June 2, 2004

Penny Abolitionists

William Safire wants to abolish the penny.

Why is the U.S. among the last of the industrialized nations to abolish the peskiest little bits of coinage? At the G-8 summit next week, the Brits and the French—even the French!—who dumped their low-denomination coins 30 years ago, will be laughing at our senseless jingling. (Op-Ed Columnist: Abolish the Penny)

That is quite fine with me. But I’ll see your penny abolition and raise you a dollar bill abolition. I say get rid of the greenback and replace it with the dollar coin. And perhaps add a $2 coin as well.


Posted by James at June 2, 2004 12:44 PM
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Pennies make one's hands smell bad.

Posted by: Patti M. at June 2, 2004 12:54 PM

amen to that. Despise pennies. who needs money that is so useless the best thing you can do with it is throw it into a jar and hope someday to cash it in (at a loss nowadays unless you want to spend 6 hours putting it into rolls) for a couple of bucks!

Also would love to see us use our dollar coins more. They should absolutely do away with paper dollars. Until they do no one will use the coins.

Posted by: Bob at June 2, 2004 1:10 PM

I'm all for that, but how to carry them? Will women's clothiers put in more pockets? I doubt it. Bastards. I hate women's clothing.

Not ALL of us carry a purse, you know.

Down with the purse and the penny! Up with pockets!

Posted by: Patti M. at June 2, 2004 1:52 PM

Why abolish the dollar bill as well? I'd rather have a pocket full of greenbacks than a pocket full of heavy coins.

Posted by: Mike at June 2, 2004 2:47 PM

What if the coins were made by NECCO? They'd be light and...strike that. NECCO wafers are not--I repeat--not tasty.

Posted by: Patti M. at June 2, 2004 3:22 PM

I say abolish the dollar bill because they're expensive for the government. Coins last longer.

There's no ned to carry around a bunch of dollar bills or dollar coins. If they're like the coins in Australia, you'd probably spend them rather than hang onto them.

And the dollar coins are purty.

Posted by: James at June 2, 2004 3:34 PM

They are purty, but they tarnish easily.

Obviously, there are pros and cons. If it's a coin, it will be more likely to be lost (and found) under sofa cushions. It will be easier for vending machines to handle. It will be more collectible, which is good for the Mint. (Some people do collect greenbacks, but not like they collect coins.) It will be easier to drop. It will be harder to bundle. Blind people will find it easier to deal with.

Having the $1 in the same format as the $5, $10, etc. makes it seem like real money. Going coin will make it seem like spare change. Relevance? I dunno.

I haven't seen a dollar coin in at least a year. I couldn't use them if I wanted to, because I can't get 'em - at least not without going out of my way.

I had thought they were actually going to phase out the paper bills when they started introducing the coins. I thought the Treasury had done a study that found the SBA dollar had flopped mostly because people saw it as a novelty, while the alternative was still readily available. I thought, based on that, that they were going to do it right this time and stop making the paper bills.

As for pennies: being a bean-counter at heart, I like them. And any state that has a sales tax that is not evenly divisible by 5 probably likes them too. Hell, if it were up to me I'd bring back the farthing.

However, when I worked at Woolworth's (a very long time ago), we were told that the owner(s) wanted the *dime* to be abolished. They felt it was a useless coin. So, we started the day with just pennies, nickels, and quarters at our registers. We still used dimes that were paid by customers, but evidently it was important enough to the company that they included it in the employee orientation.

I don't know if there was a big anti-dime movement outside of Woolworth's, though.

Posted by: Julie at June 2, 2004 3:58 PM

England and Canada seem to be getting along fine without a $1 bill equivalent (at least I think CA no longer has 1's). There is no reason to have more than 4 in your pocket at once (and James' suggestion of a $2 coin or bill would lower that).

One dollar IS spare change nowadays!

The tax thing is bogus. You round now (what's the tax on $1.09 it's 5 cents not 5.45 cents) you can round to the nearest $0.05 instead of the nearest $0.01. Or even better always round up and give the difference to the state (I know, I'm a tax and spend liberal at heart).

I read somewhere that a major reason they haven't dumped the penny is that the state of Illinois was upset with the thought of losing Lincoln's likelness on the coin. Hell there are places where you cannot even use pennies without getting huge amounts of grief for it. Patti got a ticket last year for stuffing a parking space collection box with pennies because that was all she had. She successfully talked them out of it but they were ready to give her a ticket for paying with legal tender! Vending machines don't take them. Try using them at a busy store or toll both and see how that goes over.

I just had an idea. Next time you get a mailing for a candidate you like but don't necessarilly want to send a big check to stuff that free mailer with pennies and stick a note in asking him to abolish the penny if he gets into office!

Posted by: Bob at June 2, 2004 4:57 PM

Canada does not have a paper $1 bill. They have $1 and $2 coins, which would be just fine. See more on Canadian currency here: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Canadian%20dollar

Here's a solution: put Lincoln on the $1 or $2 coin! By the way, an additonal coin would give the Republicans a way to honor Regan, which they've had a hard-on over for years. They considered kicking Eisenhower off the dime and replacing him with Regan, the man who--until President Dumbass--gave this country the largest deficit ever.

I digress. I'd love to see a $1 and $2 coin--I'll just buy more men's shorts and jackets for better pockets.

As for the Susan B. Anthony dollar, one of the chief problems was size. It was only slightly larger than the quarter (26.5 mm in diameter for the dollar, 24.26 mm for the Washington quarter). At least they had the brains to make the "golden" dollar a different color, but in the pocket, it feels the same as a quarter. See http://www.usmint.gov/faqs/circulating_coins/index.cfm?action=faq_circulating_coin

This change was done on purpose; it was felt that the size of the Eisenhower dollar was cumbersome. Be that as it may, they could have done what other countries do--make the coin thicker. Duh.

"From the outset, there was a hue and cry against [Susan B. Anthony dollars]. Many confused them with the quarter dollar, and numerous tales were told of Anthony dollars being thrown into turnpike toll machines or given in change as quarter dollars."

More interesting info on US dollar coins here: http://www.pcgs.com/coinguidetext/display_chapter.chtml?chapter=design&page=9&additional_pages=15

Posted by: Patti M. at June 3, 2004 11:13 AM

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