Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nickel & Dimed, part 2

Following up on the recent FLOG about our country’s cost of two cents to manufacture a penny, on February 4th Canada stopped distributing the copper-plated one-cent pieces commonly referred to as pennies, beginning a six-year phase-out of the coins, which were first minted in 1858 and then featured Queen Victoria.

Almost a year ago, Jim Flaherty, the Canadian Finance Minister, announced to widespread acclaim that the penny would soon meet its end. They took up too much room on people’s dressers, he said, referring to the increasing tendency of Canadians to discard the coins because their negligible purchasing power made them a hassle to carry and use. They took up too much time for small businesses to count, he continued. And they cost the government more than the coins were worth to mint.

I’m not sure I would use the word “discard” in relation to pennies, but I am sure Americans would agree with the hassle of carrying small coins around, particularly in their high styled tight jeans pockets and banks and merchants having to count pennies.

According to the February 6, 2013 edition of The Economist “No One Misses The Canadian Penny.”

I couldn’t understand the Economist column on the subject anymore than I can understand why the U.S.A. would spend twice as much to produce a penny than its monetary value. But I would guess that no one will miss the US Penny anymore than Canadian miss their’s.

The Economist was sensitive enough to suggest that the demise of the penny could conceivably cause future generations to struggle with the meaning of phrases like “a penny for your thoughts”, “cost a pretty penny”, or “the penny dropped”. I know this will cost my granddaughter a pretty penny when I no longer dump my small change into her piggy bank. In a year she saved more than $500 of my loose change. And the bank did the counting.

Only time will tell. How long does it take to retire all the pennies that are currently in circulation in Canada and America? The betting windows are open in Las Vegas.

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