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

Shrink the penny to make it equal it's metal value
  [vote for,

Common sense, and all those pennies I see in the street that no one picks up, suggest the penny should be retired. Politically this is difficult because of factions that profit from the existence of the penny.

Since a penny currently has a metal value of about 2 cents I suggest as a political compromise that new pennies be designed and stuck at half their current weight. Over time as inflation erodes the value of the US currency the penny will get smaller and smaller and eventually disappear.

geo8rge, Feb 22 2007

Melt pennies, or have too many nickels on that flight to Paris, and the US mint will put you in jail for five years http://www.usmint.g...ress_release&ID=724
Who knew the mint had such power? [ldischler, Feb 23 2007]

Price of zinc http://www.kitconet...t-zinc-6m-Large.gif
[ldischler, Feb 23 2007]


       Is this based on the price of copper? I thought modern "coppers" were made with a steel core precisely to keep their metal value (hence cost) down? Or is this not the case for US coinage? [Edit - apparently US cents are copper-plated Zinc; so perhaps I am talking bollocks] [Edit again - thanks [ldisc] - I'd edited my annotation before reading yours]
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 22 2007

       Might be a problem to have a variable size coin. Bad enough with the too-large dollar coin, where the images get more horrible with each issue. The new George Washington looks like something you'd use at Disney World.

Max B--the penny is now 98% zinc. Scratch the edge and drop it in vinegar. A day later you'll have a wisp of a penny, completely hollow.
ldischler, Feb 22 2007

       In NZ, they came up with the ultimate solution - get rid of 1c coins altogether - along with 2c and 5c coins. The smallest coin is now 10c, recently reissued (along with the 20c and 50c) smaller and lighter, so that the new 10c is (ironically) very similar to the old 1c (it is also now a 'copper'). I'm not sure of the local 'metal' value of the coinage.
neutrinos_shadow, Feb 23 2007

       I kept some of the 5c coins when they were phased out last year; they're just the right size for a few magic tricks I do. The best thing about the coin change was that they also reduced the size of the 10c, 20c, and 50c coins, which were ridiculously oversized previously. That's how NZ produces so many strong rugby players; they got strong carrying the loose change around. And it's a little-known fact that the old 50c coin could legally be used as a discus in athletics events.
imaginality, Feb 23 2007

       Plastic pennies. They could double as guitar picks. And they could float!
bungston, Feb 23 2007

       Whether you're talking US or UK pennies, they should simply be retired.
DrCurry, Feb 23 2007

       //In NZ, they came up with the ultimate solution - get rid of 1c coins altogether - along with 2c and 5c coins.//   

       The exchange rate explains that. But even in the US the only real value of a penny is for scrap copper.
nuclear hobo, Feb 23 2007

       It can be used to generate hydrogen, given some vinegar. Is that worth nothing to you folks?
bungston, Feb 23 2007

       [bungston] just solved the energy crisis! Use unwanted pennies and vinegar (all natural, derived from sour grapes or spoiled wine) to generate hydrogen fuel.
nuclear hobo, Feb 23 2007

       This is widely known to exist in UK, where all coinage has a higher face value than its scrap value (and has had for many years). But, yes, the penny really should be phased out as a coin. Incidentally, someone on minimum wage in UK earns a penny in six seconds; it's hardly worth stopping to pick one up.
angel, Feb 23 2007

       The same problem exists with the US nickel, and last year the mint gave up trying to debase the coinage and criminalized the melting down or exporting of both pennies and nickels. The penalty is a $10,000 fine and 5 years in jail--more than the penalty for manslaughter in most parts of the country. (Will the mint goons have penny-slaughterers stamping out new pennies? Seems fitting.)
ldischler, Feb 23 2007

       I think you lost a decimal point there. I believe the metal value of a penny is around .2 cents. It is just zinc after all.
Galbinus_Caeli, Feb 23 2007

       Actually, you're wrong there [Galbinus]. A U.S. penny costs about 1.4 cents to make. It's a ridiculous problem, but I don't see turning currency into a choking hazard as the way out. Better off just scrapping them altogether.
hidden truths, Feb 23 2007

       Two different numbers. You are giving manufacturing costs. I am giving materials costs. A croissant costs more than a quarter cup of flour, two tablespoonfuls of butter and a bit of baking powder.
Galbinus_Caeli, Feb 23 2007

       heat sensitive and explosive core?
//They could double as guitar picks// - only if not metal. I used to use quarters, they were not friendly to the strings. (cool sound, though).
Zimmy, Feb 23 2007

       //It is just zinc after all.//

With the rapid increase in the price of zinc, pennies do contain more than a penny's worth of metal. [edit] Looking at the recent price of zinc and copper, I calculate .44 cents worth of zinc and .04 cents worth of copper. So about a half cent worth of metal.
ldischler, Feb 23 2007

       Let see, today's zinc spot price is $1.574/lb, which is about ten cents an ounce.. A penny is 2.35 grams or .08 ounces. That makes a penny worth .8 cents in zinc.
Galbinus_Caeli, Feb 23 2007

       In December, the price of zinc exceeded $2 a pound. At that point, a penny was worth more than a penny in zinc.
ldischler, Feb 23 2007

       I think it is illegal to melt down currency. I can't remember if a nickle is made of nickle anymore. hmm... If it is, I'm pretty sure that it by weight would be worth more than 5¢
Zimmy, Feb 23 2007

       What [bungston] said, and in addition, if you use hydrochloric acid instead of vinegar, you make a useful soldering flux !
batou, Feb 23 2007

       In two years the warehouse level of zinc dropped by a factor of ten, and the price shot up by a factor of five. Same thing, more or less, with copper. The cause is surging growth in China and India, apparently, fueled by the US trade deficit. The US response? Put people in jail for melting pennies.
ldischler, Feb 23 2007

       US pennies could also be affixed as anodes to large ferrous objects in the ocean, preventing rust. Much more efficient than boiling in wine.
bungston, Feb 23 2007


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