Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gone the Way of Pennies and Penmanship

A recent episode of 60 Minutes explored an increasingly heated debate: whether it makes sense to keep producing cents. Apparently, the demand of copper, nickel and zinc has increased dramatically in recent years and the resulting shortage has driven up the price of the material that makes our penny.

U.S. Mint Director Edmund Moy explains that, "despite inflation, despite their lowly status, eight billion pennies still add up to $80 million. Trouble is, to get $80 million in pennies, the government spends $134 million."

I know what you are thinking readers, that you will go home and
melt your coins, smelt them into millions worth of metal. Don't even think about it! The feds, responding to that exact thing happening to the rupee in India--that Indians got wise and melted their rupees into razor blades for purchase, the collective action causing the rupee to disappear almost overnight--have passed a law prohibiting it.

The other argument for abolishing the little Lincoln: What can you buy with a penny anymore anyhow
? Stephen Dubner, the co-author of superbook, Freakonomics, says, "It’s like having a fifth and a half finger on your hand. I have to trim the nail, I gotta buy five and a half fingered gloves. But wouldn't it be easier just to have the five? And that really is what the penny is about. It’s just not useful."

But some people are sentimental. TMT understands, the penny is nice. It meant something once, but now it is just heavy in our bags. It is so useless that if we drop it, sometimes we just keep walking. I have even swept a filthy penny up with my kitchen floor dirt and, sorry to say, thrown it away. Maybe it's time.

In similar news, Good has an editorial for getting rid of handwriting in schools. What do you think? I have a suspicion AP may not still know how to write cursive, but that's between you and me.


  1. Strangely, my mother was talking to me about this last night (does my mother secretly write for this blog?)

    Apparently, the flip side is that the economy would be like ??? and freak out. Although, don't they say that about everything?

  2. Update: AP does apparently know how to write cursive (proof notwithstanding).