Pennies are Money

Headline from the Arizona Republic's "Plugged In" blog on 19 June 2006.

   Is it time for the U.S. to dump the penny?


   "Kolbe argued that the 1-cent piece featuring 
    President Abraham Lincoln's visage has outlived 
    its usefulness."


On 22 April 2006, we created GDT::BAB:: Zinc Prices and the Value of a Penny and learned that because of rising zinc prices it cost more than a penny to make (i.e. mint) a penny. [Pennies are mostly zinc with a copper coating.]

GDT posted a penny related "comment" to the Repblic's blog and it prompted somebody else to post a comment.

   Comment from: Gerald8100

   06/19/06 @ 16:27
   "There are many people who ignore pennies when 
    they shouldn't be ignoring pennies. Pennies are 
    money and they add up. I'd be more than happy if 
    every American gifted me a penny."

   Comment from: Desert4628

   06/19/06 @ 21:17
   "Until early last year, I've been saving pennies for 
    ten years. Finally, I took them to the change machine 
    at my local supermarket. I had $60 in pennies!"

As of around 10:17am MST on 20 June 2006, the U.S. population approximated 299,022,744 people.

There was also the following penny related posting that contained some math.

   Comment from: a1ac4

   06/19/06 @ 15:22
   "As for it being the 'base' of our monetary system: 
    Says who? We essentially consider the dollar as our 
    base, and the penny is only 1/100th of a dollar. If 
    we are going to continue to price gasoline in thousandths 
    of a dollar, maybe we should have a coin for it also, 
    just to be consistent. Ridiculous, no?"
  1. If "Gerald8100" was gifted a penny from every U.S. person (based on the population figure given on 20 June 2006), he would receive $_________________.

  2. It took "Desert4628" ten years to save $60 worth of pennies. That is ________ pennies per year.

  3. No or Yes. "alac4" was correct when they wrote "the penny is only 1/100th of a dollar." [ignore the word "only"]


The "Nation" section of the Sunday, 9 July 2006, Arizona Republic (page A22) had an article titled "A penny saved is ... just about worthless." The article included a picture of a man who "traded in 4.5 tons of the coins recently for more than $13,000 in greenbacks." The man collected pennies for four decades.

  1. The penny collector collected pennies for approximately _________ years.

  2. $13,000 equals _______ x 106 pennies

  3. The penny collector's pennies weighed about ____________ pounds.


The Arizona Republic editorialized about the penny and they advocated keeping it. The primary justification for "killing" the penny is that is cost more than a penny to make a penny, but these days it currently costs more than nickel to make a nickel.


Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona introduced legislation that would "require all cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest five cents, effectively eliminating the penny." Kolbe's bill would "also fold the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint into the Federal Reserve, mandate a study on alternative coin compositions and create a process to replace the dollar bill with a $1 coin."

As of this update, it cost about 1.23 cents to produce a penny. Note: the penny is 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.


The following was copied from the Wall Street Journal and pasted into the Arizona's "Plugged In" blog.

   "Not to be melodramatic, but eliminating the penny 
    would wave a symbolic white flag before the forces 
    of inflation. Taking coins out of circulation is an 
    act that one associates with nations like Argentina, 
    Bolivia and Mexico that periodically degrade their 
    peso currencies and create hyperinflation. Moreover, 
    the market works. If American consumers don't find 
    value in using pennies, they are free to conduct 
    their transactions without them  drop the change 
    in the jar for Jerry's Kids. It turns out that one 
    social value of pennies is that they help charities 
    collect millions of dollars in donations each year 
    - yes, one red cent at a time."

The Wall Street Journal agrees with the title for this BAB: "Pennies are money."


Pennies were the topic of another "Plugged In" blog posting. The blogger believes pennies should go away for good. Typically, the topic of pennies means math and this blog posting was no exception.

   "I vividly recall going to many movies with ten pennies; 
    pennies acquired by gathering empty milk bottles -- that's 
    right, milk bottles -- four bottles turned in at the grocery 
    store at three cents per, garnered 12 cents, a dime for the 
    movie and 2 cents for candy, often two Tootsie Rolls." 
    [source: "Plugged In" by Bob Amento on 1/27/2007] A Penny Here; A Penny There---Pennies Everwhere

Creator: Gerald D. Thurman []
Created: 20 June 2006

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