In an increasingly cash-free world, pennies have become almost completely obsolete. The bronze 1¢ coin reaches the apex of its usefulness when a toddler needs to make a wish in a fountain or when an upset individual wants to make a spiteful payment. Pennies are simply impractical and unnecessary in our modern economy, posing a burden on both consumers and businesses. No one enjoys handling the nearly worthless piece of change. Thus, it’s time to discontinue the penny.
In 2008, The Washington Post reports that the US Mint spent 1.8¢ to make each individual penny. That means that, for every penny made, the government lost .8¢. While .8¢ may not seem like a lot of money, this loose change adds up when 9.3 billion pennies are made annually. US taxpayers, therefore, lost $135 million dollars due to coin making in 2013. Typically, the process of making money has been a source of revenue for the government; however, the procedure of making pennies now wastes the money of hard-working Americans. Government funds that could be redistributed elsewhere (towards education or infrastructure, for example) is being flushed away by the penny.
Moreover, the penny serves no practical function to many Americans. Most pennies, according to a study from the US Government Accountability Office, drift out of circulation — only 34.2% of pennies are actually in circulation. In fact, a recent Gallup Poll found that 1 in 50 Americans throw pennies in the garbage. So, the government is just spending money to make what 2% of Americans consider literal trash.
Many businesses have simply stopped accepting pennies, arguing that squabbles over a few cents waste the both employee and customer’s time. Instead, the stores round down to the nearest 5¢ increment, an act that could save our government millions of dollars if implemented everywhere. Ultimately, pro-penny advocates tend to not dispute any of my previous arguments. Their main point: the penny serves as an everyday memorial to the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln certainly deserves to be recognized for his monumental achievements during his presidency. But paying homage to him with the most wasteful and ineffective coin seems to be an unfitting way to honor his effectiveness as President. Luckily, he is already plastered on the $5 bill (worth 500 pennies). Abandoning the penny does not jeopardize Lincoln’s legacy because he’s already been immortalized on the $5 bill!
Discontinuing the penny would save the government millions of dollars and would lead to the lowering of prices in stores across the nation (albeit by only a few cents), all while continuing to honor the legacy of President Lincoln. Eliminating the penny symbolizes adapting to the demands of a changing world and increasing the effectiveness of our government, while continuing to pay respect to our history as a nation.
If we want to fix our government, then it’s time to change the way we make change.