Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

I Hate Pennies

You can’t put them in a vending machine or parking meter, no cashier will accept more than a handful, and it costs millions of tax dollars to keep them in circulation.

I’m, of course, talking about the useless penny.

Although it wasn’t always useless. When your grandma (or great-grandma) was a kid, she could run to the corner shop and buy caramels, Tootsie Rolls, Necco Wafers, Dum Dums, Chick-O-Sticks, and more for a penny or less.

But over time the penny lost its purchasing power.

While the original penny was made with pure copper, inflation forced minters to drive down the cost of the penny by adding zinc. Otherwise the value of copper would exceed the value of the penny.

The race against inflation has gone on for so long, that the penny is now made out of 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper. Although the minters gave it their best, they’re now eating the penny’s dust.

Today, a penny costs 1.99 cents to make. And it’s impossible to make the penny any cheaper. Unless you consider other materials like plastic, lint, or dirt.

Which is precisely why most countries of the world have abandoned the penny—they’re not worth minting.

So why does America still have them?

We already know it’s not to facilitate the exchange of goods. Perhaps Americans keep them around out of sentimental value. People grew up with pennies and just don’t want to give them up.

Fair enough. Until you consider that the US Mint lost $70 million in 2019 by making pennies.

So what better reason does the US government have for keeping around the tax-wasting coin?

Money.

Jarden Corporation, who is the exclusive zinc provider for the US Mint, has been lobbying for years to keep the coin alive. That $70 million loss in tax payer money? It goes straight into Jarden Corporation’s pockets—minus the money they spend on buttering up lawmakers.

Gotta love big business.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach