Even though it’s worthless, the penny won’t go away.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: May 23rd, 2012
ou leave them in the “leave a penny, take a penny” dish whenever you can. If you see one on the street you don’t pick it up because, well, it’s on the ground, and it’s hardly worth it, is it? You’re right, it isn’t. In fact, it’s not even worth a penny. So why do we still hang on to these outdated coins?
“The half penny was eliminated in 1858, when it was worth over ten times what the penny is worth today. The penny is now worth so little that nobody even picks it up off the ground.” — Citizens for Retiring the Penny.
If we didn’t know better, we’d swear it was some kind of conspiracy. But it’s not, it’s just another instance of Big Money’s influence in government. “But wait,” you say, “Pennies? Big Money? Didn’t you just say pennies were worthless?” Yes, we did. Pennies are worthless. In fact, it costs the U.S. government 2.41 cents to produce a penny. The U.S. spends over $100 million a year manufacturing pennies, most of which goes to a single source: the zinc industry.
The copper penny has been made primarily of zinc since 1983. 97 percent zinc, in fact, with only 2.5 percent copper. So with seven billion pennies being produced every year, that’s a pretty sweet contract for zinc producers.
The penny is not without its fans, however. Many charities rely on the collection of pennies and other small change for donations, but the one-cent piece’s largest champion is an organization called Americans for Common Cents (ACC).
When Canada announced it was ending production of its penny, the ACC issued a press release saying that two-thirds of Americans oppose eliminating the penny. Several news agencies picked up on this story, but they neglected to mention anything about who the ACC is.
The ACC, unsurprisingly, is run by the main lobbyist for the zinc industry. And the polls that were used to come up with that “two-thirds of Americans” figure are mostly 20 years old, except for the most recent one, which was conducted by Coinstar, the company that makes huge profits by letting you exchange your coins for actual money.
But all is not lost. There are still people calling for an end to the penny. John Green, who heads Citizens for Retiring the Penny has been interviewed by many major media outlets, and even has a Facebook page dedicated to his cause. Even President Obama promised to “seriously consider” the matter of retiring the one-cent coin during his 2008 campaign, although he appears to have decided against it. Or maybe he’s had more important things on his mind.
See John Green's anti-penny YouTube rant below.