Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Get rid of the penny

US government should stop minting pennies
  (+26, -10)(+26, -10)
(+26, -10)
  [vote for,

Pennies are a huge waste of everybody's time and resources. It takes millions of dollars per year for the US government to mint the damned things, and they are worse than useless. A penny is worth so little as to be worthless, practically speaking.

The government should just stop minting them, and we would round all prices off to the nearest nickel. Shoppers and stores wouldn't gain or lose any money overall, because you'd lose the 2.5 cents when the price was rounded against you just as often as you gained 2.5 cents when it was rounded in your favor. You'd break even, and you wouldn't have to carry around and deal with the useless pennies.

When I drop pennies on the ground accidentally, I just leave them lying there. At many stores across the country, they have dishes of pennies which you can take for free if you want them, or dump off your extra pennies into. It's free "money" which nobody bothers to take because it has no value.

Inflation has eaten away at the value of the penny over the last century or two to the point where it is no longer useful. Stop making them, save time and tax dollars.

sphere, Oct 16 2000

Fun Facts about pennies. http://www.usmint.g...m?action=fun_facts2
The composition of the penny, back to 1793. [StarChaser, Oct 16 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

BeaconHill.org article http://www.beaconhi...v4n1notpennies.html
Article arguing for the abolition of the penny. [sycorob24, Oct 04 2004]

(?) Backlink: Ask Yahoo of Mon, May 1 2006 http://ask.yahoo.com/20060501.html
"ornery bloggers" points to this post. [jutta, May 02 2006]

Penny Worth 1.23 Cents http://www.usatoday...09-penny-usat_x.htm
The penny now costs more to make than its face value. [sycorob24, May 17 2006]

All those pennies soon add up... http://news.bbc.co....agazine/6589171.stm
I wouldn't say no to £65,000,000 in pennies, I could buy a second hand truck to take them home. [TheLightsAreOnBut, May 01 2007]


       I hope they don't ever replace the paper dollar, as a huge pocketful of coins would be extremely inconvienent. As an ADDITION it's ok, easier to keep a few for tips or whatever, but I can carry 50 one dollar bills much easier than the same amount of coins. <Sometimes you just end up with a lot of little change.>
StarChaser, Oct 16 2000

       sphere doesn't like pennies, yet he likes the dollar coins, he likes them so much he hopes to have his own face minted on them someday. =] i like the pennies because they are our only coins that seem to have character. money in the united states has the dullest appearance compared to all of the other countries of the world; especially those in europe. i think it's symbolic of our culture. we are apathetic and boring as hell.
Stellaris, Oct 17 2000

       In reply to Starchaser, regarding the dollar coin:   

       In the UK, there was a major outcry when the pound note was replaced by the pound coin, but now you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would want the note back. The coin is much handier for tips, slot machines etc. There's no way that you'd consider carrying 50 of them - once you get up to 5 or 6 the additional weight reminds you to spend them as soon as possible, rather than let them mount up.   

       One difference between America and other countries, however, is the way that people (especially men) carry money around. The billfold is relatively unknown outside America, as notes are generally of different sizes (helps blind people, you know!). This means that the added difficulty of extracting a note from ones wallet makes one appreciate smaller denominations in coin form. Unless inflation starts rising noticably, I suspect the dollar bill will remain popular for some time to come in the States, if only for padding out wads to a comfortable size!
Lemon, Oct 17 2000

       It would put penny makers out of a job, forcing them to look for pennies...
thumbwax, Oct 17 2000

       The dollar and two-dollar coins have been in Canada for quite a while now. They're not nearly as heavy as the British pound coin, and they're not much larger than a U.S. quarter or a British 10 pence piece. [Lemon] has a good point about carrying 50 of them, though; once you have 8 to 12 loonies or toonies (our nickname for these coins) in your pocket they do have an appreciable weight, so you tend to spend them fairly quickly.
BigThor, Oct 18 2000

       The US Treasury should look at the system adopted in New Zealand. 1 & 2 cent coins were withdrawn from circulation. Prices stayed the same, ie: $4.99. If you pay by credit card or cheque (check) you pay $4.99, if by cash it's up to the retailer how they round, either up or down. Of course if you buy 5 of the suckers, then there's no rounding involved. It works fine here.
Alcin, Oct 18 2000

       And have New Zealand retailers moved up to pricing things at $4.995?   

       Every little bit helps.
hello_c, Oct 18 2000

       No, but one retail chain prices everything at $X.99, even up to expensive items like $1,999.99....I expect they think customers look at the price as $1,900.   

       I assume that this practice of pricing things ending in 99cents is international. But it would be interesting to find out just how many people actually think of the price as say $4.00 rather than $5.00 when they see it advertised.
Alcin, Oct 23 2000

       They really have nothing to lose by doing this, of course. Even if only one person in a thousand is weak-minded or distracted enough to focus on the first digit of the number, they have gained. Even those of us who are sure we're much too clever to be outfoxed by a discount retailer may be susceptible to this sort of effect, half-consciously deciding to look more closely at items with prices which begin with lower numbers. For the record, I knew someone a few years ago who, if something was priced at, say, $1.99, really would say things like "Wow! Only a dollar. That's really cheap." I throttled him eventually, but there are almost certainly more like him.   

       In conclusion, I am wholeheartedly in favour of sphere's suggestion that we loot retail stores that continue this irritating practice.
Monkfish, Nov 04 2000

       They should mint a $0.99 coin.   

       Another benefit that coins have over bills is that dollar bills last about a year (in circulation). Coins last who knows how long.
xrayTed, Dec 08 2000

       Many years. I've got several silver quarters from the late 50's. Mostly they get snagged by collectors, long before they wear out. Bills wear out in a few years at most, usually <Although I once got a real greenback 10$ gold certificate in change>, but coins are left in circulation until they become too damaged to go through an automatic counter/sorter.
StarChaser, Dec 09 2000

       The only good thing I see out of getting rid of pennies is that gas stations might drop that third decimal place from their prices, in order to keep up.
gd, Mar 21 2001

       That third 9 is actually 'nine mills', a coin that's one tenth of a cent, and that's never actually been minted. For some reason, the gas tax has always included that.
StarChaser, Mar 22 2001

       xrayted: I agree completely! A $.99 coin (or, possibly, a $.33 coin) would be handy in many stores.   

       Actually, sales tax would mess this up, just as sales tax messes up even-dollar amounts. Perhaps the state could issue 'sales tax coins', worth whatever the current sales tax on one dollar is worth, kind of like the stamps the Post Office issues before a rate change before they actually announce the new rate. Increases in sales tax would deflate this currency a bit, but that's all part of the fun.
wiml, Mar 25 2001

       Be warned though, abolishing pennies will just be the first step on an inevitable slide down the slipperly slope of the wedge. Sooner or later, they'll be calling for your nickels (whatever they are) and then before you know it we'll be back in another 1000 years of the dark ages. This idea, as far as I understand, was the foundation of Communism and look what's happened to those European so-called "tiger" economies as a result - over here we're all living with the consequences.   

       In a sense, these coins also provide a valuable copper dump for otherwise metal-less countries.
lubbit, Mar 25 2001

       Pennies aren't copper anymore, and haven't been for years. They're copper plated zinc. <looks on the US Mint website to check, and snickers at the spin-doctoring on why the new dollar coins are tarnishing...Interesting, the dollar coins ARE copper cored, with manganese-brass outsides...>   

       Aha! At the link above, a listing of the past and current metal content of the penny. Right now, and since 1982, it's 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. From 1982 <there were coins of both types minted in that year> back to 1962, it was 95% copper and 5% zinc.
StarChaser, Mar 25 2001

       As a new half-baker, I hope you'll excuse my getting in on a relatively old topic, but ...
Getting rid of the penny, (cent, pfennig, centime, whatever) would achieve the same as decimalization did in UK; instant inflation. It's naive to believe that retailers would round prices down.
Secondly, I've heard it suggested that the prevalence of x.99 pricing is to ensure that cashiers need to open the cash drawer to get your change, thus are less likely simply to pocket your dollar bill or whatever.
angel, Apr 25 2001

       ravenswood: But some would rise to $20.45 to maintain the retailers' margins. On balance, I think they would win. Call me cynical...
angel, Apr 25 2001

       Ravenswood: There's a machine downstairs that takes and gives change in the form of the 'gold' dollars.   

       I was right, they are annoying and heavy.   

       And it's more likely that retailers would go to 20$ even rather than 19.95$...
StarChaser, Apr 28 2001

       There are far more serious problems with losing the penny than a few price changes here and there:   

       - Hey, pal. A nickel for your thoughts.
- Let me put my five cents in.
- You're nothin but a five-bit, nickel-ante operator!
- Nickel Lane is in my ears and in my eyes...
- "Where'd you get the new shoes?" "J.C. Nickel"

       I don't ever want to hear any of these things in normal conversation.
globaltourniquet, Apr 28 2001

       I wouldn't worry about inflation. Assuming that only cash transactions would be affected by rounding, the immediate inflation caused by the elimination of the 1¢ coin would be less than a hundredth of a percent.
nobody, May 06 2001

       Ravenswood, the machine that gives them as change in the break room also takes them...but it's the only machine, out of the seven in the break room that does, so anything you spend in it is useless...
StarChaser, May 07 2001

       The only ones I've ever gotten in change have been from that machine. Same with the Susan B ones, only ever got them in change from the post office. Had a few of the big old dollar coins, but kept them...I've gotten a couple of 50 cent pieces without asking in change, but usually, if I remember, I ask if they have them...
StarChaser, May 07 2001

       Are you crazy? I'm not messing around with two-pence (USD 0.0282) and five-pence (USD 0.0706) pieces trying to make, for instance, GBP 3.99 (USD 5.6377) (it would be £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 20p, 5p, 2p, 2p).   

       Anyway, it's odd that US vending machines don't usually accept coins larger than USD 0.25 (GBP 0.1769) - it would be like doing away (largely) with all coins larger than 20p. I mean, most British vending machines, telephones etc. take pound (USD 1.4129) coins (but not all take 50p (USD 0.7064) coins) but the £2 (USD 2.8257) coin is less commonly accpeted, and the £5 (USD 7.0644) coin even less so; also, some machines reject 1p and 2p coins, and some that accept these do not give them in change.   

       Anyway, are all US shops like makro®? The prices in most UK shops (and indeed in the rest of Europe) do have VAT (17.5% in the UK) and excise duty (very high!) included.   

       Incidentally, they have made UK coinage lighter. The old 5p, 10p and 50p coins were much larger and heavier than the new versions (but £2 in 5p pieces is still a lot of ballast, as is a mere 35p (USD 0.4946) in 1p pieces - do not try to spend this much at home!) While on this subject, £1 notes do exist in Scotland and the Channel Islands (I still have one from a visit to Guernsey) but they are not legal tender.   

       (Most prices are expressed in pounds sterling and US dollars, rounded to four places of decimals.)
simonrose, Jun 29 2001

       [simonrose] Don't know what a makro® is but no, sales prices on most items in most stores do not include any (local, state or federal) taxes. In fact the only commodity I know of that does is gasoline as [ravenswood] pointed out.
phoenix, Jun 29 2001

       It was the wish of President Lincoln that if ever he were to be memorialized on a coin, it would be the one of "least significance". Shall we then simply kick Jefferson off the nickel?
The Military, Jun 30 2001

       The least significant coin appears to be the dollar. Stick him on that.
Lemon, Jul 02 2001

       Marvelous! Paradigm reasoning applied to the aesthetics and traditions of currency versus relative rate of exchange. I like it!
The Military, Jul 02 2001

       simonrose, pound notes are legal tender! Technically speaking, anything with the queens head on it is legal tender. Stamps can pay for your bus fare, canadian money can be used in Welsh retailers, Falkland islands coins can be used in New Zealand. Ofcourse they are obliged to carry out a small transactional fee, i learned that when buying an ice cream with a scottish pound note, chargin' me 10p to have him accept it.
[ sctld ], Aug 26 2001

       how long have we had £5 coins? I dont think I have ever seen one...   

       you have prices which dont include tax in america? you mean you have to mentaly add some percentage of $1.99 to find out how much change you need ready when you buy a chocolate bar or something?
RobertKidney, Aug 26 2001

       £5 coins are now being advertised as 'New Crowns' and the first one i got was a comemerative coin of the queens wedding thingy, 50 years. I've got quite a collection of £5 coins in fact.
[ sctld ], Aug 27 2001

       RobertKidney -   

       It's true - retail prices in the US almost always do not include tax amounts. I don't know the historical reason for this - but it does help disguise differences in tax rates. Furthermore, it helps large retail chains. For example, Wal Mart can list a laundry detergent as $4.97 in printed flyers that can be distributed in Missouri, New York, and California, even though the cash-register price, including tax, will be different for each location.   

       Once in a while you will find a store that includes taxes in the prices. But this is rare, and the retailer usually posts a sign to make this clear.   

       Including tax in listed retail prices may even be illegal in some US jurisdictions.   

       A notable exception is bars / taverns / pubs. If they say a beer is $2.00, that price is a "tax-included" price.
quarterbaker, Aug 27 2001

       Another exception is gasoline. Tax is always included in gas prices.
StarChaser, Aug 27 2001

       There are a few other perspectives on this issue. One is that as the world economy becomes more electronically based, the need for paper and coin currency lessens gradually. For instance, your paycheck from work is directly deposited into your bank account, you use a credit or debit card at the supermarket, and pay bills either automatically or by writing a check. It is very likely that one day no one will carry "cash". This scenario is very far off, though; none of us are likely to live to see it happen (unless you plan on cryogenically preserving yourself, but that is another story altogether.)
jaguar6978, Aug 27 2001

       [sctld] Only notes with the word 'Sterling' on them are legal tender. Northern Ireland notes, and Scottish (even £1 notes) are legal everywhere in the UK, but some retailers, because they rarely see these, are difficult when it comes to accepting them. However, they certainly shouldn't be charging a handling charge seeing as they simply put the money in the bank and get face value.
ChewTheBeef, Aug 28 2001

       Get rid of the penny, and the pound will get rid of itself.
stupop, Aug 28 2001

       Keep the U.S. Penny! If it goes, then the nickel to go, then the dime, then the quarter, then the dollar, then... who is it that decides when enough is enough? Keep the dag-gone thing and worry about something meaningful...
jim_brain, Aug 28 2001

       I've taken advantage of the demise of the penny here in Australia. Every time I buy gasoline, I pump in $20.02 and the price is (by law) rounded down to $20. Every 50 trips to the servo I get one dollar of free petrol. I'm sticking it to the man, 2 cents at a time.
mighty_cheese, Sep 03 2001

       Here in foggy California, the San Francisco Municipal Railway underground system dispenses and accepts Saca$s. The only place I've seem them used.
Poimandres, Sep 10 2001

       There are worse things than 1¢ coins. Take the 1¢ Canadian Tire note. 1¢ notes are much worse than 1¢ coins.
mighty_cheese, Sep 16 2001

       (1) Keep the penny, just mint far fewer for collectors.   

       (2) I understand there are official 10 mils per cent, why not mint mil coins for collectors?   

       (3) If pennies aren't coined, it will still take a while for them to die off. I suppose some retailers will forgive you underpaying them 4 cents, or some customers saying "keep the change." Those who insist could get really dirty old pennies.   

       (4) If you make $12/hr, you should use no more than 3 seconds to pick up a penny. Any more and you are wasting valuable time.
Great Satan, Jun 12 2003

       While this is a good idea, it has been said many times before. This falls under my B.A.D. idea category. I'm not saying its bad, check out Halfbakery Jargon for Baked Advertised Distributed.
sartep, Jun 13 2003

       Just so everyone knows:   

       x.99 was started in the 1920's or so by some guy who figgered people would see his $1.99 as being significantly less than his competitor's $2.00. He was right in large numbers, and everyone has since gone to x.99 or '95.   

       The $1.xx9 thing on gasoline was started by someone in the 1940's by a similar guy who figured that people would see his $.299 gas as being the same price as his competitor's $.29 gas, even though his gas was nearly a cent higher. He was right in large numbers as well, and now you know...the rest of the story. Nothing to do with taxes, even though many gas taxes are in mills.
galukalock, Jun 13 2003

       So why then has there not been an arms race to more and more decimal figures for petrol? Ok, so the little dials would whizz round faster and faster...
Loris, Jun 13 2003

       I like pennies. Like someone else said, I think they have character. Logically, it sounds like it would be a good idea, though. But about the little dishes of pennies by cash registers: I thought those were for if you take out a $10 bill because you think that will cover it but your purchase actually comes to $10.03 or something. Then you can take 3 pennies instead of opening up your wallet again. Or maybe I'm the only one that uses them for this purpose...?
ghettotwix, Jun 13 2003

       Don't like this idea. I like pennies too! Good for found-art projects and random acts of kindness for little kids when you "plant" a pile of them in the sand at a park (use silver cleaner on them first to make them all nice and shiny).
thecat, Jun 16 2003

       Fully, fully baked. We got rid of our 1c & 2c coins years ago. (Australia)
simonj, Jul 17 2003

       didn't you ever see the movie "critters"? without pennnies we could be taken over by alien sonic the hedgehogs.
davidcreede, Jul 22 2003

       beer and gasoline... that makes perfect sents!
synergy~, Oct 19 2003

       // So why then has there not been an arms race to more and more decimal figures for petrol //   

       Beyond the hundredth's place, there isn't any value of any relevance to the consumer. For instance, if your gasoline was 1.29699, people would just recognise it as 1.29, regardless of how many pointless numbers you tacked onto the end.
Condiment, Nov 11 2003

       I strongly desire to see the penny go. My feelings are so strong on this that my friends call me "penny hater." Then I choke them with their worthless pennies.   

       I lived in Jamaica for awhile - the inflation was so bad that, though there were still coins in coins in circulation, nobody bothered with them. There were $1, $5 and $20 coins, and a bunch of notes of various denominations. All prices were marked in dollar increments. When you were rung up with the 17% tax, this obviously doesn't come out to a round dollar. Using standard rounding, $0.50 and below gets rounded down, $0.51 and above gets rounded up.   

       This can work here, too. Price it at $1.99 if you want. With tax it would come out to $2.13 (completely arbitrary number). There are no cents, but you should round up on 3, so the customer owes $2.15. If it was $2.12, the customer owes $2.10. This sort of rounding already happens - when the cash register calculates tax, sometimes it must come out to 12.376 or something - that gets automatically rounded and you never see it. Just take it one step further. Smarter, re-programmable registers could do the rounding for the customer, mom-and-pop stores can use their 1970's era manual adder and just do the rounding.   

       Gas stations are another good example. The pump is figuring out the total for you to 3 decimal places - you pay the total rounded to the nearest penny.   

       The other alternative is to price everything in 5c increments. The corner store prices things $1.99 to make it look cheaper: some stores will round that to $2.00, but some will round it down to $1.95 to compete. The customer should come out even.
sycorob24, Nov 11 2003

       Hm. This is widely discussed elsewhere - perhaps it should be deep-sixed for advocacy, despite its vintage?
DrCurry, Nov 11 2003

       How about promoting all pennies to nickels?
phundug, Nov 12 2003

       then lots of prices would go up!
croissantz, Aug 11 2004

       Sorry, go fish..   

       The cost associated with such a change would far outweigh any savings. Think about it from business perspective. All of the accounting principles would change,profit margins would shrink, interest rates gone, and the contracting costs to fix it all would make any Y2K company blush.
Around TUIT, Aug 11 2004

       Why would profit margins shrink? You'd be rounding up as often as you round down. As for x.99 vs. x.95, I'm sure the portion of companies that still us x.99 will not go bankrupt because they are suddenly missing 4 cents off every sale.
5th Earth, Aug 11 2004

       Not enough play (or range) in a ten-based system. Remember the plot in Office Space? A penny here a penny there adds up pretty quickly. The S & L scandles saw some of this. And I don't think anyone is going to round up or round down money they already own. That money doesn't just disappear or reappear, and if it does the people that had to round down the value of their assests would be pissed.
Around TUIT, Aug 11 2004

       Update (for those who care): in NZ, the 5c coin is about to go the way of the 1c and 2c.
So there will only be 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins (of which the 10c, 20c and 50c are going to be made smaller and lighter, so that the new 10c will closely resemble the old 1c. Go figure...)
But, as most people use EFT-POS, there will still be silly prices like $4.99 and $6.47, because nobody really cares when it's all electronic.
neutrinos_shadow, May 02 2006

       I need pennies in my everyday life. How can I drop coins for the hobo in the nearby alley? How do I play Tiddly-Winks with my friends on the street? The penny is also useful for tricking people into thinking you have a lot of money in your pocket. Plus, the penny is great for annoying cashiers, by paying merchandise with pennies!
narc1hunter, Apr 30 2007

       Look at this fossil of an idea. The impressive thing is that it seems to have garnered a fair number of favorable votes since the big crash. If posted now it certainly would be marked for deletion because this is advocacy and widely known to exist. Heck, even the Australians figured this one out.
bungston, Apr 30 2007

       Visa just came out with pre-paid credit cards. I thought that this was a really good idea for them. I don't care for pennies, the only use I have for pennies is to weigh down a flower vase which always seemed to get knocked over.
twitch, May 01 2007

       narc1hunter: See link... "...20p maximum that people are obliged to accept in pennies as legal tender" - in the UK, at least.
TheLightsAreOnBut, May 01 2007


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