The penny should stay


July 30, 2004, midnight | By Grace Harter | 16 years ago


Over the past few years, there has been an increasing amount of debate about the state of the penny. In 1999, legislation was introduced to Congress for the abolishment of the penny and the dollar bill, but many citizens quickly attacked the bill. In June of this year, New York Times op-ed columnist William Safire wrote an article calling for the elimination of the penny.

There are reasons for the elimination of the penny, mostly having to do with the inconvenience of the small coin. However, 59% of adults polled between June 10 and June 16 of 2004 by Harris Interactive said that they were against the abolishment of the penny. No doubt about it, Americans still are attached to the copper cent.

Pennies play an important part in our culture and our history. Abraham Lincoln has adorned the coin for 95 years. Getting rid of the coin would be getting rid of an item that pays homage to one of the greatest former leader of this country. Pennies are also ingrained in our popular culture, everywhere from the phrase "A penny for your thoughts" to the discovery of a lucky penny on the sidewalk. Young children collect jars of small coins and can often exchange them for dollars.

Other than these sentimental and cultural reasons, there are monetary incentives to keeping the penny. If the penny is abolished, all prices will have to be rounded to the nearest five cents. In 1990, Congress estimated that this rounding would cost the American public an upwards of $600 million every year. Similarly, the United States Treasury earns a good profit yearly from producing the penny. During an address to the House of Representatives in 1996, officials stated that pennies cost less to make than their worth, so the Treasury earns about $40 million each year from penny profits.

Many charity organizations also rely on pennies for money. Organizations like the Salvation Army and UNICEF depend on people giving extra coins here and there. During Halloween, some children carry around UNICEF boxes in which people can deposit some spare change to donate to the organization. Pennies can add up quickly, and organizations can total donations in the thousands just from spare change alone. Similarly, most low-income families are against the abolishment of the penny because prices would be slightly higher, something they may not be able to afford. When money is tight, every spare cent counts.

People seeking to abolish the penny should also look to other countries for examples of where the penny (or penny equivalent) is still in production. When the European Union decided to switch to euros, it kept the one-euro cent in production to avoid the rounding up of prices.

There are many reasons to keep the penny in production. Not only is doing so the most cost-effective choice, but it is also the most convenient. Trying to phase out the ubiquitous coins will take years and cost millions, as will rounding off all prices. The best and easiest choice is to keep America's most beloved coin in production.



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Grace Harter. Grace Harter is currently a CAP senior at Blair. She loves anything British, books, music, movies and of course Silver Chips Online. She'd like to close with a quote from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that is especially profound (and makes reference to her ultimate favorite … More »

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