short of pennies. Lawsuits are filed that if pennies are unavailable, businesses must round down to the next currency denomination (e.g., 1.19 becomes 1.15). Business raises prices to account for the loss in revenue. Excess nickels, dimes, and quarters must be kept on premises.

    However, because the cost of producing pennies is still so much higher than the nominal value, almost no care can be used in the production of paper pennies. Counterfeiting can be done so easily and cheaply, and the cost and expense is so expensive to stop counterfeiting, that economists reckon that 99% of all pennies are counterfeit. This further degrades the value of paper pennies that most retail establishments refuse to take them at all, even for the 5 cent portion of a 1.05 bill.
    Lawsuits are filed that as a lawful currency, although the amount of pennies that can be used to pay a bill can be limited (i.e., only 20 or so paper pennies per transaction)merchants must sill accept paper pennies. As counterfeit paper pennies reach 99% of the paper pennies in circulation, businesses take a loss on every transaction that results in every number that cannot be achieved with a nickel, dime, quarter, or 50 cent piece.
    Banks are in danger of insolvency as redemption of counterfeit paper pennies for real paper dollars causing in affect of the giving away of money.
    Gubermint responds with laws that only a dime’s worth of paper pennies can be converted to another form of currency at banks at one time.
    However, this results in the volume of storage space used for storing paper pennies, and the number of employees used to manage the paper pennies, at most business locations cost prohibitive and makes most businesses unprofitable.
    The US collapses nominally because of pennies, but really because it has tried to establish the value of something by fiat.

    Now replace “paper pennies” with paper dollars.

    1. Excellent illustration.

    2. Yah um. That doesn’t make any sense.

  13. Balko style nut-punch for xmas:

    http://gawker.com/5717652/how-…..ut-of-jail

    1. Radley already had that on his blog this morning.

      1. That’s not a nut-punch, that’s great news.

        1. I think the nut-punch is that the kid got arrested in the first place (and held on exorbitant bond).

          Yes, the fact that there are people willing to go to bat for victims like this is great news.

  14. “talk talk talk, it’ll never happen”, phrased a few different ways.

    Ok, maybe so, ya bunch of pessimists. Or maybe, the price of copper just hasn’t risen enough? $4/lb is getting into “even America can’t afford pennies anymore” territory.

    My bet is on the penny being made with a cheaper metal (I don’t know why our coins aren’t made with stainless steel). Can’t have coinstar going out of business.

    1. According to the Mint, it’s currently 97.5% zinc, and 2.5% copper. However, you might want to collect any pre-1982 pennies, as they were 95% copper. If commodities keep going crazy, they might be worth more melted down.

      1. Then they have gone full on with the “Panamanian” formula.

        Used to be that all the Panamanian coins were minted at the Denver Mint. Although the Unit of currency for Panama is supposedly the “Balboa”, it’s pegged at 1:1 to the US Dollar. When I was there in the 90’s, there was no paper Panamanian currency (although we used to call extremely worn dollar bills ‘Balboas’) but there were Centavo pieces in the familiar denominations, 1, 5, 25 & 50. Same size and weight as the US counterparts. EXCEPT that the pennies had the higher zinc ration – which I discovered doing some body work on a car. US pennies could be soldered to sheet metal with a welding rod to use to pull out large dents. Panmanian pennies could not – they would melt and turn into a blob. Because of the lack of copper in them.

        So, body working tip – pre-1982 pennies it is!

      2. However, you might want to collect any pre-1982 pennies, as they were 95% copper. If commodities keep going crazy, they might be worth more melted down

        I’ve been doing that since 1982 – just as I’ve been collecting pre-1964 silver coins all these years. Old pennies are already worth more melted down, but as of a few years ago it is illegal to do so. The same is true for all the other coins as well – not that such laws have ever stopped the practice – even going back to ancient China and threats of death.

  15. Sales tax and penny stocks wouldn’t work so well without the worthless penny. I made $3000 last week when a stock went up 16 cents and I sold it.

    1. The penny will never go away as a unit or as a bookkeeping entry.

      All that has happened in OZ and elsewhere is that the coin was removed from circulation and gross prices in cash transactions were rounded to five cents.

      It is still possible to write a check to the nearest penny or to get a credit card statement likewise.

      1. After all, for many years stock prices were quoted in eighths of a dollar, but as we all know, there never was a twelve and a half cent coin (Well, that is, except when someone cut a Spanish dollar into eight “bits”, hence the term “pieces of eight” and a quarter being “two bits”).

  16. coastal cosmopolitans

    In Real America, Real Americans like the penny

  17. “and the dwindling number of women named Penelope.”

    Wrong again cavanaugh! Penelope is on the RISE. This means we have deflation this year.

    http://www.babynamewizard.com/…..xact=false

    1. I said women, Yonemoto! That upturn only started in the nineties and didn’t accelerate until the aughts. I’m glad to see it happening (though I’d be happier if “Bernadette” were making a comeback), but until those girls hit voting age, it’s still dwindling.

      Unless some stats geek can prove me wrong, which I secretly hope.

      1. Last I checked, people born in the 90s were of voting age (scary huh), so, not only legal, but actually just barely within ‘standard creepiness rule’, for me, anyways.

        1. er, almost voting age… Just barely.

  18. Pennies will be like $100 bills if we don’t stop this deflation. AAAAAAAAARRRGHHHHHHHH

  19. So three preachers and their wives went on a trip by plane and the plane crashed and they all died and showed up at the Pearly Gates.

    The first couple goes up to St. Peter and asks if they can come in.

    St. Peter looks at the man’s record and finally says, “Well, you never sinned. But in your heart you lusted. You lusted after money and it was so bad that you married a woman named ‘Penny’. That’s just as bad as sinning, so you can’t come in.”

    The next couple decides to give it a try, but St. Peter says to them: “It’s the same thing as the last couple. You never sinned, but you lusted after drink so bad that you married a woman named ‘Sherry’. You have to go.”

    St. Peter turned to the last couple, but the man was already saying to his wife, “Come on Fanny, let’s go.”

  20. The still sell gasoline priced by the tenth of a cent (mil) per gallon so I don’t expect the penny to disappear any time soon.

    … Hobbit

    1. Who buys one gallon of gas.

      In Australia, your bank statement will still show your balance to the cent (they don’t use the term penn AFAIK). When you buy gas the total is still determined by the number of gallons or liters times the unit price. only the total charge is rounded to the lower five cents for cash purposes.

      IIANM, they still charge you to the nearest penny if you use a credit card.

      All that’s being proposed here is that the one cent coin be dropped from use. the penny will still exist as a bookkeeping entry.

      1. Who buys one gallon of gas.

        A person with a one-gallon jug.

      2. We don’t use the term “gas” either – it’s Petrol.

  21. You don’t understand. If we get rid of pennies, bribing my youngest child will cost 5 times as much.

  22. Finland and the Netherlands have retired the essentially nameless ?0.01 coin, replacing it with the “Swedish” system of rounding.

    I don’t know what “the “Swedish” system of rounding” is, but Australia rounds prices down to the lower five cents. This means that something that came from China with a MRSP of 2.99 (a label presumably affixed targeted at the US market) will be charged at 2.95.

    This has to do with ‘strylya’s vaunted “fair-go” tradition.

    As to ending up with pocketfuls of coins, I still remember Montanans’ deep suspicion of paper money that caused them to continue to use Silver Dollars into the mid-sixties. At one point I had a shitload of the buggars and I could kick myself that I let them go.

    1. We don’t always round down in Australia and we do follow the Swedish system:
      – Prices are rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5 cents for sales ending in 1c, 2c, 6c, 7c
      – Prices are rounded up to the nearest multiple of 5 cents for sales ending in 3c, 4c, 8c, 9c
      – Values ending in 0c or 5c remain unchanged

      The rounding is applied only to the final total and only for cash transactions. It has nothing to do with our “fair-go” tradition and more to do with common sense (pardon the pun).

      The argument at the time was that overall, instances of rounding-up and rounding-down would balance out so there were no winners/losers.

      We got rid of our 1c and 2c pieces in 1993 (NZ in 1990). NZ have recently withdrwan 5c coins also and now round to the nearest 10c. There are moves to do that here in Australia too.

      Conversely, we have $1 and $2 coins instead of notes so a pocket full of change is common still. But our durable and colourful plastic notes are so much better to use than paper notes.

  23. I’m still lo0king for n “S-VDB” penny…

  24. The existence of pennies keeps inflation down.

    1. Australia has lower inflation now than they had in the nineteen-fifties when they had pennies the size of half dollars.

  25. “People understand rounding to the nearest nickel. That would hurt working families every time they buy food or gas. It seems small in the individual transaction. But when you add them up, it comes to a significant amount. And merchants can’t just round down on every transaction, because they work on very small margins.

    As noted above, they do in Australia. I don’t know if it’s required by law (I would not be surprised if it was). It’s part of their notion of the “fair go”.

    I suspect merchants have simply learned to factor it into their pricing.

  26. “Its production cost is more than half again as much as its face value”

    Is this really relevant? A penny (theoretically) can be used in thousands of transactions. Not bad for something that costs 1.5 cents to make.

    However, there is also the tendency to put pennies in jars, which would drastically change the number of transactions.

  27. Keep the penny, dump the electronic printing press. Let our pennies keep their value over time. Inflation is a bad deal for consumers.

  28. This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy.

    I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. Then, I brushed my teeth with that water, filtered to standards set by the EPA and my state.

    After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

    At the appropriate time as regulated by the US Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank and printed by the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

    I park my car on the street, paved and maintained by the Department of Transportation, and put quarters issued by the United States Mint into the parking meter.

    Then, after spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I drive back to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and the fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

    I then log onto the Internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on freerepublic and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right. Keep government out of my Medicare!

    1. You must be a pretty pathetic assclown. You send your kids to school and you have to work on Christmas Day? No wonder you love the government so much. Without it raising your children and subsidizing your minimum wage career, you’d be living under a bridge. (Hopefully not this government-built wonder.

      Have fun retrieving those shopping carts all weekend.

    2. Wow. Sounds like you live in a totalitarian police state which so pervades your life that you can’t even bring yourself to imagine what freedom might feel like, and the very idea of expanding your personal liberty frightens and confuses you. Poor bastard.

      1. “I wake up every morning and turn on MSNBC news, as they support the current party in power, so I know how I must behave and what I must say to most please my masters. I am also thankful that it is regulated by the FCC so that I won’t hear any naughty language which will shock and confuse me.

        I take my morning pills, regulated by the FDA, thankful that they banned thalidomide so that I won’t have any children with birth defects, even though I am (ostensibly) a man. I knew someone who died from multiple myeloma who could have really benefited from this drug, but at the time they didn’t allow it to be used even for test purposes. That’s okay though, as that person was an evul libertarian wrecker.

        I then drive in my Chevy Volt to work at the local DMV, happy that the food I eat is protected by a huge government bureaucracy. Food irradiation might work an order of magnitude better, however, this would offend a small, vocal minority of fanatics who know nothing about the science behind it. And they vote! Also, it would mean all those FDA bureaucrats would become unemployed.

        I then spend most of my workday looking at the Internet, invented by Vice President Al Gore, (Xerox Park’s email service in 1976 was a fiction invented by an-cappers) while ignorant, non-governmental rabble waits to receive services they don’t deserve. I am glad I’m protected in my work by OSHA rules. Also, the fact that I only service 11 or so customers in an 8 hour period helps keep the number of incidents down. Despite this, the rabble often gets upset and says ridiculous things, such as “we’re paying taxes for this asshole?” At times like these, I’m glad I know friendly police officers who are happy to give people tickets without them committing actual offenses, or for the real hard cases, beatings and arrests for “interfering with a police officer”.

        Then I go home, waiting for my government supplied girlfriend to appear. Considering how faithful I have been to my masters, I don’t see how they can keep from rewarding me.”

    3. This morning I awoke to my alarm clock made by a private company that I bought at market price. The power that runs it comes from a government-regulated monopoly that sets prices without competition, allowing price-fixing and gouging.

      I then take a shower with water provided under the same regulatory scheme with barriers to entry by competitive forces. The water continues to flow by the good graces of the benevolent ruling class because I do not farm in the western side of the San Joaquin Valley.

      After that, I turn on my TV, which was relatively inexpensive due to the highly competitive electronics free-market. I tune in to watch a private company deliver the news to me in a fashion I find pleasing. If they change their format to one I don’t like or if they advertise products or services I find objectionable, I may choose to watch another channel or I may read a newspaper, of which I have several to choose from based on the free market. I may choose to look out my window to determine what the weather may be based on the barometer and thermometer I have, but I may rely on my common sense and prepare for various conditions by purchasing an umbrella and/or raincoat, of which I can purchase varying colors, styles and materials based on the amount of money I am willing to spend on the free market.

      At the appropriate time, according to my watch which works exceptionally well that I set according to the watch on the wrist of an attractive young lady who worked in the jewelery store where I purchased it for a bit more than I wanted to spend, I get into my 1968 Chevy Impala that was constructed without government regulations that have caused adjusted costs of automobiles to nearly triple in the past 40 years. I fasten my lap belt and drive my son and daughter down our smooth-as-glass private road to the house of their proctor for their home schooling. I then proceed to enter the public thoroughfares and come upon a gas station, where I pay $1.90 per gallon to the man I purchase the fuel from and the requisite $1.35 to the state for the privilege of regulating the contents of the fuel to the point that my engine does not function at the level it should. On the way out my door, I grab everything I’m gonna need to drop at FedEx that day because I need it delivered in a timely and efficient manner. Of course, I may use UPS for this as well but FedEx values my business a bit more and has negotiated a better rate for my company, so I will likely use them.

      I park my car in the privately owned parking lot I pay good money to. Fortunately, their attendant looks after my car quite well. Of course, if he didn’t or if they raised their rates to a level I wasn’t happy with, I would just go to another private garage.

      Then, after spending another day at work without being maimed or killed because my company wants to retain it’s employees, I go home to my house which has thankfully not burned down in my absence because I do not typically burn strawmen in close proximity to it like the above poster, and has not been plundered of all it’s valuables because my private gated community has a private security force and I know how to operate a deadbolt.

      I then log onto the internet which has flourished because the ultra-competitive market for users has created an unbelievable amount of content, unregulated for the most part. I may choose to allow my children access to the computer or to various websites. I regulate their use because I am a parent and make it my business to raise them the way I see fit. And while you go to FoxNews and NewRepublic, as is your right in the free market of ideas that currently exists in the intertubes, I use my time to come on sites like H&R to learn from usually sensible people who share some core principles (for the most part) and have robust, thought-provoking conversations about things we all care about, like liberty, equal protection and personal accountability as well as the consequences when these principles are eroded.

      Have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or just plain Saturday to you all.

        1. Very.

          I go home to my house which has thankfully not burned down in my absence because I do not typically burn strawmen in close proximity to it

          Bwahaha…etc

      1. @ sloopyinca — threadwinner! you win one intartubes.

      2. “I get into my 1968 Chevy Impala that was constructed without government regulations that have caused adjusted costs of automobiles to nearly triple in the past 40 years.”

        Really? I can’t find ’68 prices, but a ’60 seems to have cost about $20000 in today’s money. A modern car of the same price would be better than the Impala of old in almost every way.

    4. I first encountered this piece of brain dead and smug leftist tripe perhaps a decade ago. I found it so convincing in that time that it has had exactly zero percent persuasive effect on my outlook. Nice going leftist, you have convinced yourself this economic illiteracy took dead aim at capitalism while shooting yourself in the foot. Capitalism is alive and well, the ground that your beloved government rest has never been shakier. Every time the budget numbers make the previous year’s numbers look like an era of frugality in comparison is only more testimony to its failure and the unsustainability of Late Statism. Cheers to a New Age of Capitalism which given the positive externalities created will keep even you stupid sonsofbitches from starving to death in a gutter!

    5. Today you woke up while at the same time a lot of your tax money was being used to kill and maim innocent children on the other side of the planet. They are far away though and you don’t think about them or care about them as long as you have your free government services. You then drank and bathed in water intentionally contaminated by the government with chlorine and flouride for your own good of course. You turn on the TV to watch weather reports from the NOAA. You won’t hear anything about weather modification projects because that’s just one example of all the important information about many government agencies and projects that would be too dangerous for the government to tell you about so they need to hide it from you, again for your own good of course. You then drive on highways and buy gas to make use of a dirty stupid wasteful almost obsolete system of energy and transportation that has survived this long thanks to asinine government backing. You then work at YOUR job and go back to YOUR house which I guess are a couple freedoms you actually appreciate.

  29. Dude, Pennies are just cool like that!

    online-privacy.ie.tc

  30. I myself am neither really for or against getting rid of the penny. But for all the Lincoln fans out there, you’ve still got his face on the Five Dollar Bill, so he’s not going anywhere.

  31. This morning, I didn’t even need to set an alarm clock, as (like many in America) I had a 3 day weekend. Since we celebrated well into the night, no one bothered to wake up until the clamor of children forced us to rise.

    We all ooh’d and ahh’d over the marvelous presents that Santa brought us, and then exchanged excellent gifts with each other.

    We are in the process of creating a huge feast, which we will enjoy immensely. Then, we shall build a nice fire in the hearth, watch either “A Christmas Story” or some football on my 62 inch HDTV, and I will probably fall asleep in my oversized Lazy-Boy recliner due to the combined effects of a full stomach and the residual effects of the previous night.

    The same is true (with a few minor variances) for my Korean-American neighbor.

    His cousin, still living in North Korea, will have a different sort of day.

    He will rise at dawn from his reed sleeping mat, and trudge to the community well for some water, which he will use to take a cold sponge bath. Hot water is a luxury, and the meager wood his wife and 8 yo daughter gather every day will barely be enough for cooking. He will then consume his morning meal, consisting of a half-bowl of rice gruel, before proceeding to work.

    Today’s back-breaking task consists of digging his 10 meter share of a 5 foot deep by 3 foot wide trench by hand with a crude mattock, as ordered by the local officials. His 10 yo son will join him next year, but this year he is still in school learning about the heroic exploits of the Dear Leader.

    Finally, at sundown he will return home to eat the evening meal, consisting of another 1/2 bowl of rice gruel and one turnip. Finally, when it is dark; he will return to his reed mat due to fatigue, the fact that sleep helps minimize his pangs of hunger, and the lack of kerosene for their one lamp.

    Lather, rinse, and repeat…

    Lolbertarian: Merry Fuck You, and a Happy Eat Shit and Die.

    1. OK, two threadwinners. You two get to split your prize of Teh Intartubes TM.

  32. I can’t help but yell RAAACIST!!! at the title of this story.

    If I were Asian, I’d be rearry, rearry angry at misser girrespie for arrowing misser cavanarh to write it. It is irresponsibre editing. Penny Reign? I think you really mean Penny Rane.

  33. The real racist travesty is that they didn’t post my song, Chocolate Rain.

  34. Reason? doesn’t go far enough. End the penny, nickel, and quarter and drop a decimal place off the price of things. Do we really need more than dimes and half-dollars?

    1. Is that like metric cash?

  35. We need a dollar coin that works and bring back the $2 bill. Not only did it have Jefferson on the front of it, the back was a pretty cool depiction of an important moment.

    Also, this will dramatically improve the standard of living for strippers by doubling the entry-level amount to sit next to the stage…or it will cause them to carry coin purses strapped to their legs (for the lulz).

    1. The $2 bill is still being produced, though in only very small quantities.

      Also, this will dramatically improve the standard of living for strippers by doubling the entry-level amount to sit next to the stage

      In fact, there was a story a couple years ago about some strip clubs that were breaking large bills with $2 bills for exactly that reason.

    2. What, Susan B. Anthony and John Adams aren’t good enough for you?

  36. the solution to all our small-change problems – stackable/joinable coins. Coins that have ridges and can be connected/stacked like legos. So a large number of different cent-collections can be used as one solid piece. And it would be easy to identify the value if the coins are colored, because then you can look at the side and see the stripes

    was an idea I saw on halfbakery once

    1. Hey, it works for vegas dealers. Those guys are able to look at any stack and tell what it’s worth at a glance.

  37. Let’s get rid of the dime and the nickel while we’re at it. I’ve long thought that fast food restaurants could save time at the checkout counter and make more profit by pricing everything in multiples of 25 cents (sales tax included). Movie theaters are proving me right, I think.

  38. A penny has real value. I had a purchase which was $3.01 and the clerk said it was against company policy when I asked her to round it down to $3.00. So they spent the time counting the 99? change, not to mention the costs involved in getting the change to the register drawer, rather than credit me that penny. These are the people I’m supposed to trust to round without bias!

  39. On the other hand we could undertake a monetary policy that doesn’t relentlessly/predictably diminish the value of our money to the point where the lowest denomination is worth less than nothing.

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  45. Those coins always end up on the floor and because I can’t be bothered to poick them up, end up in the vacuum cleaner. Good riddance I say.

  46. Those little coins always end up in the vaxuuum cleaner because I can’t be bothered to pick them up after dropping them. Good riddance I say!

  47. I suggest keep the penny, dump the electronic printing press. Let our pennies keep their value over time. Inflation is a bad bad deal for consumers.

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  49. impairment” that corresponds to a probability nike shox tl3 of an accident. Standard psychomotor tests of impairment do not test driving habits. For instance almost *all* people over the age of 60 are “impaired” in terms of those tests, oakely sunglasses but these people do not have a higher accident rate. Older people develop compensatory driving habits

  50. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, but just that there are rational concerns involved, whereas with test tube babies and in-vitro there really aren’t any rational arguments. In this piece it’s presented as if there are no rational concerns, and we should just carry forward full speed ahead without any regard for the consequences.
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  51. Penny haters insist they are motivated by unalloyed Taylorist logic. Their arguments for ending the copper-colored miscegenation of silvery coinage can be pretty compelling: The amount of time we spend futzing with small change amounts ???? ????? ?????? ???? ???????
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