Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Privatize the Penny

Let companies sell them.
  (+14, -4)(+14, -4)
(+14, -4)
  [vote for,

Make the legal definition of a penny anything with the rough dimensions of our current penny (19.05 mm in diameter and is 1.55 mm thick) and be made of a durable metal (a list of acceptable materials will be provided). Then create a restriction that any two people can only exchange, say, 100 pennies into some other currency per day. Finally, stop manufacturing pennies.

This will allow penny companies to crop up with all kinds of custom pennies. Using materials less than $0.01 in value per penny, they can make a profit off these coins.

The reason for the exchange restriction is to make it difficult for companies to just produce cheap coins and convert them to valuable currency at high rates, flooding the market with pennies.

Worldgineer, Dec 13 2005

10 a penny? Penny_20protractors
[po, Dec 13 2005]

The basics of US coins http://www.enchante...m/math/money/coins/
For [po]. //The US penny was named after the British penny// [Worldgineer, Dec 13 2005]

2006 Brilliant Uncirculated Coin Collection http://www.royalmin...PackedSets/DU06.asp
[Dub, Dec 14 2005]

Do you waste time to pick up a penny? http://www.straight...lassics/a1_334.html
I saw a breakdown of many known or estimated salaries of celebrities, and the list of what they'd profit by picking up. Don't know how to locate it now. Suffice it to say that several people on the list would be better to carry the 1¢ you'd accept for your vote than to pick it up and hand it to you. [reensure, Dec 14 2005]

Perhaps pennies are dead anyway.. http://thomas.loc.g...z?c101:H.R.3761.IH:
[ConsulFlaminicus, Dec 15 2005]

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       I didn't know you *had* a penny.
po, Dec 13 2005

       I do, but it has a pictue of some dead guy on it.
Worldgineer, Dec 13 2005

       Why restrict this to pennies? What a crazy scheme. So crazy it just..might...work.
bungston, Dec 13 2005

       Because pennies aren't worth much. If you let people print their own $20 bills then currency would become worthless very quickly. Letting people make their own pennies will make currency become worthless very slowly, if at all.
Worldgineer, Dec 13 2005

       Nothing new about about privately issued money (bank notes started that way). Many companies currently sell their own quarters (well, quarter-sized slugs), for use in slot machines.   

       But I'm really not seeing any advantages to this scheme. The market is already flooded with pennies as it is, and they're due for a multi-design makeover in 2009, with a final (?) new design in 2010, so we'll be awash in different designs before long.
DrCurry, Dec 13 2005

       Wow, 2 new designs? By 2010? Awash we'll be, all right. Maybe they'll even include a new dead guy.   

       Or we can save our government some money by removing the need for these redesigns and printings. Let companies do it and you'll have thousands of new designs by, well, likely days after you let them.
Worldgineer, Dec 13 2005

       the money the government saves by not coining its own pennies would probably be lost again trying to enforce the hundred-penny-pre-day rule. That's nearly impossible to track conveniently, unless you signed for every penny you spent, which would be inconvenient. It would be too easy for Joe Pennypresser to coin and spend a thousand pennies, then run to the next town, and repeat until he was out of the country.
roleohibachi, Dec 13 2005

       The rule's really there so that banks/venders/etc. can protect themselves. They'll refuse to trade more than a dollar's worth - no police required. So Joe Pennypresser has to wait through 10 bank lines to trade in his 1000 pennies all to make at most $10. This doesn't sound like the highest value crime - perhaps $3 an hour. If we modify this law a bit to a maximum of 25 pennies a day, we're down to $0.75 an hour.
Worldgineer, Dec 13 2005

       Actually I bet there would be people who were willing to spend more than 1 cent per penny. I can envision very flashy and nifty "pennies" devised as promotional items.
bungston, Dec 13 2005

       This is an excellent idea. A whole new cultural / artistic / commercial meme would arise quickly. The best private penny designs would become worth a lot more than a penny, companies could issue advertising pennies in series that also become collectables.   

       [DrCurry] I don't understand the concern with multiple designs. Here, we tend to use our 50 cent piece as the denomination for commemorative designs, UN Year of Whatever, etc. There are at least thirty different Australian 50 cent pieces in circulation and it isn't an issue.
ConsulFlaminicus, Dec 14 2005

       There will be 50 new designs for the American quarter by 2008, similar to the coins in Australia. I don't know about the idea of having privately-produced pennies. I like to save up my change and cash it in at the bank.
discontinuuity, Dec 14 2005

       Pa've: you're shopping at the wrong bank. Commerce Bank will change your change even if you're not a customer.
DrCurry, Dec 14 2005

       Selling Pennies (and at a profit!) is baked, I think - It doesn't cost more than a Penny to make a Penny - The Royal Mint's been doing this for years (link probably)! You're obviously not on they mailing list, are you?
Dub, Dec 14 2005

       I see the big problem as companies printing more than 100 pennies.   

       AFter all, this money would be completely untraceable. There would be plenty of people that would be prepared to trade 1100 of the same pennies for a 10 pound note.
britboy, Dec 14 2005

       I wonder if anyone's ever done the math on a nickel and dime tax. Round to nearest and send towards deficit or something
theircompetitor, Dec 14 2005

       Even with multiple designs, gov. controlled coins are still controlled. With so many different private designs, retailers would need a real time internet database of the latest designs just to verify that the pennies are legit.   

       Also, the 100 penny trade a day would not be practical. First, the bank needs to buy them in bulk to have on hand for people. Second, my guess is that if businesses could only submit 100 pennies a day to the bank they would not accept pennies at all.   

       I am thinking that with the crop up of all these penny companies, the cost of penny making equipment would fall. With so many designs and cheap production, what is to stop people from making counterfeit pennies in the basement and laundering through local businesses?
Zuzu, Dec 14 2005

       Great points, [Zuzu].   

       //retailers would need a real time internet database// Nah, if they're the right size then they're legal.   

       //the bank needs to buy them in bulk to have on hand for people// This could be an issue. There may need to be an exception for banks.   

       //what is to stop people from making counterfeit pennies in the basement// Nothing! But that's the whole point. They've just spent time and effort making pennies - time and effort our government didn't have to spend. There would be no such thing as "counterfeit" pennies, unless they are using the wrong materials. Considering the low cost of a penny sized piece of even a durable metal, this likely wouldn't be a problem.
Worldgineer, Dec 14 2005

       Ok, interesting impracticality bun for you. +   

       <starts sketching business plan for "Personal Portrait Penny Inc.">
Zuzu, Dec 14 2005

       Worldgineer: you overlook one point - people accept legal tender, not because the government backs it in some way, but because they choose to do so. Sellers can (with a very few specifically legislated exceptions) accept or reject any means of payment they care to choose, and buyers can opt out of the purchase if the seller tries to make change in an unacceptable way.   

       Try and foist these home-made pennies on people, and they will reject them, whatever their legal status, just as they have other dodgy but legal tender in times past and present, just as, in fact, many currently reject pennies.
DrCurry, Dec 14 2005

       I certainly haven't overlooked that - this idea is based on that premise. People will accept about any sort of penny because they just don't matter. Are you really going to refuse to buy a candy bar because they are giving you sub-standard pennies? Or, if it really matters to you, are you going to drop them in the give-a-penny/take-a-penny dish?
Worldgineer, Dec 14 2005

       If someone walks into a store with sixty pieces of worthless junk, should the person be able to trade those for a candy bar? It's below your hundred-piece limit but what is the store supposed to do with them?
supercat, Dec 15 2005

       [DrC]: "legal tender" is payment that cannot be refused in settlement of a debt. (Payment that is *not* legal tender can still be accepted, at the creditor's discretion.) It could be argued that a purchase is equivalent to a debt, though I'm not sure with how much success.
angel, Dec 16 2005

       [super] //If someone walks into a store with sixty pieces of worthless junk// Ah, but if they have the correct dimensions and properties they are not junk. Why is the dirt-covered old penny any better?
Worldgineer, Dec 20 2005

       Currency really should be protected by something safer than a graphical design these days, anyway. What if we started by implementing a system that's actually secure, something with RFIDs or something, where every store would have a scanner.   

       Then you could have all of the currency be any crazy old thing. Anyone could buy from the mint the real uncounterfittable part that gets implanted in the middle of a coin or bill, and anything you put it in becomes Real Money.   

       Being a cashier would get a little bit more interesting, eh? Until they're replaced by robots. But I digress.   

mungojelly, Dec 20 2005

       Why [UB], I didn't know you were a cynic ;-)   

       Rocks aren't allowed, since they aren't durable metal. And if someone dumped a pile of pennies on my doorstep then they've actually only paid me a dollar due to the rule.
Worldgineer, Dec 20 2005

       [+] This is new. It's a way to phase out the lower currency by providing market incentives for the transition.   

       For awhile, there's a profitable market, but soon, sellers will want to not have to bother with those flavors, and will instead set their prices to always end up at $.05 increments. Then, after awhile it becomes easier to drop the penny.   

       At some future date, you could also make it illegal to pay for something with more than 4 pennies. If you had more than that, you'd need to change it at a bank or such, but couldn't burden normal transactions.
sophocles, Dec 20 2005


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