An open letter to the US penny

Dear U.S. Penny,

Let me begin by saying that this is nothing personal. I am quite found of your cheerful copper color, the nostalgia you hold for the past and the fact that you were once used to buy 5 cent Coca-Cola.

But times have changed. Your clamor in my pockets and backpacks and wallets is not charming. My floors, desk and miscellaneous jars protest at the intrusion. You have become a burden, Mr. Penny, and it is time for you to go.

Permit me to review the reasons for this dismissal.

2012 marked a new low point in your history as a member of the U.S. currency. Production costs rose to 2.41 cents per penny, which we both know is hardly satisfactory.

With copper and zinc prices rising, the U.S. government made it illegal to melt you and your friends. What is the penalty for this you ask? Five years in prison as if we dont have enough people incarcerated.

Then came the move from businesses to stop accepting you as actual money. Vending machines and toll booths no longer welcome your presence, and quite frankly, neither do I.

Mr. Penny, you and your compatriots are not even shipped overseas to U.S. military bases. For the past 30 years, the Department of Defense has abolished the use of pennies at these bases, since you are too heavy and not cost-effective.

Let me ask you one question, Mr. Penny. What is the meaning of your existence?

Being endearing is not enough. To quote the great economist Greg Mankiw, The purpose of the monetary system is to facilitate exchange the penny no longer serves that purpose.

Our New Zealand friends have the right idea. They eliminated 1 cent and 2 cent coins in 1989, and stopped making 5 cent coins in 2006. Even Canada got rid of the penny in 2012, and is expected to save taxpayers about $11 million annually.

Consider this Mr. Penny: a quarter today has less buying power than a U.S. penny did in 1940. Inflation has been your foe and it has triumphed.

The one ally you do have is the Obama Administration. In yet another instance of flagrant idiocy, Obamas fiscal year 2013 budget proposal has asked for more flexibility in U.S. minting, which would allow a switch from making pennies with costly zinc to materials that are less expensive.

Mr. Penny, you have had a long run. You have witnessed the transactions of the first televisions, cars, cameras and countless other purchases. You have served our nation well.

It is time to call it quits. Fear not, President Lincoln will be remembered in our $5 bills that we love so dearly.

Enjoy retirement.


Bianca A. Mohn