15 Sep 2010

This Guy Hates Pennies

Economics 12 Comments

I was hoisted onto the anti-penny bandwagon by my intermediate econ professor in undergrad, Lee Coppock. (At least, that is now my recollection.) I think the simplest argument for getting rid of the penny is this: Surely we can all agree that it would be dumb to introduce a new coin that was worth, say, 1/200th of a dollar, right? So then going the other way, are we certain that the current denominations are j-u-u-u-s-t right? Or is it possible that if we started out (this year) with a nickel being the lowest denomination, that somebody who tried to introduce a coin worth 1/100th of a dollar would be viewed as a fool?

Jeff Hummel passes along this video. You might think it’s too long to start, but the guy keeps it pretty entertaining throughout–though there is a commercial he smuggles in at the end. Capitalist pig.

12 Responses to “This Guy Hates Pennies”

  1. Lucas M. Engelhardt says:

    This guy is John Green – who makes his living as a writer of Young Adult novels (he got an award for Looking for Alaska).

    I came across the “vlogbrothers” a few years ago when John and his brother Hank (who’s a professional environmental blogger/website designer) did their vlogbrothers project. They took turns making 4 minute videos each day, and didn’t communicate with each other through textual communication, and kept that up for a year. It was very fun to watch…

    … though you do discover that John Green is a Keynesian. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0lc1dg8MVg)

    Even if he does hate pennies.

  2. Jack says:

    Well, at least we know Abe Lincoln is on the right coin.

  3. JimS says:

    If you can pick up a penny in two seconds, that works out to $18.00 an hour, for nickels it would be $90.00. Unless I am on my way to a lucrative speaking engagement (wink, wink), I’d pick up the change. Some auction yards still allow us to bid half pennies on stock. On an 800 lb. steer, a half penny is $4, a penny is $8, a nickel $40, and a dime $80, multiply this by a lot of 100 head and it is significant.

    Besides, without the penny we would not have advertisements for $9.99, nor would I be able to collect anything on my measly savings account interest of 1/8%.

    • Lucas M. Engelhardt says:

      I’ve heard somewhere that the calorie expenditure when you pick up a penny is more than you can buy with the penny. (Whether it’s true, I don’t know.)

      To me that suggests a rather obvious weightloss program. Convert your grocery money into pennies, then drop them all and pick them up one by one before you buy food with them!

      Sadly, after more research… It’s not true. http://www.mischel.com/diary/2006/06/08.htm

  4. Silas Barta says:

    @JimS: Good luck picking up pennies for a full hour … by the end you’ll want to pay $18 just to stop!

  5. ChrisK says:

    Even if the government decides not to abolish the penny (or the nickel), they will eventually abolish themselves provided the government keeps making them out of a material that is worth more than their stated monetary value. For example, if zinc and nickel were to go up substantially in price as a commodity, people would start hoarding the money and smelt it for their raw material value. However, I seem to recall there are legal tender laws prohibiting the defacement of currency. So either this will be done over the border or people will start their own illegal small batch smelters in their backyards or basements……

  6. Strat says:

    criminal organizations have been smelting pennies in Mexico for quite a while.


    • ChrisK says:

      Thanks for the link – I should have known this was already taking place….the government can never stop the entrepreneurial mind. The quotes from the US Mint are hilarious.

      “The nation needs its coinage for commerce,” U.S. Mint director Ed Moy said in a statement. “We don’t want to see our pennies and nickels melted down so a few individuals can take advantage of the American taxpayer. Replacing these coins would be an enormous cost to taxpayers.”

      First – we get along fine without a half penny, what’s the difference if we round to the nearest quarter when dealing with change? (sales tax and credit card transactions etc. can still be rounded to the nearest penny)
      Second (and more important) – people need to realize the real cost to the taxpayer has already occurred through the cost of inflation!!! It’s like a police officer saying they shouldn’t go after a crime ring of thieves because it would cost the taxpayer too much.

  7. Matt Flipago says:

    How awesome is it, one of the worst presidents is on the crappiest coins. The only thing that would be confusing would be stupid sales taxes. Interest rates in banks are not a problem, the already round off. So if the government were to stop making pennies, wouldn’t they just seamlessly fade out of currency. On the side note, I get some level of enjoyment at watching a completely ridiculous piece created by the government, It;s like the calculation problem on a coin.

  8. NOTAL says:

    Best part:
    “bacteria ridden disks of suck”

  9. Richard Marmorstein says:

    This was the topic for the speech I wrote and competed with my Freshman year of high school. I’m glad you brought it up here because before reading the comments here I’d never really thought about how this particular example can be used to highlight government inefficiency and the superiority of the market in so many ways. Thanks!

  10. Ashley Johnston says:

    I would like to see somebody charged for refusing to accept pennies as legal tender.