Monday, December 20, 2010

The One-cent Solution

"The Senate finance committee is recommending that the federal government remove the penny from circulation ."
- CBC News - December 14, 2010

Hi. Penny’s the name and currency circulation is my game.
For centuries, I’ve been doing the tough work when it comes to keeping the country’s finances afloat. Those big bills like the twenty, the fifty and the hundred get all the glory but I’m the specie that makes the whole cash economy work.
But now I hear there’s talk again of getting rid of me. Seems like I’m not carrying my weight, some so-called experts are saying. They figure that it just doesn’t make sense to keep me around, especially when it costs a cent-and-a-half to manufacture me.
Look, I’ve heard all this cheap talk before. It seems every time we’re in a recession, someone comes up with the idea of centicide - i.e. - killing off the penny - i.e. - me.
Nobody likes pennies, they say. We’re a nuisance that could just as easily be eliminated. Half the time, we end up in sock drawers, dresser trays or penny jars. Nobody even bothers to pick one of us up when we’re dropped on the street.
These cheap shots are nothing new. For years, I’ve been listening to people trying to get rid of me. It doesn’t really even bother me anymore. After all, I’m 94% steel with a copper coating so I’m tough. I can take the criticism.
It’s not me I’m worried about. I’m much more concerned about my fellow Canadians. They may think that a cent-free Canada will be no big deal but I’m afraid they’ll be in for a big surprise.
Get rid of me and how the heck are you going to teach Canadian kids simple arithmetic? We’re already verging on national innumeracy and with no pennies around to force kids to learn how to count when buying candy, we’ll soon have a nation of arithmetically-challenged dummies quickly headed for third world status.
But what’s the big deal, some say. Why can’t we just round off to the nearest five cents when making purchases? Yeah, and why not do the same with accounting entries? That’s just the kind of lazy thinking that will soon have us bailing out too-big-to-fail banks.
I’m also worried about all the other denominations. Get rid of me and you know who’s going to take all the heat then, right? The nickel, that’s who.
The five-cent piece will be the next currency punching bag. And every coin up the ladder will be taken down a notch. The dime’s not doing so well as it is. Imagine how life will be for him when he’s only one step from the numismatic cellar.
Don’t believe me? Ask the loonie and the twonie how they feel about themselves now that they’re coins instead of bills. It used to be that the dollar and two-dollar bill had a place of pride in Canadians’ wallets. They were currencies folks would look up to.
Now, thanks to their coinization, the buck and it’s two-buck friend are devalued in all respects. People toss loonies and twonies around the way they used to spend dimes and quarters. They simply don’t get the respect they used to. And if I’m no longer in the picture, that won’t help their status in the currency jungle.
So what if it costs more to produce me than I’m worth? We’re in a recession, for goodness’ sake. The last thing we need to do is cut more jobs.
And what about those penny trays you see in stores everywhere? Apart from making people feel charitable or thankful, they also create lots of jobs in the "take-a-penny, leave-a-penny" tray industry.
Finally, if you get rid of me, you also get rid of the lucky penny. Where else can you get a chance at good fortune for such a small cost?
So don’t eliminate me. That might be penny wise but it would definitely be pound foolish.

1 comment:

Guy Gadbois said...

Since most change cost more to make, I guess we should get rid it all. But lets all, melt down our own change and use it to barder with, tax free. Oh thats what the bank wants to do. I guess we will be doing what the bank wants.