Now This Would Have Been a Nice Federal Budget Cut

I have nothing against Abraham Lincoln — quite admire him, in fact — but I do think the penny has long, long, long outlived its usefulness.

I have said this time and again and, having been woefully ineffective in bringing about its end, vowed to shut up about it.

But now comes word that, in honor of Lincoln’s birthday, the U.S. Mint has just released the first of four special commemorative pennies, each representing a different phase in Lincoln’s life.

Sure, this was a shovel-ready project before shovel-ready was cool, but honestly, is the penny what we need to be spending our dollars on?


Mike

"but honestly, is the penny what we need to be spending our dollars on?"

Must be one of those rhetorical questions which I specialize in.

Answer: No

Michelle

I've heard the U.S. Mint made a pretty profit from printing the state quarters in the last decade. Millions paid 25 cents per quarter for coins that end up in a collector's box and out of circulation.

Maybe this is a similar attempt to raise some money on the penny.

Stuart

"I've heard the U.S. Mint made a pretty profit from printing the state quarters in the last decade."

The problem is that it costs a little over 7 cents to make a quarter. So there is a decent mark up there.

However, the Penny costs about a penny to make. At least they won't be loosing money. Depending on how much the GOV pays for its copper.

Will

I didn't know the Zinc Industry needed a bailout.

Maybe we should pay them in pennies.

Ian

The mint loses money printing pennies. Though they could make money on special issue pennies.

Ian

@2: It won't work, though. The raw materials that go into a penny are worth pretty close to $0.01. Add in the manufacturing and it costs more to make a penny than we get from the people who sit on them. The more collectible it is, the worse the problem gets.

gospazha

No, this isn't what we need to be spending our dollars on. Or, more correctly, this isn't what government needs to be wasting stolen funds on.

In 2006, it costs 1.23 cents to produce a single penny (I wonder what it costs now), and that penny is worth more in raw materials alone than its face value. So the penny is a waste in both its new AND old design.

Kevin H

@2 except a penny costs more than a penny to produce, so they'll spend 1.5 cents to take 1 cent out of circulation....

M.B.

I'm pretty sure that most transactions these days are electronic, credit cards, checks etc. The penny has become redundant on its own. No need to scrap the coin and just create "round up" inflation.

James

@Michelle (#2)
The problem is that it costs MORE than $0.01 to make a penny. So, while the government can make a "profit" if they can sell quarters for $0.25 and then have them go out of circulation for collectors, the same is not true for pennies.

As of a couple years ago it takes 1.23 cents to make a penny (http://www.usatoday.com/money/2006-05-09-penny-usat_x.htm) So, the government loses money printing pennies. Sounds like a ridiculous way to spend money to me.

Kim

Please stop with the pennies. They just stay in my car's change holder when I actually do use cash in the drive thru.

nancy

Put sacajawea on the penny and lincoln on the dollar coin.

one for one

Problem solved. The "we only want men on money club at the mint" will have the penny vanished in months and everybody will be using the dollar coin.

She'll give you ev'ry penny's worth. But it will cost you a dollar first.

Rich

We need to spend our dollars on metal dollars, not paper.

Hughes

I went to the bank today and someone had dropped an entire roll of pennies outside.

For all I know, it's still there.

Eric M. Jones

[partial repost here] The 1909-designed Lincoln penny will be 100 years old next year. It's time to replace it with a George W. Bush penny, made of a much baser alloy, with his least flattering portrait on the front and a selection of his most idiotic pronunciamentos on the back-

Some words of wisdom for the back--

"We'll put food on the family."
"You disarm, or we will."
"I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession."
"I've been in the Bible every day since I've been the president."
The list is endless.

This would do four things-
1) People will still remember this fool 10,000 years from now;
2) People will collect them all over the world;
3) The treasury would make tons of money;
4) And the world might forgive us just a little.

Rusty

The penny is far more cost effective than the dollar bill. Expected life time of a penny more than 20 years. Expected life time of a dollar bill lessthan a year. It time to withdraw the dollar bill and replace it with a coin.

David

I do believe that it cost more to make a penny than it is worth. I do believe that a penny is mostly zinc. i do believe that the largest user of zinc in the US is the US Mint and they use the zinc to make...pennies. I do believe the only reason we still have the penny is that the zinc industry lobbied congress to make sure we keep the penny. So we continue to keep the penny, a bad policy for the nation to keep an industry happy. The question is do the jobs and thus the tax revenue earned by the Federal government offset the fact that a penny costs more than a penny to make? I doubt it. When congress stops listening to the lobbies, maybe we will have laws that make sense.

jonathan

even though it costs more than $.01 to make a penny, the total amount spent on making pennies, I thought was neglable.

Chrispy

The cost of making pennies hasn't increased dramatically recently. Their value has gone down due to inflation. The solution shouldn't be to abandon the penny, but rather to reduce inflation.

TJ

Do it like Canada and the Euro. Not only would I get rid of the penny, but the $1 bill as well. Make the $1 bill a coin and start issuing $2 coins (with Lincoln on them).