Tuesday, July 5, 2011


     “Save your pennies,” my father told me, “and the dollars will take care of themselves.”
     That still holds true, although a penny doesn’t buy much these days. 
     Gone are the days when you could give your child a penny to run down to the neighborhood drug store to get some penny candy.  When I was little we could get a small sack of candy for a penny.  Now, it would cost about at least fifty cents to get the same amount of sweets, providing you could find a place that still carries penny candy.
     The penny is virtually worthless, so why does the U.S, Mint still stamp out a billion pennies a month?
     They are becoming a nuisance.  Most people won’t even bend over to pick up a penny in the street, unless they are superstitious.  At the store, there’s a penny cup where you can toss your pennies so others can use them if they are short a penny.  That way the clerk doesn’t have to load you up with four more in change.  And yet the government keeps making 10 million of these pesky little coins every day?
     I’m sure the retailers would gladly raise the price of a $9.98 item to an even $10.00 or perhaps reduce it to $9.95, which would save the consumer a lot of money in the long run.
     It would make good sense to save the cost of producing the pennies and put it to better use elsewhere in the government, where it is really needed.  Can you imagine how much it cost to mint that amount of pennies each day?  It might even help the budget to eliminate that one cost.
     I’m sure they won’t stop minting pennies just because I think it would be fiscally responsible.  After all, they have to think about the jobs that would be lost, not only at the mint, but at the zinc mines in Canada and Alaska, who would definitely lobby against eliminating the penny.
     William Safire said, in his column in the New York Times, “The time has come to abolish the outdated, almost worthless, bothersome and wasteful penny.”    
     How right he is.  The cost of living has risen so high that the penny has become insignificant.  My pennies are taken out of my purse or pocket and dropped into a bottle.  When I get desperate, I roll them and turn them into dollars, which are shrinking in value as well. If everybody’s like me, no wonder they have to make millions of pennies each day.
     My Dad collected coins.  When he decided to remodel his home he sold off some of his collection, including two penny collections.  So, those pennies were worth something to him, they brought quite a nice sum to help in his remodieling job.
     Maybe we should save our pennies, just in case they finally stop making them.  And then, those jars of pennies may just end up being worth quite a bit...at least to collectors.