March 30th, 2005

Why I throw out pennies.

Pennies aren't money. Five years ago, I saved up all the pennies I got in a month. I had 74 cents, which wasn't even enough to get anything of the Wendy's 99 cent menu. The only time you hear about anybody paying for things with a huge mass of pennies is when they want to annoy the organization they're giving the pennies to. Purchasing things with pennies is insulting. (I heard that canada passed a law saying you can't pay for anything that costs more than about 25 cents with only pennies, but am too lazy to google for it.)

Yes, I could save my pennies and take them down to the bank or something to cash them in for real money, but I could do the same thing with aluminum cans. Apparently at 33 cans/pound of aluminum, at 60 cents/pound, I could get just under 2 cents/can, yet I happily throw those in a bin for free. If I buy a fast-food soda for $1 and accidentally forget about it long enough for the ice to melt and wind up throwing half of it out, I've wasted 50 cents. That's more than two weeks of pennies, and I don't lose any sleep over it.

I want the darn federal government to stop making pennies. Apparently, it costs 'em four cents to make a quarter, but they're used accounting tricks to convince themselves they've got a positive seniorage rate on pennies. This is an interesting link, by the way:

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/bank/hba51647.000/hba51647_0.htm

So anyway, throwing out pennies is about as cheap a form of political protest as I can think of. The main use for pennies these days seems to be the "have a penny/take a penny" bins, where end-users of pennies are doing their best not to have to deal with them, or else you throw a few pennies into your transaction to round your change up to the nearest nickel so as not to get any pennies BACK.

So why would I put pennies out into circulation if that means other people will be burdened by them, and their main use is a series of tricks designed to prevent people from having to deal with any more of them than absolutely necessary?

And thus, I throw the suckers out. There may be a bit of a psychological barrier (the same one that prevents people from ever tearing a dollar bill in half even though it's just a piece of paper), but pennies haven't been money since about the regan administration. That's the last time you could easily find even a piece of CANDY you coudl buy for just one penny. (When's the last time you saw something you could buy something for just one penny? If you can't buy anything with one if it, it's not money.)

And if it convinces the darn post office to start incrementing stamps in 5 cent increments, that's a positive side effect too. 25 cents was good. But 29 and 37 are PRIME NUMBERS. What is WRONG with the post office? You cannot easily make change for prime numbers! The only way to get a stamp multiple that comes out to an even 50 cents is to sell at least 50 of them.

Right.
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