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The Fate Of The Penny

The penny has seemed practically useless for years, yet somehow it stays in circulation. Very few people actually use this smallest denomination of coinage, as it takes too much time and effort to fish them out just to pay for a few cents. Many people prefer to pay with bills or credit cards; any change is saved in a jar until it can be exchanged at a bank or Coinstar for more bills. Given that it is rarely used and production costs have risen to the point that it costs more to make a penny than it is worth, some people are considering where it is time to finally discontinue the penny.

penniesBut as Forbes explains in “Ban The Penny,” others are in favor of retaining the penny. Some have practical reasons; pennies are largely made of zinc, much of which comes from Tennessee. Although the nation’s budget may be helped by getting rid of this relatively expensive coin, Tennessee’s representatives will surely object to losing so much revenue.

Other objections are based on sentimental reasons. Many charities run penny drives, in which they urge people to donate unused pennies; what is a negligible amount to one person can add up over thousands or millions of donations. Others even prefer to retain it as a symbol of good luck; one common superstition is that finding a penny on the ground which is lying head’s up means having good luck that day.

The economics are certainly in favor of getting rid of the penny; right now each penny costs over two cents to make, resulting in a net loss of one cent per coin made. But popular opinion is still strongly against discontinuing the penny, and until people are convinced that the costs outweigh the benefits, the penny isn’t going anywhere.