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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Unlicensed writer: Pennies don't make any sense

  • Some of my readers may recall how back in May I put my two cents in on how superfluous the American lawn is and what benefit might be reaped from abolishing the resource draining custom all together.
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  • Some of my readers may recall how back in May I put my two cents in on how superfluous the American lawn is and what benefit might be reaped from abolishing the resource draining custom all together.
    Today I would like to put my two cents in about something else that I feel ought to be abolished: cents themselves, or as they are more popularly called: pennies. That's right, pennies. While it may seem to many that the existence of these mostly zinc masquerading as copper discs is a rather penny ante issue, I hope that by the end of this article the penny will drop and you'll realize why pennies are costing us a pretty penny.
    The first reason why the penny should be abolished is the most obvious: pennies fail to facilitate cash transactions. There is simply nothing of any significant value in today's world that may be efficiently purchased with pennies. Not only do people hate dealing with them, but so do machines.
    The reason for this is simple. If someone was insane enough to try to buy something worth $5 using pennies, the machine would have to find a way to store 2.75 pounds of coins in 13.5 cubic inches of space. It would honestly be easier to make the purchase with a $5 rubik's cube, which use only slightly less space but are almost seven times lighter. Ergo, the only common machine which accepts pennies is Coinstar, a machine whose sole purpose is to get rid of small coins like pennies.
    Another reason that the U.S. needs to abolish the penny is because pennies actually cost the country a startling amount of money. Everyday people fiddle with pennies, and on average this adds two seconds to each transaction.
    During these two seconds, the people handling these pennies could be doing something else, such as helping another customer. While two seconds may not seem like a significant opportunity cost, one must bear in mind that these two seconds occur millions of times a day. As a consequence the national opportunity cost of pennies approximates one billion USD annually.
    The most common argument in favor of penny preservation is that prices will rise once people have to start rounding to the nearest nickel, and charitable contributions will decrease once people no longer have a cumbersome coin to throw in jars outside of supermarkets. This can be disproved without resorting to theoretical economics because several other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Finland and the Netherlands have already abandoned their one cent coin without observing those consequences.
    In fact, the United States has done something of this nature before when it abolished the half cent coin in 1857, (back when it was worth more than today's dime,) and yet the nation got along just fine.
    Page 2 of 2 - I'm unaware of a single soul who does not think that this nation needs to start spending more responsibly, but can we really be surprised at how pound-foolish we are when we fail at even being penny-wise? I know that there's a certain sentimental value attached to pennies because people love Lincoln and good luck charms and idioms, but we need to be adults about this and realize that it would be best if we didn't have a penny to our names.
    There may come a time when the American economy reverts to a time when a penny saved was truly a penny earned, but as for today, we ought to face the facts. A penny isn't even worth a red cent anymore.
    Clarke Peterson is a 16-year-old student who lives in Leavenworth.

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