September 13, 2010
Should the Penny be Eliminated?
The penny, a copper and zinc coin, that represents one cent in the United States currency, is as American as apple pie. It is part of our heritage to honor and recognize our founding fathers and past presidents for their contributions to the economic system of America. According to the Harris Poll #51 conducted online between June 10 – 16, 2004 including 2,136 adults, the majority favor keeping the penny in circulation (Source E). The United States is a democracy and I believe we should let the people vote on this important issue.
Jim Kolbe, a U.S. Representative from Arizona tried to introduce a bill to discourage the use of pennies by establishing a system which would round up or down a cash transaction. It is dangling in a subcommittee. His press secretary states “It’s practically useless in everyday life”. However, is Kolbe’s argument about its uselessness or about increasing wealth in his home state? Arizona is rich in copper which is a predominant metal in larger denomination coins (Source A).
One argument for eliminating the penny is the wasted time fishing for pennies on cash transactions. Jeff Gore, founder of “Citizens for Retiring the Penny” conducted a study with The National Association of Convenience Stores and Walgreens that determined handling pennies added 2 to 2.5 seconds to each cash transaction. After all of the numbers were crunched, he calculated that four hours per person were wasted each year searching for pennies. This equates to a national cost of over $15 billion dollars per year if each person’s time is worth $15/hour (Source B). How much time did he waste conducting this study? What he didn’t calculate was the extra profits these retailers received on impulse purchases while waiting on the patron to count his pennies. I believe these extra purchases greatly outweigh the “wasted time” counting pennies.